Poetry: Turnkey by Rita Anderson – Our Write Side

Rita Anderson has an MFA Creative Writing and an MA Playwriting. A published and award-winning playwright and poet, Rita went on scholarship to The O’Neill (CF 2012). Her play, Frantic is the Carousel, was the 2013 National Partners American Theatre nominee, when she won the Kennedy Center’s Ken Ludwig Playwriting Award for “best body of work.” She’s had nineteen productions (to include NYC, Boston, Houston, Dallas, Austin, Detroit, Cincinnati—and in London, England and Paris, France). Early Liberty, internationally published at Off the Wall Plays, is on their “Best Selling Plays” list. She was appointed to ITN Playwrights Advisory Panel, and three one-acts are available at indie Theater Now, but the highlight of her emerging career so far was sitting on a play-writing panel with Christopher Durang.

Rita was poetry editor of the literary journal at University of New Orleans, and her debut chapbook, The Entropy of Rocketman, is published with Finishing Line Press (2016). Rita won the Houston Poetry Festival, the Gerreighty Prize, the Robert F. Gibbons Poetry Award, the Cheyney Award, and an award from the Academy of American Poets. Her poems have been published in Spoon River Poetry Review, EVENT Magazine (British Columbia), Ellipsis, The Longleaf Pine (Midwood Press), DLC Literary Journal, Cahoodaloodaling, The Blueshift Journal, Blotterature, Words Work, Transcendence, PHIction, Persona (50th Anniversary Edition), The Artful Mind, Di-Verse-City: An Austin Poetry Anthology, Inflight Magazine (Paper Plane Pilots Publishing), The Stardust Gazette, METAPHOR magazine, and Explorations (University of Alaska Press). Contact Rita at www.rita-anderson.com.


Shoeless, I wander behind the house as if, from

there, I could slip, unnoticed, into the past,

a meadow the wind has swept clean. But moon-

less nights have no shortcuts, the yard still

bald in spots, garage leaning. In the driveway,

your car does not block mine in so I stand in the empty

space, wondering what I look like from behind. Taking

sunglasses from the dashboard, I stare at the two of me

that stare back, mouthing the wisdom found in babble:

As long as we learn, should it matter who teaches us?

Yes, I tell the awning, It is the undeveloped part of us

that’s called forth, but who is prepared for the blandness?

I pull at the torn bits of bumper sticker I can’t remove, thinking,

If growth is like soiled berries sprung from blackened husks,

then there is proof of backing the wrong horse.

A permanent smear about your appearance. . .

In the house, the heater whirs back on, promising a zone

that never varies but I linger, putting the lid on the trash

can, replacing a broken porch light. Toiling as long as I have

under the slow hand of my own education, I know that

even if memory is leaving a light on, images without resolution

cannot keep the sky lit. But, we need not have been rained out.

If only we’d cupped our hands together and drank, Home would’ve

been a green-carpeted breathing space, and we might have survived

the idea of a perfect thing

made ready to inhabit.

*real estate term for a property owners can just “turn” the “key” and move into, in mint condition