Friday, June 10, 2011 | By: Brianna

Poetry Friday -- Disrespect at the Mall

In the midst of discovering that I had once again forgotten to blog the previous day, I also discovered that I've been feeling lonely because (as I say): "I have no friends."  Well, no friends that are in the direct vicinity, and no friends that are bored and lonely just like me.  Right now my only friend is Jane Eyre.  Which is mildly pathetic, but hey, that's how it turned out.  I treasure the hope that today my brother will cement himself to the couch in front of the television and play video games so I can steal the car and go to the mall to be near people.  I probably won't talk to them, thereby alienating myself further...but I've been playing with the idea of people watching.  I've never actually done it for fun...and I'm not really sure it's something you can plan, but yeah.  It would give me an excuse and a purpose for getting out of the house at least.

Anyway, today is Friday.
Today I have chosen to read "Disrespect at the Mall" by Mark Halliday.  (I never knew Google Books could do that!)  Anyway, I noticed that at the beginning and the end of the poem, the speaker rhymes and even brings it to the reader's attention with "Notice though, girls, how deftly I rhyme".  In the middle of the poem while he's recounting this interaction with a twenty-something in the middle of the mall, he drops the rhyme scheme.  Instead he picks up this rhythm of "and I said...and she said..." for a good four lines.  The repetition definitely gives it consistency, and you start to ignore in the sense that it becomes background.  Then once the speaker gets back to "thinking," he rhymes "deftly" once again.  He blames time, not the young ladies for the torture of being able to appreciate the young women of the world but having them regard him as nothing more than a "horny old gent."  Which I thought was interesting.  If he had blamed the young ladies, the poem might have been ridiculous for its own sake and might have become a rant instead of this sad regretful longing.  Blaming time gives the poem a certain depth and steps away from superficial blame that would have been aimed at his one-time rejector.  Well, presumably one-time.  It's interesting that the idea of an old man hitting on a young woman could latch onto something profound like that, because most of the time we're just inclined to think of that as creepy and brush it off.  Or shudder.

1.  Write a poem or a reflection that involves both a real life interaction with someone and internal monologue.  Signify the internal monologue by using a different rhythm, line length or rhyme.
2.  Take something that should be repulsive or frightening, and cause the reader to sympathize with the speaker.  Like a birthday party clown.  Or a dog humping someone's leg.
3.  Write something that illustrates an age gap.  Is it the difference between using a typewriter or a laptop?  Or is it the difference between wearing a hat to church or torn up jeans?  Create a confrontation between the two.  Bonus points if it takes place in a public space.
4.  Have you ever felt like everyone around you was wearing a sign across their forehead?  Write what it would be like to be the only person who wasn't wearing the same sign as everyone else.

"I became aware that every attractive young woman there
(and there were hundreds) was wearing a sign
in cool dark blue letters across her chest that said
- Mark Halliday, "Disrespect at the Mall"


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