Saturday, January 12, 2019

#59 Backstory of the Poem "Lost" by Clint Margrave

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***This is the fifty-ninth in a never-ending series called BACKSTORY OF THE POEM where the Chris Rice Cooper Blog (CRC) focuses on one specific poem and how the poet wrote that specific poem.  All BACKSTORY OF THE POEM links are at the end of this piece. 
Below Title Photo:  Clint Margrave in January of 2019.  Copyright granted by Clint Margrave for this CRC Blog Post Only

#59 Backstory of the Poem
by Clint Margrave

Can you go through the step-by-step process of writing this poem from the moment the idea was first conceived in your brain until final form?   The first idea (won’t even call it a draft yet) for this poem was written on 4/25/2013. I know this because I found it in an old notebook and it was dated.    My process usually begins with my daily habit of free-writing in a notebook which means I probably didn’t return to make it a poem until much later, which is what I generally do. However, my daily habit usually consists of two full pages of writing. I see this entry stopped around three-fourths of the way down the first page and it already has part of the last line, which tells me I must’ve felt I’d reached an end and didn’t feel the need to push on. Often, I purposely will overwrite something to see where it might go, or if I don’t feel satisfied yet with where it’s gone, but not this time. 

Where were you when you started to actually write the poem? And please describe the place in great detail.   Let’s see, if I go by the date in the notebook, I was probably sitting at my desk in my old house in Long Beach, CA. It was probably around 5 in the morning which is when I get up to write each day. There was a strong cup of coffee nearby and I probably had to go to work right after.

What month and year did you start writing this poem?   The truth is, sometimes a poem starts long before you write it down. It could be years. I imagine this story had stuck with me for a long time and I probably knew I’d want to write about it someday before I actually got anything down. However, I’m lucky to have the exact date I first wrote the idea: 4/25/2013

How many drafts of this poem did you write before going to the final? (And can you share a photograph of your rough drafts with pen markings on it?)   I can’t say for sure because I didn’t keep files of the early drafts. Sometimes, once a poem is published or I feel it’s finished or it ends up in a book, I usually delete all the earlier drafts, unless I’m lazy. In general, though, once I take the initial handwritten free-write (see picture ABOVE LEFT) and type it on the computer, it can typically go through anywhere from 10-50 drafts. However, my hunch in this case, is that this was one of those rare poems that probably took only a few drafts. Having had a lot of experience with making my free-writes into poems, I see this one was pretty well-formed by the time I begin to work on it, evident by the end already being in place. Usually, that’s a sign I can move through revision pretty fast. If the end is not there, then I’m in trouble.

The only marking is the check at the top which means I’ve taken this free-write and made it into a poem.  

Were there any lines in any of your rough drafts of this poem that were not in the final version? And can you share them with us? These were in the initial free-write before I began to form the poem:

“She went home, made dinner, then called me to eat, when she suddenly realized her error.”
“After a while, I gave up and looked at magazines.”
“My mom called the store and asked them if they’d seen a
little boy who looked lost.  “There are a lot of little lost boys,” the manager said.

What do you want readers of this poem to take from this poem? I can’t say I’ve written a poem knowing this objective or even setting such an objective. I think I was trying to convey something about aging and loss. The loss of time, the loss of memory, the loss of childhood, the loss of my father, the loss of my mother before tragedy and dementia. (Left)

Which part of the poem was the most emotional of you to write and why?   The end. I don’t know if I felt it right away when I wrote it, but I feel it every time I read it to an audience.

Has this poem been published before? And if so where?   Yes. It was first published in Ragazine (Nov/Dec 2014) and included in my book Salute the Wreckage (NYQ, 2016). Anything you would like to add?   Thank you.


I was ten when my mother left me
at the grocery store.
It must have only been a couple hours.
I didn’t take it personally, 
spent the time looking for a coin
so I could call her
on the payphone.

Now, thirty years later,
it’s she who feels left somewhere,
when she asks me
to pick her up from my sister’s house,
where she’s lived
the past five years.

“I want to go home,” she tells me.

“But you are,” I insist,
knowing she means back to that place
before old age and dementia
and the death of her husband. 

“I am?” she says. “I thought I lived
somewhere else.”

It’s not likely she’d remember
ever leaving me at the grocery store, 
or how when she finally realized it,
she called the manager in a panic,
asking if he’d seen a little lost boy
roaming down the aisles,
wondering where
his mother went.  

 Clint Margrave is the author of Salute the Wreckage(2016) and The Early Death of Men (2012),both published by NYQ Books. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Threepenny Review, New York QuarterlyThe Writer’s AlmanacRattle, Cimarron Review, Verse Daily, The American Journal of Poetry, and Ambit (UK),among others.  He lives in Los Angeles, CA. 


001  December 29, 2017
Margo Berdeshevksy’s “12-24”

002  January 08, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher’s “82 Miles From the Beach, We Order The Lobster At Clear Lake Café”

003 January 12, 2018
Barbara Crooker’s “Orange”

004 January 22, 2018
Sonia Saikaley’s “Modern Matsushima”

005 January 29, 2018
Ellen Foos’s “Side Yard”

006 February 03, 2018
Susan Sundwall’s “The Ringmaster”

007 February 09, 2018
Leslea Newman’s “That Night”

008 February 17, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher “June Fairchild Isn’t Dead”

009 February 24, 2018
Charles Clifford Brooks III “The Gift of the Year With Granny”

010 March 03, 2018
Scott Thomas Outlar’s “The Natural Reflection of Your Palms”

011 March 10, 2018
Anya Francesca Jenkins’s “After Diane Beatty’s Photograph “History Abandoned”

012  March 17, 2018
Angela Narciso Torres’s “What I Learned This Week”

013 March 24, 2018
Jan Steckel’s “Holiday On ICE”

014 March 31, 2018
Ibrahim Honjo’s “Colors”

015 April 14, 2018
Marilyn Kallett’s “Ode to Disappointment”

016  April 27, 2018
Beth Copeland’s “Reliquary”

017  May 12, 2018
Marlon L Fick’s “The Swallows of Barcelona”

018  May 25, 2018

019  June 09, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher’s “Stiletto Killer. . . A Surmise”

020 June 16, 2018
Charles Rammelkamp’s “At Last I Can Start Suffering”

021  July 05, 2018
Marla Shaw O’Neill’s “Wind Chimes”

022 July 13, 2018
Julia Gordon-Bramer’s “Studying Ariel”

023 July 20, 2018
Bill Yarrow’s “Jesus Zombie”

024  July 27, 2018
Telaina Eriksen’s “Brag 2016”

025  August 01, 2018
Seth Berg’s “It is only Yourself that Bends – so Wake up!”

026  August 07, 2018
David Herrle’s “Devil In the Details”

027  August 13, 2018
Gloria Mindock’s “Carmen Polo, Lady Necklaces, 2017”

028  August 21, 2018
Connie Post’s “Two Deaths”

029  August 30, 2018
Mary Harwell Sayler’s “Faces in a Crowd”

030 September 16, 2018
Larry Jaffe’s “The Risking Point”

031  September 24, 2018
Mark Lee Webb’s “After We Drove”

032  October 04, 2018
Melissa Studdard’s “Astral”

033 October 13, 2018
Robert Craven’s “I Have A Bass Guitar Called Vanessa”

034  October 17, 2018
David Sullivan’s “Paper Mache Peaches of Heaven”

035 October 23, 2018
Timothy Gager’s “Sobriety”

036  October 30, 2018
Gary Glauber’s “The Second Breakfast”

037  November 04, 2018
Heather Forbes-McKeon’s “Melania’s Deaf Tone Jacket”

038 November 11, 2018
Andrena Zawinski’s “Women of the Fields”

039  November 00, 2018
Gordon Hilger’s “Poe”

040 November 16, 2018
Rita Quillen’s “My Children Question Me About Poetry” and “Deathbed Dreams”

041 November 20, 2018
Jonathan Kevin Rice’s “Dog Sitting”

042 November 22, 2018
Haroldo Barbosa Filho’s “Mountain”

043  November 27, 2018
Megan Merchant’s “Grief Flowers”

044 November 30, 2018
Jonathan P Taylor’s “This poem is too neat”

045  December 03, 2018
Ian Haight’s “Sungmyo for our Dead Father-in-Law”

046 December 06, 2018
Nancy Dafoe’s “Poem in the Throat”

047 December 11, 2018
Jeffrey Pearson’s “Memorial Day”

048  December 14, 2018
Frank Paino’s “Laika”

049  December 15, 2018
Jennifer Martelli’s “Anniversary”

O50  December 19, 2018
Joseph Ross’s For Gilberto Ramos, 15, Who Died in the Texas Desert, June 2014”

051 December 23, 2018
“The Persistence of Music”
by Anatoly Molotkov

052  December 27, 2018
“Under Surveillance”
by Michael Farry

053  December 28, 2018
“Grand Finale”
by Renuka Raghavan

054  December 29, 2018
by Gene Barry

055 January 2, 2019
by Larissa Shmailo

056  January 7, 2019
“The Seamstress:
by Len Kuntz

057  January 10, 2019
"Natural History"
by Camille T Dungy

058  January 11, 2019
by Brian Burmeister


  1. Wow. The ending of this poem! The entire poem! Clint Margrave is SO good!

  2. Crimson Wonderful post! Youve made some very astute observations and I am thankful for the the effort you have put into your writing. Its clear that you know what you are talking about. I am looking forward to reading more of your sites content.
    Well I found this on Digg, and I like it so I dugg it!