This poem is pretty special to me. I wrote Paradox in August 2014 as part of a countdown on facebook.
Here’s another one I wrote during that period. The linked post also sheds some light on how I got into poetry in the first place. I strongly recommend giving that a read before continuing to read further here.
I am not surprised that my poetry largely focused on the nature of institutionalized structures and not the people themselves because I understood even back then that systemic incompetence, more than systemic corruption, is what compels people to make bad decisions. Also, incompetence breeds incompetence.
To be honest, I was never a poet and I now categorize most of what I wrote during that period as ‘pretty shitty’. But it’s been over 3 years. I have learnt most forms of poetry and I even have a contract with a French troupe that will last a few more years.
Paradox is the best one I wrote during that period. In fact writing Paradox was what compelled me to dive deeper into poetry.
Back then I wasn’t aware of any technical details involved in writing poetry. Like most people scribbling on social media I thought poems were just things you wrote to express yourself and you have to make them rhyme. The first part of that understanding is still true. The second is bollocks.
Paradox is basically a monorhyme with an attempted volta (the word ‘paradox’) in the last couplet. This is before I started writing what I refer to as my Contrarian Dysthymia style.
The first half of every line in the poem is a paradoxical situation socially, culturally, or technically. The second half is mostly a logical but slightly exaggerated version of what would be true if the paradox in the first half wasn’t a paradox and was actually true. In some cases, the second half is also a paradox. The last two lines are an attempt at using the volta (even though this isn’t technically a sonnet) to conclude with a different rhyme scheme. Notice that I call it an attempted volta because it isn’t technically a volta either.
I think I just critiqued and criticised my finest technically-incorrect work.
Here is the new version.
Pattern: Monorhyme (largely)
Volta (attempted): Paradox (marked in italics)
If winters had sagacity, coffee would suffice,
if a brute took to painting, beauty would suffice,
if furtive was benign, adjectives would suffice,
if lying was civilized, religion would suffice,
if the weak had tenacity, surrender would suffice,
if conformity was unerring, veracity would suffice,
if writers sought approvals, mediocrity would suffice,
if Bukowski sought competition, I would suffice!
If a paradox ever performed an extempore,
poets would know how not to bore.
Here is the original Paradox from my facebook feed:
Did you notice that I called Paradox ‘my finest technically-incorrect work’?