A short-short story

Posted May 02, 2017

Wikimedia, CC 2.0
Source: Wikimedia, CC 2.0

Here is the latest of my short-short stories that are composites of real-life events with psychological or practical implications.

Emily's given name was Dakota but to channel her favorite poet, she changed it to Emily. That was but one of many things she did to amplify the muse and her identity as a poet.

Emily even poured herself into the artist’s bane—marketing. Not only did she read her work at every poetry slam and open mic she could and posted her work on poetry websites, she xeroxed and later self-published collections of her poems and read them on a "portable stage:" an upside-down 5-gallon soy sauce bucket. She set up her stage mainly on Berkeley's Telegraph Ave. but also on any street with lots of lefty, literary foot traffic. And she kept producing, poem after poem.

On her deathbed, Emily felt it was all for naught. Sure, a few hundred people had read or heard her work. But had any remembered any of it, let alone been changed by it? And after she died and could no longer promote her work, her impact would certainly descend from almost zero to zero.

Except it didn’t quite. You see, when Brigid was 12, her mother accepted a Xerox copy of Emily’s poems handed down from the soy sauce bucket. Now, 20 years later, long after  Emily died, Brigid was torturing herself about whether to have a baby when Emily’s poem popped into her head: From Cell to Sam: The Greatest Show on Earth. She then called an international adoption agency.

The takeaway

Alas, the effect of most people’s work withers but perhaps we can be motivated by the possibility that we've planted seed. Have you planted any you're proud of? Not proud of? Any you'd like to create and sow?

Bonus question: Brigid was moved to action by recalling a poem extolling the miracle of growth, from cell to person. Yet the action she chose was to go to an international adoption agency. Other than infertility, why might she have done that?

Dr. Nemko’s nine books, including his just-published Modern Fables: short-short stories with life lessons are available. You can reach career and personal coach Marty Nemko at