A scene from the Nickelodeon show Hey Arnold!
That’s fine, have a seat. You see the poetry I like is, experimental. Doesn’t have the rhyme kind of stuff. Like this famous poem by Walter Charles Walter. The poem is called, They Were Delicious (Mr. Simmons begins reciting the poem).
“I have eaten the tomatoes, that were on the window sill (Harold steals Mr. Simmons’ lunch and starts eating it.)
Were you saving them for a special occasion, I apologize, they were delicious. (Harold finishes the sandwich)
So juicy, so red.”
That’s not a poem it’s just a long sentence!
I remember The Red Wheelbarrow, William Carlos Williams’ image-laden poem about the subject of its title. We had to read it in our advanced poetry class in undergrad and I found it strange that such a basic poem could be so darn famous. So I looked up his other poetry and it brought up This Is Just To Say. The similarity gripped me like a cheeseburger. I was back in 1997 watching Hey Arnold!, my 9-year-old feet (yea, I was 9) hanging off the sofa because I still couldn’t touch the floor. But it proved something: simple was in. The 1920s permeated into the 1990s, and now it exists in the form of limited characters (140) via Twitter and Facebook statuses that praise the user for embracing brevity.
And if you think about it, we talk a lot. We talk too much. We text about things. We copy, paste, share, download, zoom, forward, reply, click, message, follow. We troubleshoot and frequently ask questions.
Ernest Hemingway knew how to keep it short. I don’t remember if it was poetry or my American history course, but my teacher wrote on the board with his thick black marker: For sale: baby shoes, never used. This was Hemingway’s six-word story, which SMITH Magazine turned into its star subject matter.
I want to be Hemingway. I want to write six-word stories and feel the strength in simplicity. No twittering about it. So in honor of this six-word phenomenon, I decided to write (with the help of my beautiful, poetic friend Amanda Jimenez) several six-word stories of my own.
Note: If you’ve seen these before, then great minds think alike, is all.
Other note: Amanda’s six-liners are denoted by *.
Relationships and several other serious things
Home late from work. He’s gone.
Results came in. I tested positive.
Said yes. Had wedding. No honeymoon.
He’s gone. Didn’t see the difference.
Trying to forgive him. I can’t.
How do you love a cheater?
I asked him for help. Why?*
Living apart. Talking often. Sleeping alone.*
Sexy underwear. He never came home.*
Silly stuff, at least to me
Got dressed. Went to work. Undressed.
Should be working. On Facebook instead.
Drove home drunk. Left jail sober.
Time of the month. Be afraid.
Ramen for breakfast. Ramen for lunch.
Shouldn’t have eaten that Mexican food.
Setting up a gay friend. Fabulous.
Left flash drive at home. Shit.
What homework are you talking about?
Had class tonight. Played softball instead.
Kicked out. Found a good bench.
Caught with no pants. Had shirt.
Married him for money. Died first.
Short male. Ugly. Can’t cook. Screwed.
Asleep under the stars. Twinkle, twinkle.
You kissed a boy? Eww. Gross.
I only date superheroes. Get caped.*
Pregnant or fat? Beats me, too.*
Life in the city of Boston
T on fire. Not this again.
Hot out there. Sixty in here.
God, those pigeons are really fat.
So much history. I go drinking.
Some famous ones I loved:
“Failed SAT. Lost scholarship. Invented rocket.”
“Gown removed carelessly. Head, less so.”
“Longed for him. Got him. Shit.”
“The baby’s blood type? Human, mostly.”
Orson Scott Card