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 thenโ€ฆ It is lost, 
a dried, lazy ragweed stalk,
holding the shadow of its life. Noโ€ฆ 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 โ€˜lost poemsโ€™ 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 โ€˜lost poemsโ€™ presented to us (or one of your own finding where something or someone is lost) and re-write is as a โ€˜Found poemโ€™. 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. You have made a new set of images and emotions, twisting and turning a pretty powerful original. This is like Listz’ Etudes creating piano masterpieces on the basis of Paganini’s Capriccios.
    Much love,

  2. Found poetry is difficult for me – I feel that my tinkering with a good poem is a disservice to the poet and the original poem… I do however like the changes you made to this poem… Who is Susan? Will she suddenly appear?

  3. Your words add a surreal turn to Schneider’s already unsettling piece. That last line is chilling… Well done, and an interesting form of collaboration. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. You’ve hit your stride with this one and I love how Susan becomes a focal spot with which his disoriented mind revolves around. I just watched a good movie with Billy Crystal where he is slowly falling into dementia. So sad for someone whose mind was once so sharp.

  5. Man, you really put some flesh on those โ€œlostโ€ bones. I think you had fun in writing this, and that warmth and lightness shines through; nice rocking of the prompt.

  6. David – you have found a very striking way of reusing and adding to Schneider’s poem – it really captures the disorientation of being lost and re-orienting ways back.Very moving.
    p.s. I am intrigued by your ‘Poetry partners’ and would like to join in when I have 101 words or less to add!

    1. Thanks for the fun challenge, Laura – this was my first found poem ever ๐Ÿ˜€

      Also, the 101 words isn’t a hard and fast rule… it’s more an order of magnitude (like submitting an op-ed for a newspaper, which is technically s’posed to be 800 words, but… usually isn’t.)


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