Angry white man yelling into phone.
Angry white man yelling into phone.
Photo by christian buehner on Unsplash

Blather, wince, delete: The directions printed on my back.

Everyone — or at least a sizable chunk of Twitter — likes to feel clever. We like to have our intelligence validated. We like to tell a good joke. And some of us dream of being the life of the party, even when it’s not our party.

When that desire drives you into a marathon of unsolicited wit-and-wisdom-dropping in the timelines of strangers, you may be a “reply guy.”

Here’s what I learned about this phenomenon, and about myself, from a little research and reflection.

The short-short lesson: Don’t be that guy.

What is a “reply guy”?

If you’re on Twitter, you may have seen the term “reply guy” in a less than flattering context to refer to a fellow Twitter user who replies — perhaps too often, or too obnoxiously, too persistently — to someone’s posts. …

Wind turbines at sunset.
Wind turbines at sunset.
Image by Myriam Zilles from Pixabay

Love at the end of the world (a poem).

Past the last toll booth
wind swirls over the barricades,
swifts twirl over the grasshopper fields,
we find relief.

Littering grief
between Gary and Cleveland
we drift, Billie Jean beat baked
into the shoulder of that hot slab road.

We replace our blinders with mirrors,
see everything we put behind us,
see all directions at once
and find a different kind of blindness.

We are wide open
scared but daring, scared by daring,
scraping over the top of Indiana
out here in windmill country.

The heavy load is hefted,
dumped into a creosote-coated world,
black factories tumbling in the rearview,
the relief. …

Image for post
Image for post
Image by cote62 from Pixabay

The festive stresses of yesteryear (a poem).

Jellyfish platter gelatin mold sweating
on colorized cookbook lettuce,
Telecaster clean through a tube amp
and a sizzle on the snare,
we’re talking pineapple upside down cake,
olive on a toothpick fancy –

She’s no Betty Crocker, our mother,
with her improbable raisins and time
to stab a ham with forty cloves –

Stop licking the eggbeater,
have a cucumber from the vinegar bowl,
a smear of braunschweiger on a saltine
if you’re that hungry, Ronald,
keep your fingers off the icing
and I’ll give you the wax paper –

Now we see Uncle Carl’s van
and Aunt Verneda with her cold chicken
mother told us not to eat,
a procession of Burlington Coat Factory
rustling mothball powder…

Close-up of peony blooms.
Close-up of peony blooms.
Image by Lolame from Pixabay

A poem about my mother’s beautiful touches

My mother’s hands, freckle specked,
are small and busy as crab spiders
in the garden, always.

With a dull steak knife she saws stems
of the heaviest peony blooms
who kiss the ground in high spring,
to bring their color in for lunch
with our butter-bread and
bread and butter pickles
from the dust-encrusted jar.

I watch her dappled hands,
eye level through the canning jar,
zhushing up the flowers.

They lift their faces,
still sleepy, dripping dew
and ants big as blackberry fruitlets,
to sugar the air and turn,
gradually, gazing back
eye level through the window
seeking their ants and spiders
in the garden, always. …

Close up of gun clips and grips.
Close up of gun clips and grips.
Image by Zachary Foltz from Pixabay

A poem about the rally that was and wasn’t.

Travis traveled to Tulsa to find his people,
dislocated from their homeland, seeking
to get more well-regulated in the fray.
He would know them by their unmasked faces
in their huddled reds, blues, camo fatigues.
In this strange new place gunmetal teeth
mashed the accent around mercenary greetings.

Hey, first time in town? Alabama, you don’t say.
Enjoy your stay. Do us a favor and shoot a looter.

Welcome to the buckle of the Bible Belt,
sure as shootin’ Zion of the Old West
founded by Creeks at end of the Trail of Tears
but they don’t talk about that in the pawn shop
doing trade in guns and turquoise. …

Close-up of prison razor-wire fencing.
Close-up of prison razor-wire fencing.
Image by vero_vig_050 from Pixabay

A poem about wrongful imprisonment and lost childhoods.

In a syrup of summer
you walk, free
on Father’s Day
under the solstice.

Your long legs in shortening stride
framed passenger-side
reunite us
outside the walls of Angola.

Lake-bottom slow, your walk.

For fifteen years I was slamming
the passenger door the way you hate,
running into school, late
on a day you didn’t pick me up.

Fifteen years, deprived.
They tortured you
for a stranger’s crime
and Katrina carried away your alibis.

I’ll drive you home this time.

I’ve been running six years old
with the smile you held onto,
a seven-ten split with a side of dimples,
while I grew into young man-you. …

Two exotic birds in foliage.
Two exotic birds in foliage.
Photo by Justus from Pexels

A love poem.

Under the canopy in the coffee leaves
I forgot the heat with you
and blue-winged leafbirds flitting through
the aviary at the zoo.

Without my glasses, forgotten too,
the birds became orchids and lobster claws,
the flowers sherbet poison frogs,
tropical impressions, flicks and flecks
around the frame of you.

Extinct in the wild
so many placards along the path
hushed us into paying respects.
Rarely seen, you read into the understory.
I squinted and looked away,
trying not to let you see.

Even pigeons became exotic here,
long-feathered and far from home.
They flashed metallic,
rainbows under mist.
Closest living relative to the dodo,
you mused over small print
and I adjusted the straps of my sundress
peeking into my cleavage and feelings. …

Mansion in the dark, with lit interior.
Mansion in the dark, with lit interior.
Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Learning how to breathe more life into poems.

Poetry is an art form that requires selectivity. But the relative brevity of a poem should not exclude an immersive experience for the reader. Indeed, it can even enhance it.

In this essay, I want to talk about the concept of “interiority” in poetry. Interiority might be best defined as a character’s internal life: their thoughts, emotions, background independent of the story. Interiority is context and the inner psychology of a character.

We know crafting a poem is different than writing a novel, short story, or essay. …

Humpty Dumpty hot-air balloon.
Humpty Dumpty hot-air balloon.
Image by Tom Burgess from Pixabay

A case for why writers should not cut every “very” from their work.

Once upon a time, a little old lady lived alone in a little old house in the middle of a deep dark forest. She was so very very sad, for no one loved idioms as much as she.

That time is now, dear reader, and that little old lady is me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen other writers advise cutting out words like “very” or replacing adjectives like “little” with weightier descriptors.

We all know certain adjectives are overused and insufficient. In fact, I’ve long been a proponent of seeking better nouns before tacking on too many adjectives. …


Edie Meade

A compassionate and opinionated human being. | Fiction author and visual artist in Central Appalachia. | Give my newsletter a try:

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