One Tangled Mess ~ narrative poem ~ with audio

Momentary Silence

Pete is not the diver in question


One Tangled Mess

He was a cop, which, by itself, shouldn’t mean anything,
but he was also a perfectionist. Everything by the book,
which was a good thing when scuba diving. Fewer chances
for mishaps and mistakes meant a more enjoyable dive.

A group of friends would do river drifts in the Niagara River,
with buddy teams of two. A pickup vehicle was left
at the exit point, then we’d drive upriver to the entry point
with our gear, drift along the bottom with a float, and surface.

Keeping track of bottom time was essential. Surfacing too late
meant a hard kick in if the current had pushed us from shore.
Embarrassing as it was, there were times when a buddy team
had to call for a ride after surfacing too far downriver.

When possible, divers tended to use the same partner. Knowing
their skill level and tendencies meant being able to anticipate
their reactions above and below the water. It made it easier
to avoid underwater obstacles or tangles with the buddy line.

I had been on several dives with him. He was a good friend
and an excellent diver who was training to be an instructor.
Dives with him always went smoothly, but I wondered
about his patience. As a group, he buddied with his wife.

That’s not always a good thing, when someone insists
that everything be by the book. It comes down to knowing
your partner’s abilities. Compensating for shortcomings
should come naturally to an instructor, more so for a couple.

At the end of one dive, my buddy and I were checking out
a boat anchor I’d found when we saw their dive flag go by.
Late exit. Drifting next to the float, he was berating her
as he untangled the float line that was wrapped around her.

Things were pretty uncomfortable as we sat on the shore
afterward, having a snack and something to drink. Talk
centered around the finds we had brought to the surface.
I pictured him on the bottom, the anchor tied to his fins.

One Tangled Mess

Narrative poetry is not really my cup of tea, but I thought I’d give this a try.

Shared with Open Link Night LIVE #292 at dVerse ~ Poets Pub.

22 thoughts on “One Tangled Mess ~ narrative poem ~ with audio

  1. I really enjoyed hearing you read this today. The narrative moves smoothly, but hearing you read it gave it a more conversational tone–like someone telling a story around a campfire. I think you must have a lot of diving stories to tell! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Relationships with cops are a double-edged sword. It’s an interesting dichotomy that they usually would never think of berating their “brothers” but have no second thoughts about berating their partners.

    Excellent narrative storytelling! You’re good at it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your reading an d presentation was wonderful. I have always felt that some prose can be poetic, and some poetry can be prose. I use narrative poetry fairly often, reaching for the conversational; perhaps laced with internal rhymes.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Fantastic reading of this gem tonight, Ken 😀 I especially resonate with; “That’s not always a good thing, when someone insists that everything be by the book. It comes down to knowing your partner’s abilities. Compensating for shortcomings should come naturally to an instructor, more so for a couple.” 💝💝

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Sanaa. I took up scuba on a whim – a coworker wanted someone to take the classes with him. Once I started, I wanted (actually, needed due to the complexity and danger) to learn all I could. Any time I saw someone having issues I thought about how I would feel in their shoes (or fins!!).


  5. Very well read, Ken – your punch line at bottom gave me shivers. I can empathize! Yet I can also recognize: for those who deem themselves trainers, a spouse/child MUST “measure up” especially when others are observing; anything less feels to the trainer like trainer’s failure.
    This is a good “teaching” story since a good many of us have inner trainers in various aspects …
    And the poetic telling works nicely.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Ingrid. My writing tends to come to me in bursts, resulting in shorter forms. Flash fiction is about the extent of my prose writing, but I’ve come to realize that parsing that can result in a narrative poem. I just need to get used to seeing my poetry in a longer form. I can read it from others, but when I see my own I feel like I’m running on.
      This was actually getting much longer in my mind, with no end in sight, but once I examined it more closely that last line came to me and I knew that was what it needed.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I so enjoyed your reading at OLN Live last night and my re-read today. Your narrative with a conversational tone is a winning formula; even though I know nothing about scuba diving or the Niagara River, I was drawn into it, and surprised by the ending.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Kim. 🙂
      It’s been 23 years since my last dive. (Inner ear issues became too problematic.) This incident was a bit unsettling, but I decided I could make it work as a poem. I”m sure I’ll be trying the form again.

      Liked by 1 person

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