and hypocrisy, it was.
Finally, a happy poem, she says,
her eyes crinkled in a smile.
My workshop mates groaned,
although a few of them had
remarked more or less the same.
I had been a poet for less than nine months,
and I had yet to workshop a sentimental piece
about some lost love,
some childhood play place or
some lost pet or friend.
No, I chose to pull them into
my bottomless cauldron of
sales clerks prostituting for commissions,
pretentious people airing their tortured souls
for art, among other things,
but nothing pretty or happy
at least not as biting as the others she had seen.
When the groaners ask what is so
happy about an affluent man who
after criticizing the local crowd, finds
himself stuck in a dirty
cafe after dark in an unknown town,
she stays by her word,
asks me for a copy to keep,
before folding it into a square
she can keep in her pocket.
J. L. Smith lives in Eagle River, Alaska, with her husband and young daughter. As well as an interest in writing, she also holds a master’s degree in international relations. Her most recent publication is “The Syrian Dilemma: Moscow’s Motives and Strategic Interests in the Syrian Uprising.”