J. Alfred Prufrock Searches for Mrs. Right

by Laurie Byro
Third Place, July 2018
Judged by Kathleen Hellen

The day that man allows true love to appear, those things which are well made
will fall into confusion and will overturn everything we believe to be right and true.
― Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy

I never wander far from the smoky streets of home where fog drifts
and settles, smothers windows and clings to panes. Voyeur-mist,
I can see through it to a luscious life. The women are not whores

as I suggested, just not interested in me. I write them as cerebral,
art and literature is their pursuit. I write myself as a character-poet,
a failed Don who lusts after these willowy untouchables, yet I

would settle for a dishy-siren with a tail. A water nymph of courtly
fable does know how to finally shut up and seduce good men into
leaving home. I could marry a girl like that. She will adore me.

Bespectacled, respectable me. I am a little weird, I admit with
my penchant for Montecristoes and the taste for an expensive Roe.
It would be simpler if she is human with the proper appendages.

I shall run an advert. Yanks here know all about Craig’s List.
Social Media I think they call it, I am in a hurry to catch up.
Some group, the Beach Men or some such, a jingle on my

Faceblog page, I dare say I can do this thing. Do you like
peaches or mangoes, I shall ask. Getting soaked in the brine?
Do you adore salty nectar on the rim of a glass? Do you walk

the beach as I do? I have no fashion sense but I can learn. I shall
supply you with embroidery thread. You can make our commitment
to barefoot trysts a permanent endeavor. Dear Girl, I want nothing

more than for you to share my love of Wagner. It matters not
if you do not sew or darn. I am well versed in domestic pursuits
and can brew a mean Tequila Sunrise and spin lemon curd as well.

I am a romantic but can be pragmatic, even earnest. I am a good catch.
You see, I am a crusty old thing, a bachelor after all. I do have pity
for crabs, lobsters, all crustaceans really. They, despite their hard exterior

have a beating heart, the love of a sea garden. All they want
is companionship and possibly solitude. Have I mentioned I go for therapy?
I have odd neurotic habits. I fear doorknobs and rejection.

If you are a siren will this be the love that dare not speak its name?
I yearn for a normal life not just as a cup with a broken handle
but as a couple. See how clever I can be? I should mention I have great

hair. The bald spot is being made redundant. Little Darling, will you comb
the beach of life with me? I have the desire for a rich, contented future.
I want a happy end for us both. One that doesn’t result in a bitter

stew, a late-life divorce, the black kettle singing merrily
on the stove and you and I, potted, circling round one another
warily, butter slightly chilled and waiting on the table.

Prufrock comes alive in this poem densely studded with allusions to the original. The narrator---“a failed Don”---has been fast-forwarded into the age of social media and his foray into “Craig’s list” and a “Faceblog page” is both humorous and endearing. The poem is an epistle to the one “Dear Girl” who might answer this profile rich with sense and sound (“dishy-siren,” “willowy untouchables”). --Kathleen Hellen