the signature of
mental sadness
{love, hippolyte}

the night

i showed you
the shape
of insanity

you called me a liar
and a thief

screaming your colorful
banshee derision and demanding
the return of your soul

i had no way
to make you understand

i’d given up my science
for you

walked away from theory
and formula

left behind explanation
and conclusion

i wanted to show you
my passion

i wanted to offer
my heart

i wanted to light
the darkness
with new stars

and share the pattern
love makes
as it races
through the night
from you
to me

but you
were unable
to see




Hippolyte Baraduc (1850–1909) was a French physician and parapsychologist. He believed that the soul could be captured with a camera, and made the capture of those images his life’s work.
Today I am honored to be hosting over at dVerse Poets with a prompt to write as a member of the opposite gender (hope you’ll join us!). I chose to be Hippolyte in love, where none of those pictures could ever be enough.
Photo (entitled The Signature of Mental Sadness) from Baraduc’s book The Human Soul, Its Movements, Its Lights, and the Iconography of the Fluidic Invisible.

19 Responses to “the signature of
mental sadness
{love, hippolyte}

  • Mary Says:

    I like the perspective you wrote from, from inside the mind of Baraduc. I don’t know anything about his love other than what you have shared here, but to me it sounds like it was less than perfection. Perhaps unrequited? Frustrating to talk with someone, only to realize they just don’t ‘see.’

    Thanks for prompting, Kelly! You challenge us in a good way!

  • Bjorn Says:

    What a sad story.. and what a wonderful image of what happens when you cannot communicate. The reference to facts and science works well for me.. and yes all those things we give up for love.

  • X Says:

    Very nice. I like the twist of finding a character to write about, as it gives you an interesting foothold.

    I showed you the shape of insanity – is a very cool line. I might have to play off that in a poem.

    This is packed with feeling, of desire and wanting – that leaves one so cold in them not being able to see.

  • claudia Says:

    that is a very cool prompt – would love to join but taking a break at the moment due to personal stuff in my life that i need to sort…
    the character you chose is fascinating and i like how you fill this with life and passion…so sad when the other is not able to see and feel

  • Grace Says:

    First, I love the title & backgrounder notes ~

    I admire that shape of insanity, the passion to offer the heart, and sadness of not being able to share this with the loved one ~

    Thanks for the challenge Kelly ~

  • kanzensakura Says:

    Interesting perspective. I think of how early criminologists thought the image of the killer would be “captured” in the eye of the murdered. I have seen a few of those old, odd photographs that never show anything except the blank dead eye. I digress. This is a most excellent poem. the last two stanzas are amazing.

  • Glenn Buttkus Says:

    I like this poem a lot. It is a history lesson poetically, a terrific illustration of your prompt; written so cleverly it is almost transgender. I believe that Love is a hot house plant, & it requires attention daily; it is perennial, but can die from neglect, misunderstanding, or apathy.

  • Kathy Reed Says:

    Wow, I really felt the depth of this, probably from a different standpoint than most. I thought of my mentally ill son and his plight with inability to process life efficiently like we do. Frustrating and sad to see..or to not see results, no matter how hard one tries.

  • Sanaa Rizvi Says:

    An incredible take on the prompt 😀
    Excellent write 😀

    Lots of love,

  • Pleasant Street Says:

    This is so powerful. I almost fell off my chair. You did in your poem what I was trying to do. Marvelous

  • Candy Says:

    what a strong voice! super.

  • Gayle Walters Rose Says:

    I appreciate the background info, Kelly. It’s almost impossible to share love with someone who doesn’t share your passion or should I say shows no interest in your passion. I could feel his desperate longing and sadness. So well done!

    And thank you for a most interesting prompt.
    Gayle ~

  • KATiE MiA FredericK!iI Says:

    Ah.. the science of the human
    heArt.. spiRit.. SoUl balance
    goes below above
    and out..
    all around..
    and never ever
    by a scientific
    has no
    GOD’s hAnds
    as they guide

  • vivienne blake Says:

    I wonder if any person can truly ‘see’ the soul of another? Your protagonist suffers from the inability of his lover to comprehend, and this is a very real situation. Beautifully interpreted.

  • Just Joyfulness Says:

    Great prompt, Kelly. And very challenging too. Loved your poem. A frustration I feel and can therefore relate to in my dealings with the man. Very interesting background too, about Baraduc.

  • lenny Says:

    I love the title, and the way it feeds into the first line … as if the night itself is the signature of sadness.

    What a scary feeling to show someone your insanity and have them call you a liar, meaning that they don’t believe you’re insane … just deviant or something.

    I love this:
    “screaming your colorful
    banshee derision”

    Really, the whole thing is flawless. Your indentations are particularly effective in adding depth and dimension. Exquisite work.

  • Nato Says:

    What powerful lines! I love the intensity of it.

  • De Jackson Says:

    Whew. Man, I love this.

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