I am so far behind! I originally posted this prompt way back in July. I’ve written to it a few times, but never felt I had anything to work with. However, now I’m determined during the month of October to finally catch up on these prompts, so I made myself get to work.
This untitled draft is the semi-polished version of what I’d come up with after lots of wheel-spinning:
He was sort of a runt, stocky
and ungraceful. He wasn’t
dreamboat material with his broad,
turned-up nose, off-kilter smile (not
crooked, like Gable’s, just skewed),
watery eyes that protruded a bit.
The wavy blond hair should have counted
for something, but it lacked highlights
and sat on his skull like a lop-sided cap.
Appearances get in the way
in seventh grade: He was friendly, with maybe even
kindness behind those dull eyes. He was
“one of the guys,” even though he wasn’t crude
and never baited the nuns to score points.
No one disliked him. He simply
didn’t make hearts flutter.
I thought he’d scored the last laugh
when he married one of my high school classmates,
a bookish girl who developed style and luster
as she matured. She made a beautiful bride,
still as smart and funny as she’d been
freshman year. She and her scruffy groom
were laughing and affectionate, as if they enjoyed
each other as well as their romance. No one
would have modeled a cake topper after
the mismatched pair, but everyone at the reception
smiled watching them dance, the two of them
grinning, gazing (him up, her down)
into each other’s eyes.
No, I wasn’t happy about this version at all. It was too wordy, and too bogged down with details that weren’t needed. Originally I’d said not to write an epic, and I wanted to at least try to follow my own directions.
I pared and rewrote lines, wrote new lines, and wound up frequently glowering at the computer screen. Finally I decided to focus on the original wording of the prompt: Are you still with short Ramrod? I started with the first meeting with the unlikely bride, instead of going back in time to establish the details of why “Ramrod” wasn’t especially attractive. I was able to work in some of the imagery from my previous draft, although I’m still not satisifed with this poem at all. Maybe if I take a look at it six months from now, I can see how to fix it–or whether it’s worth any more effort.
BELIEVE ME OR YOUR LYING EYES
I’d gone to school with her fiancé
in seventh grade. She must have read my mind
when she told me they were engaged.
She chuckled. Yeah, he’s a smart-ass
little runt. Coming from her,
it sounded like an endearment.
She and I been friends off and on in high school.
Knowing her, I couldn’t imagine them together.
Then I realized I didn’t know her at all,
had no idea whether he was her “type.”
His father and I were members
of the church choir, and we sang at the wedding.
The bride was lovely, outclassed
her groom in every way; but they seemed
happy, enjoying the party and each other
as if romance were gravy. The guests
smiled to see them dance together,
the mismatched couple grinning,
gazing (him up, her down)
into each other’s eyes.
I didn’t see her for a decade or more.
At our ten-year reunion she told me
they were divorced. He was a jerk,
she announced with a live-and-learn shrug.
I didn’t know what to say. A jerk,
a runty, unappealing jerk–that
had been my impression of him all along.
I’m sorry was all I could say.
Then we let it go, and talked about school.
[Sigh.] Maybe the next prompt will go better.
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