Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Dysthymia: Stagnant Traffic

I read this poem when it hit my inbox in Sept. but I needed to save it till now. I am writing this post on 11/1/2016; Halloween was yesterday and we have just launched into the Holiday Season. Fourteen school days till Thanksgiving Break and then just a short three weeks until Winter Break. We have at least four major holidays in our future before we get a break. So, with that in mind, now on to the poem.

Dysthymia: Stagnant Traffic

by Cate Lycurgus

the exit’s not marked    Post-
partum  Seasonal  Psychotic  or the often

merrier  Manic    not half the frolic     
of a holiday party   whole nights

drowning in punch lines   strong 
orchestra of laughter     to keep us from

crying      over the on-ramp’s
stubborn curl    ribbon a red loop 

nuisance to tug     un-loose back 
at home  with the heat left on   

and your scarf like a noose   no one
diagnoses          generic danger

strangling us     on a normal
basis       unwrapping a new numb

not so formal    it won’t         come 
buckle       the small       of your back

a caress     snuck up and     un-
seat belting   out a welcome so     

concrete who      would not soften 
who could not      resist
I love the message of this poem. I don't mean to be harsh, but the holiday season sucks. We try to cram so many things into a short amount of time with the intention of having fun. We want to make memories and enjoy time with our friends and family, but too often we just stress ourselves out and make ourselves miserable in the process. The holidays then become a disappointment rather than the most magical time of the year. Lycurgus uses images and diction to help cement this idea into the reader's mind. Words like psychotic, manic, drowning, crying, stubborn, nuisance, noose, generic, strangling, and numb help in this respect. The merry-makers are drowning in their punch lines, scarves around their necks like nooses. I also really like the formatting in this poem. The extra spaces almost act as line breaks which adds more ways to interpret the poem. Often you can read the word in isolation, but you can also read it in the greater context of the line, or sentence.

Lycurgus doesn't provide the reader with a solution either. The poem brings this problem to our attention, but does nothing to help us overcome it. We are stuck, as we are so often in life, with the problems and asked to solve them for ourselves.

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