Did You Catch It?

by Elise Hempel Did you catch it? Right before that commercial (or, if you have TiVo, right before your thumb plunged down on the double forward-arrow on the remote) on the NBC Nightly News on July 3rd. A little report on Chief Justice John Roberts' commencement speech at his son's 9th-grade graduation last month from…

On “Quality”

by Elise Hempel It arrived today in the mail – a certain poetry journal I've been waiting for and wondering about, a journal I've been rejected by several times, that I've come to imagine, because of those rejections, as sophisticated and discriminating, a journal now containing a poem of mine nearly a year and a…

Winner Take All

by Elise Hempel I'm about to enter yet another poetry chapbook contest that I'll have little chance of winning. This one's cheap – only $10 to enter (compared to the usual $20 to $30), but that's because there's no monetary prize (most chapbook and full-length book contests award $1,000 to the winner), only publication and…

White Noise

by Elise Hempel I admit that Obama sometimes bored me. Not when he was fired up, almost singing, gospel-style, at a rally. Not when he was broadly smiling, affectionately joking with Joe Biden or being teased by Michelle. Not even when he was doing a serious interview with Steve Kroft, leaning forward with his hands…

Where Is Home Now?

by Elise Hempel I live in central Illinois, but I've been in Minnesota for over a month now, having fled an urgent situation at home, leaving most of my belongings temporarily behind. I'm a refugee, of sorts, an indefinite guest, sleeping in a guest bedroom of my sister's suburban Minneapolis house, surrounded by my still-not-unpacked…

Smile

by Elise Hempel It's hard not to think about smiling these days, with all of the dental ads talking about it, with almost every dentist out there promising to give you “a healthy smile” or “the perfect smile” or even “a smile makeover.” A brief internet search reveals that many dentists are even using the…

The Jitterbug

by Elise Hempel I just got back from a quick trip to Chicago, where I attended the funeral of a childhood friend's mother, who died in her sleep at the age of 93, survived by her husband of 65 years. I have many memories of my friend's yellow ranch-style house on a quiet side street…

If I Were a Man

by Elise Hempel There's an innocent-looking little white ornamental tree in my neighbor's front yard which blocks your view when you're trying to turn from C Street onto Polk. You must crouch at the wheel and peer through the small open space beneath its lovely overhang to see another car coming from the left. Because…

Scenic Overlook

by Elise Hempel As a traveling companion, my dog, Groucho, is both good and bad. He's quiet. He mostly just sleeps, sprawled on the torn wool blanket on my Pontiac Vibe's back seat, occasionally sitting up and looking around at the passing cornfields, signs and trucks. He gobbles down his whole McDonald's sausage biscuit when…

The Yellow Phone

by Elise Hempel When I was twelve, the year some kids started “making out” and sneaking cigarettes, I walked to the drugstore alone and made a secret purchase, nervously doling to the cashier the money I'd saved up, then racing home with my heart pounding, clutching the brown paper bag as I bounded up the…