Sunday, February 27, 2011

To Whom This May Concern (Poem)

Photo Courtesy of JackAZ Photography
Used With Permission

To Whom This May Concern

Carbon dates and ink stains
every last word we keyed

before the current stopped
flowing into the heart

of the machine that let letters
spill into the spaces needing

no parentheses no colons
no long dashes to interrupt

the whowhatwhenwherewhy
and how of our features spread

out in bold type, a splashy cover
up of what we could not see

to come. Stripped and spiked
at ten to midnight to make way

for breaking news, the stories
we sweat didn't get a second chance

at virtual life. The desk's cleared
now, the circular file emptied

of grammatical mistakes and missed
spellings and leads going nowhere.

© 2011 Maureen E. Doallas

I wrote this poem for the One Shoot Sunday Picture Prompt Challenge at One Stop Poetry, where you'll find the second of a two-part interview with photographer JackAZ Photography whose image appears above.

Anyone may participate in the challenge. Go here for instructions and for a list of contributors' poems.


hedgewitch said...

Layered and nuanced, and absorbing from first line to last, every one displaying a sense of the futility and the ephemeral nature of words and what words can represent.

Claudia said...

i loved the flow of this maureen - like the tic toc tac of a typewriter - excellent

M G Reignier said...

I learned to type on a machine like this one. I know those messy carbons and their streaked dates. I am well familiar with the round files. How cleverly you work in the act of typing on them with the spirit of what was created there and in their users. Excellent work as always, Gay

dustus said...

Builds to an excellent, very strong ending—love that phrase and the multiple meanings contained: "leads going nowhere." To realize all the hard work lost among change. Excellent use of lingo and nuance (as hedge mentioned) throughout the poet's lament, recounting of process, and "editorial vent."

Anonymous said...

A lot of ideas here that could run into their own poems. Nice tight write in responce to the prompt. My tangled wires seem to gather dust quite quickly!

Anonymous said...

i like that you used the words
circular file

i can just see that round green metal trash can.

Glynn said...

Oh, but I think I miss those days -- or at least some of what those days were about -- the smell of the newsroom especially. Good poem, Maureen.

Dianna Woolley said...

Great poetry! My young granddaughter saw a very old, old typewriter in a museum we were visiting with here and she excitedly told her younger brother - "Look Henry, it's one of the old fashioned computers!" .....old fashioned indeed:)


Louise Gallagher said...

This is excellent and -- as I'm learning from Neruda's Memoirs -- your poetry sings!

Steve Isaak said...

Good 'looking back' poem. Borderline sublime piece.

Unknown said...

The picture drew me in like a magnet--your poem was a supreme follow-through!
This was a fun first visit to Writing Without Paper!

JackAZ Photography said...

You sure made me miss tossing a piece of crumpled up paper into the circular file. A great way to blow off a bit of steamy and frustration often encountered during the writing process. Beautiful writing!