No Homelike Place – With Reading

I am revisiting my poem ‘No Homelike Place’ for tonight’s dVerse Open Link Night, which is also an Open Mic Night. In response, I have added included a video of my reading the poem at the end of this post.

No Homelike Place

There is no homelike place
Only an empty space
Where once the toys were piled
A legend, etched in pencil on a wall
Growth of a child
Meticulously charted, inch by inch
And line by loving line
Too easily erased.

There is no homelike place:
All whitewashed now
The memories
Perhaps a paltry palimpsest survives
Beneath the pale magnolia emulsion
Records of past lives
Remain for years
Beneath the stains of nicotine and tears

There is no homelike place, only
Hotel rooms on the road
Nameless places
Homeless, faceless
Searching for a place to call one’s own:
A harbour, or a home
Or somewhere warm at least, at best
A homelike place.

There is no homelike place
For children of addiction and abuse
Whose carers breached the sanctity of dreams
And stole the sanctuary,
Of the playroom, of the nursery and school
Who for their selfish, careless use
Stole childhood, leaving them
No homelike place.

Praying we can find
A homelike place
We build our houses,
Sink squat castles in the sand, erect
Grand palaces and mansions:
And we say we are secure,
But we can never build without
The homelike place
Which we must seek, and find and build
Within ourselves; which nowhere else endures.

(c) 2020 All Rights Reserved.


Below you can find a video of me reading this poem. I am pushing way beyond my comfort zone doing this, as I don’t feel comfortable in front of the camera. But as my Yoga teacher would say ‘growth comes at the end of your comfort zone.’ So here goes…

58 thoughts on “No Homelike Place – With Reading

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  1. I love this poem,from the play on words, of the title, to the sad and sorry tale the poem shows, snippet by snippet. A tale that needs others to read, and think about.

  2. Ingrid
    Hope this finds you well.
    Just want to let you know how much I am enjoying this piece.

    The reconstructed idiom of the title alone would be smart enough in my book,
    but to sustain it and arrange it into this robust thought-poem of place is,
    dare I say…

    ‘We must be over the rainbow.’
    (PS: Thrilled at your endeavours toward your collection, also!)

  3. This is strong writing and good for you too doing the performance bit. Very well observed and poignant, I thought – all the while building to a conclusion that tells us truly how it is… A pleasure to read and to listen to!

  4. Very brave of you to read this, even more than to have written it. It’s a strong poem, and so poignant, what people, children can have stolen from them. Home is a difficult concept. We all want one but don’t necessarily know when we have it, though we certainly know when we haven’t got it.

    1. Thank you, Jane. It wasn’t easy for me to read aloud but sometimes I need to challenge myself. At the end of the day, what is the worst that can happen? I do it badly, then move on…

  5. Having heard you read it live on the pub and also understanding more of your own experience of leaving home was really impressive. So nice to have you on board with us. I think these times the concept of home has become even more important when you have to stay where you are.

    1. Thank you Bjorn – it was great to be part of the live event. Sometimes I feel at home, sometimes I don’t, but that has very little to do with the place that I live!

  6. “Home is where the heart is”, so they say. We were renters, moving often. I had domiciles, not homes. My first taste of Home came after the Navy, after college. But the key is realizing the feeling of Home starts within.

  7. This is so poignant. I like how you describe all the aspects of the no homelike place, particularly the second stanza, but then the sad reality of why makes it so powerful.
    To me, you seemed more relaxed reading it live than on your video.

    1. Thank you, Merril – yes, I feel uncomfortable in front of the camera. On the video it was more like a meeting, so that felt more natural!

  8. On the page or in the ear…or both…. and then, to have the masterful artist present it (sorta) personally…Oh, my.
    Bliss. This is one magnificently crafted work, Ingrid, and bravely presented as well. Salute!

  9. I enjoyed your reading at Open Mic, as I do this one, but I’m glad for the text. There is so much to consider in this. Many, even those who have a home, long for a homelike place, one of comfort and safety.

  10. I agree with Ken, there’s a lot in this and it is beautifully done, I particularly like the repetition of “the homelike place” and its inherent cleverness…JIM

    1. Thank you! I use repetition a lot in my poems, maybe I’m more of a lyricist at heart but I really wanted to get the point across with this one!

  11. I enjoyed listening to you read this poem a second time around and can only repeat what I said last night. The repetition emphasises the message and I love the way you played with Dorothy’s words to explore ‘the homelike place’, and returned to childhood, but at a distance, to the ‘legend, etched in pencil on a wall / Growth of a child’ that has been whitewashed.

    I like the thought that ‘Beneath the pale magnolia emulsion / Records of past lives / Remain for years / Beneath the stains of nicotine and tears’. When I was a teenager, I left home and country and returned to find my childhood whitewashed. It took me years to find a place that made me feel at home – and I’ve been here for twenty years!

    The stanza that really touched me on reading it this morning was the one about children of addiction and abuse – it made me cry.

    1. Thank you, Kim. I found it hard to read that stanza. Thank God I’ve never been the victim of abuse as a child, but we all know that such ugly things exist. And I’ve had my share of experiences with addiction both myself and from those around me.

      For me it was the other way round – I had a very fixed idea of home until finally I left and became dislocated from that ‘homelike place’ – now when I go back, it isn’t home anymore, and sometimes I don’t know where is. The closest I come to it is somewhere within.

  12. Your poem moved me deeply. As I struggle with the loss of my stepson to suicide, I think this “homelike place” was something he searched for in the wrong places. Addiction, divorce, depression…so many factors that rob the heart of the “home”. Building our own homelike place takes a lot of work and courage. Thank you for sharing this poignant piece. It was nice to see you live at our dVerse open mic.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment with all you must be going through. I am truly sorry for your loss. I lost my mum to suicide so that’s probably when the search for home started if I’m honest with myself.

  13. This is a great poem. You read it nicely. This opening was just beyond perfect:

    “There is no homelike place
    Only an empty space
    Where once the toys were piled
    A legend, etched in pencil on a wall”.

    “A legend in pencil”, such a interesting image.

  14. This is fine writing and great reading Ingrid, you didn’t disappoint! Did you record this on youTube? BTW, I loved the “live” OMN, hope it continues! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Rob! It was a great event, wasn’t it? I really enjoyed your sonnet. I recorded the reading on my laptop then put it on YouTube, but only for people with the link who visit via my blog.

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