PAD 12 — Reduce (From Prose to Poem)

Ok, so this might actually be one of my favorites so far this month. One because I love cutting out words and breaking up prose (or at least I am starting to) but also because I witnessed this man on my flight to Chicago on Monday. Another even more important reason is that I can actually see this being extended into an absurdist story which goes perfectly with my thesis, so finally inspiration! It was kind of unbelievable and entrancing at the same time–I definitely pulled the Flannery O’Connor staring excuse. Anyway, NaPoWriMo wanted us writers to focus on cutting and reshaping a prose piece into a poem–this was my result. I also am aware of the irony that while condensing I wrote a poem about excess.

“The Man on the Plane who Didn’t Pause Eating for an Hour”

Middle-aged, grey hoodie
He fills his tray with edible curiosities.
Methodically, he works his way
through cups and bags of foreign goods.

When the attendant walks past with her basket–
complimentary peanuts and pretzels–
he takes three packets each
adding overflow.

He eats with a belly full of parasites.
His thin bony hands cling vigorously
to what he devours.

A cup of grapes,
another full of vegetable soup.
He slurps and chews without pause,
sweeping each empty container away
begins on a bag of black fruit I do not recognize.

Intermittently he nibbles from individually packaged rice crackers.
The pile of trash expands,
unlike his bottomless stomach.
He inspects a small brown bulb
wrapped in a ziploc, tied in a plastic bag.
(Is that a pickled egg?)
This is the only item he throws away without investigating with his inquisitive mouth.


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