Closed for the Season

Buddy’s personality is
that thin film of milk
left on your breakfast glass
But don’t be fooled,

all modern religions were
dreamed up in projection booths.
Once when evening was blue
as carhorns, Buddy claimed that

all city kids see their first
fireflies and falling stars
at his drive-in near Baltimore.
Actually, the east-coast

religions were invented in
tollbooths. Night flickers
orange on Bear Mountain
with the stink of burning lawnchairs.

Two cabins down, an art student
freehanded the world’s first perfect
circle and promptly dropped dead.
Should’ve stuck with stencils, someone says.

Heaven’s as bland as marshmallows
someone else says. Buddy shivers and throws
another chair on the fire, done for now
with ribbons of film from broken reels.

With the spring, painters will return
and make his big screen new again.
And the white cotton sheets of time
billow on endless clotheslines.

Karen Peacock

Process Notes

The starter for this poem was from an exercise called “Twenty Little Poetry Projects” in The Practice of Poetry by Robin Behn and Chase Twichell.

At first, I wrote very quickly, just following the template. When I’d finished all twenty tasks, I noticed that there were several references to people and things that had gone missing. The first draft had a working title of “Missing Persons. ”

With subsequent drafts, the drive-in movie owner started taking over. Eventually the poem began to imagine what he does during the off season. The Bear Mountain image was already there so that made it easy.

This process was surprising and lots of fun. Fourteen of the twenty prompts made it to the final verion. If you’d like to give it a try, here they are:
Begin with a metaphor, Something specific but preposterous, Synesthesia, Proper name of a person, Use the five senses, Proper name of a place, Contradict something earlier in the poem, Digress from the last thing, A word I’ve never seen in a poem, False cause/effect logic, A piece of “talk” actually heard, An image that reverses its usual associative qualities, Write in the future tense so that it seems like a prediction, A metaphor using the following construction: The (adjective) (concrete noun) of (abstract noun)