Poem: Distorted Terrain by Mark Tulin

I was held hostage in the backseat of my dysfunctional family,

surrounded by borderlines
and controlling geeks.

“Keep calm,” I said to myself,
“you could get through this.”

Year after year
shattered windows, holes in the walls.

They didn’t know any better
but I did, I’m aware.

I just played their game
and let them have the wheel.

Let them think,
I’m part of their insanity
so they didn’t call me a freak

as we traveled in our metaphorical van
moody woods
and distorted terrain,
I offered to drive.


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.

5 comments on “Poem: Distorted Terrain by Mark Tulin

  1. Wow…😳 You nailed this one… I finally feel like I am in the driver’s seat but I sure do remember the helplessness of being the passenger in the back seat (with no seatbelt)…

    • Oh yeah. It feels helpless there. I’ve spent years being in that back seat,too. Feels good to be at the wheel. Thanks, Patti.

  2. Very impacting and catharctic poem, so emotionally intense. I like it very much. A shattered mirror of a family. Also, I like the change from “hostage in the backseat” of the “metaphorical van”to the final offering to drive, from spectator of the show to actor of life. In a way, the van stands symbolically for life itself with just one person in that shattered family who can take the reigns of it despite the dysfunction. Love the artwork too. Is this also your creation?

  3. I love your poem and your picture! Seems these days everyone wants to drive, but no one ever does!

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