I'm not sure why I'm drawn to the tragic. It's not a Poe thing, as much as I would pretend it to be; I am no fan of horror but love more Poe's characters and their angst than his plot devices and their ringing dooms. If I were to guess I would say I have always been bored with what is the norm in both fiction and fact, the ending redemption, the rising from the ashes, the quadriplegic who jumps up after only a week in the limb removal operation center and runs a mile on his stumps while dribbling a basketball and learning Swahili through earbuds. Yea, that stuff happens. It sure does, I've witnessed it myself; 2 or 3 times, as compared to the hundreds of times that tragedy ends on a sour note, the cancer patient dies, the captured soldier is beheaded, the young mentally challenged man is taunted into suicide.
Maybe subconsciously I think there are reams of writers out there ready to make their readers sigh and hug themselves, and I am claustrophobic, even within an imaginary crowd of like individuals. Who knows, maybe it's darker than that, maybe I'm just self piteous and so I attach to those things that seem as or more miserable than I am at any given time. When I ponder it I come to this; that I simply find the story of people in pain far more compelling than that of those who conquer it. I am far less intrigued by a man born wealthy and can never understand hunger, than by the millions who go hungry every day without hope of relief. I am more moved by the sick and shelter-less, the have nots and never wills, than by the two folks of hundreds who climb their way out; not that I don't applaud the latter, but I guess, doesn't someone have to give a shit about the former?
I've no doubt to some I'm seen as a rider of the linguistic apocalypse, some wordy harbinger of doom. That's fine. I don't try to publish because I'm reasonably sure that would be the sentiment of most publishers, I am not a common denominated teacup so to speak. I have tried the redemption thing and found it not to my liking. That said, I do think I'm pretty good at what I DO do, giving a reader pause. They say you should write what you know. I know this; life aint a bed of roses, and someone needs to tend to the thistle.
Sorry if this was all rehash sentiment. I was reminded by a friend's poem, "Fires" by Francesca Castaño of one of my all time favorite poems, one of those that just came shooting out of me like water from a fire hose (as an old friend once described my writing style) and I thought to preface a sad piece with an explanation as to why I believe this scene is beautiful, why I'd find Johnny fascinating, and why I can wish I'd have known his mother as perhaps I'd have been able to give her a little comfort throughout her life.
As twilight creeps across the fields he sobs while crumpled on the ground
his fingers twisting through the mound of freshly spaded earth
The whimper turns to whispered wail, his grief pours out in great detail
as Johnny curls into himself, as if before his birth
She hadn’t lived a blessed life, a beaten girl, reluctant wife
and mother of a crippled son, one prone to cause her pain
and yet she’d kept her brilliant wit, she’d twinkled in her eyes a bit
the memories came flooding back as it began to rain
The boy just lay there on the green, his hands contracting in the mud
his face contorting with the flood of tears he couldn’t slow
He’d never told her of his care, not held her close, nor touched her hair
and now his mother withered there, her warmth six feet below
As darkness grips the somber vale the lad recounts his many sins
and once he has a list begins recounting them aloud
“I’m sorry dear” he says at last, “I’d not deserved a love so vast”
He’d never understood her heart, his mother, once so proud
He vowed to be a better son just as the pour turned into mist
and kneeling toward the grave he kissed the stone upon the lawn
He lingered there until the light, until he’d reconciled his plight
dear Johnny’d grown up overnight, where love had come and gone