The Friend by Maheshwar Narayan Sinha
Facing a “Three to Five Poems” Quandary,
I Turn to Sara Bareilles
I have two consummate poems, yet a third—at least—is perplexingly demanded. Of course, a single brilliant pantoum could (in theory) be constructed purely accidentally, and it would perhaps be disappointing to publish the flawless work of a one-accident pony. But a brilliant pantoum paired with an exquisite villanelle; surely these should be sufficient to prove one’s multi-act-magician bona fides? I ask myself WWSBD and then google her image to pose the question directly. Her gaze is luminous, wise, and inquiring. Instantly, I am acutely embarrassed. Sara, I say, I’m so sorry to have dragged you into this. Please go back to whatever you were doing. No worries, she replies kindly. She is always kind. This sort of thing happens a lot. I exit the window and attempt to channel my inner Sara instead. She lacks the luster, courage, and stamina of Google Sara, and will not commit to walking even the length of a small pond for art’s sake. I console myself with the knowledge that at least I had a meet-cute with Google Sara. Then I look up meet-cute and realize it does not mean what I thought it meant. Feeling flattened and fragile, I add a hastily constructed poem of fair-to-middling quality. My submission is complete—save for a minor and ineffective act of resistance. In my cover letter, I call poem number three a love song.
Writing What You Know
The teacher in our writing class said write what you know, so I wrote a story about a man who, long ago, drove a small sports car around our town as though he was looking for someone. The man was always alone.
One day I got into his car. I think it was a Porsche. Much heartbreak followed.
If that man were alive today, he’d be 103, but last week I thought I saw him. Then two days ago and again today. “Maybe I wrote him back to life,” I said to my writing teacher.
She said, “I saw the man in the Porsche, and he did look ancient!” Even so, she gave me poor marks for my story. “His character doesn’t live on the page,” she explained.
Riddled with Arrows 5.4: