I belong to two small groups which meet and write after one member of the
group reads a poem she has found in a book or on the Internet. The poem and the
discussion of it – poetic techniques, interesting wording, well-written lines,
and/or ideas – serve as inspiration for each member of the group to write their
own poem. The works produced in these groups are usually very different. That
is partly because the group members can be inspired by the content or by the
style of the poem. But it is also a result of the fact that a poem is often
about more than one thing and may have levels of meaning. An object may be a
metaphor, or it may be a tool used in the narrative. In addition, each member
of the group brings her own experience to the reading and discussion of the
I suspect that Andrea Witzke Slot’s poem, “Regret” would inspire a
diverse set of response poems from members of such a group.
I am sorry I
didn’t return your call
or answer your
second call, or return
your text or
email or Facebook message.
It is hard to
hear when I am turning, turning,
computer-lidded eyes, packing up,
Did you know I wake in the night
you—yes, thinking of you—wondering
why I didn’t
return your call, or answer your second call
or kept my
phone on silent for days and then for weeks
or didn’t type
a response while the computer-
remained propped open toothpick style
for so very
long? Don’t get me wrong. I love you.
And I have tried
to hear you ring and ring and ring,
used to ring when we were children,
when we all
jumped up and ran a mad-dashed race toward
yellow-belled instrument, wanting to know
who it was and
my sister would win and she would
and sigh as she surrendered
dogbone to me, and then you and I would talk
for hours as I
leaned against a bright orange kitchen wall
with my fingers
sweating and wrapped tight around
receiver, and I miss you, even more now since
message voice turned up to stop your clear rings
tracks, in the way I wish it could stop all that is now
turning, pulling down, packing up, walking away.
Andrea Witzke Slot
poem was first published in Segue 12:
Fall 2014; used by permission of the author.
of Fiction International ’s 2015 Short Short Fiction Contest, Andrea Witzke Slot writes fiction,
poetry, and essays, and is fascinated most by the ways in which these genres
intersect. She is author of the poetry collection To
find a new beauty (Gold Wake Press, 2012), and her work has been published
widely, including in such places as Bellevue Literary Review, The Adirondack Review,
Mid-American Review, Poetry East, Measure, Fiction Southeast, Nimrod,
Chronicle of Higher Education, and in books published by SUNY Press
(2013) and Palgrave Macmillan (2014). Her fiction, including her novel The Cartography of Flesh: in the silence of Ella
Mendelssohn, and creative nonfiction are now represented by
Stephanie Sinclair at Transatlantic Literary Agency. She lives between London
reading further, reread the poem and ask yourself what poem it might inspire in
I saw multiple ways of responding to Slot’s poem. “Regret,” might inspire
someone to write about the break-up of a relationship with a lover, a friend or
family member. It might remind a person of a phone call returned or not
returned, or about a telephone (maybe a cell phone, maybe a yellow phone that
looks like a dog bone, or for someone older, a black phone from that time when
virtually all phone were black). Maybe the poem makes you think of what (or
who) keeps you awake at night. Perhaps you looked at the title, and said to
yourself, “What do I regret?” Did you ponder who among your acquaintances is
“turning” or “walking away”? Did you ask yourself from what or whom have you
walked away? What makes you “turn,” “pull up,” and “pack up?”
January 2016 Poetry Challenge
The challenge for January is much broader than usual. Read “Regret”
silently and aloud. Think about it; discuss it with another poet or group of
poets, if you wish. Then sit down and write a poem inspired by it. The ideas
above are not the only possibilities. Be creative. Since it is January, you
might want to turn it into a New Year’s resolution poem, but that is not
required. Below the poem, briefly explain the thought process that took you
from Slot’s poem to your own.
poem may be formal or free verse. If you use a form, please specify the form.
Unless your poem is haiku, it should be titled.
Poems already published
in books, or published on the Internet (including Facebook and other on-line
social networks) are not eligible. If your poem has been published in a
print periodical, you may submit it if you retain copyright, but please include
publication data. Only one poem per poet, please.
deadline is January 15. Poems submitted after the January 15
deadline will not be considered. There is no charge to enter, so there are no
monetary rewards; however winners are published on this blog. Please don’t stray
too far from “family-friendly” language. No simultaneous submissions, please.
You will know by the end of the month whether or not your poem will be
published on this blog. Your poem may be free or formal verse. If you use a
form, please specify the form when you submit. Decision of the judge or judges
on each poem is retained by the poet.
Submit Your Poem:
Send one poem only to wildamorris[at]ameritech[dot]net (substitute the @ sign
for “at” and a . for “dot”) . Include a brief bio which can be printed with
your poem, if you are a winner this month.
of a poem gives permission for the poem to be posted on the blog if it is a
winner, so be sure that you put your name (exactly as you would like it to
appear if you do win) at the end of the poem. Poems may be pasted into an email
or sent as an attachment. Please do not
indent the poem or center it on the page. It helps if you submit the poem
in the format used on the blog (Title and poem left-justified; title in bold
(not all in capital letters); your name at the bottom of the poem). Also,
please do not use spaces instead of commas in the middle of lines. I have no
problem with poets using that technique; I sometimes do it myself. However I
have difficulty getting the blog to accept and maintain extra spaces.
shorter than 40 lines are generally preferred. Also, if lines are too long,
they don’t fit in the blog format and have to be split, so you might be wise to
use shorter lines.