“Schadenschaden” (Why NOT Me? – Gig of the Would-Be Victim)



Like a golfer in search of a handicap,
he found himself mired in schadenschaden–
sadness at another’s sorrow, a slap
face-felt at the sight of their tear-sodden
victimhood, superior martyrdom;
schadenfreude cast to the old school, those
who did not, in the night-dark of some
disappointed sheets, self-scold, “you fool,” then pose
as Rimbeaud’s more tortured kid brother, the “should-
have-been-even-greater than–, but-for’ kind
of guy, some sad sod so clearly struck by
circumstantial lightening that no one could bind
him to words like “his own fault.”  If fucked by
life quite obviously, you had a real gig,
he thought, like that poor bugger there, the pig.


It’s always dangerous to write a poem from a voice that is not exactly admirable, but also, I hope, fun.

The above was inspired by the dVerse Poets Pub “Poetics” prompt on “logophilia” hosted today by Anna Montgomery and Claudia Schoenfeld.  Anna, a great wordsmith, challenged us to write something relating to words, perhaps even coming up some new ones.   I do not actually know if schadenschaden is a new word since it is, more or less, German, a language that I do not speak.  The idea is that it’s the inverse of schadenfreude (taking joy in the misfortune of others).  In English, we often talk about “sour grapes,” yet another variation.

Have a great day, check out dVerse and all the great poems based on this prompt.

AND if you get a chance, check out my books!  Children’s counting book 1 Mississippi -for lovers of rivers, light and pachyderms.  Or, if you in the mood for something older, check out Going on Somewhere, poetry, and Nose Dive, perfect for a pool or beachside escape.

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35 Comments on ““Schadenschaden” (Why NOT Me? – Gig of the Would-Be Victim)”

  1. brian Says:

    so schadenschaden would be like empathy, feeling the pain of others? i may have that…smiles….haha…should-
    have-been-even-greater than–, but-for…very cool…and the sad sod struck by lightning…yet not his fault….some great lines through there and in the close as well…tight write k…

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      You have the empathy version – and that would probably be the true translation, but of course, I had to put my silly little spin on it! Thanks, Brian. I really enjoyed yours very much. I sometimes get in those conversations, though after many years in New York, you probably get pretty good at the art of deflection! k.

  2. I have decided not to believe your comment about you not being very intellectual :). You think deeply and broadly about so many things! I so enjoyed your wordweilding, bending and circling to what Brian called the tight close. Emotional intelligent too, very nice.

  3. Susan Says:

    who did not, in the night-dark of some
    disappointed sheets, self-scold” as he did, and so I suppose he identified with Rimbaud’s brother? I think I have the “not this but that” sorted, and of course they are in the order he would think. Reminds me of Mr. Miniver who drank his life away. Can’t say I like either, but I love the skill that created them. Bravo!

  4. Laurie kolp Says:

    I enjoyed reading this. The ending is unlike your usual but perfect for the prompt.

  5. I am always intrigued by your word play K like self scold and the “should-have-been-even-greater than–, but-for’ kind of guy ~

    Enjoyed your write ~

  6. Very clever what you did with the prompt. Loved this:
    the “should-
    have-been-even-greater than–, but-for’ kind
    of guy, some sad sod so clearly struck by
    circumstantial lightening…
    Loved all the use of the UK English words too 🙂

  7. janehewey Says:

    i love the elephant’s expression in response. nice, k. it’s such a pleasure reading your work. ~jane

  8. Claudia Says:

    smiles…schadenschaden def. is a new word..i’ve never heard it before… usually it’s just schaden which means damage or do some damage.. can be noun or verb…nice k. – really enjoyed this… and schadenschaden could easily find its way into my vocabulary..smiles

  9. Schadenschaden is an awesome word and I love the meaning even more, this connects for me in lots of ways. A really intelligent and brilliantly explored take on the prompt!

  10. dfb Says:

    Fabulous take on the theme – I enjoyed it.

  11. aprille Says:

    Inspite of being a golfer, I suffer from this s+s ailment, which has now been put on the map. Empathy is hard work if you suffer with it. BTW: There are no pruning shears in my arsenal.

    • aprille Says:

      No harm done, Karin,

      just wanted to hide a hint that ‘shears’ is never a singular noun but always [a pair of], just in case it was more than a typo.
      And the second poem was only a joke. I just spent ages trying to get the explanatory links in place. I’m useless with links.

  12. Ravenblack Says:

    It sounds like an odd way to crave, out of some belief that suffering is itself a kind of experience that make one gain something over another who doesn’t have it. It sounds like an odd sort of envy. I never knew there was word for this, funny how, once a word nails it down, one goes aha…I’ve seen that — never thought it was real.

    Enjoyed this, Karin. Learned something.

  13. David King Says:

    It can be great fun to write from a voice not admirable – as this was to read.

  14. ds Says:

    There’s a subtle irony to this that works beautifully and the harshness of the final line emphasizes that. I think “schadenschaden” could be a word. Great stuff–thank you!

  15. Love it, Karin!
    You may be familiar with one of my made up words. It is used to describe the editing Sherry does on my novels, due to my not having a clue where a comma should be used. The word is “commatized”.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Ha! Very clever. I will go look at yours. The odd thing is that I’m not really that good at all those rules – not as good as I should be, given my day job, which involves a fair amount of proofing. k.

  16. hedgewitch Says:

    I’m loving the concept here–it reminds me of that old Warren Zevon song, ‘Poor Poor Pitiful Me,’ where there’s just not enough scope in life to encompass the self-pity, and seeing someone in genuine misfortune making one jealous–the one-upsmanship of it, reminds me of life in a family of five martyred females, each with a more bloodcurdling tale of woe than the last. And I love it that you made up a word in a foreign language (from one of my favorite terms, too.)

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Yes, I hadn’t thought of that song, but it is exactly the concept. (I’m pointing out to you only that it’s a sonnet, in part because I know you don’t like them!) The only way I can keep something short, but does make for some awkward contrivances. k.

      • hedgewitch Says:

        Lord, karin–I completely missed that! The rhyme even. I blame it on three hours of sleep and only one cup of coffee. (and I like *other people’s* sonnets just fine–it’s a lovely form, and I’m always impressed with how neat and precise and yet expressive it is–it just is hideously difficult for me to write them.)

      • ManicDdaily Says:

        Well it’s not a very precise one, with all the enjambement and Luke would scold the meter, but I find the form a very helpful way to define choices. K.

  17. zongrik Says:

    you found a positive polar opposite to a negative word that is becoming so popular

    bonus track

  18. Dark Angel Says:

    I especially appreciated your jab at birth-order and loved the bit about lightening. I’m gonna be thinking on this for a while I think.

  19. cmiller19095 Says:

    I enjoyed the way that you create a term and then use the poem to fill out its definition. That’s what poetry does it seems to me: keeps meaning in language real and alive. That you do this with a satirical twist makes it even more enjoyable.

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