Finding Maxine

I am the photo
in my life
with small fits
of amnesia, hands
under the upturned stone.

- And found
An earlier photo
made all the difference.  

My past evades
like  a fly.
Childhood, in cereal boxes,
and my fourteen lost children
Here the Missing Photos:-
One seventh wedding
A man going over a cliff 
Uncle Arthur and the prize peacock
The world in a hot air balloon  

At the mirror.
You little fool, I can live
- without you.
 I am looking for the photo that would make all the difference in my life. It's very small and subject to fits of amnesia, turning up in poker hands, grocery carts, under the unturned stone. The photo shows me at the lost and found looking for an earlier photo, the one that would have made all the difference then. My past evades me like a politician. Wielding a fly-swatter, it destroys my collection of cereal boxes, my childhood lived close to the breakfast table. Only that photo can help me locate my fourteen lost children, who look just like me. When I call the Bureau of Missing Persons, they say, "Try the Bureau of Missing Photos." They have a fine collection. Here's one of Calvin Coolidge's seventh wedding. Here's one of a man going over a cliff on a dogsled. Here's my Uncle Arthur the night he bought the prize peacock. O photo! End your tour of the world in a hot air balloon. Resign your job at the mirror-testing laboratory. Come home to me, you little fool, before I find I can live without you.

Found style poetry takes existing texts and refashions them, reorders them, and presents them as poems. I derived this one from Maxine Chernoff’s “Lost and Found” prose poem for my Poetics prompt: Lost poems and Found poetry

38 thoughts on “Finding Maxine

  1. I love the poem you sieved from the text… the sense of surrealism in some of the images is striking, especially in the first stanza… I think we will see a great variety of poems tonight.

  2. Laura, you set the bar high with this challenge. I thought about doing a found poem with one of the choices but was hesitant in trying it. You show the way. Beautiful distillation and skillful use of punctuation shifts.

  3. Laura–your piece cleverly and completely illustrates your prompt. I was stymied at first by the challenge, but you gave us the latitude to use other poems beyond your examples, and some of our own words. After that I was off to ,the races.

  4. You really accentuate the surreal imagery, and there’s a dream logic here, passing from one image to another with only an emotional link. I thought of free association, and of manic word salads. There’s emotional meaning there rather than logic.

  5. Laura – you really set a terrific example for all of us. This was my first attempt ever – I didn’t do it in the “proper” way that you did, but I’ll try again at some point with another poem… Thanks for showing me how.


    1. nice of you to say so but actually David you did fine with your poem – I have followed the stricter ‘erasure’ rules but the adding and reordering is perfectly ok with a found poem. Glad you gave it a go – its something you might enjoy doing in the future too

  6. You know I’m not someone who can express very well why I like something, so I’ll just say I LOVE this!

  7. I felt the confusion, jumping from one thought to another, of memory loss. Your skilful nips and tucks fashioned a moving poem.

  8. Laura,
    The lines found and formed strike at the heart in a remarkably eerie self-discovery. Thank you for showing us how much this technique can accomplish when it’s done by a pro!

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