March 7, 2020

Prompt: Lost (and Perhaps Found)

Jane Hirshfield has a new book of poems out this month titled Ledger (from Alfred A. Knopf). I saw one of the poems on The Writer's Almanac - "Advice to Myself" - and I immediately identified the idea of a computer file that comes up blank.

Her poem begins:

The computer file
of which
I have no recollection
is labeled “advice to myself”

I click it open
scroll further down

the screen
stays backlit and empty

thus I meet myself again
hopeful and useless...

Not only have I come across computer files that are empty or just don't make any sense to me currently, but I also have more than a few "poems" that I started in a document and when I looked back at them weeks or months later my reaction is "Where was I going with this?"

Perhaps this is just a sign of aging, along with the other lost things unpoetic - phone numbers, people's names, books read and movies seen and lots of events.

All of those seem trivial compared with the things we lose and don't find.

Carl Sandburg was "Lost" quite literally "Desolate and lone / All night long on the lake."

When Stephen Dobyns was "Lost," he asked, "Where had wrong turns been made?"

For Ellen Bass, it's a "Lost Dog." 

But for Lucille Clifton, it is a very serious "the lost baby poem."

Lucyna Prostko claims that "Nothing Is Lost."

I believe that most of us hope that when something is lost, it will eventually be found. Ron Padgett wrote a poem that said that "Man has lost his gods" but later wrote in "Lost and Found" and wondered "What did I mean?"

John Milton thought that it was paradise that was lost, but then he wrote Paradise Regained.

But back to Jane's poem that started this prompt. What appealed to me in that short poem was the idea that things lost are often not found.

For your writing this month, we are looking for poems about things lost - and are perhaps found or perhaps not.

Submission Deadline: March 31, 2020

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