Jackleen Holton: “The news that two-year-old Lane Graves, wading in a man-made lake at a Walt Disney World resort near Orlando, was snatched by an alligator and drowned shook me to the core in a week that had already brought the terrible news of a terrorist attack at an LGBTQ nightclub, also in Orlando. Meanwhile, both sides of the gun debate raged. Maurice Sendak’s classic book Alligators All Around, of course, is not about terror, but is a very terrifying idea if you give such matters any thought, which, unfortunately, I do all too often, especially after watching the news or going on Facebook too late at night.” (website)
Jackleen Holton: “This poem is for my first poetry teacher, Steve Kowit, who passed away on April 2nd. He was a great poet, mentor, and one of the most generous people I’ve ever met. Steve had several ‘tricks’ for writing poems, which he used in his own work, and I have tried my best to include in this tribute piece. My favorite is this: Tell at least one lie in your poem.”
I’m at Hooters, you tell me when I call, and I make you repeat it because I’m sure that I misheard. But on your third attempt, I catch the word. Oh, Hooters, I say, and wonder if this is the beginning of the end. And the waitress is there, trying to take your order. Can I call you back? Sure, I say and hang up. Go ahead, ogle her, in her little orange shorts and white tank, pulled tight, those owl eyes bulging. She’s probably flirting with you now, the way they’re trained to do, commenting on your accent, asking you where you’re from. And I know she’s not pretty or even beautiful, but gorgeous, because I knew a guy who worked construction at the franchise before it opened, who watched as the girls came in for their interviews, and there was this one who smiled at him, and he remarked to a co-worker, she’s hot, but the other guy shook his head and said maybe, but she wasn’t Hooters-quality gorgeous. And just after college I met a Hooters girl named Stephanie who was a few years younger than me. And as we sat in the Italian restaurant with our mutual friends, an older man stopped by our table to call her that very word: gorgeous. Envy prickled in me, not because I wanted to work at Hooters, but because I probably wouldn’t make the cut, what with the little bump in the center of my nose, my eyes set a bit too close together, not to mention my cup size too small for their requirements. But that was nearly twenty years ago. Even Stephanie the Hooters girl is now past forty, as are you, sitting there waiting for some terrible food to be delivered as you watch the parade. What’s next, I wonder, strip clubs and lap dances? My old boyfriend Dave had a drawer full of other women’s numbers. Is that where we’re headed? The phone rings. You should come here, you say. It’s such a typical American spectacle. I laugh. I’m good. While shopping at Target, you got hungry. Outside, the first thing you saw was Hooters. Of course, I reply, those big eyes. In college, the opening of the restaurant sparked many a debate in my women’s studies classes about the objectification of the female body. But now I’ve accepted the fact that women will continue to objectify themselves. If anything pisses me off about it anymore, it’s that they’ve co-opted the owl. You tell me you’ll try to come by later. But later you call again, your stomach aching. Too much salt on that chicken breast sandwich. You’re going to bed early. Poor baby. I hope you feel better, I say, and mostly I mean it. I look out the window, thinking of owls, the real kind, like the one I saw last week flying from a dark eucalyptus, over my balcony into the canyon; the sound it made, less of a hoot than a harrowing shriek as it flashed a momentary silver then disappeared into a copse of black trees.
Jackleen Holton: “I was trying to write a poem for a class I was taking. I think we had five different prompts that week, and I was coming up with nothing. So, to distract myself from the task, I called my boyfriend. From his first sentence, ‘I’m at Hooters,’ the poem sprang forth and, by the end of the evening after he called me back with a stomach ache, it had pretty much written itself.” (web)
“God Knows I Want to Be Good” by Jackleen HoltonPosted by Rattle
GOD KNOWS I WANT TO BE GOOD
That’s why last year I went out with Michael
who drove a white Prius
and wore beige vegetarian shoes. And when
we’d meet at a tofu bistro the same distance
from both of our houses, we’d go dutch because
we knew the importance of sexual equality. We had good
conversations, talked about dwindling
rainforests and fragile ecosystems. We liked
the same movies and poems.
God knows I want to be good, so I tried
to ignore that boorish guy Mark at the party who bragged
that he once caught a trout with his bare hands. I mean,
what an asshole, what a hairy-chest-beating
Neanderthal. So why did I let him
pull me into the bathroom, shove those
fish-snatching hands under my shirt?
The other day, a friend told me that Michael’s
engaged. I said good, good for him,
and nodded my head like a chicken. As for Mark,
it’s been a whole week since the night I groped
around on his bedroom floor in search
of my underwear. Tonight, I lie
by the window, my body still
humming like a long dial tone
in the dark.
Rattle is proud to announce the winner of the 2013 Rattle Poetry Prize:
“The Fire This Time”
by Roberto Ascalon Seattle, WA
“A Poem for Women Who Don’t Want Children” Chanel Brenner Santa Monica, CA
“My Mother Told Us Not to Have Children” Rebecca Gayle Howell Lubbock, TX
“Baby Love” Courtney Kampa New York, NY
“What He Must Have Seen” Stephen Kampa Daytona Beach, FL
“Man on Mad Anthony” Bea Opengart Cincinatti, OH
“Laundry List” Michelle Ornat Elma, NY
“Man on the Floor” Jack Powers Fairfield, CT
“Basic Standards Test” Danez Smith St. Paul, MN
“Who Breathed in Binders” Patricia Smith Howell, NJ
“Of You” Wendy Videlock Grand Junction, CO
These eleven poems will be published in the Winter issue of Rattle this December. Each of the Finalists are also eligible for the $1,000 Readers’ Choice Award, to be selected by entrant and subscriber vote (the voting period is December 1, 2013 – February 15, 2014).
Another nine poems were selected for standard publication, and offered a space in the open section of a future issue. These poets will be notified individually about details, but they are: Jacqueline Berger, Daniel Bohnhorst, Jackleen Holton, Sharon Kessler-Farchi, Michael Meyerhofer, Kathleen Nolan, Charlotte Pence, Sam Sax, and Timothy Schirmer.
Thank you to everyone who participated in the competition, which would not have been a success without your diverse and inspiring poems. We received a record 2,105 entries and well over 8,000 poems, and it was an honor to read each of them.
The Fall 2020 issue features a timely tribute to service workers—those working in the lodging, food service, tourism, customer service and other industries in direct service to customers. Though planned long before the pandemic, service workers have been hit particularly hard this year, and we’re happy to be honoring poets who work in those fields. The conversation features Jan Beatty, covering her decades of experience working as a waitress, as well as the topics of adoption and the writing process.
Another eclectic open section features 22 poems in a range of styles that are sure to make you laugh or cry.
Releasing this June, Rattle #37 features a selection of poems by fourteen law enforcement officers. One might not expect any similarity between policing and poetry, but with reams of paperwork, plenty of drama, and a need for attention to fine detail, poets and cops do have much in common. And as retired police officer James Fleming explains in his introduction, “a sparse, carefully-written police report can evoke tears.”
Of course, the Law Enforcement tribute is only part of the issue. Rattle #37’s particularly rich open section features the work of a full 68 poets. And to cap off one of our most diverse issues yet, Alan Fox interviews the controversial political activist and poet Amiri Baraka, and former-Mennonite memoirist and poet Rhoda Janzen.