So I’m colourblind, right.

Hah, good segue. I don’t get poetry. I want to. A lot of the stuff on here when it comes to writing is these little nifty chunks of poetry people turn out. And I want to like it. I want to understand it, I want to get it, I want it to move something inside of me. But it doesn’t.

I feel like I’m missing a distinct part of something that other human beings have. I strain and strain to get some reaction looking through this stuff that other people obviously react to, but I got nothing.

All I can make in return is this.

What a cruel fate!

[A man does not get poetry, it ends poorly]

Phil stared at the poem so hard he felt his eyes might explode. They didn’t, but he got no closer to understanding what was barely three feet in front of his face and he also managed to give himself a headache. He read and re-read the lines but they told him nothing he didn’t already know. He grunted, squeezing his eyes shut and rubbing his face as he sagged back onto the uncomfortable bench behind him.

He just didn’t get it. He’d tried and tried and tried but it was getting him nowhere.

This wasn’t the first piece, either. The place was practically packed to the rafters with stuff just like it. Who put poetry in a frame in a building anyway? Someone, clearly. Was this one any more significant than any of the others he’d seen? No. It just so happened this particular piece was what he’d settled down in front of to try and fully understand. It likely wouldn’t be the last piece either, at least not at this rate.

What was it about poetry that so baffled him? He didn’t know. It was just words arranged to form sentences. Like speaking. He could speak, so he should be able to get it. That’s just logic. That was easy.

But the words and sentences in front of him where about things he couldn’t quite grasp. They seemed to be about love. Or hate? Or something in between the two? Phil couldn’t understand it. He lacked the nuance to understand it, the necessary grasp of subtlety and inference. It hinted at meaning rather than laying it out, and this was foreign to him. It left him cold. Phil’s head hurt.

As he continued to rub his face and give his eyes some rest he felt as much as heard some people detach from the crowds milling through the galleries and settle near enough to him he could smell them. They smelt young. He imagined they were well turned out and, indeed, on opening up one eye to peer through a crack in his fingers he saw this was just the case.

The two young people – a boy and a girl, both immaculate and effortlessly fashionable (Phil assumed it was fashion, he could have been wrong) – stood side by side and appraised the work that had managed bring Phil to the very brink of despair. Still watching with one eye he saw their faces split in perfect unison into expression of complete understanding.

“I get it!” Said the boy.
“It speaks to me on a personal level!” The girl said.

They then linked arms and wandered off back into the crowd. Phil ground his teeth together and lunged back up onto his feet. If two kids could just wander up, glance at the thing and be emotionally enriched in a matter of seconds then anyone could do it. He wasn’t going to let a few words get the better of him.

Taking a breath to clear his head he started once again from the top. He hoped that coming at it again after a moment or so of rest would give him some new, unexpected angle of approach that would open it up to him. He hoped the pieces would fall into place before his very eyes and all would become clear organically.

None of this happened. He just stared at it again and did not get it.

Further splinter-groups from the crowds drifted his way, though he was concentrating too hard to pay them much notice. Most appreciated the work silently, nodding before moving back off again. Some though were vocal.

“My!” Said one, another young person, though closer to being a young man then a boy.
“I can empathise with and relate to this!” Said another, this one a lady somewhere North of older-than-you’d-expect. Phil growled quietly and strained his eyes further.

People came and people went, though the ratio was off in such a way that more people were coming than going. Something of a mob started to build up around Phil.

By sheer coincidence Phil had at least a foot of height over even the tallest of this growing mob, so even as the bodies surged around him he maintained an unobstructed view of the poem. He remained in the dark about it, however, though he was clearly the only one.

Praise for the poem was widespread and loud, no-one bothering to keep their voices down at this point. The press of flesh around Phil ebbed and flowed like a tide, variously squashing and releasing him as he tried and failed to jam the words through his head in a way that made them mean something – anything! – to him. His growling was now constant, and rising in pitch, becoming a squeal. He started to sound like an angry kettle.

Why couldn’t he get it? Everyone else could get it. And from the volume of work present in this building everyone else could do it, too. What was he missing? What part of him wasn’t where it should be? Had he started out defective, or was it something he’d picked up? What did he have to do to be like these other people? What did he have to do to get it?

Phil was now screaming. He hadn’t noticed, but he was. Everyone else had noticed, of course. His shrill, agonised shrieking was seriously hampering their enjoyment of the work and indeed any other pieces of work within earshot. Some considered getting someone in to tell Phil to move on, but there was something about him that just made them nervous. Maybe it was the way his veins were bulging, maybe it was the way blood starting to leak from his poes. It was hard to put a finger on it.

Still screaming – no time for breathing, holes had opened up to allow air to enter without disrupting the scream – Phil fell to his knees before the work that had vexed him so. Reaching up to it he grabbed the frame, straining to try and tear it free from the wall. He had accepted his inability to understand, he had surrendered to it. He never would, it was hopeless.

But that didn’t bring catharsis, this didn’t bring freedom. His anger remained. An anger born of incomprehension. Jealousy of those who could understand and understand so effortlessly. He wanted to see the work smashed to pieces. He wanted the building burned. He wanted the world flattened and demolished and destroyed so there was nothing left for him not to understand and no-one else left to get it when he didn’t.

Instead, his head exploded.

The pressure was simply too much. His screaming stopped abruptly as his skull popped like a soap bubble, splattering the work (which he had failed to remove from the wall) and those who were still around him, trying to appreciate it despite him. It was then their time to scream, though for rather different reasons.

END

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