A poem in three acts

solvingI’ve mentioned before that I write to Robert Lee Brewer’s Wednesday poetry prompts that he posts on his Poetic Asides blog. Robert is one of the Writing Community Editors at “Writer’s Digest Magazine.” He also provides a prompt a day during his April and November poem a day challenges. Some Wednesdays writing to his prompts comes easy, some days it does not, but I always copy and paste them to a running list of his prompts with my sporadic poem attempts. I also religiously take the PAD challenges – just to keep up my poetry training, if nothing else.

Last Wednesday Robert’s prompt said:

“Write a poem in which you’ve imagined a story for a stranger. Maybe someone you see on public transportation, a couple at the laundromat, or a neighbor. Is the person more fabulous than expected? Fallen upon harder times? Exactly as one might guess?”

This one hit home because a couple of years ago I decided to write a series of poems about people I didn’t know. I found it to be a very fun exercise. Though my poems are more descriptive than about what I imagine about these people, here are three poems from that series – all having to do with the same people. I just wish I had a photo of her to share. She is a great beauty.

The Couple at the Gym
(in Three Acts)

Act One

He reminds me of a Svengali
as he waits for her at the bench.
In his baseball hat and long sweats,
his backpack slung over one shoulder,
he paces, looks around, adjusts his workout gloves
until she appears.
She arrives, her black hair
done up in a pony tail,
she has a movie star’s face,
and a body without a pinch of fat.
He leads, she follows him into the gym
and they workout side by side
on equipment of his choosing.
He hands her the weights,
she complies with the dictated reps.
He finds two treadmills for their next set
and she like the good girl
jumps on one of them and performs.
They don’t talk except when he orders her
to pick up her speed.
He’s too occupied singing along with the music
flowing through his ear buds.
She just works out, looking pretty.
And so it goes.
Svengali and the good girl.
I see them everyday
at the gym.

Act Two

The beautiful girl
with the thick black hair
and pale skin
came back to the gym this week.
She hardly looks like she
just had a baby.
Her waist is tiny
her breasts don’t show
a hint of droop,
and the rest of her body
is toned and trim.
She is the Hedy LaMar type
always perfectly made up
to show off her
deep black eyes and
full red mouth
even while working out.
It’s all so unnecessary.
She’d turn anyone’s head
without even a drop of make up on.
That’s how striking this beauty is.

Act Three

The girl with dark hair and eyes,
you know the one I mean,
now has a name.
She is Donna.
And I found out she’s
of part Persian descent.
Well that accounts for her beauty.
And the Asian guy
who barks workout instructions
like a sergeant
is not her husband.
Whew! I was glad to hear that!
And, no she’s not a Hollywood star
though those moguls could
use her looks over there.
She’s a lawyer,
just sworn into the bar a day or two
before she had her baby son.
And even though she doesn’t wear a ring
at least not to the gym
she has a Persian husband.
What a lucky guy.
This is a girl who takes good care of herself.
She’s probably just as good to him.

Robert Lee Brewer is the editor of Poet’s Market and author of the collection Solving the World’s Problems.

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