Stefan Karlsson - 2012 Orange Monkey Poem Contest Finalist


The Lost Umbrella Poem

In praise of something, love perhaps, we descended the staircase nude, and I
understood that she knew me, not in the way an old woman knows the backyard
where she grew up, but in the way a guitarist knows how to form a chord at any
position on the fretboard.

But no one ever says, “Look how sweaty I am when I’m around you!” It had
rained through the night, around our hotel. I nearly stepped in a puddle but she
pulled me back. She stooped and told me to look. There were fish, lemonpeel
angelfish, swimming about. Then I pulled her back, just in time, as a lawnmower
dashed through our pond, tore through it without even looking back.

It was then I remembered I once dreamt of umbrellas. Hundreds of them, lined
along a hillside, and as my love tossed in bed the umbrellas all rose, lifting the
hills with them, grass, trees, and all, even the couple kissing in the shade,
oblivious of the ground that was no longer grounded, and I laughed like a monk
breaking his vow of silence.

She and I had no hopes of growing happy together––we were too mature for that.
We walked to a diner and discussed patio designs. There is a paved path through a
plot of grass, cut weekly by yours truly, and this path introduces a gate, and this
gate encloses a pool, and inside this pool there are children, two of them, our own.
There, on the table, their glasses of lemonade, and above this table a yellow
umbrella that chimes in the sun like a chapel. We could each hear the knell, the
notes from the bells so cold we shivered, even as we sweated like melting ice
cubes in an empty glass, the lemonade gone.

“Let’s go,” I said, instead of saying how sweaty I was.


Stefan Karlsson is a student poet at UCLA, from Redlands, CA. He is currently the Executive Editor of Westwind, UCLA’s Journal of the Arts and Literature. He was the recipient of UCLA’s 2012 Fred Weld Herman Memorial Prize from the Academy of American Poets. Stefan Karlsson died four years ago. He aspires to be a literary hoax.