The Aftermath of Asking

April 13
Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt: “…write a poem in which the words or meaning of a familiar phrase get up-ended. For example, if you chose the phrase “A stitch in time saves nine,” you might reverse that into something like: ‘a broken thread; I’m late, so many lost.’ …” For today’s poem, I chose to up-end “It can’t hurt to ask.” In retrospect, however, I suppose it could have been “Just Say No!”

 The Aftermath of Asking

I bet whoever coined
It can’t hurt to ask
was either lucky, thick-headed
or an oligarch —
or maybe all three but
for the purpose of this poem
let’s just call the author

Except for those
with a genie in a bottle,
few receive happy answers
to their questions
every single time.
And even the genie-gentry
are allotted just
three positive responses.

Sooner or later,
at best, we all hear
Maybe, or
Let me think about it, or
We’ll have to see about that, or
some such bluff.

Odds are that our little Wannano
never heard the words
No way! Skedaddle! or
as a teenager, got a shameful
No way, Loser! Get lost. or, even
as an oligarch, took an
Onay ayway, oséJay! on the chin.
Chances are that Wannano
has never ever even met
a firm and respectable “No”
and, therefore, truly believes
It doesn’t hurt to ask.

When you think about it,
this is reasonable for one whose
smallest requests, such as
Could you please pass the salt?
are met with
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!
What ELSE might I do for YOU today?

And in fairness, it’s true that
at the precise moment —
right when question words plop
out of your mouth —
it doesn’t hurt YOU a bit.

So, Wannano’s world is
free of trash from the aftermath
of the one being asked:
no consideration of consequences
no weight of pros and cons
no wretched self-doubt at 3:00 AM
all because
Wannano has never had to answer to much
other than, say, the occasional
Might I inquire if the water is a tad too wet for you?

So, our Wannano is clueless.
There remains only one thing
to help the poor soul:
The next time Wannano demands
an unwarranted positive response,
say nothing.

Do not
write-tweet-post-communicate or speak
one. single. word.

The silent treatment will find
its tortuous way to save the day.
Just you watch!
Unless, of course,
unlike all the others,
you think you can manage
a singular, firm and respectable

Written by Elizabeth Boquet, April 2018

4 thoughts on “The Aftermath of Asking

  1. The answer to ‘Could you please pass the salt’ had me cackling. Sometimes it SHOULD hurt to ask! Love it! (Also, Saying No. YES YES YES. NO IS AN IMPORTANT CONCEPT.)


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