Greek-American Stories: Inventing Poetry

In the magazine I subscribe to, Poets & Writers, I saw an ad for poetry submissions, stating that I could win $1000 if selected. A few winners who had their work printed and had won the prize of $1000 last year were mentioned. The contest was open to anyone, anywhere. One of the winners was from Outer Mongolia. Imagine if I, someone just around the corner in New Jersey, won. I recall writing a short poem in a blank card for my friend who was convalescing from the flu. I wrote: “Poor Dottie is under the weather when she could be dancing in heather. Instead, what did she do, she went and got the Flu. Now we wonder if she will get better.” 

It wasn’t one of my better works but it was all I could think of at the time. Hey! Some people just don’t sympathize with poetry writing. It was hard finding a word to rhyme with Heather and weather. One of those persons is Dottie who doesn’t speak to me anymore.

Then, there’s the poem to another friend, Irene. It went, “I write this card to wish you well. I heard that on the ice you fell. So, now you’re home crying the blues, you should have worn more proper shoes.” With that contribution my Christmas card list grew shorter.

Anyway, I had decided to send in a poem I’d written a while ago. One thousand dollars isn’t going to put me in the higher tax bracket, but it just might grab the attention of some affluent (or, sober) publisher searching for a yet unpublished author whose imagination is unappreciated. So, I searched my files where a secret file number is needed to unlock some of my creative works. But, I forgot my secret file number. I had it written in another place but I forgot where that is, too. So, I called my daughter. She couldn’t remember that second place, either. But, she asked her son, Sebastian, who was doing homework, what Yiayia’s secret file number was. He told her. That’s when I opened the file full of stories and other creative works and I found a couple of poems I’d written when I was more mentally responsible – I mean, agile.

One of them was when I was let out of high school. Hey! Homer and Carl Sandburg were unemployed for a very long time before their talents got started, probably, when the dinner bell announced no dinner. That’s when they took up a pencil and paper or in Homer’s case, a papyrus and quill, and went to work writing, hard and fast. Homer, sure, had a lot of imagination, pages and pages of it! Anyway, in my files I found this poem and I decided to be more gutsy and send it in. Because of its moral content I am issuing a warning that some readers should not, I REPEAT, should NOT read the poem below if they are likely to be offended because they, or someone they know, like a Republican, had a business that used some of the contents in the products mentioned. Here it is:

The Good Ol’ Days

Oh, for the carefree days of nineteen forty nine,

When there was no haze and movies cost a dime.

When milk had no strontium and water was clean,

That nightmare, Plutonium, was just a bad dream,

When food was delicious without MSG,

The air was hygienic and, ‘what’s LSD’?

Franks were real beefy, not sodium nitrate,

Nothing’s made cheaply or sprinkled with phosphate.

No chlorides or fluorides, no bromides or DES,

No chlorophyll, proteomic or oily spilled mess.

Oh, for the carefree days when life was a bore.

Before that year, we had a hell of a war!

That’s it! Hold your applause. Anyway, I sent it in and got a response that it was entered (They didn’t say where). So, I’m watching the mail and waiting for a response.  It’s not every day that a housewife, senior citizen, artist, writer, dressmaker, and Sissy owner, like me gets an opportunity to try and qualify for genius dimensions. Do I hear, ‘good tidings’? Anyone? Hey! Where’d everybody go? 


Dear Stavroula, I am a widow with a 26 year old son and remarried 15 years ago.

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