The Setback

Written for:  dVerse Poets Pub- Meeting The Bar:  Bridging the Gap  (posted by gospel)


“Select two quotes from two different books, could be poetry, prose, technical, non-fiction, anything. You decide whether you want them recklessly random (as in the above scenario) or slightly/significantly more intentional. Then, construct a poem using one quote as the opening line and the other as the closing line. The blood, sweat, and tears will come while filling in the space between.

You may modify the quotes to fit your poem’s rhythm or rhyme scheme, but just be sure to provide the original quotes, authors, and works in a postscript. That’s it for the engineering guidelines that must be followed! See you on the other side…”

Winter was setting in. Ghosts
of leaves blew in whistling
night wind. She stood indoors
feeling outdoors. One year
sober, needed her meeting,
had to dress and escape
her suffocating apartment.
She laughs, thinks of the cramped
cold basement and stiff metal
chairs where her meeting
takes place. Dons jeans,
and heavy fisherman’s sweater.
She muses about the state
of her life. Rife with bills,
still no income. Steps outside,
blinded by wind whipping
her hair across her face.
Fuck it, she thinks. Heads
the opposite way, the way
of beckoning amber lights.
When her sponsor races in
out of breath, face like
a burnt apple, she was already
easing herself on a bar stool,
letting her shoulder bag slump
to the floor.

NOTE: First line from Resurrection Men by Ian Rankin
Last line from Heart Of The Old Country by Tim McLoughlin

About purplepeninportland

I am a freelance poet, born and bred in Brooklyn, New York. I live with my husband, John, and two charming rescue dogs–Marion Miller and Murphy. We spent eight lovely years in Portland, OR, but are now back in New York. My goal is to create and share poetry with others who write, or simply enjoy reading poetry. I hope to touch a nerve in you, and feel your sparks as well.
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18 Responses to The Setback

  1. jillys2016 says:

    Gritty and real!


  2. Frank Hubeny says:

    I hope her sponsor found her in time.


  3. Lona Gynt says:

    The sensory explication of details is very skillful, and is very important I think here. So many successes and setbacks especially in times of stress are channeled through a relating to the world at a purely body level rather than through other emergent phenomena like will power or pure reason. There is the sense that if the chairs at the meeting were as comfortable as the barstool she might have tilted the other way. One of my favorite parts of this poem is the title- it is a setback – they happen- it need not be framed as a cataclysmic permanent groove, besides, her sponsor is still out there looking for her. Nice treatment of a tough situation. Thanks


  4. rothpoetry says:

    Very nice transition Sara!


  5. This is a story that happens all the time… maybe it’s not too late yet.


  6. You portray hopelessness and despair with this unfortunate character. I can relate to her in some ways. It’s the hardest thing in the world to be alone and feel unloved.


  7. Short but full of feeling. Nice work.


  8. lillian says:

    Oh my. This story, in vivid poetic detail, is so visceral. My dissertation many years ago was on female alcoholism so this is very very real. Well done!


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