writing-2005 zhang
Lost Poetry
by Udo Hintze

I was once on a “hell well” –
a job that had a lot of problems
constantly but it was okay –
because I got a lot of writing done.
It was like a writer’s retreat
out there on Lake Calcasieu.
I began using a new five subject spiral notebook.
It was an encyclopedia
of new and old poems; many
molded into near finished shape.
I had poems about Anne Sexton,
Napoleon’s exile on Elba,
the 1960s Batman,
country music, alligators, and mosquitoes.

During those three months, I got
to know the rig crew pretty well.
I got used to their Cajun
accents thick as molasses.
I got fluent enough where
I could understand them
over the intercom and
in person.

We didn’t have much in common though;
I was a city boy who
stayed indoors and wrote poems.
They were country boys who
On their days off went out hunting
for deer with shotguns and rode
their ATVs in the backwoods,
complained about the black people that moved in
to the neighborhood after the tornadoes.
And regardless of age, they
always referred to their girlfriends
and their wives as their “old lady.”

After eighty-seven days,
We were released; we finished the well.
I packed my things, drove home and went to sleep.
Refreshed, I woke up ready to type up
All my new poems and send them out to
the non-oilfield world.
I opened my duffel bag
and it wasn’t there. I started
fast-walking back and forth between
my backpack and my duffel bag.
I even started looking in
ridiculous places.
I still couldn’t find it and
It made me mad.
I called Herb, the Hawaiian cook,
asked him to check in my bunk bed.
He said he couldn’t find it
but he’d watch out for it.
I thought about my poems, frozen in pencil
still waiting to be saved and printed
out into their final form
Instead they were lost,
somewhere in literary

It’s been over a year and a half–
I still haven’t found my notebook.
I still think about it sometimes.
And it makes me mad.
But I wonder if it isn’t out there
on the rig somewhere, some roughneck
in his hiding spot, away from
the toolpusher and the driller,
splattered with mud freckles on
his face and hard-hat,
my notebook in his tired, greasy, muddy hands
reading and finding something
cool, clear and fresh
like water.
And it makes me happy,
I think maybe
there is hope for lost
poetry after all.

IMAGE: “Writing” by Zhang Xiaogang (2005).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I try to write every day but sometimes at work I don’t have time. I like to write in my notebook before going to computer. I was really upset by the loss of my notebook. It was still new and had lots of blank pages left. I don’t know where it got lost but I learned the importance of updating my files and I got to write a poem about it. This poem has been revised but was originally published during Tiferet Journal’s 2014 Poem-A-Thon.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Udo Hintze first began writing poetry his senior year of high school. He won the 1999 Words Alive! Contest for Houston International Festival.  His poems have been published in The 21st Century, Bewildering Stories, The Criterion, Tiferet, and Inkling. He is a member of Phi Theta Kappa. He works as a mudlogger. His website is mudloggersdream.wordpress.com.

AUTHOR PHOTO: Lake Calcasieu, Louisiana, 2014.