Home > Mutating the Signature > I Should Write Soap Operas

I Should Write Soap Operas

March 30, 2009

My neighbor, well technically she isn’t my neighbor
since she lives on the other side of the building, two floors below,
appeared with a baby a few weeks ago.
I’ve been meaning to tell Paul about the baby
but the daily hum drum of life — work, rest, write —
has blocked my thoughts, but today,
we were walking Daisy and turned a corner
and there she was — baby strapped to chest
with its legs swinging. I think it might be a boy,
but I’m not sure. All the other time I’ve seen it,
it has been covered in a red blanket, which is no help
since red is like yellow when babies are concerned.
Anyway, I’m losing track of my point.
I think the baby is stolen. Paul tells me she is probably babysitting.
I say, She probably stole it. Then add,
But not from another country, as if this legitimizes
my comment. Paul rolls his eyes and tells me she can steal
the baby in one of my poems, but this is not
why I am writing this poem. I’ll admit
I’m the kind of guy who enjoys a giggle
when I hear of someone objecting at a wedding.
I’ll admit I’ve watched Soap Operas since I was eight
and rooted for the villain most of the time.
I adored Vivian and Sami on Days of Our Lives.
My mother threatened to quit taping episodes
when I would cheer for them. You might not know,
Sami stole her baby sister. Well, she stole her half baby sister,
but only she and her cheating mother Marlena
knew about the half part. I’m not saying this is the case
with the mystery baby in my building. I’m only saying
it’s OK not to accept what’s in front of you at face value.

by Genevieve Lyons and Dustin Brookshire

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Process notes

Dustin writes:
Genevieve and I like to do a basic poetry workshop writing prompt. We give each other five words. In the case of “I Should Write Soap Operas,” Genevieve gave me five words to use. Once we have our words, we have to write a poem within seven days. (If one of us doesn’t write a poem, the slacker could be subject to a wedgie and/or a smack with a large stick.) Upon finishing a poem with the words, we call each other to do a first read. At this point we do not delve into deep criticism; we keep it simple — i.e. I like where you’re going with the poem, etc. Then, we meet up on day seven to hash it out. We each read our poems and give the other a chance to read the poem quietly. We go through each other’s poem and mark 3 to 5 lines that we believe to be strong and 3 to 5 lines that we believe are weak. We explain why we picked the lines and continue to discuss the poems. After the meeting we work on revising our poems and trade the next version via email, sometimes slipping into a phone conversion, making sure to comment specifically on the revisions made. We keep this up until we each have a “finished” poem.

  1. March 30, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    While I claim to be an amateur, at best, when it comes to the interpretation of poetry, I personally like this poem for the paradoxical straightforward whimsy. Nuance, excuse, confusion… The unlikely theft of a baby circa Angelina Jolie, or Days of Our Lives, gives the undercurrent of a personal life longing for extraordinary circumstance; because it’s always the crazy old neighbor that has the most interesting thoughts about the other people in the building.

  2. Lance
    March 30, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    Your poem reminds me of the commentary that plays out in my head when I sit on my front porch and watch my neighbors. For example, why does the lady two houses down cut grass in her bikini? Why does the father next door still carry his seven year old child in his arms when the kid can clearly walk on his own? Why do my neighbors across the street choose to live in conservative suburbia when they are clearly gay?

    Like Edmund says, the poem seems to be written by “a personal life longing for extraordinary circumstance.” I am that crazy neighbor, who wonders what life is like for these people I see on a daily basis. I can totally relate.

  3. March 31, 2009 at 12:12 am

    A lot of fun, and cheered me up on a rather bleak morning!

    I like the systematic way you work together too.

  4. March 31, 2009 at 12:57 am

    I love this poem DB — this is so you, ever such the little paranoid one. Way to bring back old soaps! Love it.

  5. John C
    March 31, 2009 at 1:16 am

    Loved the poem, Dustin!

  6. deb
    March 31, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    I love falling in the middle of this conversation. It’s funny *and* has a point to make, one I enjoy even more because it’s so lighthearted and odd. But true.

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