A Study in Contrasts

Note the sick pallor of the second man —
standing just behind and to the right
of the first — compared to the dark,
healthy complexion of the other.

One has to wonder if they are together
as friends — surely not, as visibly
different as day and night — or strangers
who happen to stop for rest at the same spot.

You made an assumption — whether or not
you care to admit it — about the character
of each, based simply upon their appearance,
and your own skin-color-based bias.

What if they should leave by a similar path,
and harm should come to one; will you
assume it to be the fault of the other,
even though you now detect no animosity?

Our two subjects ignore each other, even
in such close proximity, each assuming
the ill-will, or indifference, of the other,
neither makes a conciliatory gesture.

But — here you should be careful dear student —
do not entertain the mistaken logic that the color
of one’s skin will translate into some insight
Into the intent of their conscience, furthermore,

while the apathy and ambivalence of each
towards the other may indeed be symptomatic
of our societal ills, they are, in and of
themselves, not malicious, nor criminal.


For the Sunday Whirl wordle
perhaps not the best topic for today,
not likely to be well received,
but this is what came from the words.

shared at the dVerse pub


Filed under Poetry, Poetry - Prompts

13 responses to “A Study in Contrasts

  1. Judging by outward appearance is clearly prone to error. Why do we do this, making a snap judgement through ignorance? I like the way this read so well.

  2. magicalmysticalteacher

    …and yet to some extent, we all judge by appearances…

    In This World of Lies

  3. Very powerful write, Mark. Thought-provoking and I think, timely.

  4. Shows a good understanding of human nature: societal ills sums up the situation.

    • “Behavioral science” …….kept me thinking here!! You have observed minutely, the actions and reactions!! Yes they can be so deceptive and so influenced by societal forces!! Educative experience!!

  5. Strong and thoughtful write, Mark. Timely enough to cause some discomfort. Poetry is good for that. 😉

  6. It makes me think too of how we make assumptions about health. Some people (myself included) live with invisible illnesses. I look healthy enough, but I live with chronic pain and mental illness. People often think I’m being lazy when the truth is sometimes it’s hard to function at all.

  7. great poem with food for thought

  8. ah but it is a good topic…we should always consider our attitudes and prejudices, even if we say we dont have them…that is nie on impossible not to in some fashion…just watch as you will see them…like the bit where you address the reader directly…

  9. Too many people judge others by outward appearance, Mark. I seriously doubt it will ever change, even though I sincerely wish it would. Nice use of the words, and quite timely.


  10. Bravo! Well done. This is really good.

  11. I think it’s thought provoking. Leads to more consideration of the Trayvon Martin case. The law may have been upheld but to my mind not the letter. Not only because of the jury verdict which may have been the only one possible when taken “beyond reasonable doubt” but because who can understand killing an unarmed youngster. There is not enough grief in the present and far too much hoopla. But your piece points out, surface images do not reveal the actual events. Well done and good to read you again!

Some of what I write is true, some is fiction; most is merely possibility.

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