Ruined Garden: A Poem by Mike Cole

He Walked through a garden he used to know

Whose beds took many months to sow.

The garden had been overgrown by weeds

Left untended and unwanted.

And so he walked those haunted grounds,

Not a crop left to be found.

He walked among the trellises,

Whose vines had long not bore a seed.

Crooked and bent they stood,

With splintered and hollowed wood.

So he sat in the garden a while,

waiting in the cold.


It’s National Poetry Month! This will be the second annual National Poetry Month series! For this month I am breaking down my poems and discussing the meaning behind each. To kick things off, we have ‘Ruined Garden’. The idea came about when I visited my old High School. Years ago I had planted a garden with other students as part of a club. Every so often we would harvest the vegetables, some we ate, the rest we’d donate to the local food bank. To my surprise, when I visited this year, the garden was decrepit. An overgrown relic of a bygone era. As with most of my poetry I like to make it a blend of experiences, a reflection of both reality while also keeping a certain magic to the poem itself. This poem I tried to reflect the magic of what the garden once was while also emphasizing what it had become. This poem leans on the more literal and I thought it’d be a good way to start off the month. It is Free Verse, as has become common with most of my poetry. I am a fan of couplets and having the poem continually rhyme throughout. Over the years, I have experimented more with adding imperfection to my poems and typically use it to emphasis poems that should be broken. When you have a rhyme, everything is neat and clean. People love it, I love it. When you add a sentence structure that does not have that perfect rhyme, you notice it, such as in line four. There are many words that rhyme with weeds, but by choosing not to, it simply stops and you have to jump to the next rhyme. This was repeated in the end of the poem to add a sense of finality and to reiterate that all is not well in the garden. There is a lingering sense of open-endedness as you do not know what happens to the man in the garden.


Hope you enjoyed! There’ll be two more poems this month, so stay tuned and as always, thanks for reading!

Lost at Sea: A Poem by Mike Cole

There was a ship lost at sea

Its destination not meant to be.

So it sailed as waters grew dark

The wind began to howl, and so swam the sharks.

When the storm passed, the horizon was left blue

Lost in the Ocean, there was nothing left that it knew.

The Happiness Equation

I’ve often wondered where I’ve wanted to take this blog. When I started, it was nothing more than an outlet to navigate the chaos in my life. The goals I set were distant and as such I needed not worry about the future. And then the future came and went and here I stand. At a crossroads. I suppose we’re always at a crossroads; and each choice we make, we are pushed further in one direction.

It’s been a bit since I’ve written and as I work towards producing more content, I find myself at a loss. I come home, exhausted from work and my go to is video games. I spent 5 years in College constantly improving my skills and I find myself more often than not wishing I was there, not here. A different time, a different place.

By the time I was graduating, my standard of living was wonderful. I wasn’t rich by any means, however, I was happy. And like a ghost, this is what remains. My sanctuary among a world that when it becomes certain, becomes rather dull.

I was always taught that this was the way to live; to make a steady paycheck with a great organization. However, the more I walk, the more it feels as if I’m being dragged through the sand. So I’ve pulled out the jumper cables and try to feel for a beating heart and sure enough, I can hear faint echoes.

My life needs lightning and I am comfortable with saying that I have failed myself. I have come to terms with mediocrity becoming “good enough” and excellence a pipe dream. And I am comfortable with saying that I am not satisfied, that I hunger for more. I miss the articles I used to write, my “learn and apply” method. Deep, thoughtful, and engaging.


It’s been interesting to see this article develop. I started writing this a few months ago; gutted the draft and then stopped. In an update to my “happiness equation” I’ve started making changes just this last week. I am juggling the old with the new and it is no longer enough to adapt, I am beginning to modify. Imagine your life as a canvas and since the world is far from perfect, imagine each moment being painted with broad strokes. What you once saw as imperfection you are now going over with fine strokes and precision brushes; the broad strokes are still there but the painting takes on new life and a completely different form.

I’ve started taking pride in my work and while I was initially opposed to subjecting myself to anymore grit in my life, I have now begun to embrace grit. I used to think I had enough grit for a few lifetimes over, however, working at a call center for the last 7 or 8 months has quickly changed that, My skin is thicker and that’s not a bad thing. Most of the time I thought I was stuck but after taking time to look back, I can see how much I’ve grown on an individual level. I used to think the growth was turning me into something I didn’t want to be but I realize it has turned me in what I need to be. I have the confidence now to tackle problems head on and finding myself run less and less. I have ran my entire life and only now realize that I do not trudge through the mud out of weakness but rather to gain strength.

It does not matter where I’m going, so long as I’m moving forward. As far as my goals for the year, I’m excited. I’ve been walking everyday and hope to begin intensive exercise soon. I have scheduled PTO and am thinking of camping for my first vacation. The money I’ve saved in the last 8 months has put a smile on my face and I finally have the means to start moving forward with my life.


I had an interview for a promotion the other day and that was a perfect time for me to reflect. I mostly talked in regards to my college experience and realized that was almost 2 years ago and most of the situations I referenced were around 4 or 5 years. I was hesitant to reference my current work experience, because, as much as I hate to admit, not quite the resume builder I had hoped. How do you quantify excellent customer service after a center point and how do you illustrate a portfolio with no projects under your belt? The response then becomes, by default, “I did my job and I did it well” or the equivalent of saying “it was just a job.” I chose to focus on personal growth in the interview, but it did make me think about my future and where I want it to go.

My main takeaway is that I am an acting again in my life and every situation I find myself in, is ultimately, when boiled down, a choice. I must receive some perceived benefit for myself and if I’m not, then the cost will ultimately lead me to other opportunities. The issue I think most people struggle with, then, is quantifying the cost-benefit. If a situation is neither good nor bad but simply is, you could, in theory, spend a lifetime being miserable. And perhaps, the equation is not so much in avoiding the bad but rather understanding that “happiness” lies in the highest highs and the lowest lows. When life sucker punches us and we’re able to stand, is that not a piece of the “happiness equation”?

In addition, how could we possibly appreciate when life is good without first knowing what we don’t enjoy. Yes, perhaps for some they have only ever been blessed with good fortune, but life has a way of eroding our best laid plans and I’d rather have a gradual build towards greatness than to have that given. We need to know how to manage the highs when we’re in them and temper the lows when we eventually fall.


Happiness does not simply lie in shifting your perspective. One can change ones mindset and while this helps for a while, if a person is not living to their full potential, then “good enough” is not simply “good enough”.

A prominent aspect of happiness is time. We’re constantly telling ourselves “if I had more time…” and once we find the time, we end up wasting it. But then the question becomes, was it truly a waste?

A prominent aspect of happiness is money. Yet once we acquire wealth, we keep working and acquire more and more. For some reason, the wealthiest among us are the most miserable.

We try to find meaning in our work and we work ourselves to death. 90% of the people who work won’t stop and what I’ve seen is work become all-consuming, as if their soul is slowly leaving their body until they are a husk sitting in a cubicle, with their skeletal remains grinning in what one might make out to be a smile. I however, opted for PTO.

So then, what is happiness?

The truth is, I don’t know. Happiness is a speculation, a pursuit. Almost everyone I’ve met has their own answer and those who can’t articulate why they’re happy are perhaps the wisest among us all. Happiness is a jumbled mess and is pathos at it’s finest. To truly smile and live, that is a feat; one our economists didn’t think of measuring when they designed our society. Happiness is beautiful, happiness is fleeting, and if you have it, then hold on and be brave enough to let go. For nothing last forever and it’s best to adapt and keep moving.


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That’s it for the article. With that said, what is your “happiness equation”? What makes you happy and what has your search looked like? Do you agree? Disagree? Sound off in the comments below!

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