“Overwhelmed by Something” by Maddie Godfrey

Maddie Godfrey


my neighbour says everything we hate is inside of us.
says that when we lash out at surrounding suburbs, we
are aiming at the most unlikeable streets of ourselves.

I know how it feels to grab the nearest object and name it
a weapon. I know every part of my body can resemble a fist.

a stranger strikes a painting of a son being stabbed by his
father, while political volume swallows the shattering glass.

I know how it feels to shudder, like a painting, protected but not safe.
I know how it feels to survive the impact and still be mourned by strangers.

it is easier to blame the alcohol, instead of blaming
the fears which false courage ignited.

it is easier to blame the hands, instead of blaming
the country which did not hold them.

from Poets Respond
June 3, 2018


Maddie Godfrey: “This poem is a reflection on this week’s incident in a Moscow gallery, where a painting of Ivan the Terrible stabbing his son was damaged by a drunken patron. This story was of particular interest to me as an unusual form of ekphrastic response, in which the poem responds to the destruction of a painting rather than the painting itself. While writing the poem, I asked myself why we act violently towards scenes that remind us of ourselves, and how this relates to politic unrest around the incident. The title is a quote from the person who stabbed the painting, repeatedly.” (web)

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