HARVEY

HARVEY

A Poem by Ellen Hammond


HARVEY

Image


Harvey was just a boy in the 'Roaring Twenties"
When his family split apart
Making him seem different in his time
Short and slight and the youngest child
As a target for bullies, he was prime

So he learned to survive as best he could
With a tough and obnoxious shell
He lived with his mother, then his dad
And then with an uncle as well


He felt he was an unwanted child
A terrible nuisance at home
Bounced about and abused in countless ways
'Til at twelve he was left on his own

He drifted about from place to place
Searching for his call
Then he found a friend to ease his pain
Its name was alcohol

At first with this friend he was happy
He was brave and knew no fright
It became a game to clear out the bars
He was a scrapper who loved a good fight


Then one day he met a woman
With problems of her own
Her husband committed bigamy
She was raising four children, all alone

He found someone to care for him
In this woman they called Lin
It was a mutual attraction
Soon they shared their life of sin

For years they drank together
Enjoying a common friend
Abusing and neglecting the children
Causing problems without end

Five children were born from this union
But the last one died at birth
And Lin repented of her erring ways
She wanted a life of worth

Then her eyes were opened
And she could plainly see
Though alcohol seemed to be a friend
It was really an enemy



She gave up all her drinking
Banning liquor from their place
But Harvey's faith was not so strong
His reality he could not face

At times he would stay sober
'Til the memories started to come
He couldn't bear to face the truth
Or admit to the things he'd done

So he pushed and drove all love away
Until again he was on his own
There was only one friend he would let inside
The bottle became his home

Through the years his children tried to help him
But their families he would abuse
Eventually they all avoided him
For when drunk, he was very bad news

He drifted about as a loner
Craving love almost as much as booze
He was growing old but still causing fights
Only then he was starting to lose



At seventy-three his heart gave out
He drifted into the dark unknown
Then he called on the name he'd often cursed
"Jesus, help! Don't leave me alone."

The Lord heard his feeble cry of fear
As the doctors jump-started his heart
He granted him yet another year
And with his daughters, a brand new start

One of them took him into her home
And discovered his sentimental side
For sober and sick, without his friend
He had nowhere to hide

For months they grew to know him
Without a drop of liquor to drink
But as he began to feel better
He also started to think




He saw how his life he had wasted
By pushing his loved ones aside
Now, he wouldn't become a burden
As long as he still had some pride

He didn't want their pity
And he thought he had pushed them too far
So haunted by memories and familiar guilt
He headed for the local bar

There he found his old friend waiting
In its warm and welcoming disguise
He had no way of knowing
This time it would cause his demise

As we looked at his frail, lifeless body
All the scars and broken bones he'd acquired
We knew no one could judge him harder
He received all the punishment he desired



As only two of us stood by his coffin
We had no peace from above
Did he reject the second chance he was given
The same way he rejected our love?

We couldn't really blame all the others
For not even bothering to show
He'd pushed them away so often
And his good side they never did know

But my mind goes back to my childhood
Before his drinking got worse
He was the one who encouraged me
To write down my feelings in verse

So his life did account for something
My memories of him aren't all bad
And I pray the Lord shows his soul mercy
For Harvey was really my dad


 Image
 

(c)Ellen hammond


© 2009 Ellen Hammond



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Featured Review

Wow, I'm lost for words. The story is so vivid and full of imagery that I could picture the events easily. I usually don't like poems that are too long, but this is an exception. You know how to capture the attention of your reader very well. Good job!


Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

Outstanding. Painful and outstanding. No glossing over - thank you for honesty and the beauty it brings forth in such obvious pain. Thanks you.

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Ah, Ellen, this could be my own father's story, though he still lives, alone, unable to be spoken to or reasoned with on most occasions.
I love this so much that it is going into my favorites. I felt every single word, and the flow was divine. Thank you for sharing your story, the story that many of us could tell of someone we have known. Wonderful work!

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Wow, I'm lost for words. The story is so vivid and full of imagery that I could picture the events easily. I usually don't like poems that are too long, but this is an exception. You know how to capture the attention of your reader very well. Good job!


Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

T'would be fabulous if it were not true dearest Ellen. Again you produce some wonderful work through your experiences, even although some are tragic, you always come out on top.
Thank you so very much.
Babs xx

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I have seen the damage
Inflicted upon the family
As they struggle to deal with this disease
Tearing them apart at the seams
Breaking trusts and hearts.

Drinking to hide
The pain which ates at them
Unable to find the words
Expressing their true suffering.

Wish i knew not
But my Harvey is
My younger brother.

Thank you for sharing this very personal side of your life, in this poem.

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Not sure how you respond to something like this... whole time, I'm thinking, "she had to have lived this to narrate it so eloquently," and sure enough... it's breath-taking. Normally I am intimidated by long pieces, but your writing style and accessible language makes it a very pleasant read. I personally have an alcohol problem, so it speaks to me a lot. Thank you :) and may your father rest well.

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Ellen, so much truth and hurt and still the love comes through as only a child can still love a parent who is not perfect..It took a lot to write this out for all to see..I commend you for that..love and God bless you sweetie..Kathie

Posted 7 Years Ago


Ellen,
This is the most amazing story. I say amazing first in your skill as a writer to bring this tale to life. I feel as if I know Harvey and traveled his roads from childhood to his death.

Addiction is such a tangle of many things. This little boy had the seed of unworth planted in him as a lad and it never left. Perhaps if it had of been today (where we discuss these things more freely) counseling or some other avenue could have helped him win back his belief in himself.

Regardless, he is your Father, you love him and that is simply a beautiful thing.
This is a write I shall not soon forget.

Bless you,
Lynne

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

This was terribly sad.I'd like to share this bit of wisdom with you though. "It may be the duty of a particular Christian, or of any Christian, at a particular time, to abstain from strong drink, either because he is the sort of a man who cannot drink without drinking too much, or because he is with people who are inclined to drunkeness and must not encourage them by drinking himself. But, the whole point is that he is abstaining for a good reason, from something which he does not condemn and which he likes to see other people enjoying. One of the marks of a certain type of bad man is that he cannot give up a thing without wanting to see everyone else give it up. That is not the Christian way. One great piece of mischief that has been done is the modern restriction of the word "temperance" to the question of only drink. It helps people forget that you can be just as "intemperant" about lots of other things. A man who makes his motorcycle or his golf the center of his life or the woman who makes her bridge game or her dog the center of her life is just as intemperant as someone who gets drunk every evening. Of course, it does not show on the outside so easily: the bridge-mania or golf-mania do not make you fall down in the road. But God is not decieved by externals." C.S. Lewis from "Mere Christianity" Bless.

Posted 7 Years Ago


What a marvelous story! The end blew me out of the water! I wasn't expecting it to be a family member. A beautiful sad, heartfelt story that shows the terrible affects of addiction. It's just too bad knowing that we are flogging a dead horse with our tales of woe, battling the deadliest "legal" drug on the planet. This will touch the hearts of many. But???... Your efforts are mighty and appreciated, by this reader anyway. Thanks for this. Smiles B.

Posted 8 Years Ago



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Added on March 5, 2009
Last Updated on March 6, 2009

Author

Ellen Hammond
Ellen Hammond

Saint John, N.B., Bay of Fundy , Canada



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