Public/Private disconnect (Sonnet) (With Elephant)

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I hate to admit it but I’m kind of a solipsistic person.  It’s not that I don’t like people–I take a strong interest in trying to help others (particularly if it involves telling them what to do.)

But I am just awful in social situations – parties, gatherings, even sometimes work settings.  To some degree, this may have something to do with not being completely at ease with either my “public” persona or private persona.

At any rate, here’s a kind of gloomy sonnet about this kind of public/private disconnect.

Because I am now linking this post to dVerse Poets Pub Raising the Bar for critiquing, I am going to put up two versions of this poem, an older and newer.  (I think the older may be better, but it’s also the one with which I am more familiar.)   They are both a bit self-pitying, although that may be something that makes them universal.

The first is the older  version:

Pretending

 After years, pretending to be what you’re not
becomes a nature;  a second skin
coating you like a kind of make-up, caught
in your pores, nestled in your grooves, a twin
of features, caked, you need not reapply.
But habits, faces, fail and it wears thin,
until, worn through, you can hardly try
anymore.  Too wary, weary, the word
“cagey” describes so much of what you’ve been,
the opposite of free-flying bird,
while unheard, and hardly there within,
is all you’ve been saving, what you hid, why
you did this, what wasn’t supposed to die.

Newer:

Pretending

After years, pretending to be what you’re not
becomes a nature;  a second skin
coating you like a heavy make-up, caught
in your pores, nestled in your grooves, a twin
of features, caked, you need not reapply.
Sometimes the habit fails, pretense wears thin,
that face that clung is suddenly wrung dry–
you don’t want to re-affix, but the word
“cagey” catches so much of what you’ve been–
the opposite of free-flying bird–
that, though you wish more than anything
to be seen, take wing; fretful, you still try
to keep tight all within.  Oh me.  Oh my.

If you are interested in my poetry, check out my poetry book, Going on Somewhere (by Karin Gustafson, illustrated by Diana Barco, cover by Jason Martin) on Amazon.

If you are interested in my elephants, check out my children’s book, 1 Mississippi,  on Amazon.

Explore posts in the same categories: elephants, iPad art, poetry, Uncategorized

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13 Comments on “Public/Private disconnect (Sonnet) (With Elephant)”


  1. I am from dVerse and right after you, feeling apprehensive…

    I have to say that this subject you wrote about is something I’ve been giving a lot of thought to. So relevant to me right now.

    In any case, with regard to “raising the bar” – I hope I’m up to it, but not quite at this moment. Luckily I have an excuse of being overly tired (it’s about 11:30 pm here).

    I’ll be back…

  2. Jo Bryant Says:

    I prefer the second version. It is tighter- the ideas are expressed in a cleaner way.

    I am a little hmmmm, on if it is really a sonnet though.

    Yes you sort of have two seperate ideas, but to me they seem so interrelated that they feel as merely the same idea yet expressed differently.

    I love these lines – so artfully expressive.

    though you wish more than anything
    to be seen, take wing, fretful, you still try
    to keep tight all within.

    I admire your abiltiy to write sonnets – i have tried but never seem to get it right – they defeat me. 😉

    • manicddaily Says:

      OMG! I just realized that you are right. I have in fact written a lot of sonnets, but this one only has 13 lines!!!!

      Ha. I’m so sorry. Thanks. I never even focused on that. Crazy. Thanks so much!

  3. Morning Says:

    it is good to be yourself, at least at this moment after you wrote this.


  4. I enjoyed this poem immensly – i have similar solipsistic tendencies so i could relate to both versions – i am down right misanthropic in real life so your words go a long way

    I think editing and re writing is very important as you have to be your own best critic – i feel you conveyed these emmotions very sucssefully – i cool expression of a tough personality trait

    • manicddaily Says:

      Thanks so much, Aaron. I agree with you re editing and re-writing; it also can take some time to get distance. A hazard of blogging and poetry is that it’s hard to get that distance, for me at least! (This is older.) But it’s so wonderful to get feedback, and really helps one keep going.

  5. brian Says:

    i like the second one for sure…they are both well spun. i have little to say on form but it fits together to me much nicer than the first. was neat seeing the two and the changes time has prompted you to make.

    took a look at the crit you gave as well…and it is top notch…thank you for doing it and taking time in your reading to be specific…


  6. Hi K,

    I really feel the sonnet, especially the second one (must agree with that).

    It’s true it takes time to get some distance, different perspective, to re-read and edit. and, it is more difficult in a blog. I’ve got plenty of drafts and many more on my computer.

    free-flying bird… I’ve used that before. I love the image and even more the way it falls of the lips when spoken. perfectly used in this write.
    the word “foundation” keeps popping in my mind. perhaps the connection to make-up and coating – maybe needing a stable, real base to be able to fly free.

    I keep re-reading – and really like this sonnet.
    the ending feels a bit “not there” to me. I’m trying to put my finger on it. maybe it’s the way the 12th line is broken up. I know you are going for the iambic pentameter, but perhaps – if you add a line to reach 14 – and keep this line in the couplet, then it’s okay to have something else. In my opinion (very humble) – let the “be seen, take wing” hang in the air a bit. the following punctuation and words make it stop too suddenly for me. I think a similar statement can be made if “wing” – is the end of the line and the next begins with “fretful” up to “within”? the “Oh me. Oh my”… not sure.
    anyway, you might want to play with that a bit.

    I’m not sure I’ve been at all helpful.
    Thank you for allowing me to write here…

    ~deb

    • manicddaily Says:

      Dear Deb, I realized I called you Dawn in my comment! So sorry, I am rapidly going brain-dead and it was at the end of my work day so tired.

      Thanks much. I think you are right. I had played with that a little bit before posting but the fretful comes in too quickly and is not the best word anyway as it is a bit fussy. I like the Oh me oh my since it’s a bit of commentary on me and mine, but I agree the ending isn’t quite right. After posting I realized that I may have left out a line here! That it’s 13 rather than 14 lines, which may be part of the problem. I do want it to be a sonnet so will re-write with extra line and maybe repost at some point. Thanks very much.


      • reading your response here, “I like the Oh me oh my since it’s a bit of commentary on me and mine” – that sounds really good (and convincing 🙂 ). I appreciate your responding to my feedback. I’ll be seeing you around!


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