A CHILD I DON'T KNOW ASKS ME WHAT TRAGEDY IS
Robert Andrew Perez
my initial impulse is to say, a goat song, but i don't feel
he said, meet me here. she said, meet me here
to the wrong place. they tried again then later
for the first time in his life. she said, i love you
but continued to say the words. one day,
here. when he arrived, they saw each other
moved closer to her, into focus, she began to feel
left you so long ago, she finally said out loud.
fill this box with stars:
(ten minutes later)
now think of the saddest thing you can think of.
now think of the happiest.
how many stars are missing from each box?
let me answer your question with a question
my last shot
i act out
of hamlet. you
I hate to be my own analysand. I tend to give myself the shivers when I write about my own work, which I guess is part of the reason I gave myself a thesis like the one presented in the poem, that the difficulty of describing something so abstract but necessary in my writing (tragedy) is like articulating my personal poetic aesthetic or poetic concerns. In a way I’m describing the later by failing to describe the former. The thing that surprised me about the poem was how theatre or features of the theatre began to rupture my attempts at definition. Likewise, a diagram felt necessary in this series. Both infograph/diagram and theatre/performance are representational mediums, but ones that necessitate a type of Barthesian viewer interaction, the way a poem implicates the reader in its poemness. Thus, the core of my poem is the diagram that tasks the reader to do something but also does it for the reader. This relinquishment of agency and immediate reclamation, of course, is fictive. The poet is powerful and powerless. The simultaneity of tragedy to be destructive and productive is and isn’t a metaphor.