Poem: Composition Book by Mark Tulin


My mother threw out my poetry
when I was fifteen,
just like that,
no apologies

She made sure
that the trash truck
ground-up all my emotions
in all those lined pages
of a marble composition notebook.

She wanted to prevent me
from writing down
all my romantic notions
and teenage secrets.

She believed nothing good
could come of telling the truth,
and that expressing pain
and vulnerability
were dangerous.

It’s better to contain
misery and disdain
in private, she said.
Then you won’t get hurt.

That was when I lived at home,
now I don’t have to suppress
what I feel anymore
or be so overly protected.

I’m free to fill up as many
marble bound notebooks
with poems of blood and tears
without being taken
from a mother in fear.


I am an author, poet, humorist, and short story writer from Palm Springs, California. I write about various topics, from my early childhood in Philadelphia to my years as a family therapist and finally to my soul-searching in California. These are poetic narratives that may have humorous or serious content or both. Either way, I hope my poetry and stories resonate with you.

29 comments on “Poem: Composition Book by Mark Tulin

  1. What a wound to inflict. I hope you have piles and piles of marble notebooks now 😊

  2. Oh, one’s parents!

  3. Reggie German

    I’m sorry that happened. My younger brother did something similar towards me. He didn’t realize, at the time, what he ripped up meant a lot to me. Family love lol!

    • I don’t know how I forgave but I did. The wound is still there, however. ☹️

      • Reggie German

        I can only imagine. It was basketball cards and memorabilia for me lol.
        I don’t have kids, but I never throw away my students crafts or drawings, for this exact reason.

      • You’re a good teacher, Reggie. 👍

      • Reggie German

        I try Mark lol. Just have to get past that little power surge and realize you’re all working together haha.

  4. Mark, I am so glad you found courage to pick up your pen again and fill more note books…or clouds.
    What fear possessed your mother to throw away the work of her son. Deliberately. Beggars belief.
    Most of the time it is difficult to even throw away a scribbled drawing from primary school time.
    You are strong.

    • good question, Miriam. my mother had a severe mental illness. And her reasoning was hard to figure. At the time, I thought it was spiteful. But now, I attribute it to a fear of some sort. I know that as a young girl she wrote poetry as well. So it was surprising to say the least. One’s motives for such things are often complicated. ❓❓❓

  5. So glad you have been able to break the shackles, Mark. Keep writing and never lose your confidence. Exactly this is what I and many others lack, confidence, which made me write this poem: https://momentsbloc.wordpress.com/2016/06/14/confidence/

  6. parents can unwittingly be so cruel … glad you’re healing and still writing!
    That’s the most important point here 🙂

  7. Wow! I’m glad you chose to keep writing.

  8. Hello Gorgeous By Jeanette

    Powerful poem!

  9. Isn’t it interesting how such a traumatic thing can either discourage us, keep us from trying again, or get our goat & empower! I’m glad you write! I’m enjoying very much.

  10. 👵Moms back then didn’t realize how hurt full words come out of their mouths.😲 Come to think of it some still do it today. It’s a hand me down type of thing I guess. But could you imagine how her parents where back then. They weren’t allowed to imagine! 😭Luckily over the years imagination has made me a little more “bonkers”, well maybe more than a little. Can you do me a favor? 😎Can you get a blue, red, green color marble instead of black? A different color, a different kind of view. Take care!😉

  11. i too had written a love letter, which was found by my mother. Then a class was taken by my mother and father both. They feared if I had given some copies to the boy for whom the letter was written….

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