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Facing Up to Obversity

by Zettel 

Posted: 09 July 2005
Word Count: 597
Summary: see below

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Content Warning
This piece and/or subsequent comments may contain strong language.

Like the rest of you, I have been trying to wrap my head, my heart and even my stomach around the week. I respect the motivation behind posted poems and tried the same but it wouldn’t work. Then I heard of a man who had lost a leg and might die; joking, joking for Christ’s sake, with the railway employee holding his hand underground, that now he would be able to compete in the Paraplegic Olympics in 2010.

So I decided nobody’s tears needed help. But maybe I should try as hard as I could, to make myself smile. However pathetic, these were my efforts. A sort of stream of semi-consciousness. If they raise a single smile in anyone else this week, I am more than content. Even if the smile is accompanied by a groan. I’m really suspicious about prayers going to the gods: but I’m pretty sure our capacity for laughter drags the buggers down here.

Silly, rude, vulgar, groanworthy – all my favourite human traits.

Of all the arcane mysteries
left in the world
my capricious brain asks
is there a North Croydon?
and I wonder
are its natives
ever gruntled?
especially living in Croydon

If the cruel rumour
that Minnie mouse
is a a nymphomaniac
is true
isn’t it unkind
to take the mickey out of her?

Is it possible
to use the word serendipity
without your
head up your arse?

Why isn’t the past tense
of fit
Or someone
who contradicts himself
called oxymoronic?

Why don’t hotels
provide a second
sign to hang on the door
Do not turb?

Why are public schools
always private
and private schools
never public?
Is this elegant
aristocratic wit
or what we hoary
sons of the sea call
taking the piss?

Has erectile disfunction
got something to do
with problems encountered
in redecorating
the bathroom?

Why are scruffy
Middle Class people
but workmen always
I know lots of
chevelled workmen

When George and
Barbara Bush
agonised over
naming their son
how did they miss

Was Goebbels’
legendary defect
caused by having
such a
commanding name?

‘George W Bush’
and ‘Tony Blair’
are an anagram of


I write letters of praise
to the press
‘Gusted’ St Albans

Old Father William
was clearly perverse
but was is essential
he was always

If you were sitting
on a tuffet
would you know
until that greedy little kid
came down and
sat beside you?

can discrete
be discreet?

Is concrete poetry
written by
frightened constipated
bad poets?

If all these Gods
are so fucking
why don’t we
job swap
and let them
try being human
for a while?

Anger, wrath,
power and glory
obedience without dissent
devotion without limit
belief without truth
faith without question
trust without doubt
worship me
die for me
kill for me
without proof
in face of the facts
despite the pain
and the suffering
He has a plan
an eternal
fucking plan
but you have to
to find out
what it is.
What kind of God
would ‘give’ men
as a ‘reward’?
man isn’t made
in the image of God
god is made
in the image of Man

A thousand lives
and a single life
in the scales of justice

“No hierarchy of life exists, no superior life forms
just equal parts that make up the whole”

Albert Einstein.

Sorry. My sense of humour ran out of will power.

If anyone else would like to have a go. I could do with a laugh.



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Comments by other Members

joanie at 19:39 on 09 July 2005  Report this post
Wow, Zettel, this had me entranced and ready for another read - then another! I can't take it all in, but the feel of it is wonderful. Our minds spin with these thoughts and you have conveyed it fantastically.

I need to savour this and take time to sip it slowly.



Zettel at 10:35 on 10 July 2005  Report this post
Thanks Joannie


Ticonderoga at 14:31 on 11 July 2005  Report this post
I think you've invented a new form - the serio-comic essay-poem!! Rich and rude and necessary. Applause.


Zettel at 18:24 on 11 July 2005  Report this post

In Suffolk, there is a use of 'funny' to mean odd, eccentric, peculiar. So it's been a 'funny' old week one way and another.

Not sure about a new form, but thinking about the case I mention above: in all the uncomfortable 'blitz' metaphors etc, there was something so true to the British and heartrending about it that made it stand out for me. It is a strange mixture of bolshiness, determination and almost, however weird it might seem to other nations, a kind of embarrassment at being injured and not wanting to make a fuss*. I can imagine only too well, in the horror people found themselves in, that some wag will have raised a smile in the most impossible and inappropriate of circumstances. That has a truth about our people that is more precious to me than all the stiff upper lip stuff. And the really special thing about it is that you find the same quality in the Scots, the Welsh and yes, the Irish, although in different ways and working off each other.

It was to recognise that spirit that my silly little piece was written.

Thanks for the comment. One posts anything in this situation with trepidation - it is so easy to get it wrong.



* Eg. I used to teach middle aged, usually ladies, to swim. One, who had only recently got going in the deep end, unseen by me, got into trouble and was going down silently for the third time when someone alerted me. After fishing her out, and relieved that only her pride was hurt. I said "Why didn't you call for help?" Her reply was eternally British - "I didn't want to trouble you". Now that's what I call a national characteristic.

James Graham at 11:47 on 12 July 2005  Report this post
A man in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, after a recent hurricane, said: 'I done prayed all night. I sat up and prayed all night without ceasing, and the Lord come good for me. He saved me.' There's a good Christian example of 'devotion without limit'. Too bad for anyone who prayed only a couple of hours. Wiped out.

Of course, your procession of jokes and absurdities isn't the only way to respond to atrocities - but it's as valid as any. It's the satirist's response rather than the elegist's. The mind-bending absurdity of the fast track to Paradise and the jackpot prize of virgins comes at the end of a list that includes the kind of verbal jokes beloved of the late Richard Whitely - you can be dishevelled but why can't you be shevelled? - so the religious absurdity simply follows on and belongs in that company, as indeed it should. It's no more than another of the 'arcane mysteries/left in the world'.

I should add there's more than just word-play, e.g. sharp comment about the absurd use of 'private' and 'public'. Lots more. The lines about the Bushes naming their son aren't sophisticated, but they're on just the right intellectual level for their subject.


Zettel at 12:36 on 12 July 2005  Report this post

Simone Weil said:

"He who we should love must be absent"

Dig into it and that's a very scary, not very comforting religious conception of the world. But it makes a kind of sense.
"My God why hast thou forsaken me"

Trouble is it makes prayer non-instrumental and merely a kind of poetry of the soul.

I've always wondered when we all gather round celebrating God's delivery of the Allied expeditionary force at Dunkirk - where was He the previous few months - on holiday?

Pascal was a bookie - and he got it 180 degrees wrong: if there's no proof - for God's sake (sic) assume there isn't a God. That would save a lot of lives.

Sorry: went off on one again.

Thanks for the comment.


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