HARRIET! Good to see you again, girlfriend. You bring us together. You re-introduce us to our particular music. I've missed and craved you so.

If only that sweet-assed Amber T wasn’t such a reticent sort. She really needs to learn to speak up for herself, stop all that infernal mumbling into the back of her hand.

That said, Am, now that you’ve managed to call me out so gorgeously, so publicly, I think we need to make this contest of yours break some kind of record. I want so many submissions to pour in that the whole internet Web-thingie makes a loud popping sound, spurts smoke and begins to spew something unknowable. I wanna frighten Republicans.

Girl, I would be in it to win it, but this looks like a forum for the wee ones, not for those of us who remember Eisenhower, go-go boots and those swirly little things that kept the 45s on the spike of the phonograph. Or anyone who had a giddy little crush on your dad after “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” (No I did NOT see the original in the theater. Nope. Almost, but not.)

I mean, I checked out the website for the contest and it’s got that bright, hippy, skinny-jeaned, punch-and perky thang going on. Just scrolling through, my respiration sped up. Instinctively, I reached for my walker. Thankfully, it wasn’t there. Yet.

But, ah, the possibilities. The chance for your work to be seen by ONE MILLION PEOPLE. A chance to be Billy Collins, just once.

I’m on it, girl. Will spread the news. Will have millions of wordsmithies, maybe even myself, fine-tuning stanzas, punching that "send" key and thanking your sweet ass for the opportunity. (Now, Am, if you could just come out of your shell a little...)

So get on it, America! Pick. up. those. pens. Even if you knew Eisenhower personally.

Originally Published: April 4th, 2011

Patricia Smith has been called “a testament to the power of words to change lives.” She is the author of seven books of poetry, including Incendiary Art (2017); Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah (2012), which won the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets; Blood Dazzler (2008), a chronicle...