It was in the golf club smoking lounge (where no smoking is allowed) that I overheard a conversation between two literary elites.
I was trying to mind my own, with a roll of paper towels under one arm and glass cleaner in my other hand, but it was hard to ignore the cerebral electricity.
I have such a penchant, said one man, for the exploration of the existential being. I kept wiping tabletops but nearly split my face with a grin.
Ah! Yes! said the other. I did come across one piece the other day I found particularly intriguing. I’ve got the copy here. Shall I read it aloud?
Oh, please do! I said in my head.
The man cleared his throat and began: Vagrant waste stretched taut with fury silence in the stills—evening: wafer-thin razors over bars that bind the rats.
I waited, but that was it.
Profound, said the first man. I can feel it here. He points to the center of his chest. I’m not sure if he means his heart or a bad case of acid reflux.
I move on to the mantle, bringing my feather duster with me. The reading man mentions another piece, something about goats and wind chimes—
but I’m no longer listening. I’m thinking if I was an editor, I’d be looking for poems that actually speak to people like me. Or, if I was a writer, I’d write something like this:
black and white—the color of my uniform, the color of my duties, the color of my life;
no one asks me what colors I like; it doesn’t matter as long as I do my job and don’t complain;
my stockings are too tight and my legs ache with the weight of my body and the world on my shoulders.
I carry me; I carry my daughter, the one whose father disappeared in the night six years ago;
speak English, they say, and I do, except when I’m alone at night and I call out Dios me salve—God save me.
The men leave the smoking room (where no one can smoke) and I pick up their empty cups, their candy wrappers, and the copy of the poem for which the one man had such a penchant— and throw them all in the trash.
Arvilla Fee has been married for 20 years and has five children. She teaches English Composition for Clark State College. She has been published in numerous presses including Poetry Quarterly, Inwood Indiana, 50 Haikus, Contemporary Haibun Online, Drifting Sands Haibun, Bright Flash Literary Review, Teach/Write, Acorn, Last Leaves Magazine and others. She also won the Rebecca Lard award for best poem in the Spring 2020 issue of Poetry Quarterly. What Arvilla loves most about writing is the ability to make people feel something. Due to life experiences and family members with addictions, she often finds herself writing about the grittier side of life. For Arvilla, poetry is never about rising to the heights of literary genius but about being in the trenches with ordinary people who will say, “She gets me.”
SAR is proud to announce that Arvilla will be joining us as our new Poetry Editor.
I’d just liked to say that this piece is absolutely brilliant. Not only does it have a wonderfully conversational quality but its crushing critique of the literary industry and its “elites” is necessary while still veiled with personal experience and apathy.
Thank you so much for your kind comments. “Write for Me” was definitely intended as a critique of the literary industry. I’ve read countless poetry magazines, herald as high art, that left me shaking my head in utter confusion. I’ve never understood how writers (or editors) can produce work that literally no one can understand. I will forever root for the people who long to connect with what they read and write for them!