Devon Balwit: “Amidst the continuing war, the threat to reproductive rights, ugly elections, and racially motivated shootings, perhaps a poem like this seems trivial—still—this story spoke to me and made me think of my own walk-on part on life’s great stage.” (web)
Betsy Fogelman Tighe: “I’m in my 12th and final year as the teacher-librarian at Roosevelt High School in Portland, Oregon, where, like all the area high school librarians, I have produced the school Poetry Slam each year. This year, my TAs proposed a charitable drive for the holidays, and, consequently, we teamed up with Street Books to gather books and reading glasses for the houseless. In the fall, after a freshman borrowed all of the Douglas Adams books, I recommended to him Kurt Vonnegut, Tom Robbins, and J.D. Salinger, whose names the student assiduously recorded, a pinnacle of my career.”
Gordon Taylor: “This is in response to the news story out of Florida, in which a gay youth was appointed valedictorian, but due to the ‘don’t say gay’ laws, cannot refer to his activism or gayness in his speech. For me it harkened back to the eighties when I was a closeted teenager trying to come out in the onset of the AIDS epidemic, when it seemed being quiet was the only way to ‘stay safe.’ Are we moving backward? Has anything changed?”
“The Fruit Detective” by Lola HaskinsPosted by Rattle
THE FRUIT DETECTIVE
On the table, there are traces of orange blood. There is also a
straight mark, probably made by some kind of knife. The
detective suspects that by now the orange has been sectioned,
but there is always hope until you’re sure. He takes samples.
Valencia. This year’s crop. Dum-de-dum-dum.
The detective puts out an APB. Someone with a grudge
against fruit. Suspect is armed and should be considered
dangerous. He cruises the orchards. Nothing turns up except a
few bruised individuals, probably died of falls.
A week passes. There are front page pictures of the orange.
No one has seen it. They try putting up posters around town.
Still nothing. The detective’s phone rings. Yes, he says. And Yes,
thanks. I’ll be right over. Another orange. This time they find
the peel. It was brutally torn and tossed in a wastebasket.
Probably never knew what hit it, says the detective, looking
sadly at the remains.
There is a third killing and a fourth. People are keeping
their oranges indoors. There is fear about, that with oranges
off the streets the killer may turn to apples or bananas. The
detective needs a breakthrough. The phone rings. If you want
to know who killed the oranges, come to the phone booth at the
corner of 4th and Market, says the voice.
The detective hurries on his coat. When he gets to the
booth, the phone is already ringing. It is the egg. I did it, says
the egg, and I’ll do it again. The detective is not surprised. No
one else could have been so hard-boiled.
Lola Haskins: “As a kid I loved the way Jack Webb (whose hat I also loved) used to say ‘Just-the-facts-ma’am.’ I had a really good time writing this in that spirit. And I won’t regret eating the egg, not one bit; after all, he’s already hardboiled. I do, however, feel sorry for the oranges so I said a few kind words to the one I had for breakfast this morning. And, having suffered through my little ditty, I’m sure the reader will be relieved to know that my book coming out in June has nothing to do with fruit.” (web)
David Kirby: “There are daily killings in our country for many reasons, but the dozen or more mass shootings (generally defined as involving four or more victims) over a weekend that inspired this poem stem largely from a growth in firearm availability that is only partially understood by experts, largely opposed by the American public, and seemingly unstoppable.” (web)
Comment from the artist, Greg Clary: “The story of ghosts gathering each evening in hopes of seeing their old trucker friend was imaginative and compelling. This is not a story of random travelers but that of a truck stop family whose nighttime vigil maintains and sustains their relationship. The scene and characters inside the Iron Kettle are vividly described and quite relatable to any traveler who has sought out a familiar roadside respite. The once vibrant, but now deserted truck stop’s impact on these likable spirits is melancholy. Yet, even as another dawn breaks without the return of their lost friend, LaRue, hope prevails—‘Maybe next time.’”
Catherine St. Denis: “I am a teacher-librarian, and I often ask my students to make connections between the texts we read together and other texts, their lives, or the world at large. I have not yet written about libraries or librarianship, but here is my ‘text-to-text’ connection: A poem is a sort of library, filled with the guts of language, stacked with colorful layers of meaning, and always striving to enforce an absurd attempt at order amidst chaos.”