Only a Question Mark

Only a Question Mark

A Poem by Gerald Parker

he said I needed a question mark
I replied a question mark was
the last thing I needed
and it would cost me my life

in my country
we do not use the question mark
all keyboards, all typewriters
have had the question mark removed

in my country we do not question
anything or anyone
it would cost us our lives
and our families too

in my country
if we start thinking a question
they know even before
we've reached the end

in my country
we have unswept pavements
potholes and people sleeping rough
but we don't ask why

in my country
bodies lie unburied
of people who asked why
and we dare not ask why

in my country
we have one rule for the rich
and another for the poor
and we must not ask why

in your country
I've heard life is fair
everyone's equal
but I can't ask why

© 2020 Gerald Parker

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it sounds like equality is that people are abused equally, extinguished equally....and all people in the country are created equally to not question anything the government does...
I don't think people in our country appreciate the freedom of speech we do have...and that we all have the question mark on our keyboards.
what a profound write...I dated someone from Poland in the 1970's----she tried to tell me of the benefits of her country...but i couldn't get past the idea that she never knew if she would be able to get a visa to leave and come here for a visit.
Nothing beats freedom.

Posted 1 Year Ago

Gerald Parker

1 Year Ago

Thanks, Jacob. You've picked up on the ambiguity of the last stanza. Everybody enjoying equality and.. read more
The repetition in this poem creates a real unsettling dynamic to my mind. Almost like repeated gunfire if I think of the harshness of the ideas expressed by the speaker.

Interesting thing about the poem is that it feels kind of light to begin with, but then filters down into something quite disturbing. On first read I was thinking the statements functioned as excuses for not wanting to alter or improve on a creative work, and in a symbolic way I suppose they could. But on subsequent reads it reminded me of the things I would hear about communist Russia when I was a child. There’s that 1984 thought control vibe underlying the ideas. Suppression I guess would be the best term.

I suppose there are a lot of places where freedom is a difficult concept to understand. Interestingly, on my first read, I was thinking of the country in question as the US and the poem as a kind of dance with the strange two worlds kind of thing we are living with here. Some people believing everything is right and good as it is while others see a sinister edge to everything. Perhaps all ‘civilized’ countries have this dichotomy. I suppose it is a common thing to feel differently according to class.

Sorry for the messiness of this review, I’m working my way toward a clear picture of this one, and the interesting thing for me is that there a multiple applications for the scenario so there’s this openness that makes each reading unique.

I enjoy the way the menace of the ideas builds as the poem goes on. It’s a strong one with a pull that keeps me moving forward. Looking for intellectual resolution. Great poem, Gerald.

Posted 1 Year Ago

Gerald Parker

1 Year Ago

Many thanks for this, Eilis. I've read three or four of your recent poems and I have to admit, found.. read more

1 Year Ago

My poetry has been different lately, yes. Even I have found it challenging, so I understand what you.. read more

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2 Reviews
Shelved in 1 Library
Added on December 31, 2019
Last Updated on January 4, 2020


Gerald Parker
Gerald Parker

London, United Kingdom

There's not much to tell. I read a lot of poetry and I read my own poetry regularly. I hope other people read it and derive as much pleasure out of it as I do. My output is small, about 110 poems as I.. more..