No Life Unknown

No Life Unknown

There is no unknown, only what is known.
Going back is moving forward.

We wait for what we know,
wait for it to exist.

Once it becomes real,
we continue to wait for it to become real.

No Life UnknownWe make old friends.
We ignore the insignificant
and correct mistakes,
knowing they won’t happen,
as we lose old friends.

As our world grows smaller,
we wonder how big it was,
how much we knew.

We imagine what was,
or, perhaps, what never was.

Distance is no longer a part of family.
Happiness is always within reach.
Home is now home.

The less there is, the more it becomes.
The more we do, the less we will have to do.
Trepidation becomes courage.
Trust is a fact.

Forever is contained in a moment.

Even less becomes even more,
until there is only perfection.

At last, what was always known arrives,
and there are no regrets.

This poem is in response to Day 27 at, where the prompt is to write a poem inspired by an entry from The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. I have chosen “avenoir,” which is defined as “the desire that memory could flow backward.” Rather than applying the term to any particular aspect of (my) life or the world, I considered one particular phrase in the video that accompanies the definition and proceeded to write about all that follows (or would that be precedes?) in the discussion – and in a life that follows that direction. “It’s hard not to wonder what life would be like facing the other way.” For anyone who is interested, below that embedded video I have transcribed the dialogue.



We take it for granted that life moves forward.
You build memories.
You build momentum.
You move as a rower moves, facing backwards .
You can see where you’ve been, but not where you’re going,
and your boat is steered by a younger version of you .
It’s hard not to wonder what life would be like facing the other way.


You’d see your memories approaching for years,
and watch as they slowly become real. The insignificant
You’d know which friendships will last,
which days are important, and prepare for upcoming mistakes.
You’d go to school and learn to forget.
One by one, you’d patch things up with old friends.
enjoying one last conversation before you meet and go your separate ways.

And then your life would expand into epic drama.
The colors would get sharper. The world would feel bigger.
You’d become nothing other than yourself reveling in your own weirdness.
You’d fall out of old habits until you could picture yourself becoming almost anything.

Your family would drift slowly together, finding each other.
You wouldn’t have to wonder how much time you had left with people,
or how their lives would turn out.
You’d know from the start which week was the happiest you’ll ever be,
so you could relive it again, and again.
You’d remember what home feels like and decide to move there for good.
You’d grow smaller as the years pass,
as if trying to give away everything you had before leaving.

You’d try everything one last time, until it all felt new again.
And then the world would finally earn your trust,
until you think nothing of jumping freely into things,
into the arms of other people.
You’d start to notice that each summer feels longer than the last,
until you reach the long coasting retirement of childhood.

You’d become generous and give everything back.
Pretty soon you’d run out of things to give, things to say, things to see.
By then you’ll have found someone perfect,
and she’ll become your world.
And you will have left this world just as you found it
Nothing left to remember. Nothing left to regret.
with your whole life laid out in front of you,
and your whole life left behind.

Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows


~ Day 27 ~

Also shared with Open Link Night #291

Image source: (edited here)

40 thoughts on “No Life Unknown

    • Thank you, Lynne. 😀
      Once I watched the video, I thought I’d write a found poem from the dialogue, but I decided I wouldn’t be able to say what I wanted so I just wrote. To transcribe it, I used the voice recognition on my phone keyboard, then mailed it to myself.


  1. This poem is full of wisdom, Ken, and reminds me of Blake’s ‘Proverbs of Hell.’ I love the line ‘Forever is contained in a moment.’
    Speaking of time running backwards, I watched The Curious Case of Benjamin Button the other day, and I think I really must read the story which inspired it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I so something similar. I’ll leaf back through a book to better understand what’s happening in the story, and find myself better understanding it, like a rewind. Speaking of rewind, I’ll annoy my wife when I pause a movie and do the same sort of thing. It’s like a reverse extrapolation.


  2. Great stuff Ken, this gathers strength as it proceeds. That said ,my favourite line ironically enough is:
    “The less there is the more it becomes’ Regards Scott

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Scott.

      Rereading it after a couple of days, one aspect of the whole thing I find intriguing is “Trust is a fact.” As a child, we tend to be trusting, and as an adult we need to build trust. It’s something that builds in either direction, forward or back.


    • Thank you, Brendan.

      At the bottom of that canyon,
      far below, is a river, life.
      Look closely. Find yourself,
      following it in either direction.

      You may remember things
      you wanted to forget,
      but you will never forget
      the things you want to know.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I feel I do something akin to this with books or movies at home, especially mysteries. I have a feel for what is about to happen, but instead of moving forward, I’ll do a bit of time travel back – rewind/review through what I think I know. Confirm the evidence gathered and only then step into the future, already having the gist of how it’s to be.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Fascinating….your poem as well as the video. Thanks for sharing both!
    It’s sad the way we shed some of our best qualities as we grow older. In many ways, we knew more as children.

    Liked by 1 person

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