These poems are on the subject of estrangement and are written by parents, adult children and famous poets.

She’s a Long Way From Home

by Paula Nico

She never called
She never came
I waited.
As sunset's orange magnificence
cast a loving shadow
On her, I hold out
Hoping for some sort of amends,
A reconciliation.
While gathering my strength.
I purposely ignore her.
Impatiently I am carried
Off into a new and better way
Far away
From her presence, a cold bitter
Warning hardens her
I see time flickering away.
I endured many winters without her
All alone then and now
I pity her.
And when I traveled far away from her
She did not know how really close we were.
I often peered at her from my tiny window
Praying that she would sense my longing.
I knocked ever so softly just testing
To see if she would open up to me.
If she could have somehow found her way back
I would have gladly received her.
But she is blind and her days are in denial.
I would have flown to be by her side
And I would have rescued her, if only
If only I knew ...
She never called
She never came
I waited.
This poem appears in The Love Book, Healing Poems for Broken Hearts,
written and illustrated by Paula Nico. (Email: pnico@comcast.net)
Printed here with permission from Paula Nico © 2000

Charcoal by Mara McWilliams

Cappucino drive-thru

by Mara McWilliams

Cappuccino drive-thru,
No thoughts about you.
My life is picking up momentum
And yeah, I wanted to share it with them,
but emotionally, they have nothing to give.
Thoughts of sending an email.
But now, I’d rather just leave you guessin’
what I am thinking.
‘Course it’ll happen again.
Music pumping, speakers thumpin,
Screaming out the lyrics because I can relate.
You love ‘em because you’re supposed to,
when what you really feel is hate.
Either I walk away
or accept this fucked fate.
Can’t be different than who I am
This desire to please them is wearing thin
Years accepting all the blame
till I had enough
and stopped playing their warped game.
Three years went by,
my child growing and
time flying.
I figured,
why not try,
just one more time.
Interactions are fine until they’re not.
Backhanded compliments I simply shrug off.
Nothing new,
nothing’s changed,
they’re still the same.
A power struggle under the surface.
They pushed and pulled
revealing the worse in themselves.
And I’m not sticking around to see how it plays out.
The pain I feel is my internal shout.
A piercing pain through my heart.
Whether they’re in my life or not.
Forever grieving the parents I never got.

Mara McWilliams 2006 ©
Used on Estrangements.com with the permission of Mara McWilliams.
Email: maramcw@comcast.net
This poem and artwork may not be used without the explicit permission of the author.
Mara's website: Recovery Through Art

by Mara McWilliams: A Cutter's Pain


By Mara McWilliams

Family estrangement
so much better
than strangulation
Tired of the lies
like flies
That swarm around you
and your murky presence.

Altered reality isn’t
just your perception of it.
Trying to manipulate me,
Controlling every situation.
Everything you claim to be
Is completely contrary
To how you behave.
Yet I am expected to act loyally?
As what,
A testament to your insanity?
Aren’t the scars an my arm
reminder enough?
I’m my parent.
Now and always.
Jealous of kids
Whose parents are dead.
Stuck in the ground and DONE.
No more nothing
Sign, sealed, dead and delivered.
Haullejalluah free at last
Outta my head
Outta this reality
Would I then be
Free of how you damaged me?

Mara McWilliams 2006 ©
Used on Estrangements.com with the permission of Mara McWilliams.
Email: maramcw@comcast.net
This poem and artwork may not be used without the explicit permission of the author.
Mara's website: Recovery Through Art

I cry for you

 by Sharon L. ©2008

I cry for you,
I cry for me,
I cry for us
My heart is so heavy without you in my life
I'm hopeful and pray everyday you will want to be a part of me again some day
I'm so sad for you,
I'm so sad for me,
I'm so sad for us
My life is so empty without you
I'm hopeful and pray everyday we can fill each other with smiles and laughter again some day
I cry for you,
I cry for me,
I cry for us
My life is so lost without you
I'm hopeful and pray everyday we will be found together again some day
I'm so sad for you,
I'm so sad for me,
I'm so sad for us
I'm hopeful and pray everyday our tears of sadness will turin into tears of joy and happiness
I pray the sadness away.


by Sharon L. ©2008

Tears roll from my eyes, down my face into the depths of my soul.
My soul yearns for my son.
My heart loves my son.
I miss my son.
The loss of a child is a loss no one should have to bear.
The loss is almost indescribable - the feeling of depair.
The pain runs deep.
Tears roll from my eyes, down my face into the depths of my soul.
I miss my son.

I Wish That I Did Not Recall

 I wish that I did not recall
The special bond we shared
I might be able to move on
As if I didn't care
But when I close my eyes each night
My first born child I see
An answer to my prayers above
A gift God gave to me
I learned to be a Mom with you
A child I was no more
For now I had a son to raise
An honor not a chore
I held you and I sang to you
While rocking you each night
In time you sang along with me
Our melody just right
When you helped me in the kitchen
A cooking voice I used
It made you smile and laugh out loud
So easily amused
You called yourself my "Budkins"
Was always by my side
But oh you were a stubborn child
My patience you have tried
How proud I've been to be your mom
So special from the start
Your friends and love of basketball
The kindness of your heart
I'm thankful for the many trips
We took just you and me
Alone we got to spend some time
And made sweet memories
And through the years you were a teen
Tough times you had at home
I did my best when life was tough
And prayed you would not roam
We both made many choices
And some we may regret
But life is not a practice run
Once done the deed is set
You say that I talked down to you
A fact you did not know
Until the one you gave your love
Convinced you it was so
How wrong you are about me son
I've been your biggest fan
I stood by you through thick & thin
To hell and back again
How truly you must hate me now
To let me live this way
You have to know its killing me
I cry most every day
There was no chance to make things right
My crime was just too great
You chose to slam the door on me
And thus you sealed my fate
You live as if you're dead to me
A fact I can't deny
Has made me face my greatest fears
And cut just like a knife
Through the dark I turned towards God
To help me see the light
To give me strength to let you go
And trust I'll be alright
And now dear son you have your own
Sweet gift from god above
To know she holds your heart and soul
You'll understand my love
And so I know I must recall
The bonds of love we shared
And hold on to them tightly son
To help my heart repair
(Poem submitted by a mother for the Poems page.
No other information was provided.

Talk to Me


The drain is running
Slow in the bathroom sink.
Talk to me.
The weather has been rainy, cold and grey.
Talk to me.
The stuff I see on TV
Bores me half to death.
Talk to me.
Talk to me.
Damn it, talk to me!
What's new?
Are you blue?
Do you miss me?
Are you mad?
Are you glad?
Where's your head?
I'm your mom.
Where have you gone?
Talk to me.
Anything will do.
Bore me to death.
Say something.
Tell me what your cat did
In his litter box today
If necessary.
Just talk to me.

Virginia Caputo © 1996

The Divorce of the Mother and Daughter

Drawing of two people parting ways.

I loved coffee,
She loved tea.
We were family
And I loved her.
I love parrots.
She likes dogs.
We were family and
I loved her.
She voted one way.
I voted another.
We were family and
I thought she loved me.
She liked alternative rock.
I like the blues.
We were family
and I thought she loved me.
I like indie films.
She likes scary films.
We were family and
I thought we loved each other.
I could cook.
She couldn't.
We were family and
I thought we loved each other.
She visited
I got a migraine
She told me I was a bore but
I still thought she loved me.
So then ...
I got anxious
And she got angry.
We were family
But I thought she still loved me.
I sent an email.
I got no reply.
I sent another.
She told me I was nagging.
She said go to hell.
She called me a waste of ink.
I said let's take a break.
I needed time to think.
We were family
and I loved her.
I suggested a therapist.
She told me to see one
By myself.
I wrote her letters.
Silence was her reply.
I knew I was losing her.
We were a broken family.
The years went by.
We never spoke.
I missed her
And still I loved her.
I like coffee.
She likes tea.
I liked Ferlinghetti.
She likes to ski.
I like Thomas Moore.
She likes Danielle Steele.
We're mother and daughter.
We're black and white.
We're Bush and Clinton.
All we can do is fight.
She is salt.
I am pepper.
I'm day and she's night.
She's up
When I'm down.
There is no getting off
This merry-go-round
Of accusation and hurt.
It's all hit the fan
We can't repair
The damage has been done.
There's no winning or right
No one has won.
We've called the whole thing off
But I'll always love her.

Virginia Caputo © 2006



Today you will take the love
You will take the love back
From the ones who call you names
Who delight in despising you
Who smile at the thought of your pain.
You will take it back
From the one who calls you
E-donor, cunt, whore, manipulator,
Controller, liar.
Sperm-donor, bastard,
Bitch, loser, worthless.
The one who no longer wants your love.
No longer wants your mom-ness.
Your sister-ness.
Your dad-ness.
Your brother-ness.
Your daughter-ness.
Your son-ness.
Your friend-ness.
Your memories.
No longer wants them.
No longer wants you.
You will take it back.
Your love for her
You will take it back.
Gently you will take it
Because it has been so despised
So beaten.
You will take your love
And put it in a special beautiful box
That you have ready for it.
You will put your love in the gorgeous box
On a pillow filled with the softest down.
You will wrap the box in a fancy paper
Of your favorite color,
Tie it with a wide defiant red silk ribbon,
With ends that dangle down the sides
The tips cut to points that curl
In elegant silk spirals.
Adding a large proud dramatic bow
You will pick up your box with your love inside,
Carrying it gently, ever so gently, away
Without looking back
Though you are tempted to look
But you won't.
Carrying it gently away
Looking forward, refusing to look back.
You will look for a new home for your love.
There you will hand your love over
To gentle hands who will take the box,
Unwrap it gently,
Take your love out gently,
Hold your love, admire it and smile
At the beauty of your love.
You will feel your own smile begin
From your eyes and spread
Across your face, down your throat,
Warming its way down to your heart.
You will feel your heart smile.
You will hold out your arms and
Trusting you
They will hand you their box
That you will accept,
Unwrapping it gently, gently, gently
Opening it and taking out their love.
Treasuring their gift
As they treasure yours.
Your smile warming their heart
Their smile warming yours.

Virginia Caputo © 2008

The Uses of Sorrow

(In my sleep I dreamed this poem)

Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.

-Mary Oliver, from Thirst, by Beacon Press, Boston, 2006

Despair is the ground bounced back from.

Title of a poems by Alice Walker. I had a link to the full text but that link no longer works. So I guess we need to buy the book to read the poem!

- Alice Walker from The World Will Follow Joy: Turning Madness into Flowers (New Poems), Publisher: The New Press, First Edition edition (April 2, 2013)

Poems and Quotes on FragmentedFamilies.com

More poems and quotes are on the website of the author Ellen B. Sucov who wrote an excellent book on family estrangement.

Emily Dickinson

"Hope is the thing with feathers-
That perches in the soul-
And sings the tune without the words-
And never stops-at all."
    -Emily Dickinson 


Mary Alice Manley 

Oft have I watched a glorious sunset form,
Till all the west was brightened into gold;
Till all the east gave back the colors bold
In softened, mellowed hues, yet rich and warm.
And I have turned my eyes from such a sight,
Rather than watch the black usurp the gold;
And waited till the stars in myriad fold,
Has come to deck the peaceful brow of night;
I see, O friend whom I thought mine for years,
Your love which was the glory of my day,
Begins to wane; oh! let me turn away,
Nor bid me gaze until it disappears.
Let me remember that I had your love,
And what that love was, at its brightest hour,
Till looking up, I recognize the power
Of stars of comfort, shining from above.

from Poetry of Kansas


William Watson

SO, without overt breach, we fall apart,
Tacitly sunder—neither you nor I
Conscious of one intelligible Why,
And both, from severance, winning equal smart.
So, with resigned and acquiescent heart,
Whene'er your name on some chance lip may lie,
I seem to see an alien shade pass by,
A spirit wherein I have no lot or part.
Thus may a captive, in some fortress grim,
From casual speech betwixt his warders, learn
That June on her triumphal progress goes
Through arched and bannered woodlands; while for him
She is a legend emptied of concern,
And idle is the rumour of the rose.


Clark Ashton Smith

I have forgot, who once had part
In autumn and in autumn's grief;
Still the red year illumes the leaf,
But not the silence of my heart.
When poplars take the passing fire
And fling it on the windy skies,
I listen, hushed with lone surmise,
In hope to hear a vanished lyre.
Bravely, on some autumnal morrow,
The topmost leaf shall flame and die;
But in my heart an alien sigh
Wakes only with an alien sorrow.
In vain the falling leaves caress
A lute among the roses lost;
And the frail touch of petals tossed
Will leave it mute and tremorless.

The Saddest Words . . .

Of all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these: “It might have been.”
— John Greenlead Whittier, 1807-1892