Pat Valdata


Hollow Heart

“You may occasionally cut a potato open to find a dark-colored hole, most often near the center. This hole is a naturally occurring physiological disorder called ‘hollow heart’ caused by environmental stresses…” —

Mr. Potato Head, up at the crack of ten,
Stares into the bathroom mirror again,

Straightens his mustache, and sighs.
It never changes: smooth skin, sad eyes,

Same clip-on mouth and plastic nose.
Same clip-on tie—his usual work clothes.

If he were not rotund, but playing-card flat,
He’d sport a magnetic stripe instead of a hat,

Withdraw all his cash from the bank branch
And flee to the tropics—or at least a dude ranch.

There’s no bare-breasted Fingerling for Mr. Head,
No Yukon Gold to snuggle with in bed.

He loafs around at home, depressed to know
There’s only him and his aging private Idaho,

Who just gave birth to another tater tot.
Same old, same old is Mr. Potato Head’s lot.

As the Volta Turns

Poetry found me lurking on a listserv in 1995.
Poetry said, “Stop lurking.” “I’ll think about it,”
I said. I couldn’t keep my iambs straight. But
Poetry was charming, and remarkably persuasive.
I was a little uncomfortable at first when Poetry
began to show up at odd times: in the middle of
a business meeting, for example, or while I was
driving home from the supermarket, or during
office hours while I graded student essays. We got
pretty drunk at an AWP conference in Atlanta.
Before I knew it, Poetry and I were living together.
Once, though, we split up over a novel. Then
I realized that Poetry would get along perfectly
well without me, but I couldn’t live without Poetry.
So we reconciled. At first, reluctant to re-commit,
Poetry just left a clean shirt at my house and
a spare toothbrush for weekends. We also spent
quite a few Tuesday mornings together. After
a few months of this back-and-forth, Poetry decided
all that commuting was bad for the relationship.
We’ve been married since the book came out.

Pat Valdata is a poet and fiction writer with an MFA in writing from Goddard College. Her poetry book about women aviation pioneers, Where No Man Can Touch, won the 2015 Donald Justice Poetry Prize. Her other poetry titles are Inherent Vice and Looking for Bivalve. Her published novels are Crosswind and The Other Sister. She teaches creative writing for the University of Maryland University College and Salisbury University’s Lighthouse Literary Guild.