Prompt: Write a poem that tells a story about a silent interaction with a stranger.
Note from the series editor, Katie Dozier: “Lynne’s note accompanying her submission was simply, ‘Just having some fun with this one.’ Here, the fun for the writer becomes positively seductive for us readers. The sharp turn of the last line volts us from an initial reaction of laughter to a lingering exploration of what it means to age.”
Beneth Goldschmidt-Sauer: “Scientists think they have discovered why moths and other nocturnal insects are drawn to light; it’s a glitch we’ve introduced into their evolutionary engineering, caused by our pervasive light pollution. Their discovery provides both an indictment of the damage we have done to our planet and also a tidy metaphor for damaging relationships.”
Julie Price Pinkerton: “The first half of ‘Why I Opted for the More Expensive Oil at Jiffy Lube’ is verbatim the conversation I had with the guy working there. He went along with the silliness. The darker ending of the poem came later, in part because the fear of losing my parents became almost an obsession. It entered everyday things, like oil changes. Not that long after I wrote this poem, I did lose my dad. The anticipation of certain loss has always haunted me. A few years ago, before my father died, my husband Scott and I noticed that our beloved, fragile eighteen-year-old yellow tabby, Hankie, was having trouble bending down far enough to reach his food and water bowls. We set the bowls up on phonebooks to make it easier for him, but that didn’t seem terribly dignified. Scott began working on a secret project: from a long scrap of wood he crafted an old-fashioned ‘lunch counter’ for Hankie. He painted it white and curved it at the ends like the counters in the old Woolworth’s five-and-dimes. It was grander, by far, than the Yellow Pages. The metal legs made it tall enough for Hankie to eat comfortably and we took delight in watching him walk over to the lunch counter and take his usual spot, just like a regular. It helped us, knowing we were giving him the best old age possible. The poetry I like most is like that homemade lunch counter: original, surprising, and carefully crafted, with the driving force behind it some kind of love. Love of words, love for a parent, maybe love for an elderly cat. Hankie lived to be twenty, by the way, and we still have his lunch counter, though the restaurant is now closed.”
Rimas Uzgiris: “In the early summer of 1993, three years after Lithuania declared itself independent, thereby starting the disintegration of the USSR, I visited my then-girlfriend’s family in rural Samogitia (Žemaitija). I had never been to that region, had never heard their dialect spoken, had not ever worked on a farm, or even sat and talked with farmers. So it was quite the anthropological event for me, already feeling a bit lost and homesick after nine months in the country from which my parents once fled as refugees. I still remember that visit fondly, and finally, now living in the country again, I figured out a way to write about it. That way of life, the small, technologically simple farmstead, is dying out. So the elegy mixes here with a bit of comedy (directed at the author who felt himself quite out of place).”
Ruth Bavetta: “I was a visual artist for years, until I found I also wanted images that could be painted with words. I wanted to use words, as I used images, to help me make sense of my life. Now, I’ve become convinced that neither words nor images will suffice, because there is no sense-making. There is only what is and what has been. It’s enough to know I am human, separate and mortal, and that’s where I find my poems.” (web)