Saturday, October 9, 2010

How to use poetry to solve tricky domestic disputes



I enjoy poems. When I was a teen, my friends and I memorized ones by  Frost, Whitman, and Browning  (wish I still knew them now). Recently I can't stop reading the works of Hafiz and Rumi. And thanks to a poet/library customer, who gently pointed out to me that many great poems have been written by people who are not dead, I've discovered some wonderful contemporary ones written by actual living people.

I've always known that the rhythm and beauty of poetry can heal you and bring peace to your soul. But what I didn't know is that it can also be used to solve domestic disputes.

Here's a hypothetical situation:  Let's say you've been married for many years and your normally considerate spouse has a habit of leaving empty milk cartons in the refrigerator. And imagine for a moment that this bothers you because before you shop, you look in the refrig and see one (and sometimes two) milk cartons and think you're good for the entire week. So when you go to the supermarket (which you hate to do) you don't buy milk. And you never notice that you're out of it until very early in the morning when you need it for your cup of coffee. Imagine also that over the years, you've had many many conversations about empty milk cartons and offending spouse promises to do better but usually within the week, he slips back to his old habits.

How to solve this problem: Forget meaningful conversations. Save them for other issues. And of course, nagging doesn't work (however, in this current hypothetical situation, the spouse who does the shopping would be completely unaware of that fact because she never nags). 

A heartfelt and well-placed poem could solve the domestic crisis. 

Here's how to do it:

Go for high drama and purple prose: You're in a crisis. This is not the time for restraint.  Begin poem with lines like: "My heart is like the milk container in the refrigerator. Empty."

Forget rhyme, meter, rhythm: Ha!  All that stuff is not necessary for effective dispute resolution. If your spouse cringes when he reads it, it will be more memorable. This poem should be intentionally horrendous. "Help build a marriage bridge by making sure milk is in the refrig". Yes. That line shows you exactly how far you have to go for the poem to work.  

Have it stand out: Remember, it's all about presentation. Try not to type the poem in a conventional font on regular paper. Poems should be handwritten, scribbled, and barely legible.  Neon-colored sticky paper works well for the marital-dispute poetry genre. If you happen to have a crayon or magic marker in a color so bright it is not known in nature, use it.

Put the poem in the center of the dispute: Get that poem right in the middle of the action. In the example above, the poem would be placed in the refrigerator and taped on the milk carton.

So next time you find yourself in a crisis, try mediation through poetry. Who knows, you might even get a scribbled and barely-legible poem written back to you *speaking hypothetically, of course*

Milk container clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on and created by artist Mark A Hicks.


Anonymous said...

Funny post, made me laugh.... and check the milk container in the refrig! :)

Anonymous said...

Ha! I was so sure you were leading up to this poem by William Carlos Williams:

Fun post anyway!

-- Barb

cleemckenzie said...

I'm composing one for the toothpaste tube squeezed in the middle. "My head is like that toothpaste tube, squeezed and achy." Should I give up writing prose and just go for the poetry?

nanmarino said...

Thanks VTrebore.
Barb, I love the William Carlos William poem!
CLee, The toothpaste is a perfect for this type of poem. You're off to a great start. The more drama, the better. :)

Nikki said...

Nan - you make my heart light,
like the droplets of cream
and coffee that just hit
my computer screen.
(You are SO funny!)

nanmarino said...

Well thanks, Nikki. Glad it made you smile.:)