Guilty (Pleasure)

Guilty (Pleasure)

It started, I think, with my Lutheran baptism,
which damply paired pleasure with cataclysm
(though it’s not really part of the catechism),
guilt then clung to fun like reverse jism–
(something that gunks up motility
rather than serve its mobility)–
So, the label of sin deemed original
stuck to sweetness that wasn’t subliminal,
aping price tags enfuzzed on a peach,
or tar strips that bake on a beach,
and pleasure was coded with bars
safe only if you’d got to Mars–
Like the sword swallower learning to tilt
the throat that was drowning the hilt–
just so, I learned to down guilt,
as if my gullet had been built
for it.


A reading of the poem (if you are interested): 

I am posting the above draft poem very belatedly for Izzy Gruye’s Out of Standard prompt for With Real Toads about “guilty pleasures.” Coming from a Lutheran Scandinavian upbringing I’m afraid those two words are pretty much synonymous. I am also linking to dVerse Poets Pub Poetics prompt on “preparation,” hosted by the very prepared Mary Kling.  Self-denial of a sorts a key part of my training for life. 

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48 Comments on “Guilty (Pleasure)”

  1. Helen Dehner Says:

    I enjoy the way your poem started strong and just kept increasing in intensity … shouting to me by the end. I read it to myself and then I read it out loud. Wow.

  2. This poem is a tour de force on so many levels, not least of which the fact you overcame your natural reticence to reveal your guilty pleasure. The word choice is exquisite, add to that they rhyme so astoundingly well, then throw in that fourth line….with jism to rhyme with all the ecclesiastical terms that come before it, and the entire syntax of the line… Well, I think you deserve a round of applause.
    The imagery was tantalizingly suggestive but the underlying notion of one struggling to equate pleasure with sin really carries the poem through to an excellent conclusion.

  3. David King Says:

    Absolutely brilliant! It wins the ultimate accolade that anyone can give: I wish I’d written it! Superb.

  4. brian miller Says:

    smiles….nice word play and allusion in this k….so pleasure is bad? i think they taught much the same in church growing up on my end as well…ha..well played ma’am

  5. I’d have to say Scandinavians don’t have a lock on this trying to make pleasure guilty- Catholics did just fine in that regard. How do we survive our childhoods unscathed? This was cleverly done!

  6. janehewey Says:

    I continue the round of applause started by Kerry. “Like the sword swallower…” is my favorite line, the one that brought this poem directly to my senses. I often get lost in rhymes the first go through, not knowing what I’ve just read but enjoyed the ride all the same. With this one, I was Devoutly hooked by reversed jism. The whole center of your piece with –aping price tags enfuzzed on a peach– is brilliant for its own sensuality and takes me to the garden. the peach to the apple… the tarred beach to the apple orchard/garden of eden.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks so much! Rhyme can carry you into very different content than initially expected–it was funny working on it the different directions. I appreciate your thoughtful reading. k.

      On Sat, Nov 24, 2012 at 10:53 AM, ManicDDaily

  7. Marian Says:

    wowee. the sword swallowing got me, too. intense, enjoyable, i don’t feel guilty at all!

  8. Margaret Says:

    I really enjoyed this… read it three times. It is a fine balance knowing when pleasure is not selfish, does not hurt others (because some is and some does) BUT, guilt can also prevent one from enjoying what there is to be enjoyed, and living life to its fullest. I think time and age truly do help with figuring it all out (and youth rarely considers it at all 🙂

  9. Mary Says:

    Well, I was raised in the same church. I remember near prom time when the minister would stand up and preach on the evils of dancing and how dancing induced lust. Sigh. I still am an L, but not a much more liberal one….and people can dance to their heart’s content and not feel guilty about ‘pleasures.’ A strong poem here, which made me think back.

  10. Laurie Kolp Says:

    Such a joy to read this… I especially like:

    guilt then clung to fun like reverse jism

  11. Chocolate is my guilty pleasure… Although you’ve made yours sound rather succulent too K 🙂

  12. jasmine calyx Says:

    This is unbelievably incredible, fantastic, seriously impressive work. I love this piece, especially “guilt then clung to fun like reverse jism” and the ending:

    “Like the sword swallower learning to tilt
    the throat that was drowning the hilt–
    just so, I learned to down guilt,
    as if my gullet had been built
    for it.”


  13. Sherry Marr Says:

    Very cleverly written, with admirable internal rhyming. I had the same sort of upbringing and it is a wonder any of us were ever able to achieve “guilty pleasure” at all, afterward:)

  14. Glenn Buttkus Says:

    A boomer who was more than ready for the freedoms of the 60’s, I never had the obstacles of guilt & sin to overcome; yet, so many do. A brilliant diatribe masked as rhyme; enjoyed it a lot, and of course, always enjoy your recitations. We seem to be in the poetic minority in that regard. First read the poem, then listen to the recitation, then listen to the narrative while re-reading the poem; 3 separate delicious experiences.

  15. Ahhh–downing guilt as if your gullet was made for it. Brilliant, K. The baptists are great at dispensing guilt too. I really, really wish I had written this–it spoke so truthfully and beautifully to me.

  16. Enjoying the play of rhyming words, which also gives resonates with depth and meaning ~

    Good one K ~

  17. Enjoyed! I am amazed when thinking on it, how many pleasures could be seen as sinful, envoking guilt. Decadant chocolate, one too many glasses of wine, the last piece of cheesecake…

  18. Sabio Lantz Says:

    Wow, that was amazing. Brilliantly done!
    I felt like my mind was singing as I read it silently.

  19. sonofwalt Says:

    Oh, I liked this very much! And thank you for the audio version. 🙂

  20. Aw … how much starts at our baptism? Fab poem k. Love all the ‘ism’ words 🙂

  21. claudia Says:

    and pleasure was coded with bars
    safe only if you’d got to Mars–….ha….cool on the word plays k. – and terrible what the church taught for a while to make all kinds of pleasure sound like a sin…

  22. Luke Prater Says:

    Amusing piece – interesting that we were discussing guilt and then you had the prompt here… religious guilt is a kind I find very hard to understand, I have to say, but this I know is light-hearted. First rhymer I’ve seen from you i think…

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Hi Luke, I don’t truly suffer from religious guilt. I’m not anti-religious on a personal level and was never made to feel particularly guilty by my church as a child– but there’s a kind of Lutheran Midwestern mindset! Oddly different from Catholicism in the US anyway where catholics seemed incredibly fun loving and lighthearted in comparison with bingo and confession and loads of children. Of course i’m talking about some time ago. K.

      • Luke Prater Says:

        hehe! Sounds fun… the Church is dead here now, pretty much. I don’t mourn that, because this is a very spiritual land and there is so much of that still around (more than ever, actually, despite the materialism).

  23. hedgewitch Says:

    I just love this Karin–the images are so alive and instantly relatable, the language so sharp and intelligent, and the message surely something many of us have lived and internalized, yet your presentation is so fresh it’s as if we see it for the first time. Really an excellent poem in itself as well as a great take on the prompt.

  24. brian miller Says:

    last couple days of nano…hope you are making good progress k….

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Some progress! I’ve actually had a lot of job work that I have to do even on weekend so not so free as I’d like. Thanks though. I am not going to worry about typing this time to verify word count. I’ve done it before. I’m just using as a goad.

  25. wonderful meshing of the abstract metaphoric reflection with brilliantly woven conversational assemblage. Strong piece Karin. Thanks

  26. Rallentanda Says:

    The concept of guilt expressed in your poem is interesting . Catholic guilt is different from Lutheran guilt. Catholics are allowed a lot more scope for pleasure.We are taught very young that part of the reason for our existence is to enjoy life here on eath. I remember fastening on to that concept when I first heard it in a catechism class at the age of seven….thinking it was a very good idea,and have perhaps enjoyed myself in ways during certain stages of my life without the approval of the Church.Personally I am most grateful for having a religious background. I only realised this when I started to associate with so many who did not . It has sustained me throughout my life.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks, yes. Some have interpreted the poem as anti-religious and it is not meant that way. It is more about me and perhaps being Scandinavian than a specific religious doctrine. That said, I do think Catholics have way more scope for pleasure due to the possibility of confession and immediate absolution. k.

  27. Susan Says:

    And that guilt bellyache can cause some major real illnesses! Oh, I know what you are talking about. Our gullets are not built for it (wonderful images) but it seems our faiths are!

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