Friday, August 27, 2010

CombatWords! August 27, 2010: Hypocrisy

CombatWords! August 27, 2010: Hypocrisy

The September 2010 edition of National Geographic had a photo of a pair of lemur heads floating in a bowl of soup. After my outrage settled into sorrow, I considered a quote from the article: “But some people here don't know or care. The Malagasy who don't live near tourist areas think that lemurs are just for the vatzaha [white people]—they don't see the benefits.” James Fenimore Cooper wrote about a long extinct America—filled with enormous flocks of birds; Europe used to be a gigantic tangle of forest roots and Japan was a rainforest: it seems rather hypocritical to judge the devastation the Malagasy inflict on Madagascar's forests and wildlife given how rich countries are the end-consumers of the looting. I'm sure I've accidentally bought rainforest wood. So I'm willing to admit my hypocrisy in judging those who deforest the island; but what of their hypocrisy? Do our two positions negate each other? “Why should I do anything? You should stop first!” Hypocrisy is everywhere; in fact, it's wedded to the human condition. Given the way the world's jerks force the rest of us into collusion with them, who can really claim to be free of hypocrisy? And yet, does that prevent you from making a moral or ethical judgment? Does hypocrisy negate your own position? And if we accept there are gradients of hypocrisy, then how are we to measure them... and is that a waste of time? Hypocrisy is the point at which belief conflicts with action. You can take this in a moral/ethical direction, or you can celebrate hypocrisy as just another human trait.

Combat Expiration: August 30, 2010; 12am PST

Critique Expiration: August 31, 2010; 12am PST

Bonuses: +1/hour before August 28, 2010; 12am PST. Max Bonus +5.

The Rules:

Also, there's a magazine called which is basically doing the same thing we are. Their deadline is August 28, 12pm, PST and I urge combatants to submit their finished compositions. This is their inaugural edition and several of you should be able to easily make it in there (if they have any sense of decent literary standards). So consider this your own reward for a good combat. Now Fight!

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  1. Tira Flecha

    He says It's not that I'm racist but
    why do we keep letting these immigrants in
    so they can steal our jobs

    Sips his cafe con leche and eyes
    the wide hips of the Peruvian waitress

    He says They need to put up that fence
    so people stop sneaking over the border
    Ship back all the illegals already

    Scans the headlines of the newspaper
    before flipping to the sports page

    He says These lazy bastards come over
    to live off welfare that I pay for
    No skills, no brains, can't teach them a thing

    Answers a work email on his Blackberry
    for a client in Santo Domingo

    He says When I came to this country
    forty years ago, it wasn't such a mess
    but now they let anyone in

    Tips the waitress and tells her in Spanish
    that she has very beautiful eyes

    He says Look at that tira flecha
    Bet she just came down from the mountain
    She'll be pregnant and on WIC in a year

    Rapidly drinks water from a paper cup
    to cleanse his palate, then throws it away

  2. Raskolnikov's Breakfast With Caesar and the Emperor Qin [CombatWords August 27, 2010]

    Smile and the office awaits you.
    Grin and you'll ride to the steeple of glass.
    A bow-tie suggests that you're honest,
    While glasses imply that you read when you can.
    So help them to cover their asses.
    They'll pay you with passcodes, permissions to transfer
    what's hidden in cubicles; breathing through
    fax machines; hissing in copiers, blazing
    through halogens. You'll conquer the windows and walls
    with a taxi that's speeding the emperor home
    to his chariot: wings over smog.
    They call you a thief, or Raskolnikov
    yet there's a house by the beach on an island,
    awaiting its Bonaparte, dressed in a bow;
    to breakfast with Caesar, the Emperor Qin,
    and talk about the fairness of confidence.

  3. Bad Faith

    Hardened hands spank a child
    too ill to raise her head
    to show her that stubborn children
    who do not obey their father and mother
    must be disciplined.

    Forty years later her parents weep
    over her grave, mourning her
    early death, while her husband
    bides his time in a eight by eight cell.

    A heavy fist thrown by a man
    with alcohol on his breath
    to prove to him to that a man
    who is without sin should be
    the first to cast a stone.

    Thirty years pass and he looks
    at the world through blood-shot
    eyes and a mind clouded by
    the brown liquid shot into
    his veins with dirty needles.

    An old leather belt raised
    welts against her virgin flesh
    to reiterate that marriage should
    be honored and the marriage bed
    kept pure as falling snow.

    Twenty years after and she walks
    the streets in thigh high boots
    and mini dress, looking for a John
    to fill the empty spaces in her
    pocket book and stomach.

    A willow switch plucked
    from the tree by his own hand
    and wielded by his father
    to make him to honor his parents.

    Ten years elapse and he makes
    his own son retrieve a branch
    from the weeping willow
    to teach him the same lesson.

  4. The child asks why
    With tears of indignation welling up in its eyes
    The parent, running low on patience
    Gives the short story explanation
    'Because I said so'
    If there were time
    They might have said
    Because the world bends our will
    Backwards on itself
    Breaks our spirit for no reason
    Other than to hear the crack echo into oblivion
    It's a fucked up place I've brought you to
    Like the boiler room in a building
    Where heroes get hung
    The world keeps unraveling
    Giving us rope, and a million chances
    To hang ourselves
    To fail miserably
    To do what we swore we never would
    And that is why
    It is time for you to go to sleep
    Leave your questions for tomorrow
    And I'll hold my answers back
    You have your whole life
    For the truth to hurt you
    Instead settle now
    Settle down
    Swallow the short story
    Be angry at the little thing
    A pixel in the big picture

  5. Editor in Cheat

    It would only be the one time.
    It's not my fault. I have too much work,
    too many papers to write, deadlines
    staring at me like the cold eye
    of a gun barrel, Time's finger
    easing back the trigger.

    I haven't slept a full night in days.
    Bad dreams and hallucinations dog me:
    the dean tears up my diploma, eats it
    delicately, one scrap at a time. My mother
    rests her head on the guillotine block,
    the blade falls, slicing mid-skull,
    dollar bills fall out like confetti.

    I deserve a break. No one
    will ever find out. It's only a poem
    by some faceless amateur like me,
    enough to satisfy a professor
    but not so good as to garner attention.
    This is my dump class, anyway.

    Copy. Paste. done. No lightning
    strikes me down. I'll post it
    on my website for extra authenticity.
    Now to write my essay on ethics
    and edit the school's philosophy journal.

  6. Michael Steele

    Someone please explain to me
    How Michael Steele ended up in my dreams--
    Get outta my dreams Michael Steele
    & into my car, trick ass bitch!
    @MicheleBachmann says u be da man
    I say u be @God_Damn_Batman or @KeithOlbermann.
    Why is Michael Steele
    applauding Ken Mehlmans Homosexuality
    when he applauds #tcot gaybashing
    and @MicheleBachmann?
    Why is Ken Mehlmann applauding @God_Damn_Batman
    when @KeithOlbermann still walks the streets?
    Ken Mehlman is GOProud, trick ass bitch!
    Michael Steele wants to come out as a black man.
    He wants to come out as @MicheleBachmann
    Get outta my dreams @God_Damn_Batman
    & stick it into my Ken Mehlman

    …White people be trippin

  7. Addendum: Twitter Found poem, obviously. Those are a lot harder than they look, btw....

  8. Someone needs to say it: 'This Guy's' #twitterfoundpoem was sheer win.

    Pro: Effective Rhymes/slant rhymes +1
    "Get outta my dreams Michael Steele
    & into my car, trick ass bitch!" +1
    I liked it +1

    These are freakin' difficult & it still made sense. Good job.

    I'm sick of writing #twitterfoundpoem. Wanna take over?

  9. Hells no! It's like I told you, I don't know how you don't tear your hair out doing these things.

    I've always been a fan of these things, but now I have a new appreciation for what you do.

  10. I am a little bummed out about my lack of participation in the last few weeks. Thankfully Valerie and This Guy stepped up and dropped bombs. It's really hard for me to write poetry while I am working. I try to take breaks with the intent to write, but its no easy thing to schedule creativity.

  11. Get your muse on a fixed schedule and she'll stop working at odd hours whenever she feels like it. The key is consistency. You don't have to write every day but you should give yourself deadlines of some kind. CombatWords is a good one. There's also Poet Tuesday on Twitter, Three Word Wednesday and similar items. Pretend other people are counting on you. Pretend it's for work or for a grade. Whatever it takes to get your mind in gear.

  12. Khak:
    "breathing through
    fax machines; hissing in copiers, blazing
    through halogens." +3

    "a house by the beach on an island,
    awaiting its Bonaparte, dressed in a bow" +1

    "A bow-tie suggests that you're honest,
    While glasses imply that you read when you can." weak, -2

    Total: +2

  13. vandamir:
    I'm not sure what points I can give or take away. It's a strong subject but also a tired one, and hard to make fresh. Reminds me of the Offspring song Way Down the Line: "Nothing changes cause it's all the same. The world you get's the one you give away." Since you're jumping around in time, we don't get to connect with the characters on more than a superficial level. Might work well as a song, but I think it struggles as a lyric poem.

  14. Vandamir:

    I'm glad Valerie critiqued your poem first, because I can only agree w/ her.

    That said, you get dangerously close to an idea at the end of the poem. I suggest you take notes: rewrite each stanza as an outline bullet-point and see the arc of movement. You could really turn all that into the first stanza and then move on from there. I don't feel it's fair to score your poem, because it's an earnest effort that will yield something good for you if you keep trying. Individual discretion determines whether to score or not and so I reserve the right to say, 'fail forward.'


  15. @Valerie, re: Editor-in-cheat:
    It's cute +1, but nothing really stands out for me.


  16. @Valerie, re: Tira Flecha:

    Switches between distant & close 3rd person. +1
    Liked it. +1
    Portrait of a jerk is vivid +1, yet archetypical -1. I wonder how much more interesting it would be if the narrator was more present--maybe as a female force, so his final confession takes a weirder angle.


  17. @The Humanist,

    As Bilbo Baggins likes to say, third time pays for all. The ending was good; esp the final image. Possible poem in itself. +1

    Too much Philip Larkin rehash. Not enough to neg, but you don't go farther. Since this poem has many of the same ambitions, I think you could compare & contrast to figure out what's special about what you're doing... and isolate it.


  18. @TheHumanist

    "tears of indignation" -1
    "Like the boiler room in a building
    Where heroes get hung" +1
    "Be angry at the little thing
    A pixel in the big picture" +1

    Way too many sort of blanket statement-type lines that I think you can nuke. This is another poem whose sentiment has been explored before, so focusing on a specific situation with specific details might be a good way to approach it. Start tiny and then zoom out to show the whole world, like the first shot in a film.

    Total = +1

  19. @This Guy

    I think I lack the ability to properly critique a found poem like this. It makes me head spin. I have no response to that.

  20. So Valerie wins again. The way she leaps in early is murder. I think I'll do a max +3 bonus for the next combat, so the late posters actually have a shot at victory. I think it's enough of a bonus to make a big difference, but doesn't wipe out late posters.

  21. 20 comments? Come on back Wessington, I feel guilty. I promise not to interfere with your serious literary movement.

  22. Hey Mather, your dick is missing a condom in that picture.

  23. K, terrible attempt at humor. I said I'd leave you alone if you came back to TWAK but since you won't I won't leave you alone. And now I see some other gumbo talking sweet. What are you gonna do now? Where you gonna go? Who you gonna blame? Ha ha, god this is fun.