Three Letter Word for “Cool Looking”
by Marion Starling Boyer
by Juli Edberg
In the 1920s they were the plague
of librarians, circling, swarming, pestering
the reference desk for dictionaries, zipping
to the shelves for encyclopedias, whizzing
through the pages. They were crazed
crossword puzzlers on the hunt.
Simon and Schuster printed the first cross-
word puzzle book in 1924 with a free
pencil to honey up the deal. They needn’t
have. The book’s tremendous success flew
in the face the vinegary firm that felt entirely
too literary to put their name on the cover.
With insatiable appetites, puzzle solvers
wing annually to the American Crossword
Tournament and torment themselves
with little empty boxes on a grid. They wipe
their glasses, hover over their papers, and on
Go! their eyes dart down and across.
A competitor licks his pencil. A pesky
word eludes him. He sees just there,
like it’s just beyond a windowpane.
Agitated, his buzzing mind ricochets.
Then, Ha! he lights on the answer
and eight letters crawl into their boxes.
The New York Times did not run their first
crossword puzzle until 1942, after Margaret
Farrar wrote the Sunday editor to say it would
help distract readers from an increasingly
worried world, because, you can’t think of
your troubles while solving a crossword.
And now here we are again, anxious, washing
our hands, flitting from update to update.
Let’s take Margaret’s advice. 8 Across:
a creature named for robbers, assassins
and balloons; for what zips closed in pants;
a type of fishing; a ball hit to the outfield.
Juli Edberg, Artist: Graphic designer learns bookbinding and can’t stop! Juli is attracted to the peculiar, the geometric, the humorous, and words. She uses the computer to design patterns. Edberg holds a BFA from Cleveland Institute of Art. For 31 years she was employed as graphic designer at Cuyahoga Community College. She studied bookbinding at Haystack and Penland.
Marion Starling Boyer, Poet: Marion Starling Boyer is author of four poetry collections: The Sea Was Never Far (Main Street Rag, 2019), The Clock of the Long Now (Mayapple Press, 2009); Composing the Rain, winner of Grayson Books 2014 Poetry Chapbook Competition; and Green (Finishing Line Press, 2003). After living and teaching in Kalamazoo, Michigan for many years, she and her husband now live in Twinsburg and she enjoys teaching writing workshops for Lit Cleveland and Lit Youngstown. Boyer is currently working on a poetry manuscript about Antarctic exploration.
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