deepundergroundpoetry.com

Expectation, hope and the unimaginable

What public role do you hope and expect  
For those you love- children, siblings, partners?  
Much or little, you think you know what should be.  
Are you you disappointed or delighted  
When it becomes unimaginable?  
 
I'd wondered what future materialised  
For those I taught as a keen young man  
In a very ordinary college.  
For most, so little could be discovered.  
For the few who were caught in the public eye  
It was surprise and incomprehension.  
 
I was advised to treat one young woman  
With care regarding her heart condition.  
In class, she sat demurely silent.  
But her writing flowed sweet, pure yet pointed.  
With great difficulty did I resist  
An assault on her reluctance to speak  
 
Finally she told of her ambitions  
In journalism. In view of her reticence  
I doubted, then encouraged, imagining  
Her sitting in a kitchen composing  
Most attractive and engaging pieces  
For a newspaper's women's supplement.  
 
How wrong! First into television news,  
Thence to the centre of a nasty war,  
Revealing to the world the disgraceful  
Treatment of defenceless citizens.  
For that she won top awards in Britain  
And the US, yet bore the traducing  
Of war leaders at their trials for crimes  
Against humanity. What strength she had.  
 
My reaction? Bafflement. Demure, silent,  
Seemingly vulnerable yet discerning  
Why had she changed? Was her time with me just  
A subterfuge to allow her the space  
She needed? If so, I admired her for it.  
 
Incomprehension came with a young man,  
Personable, charming black Caribbean who  
Submitted essays of a quality  
To be envied by the leader writers  
Of top newspapers and periodicals.  
I foresaw a glittering future.  
 
But he had two jobs, a wife and child  
To support, while achieving completion  
Of the course in less than half the due time.  
With so little preparation, literary worth  
Was enough to carry him through despite  
Clear lack of factual substantiation.  
 
His committed campaigning against racism  
Had my sympathy despite disbelief  
That anyone would ever discriminate  
Against a delightful man of talent.  
 
The unimaginable was in his choice  
Of 'day job'- to become a full-time poet.  
Although successful and so becoming  
On of the most highly regarded  
Of his time, no income poets  
Mostly starve in garrets or so I thought.  
 
Yet more perversely, his poetry was  
Wilfully devoid of Standard English-  
A literary medium of which  
He was a supreme exponent in youth.  
 
Perhaps he believed that to fight a war  
He had to know the enemy better.  
To be better than the old enemy  
In its finest worldwide achievement  
Though not unknown, would be a worthy goal.  
Instead he gave his own mother tongue  
A literary substance. In real disdain.  
Written by marthard
Published | Edited 4th Jan 2014
All writing remains the property of the author. Don't use it for any purpose without their permission.
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