So, our instructor assigned us to write a story with a strong emphasis on irony. Mine is about a hypothetical future American tragedy of a coup financed and designed by the Kremlin. By way of summary, this is how it related to irony and I appended this to the story for the instructor’s edification.
“And, the most ironic part of the whole American tragedy was this: even though he spent his entire life conning others, it was beyond his ken to consider that Vlademort Putrid was likewise conning him. He had been lying and bragging so long about his competence in all things that he actually came to believe he was smarter and a better strategist than Putrid. Putrid likely could have done it alone. But, of course, he did not do it alone. Putrid had the collaboration of highly trained, highly dedicated KBG/GRU professionals to help.
“In principle, perhaps he could have enlisted American experts, but he didn’t feel the need. Furthermore, he faced a real dilemma. He couldn’t openly ask any but the corrupt for help against American interests. And those who were corrupt were generally far less competent and always less well connected to a healthy network of professionals than their more numerous and genuinely patriotic counterparts.
“I said that was the most ironic part of the whole American tragedy, but there are near contenders. Another highly ironic part of his entire con game was that the played the game as though the only thing in the universe that mattered was his own pleasure. Of course, no matter what moves he made or is yet to make, he is not actually immortal in and of himself. By lying to himself and everyone else, he essentially cut himself off from being part of The Great Tree of Life (or at least from being a non-cancerous part). Rather than living on through his actions that benefited the whole, he delimited his life, curtailed it, circumscribed it to his own physical mortality.
“The intertwined corollary of the above is that even while he lived, he missed out on the best feeling in life: being in caring and loving honest relationships. In order to absolutely and positively ensure that he grabbed as much as possible for himself, he limited his “prizes” to mere material crap and the pleasure of cruelty. “
So, this is how they responded:
“When it comes to being ironic, this is definitely A plus material.
However, sad to say, there are also some serious problems with your narrative. First, of all Americans are too well educated to fall for the lies of a known con man. And, why not simply make the character more believable? It’s not plausible that so many people would fall for the con. Apart from that, the cowardice you portray on the part of so many within his own party is also unbelievable.
Still, the mechanics of the writing was also clean, so I’m giving you a B+. Next time, focus on believability rather than forgoing that to punch the irony.”
(First appeared as part of The Poetry Exchange’s Featured Poet, Spring, 1997 under the title: “Deforested”)
Gray day wasted while the whippoorwill Wishes that the slushy city sewers Had not replaced the only lonely home he knew. The groggy foggy unfocussed hurly-burly rushing Of splashing autos on the gray macadam roadways That gnarl through the neighborhoods Is vaguely deja vu. Silhouetted smokestacks shadowly seen, Limned in gray on gray-green, Remind the mind how poor people pass the day after day. Where no home fire hearth lighted cabin In the winter woods beckons, beacons, hearkens Heartily a red sunset glow on white snow For a day’s work done.
One hardly knows.
Here, where machine clouds of steam unsentiently sip, sap the soul, You wonder as the rain water wanders, Then rushes through the gurgling gutters, What foul trick man played upon his own brave soul, To have forsaken all the fiery emotion that makes life great To sit at desks, to stand in lines, to wait. Where are the country color and The rich thick loves hidden Beneath the inventions, interventions, and pretensions of society?
We wander in our own gray-glass cages In a lurching kind of mock-precision, Like the nightmare dream of a psychotic technician. And the only color the commuter encounters In his travels to and from, Is the scarlet and the gold of a raccoon Too stupid to stay off the highways of modern civilization.
Pet Sematary (A relevant book by Stephen King which was a partial inspiration for the poem)