Make Something: Inspired by a Stranger

Today’s make something instruction was to ask a stranger what I should make, and then—if possible—involve that stranger in the creative process.

I was out to dinner with Jim and my three step-sons at one of our favorite pizza places. As the owner visited us on his way around to see every table, I said I needed his help. I explained the make something project, and asked if he would help me write a poem.

I’m sure he thought I was a loon.

He looked at my husband, as if to plead, “Is she for real? Is she even okay? What were you thinking?” Jim just shrugged and nodded his head, as if to reply, “Yeah, she’s really going to write a poem. She may not be totally okay. But I’m stuck with her nonsense.”

I soldiered on, asking him for a topic.

“The end of summer,” he said.

Great. I started to work on a haiku. The ideas may have flowed more freely if not for the contributions from my dinner companions. Their suggestions tended toward sphincters … a direction I really didn’t feel was in keeping with my creative partner’s chosen theme.

I jotted and erased words for awhile, then my partner returned to the table.

“Green,” he said.

Now we were getting somewhere. I knew how our poem would end, and I knew I needed more length than the 17 syllables of a haiku. So I began crafting rhyming couplets.

When the poem was about half-done, he came round again and offered, “burnt.” And in a few moments, the last four couplets practically wrote themselves.

As we waited for the server to process our credit card, I carefully tore our poetry free of the paper table cover. And as we left the restaurant, my buddy was standing near the exit, wondering how things came out. I handed him our work, and he read it carefully. Reaching the end, he looked down at me in surprise. “This is really good,” he said. “It’s so clever!”

Obviously, this was not what he expected from a nut-ball poet on a Saturday night. I thanked him and shook his hand, with the firm grip my daddy taught me. I hope it’s a creative experience he won’t soon forget.


The End of Summer

Kids dread the classrooms
and having to learn.

Parents who’ve vacationed
have money to earn.

Pools and golf courses
will shackle their gates.

Homecoming hopefuls
will start planning dates.

Once burnt, now brown,
our skin will turn pale.

Beer lovers consume
their last summer ale.

Many of us long for
this break from routine.

But the restaurateur
knows fall brings back his green.

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