At the end of every month-long writing regimen, participants are invited to submit up to three of their best regimen-inspired pieces for a chance at publication in SER Online. After sifting through the many excellent submissions from this summer’s run, we managed to select just one poem to display. We are proud to announce that Sarah Sloat is our most recent winner.
Originally from New Jersey, Sarah has lived in Germany for many years, where she works in news. Her poems have appeared in various journals, including Bateau, Harper’s Ferry Review, and Court Green. Sarah has published two chapbooks with Dancing Girl Press – Excuse me while I wring this long swim out of my hair and Inksuite, a collection of poems about reading, print and typefaces. Another chapbook, Homebodies, mostly object poems, came out in 2012 from Hyacinth Girl Press. Sarah keeps a blog at The Rain in My Purse (http://theraininmypurse.blogspot.com).
Sarah on her winning piece:
“Booze, Sugar and Meringue” is based on the SER unfamiliar landscape prompt, which invites writers to imagine and populate a place they’ve never been. At the time this prompt arrived I was reading a book set in Vienna that used cake as a prop, and at the same time an acquaintance of mine was visiting Austria, and sending e-missives out with pictures of sumptuous cakes. I wouldn’t say I’m drawn to landscape poems, but I do love object poems, so cake made a good launchpad. To populate the landscapes, I imagined café customers and their chosen cakes.
Browsing the glass patisserie case, the cakes beckon like miniature landscapes— some mountainous, some stony plains, others dusted with snow. Each has its allure: dark berries, cream, or meringue toasted with a pastry flame.
I linger in the rolling hills of the Gugelhupf, a raised Bundt cake. With two slices missing, I see the cocoa marbling inside, strata revealed by a cake knife’s excavation.
The patisserie café is crowded at this hour. Spoons and dessert forks ring against porcelain like small, unruly bells. At one table, a grown woman argues sotto voce with her mother, going as far as to grab her wrist and squeeze. Yet dutifully they settle in for coffee. It appears this is a daily ritual. With the coffee, the tears dry. The hair is smoothed. With the cake, suffused with ganache, the ladies’ lips turn up at the corners.
Tawdry pink, a marzipan rose sails a dark chocolate sea, unaware of its guise, unfeeling, alien to itself. Carefully molded, but basically cheap, it continues drifting, while Vienna eats and eats and eats.
Rapt at the glass case, I take my sweet time to decide. My muscles relax. The kink in my neck has dissolved, without the expense of a chiropractor. I begin to believe in cake’s magical properties. I lean again toward the Gugelhupf.
The mustachioed man sitting with his wife doesn’t expect to be drawn into conversation, yet cake exercises his jaw and loosens his tongue. Cake has a way of making the morose feel lighter and the happy more sedate. A rum-soaked crumb finds its way to his mustache. She plucks it out, and lays it on his plate.