Photo Story: What Came Before

Before they searched him for ID to notify someone;
before police called for a body pickup;
before a caller said he looked dead;
before a mumbled cry was overheard;
before he hit his head on the dumpster;
before he ripped off his stained clip-on;
before he left the back exit, sliding along the wall;
before the bouncer told him to call it a night;
before the third lady spilled her drink when she shoved him;
before another drink or two, so he could tell his wife;
before leaving, permanently, at the boss’ request,
he arrived late again, with a hangover.

Ken Gosse usually writes light verse with traditional meter and rhyme but has departed from that format for some of his short, ekphrastic stories.

 Photo Credit: Lynn Mundell

9 Responses to “Photo Story: What Came Before”

  1. Ken Gosse says:

    Let me thank Lynn Mundell again for inspiring my poem with her photo, especially since today, 10/16/22, its partner poem, written after this one but in forward-chronological order, “Clip-on Tie in a Gutter” (also 100 words), was published by The Rye Whiskey Review:

    ryethewhiskeyreview.blogspot dot com/2022/10/clip-on-tie-in-gutter-by-ken-gosse dot html

  2. Kirsten Love says:

    Such a smart way to tell this story. Bravo!

  3. Lisa Verdekal says:


  4. Teddy Kimathi says:

    It felt as though I’m going back to time reading this awesome piece! A five-star work in my view!

  5. Sandra Brown says:

    Clever way of writing a story that tells us so much.

  6. judekelvin says:

    i think the beginning of this masterful art is in the end, i don’t but! beautiful work, there’s a feeling to my i don’t know, your work is the best, take time to go deep and you own the world… an advice to myself, thank you

    • Ken Gosse says:

      Thank you, Jude. I was surprised how quickly the storyline came to me. Realizing that the photo was somewhere in the middle, I came up with the ending first then worked my way back and decided to keep it in that order. I sketched about 15 lines which were slightly over 100 words then combined and edited them down to 100. When I noticed that “before” started three lines, I added it to each and readjusted for the word count. I really like how this turned out.

  7. Jon Remington says:

    I actually have thought about this story a lot since i first read it, guessing it would win.

    This is such a good piece. Inspiring work.

    I like how the entire thing is purely descriptive.

    Thanks for the good read.

    • Ken Gosse says:

      Many thanks, Jon. Once the concept hit me, it seemed to roll out by itself within a few words of 100, so I only needed to trim a little. It’s one of my own favorites.

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