guilty innocence

Prompt by Fireblossom over at Real Toads:

Today’s text, my flock, concerns incongruity. Specifically, we are going to try to write setting that doesn’t match action, or character that does not coincide with setting. Let’s start with the first.

For illustration, here is my poem “Garden Wall”:

 They stood daddy up
against the garden wall
and shot him through the head for writing against the regime.

Our ginger cat
hid behind the tomato vines.
Its eyes were yellow. The sky was blue. The leaves speckled red on the green.

The peaceful sunlit setting does not line up with the brutal act that takes place within it. This incongruity jars the reader and heightens the effect. 

What about the latter? For this, my poem “In The Year Of”:

 In the year of the pestilence,
in the time of the puppet government,
we fell in love.

We held hands, and gamboled 
as others doubled over and died.

In the year of the pogrom,
in the hour of the public noose,
we were giddy,

and grateful for our milky corneas
our couplings, and our luck.

Although this is not actually a love poem–but, rather, a piece about willful blindness–it *seems* like a love poem, played out against a backdrop of revolution and death. 

Both these examples are rather grim in their subject matter, but incongruity lies at the heart of humor, as well. It is the absurd, the thing we don’t expect, that is often the very thing which makes us laugh. And so, your poem can be light, if you wish. 

So, mix it up, explore incongruity. Then link! Please write a NEW poem for this prompt, and no haiku or such like. 

~~~~~~~~~

‘he’s dead.

your great grandfather

is dead.

you remember him

from the farm in Ireland don’t you?’

my fathers words hung in a mist

floating like wisps of other

before my eyes

i didn’t understand

the concept

of death.

i was 7.

i did remember the farm

and the man.

the memories

happy

and free.

but now

just

timelessness

silence

a void

the ground of normality shaken

my first earthquake moment

perhaps that’s what shock felt like

then i began to laugh

a strange shrill giggle

an open evisceration of

internal angst

and misunderstanding

now it was my father’s turn

not to understand

and so he knocked me

into next week

and future guilt

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Image~ Corruption In Innocence by StephJo on DeviantArt

21 responses to “guilty innocence

  1. My family often deemed my reactions to things inappropriate, either too emotional or not emotional enough. I resonate with the line about a lifetime of guilt all too well.

  2. Death and childhood are indeed two completely incongruous things–at least in our age(thinking of Poe, who allegedly spent days traveling to the burial site with his dead mother’s body at age 2) You capture that well here–the shock, the way your mind can’t wrap around it all, and the grieving adult who cannot behave as one and lashes out in consequence–well said.

  3. Such a meaningful reading.. you capture the moment, the misunderstanding, the failure of communication with unerring precision which I could feel quite distinctly.

  4. I’m not sure why this is broken into short lines; it seems to me it would work just fine as a prose vignette. In an case, I used to laugh from nerves when I was in trouble or overwhelmed, too. I recall being brought into my older brother’s room by our mother, because i had drawn on his radio with a marker, trying to make the black speaker mesh blacker. I didn’t think it was funny, but i couldn’t stop giggling, and so of course, that made it worse, and I *knew* it made it worse, but couldn’t stop.

    • Thanks for the comment. I broke it up because that’s how it sounded when I read it aloud. I wrote this one with a specific intention to read…perhaps that’s why although I do agree it word work well as you suggest. Laughing at inappropriate moments was something that took me a few years to unlearn.

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