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THE MARKETPLACE OF PITY

Trinkets for the suffering are auctioned
In the marketplace of pity,
The most ancient grand bazaar-
A tear vile to collect the holy water
Which gives sight to the eye;
A tweet from the recent dead
Filled with remorse
For not having lived in joy;
Potions and palm readers
Psychoanalysts and orchids,
Psalms embroidered in silk
To be draped on the coffin;
For two bits more, old women
In black robes provide shrill sighs
And moans in medieval harmony.

This is our sacred offering to
The sick, crippled and scarred,
The homeless, the refugee,
The tortured and defiled,
The widow and the lover betrayed,
The aged whose bones break as twigs;

But when the pity turns inward,
This the soul despises most
Above all sorrows, this loneliness,
This currency of cowardice.

Every man I know harbors
A unique thumbprint of pity,
And I am no different,
Heading to the mall for some relief:
Credit cards not accepted. Cash only.

Editing stage: 

Comments

Eumolpus,

This one probably hits too close to home for many readers, but that's why its important for us to read it. People like to pretend they don't grieve, don't get lonely, don't feel other bad feelings or have bad thoughts, but we all do. What separates people is usually just how we react to these thoughts and feelings. Do we internalize and hurt ourselves, pretending the pain/badness isn't there (such as by shopping)? Do we externalize, blame others, and hurt them? Do we try to make it better by helping someone else so that what we go through seems a little more manageable? Or something else?

I appreciate the reference to (what I believe to be) keening. It's a fascinating cultural practice.

My tiniest of qualms is that is the use of "man" as the general term for people (last stanza) seems really outdated. The poem's theme is timeless, but that little bit sets it back for me. Maybe it just fits the meter of the poem if there is one, but it does alienate us women in a way.

Everything else is expertly crafted and full of evocative word choices and stunning images.

Kelsey

Advocates Coordinator

Critique, don't comment.

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Yes it is such a difficult subject if we take a good look at how we approach the suffering of others, and our own self suffering. I have not edited here, but in my own notebooks I did one change. The last line now reads "Cash and credit cards not accepted: barter only" That gives the "marketplace of pity" I imagine in my head a slightly different edge- That you have to bring stuff to trade, and opens up that emotion is on the table as a possible trade...
As a "man" I grouped my self among them. I considered "person" and "everyone" but stuck with that specific cast- a grown up male. In a cliche but nonetheless correct stereotype, men are not supposed to advertise their feelings, especially when it comes to pity for others or self pity. "Harbor" suggests the feelings are held in check, safe in their docks, and then expands to the
idea that each man has his own particular way to deal with his pity. But you are indeed correct, it;s not a gender thing! I will consider your comment.
Thanks for reading. Lately I've been doing a lot of commenting but not getting much back for my own work. Much appreciated!

Eumolpus
I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance
ee cummings

author comment

I really love your addition to the ending in your notebook. And the explanation for men and the way y'all are taught to hold back emotions makes perfect sense for the poem. I appreciate that explanation! It does totally work, now that I see where you are coming from, so don't fret if you decide not to change it. The role of what masculinity is supposed to be and how it affects people's entire lives is an important part of the conversation too.

Kelsey

Advocates Coordinator

Critique, don't comment.

To see our learning resources, click the "Curated Resources" link under the Resources tab in the top menu bar.

www.kelsey-burroughs.weebly.com

I don't get much feedback either, never really have. I don't know if it is because of my infrequency of posting poems or because I try to write more in-depth comments. My model was to write fewer comments but provide quantity and quality in each comment, but I guess that doesn't help me get much reciprocation. It is a lot of work and basically shows little to no payoff, particularly when it's to a new member. I can never tell whether they will reply or try to make any revisions or if they will react negatively toward my feedback. So over the past few days I have tried making more comments with less detail in each and see how that goes.

Hope you're well,
Kelsey

Advocates Coordinator

Critique, don't comment.

To see our learning resources, click the "Curated Resources" link under the Resources tab in the top menu bar.

www.kelsey-burroughs.weebly.com

we are all poets, writing in a vacuum to some extent, but compelled to do this in a sense to share through art what it means to be alive. You only have so much time, so much grace. So like you I give what I can, but rarely just leave a few word comment. Poetry demands some insight, unlike music, dance or painting...we use words, and thoughts, so there is a common avenue of language for commenting. With music, very easy..Beethoven's 9th..."Wow" ..What else can you say?

Most often I avoid stuff that just is too amateur, cliche, vague and self indulgent, or evangelical. I often just try to say something in which I feel the poet is truly being honest on some level, I try to make some suggestions. And there are more than a handful of very mature voices on this site, who put the time into the craft. I think you are one of those, and like to think at least, I am too.

Eumolpus
I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance
ee cummings

author comment
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