I Wear My Smile Like Armour

This poem comes from three strands, so hopefully has the same strength a three strand rope has (or maybe I’m just being hopeful).
The first strand is the prompting line “I wear my smile like armour”, it was buried in my phone’s notepad, so I don’t know if it is an original line, or something I read somewhere, but it is the start.
The second strand is my job, I work in retail. I think that speaks for itself.
The third strand is the form. This poem is a pantoum (click the link for wikipedia’s entry). I was introduced by this amazing form by debatablydateable’s fantastic poem “War Cry” (go read it, it’s awesome), and I had to try one out for myself. In short a pantoum is a poem where the 2nd and 4th lines of a stanza make the 1st and 3rd lines of the next, until in the final stanza the 2nd and 4th lines are the 1st and 3rd of your original stanza (read the wiki article, it’s clearer).
And the final part of today’s ramble, this poem is part of dVerse’s Open Link Night, so go check out the other amazing offerings.

I always am the charmer
When faced with your childish rage
I wear my smile like armour
As I dance upon my stage

When faced with your childish rage
I wish I had stayed in bed
As I dance upon my stage
I shall bleed all you have said

I wish I had stayed in bed
Here I am playing for you
I shall bleed all you have said
For all of the bile you spew

Here I am playing for you
I always am the charmer
For all of the bile you spew
I wear my smile like armour

As always, I hope you enjoy, and please do comment, it makes my day.
The Lonely Recluse

P.S. Apparently it’s my 10 year anniversary on WordPress, so (un)happy (for some) decade of my poetics

~ by The Lonely Recluse on November 26, 2020.

23 Responses to “I Wear My Smile Like Armour”

  1. A most poignant Pantoum 🙂 I like the idea of wearing a smile like armour .. it helps to battle the wind that brings challenges our way.

    • It’s amazing what a simple smile can do in the face of many problems, whether it wards off the problem, or simply says “try your worst”. Thanks for the kind comment, glad you enjoyed

  2. I like the format of this poem and the way the lines repeat. I can’t imagine the patience it would take to work in retail especially right now.
    Thanks for your inspiration. Maybe I will give this form a try.

  3. Lovely pantoum specially with this repetitve line: I wear my smile like armour. A challenge to maintain when you are working specially in retail.

    Thanks for linking up with dVerse OLN.

  4. I feel for the recipient of all of that rage. “I shall bleed all you have said” is such a powerful way of describing the harmful effect on the target. Must be so difficult to smile through all of that.

    • It’s amazing how often people forget that they’re dealing with other human beings when it comes to retail staff, the customer is always right after all. To be fair a bland smile can be as offensive as it is defensive some times, other times it’s a case of gritting teeth until they’re gone. Thanks for the comment

  5. Congratulations on 10 years with WordPress – we keep posting despite all the changes! Your title intrigued me and drew me into this post, and I enjoyed reading the explanations in your pre-poem notes – love the idea of the poem having the strength of a three strand rope – and the Pantoum itself.

  6. This is a wonderful pantoum … I love reading and writing them!

  7. Such a riveting anchor, the smile like armour. What we must do to protect ourselves, to escape the childish rage. I sense a true danger, bleeding, and isolation, and for all of this the one protection, a smile. These dangers often cycle themselves, and the cyclical form accentuates the difficulty in escaping, yet always only coming back to that one defense, the charm, the smile. Oh, how I hope she can be free.

  8. Reading your intro, (I like to go to the poem before the commentary), I see also how this would apply to retail worker and petulant customer. I saw domestic abuse. Interesting things about poems, getting down to an emotional denominator, the universality can really infuse into anybody’s life or perspective. again, brilliant poem, beautiful pantoum, so well done!!

    • It’s really interesting how the meaning of a poem shifts with the context of the reader, an idea that fits a pantoum particularly well. Having read it back with your interpretation of domestic abuse, it definitely fits, and I would have to echo your hope of their freedom. Thank you for your lovely comment(s), I’m glad you enjoyed the poem

  9. Excellent pantoum and an enjoyable read!

  10. Nice blog

  11. Very nicely done! It is interesting how smiles are used this way. It does tend to make the situation worse! I tend to be a defender rather than a smiler! :>)

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