Saints Peter and Paul, painting circa 1620‘These Nice Guys,’ after Gwendolyn Brooks, by Joe Spring The Society August 23, 2019 Culture, Poetry 6 Comments These Nice Guys after Gwendolyn Brooks NICE CHRISTIAN MAN. A DIME A DOZEN. These nice guys. They forfeit the prize. They get pushed around. They carpet the ground. They exist for others. They strengthen their brothers. They doubt their worth. They inherit the earth. Joe Spring lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa. For more information please visit www.joespringwrites.com. NOTE: The Society considers this page, where your poetry resides, to be your residence as well, where you may invite family, friends, and others to visit. Feel free to treat this page as your home and remove anyone here who disrespects you. Simply send an email to email@example.com. Put “Remove Comment” in the subject line and list which comments you would like removed. The Society does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments and reserves the right to remove any comments to maintain the decorum of this website and the integrity of the Society. Please see our Comments Policy here. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 6 Responses Joe Tessitore August 23, 2019 A brilliant poem, and a brilliant segue from the language of the street to the language of the Gospel. Reply T. M. Moore August 23, 2019 I agree with Joe. I’m going to link this poem for the Brothers in our Fellowship (www.ailbe.org), because it gets at the heart of what we are trying to realize in our work together. Thanks so much, Joe. I’ve been in your beloved country twice, with very fond memories both times. Reply C.B. Anderson August 24, 2019 Joe, A very interesting variation on the usual conventions of end rhyme, and a trenchant message as well. One might ask, Who are these people who turn the other cheek? Victims or ultimate survivors? Reply Joseph S. Salemi August 24, 2019 It seems to me that they are victims, if we take the original Brooks poem as a guiding parallel. That poem (“We Real Cool,” I believe is the title), describes a certain class of young men as pleasure-seeking voluptuaries who “die soon” (that’s the last line in the Brooks poem). In this take-off, these “nice Christian guys” are altruistic, charitable types who always get the short end of the stick. After losing everything in life, they “inherit the earth,” which in the context of the Brooks poem means that they just get shoveled under. The poem has a strong cynical tone, especially with the epigraph about such nice men being “a dime a dozen.” Reply Joe Tessitore August 24, 2019 The original is fascinating – thank you, Dr. Salemi: We real cool. We Left school. We Lurk late. We Strike straight. We Sing sin. We Thin gin. We Jazz June. We Die soon. Joe Spring August 24, 2019 Thank you all for such great comments. In reference to the original and Dr Salemi’s comment, I’ll clarify that I picked up the heartbreak of the original and from there the theme differs vastly. I don’t mean mine to be cynical though I appreciate now noticing the alternative, dark interpretation of “inherit the earth” (surely some strong imagery and ideas for future work there). No, I mean to position the weak reputation against the final truth, leading from pitiful niceness through the real experience of struggle and doubt, toward a promise that should then work its way back through to how we can revise how we see ourselves. Brooks’ ends with sorrow, this one with a hope. CB I wish I could take credit for the structure, as it is truly marvellous. And yes the view of victim/survivor is what’s contended, from within and without. Reply Leave a Reply to Joe Tessitore Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.