Receiving a True Insult
A poem by Chase Ambler
~ Reflection ~
The really painful insults are the truths that hit you later and really ‘get under your skin’ as this poem tries to reflect. Going back to this poem is strange for me, because it’s one of the only rhyming poems that I’ve not discarded—maybe because they are not all true rhymes. I think this poem sticks with me because I wrote it envisioning a specific nail that I stepped on in high school. Every time I read it, that moment when I felt the huge nail rip through my heel comes back to me so vividly that my foot flinches.
Just as physical scars linger—I still have the mark on my foot from that nail—emotional ones hang on as well. They sometimes can be overlooked, yet if you really ponder them they are extremely evident.
The personification of the nail in this poem is my favorite part. The idea of a piece of metal that “just sits there and grins” always gets me. It’s as if this nail’s entire purpose in life was to attack an unsuspecting passerby. Now that it has succeeded it can be at peace forever with the knowledge that it hurt someone.
The sadistic nail aside, the main result of a truly cutting insult is that it makes you question everything about yourself. “Three hundred nails converge and collect / on the path beneath your feet,” is the image I tried to use to portray the insult effecting more and more aspects of your life than the original attack intended. That multiplication, that exponential growth, is where the power of a true insult lies.
Chase Ambler is an American writer who spent his childhood in South and Southeast Asia. His life has been shaped by strange obsessions: heavy metal music, mountains, travel, and soccer. These subjects have all molded his poetry and prose in some way, but the birth of his daughter may have the greatest impact yet. He lives with his wife, baby daughter, and dog in Colorado. If one went looking for Chase, they could find him anywhere from changing diapers to summiting 14,000 foot mountains, but odds are he’s in front of the computer working on his next novel. Visit the FB page for his Novel: Snowsong