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Object Permanence

This poem was published in the South Dakota Review. It's my response to a book called "No More Mr. Nice Guy," which is about 'nice guy syndrome' - this is where people-pleasing men can't stop seeking approval from others. As they passively give in to everyone around them they resent those who don't see how "nice" they are, especially women. They often withhold truth because they think they're helping when they decide what's best for others.

Object Permanence is a concept in developmental psychology and refers to a child's understanding that a person or object continues to exist even when it can't be seen. For example, babies begin to realize at some point that when their mother leaves the room she does not cease to exist; she'll be back.

A knight in full armor on horseback is seen facing half left, his visor closed, and set against a simulated parchment scroll. Famous battles listed on ribbons and military trophies form the border.
"Armor of 1440; Best Epoch" artist Edwin Howland Blashfield, 1848 - 1936, Smithsonian Design Museum

Object Permanence

You're my knight in shining nice,

savior from the straight-on truth.

Your white lies are easy on the eyes.

Trust me—there's nothing quite like you

for miles. You think your visor down

means we can't see you

erasing the trail of unrequested rescues,

the women who didn't quite get

the benefit of you. Wite-Out

on the Book of Kells, erasure poem

on the text of us. "Write it slant"

is not the answer. You clank down the steps

in your armor of try. You want and

wish, and what's done you resent

until you're begging for relief

from yourself. No one makes you

go out on that field. No crowd is

screaming this joust to its fatal conclusion.

Published in South Dakota Review, Volume 57 No. 2

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