Bartleby: A Study


View from a darkened room –


how crude the colors,

blue walls,

yellow walls,

scary their truth.


Life in a blackened womb,

absorbs sane sound,

blue tunes,

yellow hues,

concertos of doom.


What frightens me most?

I’m not sure that (and I hate using “that”)

blue is blue,

or yellow is real.


I just know there are walls, next to walls, abutting more walls

And I fear

what I think I see

from taunting bricks and mortar

is not the truth.


It’s a lie.

It’s a lie.

It’s all a lie.


Time for a nap,

I sure miss the sky.


View from a darkened room.




40 thoughts on “Bartleby: A Study

  1. whew…i feel everything kinda closing in on me…i like the questioning of reality…and the moments where the narrator kinda interupts himself as well (comment about that, ha)

    • A very interesting short story, not an exciting read, and Melville’s tale had many layers, but his discriptions of walls came to mind when I saw the photo you offered. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Very claustrophobic and, if that was the effect you either felt or wanted to convey, it worked. 🙂
    The whole feel of this is so precise, concise and so effective Henry. Really enjoyed it.

  3. Your poem represents well how our minds go in circles when we’re trapped in our (same) ideas and we don’t go out to gain perspective… Great use of colours too.
    I especially like these lines:
    “Time for a nap,

    I sure miss the sky.”

  4. Life in a blackened womb absorbs sane sound… terrifying and yes yellow that is a scary colour it seems to absorb everything too… forcing you to pay attention. Very much enjoyed… great write!

  5. I thought mine had some claustrophobic elements, but this takes that aspect to a much sharper level. This disturbed me, the sense of a slipping sanity, or perhaps one that was never truly there to begin with…the problem of blinders imposed (or allowed?), further destroying a perception of truth, allowing madness in. Awesome work.

  6. Awesome allusion to The Tombs, heart breaking that even after being offered the best food he starves to death. You do bring the gloom, claustrophobia, and intense depression into sharp focus, transfering the feeling to the reader. Like Sterne’s starling in A Sentimental Journey, we cannot get out. Excellent, but I see what you mean about not being funny or sexy.

  7. danadampier says:

    I’ve gotten real close to feeling this very feeling… being trapped between unforgiving walls. Cabin fever is NOT a pleasant thing.

  8. I like it; but I would have written only:
    “I’m not sure
    blue is blue,
    or yellow is real”
    on the other hand “I hate using “that”” resembles the register of the ending lines “Time for a nap. I sure miss the sky”
    So at least you’re not alone between walls, because you seem to have a couple of voices inside.

  9. That was great fun — well written.
    BTW, don’t know if you know this, but in WordPress, if you hold the shift-key while hitting the return-key, you won’t get a line break. That would keep your poem lines closer together and you could break stanzas by not holding the shift-key.

    Then I wouldn’t have to scroll so much ! 🙂
    Again, fine poem, thanx!

  10. I can recall feelings like this as a sick child in a darkened room. The walls beyond walls, abutting walls come back very clearly, not that I would have put it like that then. Excellently done.

  11. your rhythm feels fresh though your subject is slowly stagnating. I enjoy the subtle juxtaposition and also enjoy the acceleration “it’s a lie. it’s a lie. it’s all a lie.” fading off into something of a required nap. a wonderful, thought provoking poem.

  12. Laurie Kolp says:

    Powerful, Henry… especially:

    I just know there are walls, next to walls, abutting more walls
    And I fear
    what I think I see
    from taunting bricks and mortar
    is not the truth.

  13. I’d say it’s time to lose our fear of heights and hit those roof tops Henry…catch some of those wishes and kick-down some walls…too feisty? Love that the same image spoke to you as it did to me…and love the response evoked…despite the sense of smothering 😉

  14. Chaty Lorens says:

    I thought this was rather strong poetry. I clearly saw the Bartleby wink, a short story of great beauty that never ceases to disspoint me (if you sense what I mean). You did so much with SueAnn’s image–truly well done. Congrats on this.

  15. This poem was my interpretation of the point of view of a character in a pretty well known short story. The walls made me think of Bartleby and what he might write about these walls if he chose to 🙂

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