“Picnic” by Suzanne Lummis & Ron Koertge

Suzanne Lummis & Ron Koertge


Henry James said he loved the words summer afternoon.
Only suicidal snowmen think of a summer afternoon.
And, only shady women throw out the line, Babe,
my Stroke of Midnight wants your Summer Afternoon.
No wonder the moon sulks and broods. It’s an astronomical
body, not a kitchen light left on one summer afternoon!
Astronomical it is, and affecting, that moon.
It’s got me plunging toward a rhyme: summer afternoon.
No influential figure, not love or unlove. Not even
a shabby mini-mart. Nothing to mar a summer afternoon. 
Oh Nothing, with your No-Thing-ness—get lost, Nada! 
Nothing can despoil this summer afternoon. 
Tedium before and boredom after. In between, “Maybe”
and an urgent “Please” take up a summer afternoon. 
But what can they defend against? Back to Nothing.
Bombs have fallen on summer afternoons.
The sight of a mountaineer’s ice ax buried in a rest stop
picnic table revives an ordinary summer afternoon.
What ruins every outdoor meal? Ants, especially giant
ants from outer space, some calm summer afternoon.

from Prompt Poem of the Month
May 2024


Prompt: Find a partner and write a collaborative poem in some kind of form.

Note from the series editor, Katie Dozier: “Ghazals have always struck me as a literary picnic—a checkerboard blanket brimming with many different dishes composed of unique couplets. This modified, collaborative ghazal, with its ‘No-Thing-ness’ whimsicality served up alongside more serious stanzas, unpacks a memorable conversation for us all under the summer afternoon sun.”

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