What good are you?

By Joseph Hesch
The judging began at birth.
He was a good baby,
a good boy,
a good student,
a good son,
a good brother,
a good teammate,
a good listener,
a good lover,
a good worker,
a good husband,
a good provider,
a good father,
a good man.
And because he was so good,
he always wanted to be better.
It was never enough, though. 
Ultimately, all that mattered was, 
in so many not-so-good lives, 
he was not much more than 
a good excuse.

My friend, Hedgewitch, AKA Joy Ann Jones, is pouring the Poetics poetry prompts at dVerse Poets Pub today. She’s asking for poems that show some type of repetition. While regular readers might say, “Joe, don’t you always write about growing old or about lonely, longing losers all the time?” Uh, no. I hope not.

Nevertheless, here’s a repetition poem about…uh…a lonely…longing…loser. 

Darn it!

25 thoughts on “What good are you?

  1. the ending was just like a punch in the gut joe..when i was a teenager i wanted to be as bad as possible…and i managed really well…ha..now i tend to wanna be nice and good as well…always doing the right things..maybe i should re-think the options…smiles…good poem..see..you made me think..

  2. Ha! I like lonely longing losers just fine, Joe–and relate to them well. This is a hammer style repeat–easy to overdo, but you have too much class for that–the force is measured and delivered in surgical taps that emphasize cumulatively that whole LLL thing–we can only be as good as we are, and it's hard to understand why that's not enough, and to be held up as an example or excuse either one, is pretty lonely fate.

  3. What does it mean to be good? was my first introductory paper on Socrates in my college ethics class. I still have the paper because it's such a personal issue. You hammer in 'good' here with weight, thank you.

  4. The title evokes, for me, a parent critical of their child. A child who is always criticized or put down might readily become a perfectionist, and a perfectionist is never good enough in their own eyes.

  5. Wow… how wearying it is to try and be so good, and then find it's not good enough (for the eyes who required the goodness in the first place). Your use of repetition made me feel that weariness (in the right way) of life long attempts at goodness for the wrong reasons. That ending touched a nerve.

  6. Your first line caught my attention ~ "The judging began at birth."then it was the good… repetitive words.. until the last line. Very nice use of this prompt…gave me some good ideas to work on ~

  7. I saw a documentary recently on Netflix, "I Like Swatting Flies," about a fat unkempt bad-mouthed philosopher of a short-order cook who for 30 years served the most sublime comfort food in the greasiest of spoons in New York City. He made one comment so trenchant to this poem — that he taught his kids rigidly that everyone is a schmuck who only once in a while does something decent and good. Takes a lot of a burden off … thinking you're a good person, he said, is like owning a new car, fretting endlessly about it getting dinged. Awful responsibility … as this poor schmuck finds out. The last line is the fate of every person burdened with the mantle of perfection. – Brendan

  8. You know, it's taken me years to figure out that I didn't need to be 'good' enough all the time. Wearing the mantle of the perfectionist is bloody hard work and it wore me out to the point of exhaustion & depression. Your poem resonates with me, Joe …as they always do. Think I need Peter's couch too 😉

  9. Wow this was amazing and I have seen it so before everyone who thinks they are so good ends up in the end not being what they think they are. Parents can push their children so hard that when it finally matters they are not who they think they are great poemhttp://gatelesspassage.com/2011/09/24/loneliness-the-anger-of-lost-hope/

  10. There was a distinction when I was in high school between "good girls" and "nice girls". I didn't want to be either. I didn't want to be a "bad girl" either. I wanted to be a "different girl..unlike others" — the nuns had already cursed me with an eternity in hell. I decided in 6th grade, I'd be what I damn well pleased. And I can say quite satisfactorily, now, I have!Like what you say about those poor goodygoodies. They're hopeless, chasing after clean houses, cute hairdos, perfect nails, the right cars, the right address, the right friends (who never are). Their lives are a sham. Better just to be yourself, and let it all lie on the line.

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