Long Swim, Short Poems

Hello again from Kathleen Kirk, Poetry Editor!  I told you I’d be back on alternating Wednesdays with various bits and pieces about poetry, including  good news about Escape Into Life poets! Here’s a follow-up to a previous announcement.

Sarah J. Sloat–that’s her, looking over her shoulder at something slightly alarming, about which she remains closemouthed–has a new chapbook out from dancing girl press.

It’s called Excuse me while I wring this long swim out of my hair. Long title, short poems.

That’s also an assignment I just gave to my poetry workshop based on these two poems from the book:

Excuse me while I wring this long swim out of my hair

I am of two minds
and have been loved by 300 lovers.
I have 1 million bookmarks
and where the hell
are they all now.

Do Tell

Last night my doubts puckered like peas
in a dream, overripe and plucked too late.

This morning in the kitchen, they’re fruitflies
multiplying like gunfire.
Only diligence will take them out.

Help me here.
How many mailboxes do you count lining the roadside?
And on whose head does the apple totter?

Try it yourself, poets! Write a very short poem with a very long title. And write a short poem that tells us your dreams but isn’t boring, long, or rambling!

Excuse me… is in many readers’ hands already, and you can get it here. As with her earlier chapbook, In the Voice of a Minor Saint (Tilt Press, 2009) and her EIL feature, the cover art is by Emmanuel Polanco.

And here’s one more, to get us ready for winter:

The Minimalist

Snowing again.
The whole world smoothed over.
Down the road I go in a black coat,
not a thought in my head.

Sarah J. Sloat is a reluctant non-smoker who reads a lot. A native of New Jersey, she has lived in Germany for many years, where she works for a news agency. Sarah’s poems have appeared in West Branch, Linebreak and Barn Owl Review. And, of course, here at Escape Into Life:

Poetry by Sarah J. Sloat

10 responses to “Long Swim, Short Poems”

  1. SJane Sloat says:

    I love the long title/short poem idea. It never occurred to me it could be a prompt.

  2. Okay, I love Sarah’s poems, and I like the idea of this prompt, so I tried it today. Here goes:

    On the Last Official Day of Summer, I Look Out the Window of my Classroom and Watch a Rabbit Cross the Athletic Field As the Mid-Afternoon Light Begins to Change

    Blue bolt of sky unraveling.
    A skittering. A soft sail of cloud.
    Trees tipped red, hinting fire.
    A pulling of a shade. A dimming.
    A letting go.

  3. Kathleen Kirk says:


  4. Cathy says:

    Somehow I always thought runner’s high would be a lot more fun than this.

    It’s been quite a morning,

    20 miles of fog and corn

    and not finding a bathroom

    and chasing Vs of geese

    and being chased by a lost fawn.

    and shoes falling like flat tires.

    WHY are those headlights on the bikepath coming straight toward me?

  5. Cheryl Snell says:

    Congrats to Sarah!

    in my dream you give me what i wanted

    at the lips
    a weak current
    and a captive behind the teeth.

    to wake with your heart in my mouth —
    I must have tracked it in my sleep,
    night falling like limbs all around us


    (painting by my sister Janet Snell)

  6. Sjanesloat says:

    I think starting the title with “Line Written….” is an easy in:

    “Lines Written in a Japanese Noodle Shop While Watching a Wrecking Ball Whomp Down a Building Across the Street”

    The poem is harder…..

  7. Chiarina says:

    Ok, here goes:

    Whiling Away The Hours On A Quiet Sunday Afternoon

    Sipping tea
    Wishing he were here

  8. Harry says:

    Descartes Meditations summarized (with a Twist) in Two Lines Flat

    I’d like to stop dreaming,
    but if I did, how would I know?

  9. Harry says:

    Descartes Meditations summarized (with a Twist) in Two Lines Flat

    I’d like to stop dreaming,
    but if I did, how would I know?

  10. Kathleen Kirk says:

    It’s delightful to see these very short poems with very long titles rolling in!  Thanks to all!

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