Advice to the Lovelorn

Advice to the Lovelorn
Mary Jo White

In Budapest, surgeons operated on a printer’s assistant, Gyoergyi Szabo, 17, who brooding over the loss of a sweetheart, had set her name in type and swallowed the type.

—Time, 28 December 1936

each letter one small
bitter pill after another until
like her they are gone yet
like her within him still
a leaden weight beneath his heart


better to throw them off
the nearest bridge into the river
linked letters coming apart
as they strike moving water
the Danube taking them into
her inky current learning to use them
tumbling a drowned alphabet
to make new words among them
perhaps viszlatviszlatgoodbye

about the author
MJ White’s poetry has appeared in The Dayton Daily News, Nexus, Fogdog, The English Journal and the Main Street Rag, in the online journal Persimmon Tree, as well as on Border’s Open-Door Poetry website. Some of my poems have also been read on public radio station WYSO, on Conrad’s Corner.

My poems have been winners in four Dayton Daily News poetry contests and also in the 2002 Dayton/Montgomery and 2008 Clark County Library poetry contests. My poem, “Sleep at Sixty,” was awarded the 2006 Paul Laurence Dunbar Poetry Prize by poet and judge Jody Rambo. Another, “On Hawkins Road,” was chosen by Billy Collins as the adult winner of Borders’ 2008 national online poetry contest. A second poem was a finalist in that same contest.

This year, I was the first place recipient of the Judson Jerome Poetry Award from Antioch Writers’ Workshop, where I heard your editors speak about Mock Turtle Zine.