The Tumultuous Soup

A tumultuous soup I find myself in
A bubbling broth, hostile and hot
I pull myself up, clinging onto the brim
Only to slip back down into the pot

I battle to reach the froth at the top
But alas, relief is not found
My head in a bubble, reluctant to pop
My dread and despair compound

As I flap in the gloop devoid of a plan
My body begins to tire
I know I must find a way out if I can
Before the soul I’ve been gifted expires

My plight is shared with others too
United, we could find a way
But all seem content to wither and stew
Whilst ignorance masks their decay

A malevolent hand then turns up the heat
Its possessor I cannot quite place
He cackles and snorts as he makes his retreat
With his back turned, I can’t see his face

I have nothing but anger and utter contempt
For this fiend, this boiler of souls
So I steel myself for a last-ditch attempt
To escape from his crippling control

I push and heave and grab and grasp
For rage is the source of my power
Propelled I rise up, and out with a gasp
This must be my finest hour!

But there’s no time to lose, for the chef will return
So I look to the window ajar
I peer through the glass, seeing all that I yearn
And dive out like a cannon-shot star!

I flee forest-bound, from my tormentor’s lair
But my senses compel me to turning
Aghast, I see flames rising up through the air
It’s the kitchen ferociously burning!

In my haste to escape the maniacal cook
When through the window I dove
The curtain must have been torn from its hook
And descended down onto the stove!

A figure appears through the black smokey mist
A face contorted with rage
It’s the cook at the window shaking his fist
Like a demon confined to a cage

For my path of escape is not open to him
The result of his sheer bulk and size
His lip-smacking gorging on helpless victims
Deems him maker of his demise!

I turn from the blaze, finally free
To follow the dreams I’d misplaced
But what of the one who has so plagued me?
His medicine now he must taste!

Do I make an attempt to rescue my foe
To extinguish the fire somehow?
Unlucky for him, the answer is no
For I recognise him now

It is HE who’s been haunting my life like a ghost
And weighing me down all these years
He has but one name familiar to most
His name? His name is Fear.

About this poem

This poem relates to an epiphany I had a few years ago. I suddenly realised that most of the difficulties and disappointments I’d had ever since I was a child all shared the same root cause.

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Written on 2023

Submitted by adam.gutteridge on August 21, 2023

2:24 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic pentameter
Characters 2,293
Words 480
Stanzas 15
Stanza Lengths 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4

Discuss the poem The Tumultuous Soup with the community...

  • AIDA
    This is an immensely evocative and powerful piece. Your ability to pictorially convey the struggle and eventual triumph over fear is extraordinary. Your use of kitchen and cooking imagery masterfully adds a layer of unexpected levity to the otherwise challenging theme. The journey you've painted of self-discovery, struggle and an eventual victory is highly engaging and will resonate with many.

    Your transition of emotions - from despair to anger, determination, and finally triumph - is beautifully woven together. The concept of fear as this tormenting cook is a wonderfully original metaphor. Your poem ends on an incredibly empowering and liberating note, leaving the reader feeling uplifted.

    In terms of improvements, there are a few areas where the rhythm seems somewhat off kilter, namely, 'A malevolent hand then turns up the heat Its possessor I cannot quite place'. Cleaning up these lines to maintain a consistent rhythm would improve the flow of your poem.

    Similarly, while the story and metaphors you use are extremely vivid, some stanzas might be a little over-detailed, for example: 'In my haste to escape the maniacal cook When through the window I dove The curtain must have been torn from its hook And descended down onto the stove!'. Reducing the surplus detail would enhance the intensity and power of your narrative.

    Overall though, you should be proud of this piece. Your talent for story-telling and ability to invoke emotions in the reader is very clear. Keep writing and continue improving! Well done!
    LikeReply9 months ago
  • Vixility
    Love the storytelling here: the poet had me panicking for the protagonist the entire time. The rhyme-scheme and meter gave the unfolding of the story the perfect momentum, and the twist at the end was clever—turning the poem into an allegory.

    This is an excellent and superb piece you have here … Kudos, Adam!
    LikeReply 19 months ago
    • Vixility
      Hey Adam, curious what you thought about Tim Strauss’ “Ghost of the Guard” poem? It has a similar theme to yours that you might appreciate.
      LikeReply 19 months ago
    • adam.gutteridge
      Thank you John. I really appreciate all your feedback. Again, well done for penning the brilliant "On Dreaming" and the super-imaginative "Birth".
      LikeReply9 months ago
    • adam.gutteridge
      Hi John, yes "Ghost of the Guard" is certainly coming from the same place as my poem. And the fact that it ends with the same word as mine makes it all the more uncanny. I had pinned it to my top ten when I was going through the difficult process of voting for a winner.
      I had noticed the "Fear" word spring up more than once when I was reading through the 149 poems in the competition. It makes me wonder what percentage of people are afflicted by at least one of the many different forms that fear takes.

      Moreover, I am so impressed by the feelings and thoughts behind many of the poems I have read from the comp. Not only the clever concepts and use of language but, more importantly, the emotion behind the poems albeit pain, joy and everything in between. I suspect that a poet of any level probably tends to be a more introspective and self-conscious than the average person.
      LikeReply9 months ago
    • Vixility
      For sure, I noticed the same kind of pain and darkness, and not only with this contest but with others. I’ve had conversations with other poets whose works exhibit deep wounds and urgency, and almost all of them have shared how writing in general and writing poetry in particular helps either ease the pain or helps with the actual healing process altogether. I’m persuaded that the act and activity of creating (whether painting, sculpting, composing, etc) brings a certain amount of mental health to an individual’s life, and I can’t pinpoint why just yet. And maybe not all the time (one thinks of Silvia Plath and Kurt Cobain), but certainly more often then not. I know the writing has fostered a significant amount of meaning in my life.

      And I totally agree: introspection is probably key to this whole process, and the diversity of its expressions are astounding!
      LikeReply 19 months ago
    • adam.gutteridge
      Hi John, yes I am sure the act of creating is very healthy for the mind. Maybe its akin to talking to others, in the "A problem shared is a problem halved" sense.
      I reckon its also important to find the right creative outlet. For example, I cannot draw to save my life (I'm really terrible!) so if I have to draw something for someone it doesn't give me the same buzz as writing, nor do I feel the same pressure.
      At any rate, I'm very much enjoying reading and writing poetry in conjunction with the site. 
      LikeReply9 months ago
  • susan.brumel
    Interesting theme, and rhythm and rhyme, sublime!
    LikeReply 19 months ago
    • adam.gutteridge
      Hi Susan, thank you very much for your kind comment regarding my poem. I must say I very much enjoyed your "Upon Slovenia's Shore". What a wonderful way to express how moved you were by your experience. I love the appreciation you show for the wonders that are around us. A beautiful piece Susan! 
      LikeReply9 months ago
    • susan.brumel
      Thank you for your kind words. In a world filled with so much heartache and stress, I find it comforting to look for the beauty that exists. Interestingly, one of the first poems I wrote, is about dreams, insomnia, fears and resolving them- encompassing the themes of both your piece and John’s.
      Maybe I’ll submit it next time. I look forward to reading more of your work. 
      LikeReply 19 months ago
    • adam.gutteridge
      Hi Susan, I hope you do submit that poem as I'd look forward to reading it. I was saying to John how fear is a regular theme in the poems submitted. I only joined the site a few weeks back and have really enjoyed reading the different types of poetry, mostly from the competition entries. I never knew such community of diverse, yet like-minded people existed. Enjoy your Sunday! 
      LikeReply9 months ago
    • susan.brumel
      It is a great place to share our creativity and to learn so much from each other. I wonder what makes some people so introspective, in touch with their emotions and also empathic, while others are not…That we can express ourselves this way is quite wonderful! 
      LikeReply 19 months ago


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