“Slipped Stitches” by Christine Poreba received second place for the 2021 Emerging Poet Prize, as selected by Kelli Russell Agodon.
Quirky, surprising, and uniquely its own voice, “Slipped Stitches” made me smile from its opening line, “I feel sorry for the angel and I listen to the psychic,” and through each turn throughout the poem. From the warning on the box of taco shells to the TV show The Bachelor, this poem delighted me with its unexpected images and lines like “reality is a short word considering it has four syllables.” This poem glows with life’s peculiar details and moments of paying attention to the world. This poem offered a unique and talented voice I hope to read more of. —Kelli Russell Agodon
Our days are like slipped stitches, the cloth is wide and deep. —Charles Wright
I feel sorry for angels as I listen to the psychic
who speaks on Dr. Oz’s show; just pick a symbol, like an owl,
she says, and soon you’ll see it everywhere and that’s how you’ll know
they’re guiding you. Enter Here, the sign for checking out
in Staples said, but gave no further instructions, and each had
their own interpretation, which caused one woman to yell and
one man to shake his head in disappointment. We needed something
clearer, like the sign on the taco box—Shells may break if dropped
or mishandled. Something that got to the point like the latest email
in my junk folder that said Hello! answer me. And what real friend
would send a message that reads Hi my dear friend, i am
jessica lynch from USA and then sign off with best regards?
Reality is a short word considering it has four syllables.
A shed is made to look like a small house but is not made to be lived in.
The Bachelor’s Fantasy Suite is made for the viewer not to know
what the couple does behind its door once the light, which could be
the light to any room, is shown clicking off as the scene cuts to commercial.
Someone has fake-planted geraniums in a pot down the block from me
and though they are too bright and untextured to be real, they still
sometimes fool me. Despite my having grown up with geraniums
in window boxes, having witnessed their browned petals dropping off
onto the ledge fourteen stories high, despite knowing these petals
never brown and never fall onto the sidewalk where a couple
wrote into the wet concrete Sally + Joel=Soul and then poured glitter
over all of it except the equal sign. Taped across the arms
of two chairs in the hallway at my job last week was a sign
that said Broken please remove (smiley face)—was the smile there
to appease the brokenness or the command? Two chairs that were sat in
and sat in until they broke. I’m here, the Lyft driver writes,
both of us looking down at pictures on our phones then looking up.
Strangers driving strangers to other strangers’ houses where we pay
to pretend to live for a weekend. I’m here, I wanted to tell the neighbor
I saw last night while walking, who saw me, both of us out with our dogs,
who thought I didn’t see him, who turned around to go the other way.
I wanted to tell him, I’m here and also I understand, wanting to be a body
alone in the dark walking your dog, holding to a small loop,
which is all you have to keep the life you love from running loose.