Thursday, March 27, 2008


Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

for Totally Optional Prompts March 27, 2008
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This novel is a fictionalized account of a Columbine-like incident in a school in New Hampshire. What’s interesting is that the author doesn’t take sides. She presents the good guys and the bad guys equally so that the line between the two sometimes gets blurry. It shows, to a terrifying degree, the consequences of bullying.

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The first thing I do
is rub my fingers
over the raised letters
of the author’s name.

She’s a friend by now.
We’ve shared many pajama parties
with me eating the popcorn
of her words.

Then I hold the book
in my right hand
and rifle the pages
with my left

letting the scent
of the paper, like
freshly laundered sheets,
fly into my imagination.

I open the book
and read the first sentence,
“By the time you read this,
I hope to be dead”

and I’m hooked
on metaphors that burst
like fireworks
(the tunnel of communication
between them slowly
bricked shut)

and characters I already know.
(transforming herself into the person
she needed to be before leaving
the house)

(when he touched her,
Josie imagined herself
vanishing in a puff of steam)

I become the novel;
each sentence I swallow
enters me
and changes me.

By the time I finish,
I’ve been a murderer,
a mother,
a teacher,

a detective,
a bully,
a rapist
a puff of steam.

I close the book
and resist hugging it.
Instead, I feel
the embossed letters

again like a blind
person caressing
Braille, like a child
reading the weather

of her mother’s face.


Jo said...

Well you really aced captured reading perfectly, and your poem moves so well. I really like your writing, Linda, you always manage to speak clearly, fluidly and yet the emotion is there kerpow. Lovely.

paisley said...

oh linda... i don't know how you do it... but you do it over and over again... this was perfection... i need to read that!!!

Pauline said...

I do that too - run my fingers over the author's name and hug the book when I'm finished...

anthonynorth said...

'Tis true. You live a good novel.

SweetTalkingGuy said...

I love the thought of letting the scent of the paper fly into your/my imagination. You make me want to read the book!

Lisa said...

You really made great use of the prompt. I can tell from your poem that you love reading as much as I do. Excellent work, you really relayed it well!

gautami tripathy said...

I discovered Picoult in Sep 2007. I am hooked. I have already read 8 out the 15 she has written.

You do full justice to her writing in this poem.

If you have time, do check out my book blog. Just click on my nme to reach there.

Greyscale Territory said...

You have captured the ultimate high of reading a book. You live it's story. That is such a buzz!

Especially love your comment about tracing your finger over the words on the cover. It's like reaching out to hold the moment a little longer!

A beautiful write!


tumblewords said...

A love story, well-told. When a book reaches us with such richness, it's a love that lasts. Beautifully done!

Crafty Green Poet said...

you did capture reading well here.

my backyard said...

I like Jodi Picoult, too. Nice job!

C. Elizabeth said...

Fabulous poem. Makes me want to go dive into a book. Great line: "I’m hooked
on metaphors that burst
like fireworks"

UL said...

wow, this was wow. hey there's a little gift awaiting you at my site, hope you will like it...i havent had a chance to read your older posts, but hope to be back..

sister AE said...

I love the lines:
"with me eating the popcorn
of her words."

those are terrific.

and so are the images of the book as a thing as sweet and precious as expensive chocolates (and less fattening too!)

Linda's Poems