Saturday, November 3, 2012

Poetics: the black eyes of ignorance

by SueAnn

'what do you tell a woman
with two black eyes?'

he says, the whites of his teeth,
dark lips, own eyes wide
anticipating the payoff

'nothing, you already told her---
twice.'

& it takes a moment, half the male pop-
ulation already tittering, ladies smolder-
ing---perhaps shock at his callousness
silences me for seconds---

it's not that he's a bad kid, or even labeled
misunderstood, nor a member of the locker
room club, just a boy in first period
who thinks its funny

to beat on women & he's not alone
obviously---i mean what isn't fun about the wet crunch
of bone as knuckles crack cartilage & sockets, broken
vessels filling in flesh like crayons melting
in the summer sun on the dashboard of dad's
pickup truck---'fuckin' & cookin'---that's what
they good fer, aher, aher'

& the way they beg for more, 'dont....stop....'
's what i heard, or 'that's what she said'
& their laughing, they're laughing,

a pack of jackals, spittle
spinning off their chins cornering a cub
circling in for the kill...HahAhaHAha
HahAhaHAHAHA

no
                nO
      NO

NO
                NO!!!!!

(silence.)

silence
      & no pin drops

silence
      & wind whistle through the ruins
      of homes, passed every day, of people
      respected in community, church on sunday,
      all-american & charming
      but behind closed doors

silence
      & the stain creeps along the wall, if noticed
      dismissed by accessories of complacency

'what? it's just a joke."

silence.
       a silence
       i won't
       accept---

'Everyone have a seat!
       let's talk about black eyes
       &
       ignorance.'

Today @ dVerse Poets, I am hosting Poetics & bringing along a long time blog friend SueAnn, who has graciously provided her photographic art for inspiration. The above is just one of several pictures we will be using to write today. I will open the doors at 3 PM EST. See you then.

I had planned another write, but this was a bit of my day in my classroom yesterday that just kinda forced its way onto my page.

93 comments:

Mary said...

One

Lisa said...

Two, hehe :)

CiCi said...

I didn't realize it until I finished reading this post that I was holding my breath while reading it. Then tears. Too close to home. Some things take so many years to put out of mind. Great writing though, especially the touch you add about ignorance.

Lisa said...

What's the clue for Poetics Brian? I'll visit SueAnn and look at her pictures. And your poem tonight is no joke, I didn't mean to kid with my first comment. At first I didn't understand two black eyes, until I continued reading.

California Girl said...

You build the power of the ultimate message slowly. We think it's about violence because the opening grabs us viscerally. But the power lies in overcoming: ignorance, tradition, learned behaviour. THAT is the message I hear.

kaykuala said...

Pummeling a woman ending in both eyes black is atrocious. Strangely it's happening bur rarely made known. And they're good only for f....g and cooking shoved woman down to so low. This reveals the contempt that resulted in the black eyes! Nicely Brian!

Hank

Grace said...

Yes, ignorance about other's culture and opinions is a grim reality. This made me remember the video of young men beating up an old man in the street. Did anyone helped...no one did.

If you can teach these young ones that its not a joke and that those fists hurt, it will go a long way to maybe saving a life ~

Happy Saturday ~

DJan said...

I was also abused in a marriage and this brought back those days to me. Thank you for standing up for me, Brian, and for every woman who has ever felt a fist in the face.

Daniel said...

Sometimes you have to let your writing dictate itself. This happens to me from time to time.

mrs mediocrity said...

Oh, this gave me chills. Overcoming that ignorance is the answer to breaking the chain of violence that is often passed down from generation to generation. I admire your tenacity, and your open heart.
Fabulous, heartbreaking write.

Brian Miller said...

oh i had to reign myself in real quick in the moment...i think they could tell i was boiling pretty good thus their silence when that first NO popped out of my mouth...

manicddaily said...

Awful. Wonderfully presented. Geez. Makes me feel sick here. k.

uneven steven said...

yeah unfortunately seems we're all familiar with that kind of behavior from our own school days- probably just gets less apparent and less group oriented as people get older- more "civilized" all it takes for evil to take root is for good people to do nothing- what's really scary true is someone described the meetings with those titans of wall street as being just like high school!

Pat Hatt said...

Anyone to think such a thing is a fun joke
Is surely near the path to being a beater bloke
Thinking it is okay
As many see it at their home display
No excuse what so ever
Seems the rather dumb think they are clever

Rene Foran said...

Glad you schooled them

happygirl said...

Maybe when we hold people like Chris Brown contempt instead of esteem. Maybe when women choose the good man instead of the bad boy. Maybe, maybe... strong piece.

Mary said...

Glad that you addressed reality, Brian. A woman was just murdered here two weeks ago (along with some other innocents) by a man who had abused her for a long time. It definitely is no laughing matter, and no one asks for it. A strong write today, Brian.

RMP said...

I can only begin to imagine that conversation. I can see how it would have stuck with you until you poured it out into the page (and yet still it is certain to continue to linger at the edge of your mind).

a very strong (and touching) piece.

Laurie Kolp said...

Oh dear, this one cuts deep... I'm glad you took the time to discuss that, whereas many teachers just ignore.

Yesterday a sub had a stroke in my middle child's class... talk about scary!

JANU said...

A powerful message here...a lot of it we are used to but, rarely speak up.
A completely gripping poetry.

Jenny said...

Sounds like you had quite a tasking day with the class. Hope they appreciate that you spent the time to tell them the "reality" of society..do's and don't's.....meaningful write, Brian

izzy said...

Great job Brian.
The cross over line from ignorance to anger and back again...I try to teach the young people around me how to address their anger-but sometimes you don't have the opportunity to catch cultural abuses that easily. Thanks.

Eva Gallant said...

this reminds me of an experience I had when I was teaching; I'll repost it next week.

sage said...

Good job--you start out slow and draw us in and then we come to the realization of the horror of it all.

Zouxzoux said...

Yikes! A totally visceral read, very well written. (and not too many adjectives - heehee)

Mama Zen said...

This is a tough, powerful write.

Gloria said...

what sad Brian, what sad , years, months, and is the same horstory you know, is not only about violence is about power too:(
have a nice saturday!

rosaria williams said...

Yes, talk, and talk and break that ignorance and arrogance that trap them for life.

Anna Montgomery said...

WOW, the emotion roars from the page, it was like being there and I was shaking and crying and wanting to scream NO. I'm super impressed and apparently trauma triggered so I'll leave my comment at WOW, amazing work!

tatiusdarksong said...

A topic not many want to talk about, I've heard the joke before and many similar and some worse. To me it's amazing how ignorance breeds cruelty and how cruelty breeds ignorance. excellent write Brian

farawayinthesunshine said...

I got chills once I understood the first few lines...I have to admit I re-read it three times.
The fact you decided to be open about it in your classroom gives me hope. Too much violence everywhere, it is time we all start to take a stand. Thank you for what you do here Brian

Beachanny said...

I'm afraid that ignorance, cruelty,violence, and sadism still runs rampant in the veins of humans. We yearn for transcendence yet forever (even with children) seem stuck in the mire of chaos and primitivism. Dear Brian, ever diligent, to re-write the brain's links. Wishing you Godspeed!

anglachel27 said...

This left me feeling sick, disgusted at us, at how much we still haven't advanced as a species. Great words, images blending with the form itself.
Gene

Sue said...

I'm glad you didn't let it pass, Brian.

The poem was so visceral it sickened me. As it should sicken those boys.

Seems you will be teaching them a lot more than the subject you were hired for...and that is a very good thing.

=)

vbreverb said...

Let's hope that this boy who is not "a bad kid, or even labeled
misunderstood, nor a member of the locker
room club," really is "just a boy in first period
who thinks its funny" to tell teenage macho jokes, and in reality, would be appalled by the idea of striking a human being, female or male. Unfortunately, we've all seen peer pressure transform good kids into temporary monsters. Powerful post--and so well done.

Natasha Head said...

The wisdom of HIS elders has stuck, eh...perhaps you can save the child, but it's his "teachers" who need the lesson. Thank God he found his way to your classroom...sometimes the lessons that stick come on the heels of the awkward silence. Love it! Love it! Love it!

ed pilolla said...

there really is a tenacity about your work and message of standing for justice. your prose has a clean and vigilant quality, too. it's all amazing craftsmanship.

Who Is Afraid Of Miss Lovett? No, Mrs.Lovett... said...

"silence & wind whistle through the ruins of homes, passed every day, of people respected in community, church on sunday,
all-american & charming
but behind closed doors"


Hi! Brian...Thanks, for sharing [the image]and your very [descriptive] poetic words:
"imeanwhatisn'tfunaboutthewetcrunchofboneasknucklescrackcartilage&sockets,brokenvesselsfillinginfleshlikecrayonsmeltinginthesummersunonthedashboardofdad'spickuptruck..."
...as you give voice to those who suffer at the hands Of someone/others being [very] ignorant and [very]cruel.

deedee :(

anotherwanderingsoul said...

so intense... made my insides catch on fire.
very powerful write, Brian!

Daydreamertoo said...

I truly despair about what the youth of today think is becoming 'acceptable' as the new norm. It is beyond me how anyone but truly ignorant people can think such behaviour is okay, let alone comical. My step-father was such a bully, he destroyed out home a couple of times through temper so, this hit home to me.
Thank God there are still sensitive people, educated people, people like you who care enough to try and sit these youths down and tell them how and what life really is about and not their false bravado of sick violent movies where it's a 'mans' way to keep his 'woman' in her place.
Another heartfelt piece from you.

festivalking said...

Brian I am touched by the picture you have created in my head of domestic violence through this piece... the building takes on its true dreary form now.


A blessed weekend to you.

henry clemmons said...

BRAVO! A very excellent discription of this topic. This needs more eyes to see and read.

ayala said...

Sad..a powerful write!

Poet Laundry said...

ugh...brought chills and tears...teaching my boys too that some "jokes" are just not funny and more than that--they're frighteningly sickening.

SueAnn Lommler said...

Yes! Let's talk about the black eyes and broken ribs...for sure!!
Well said and written.
Thank you for this honor...!!!
Hugs
SueAnn

hiroshimem.com said...

OMGod how you wrote beautifully on such a sad situation. My poem kind of follows yours... trying to rise over all the pain women have endured. Thank you for sharing with us on a serious topic, and for introducing us to SueAnn's art!

Glenn Buttkus said...

grew up myself watching my stepfather batter my mother; your piece stings with authenticity. Where were you when I needed a teacher with such compassion? Stiff crapping your diapers, but playing catch-up ball now! Good job!

pandamoniumcat said...

You bring home a brutal reality...a sad reality... an incredibly powerful poem.

marousia said...

Chilling powerful writing - there is a really important message here

Roslyn Ross said...

We chose the same image Brian and saw it in different ways. Your poem is far more imaginative. Great stuff.

lucychili said...

power is funny/light to the powerful

i wonder about war games and zombies
so much fun in violence, in killing people who don't count. others.

drones play the same pattern beyond the domestic.

lucychili said...

this is how i got to zombies
http://souciant.com/2012/10/monsters-are-real/

via the amazing Barbara Dieu

Dana Dampier said...

It is sad that children are growing up thinking it is okay to be violent and close minded. That is what they are seeing at home and that is what they think is okay. Until someone speaks up and tells them otherwise... then they too will be ignorant.

Sabio Lantz said...

Excellent. "Jokes" must be confronted -- when they aren't funny.
Like you, I saw a parallel from the photo, to other situations.

She Writes said...

I have a feeling this is true. Ugh. No, I know this is true. You know what I mean? The way we writers sway between the lines of reality and mystery. I repeat my first line.

She Writes said...

I like that you didn't romanticize this. You didn't act like you care about Haiti and set up a link. Instead you actually participate from a position of extreme discomfort.

lookingforroots said...

Oh. I just got completely wound up in this. What a story you tell! Great writing.

Lorraine said...

NO you said, no it's not funny, no she doesn't deserve NO NO No to violence, no and never, Brian you can say it and mean it . You are not part of the collective mind, you know right and you know wrong. And I'm glad you never hesitate to say so...Bless you always

ladyfi said...

Oh gosh - how atrocious. And how sad - he must have picked that attitude up from home. So glad he has you to set him right.

Madeleine Begun Kane said...

Wow! Very powerful. Well done!

my heart's love songs said...

rough day, Brian! i really worry that not just old stereotypes and ideas will be handed down, but that all the digital technology, along with the rest of modern technology, is desensitizing both boys and girls to the reality of hurting someone... even killing them.

hard on you, i'm sure, but i'm grateful there are teachers like you!

John (@bookdreamer) said...

Shocking story behind the poem and image. Hope you set some minds free!

Dave King said...

I can relate to this through the involvement I've had with child abuse. It doesn't seem that much different. Just the excuses change a tad. But this is powerful stuff - the outsider seeing it more clearly perhaps? There should be more like this around.

Fred Rutherford said...

strong, emotionally driven and evoking piece. Sometimes certain things happen that just demand the attention of our poetry. About as good of an example of this as I can think of. Thanks

Valerie said...

And so, without the likes of you, the violence goes on. Thank goodness there are people like you, Brian, who are in a position to nip this in the bud.

Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell said...

I'm glad this opened a discussion because that kind of violence should never be swept under the rug or ignored.

Nilanjana Bose said...

very graphic, very powerful....the closing line is amazingly superb...love how you have written and celebrated two ladies in your prompt in a very personal way and then stood up for all of womanhood in your poem...

A Cuban In London said...

F...ing hell! That was... It left me speechless. Yes, I recognise that type of ignorance, and I recognise that type of "banter". It was too close to home, same as CiCi, not because I lived it at home, but because I saw it at a neighbour's.

Thanks, mate. That was out of this world.

Greetings from London.

Joan Barrett Roberts said...

Brian,
Superb and powerful visceral writing. Such a critical issue of our time --

Great prompt for Poetics, thank you!
Love Sue's art as well. Thank you for sharing her work with us!

Raven said...

Brian ... the depths of your humanity sometimes amaze me. Blow me right out f the water really. Someone up above said they held their breath. I gritted my teeth. I gritted my teeth but there was no pain, just gratitude that today I am a different human being. Your writing is good - everything is very well connected and understood, oh and illustrated meaning through your words not the prompt.

This does happen in every culture and every class. And believe me I know as I pretty much lived a life of abuse at home (not quite to this degree physically - but beyond this degree emotionally) in my youth and then I repeated it throughout my first marriage -and it was definitely this bad - I relate. Those were the days when there were no safe houses, no safety net. Oh and the family - connected to the auxiliary police covered it up - we don't want to endanger his reputation or get him in trouble now do we? I am very lucky I was the first of 6 wives. Then he went on to purposely kill three women by giving them AIDS. He died at 46 - 21 years ago.

jane hewey said...

I know I've said this before, and it is unanimous on this page,,, you do good work, Brian. Thank you for giving this topic some light here with these compassionate readers. I believe people can change. Your poem is very well constructed, easy to follow if not easy to ingest, your title is perfect.

Alice Audrey said...

This is why I firmly believe any victim of wife abuse who kills her husband should be automatically let off as self defense.

Cressida de Nova said...

Depressing reality of violence domestic or bullying whatever is cultural and part of the human condition and becoming more prevalent as the world becomes more secular and non spiritual.

Humans are herd animals and it is instinctive to behave like jackals
ganging up and' circling the cub'
The veneer of civilisation and socialisation is very thin.
"Lord of the Flies" is a good novel to illustrate this point.

Good poem.

Sh@s said...

Glad that you wrote on it.

Susan Daniels said...

Brian--all I can say is WOW. Nothing funny about 2 black eyes.

Tigerbrite said...

A powerful and deep portrayal of inhumanity,cruelty and rape. Physical and mental.

flaubert said...

Wow! Brian, what has happened to today's youth, there is nothing funny about two black eyes. I am dismayed by America's youth, joke or no joke, how friggin' sad. I can see why this made its way to be written about. Strong piece.

Pamela

awakenedwords said...

I am sure, because that is what I want to believe, that the kid is just repeating something he heard, from some idiot adult. And I know that answering violence with violence is not the answer, but an urge burns to find the one that told it to him and get him alone...

Fireblossom said...

I often think that most evil is done not out of pure maliciousness, but 1) because they can, and 2) because they don't see their victim as being as human as themselves.

Vicki Lane said...

Chilling...I hope you raised some kids' awareness.

Lolamouse said...

Good for you for not letting the joke go uncommented upon. Too many young men grow up thinking that this view of women is the only way. They need better male role models, and you provide that for them. Bravo!

Tara Miller said...

I hope these youth really listened to your words. It's sickening to think that our youth today think this typed of beaviour is ok and tolerated. Even acceptable to brag and laugh about. The influences of their environment and what/who they allow into their minds dictate this....I pray your words at least make them question themselves.

Kez Shepherd said...

Wow powerful stuff and so sad that it's true ...thanks for hosting and commenting on my meagre offering x x

seacamels said...

Got late to this one, Brian. Sorry. Good writing. Tough message. Loved what you tell about closed doors and that dark, ugly tradition of silence. Powerful. As usual.

Grandmother said...

Great poem of real and important things. And I feel glad and grateful that you didn't keep silent, that you said "NO"! That you talked to these boys at this formative time in their lives, to inform and form them. Deep gratitude for this, Brian. You're my hero today!

Behind the Smile said...

Very powerful poem and you capture the essence of the darkness of the black eyes of the abuse of power. You capture the ignorance the dark thinking that people can have sadly a child or a young person to. I could go on but having experienced domestic violence as a child this poem struck right at the heart.
Thank you.

Quirina said...

A truly remarkably written poem about something that needs to be said.

Margaret said...

& the stain creeps along the wall, if noticed
dismissed by accessories of complacency

... a bit of your day! Oh, Brian, you are making a difference. You may not see it, but you are. God Bless you.

kkkkaty said...

Brave to stand up to the indecency of the jackals....poor woman...you don't mince words..and you effectively use them to hone in on the heart of the situation..

Syd said...

Such a terrible thing to beat up a woman. I suppose hatred starts really young. Sad.

Jen said...

They eventually learn to leave bruises where they can easily be hidden, and it stays a secret.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

It's a word too often heard in my head as I walk with Amy, watching the stares from strangers, in ignorance, and awe, of her beauty.

CJ x

Magpie said...

Ignorance breeding ignorance. I'm glad you can at least touch these few lives and maybe have an impact.