At the start of James Parker's "Ode to Not Watching the World Cup", no rhyme is present, just free verse, e.g.:

I don’t want to overstate this.
I don’t want to say that by watching World Cup 2022,
held in Qatar, on your personal entertainment device,
you’re stepping over the bodies of dead migrant workers,
standing on the heads of incarcerated queer people,
and bankrolling, in a tiny but critical way, the global grift.

But then, to finish it off, he shifts into rhyming couplets. (The first of these even have a nice smooth rhythm!)

So listen:
These games are a moral botch.
How hard is it not to watch?
This time only, you win the prize
by averting your eyes.

This is quite definitely intentional, but I can't figure out what the effect is supposed to be. Why establish three verses of free-form poetry and then veer into rhyme just at the end?

1 Answer 1


I cannot tell you what the author intended, as I am not the author and am not aware that he has revealed his intent.

I can tell you what I think he may have had in mind.

The poem is subtitled thus:

This is an event of such astoundingly obvious wrongness that doing the right thing is easy.

My reading is that he uses the, less harmonious, free form poetry to describe the wrong-ness. Those lines carry a driving, ranting, righteous and spitting anger at the death of workers for global grift.

The 'nice smooth rhythm' and rhyme of doing 'the right thing' comes as a balm after the stinging fury. Emphasising that doing the right thing is not just a kindness to others, but to one's self.

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