Transfer, or: Orientation

A ‘Found Poem’

Based on Peter Schneider’s poem ‘Lost in Plain Sight’

I wake up, waiting, wanting to speak my mind, I think. 
Why do I have this empty cup clenched in my right hand? To fill in 
with... name, date?

I greet my neighbor (isn't her name Susan?) with trivia, 
punch line. She smiles awkwardly, knowingly, waving to somebody 
somewhere behind me.

The flash of a red fox on the Kansas Prairie,
like the spell of being lost in plain sight
on the porch or in the yard, is unnerving.

A supposedly straight-man is hiding somewhere 
out back, just out of sight, who smiles maliciously
a hundred times a day, plotting
to take me away. Strangely, I seem to remember his thin, pale lips.

Slow. No time but now, looking for
some clue. Who am I waiting for,
what am I looking for? How did I end up here,
so very lost and alone? Where... did Susan go?

Somewhere recently,
I turned against a blustery January 
wind along a line fence,
anything to break free of these disoriented, coursing thoughts.

How am I to go on alone in an endless, empty space like this?
My short-term memory has no address but here.
And then it fails to show. It moved, but it is still
out there somewhere.

It was there by the window, I think, and thenIt is lost, 
a dried, lazy ragweed stalk,
holding the shadow of its life. No… my life.

Oh God, where am I? I've lost my short-term memory. Susan...

d’Verse Poetics Prompt

‘Lost poems and Found poetry’

For this challenge, poets have two options to choose from:

  1. Select ONE of the ‘lost poems’ presented to us (or one of your own finding where something or someone is lost) and write your poem as response with the resolution of finding, being found or returned, etc.
  2. Select ONE of the ‘lost poems’ presented to us (or one of your own finding where something or someone is lost) and re-write is as a ‘Found poem’. It does not have to be as rigid as an erasure poem, for you can add in some of your own words or even reorder it.

I opted for the second option: to create a ‘Found Poem’, making use of every word and punctuation mark in Peter Schneider’s poem ‘Lost in Plain Sight’. I also add a significant amount of my own text, which I marked in green.

What is a ‘Found Poem’?

Found poems take existing texts and refashion them, reorder them, and present them as poems. The literary equivalent of a collage, found poetry is often made from newspaper articles, street signs, graffiti, speeches, letters, or even other poems.

Lost in Plain Sight

By Peter Schneider

Somewhere recently
I lost my short-term memory.
It was there and then it moved
like the flash of a red fox
along a line fence.
My short-term memory
has no address but here
no time but now.
It is a straight-man, waiting to speak
to fill in empty space
with name, date, trivia, punch line.
And then it fails to show.
It is lost, hiding somewhere out back
a dried ragweed stalk on the Kansas Prairie
holding the shadow of its life
against a January wind.
How am I to go on?
I wake up a hundred times a day.
Who am I waiting for
what am I looking for
why do I have this empty cup
on the porch or in the yard?
I greet my neighbor, who smiles.
I turn a slow, lazy Susan
in my mind, looking for
some clue, anything to break the spell
of being lost in plain sight.

Let’s write poetry together!

When it comes to partnership, some humans can make their lives alone – it’s possible. But creatively, it’s more like painting: you can’t just use the same colours in every painting. It’s just not an option. You can’t take the same photograph every time and live with art forms with no differences.

Ben Harper (b. 1969)

Would you like to create poetry with me and have a completed poem of yours featured here at the Skeptic’s Kaddish? I am very excited to have launched the ‘Poetry Partners’ initiative and am looking forward to meeting and creating with you… Check it out!

50 thoughts on “Transfer, or: Orientation”

  1. I love the way you have woven this, in particular the metaphors, and especially the red fox, I saw one the other day running along a fence line. Well played.

  2. This is well written, but unsettling David. This stirs my heart and my fears. I have genuine worry that I may be slowly heading down this path to nowhere. I write write write, and dig hard when I lose tge handle on something I have known, but can’t recall — even losing the connection just a few minutes after I thought or talked about it. Like a dog after a bone, I will not stop digging until I again unearth the elusive “lost thing” — even going online in an obsessive search to reconnect the dots. Then I repeat repeat repeat in hope It not slip back into a future fog. This is the
    very same topic I addressed in my contribution to this prompt. Your piece here is strong my friend.

    1. yeah, Rob, I feel you… I think that’s one of the scariest things that can happen as people get older – they can lose their memories and even their identities… I would never want that to happen to me either – scary!


  3. kaykuala

    Oh God, where am I?
    I’ve lost my short-term memory. Susan…

    Love the way you related your poem to the original piece. Great show David! Agreed, a memory loss is a nasty thing


  4. So much beauty how you restored an old still exqusite quilt, with you amazing thread of words.
    Your embellishments is literary so very attractive.
    I love what i saw and felt as you wove in short term memory.

    Thank you for this great poetic lesson i found only today.

    1. I’m learning as I go, Abi ❤

      Mostly I read experienced poets' pieces and search for forms online… It's quite a growth experience for me – but the Internet has so much available!

      1. You practice your learning and come up with amazing stuff.
        We learn from you and the older and experienced poets too.
        Thank you for sharing this with me ❤

  5. Both poems are wonderful. You’ve taken the lines and added your creative flavor. A mind gone astray is a very sad thing. It must be so challenging to take a piece and then add to it. Awesome! 🙂

    1. Terveen,

      This one was very rewarding, and I never would have tried something like this if it hadn’t been for d’Verse – I’m glad Laura gave us this prompt!


  6. You have made this very much your own. It is so well observed too with the paranoia which memory loss can bring. Wonderful work.

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