Friday, January 28, 2022

Poetry Friday: Overheard

For our first poetry challenge of 2022, we composed "overheard" poems---which, as the name suggests, are created from borrowed material. They are similar to found poems-- but made from oral snippets instead of written ones.  The inspiration came from Susan Thomsen's blog

The challenge was clear enough---but when I went looking for material to borrow, I found that overhearing things was not easy in this muffled age of masks and social distancing. And the more I tried to listen in, the more dejected I felt. 


I missed the easy give and flow of public, un-orchestrated conversation.

I missed conferences, workshops, Kidlit drink nights, retreats.

I  missed these lovelies, pictured below. 

So I wrote about that.  Only one word of this was overheard.  I'll tell you which one at the end.


Some of the Poetry Sisters
(August, 2010)


I stand, neck-deep
in the rollicking stream 
of an overbooked hotel lobby
bar, my thighs braced,
minnows of gossip 
flicking my hair. 

I order a bottomless
glass of well-water, clear
as rain on the plain; toast
the flash of the bartender’s 
gold tooth as she catches
my words, first try.

I laugh as three fevered 
discussions stalk
the room like rare griffins,
battering dusty tropes
with their ropy tails
and cavernous beaks.

Our voices pollinate
the air, float 
into anyone’s ears; 
maybe we shout
as the elevator opens
like a levy, spilling
poets into the room:
HEY, old friend!

I tell the doctor what 
was wrong: I needed words.
And he doesn’t blink,
a dry-eyed unwilling
phoenix, and say: What’s that?
Your knee is worse?

One day...
One unmuffled day.  

        -----Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved) 

With thanks to Mary Lee Hahn, who gifted me with one perfect overheard word: muffled. 

What did my poetry sisters do with this challenge? What did they overhear?  Listen in:


Poetry Friday is hosted today by Irene Latham. 


  1. Liz, this is the third poem of the Poetry Sisters that I have read and each is so distinctly different and absorbing. I am intrigued by the flow of your poem and where the one word took you. I struggled with the poem because I have not been out and about to overhear juicy or ordinary conversations.
    "One day...One unmuffled day" is the hope of many pandemic voices.

  2. "I needed words"... oh, my. I love this, Sara.

  3. "What's that? Your knee is worse?"
    Oh, my dear. Yeah, it's a lot some days, isn't it?
    One day... one unmuffled day we'll not shout anymore and be able to whisper, heads tilted in, sharing space and breath and ...probably gossip, but you didn't hear it from me...

  4. Sara! What a surreal and utterly in-the-moment poem. It's like I've fallen into a movie full of aliens, EXACTLY what the world feels like some days right now. So many bits to love, but
    "minnows of gossip / flicking my hair. " might've ruined the rest of the poem for me. Though those, fevered, desperate conversations pulled me in anyway. Love it.

  5. What a wonderful collage of a poem! Each moment layers on, enriching the whole. I'm especially fond of "minnows of gossip/flicking my hair" and "our voices pollinate/the air" and oh, that ending. What an achievement to mix, as Laura says, the "surreal and utterly in-the-moment."

  6. What a deft slice of words and moments. So well done.

  7. I was right there with you in the joyous noise of voices in the bar. Since we can't ever go back, I wonder what the future holds. What will it be like when we're finally unmuffled?

  8. Oh, it has been so long since I have been "neck-deep in the rollicking stream of an overbooked hotel lobby bar". The imagery with which you captured this remembered moment is loud and clear. Brava!

  9. I love the hopeful ending most of all. Thank you!

  10. You paint such a vivid picture that brings back my own memories of the camaraderie and connection that conferences bring. And your ending made me laugh! Thanks for sharing this with us.

  11. What a beautiful photograph and such an evocative poem.

  12. I thought of a hotel lobby in NYC during the SCBWI conferences I used to attend. Voices, elevators. Your poem made me nostalgic for that kind of busy place.

  13. One unmuffled day.

    Hanging on to hope.

    This is beautiful, Sara.


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