poets are like onions

Shrek: For your information, there’s a lot more to ogres than people think.
Donkey: Example?
Shrek: Example… uh… ogres are like onions!
[holds up an onion, which Donkey sniffs]
Donkey: They stink?
Shrek: Yes… No!
Donkey: Oh, they make you cry?
Shrek: No!
Donkey: Oh, you leave ’em out in the sun, they get all brown, start sproutin’ little white hairs…
Shrek: [peels an onion] NO! Layers. Onions have layers. Ogres have layers. Onions have layers. You get it? We both have layers.
[walks off]
Donkey: Oh, you both have LAYERS. Oh. You know, not everybody like onions. What about cake? Everybody loves cake!
Shrek: I don’t care what everyone else likes! Ogres are not like cakes.
Donkey: You know what ELSE everybody likes? Parfaits! Have you ever met a person, you say, “Let’s get some parfait,” they say, “Hell no, I don’t like no parfait”? Parfaits are delicious!
Shrek: NO! You dense, irritating, miniature beast of burden! Ogres are like onions! End of story! Bye-bye! See ya later.
Donkey: Parfait’s gotta be the most delicious thing on the whole damn planet!

When you ask me to explain,
I give myself to you wrapped, an onion–
speak each ringed, acid truth
until your eyes smart,
uncovering a series of stinging layers
that lead to no answer and more questions.

There is a center to what I  say,
a core,  small and quiet;
never directly addressed,
alive  in the silence between words,
inferred, suggested,
never named precisely.

If I could tell
what unfolds under this skin,
what blooms and gives flight,
I wouldn’t bother with poetry–

just say it plain as denim,
simple as the dirt I pull words from.

About Susan L Daniels

I am a firm believer that politics are personal, that faith is expressed through action, and that life is something that must be loved and lived authentically--or why bother with any of it?
This entry was posted in New Free Verse and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

63 Responses to poets are like onions

  1. wonderful juxtaposition with the Shrek passage

  2. The wonderful world according to Sus…my my where your minds leads us at times..is simply as delightful and fanciful as having a parfait bath. 🙂

  3. ok not the best english – but it’s 1:30 am here 😦 think you got the drift..

  4. thank you for not coming right out with the truths you’ve mined…it makes it doubly fun for me to find them for myself! Really enjoyed this one. The ending in dirt wraps the whole onion thing up perfectly:) No one can avoid that ending in dirt… inevitable

  5. Bruce Ruston says:

    great poem and a familiar feeling

  6. Oh, completely amazing. I love the “center” and “if I could tell you”. Brilliant.

    • Thanks, Shrinks. Right after I wrote this, I remembered that dialogue between Shrek and Donkey, and had to include it. If you substitute me for Shrek, and poets for ogres, it’s how I feel most of the time. Smiles.

  7. Lovely Susan. You know how I feel about silences.
    The silence at the center is the biggest and fullest of them all.
    Meaning is best when it is just hidden enough
    Speaking the Unspeakable Suze–

  8. unfinishedpractice says:

    Plain as denim, great line.

  9. oneofaclass says:

    What I love about poetry is the truths they express can easily get around our defenses. They can seep in through our taste of parfait and smell and burn of onion. So keep bothering with poetry!

  10. Inspired ~ nice one 🙂

  11. Alice Keys says:

    Susan, I really like “the dirt I pulled words from” image. But dirt isn’t simple. Not at all. It’s a complex smelly living, rotting, growing thing with powdered stone and beetles, microbes, molds, red wiggling worms, weed seeds and a millions different scents depending on the season, time of day, wetness, location and what it’s been used for. Wow. I love the simple dirt I pull words from. I have dirt in my veins. 😉 Lovely all again. Thanks for writing. Alice

  12. janehewey says:

    alive in the silence between words. yep!

  13. This made me smile–both the Shrek passage and the truth of your piece–

  14. Tony Maude says:

    Love the Shrek passage – one of my favourites form the movie 🙂 As for poets being like onions – maybe Donkey has several points? And your poem – you were wondering when I’d get round to that, weren’t you – is really good; plain as denim and simple as the soil – i.e. not simple at all!

  15. Love this- I love all your poetry, as you know – you certainly have many layers and a very special centre – but this is a particular favourite!!! 🙂

  16. You muse took you on a wild, fun, creative ride, Susan. Loved it!

  17. Rowan Taw says:

    Great contrast between Shrek and your poem. “Simple as the dirt I pull words from” – just superb.

  18. L says:

    What a goody and the finale….mmm, yes.

  19. nelle says:

    Good words, Susan, but I’m still laughing over parfaits and onions. I’m no onion lover, but I do love your writing – and parfaits. 😉

  20. brian miller says:

    smiles…wonderful verse…it takes someone special as well to peel that onion and get to what we are addressing indirectly often…and not just give it a glance catching only the reflection on the surface…ha…i like shrek too…smiles.

  21. claudia says:

    smiles..love the onion image…layers…just say it plain as denim,
    simple as the dirt I pull words from….yes, yes, yes..

  22. Mary says:

    Wow, everyone has said all the important things. I will simply add that I enjoyed this and found its concept clever.

  23. Grace says:

    I like the onion metaphor, and some things just hurt when we uncover the center ~ Good one Susan ~

  24. A poetic juxtapose, cunning, and brilliant!

    I love this…I almost thought it was a “Flarf” poem.
    You should write a “Flarf” poem about “Orges”, “Cakes”, & Onions. That would be something interesting there. 🙂


    P.S please check out my new blog poem. Inputs are most appreciated. 🙂
    Dj Dead Cow -http://charliezero1.wordpress.com/2013/03/26/dj-dead-cow/

  25. “Simple as the dirt I pull words from”

    What an awesome line. It might inspire my next poem. You’ve out my thinking cap on tonight Susan!

  26. aprille says:

    You made me laugh this morning.
    Great stuff.
    Haven’t peeled an onion for years, but this will make me smile next time I do.

  27. doncarroll says:

    superb concept susan. if a poet didn’t have something to give out from the soul, one would not be as much of a being. it’s also like when you take a fresh onion without putting it under water before cutting it and how it makes your eyes water. that is what a poet can do – because they can. and in the same sense it shows just how much a poet can endure in or with any situation – the toughness that can come with it.

Comments are closed.