Poemblot (as in inkblot) is a regular feature where a general reader (i.e. someone who does not have an educational or professional background in writing or literature) is shown a poem and asked to offer an immediate impression. The reader reads the poem no more than twice and is not given any instruction on how to read it or information about the author. One of the purposes of Poemblot is to explore the different perceptions and assumptions readers bring to a text. The readers' full names will not be shared to protect them from rampaging, ego-bruised poets on social media. Instead we'll offer some basic background information and a representational photo provided by each reader as a framework for who they are.
Occupation: Software Developer
Favorite Book: Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series
Favorite Movie: Star Wars
Favorite TV Show: Firefly
Favorite Song: “You Spin Me Round” by Dead or Alive
Marriage Poem 3
BY MICHAEL GUSHUE
I am working in my studio. My wife walks in and says she is looking for a grocery store. When I tell her she isn’t in a grocery store, she is disappointed. Feeling bad for her, I say that, if she would like, she could shop for groceries in my studio. My wife walks around, complaining how little choice there is, how inadequate the displays are, and how many of the shelves look understocked and forlorn. When she is ready to leave I ask her to please come back tomorrow and promise to have a better selection. I run out to a gas station convenience store and buy one of everything: snack food, beers and sodas, a pack of Winstons, an incense stick, a lottery ticket, 30 weight motor oil, windshield wiper fluid, a newspaper. When my wife comes back the next day I hand her a basket and say, “Welcome to Trader Joe’s.” She walks around, looking at the items I have placed on windowsills, chairs, tables, or balanced on the radiator. Finally she puts a candy bar in her basket and comes over to check out. I say, “These are on sale. Buy one, get one free.” She looks around the studio, “But you only have one.” “Let me check in the back. I think we have more in stock.” I go and hide behind an old armoire for ten minutes, then come out and say, “That’s the last one. They’re on backorder.” My wife says, “That’s alright, I’ll take a raincheck.” “I’m sorry,” I say, “We don’t issue rainchecks. Company policy.” We have been married seven years. I have always been attracted to danger.
Gray J.’s Immediate Impressions
1. What strikes you most about this poem? Does reading it bring up any thoughts, emotions or sensations?
The format is unexpected. I don’t read much poetry. I have preconceptions about poetry rooted in high school English class. Seeing a plain block of text made me wonder if I had opened the right file. I found it refreshing.
I am uneasy about the protagonist’s relationship with his wife. Initially, I wondered if he was indulging an Alzheimers or dementia patient. By the end, I felt troubled about where their relationship is going. I was mildly horrified by the final sentence.
2. What do you like most about this poem?
The intensity of my response when I read it. I ran through several emotions in just a few seconds. It made me want to broaden my literary horizons.
3. What do you like least about this poem?
After spending way too much time on this question, I still don’t have a good answer. Although the poem evoked some negative emotions, they added to the experience of reading it.
4. Before reading any poem, do you come to it with certain expectations? If so, does this particular poem meet those expectations? Does your expectations affect your opinion of this poem?
I have very limited exposure to poetry and have read very little. This particular poem shattered my expectations. The euphoria of exceeded expectations might be skewing my opinion in a positive direction. I’ll have to read it again later.
5. Does this poem make you want to read more poems?