First Fail

(photo from AMNH by Christina Martin)

First Fail (Each Time)

If you extend the “i”,
which one tends to do under these circumstances,
you end up with “fall”,
which is what it feels like–
as if you were paraded naked, made
to feel shame,
and everything of you that came before, that seemed
to be good,
was a should-charade,
while everything about that spot you occupied
like a trophy on a high shelf–though it was a cheap trophy,
a dusty shelf–
was paradisal–and, oh,
though you are wiser now, the road not taken
has been taken,
and the road taken
has been taken,
everything you didn’t know you had
has been taken,
and, of course it’s stupid to feel this way, mistaken,
but you, somehow still young, are too stupid
to understand–as you run run run like a horse
who’s afraid that when a horse lies down
it will die–
that this failure, which has unmanned/unwomanned you,
has also made you

You never before knew
what that meant.

Another drafty sort of poem (meaning freshly written) for my prompt on With Real Toads on Falling Into Lines.  The photo is by Christina Martin, taken in the back wings of the American Museum of Natural History.

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13 Comments on “First Fail”

  1. Snakypoet (Rosemary Nissen-Wade) Says:

    Oh, sweet and poignant, both literally and metaphorically. The photo tugs at the heart-strings and I think your poem the perfect response.

  2. The “i” and “fall” brings the fail together… and just when we’ve run out of options, all that remains will to be a wonderful fossil… love how you created this..

  3. hedgewitch Says:

    the road not taken
    has been taken,
    and the road taken
    has been taken;
    everything you didn’t know you had
    has been taken,

    as you know I am not a big fan of quoting a poet’s words back to them, but this passage was just impossible not to praise–and to feel, deep in the bones the truth of it, at least the perceived truth we must feel subjectively, and that is all the real truth there is at times. From the very first line, with its image of a small i changing itself into something completely different in significance by being extended,you make us feel that horrible panic of being human, of being without the needed information, and especially without the right answers. One of your very best here Karin.

  4. ocean bones Says:

    Man, this is awesome!!! I love the opening, extending the “i” into an “l.” This is exactly how I think, to the detriment of my mental health and well-being. 😉

    Your line breaks are always so packed with extra meanings.

    This is the section that speaks to me:

    “as if you were paraded naked, made
    to feel shame,
    and everything of you that came before, that seemed
    to be good,
    was a should-charade”

    … quite loudly, in fact.

    Thank you.

  5. othermary Says:

    I love this, the little hop from fall to fail, and the progression from there. I also think the picture you chose goes particularly well with this, both the idea of extinction and of being studied and picked apart after the fact. And thank you too for giving us the “fall” prompt to write about.

  6. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    You use of second person makes this poem very personal – raises questions in the reader’s mind that need to be asked.

    Karin, I seem to have hit a bit of a dry spell (as Michael would say). I have made two attempts to complete a poem but both have failed. I have so enjoyed reading the responses to your prompt and thought each time, Why didn’t I think of that?

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Ah–no worries, Kerry–you have very high standards in what you post, and that can certainly be an impediment to frequent posting! (It is one of the reason I call everything fresh a “draft.” Otherwise the commitment of saying something is finished would be too much for me to allow me to just put it up.)

      Also, feel free to come back to the prompt any time. k.

      On Mon, Oct 19, 2015 at 11:54 AM, ManicDDaily wrote:


  7. M Says:

    my comments are failing, too. darn internet. i’ve just recently also been noticing that i into l, and fail into fall, so this rings true. i also admire the passage Hedge quoted. your prompt got me to stir, no easy task of late, so I thank you for that. ~

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      So sorry for the Internet issues! And for any dry spell– though when you do post it is always sharp and thought-provoking. Thank you for your kind visits and kind words re prompt and don’t get discouraged and stop posting! I know your life is so busy but it is always terrific to read your work. K.


  8. margaret Says:

    A should charade. That has to be my new favorite phrase. Well done as I could quite back many lines mentioned above. I think you need more walks in the woods if this is the result. :).

  9. Interesting thoughts in this poem. What makes us human?

    Greetings from London.

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