Thursday, September 29, 2005

Crutches by Nikki Giovanni

it's not the crutches we decry
it's the need to move forward
though we haven't the strength

women aren't allowed to need
so they develop rituals
since we all know working hands idle
the devil
women aren't supposed to be strong
so they devlop social smiles
and secret drinking problems
and female lovers whom they never touch
except in dreams

men are supposed to be strong
so they have heart attacks
and develop other women
who don't know their weaknessess
and hide their fears
behind male lovers
whom they religiously touch
each saturday morning on the basketball court
it's considered a sign of good health doncha know
that they take such good care
of their bodies

i'm trying to say something about the human condition
maybe i should try again

if you broke an arm or a leg
a crutch would be a sign of courage

people would sign your cast
and you could bravely explain
no it doesn't hurt- it just itches
but if you develop an itch
there are no salves to cover the area
in need of attention
and for whatever guilt may mean
we would feel guilty for trying
to assuage the discomfrot
and even worse for needing the aid

i really want to say something about all of us
am i shouting i want you to hear me

emotional falls always are
the worst
and there are no crutches
to swing back on

I really like the subject matter of this poem, the idea that people are constantly trying to be strong and hide their inner problems. I feel that is this something that many of us experience at one point in time. I like the lines that make this poem feel like a rough draft or a train of thought. Lines such as "i'm trying to say something about the human condition/ maybe I should try again" I feel are very exposing, like the poet is allowing us to see into her thought process as she writes this. I think it's interesting how she says "men are supposed to be strong/ so they have heart attacks." It's funny because it's a contradictory sentence, and I think it's a great way of showing what she feels our culture's values are: how physical/external pain is acceptable, but emotional/internal pain should be kept hidden. I also like the flow of this poem, where she starts out with a broad statement and then goes into details of how people act in society, and then in the end bluntly says what the poem is about. I feel like the poem starts out more flowly and poem-like and the tone gets more desperate and less storytelling as the poem goes on as she is really trying to communicate this idea to the reader. This struck me as very effective and emotional. Her tone is also very teasing some of the time in lines like "since we all know working hands idle the devil" and "it's a good sign of health doncha know." She throws in these cliche sayings or phrasings I think as a way of painting a picture of who is upholding these societal values.


Blogger jgarrett327 said...

I really like this poem, I've have to say it is unlike any I've ever read. Like you said, the poem starts out flowing but then stopped abruptly. You can feel the writers discouargement with th ehuman race as a whole. She already knows that her reader is not following what she's trying to get at. I've never had a writer reach out of their work and shake me.

11:47 AM  

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