This week’s poem, Mark Evan Chimsky’s “The Jangled World,” brings us into the unsettled, unsettling experience of dementia – for both a patient and a caretaking son. I love how this poem conjures both disorientation and familiar old melodies, and I shiver at the devastating clarity of its final lines.

Chimsky’s poems and essays have appeared in Kind Over Matter, Bullets into Bells, Wild Violet, The Oakland Review, The Journal of the American Medical Association, Xanadu, Mississippi Review and other journals. He has written for Huffington Post, Next Avenue, The Good Men Project and Thrive Global, and is a recipient of the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Award as New/Emerging Poet. He lives in Portland.

Poets, please note that submissions to Deep Water are open through the end of the year. Deep Water is especially eager to share poems by Black writers, writers of color, Indigenous writers, LGBTQ writers and other underrepresented voices. You’ll find a link to submit in the credits below.

The Jangled World
By Mark Evan Chimsky

You make your uncertain way down
the long hall of days
as if in a house that belongs to someone else.
But when you sit at the piano, your fingers prod
the keys and out of the clatter
a ribbon of melody floats up
like poetry rising from a chaos of words.

Your eyes once held me in dim recognition
and I was grateful that my name lingered still
in so far a place within—a shining prize
in the dark reach of a cave.
I laid out the blue pills and the red capsules
as if they were pieces from one of our old board games.
“Give me the nicest ones,” you would say,
smiling so I would not see
how small choices have their tyrannies.

I think of how you would be
in a different century, a jangled world
when there was nothing
to subdue the nightly terrors
or stop the whispers in the mind;
a time when sand ticked each second
and leeches pricked the skin.

Now, without the plain count of the daily regimen –
blue pills, red capsules – you
can’t find my name at all
and you shudder, cursing the stranger
who holds your hand and calls himself your son.

Megan Grumbling is a poet and writer who lives in Portland. DEEP WATER: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. “The Jangled World,” copyright 2022 by Mark Evan Chimsky, was previously published in The Poet. It appears by permission of the author. Submissions to Deep Water are open now and through the end of the year. For more information, go to

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