The Devil’s Details

There’s a devil in the details,
Those traits we like to sort;
There’s a devil in the details,
The minutiae we contort.

We once marched for color-blindness;
Now we muster into tribes.
Retreat is called advancement
In this war of diatribes.

Like a costume on the outside,
Character is shown by skin;
It’s believed a darker fabric
Signals more virtue within.

Of course, other threads are counted
In one’s total merit score—
Women all receive a bonus,
A lesbian even more.

But if by fluke born man and white,
That truly is a shame,
For with the privilege he owns
Comes a most repulsive name.

Unless, of course, that man is gay,
Which redeems him quite a bit
So long as his held views align
With Academic Writ.

By identity divided,
We’re hung as clothes on racks,
Not suspecting that such theory
Hacks our prospects like an axe.

There’s a devil in the details,
The minutiae we distort;
There’s a devil when these details
Are used by dolts to sort.

A hero died to make us one,
To show us fools the way,
Yet the squads of social justice
Have made his words their prey.

Wrecking the monument he built
Of brotherhood and love,
They erect an ashen tower
To split us from above.

Oh, but we can’t let the details
Condemn us to take sides—
These are merely the varied trees
In which a forest hides!

For the skin we’re always shedding
Like leaves from an autumn tree,
And all the varied quirks we share
Can’t reveal identity.

Content of character is shown
Through compassion and respect
And tolerance of other views,
Traits not owned by group or sect.

My beliefs might not jibe with yours;
I might not look or act like you,
But must this make us enemies?
I dispute that this is true.

Since these are the devil’s details,
Not the core of who we are;
And if God cares not for details,
Why should they make us war?

Let’s pick up the fallen standard
Of the faithful ones who died
Fighting that lying enemy
Who wields details to divide!


Closed Form Manifesto

You must consider me a fool
To write poems the way I do.
Everyone knows it isn’t cool—
Meter and rhyme were deemed taboo

By the powers who make the rules.
Publishers and professors, hence,
Banned such structure from books and schools,
Pushed open forms, arcane and dense.

My closed form verse must make no sense.

Surely, you must presume me mad,
Like one who tilts against a mill,
For fighting codes so ironclad;
My words will die upon that hill.

I must admit, within this Age,
Wherein the most convicted claim
Objective Truth’s a mental cage,
My structured verse won’t earn me fame.

So, you must think it’s such a shame.

Perhaps I am what you assume,
But, since Postmodern thought holds sway,
I choose to fight against its gloom,
Not throw more chaos in the way.

Many say, “Fight fire with fire,”
Yet water, to me, seems more sound.
We’re withering in wild desire,
And, somehow, those flames must be bound.

I write so that the measure’s found.



Ron L. Hodges is an English teacher and poet who lives in Orange County, California. His works have appeared in The Road Not Taken, Ancient Paths, Calvary Cross, and The Society of Classical Poets Journal 2015 and 2016. He won the Society’s prestigious Annual Poetry Competition in 2016.

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12 Responses

  1. E. V.

    Hello! You have a talent for writing in form. It also took a lot of courage to present this politically incorrect opinion. The Society protects Americans’ right to freedom of speech by permitting poets with a wide diversity of views to express themselves.

  2. Joe Tessitore

    I agree with E.V. and Amy. Bravo to you, Ron for writing it and to the Society for printing it!

  3. Amy Foreman

    Astute, fearless, and blunt, your first poem tells it like it is: “But if by fluke born man and white,
    That truly is a shame,”

    Good for you for saying it!

  4. C.B. Anderson


    If you really want to make a case for closed forms, then be more precise in the execution of strict meter, lest you sound like the pot calling the kettle black. And if, all of you, would really want to read something going against the mainstream, then read this:

  5. Ron Hodges

    Thanks for the feedback Joe, Amy, E.V., David, and C.B. My purpose in the first poem was not merely to “go against the mainstream” because, in criticizing intersectionality, I’m expressing what should be a rather mainstream, original Civil Rights Movement, position. The fact that it’s not “politically-correct” shows precisely how far we have fallen, in my humble view. As far as the strict meter, I do not entirely disagree with your point, yet there is a near equal danger in being too doctrinaire about meter. Just as a legalistic church will drive people away, a legalistic approach to poetry might have a similar effect. In short, “the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” Respectfully, it’s not all or nothing. But I do see your position. Again, thanks for reading and commenting on the poems!

    • Amy Foreman

      Keep ’em coming, Ron! Your poetry is quite enjoyable to read. And extra points, in my book, to a poet who also knows his Scripture! 🙂

  6. David Watt

    I applaud your thoughtful free expression, and the skill displayed.

  7. Joseph S. Salemi

    In your indented and partially-repetend quatrains (the “devil in the details” ones), it might be more effective if they were not only indented, but also put into italics.

  8. Dave Whippman

    I liked “The Devil’s Details” – a clever protest against the tyranny of political correctness.


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