Must carry fifty pounds up winding stairs
And cook well with canned goods.
Must make friendly conversation,
Row hard, bail water,
Cut hair, and work all night as needed.
Some doctoring skills preferred,
Using herbs and sea water.
Must be at ease with herself,
For island life is lived alone,
Though less lonely with a good mate
And work to do when not tending light
Or passing tools to fix the ancient horn
That blows loud as the last trumpet,
Warning boats in fog off Skoggin Rocks.
Must have good penmanship for the log
And writing down what matters.
Must know her Bible,
Especially John the Revelator
When nor’easters swallow the island
And even the gulls take cover,
And all seems lost except true love.
Must know some jokes
And maybe how to dance,
Pretty as a pink sea rose in August,
With a good singing voice,
Quick-witted, slow to anger,
Steady as an osprey in the wind,
An apple tree beside a level sea.
—Thomas Alan Orr (Shelby County)
This poem is from Tongue to the Anvil (Restoration Press, 2014)
Thomas Alan Orr is the author of Tongue to the Anvil (Restoration Press, 2014) and Hammers in the Fog (Restoration Press, 1995). Recent work has appeared in Yellow Chair Review and Mapping the Muse: A Bicentennial Look at Indiana Poetry. He has work forthcoming in Merton Seasonal, the journal of the International Thomas Merton Society. His current project is a sonnet cycle about the desperate plight of children in third-world and war-ravaged countries.
Poetry Prompt: Taking out an Ad
Write a poem that’s in the form of an advertisement. You might advertise for something you want (the perfect room in which to write, for example) or something that a persona wants. This persona might be a character defined by his or her occupation or someone who appears in a novel. Maybe it’s a historical person, a famous Hoosier. What is this person looking for? Though language should be extra tight to fit the form of an ad, allow a sense of voice to break through.
Indiana Humanities is celebrating National Poetry Month by sharing a poem and prompt every day in April. Indiana Poet Laureate Shari Wagner selected these poems and wrote the prompts.