Regular Poem: Ambiguously Tragic

27 Dec

they call it hubris
in the greek tragedies
and in other tragedies too

the hero is too proud
the hero shakes a fist at a god
a god breaks that fist and the hero too

but a tragedy is not
by definition
a bunch of bullshit that happens to someone
a cycle of neverending bullshit
so much bullshit
even the insects are surfeited and bored of it

a classical tragedy
necessitates a doomed hero
someone who falls
from a position of power and honor

and hubris isn’t just cockiness
it afflicts heroes not douchebags
it’s the thinking you know
thinking you’re good and right
thinking it won’t happen to you
because you won’t let it
feeling not so much superior as

and ain’t that a kick in the head

a tragic hero
is by definition
and yet knowing that and acting upon it
is so often the fatal flaw
that precipitates
the tragedy
that lends its adjectival form
to the hero
who is not a regular hero
but one fated to lose

most games are losing games
if you play long enough

is that the pessimist in me talking
or the tragic hero
[discussion of dramatic irony redacted]

am i a hero at all
tragic or otherwise

i know good and well
i’m the villain
in someone else’s story

but who am i in my own

in a good tragedy
the hero is her own worst enemy
i’m not sure
how committed i am to the genre

let’s have a comedy instead
(classically technically those end in marriage
so that’s probably out)

let’s have gothic horror instead
(ghosts and arson and madwomen in attics
i can abide those more easily)

let’s have pastoral poetry
let’s have medieval romance
let’s have screwball comedy
let’s have absurdist drama
let’s have magical realism

still there are protagonists and antagonists

protagonize isn’t a recognized word
but i know how to antagonize
only too well

and even when i don’t mean to
i do anyway

the tragic hero is a hero
in his own story
but he’s just a dick
in somebody else’s

jocasta this is your life
the ’50s tv announcer says to her
she fucked her own son and then took her own life
he’s a tragic hero and she’s
collateral damage

lady macbeth this is your life
the ’50s tv announcer says to her
she manipulated her husband into murder and then took her own life
he’s a tragic hero and she’s
collateral damage

there’s the genre i want to embrace
i’ll be a ’50s game show panelist
i don’t know who the guest is
i ask questions
and am so charmed by the responses
i investigate
i deduce
i delight in

i am an obscure broadway star
wearing a blindfold
asking yes/no questions
being glib and glamorous and charismatic
there is no other pressure
in this black and white dream

but it’s not black and white
and it’s not a dream

it’s surreal
but also so real real real

real and unreal
real and hyperreal

the figures dancing behind my eyes
don’t know which is which

i know what i know
i can testify to only my own testimony
(two women equals one man
i try not to get riled up)

i can testify to only
what i know
which is increasingly less

i may not be a tragic hero
but in some cases i’m tragic
and in some cases a hero

but always
there’s that hubris

a tragic hero has hubris
i have hubris

does it logically follow
sat act a million years ago

and ain’t that a kick in the head

if then if then

there are so many puzzles
and so many solutions

i’m not smart enough
i’m not tragic enough
but i’m proud enough

they call it hubris
in the greek tragedies

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