AUTHOR’S NOTE: So, there are two versions of this poem, and I am going to present them both to you. Why? This was a challenge that subconsciously accepted a month or so ago. Mitch Mitchell, a man of many blogs (I’m Just Sharing and Mitchell Consulting to name a couple), and Mark Strong (The Proof is in the Eating) got into a conversation with me about poems versus prose. Mitch made a funny comment about poets not rhyming to which I turned around while whistling. This wasn’t an elaborate discussion, but it stuck with me.
Feeling the utter desire to update this blog–I needed to since it has been a while–an idea for a personal challenge sprouted. This would be the time to write a poem, but a standard poem: rhyming, verses, and scheming and all the fun stuff. However, I would rewrite the poem the way that I want to: borderline prose.
There are distinct similarities, but that’s purposeful. Let me know what y’all think.
Come and get it while it’s hot,
states the sign near the corner lot
the one-stop street for gift crop.
Of course, they come across young
and have, in their wallets, little money for fun.
sitting cafeteria style, across from one another
is fitting, avoiding the getting lost within the bother.
Teenagers, who don’t know any better,
exhibit simplistically splendid calculated fetters—
the perfect concrete foundation
for the first-date two-hour conversation.
in a nearly empty restaurant to convene.***
Baked cheese melting upon the wood stove plank
adds to the blotching of the windows blank.
Shaking legs dry sweaty hands, those nervous tics—
the tell-all signs of butterfly antics.
Poor eye contact is buffered by nervous laughter
shared and accompanied in the present and thereafter.
Taking the bite of the slice too soon,
a metaphorical antithesis of the relationship boon.
Yet, the food must be finished,
and the conversation brinks on the edge of diminished,
they rise up, scuffling chairs,
the two eventually leaves as a pair.
Parting words allows each to drift on their way
until next week; there will be another Saturday.
*** NOTE: This is where I got sick of the poem, got huffy and puffy, and I began to pace like a child. I dislike self conflict; although, after embracing it, I could not let “giving up” get the best of me. There was a lot of pointing at the computer screen, name calling, and tauting the inanimate object which is my laptop.
Yes, I know that was one ugly poem; critics have already deemed it as unintelligent poison for the mind.
between the salon and smoke shop, is the one
with the fogging large-paned windows. They couldn’t
have been over the age of high school seniors,
still naive to the world. Whatever little money they had
in their wallets, they made do with having whatever fun they
could access inexpensively. Simplicity was for the best. The cafeteria
style sit down worked out well, forcing conversation. The two did not know
how good they had it, the perfectly structured date was
beyond their reasoning. They were dumbfounded to feelings, or
at least one of them—possibly—had to have been, but those feelings
could not be fully understood.
To indulge in the situation was perfect. With the exception
of the owner and cook, presence was minimal at the restaurant. The one
or two stragglers walking in took their food and ran. The two remained
seated, looking at one another, smiling, and making do with whatever
teenagers talk about. She was friendly and wide-eyed, showing
interest, or humor. He, on the other hand, kept looking to the side
occasionally, counteracting his jittery knee; his hand motions compensated
where his eyes could not. The smile on his face–his teeth were not shadowed
by the cloud of nervousness: a halo which floated around his head.
When the pizza came out of the wood stove oven, the young man
sprung to his feet, obtaining the food from the counter, bringing her slices
as well. The spring in his step almost caused him to lose the slices; they
swiveled around on the paper plates. Smiling, he caught his balance and
rested the food upon the table. He, overcome with nervousness,
took a bite of the pizza after juggling it around his fingers
to maintain one of the flimsy triangles. He retracted his head,
extracting a giggle from her shaky lips. As he appeared to
be the fool, the notion did not seem to faze
her. It was cute, she thought, or appeared to. Her demeanor
idled quietly listening and watching more so
than responding with more than a sentence
or a giggle. They spoke of work and plans, the excitement
one may have with friends at the time
Abandoned the end of the date, leaving it to dissipate and
join the steam which had now decorated the top section of the window.
Purple hinted in the sky as he walked her to her car, and they met eyes before
traveling in opposite directions to their vehicles and to
Wow, that came out worse than I anticipated it to. Of course, this is raw and unedited. Strike two. Let’s move on for one last hurrah.
Lastly, I decided to format the piece into a short piece of prose. I had to complete the evolution.
Plus, this gives me one last shot to write something of substance. So, yes, this is the same story, but it’s told differently.
The minute hand clicked to the ultimate upright position: it was time to get out of work, being the weekend, and today was the day. Venturing to meet her in the front of the building, he reflected upon the moment from a couple hours before, the moment when he had the gumption to ask and when she responded, stating that she would. It wasn’t as if he was going to ask her to marry him; although, the nervousness fettered him in such a way that progressing smoothly was incomprehensible. The nervousness could be paralleled, but not as projected on a grand scheme. This was that instance of simply asking her to grab a bite come five o’clock.
He stood there in the lobby amidst a cloud of patrons still streaming in and out of the doors. Children projected laughter and tears through echoes. She arrived, coat in hand, and he asked the fittingly obvious: Ready? She smiled, and he held the door for her, because—in his head—he (a) knew it was the polite thing to do, (b) wanted to impress her, and (c) prove chivalry was not dead.
Simplistically enough, it was a boy and a girl getting pizza.
The pizza shop was right around the corner from work, and they were noted to make a hell of a pie. The sign on the corner read to get the pizza while it was hot, which is a convincing cliche of a marketing tool. The walk, although quick, didn’t spark too much conversation; after working the entire day together the last thing they wanted to talk about was work-related issues. The air was still, and the air was tolerable for a day in mid July. The neon signs in the smoke shop windows fruitfully glowed within the shadow of the awning despite the orange glow emitted by a tiring sun.
Up the ramp, they walked. Into the pizza shop, they entered, and the owner and cook gleefully greeted them. The odorous burst of baking bread from the brick oven robed the two customers, calming and taunting their anxieties growling from starving stomachs. After ordering, the two occupied a small table with two chairs, and they anticipated their slices arriving. The table wobbled slightly, resulting from the murmur quaking throughout the floor—the result of a shaking leg. His hand quieted his displayed nervousness, joking how he hated when that happens. She laughed, ending that moment with the slightest bite to her inner lip. Her hands, resting in her lap, had intertwined fingers which constricted each other slightly.
Moments were made to watch pedestrians stroll by the fuzzing windows. Children walked hand-in-hand with their parents, elderly couples window shopped, and some people wore clueless expressions. The owner’s voice let the two know their slices were good to go. He got up to retrieve them, while she patiently watched. The pizza shuffled around upon the paper plates, and the young man took in the opportunity to jokingly misstep and produce a scare to threaten the pizza’s falling. Fittingly enough, the joke went too far and he almost dropped the slices. This yielded another laugh from the young woman.
From the outside looking in, passers didn’t care what was being said, but they speculated as to what was going on, assuming this was a relationship in the making. The two sat, smiling and eating. On the inside, the owner—presumably an Italian—could have taken either route as the omniscient guardian angel who makes sure things go according to plan, or he could have been playing the creepy older man who enjoyed the presence of younger women. Either way, the man was looking over his shoulder with keen hearing.
For they would be leaving for college soon, returning to their other lives. Vacation and reprieve sessions were ending. The food was consumed, but the young man wore a look of disgust while his tongue swabbed the deck of the roof of his mouth. She asked if his mouth was still sore, and he replied that it was, admitting he learned his lesson about stuffing his face with delicious smelling, out-of-the-oven food. She laughed again, and the door that he opened for her closed behind them.
Purple began to flush the sky, but it would be a couple hours before it turned night. He walked her back to her car, making sure she (a) arrived safely, (b) knew he was polite, and (c) believed chivalry was not dead. They stood for a moment, facing each other. She thanked him for the food, highlighting her words and thoughts with a smile. He smiled back, and he told her—anytime. They weren’t 18, or 19, or in their early 20’s for that matter. To him, she was wearing a dress, her hair fell perfectly to her shoulders, and they had just gotten done with a couple glasses of wine after an open jazz night. To her, he donned a button down shirt and blazer with a loosened tie; his hair was slightly messy.
They stood there, facing each other, and their gazes met; their smiles slightly faded, but not toward the frown. His hands fidgeted in his pockets, and he swayed on the heels of his shoes; she stood with her hands down in front of her, folded.
They bid goodnight to one another, hesitating before almost turning simultaneously to be on their separate ways.