The Doctrine of Fair

The Doctrine of Fair
by Ron Moran

One word that lives on the rim is fair,
as in
That’s not fair, the first poster child
the teenage years, and whether right
or not—
whether they may be right or not—

what and how does fair really mean?
The fairness
of this or that act to a teenager, such as,
You’re grounded for a month. No car,
no cell phone,
no computer time, except at school;
and so

the doctrine obtains throughout one’s life,
when he says
to her, after she lands the big promotion,
Well, dear,
I’m glad for you, but really it’s not fair
I have to (and you make your own list
of items

constituting the unfairness of her action,
or his
during the NFL season or whatever seasonal
holds him.) Does fair figure in this formula?
Is it
always the one feeling slighted while circling
the board

and landing on Go to jail? Is it always unfair
if you are
snubbed, left out, rejected, denied? Why?
What about
your role in this panoply of responses?
I am trying
to be fair, but to be fair I must understand,
I must.

Author’s comment: This is one of my poems where I take a word, “fair,” and work with it, so to speak, letting one association lead to another and another, which is also a technique I like to use in my poems. In this case, the poem turns back into itself at the end. The poem is ironic, too, as is “November,” but irony is a device I use only on occasion.

Bio: Ronald Moran retired from Clemson University where he served as professor/dean. Moran’s poems have been published in Commonweal, Emrys Journal, Louisiana Review, Meadowland Review, North American Review, Northwest Review, The Orange Room Review, South Carolina Review, Southern Poetry Review, Southern Review, Tar River Poetry, and in ten books/chapbooks of poetry. His newest book of poetry, The Jane Poems, will be published by Clemson University Digital Press in late winter/early spring. Moran lives in Simpsonville, SC.

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