Lafayette Wattles’ Comments

Most of my poetry could begin with the line “I wonder what it’s like to be . . .,” as I tend to write narrative “poetry of witness,” so to speak. Although I borrow specific events from my own experiences, the poems tend to be less about my actual life and more about lives I have observed or have imagined. As a boy, I was always taken by how emotional my sister would get when she heard about the death of someone, even if it was a person she had never known. The poem “My Little Sister and the Obituary Page” was my attempt to capture the essence of her empathy.

The poem “At the End, More Than an Ocean” was inspired by a visit to Hever Castle, well over a decade ago, and the birds of prey demonstration. I recalled how each of the birds did as the handler said they would, except the eagle which evinced a mind of its own, that afternoon at least. I wanted to use that experience as a metaphor for two people who had come to a turning point in their relationship.

And the poem “No Back Door” was actually inspired by a combination of things: Charles Simic’s wonderful poem “Errata,” which I had only just encountered. As a result, I became fascinated with the concept of a person saying one thing, but meaning something entirely different. The poem was also inspired by some poetry prompts which included words like “collection” and “widow.” In my hometown there is a home for the aged located just two short blocks from an adult specialty store. I tried to use the errata element and the prompts as I imagined what it might be like for someone in the process of losing herself, so to speak, who ends up in a place so different from the one she escapes.

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