The World According to Them


The World According to Them

You asked why I wore myself so thin–
How else was I to squeeze me in
the world according to them?

You asked why I studied up so smart–
‘Cause the tests that mattered didn’t measure heart
in the world according to them.

Then you asked me why I made us cry–
The truth, I said–that I couldn’t defy
the world according to them.

But now that don’t sound good enough–
an answer off the fraying cuff
of the truth according to me–

a truth curl-curved and edged with cut
jigsawed to jam into spots that abut
the world according to them,

for when the cracks cracked and the frame let go,
then all inside me told me so,
that it was only words pouring out from them,

that it was me who, listening, whittled me thin,
me who kept me so tight within
the world according to them.


Here’s a very drafty poem  for Kerry O’Connor’s prompt In Other Words on With Real Toads, to use a variation of a title of a book (in this case, The World According to Garp), as a title for a poem.  I’ve mucked with this one on and off all day changing it dramatically, but improving?  Not so sure.   (The narrator was much more self-pitying, and blaming, in earlier versions, which finally didn’t sit very well with me.) 

For anyone interested, this grew in an extremely discursive way from a narrative I’ve been writing about a country-western singer.  I had modified that prose narrative to use for a prompt, and then woke up with this sing-song instead.  I may post one of the others, though they are really prose pieces.  Who knows!?  Back on the road again tomorrow, so we’ll see what happens. 


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16 Comments on “The World According to Them”

  1. Jim Says:

    I’m still smiling from your first verse. 🙂 Them being the order giver for the world is very right for a lot. Sometimes for me I am afraid.

    Your line in part, “ the cracks cracked and the frame let go,
    then all inside me told me so,
    ” is right with me. I had a set of four Gibson coffee mugs, large yellow and white band encircled with pretty Texas bluebonnets scattered around, which I rescued from a china set.
    I broke two. A third has a cracked handle which I am afraid will crack and the cup let go. ‘All inside me tells me so.’

  2. So often living according to rules set up by others result in being squeezed thin.. Adopting until sense of yourself is lost. To me it didn’t feel self-pitying at all. This seems sensible to me..

  3. grapeling Says:

    I find this voice compelling ~

  4. hedgewitch Says:

    I think your editing has to have made this the sharp, clarified and non-wandering, non-discursive narrative it is as I read now, k, though I didn’t catch the earlier version. It has a plain voice, but a strong, melodic and clear one, and the lyrics are folk-wise and craftwork-tight ( great choice for pic.) I especially like the last few stanzas from the turn in the center–but it’s a strong and whole piece of work throughout.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks. I didn’t post an earlier version and was changing this rather dramatically until posting, but it had gotten sort of run-on and blame-y so think I did improve it at the end. It’s one of those I probably can’t look at for a bit. Thanks much for stopping by. k.

      On Tue, Nov 18, 2014 at 10:59 AM, ManicDDaily wrote:


  5. Mama Zen Says:

    I really wish that I had come up with this, K. Excellent.

  6. Those voices… your poem is so true, hope your country-western singer learns to listen to his/her own voice. Wonderful work here.

  7. Brendan Says:

    A devilishly deelightful construction here, precise as a lace yet as much about what is around the patterns (the holes) as what does fit. Reality is prescribed, yet how strange it becomes when we challenge the shape and tenor and delivery. Loved it.

  8. Ella Says:

    There is a haunting echo that ripples through out in your approach-I love it and felt moved~ I love that it could be a song-an united theme as we all morph and discover what matters to us, not them.


  9. mhwarren Says:

    It’s a world difficult to convolute into. I liked your making it a country song, long associated with lamenting the impossible.

  10. claudia Says:

    i’m glad that the frame started cracking at one point… otherwise the narrator would’ve cracked.. think we can to a certain point try to please others and try to fit into their world… but if it’s not ours we’re the unhappiest creatures on earth… so hopefully they will find what they LOVE to do..

  11. lynn__ Says:

    Very insightful and well-written piece. The repetition/structure gives it strength and finally the truth breaks free from the confines of living by what other people say and trying to impress them. Excellent!

  12. Helen Says:

    Love, love this!

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