Perhaps famous then

If ever I do, a corpse would show up in the first chapter with no doubts as to the cause: murder most foul. (That is life, after all.) There’d be multiple victims too, the more the merrier and besides, they’re cheap. And they’d all be nasty characters whose banality made their painful ends necessary—good riddance. The culprit would be more nastiness whose iron clad alibi slowly rusts under the withering gaze of the eccentric, gruff, yet kindhearted hero/ine, who, after some stooge makes an innocuous comment, understands the impossibly irrelevant clues sprinkled hither and thither throughout the missive and determines how the improbable thing was done in the first place, and why. That’s always a crowd pleaser—why—even if not true. Then, after the guilty party stupidly brags a confession (which is—let’s be honest—good justice but bad law) the young love interests are reconciled, the obvious suspects are redeemed, the idiotic police are mollified and the whole shebang closed with the return of some incongruous and enigmatic scene that had started the whole thing off but which had, of course, nothing to do with the story—this to show you how arty I am: a grubbing lizard, perhaps, or something equally revolting.

I know, I know—it would be totally neo-romantic of me,
but still, a cozy, comfortable world where despite the corpses,
if not exactly because of them, we are not left instead
to hold the aging, crumbling books that we have in our hands,
half stories unfinished, chapters cut short, pages torn out
and the binding falling apart; and where,
when it is written—if it is written at all—it is written
so obscurely or quickly or densely that we cannot decipher it,
or remember it, or care about it once we know it; or worse,
we fool ourselves into thinking that we understand it
but don’t need it. Good riddance then, I suppose too,
but there’s no wonder—no mystery—in that, not really.
Or comfort.
I almost envy the corpses.

This is the second of a trio of narrative poems I have written recently. In fact, I chose to make the first verse entirely narrative because of its subject. Why, in my dotage, I have taken it upon myself to write this type of poetry, which is rare for me, I cannot say. But it is up to you to say whether the effort is worth it. (Some would say that any change to my style would be an improvement, but those people are mostly family members who can be ignored and their comments edited out.)

In the end, however, don’t let the jocular tone of the poem fool you. At its core, this is a very serious poem.

Thank you for reading Perhaps famous then. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.


© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2013 by John Etheridge,


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