Prosthetic Love





                                        by Rus Bowden

                                        Prosthetic Love

                                        Your leaving takes my legs
                                        out from under me.
                                        No longer
                                        may I walk with you,
                                        my leaping days through.

                                        I devise wooden pegs
                                        on stumps
                                        and hobble off balance
                                        whenever I think I see you.

                                        I reach for you,
                                        arm stubs in thin air.
                                        If you were in front of me,
                                        you could feel me bump,
                                        and my weight
                                        as I topple
                                        face down.

                                        I install hooks and turn,
                                        gut wrenching
                                        at night, you
                                        not really there either.

                                        My heart tears out
                                        sunken through all this.
                                        I try replacement,
                                        but it is too tricky.

                                        I hear or read your name
                                        and cannot compose myself.
                                        From nowhere
                                        comes your voice,
                                        and I know I have lost
                                        my head.

                                        I would be nothing
                                        if it were not
                                        for phantom sensations.





As appearing in 2001 on the IBPC site.
Republished here with the author’s insistence.




9 responses to “Prosthetic Love”

  1. Enjoyed! I must have missed the original IBPC post for this poem.

    It’s worth more than an HM, in my opinion… but that’s the nature of the IBPC. Some months see many great poems competing, while other months are filled with weaker poetry. It seems somehow… unfair, i suppose – especially considering the poem of the year selection and its restriction to only 1st, 2nd, or 3d place monthly winners.

  2. Hi Carl,

    I’d love to see a year, when a second-place poem takes poem of the year for IBPC, and I’d love to see it when both judges are very highly esteemed.


    Hi Christine,

    Shouldn’t that first line be “took” instead of “takes” though?


    Both you guys,

    I had both of you in mind when I posted Getting a Poetry Column yesterday, thinking how you are both so well-suited to that.



  3. It’s a bit daunting in my hometown. We already have an extensive lit section in the paper, several magazines devoted to the arts, and frequent readings. Plus, the Georgia Review is pubbed here.

  4. Hi Bud, “Shouldn’t that first line be “took” instead of “takes” though?” Not necessarily, in my opinion. The present tense form of the verb implies that the pain is still there which reflects nicely how the loss of a limb continues to haunt a person. It’s been documented that most people who lose a limb continue to experience phantom sensations, and in fact, those sensations are key to learning how to use a prosthetic device. So, “took” is too limiting for the poem, I believe, especially since the whole meaning is a metaphor for loss, not just a literal interpretation of physical injury.

  5. Yes, I remember this poem, too. The last lines are particularly effective, showing what it means to be defined by one’s loss.


  6. Hi Christine,

    Probably so. You are the editor.


    Hi Carol,

    It’s great to see you here.


    And I just want to thank everyone who has and has not commented, for following the “C” rule, that only people whose first names begin with “C” should post into this thread.


  7. Bud, you’re in direct violation of section 1 of the C-Rule. I’m afraid I’m going to have to report you to Donald Rumsfeld (who posts on as “hungmale.”)

    Please immediately change your first name to something more sensible (ie a few letters after C, not necessarily in that order.)

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