Some people have a “graveyard” love. I heard this phrase in my youth and it stuck with me. It was recounted in a story I read about a couple who couldn’t get along but wouldn’t leave each other alone. There was violence as a result.
The phrase recently came to mind when I was a judge for the Poetry Out Loud state finals in Boston a few weeks ago. The Education Department of the Huntington Theatre Company coordinates POL in MA. (Note, I work for the Huntington as Community Membership Coordinator.)
In preparation for being a judge, I read all of the selections for this year on the Poetry Out Loud site. I discovered a few poets about whom I didn’t know. The following poem, Domestic Situation, struck my fancy.
Domestic Situation by Ernest Hilbert
Maybe you’ve heard about this. Maybe not.
A man came home and chucked his girlfriend’s cat
In the wood chipper. This really happened.
Dinner wasn’t ready on time. A lot
Of other little things went wrong. He spat
On her father, who came out when he learned
About it. He also broke her pinky,
Stole her checks, and got her sister pregnant.
But she stood by him, stood strong, through it all,
Because she loved him. She loved him, you see.
She actually said that, and then she went
And married him. She felt some unique call.
Don’t try to understand what another
Person means by love. Don’t even bother.
I agree with Mr. Hilbert and with a line from the movie, Lackawanna Blues, by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, “sometimes a man and woman have an understanding that nobody else understands.” (Mr. Santiago-Hudson has also performed it as a one-man show but I haven’t seen the play. I highly recommend the movie.)
Poetry Out Loud is a national recitation contest. The MA first place winner was Courtney Stewart, Springfield Central High School (Springfield, MA). He has a commanding, poised and sensitive presence.
The POL 2016 National Finals will take place May 2-4, 2016 at the Lisner Auditorium at George Washington University, Washington, DC.
Poetry fans who can’t attend the live event can cheer on their state champions with a live, one-time only webcast of both the semifinals and the finals. Make it social by organizing a Poetry Out Loud Webcast Viewing Party. Register at arts.gov and find tips on hosting your party, promotional materials, and details on other viewing parties around the country. Follow the Poetry Out Loud National Finals on Twitter at @PoetryOutLoud and @NEAarts, #POL16. For more information on the event, webcast, or viewing parties, visit arts.gov or call 202-682-5606.
If you like this post, you might also check out my posts from April 2015 which featured a number of poets.
Can I Poet with You Ntozake Shange
Can I Poet with You Langston Hughes
Can I Poet with You Lucille Clifton
Can I Poet with You e.e. cummings & Gwendolyn Brooks
Can I Poet with You W.H. Auden
“Don’t try to understand…” And we can’t.
If it were only so easy to see those we love hurt and abused. But as the author implies, perhaps it’s easier from a distance with strangers, but only by a small amount.
Thanks for commenting. Even when you see the abuse, it’s difficult to speak about it sometime or know how to help.