Sunday, December 4, 2011

Fitting into Occupied Space

Lunch, George Tooker, 1964, Columbus Museum of Art
Fitting into Occupied Space

There is
no place that fits
when every place you go
has a sign
Occupied
and men in grey suits
named Frank
and Jack
and maybe Alfonso
sit sipping
cups
of Joe
hiding eyes
covertly
and not so subtly
looking you
up
and down

You can take ‘em down
drown ‘em out
sippin' your cuppa Joe
you can roar
and you can holler
but you will never
live down
being occupied
in some man's place
where you do not fit
their definition
of how you don't fit
in
where you belong.


This poem is inspired by Maureen over at Writing Without Paper. She wrote a fabulous poem, This Seat Occupied, in response to today's photographic prompt (see image above) at Magpie Tales. Join in by writing your own poem or flash fiction, using as inspiration the photo provided, then go here to add your link and read the other participants' contributions.


In Maureen's response she writes how Tooker's 'Lunch' "subtly calls to mind the lunch-counter sit-ins and race discrimination protests of the 1960s. Note the body language, who stands out, the social commentary implied by the white bread-eating diners."


Thanks Maureen and Magpie Tales for the inspiration.

9 comments:

Jennifer Richardson said...

That poem evokes powerful emotions
and makes me think of a few times
in high school
and stirs compassion for those
who live in the shadow
of such turmoil
much of their lives.
Makes me want to do something
....fix something.
Thanks for the ponder,
Jen

Louise Gallagher said...

Oh Jennifer,
you are always a firecracker
lighting my heart
up
with light and life

Thank you my friend for stopping by and commenting and most especially, for being you.

you are awesome.

Maureen said...

Great prompt, isn't it!

Thank you for all the lovely comments about my poem.

As as I remarked on another contributor's blog, the African-American is given a kind of "pride of place" by being put in the center of the painting; you notice him, and then the woman; both serve as "token" concessions to differences that otherwise are held in contempt. That all the figures in the painting are keeping their heads down is a kind of classic socio-political commentary.

I enjoyed your take on the prompt, too. Your lines "where you do not fit / their definition / of how you don't fit / in / where you belong" resonate in many ways, conveying that sense in which some assume the right to determine how others live, or whether they even should exist.

Louise Gallagher said...

It is a great prompt Maureen -- and I really appreciate your background comments too. You add a new dimension to the piece.

Thanks!

The Cello Strings said...

nd you can holler
but you will never
live down
being occupied
in some man's place
where you do not fit
their definition
of how you don't fit
in
where you belong.



is that true?
men and women are different, it does make sense that you, we, women could not fill all of the space men occupy, but we can still feel good and hold half of the sky in life.

cheers.
powerful magpie.
well conveyed message.

Louise Gallagher said...

Hello Cello, Good question. I was being more global - because of our belief, colour, social status or strata there are those who will attempt to keep others out because they believe they don't fit in - by their definition-they do not want to give up space they've occupied to what they perceive as interlopers.

Thanks for the question. Great thinking!

Brian Miller said...

but you will never
live down
being occupied
in some man's place
where you do not fit
their definition
of how you don't fit
in
where you belong.

nice...there are some great allusions to to the Occupy movement through this...and not finding a place to fit or not fitting in is a universal theme for sure...nicely done...

Louise Gallagher said...

Thanks Brian. I appreciate your observations -- and yes, there is that universal theme.

Cheers!

HyperCRYPTICal said...

Your vision was greater than mine, observing the social content of the painting which I failed to see.

Great write - thank you.

Anna :o]