Poor Claudia published poetry, prose and conversations online and in print from 2009 to 2018.

Emily Toder


  • Jazz à la Mode
  • Tom Reney
  • Bill & Melinda Gates
  • Steve Inskeep
  • On Point
  • All Things Considered
  • Liberty Mutual
  • Melissa Block
  • Fresh Air
  • Car Talk
  • Marketplace
  • Story Corps

Jazz à la Mode

I like it when people
start clapping
in the middle
of jazz
I realize it is not really the middle
it’s after a solo
Then again
the solo occurs
in the middle

This is just embellishing
This is not the end
This is why I can’t understand
regular endings
in life

It’s still the middle to me
in life

Tho we have come
to this end
which sucks
the truth
which out of the pores

I think if it is my fault
I have a scary will and if
it is not my fault
I can be free on the gondolas

If it’s no one’s fault
cults will make it so

They will make it so
you don’t recognize me

Tom Reney

Tom Reney tells me
about his weekend
Where he went
and what he heard
he plays
and I hear
it’s sorta jumpy
I don’t really feel that much
Tom Reney’s experience
I don’t really feel
not cause of Tom Reney’s past
cause of my past
Not cause of his weekend
which was lively
cause of my past

Each night he’s back with me at eight
talking sax like drums and doing
whatever in a booth
This is nothing like the BBC
I know someone who works with him
He lives in Greenfield
He refused to introduce us
His dog has been drugged to run
I work with his wife
It was Memorial Day
so of course I remember

Bill & Melinda Gates

I must admit
I want what they want
I want that world
The lives they believe all people should live
I want too
And I too want to believe they want
all people to have what they want
It is a lot of people in the world
they’re talking about, in this want
It’ll never be the world
I’m afraid

It is good
it is just
and it is green

They have nothing to do with me
except we both think we know
the kind of lives
“all people” “deserve” “to live”

Steve Inskeep

When Steve Inskeep
tells the cute news
I think of you and the others
cause it’s stuff I’d like to relay
to you guys
in five seconds
punchy and slow
and all day on my back
But this is not my lot
this has not been my destiny
This is morning edition
and it lasts three hours
at my local station
And for three hours
I yearn groggy and wet
his voice is hot

On Point

On Point comes out of the towers
of Boston
It begins with a drum
like a heart like all drums
It lasts eight measures
retreats and returns
just like me
Tom doesn’t have any answers
His voice searches
for them like a dart on fire

I have no idea what he looks like
I have worked hard at this
and to me he has no body

When Diana or whoever calls
from Brockton
he soothes her
Diana we got it we hear your pain
and he summarizes her point
concisely to his experienced guest
and to us gently and open-endedly
neutral as a battery
and light as a light gunk

He still has no idea
what the answer is
and I am not wholly
convinced he is a person
I love him
in my way

All Things Considered

When I saw this program’s logo
printed next to fireworks on a pencil as a kid
and had not heard any idioms yet
I thought that really the people
would consider all things
all the adults
would really consider
all the things
The pencil rotted it actually
rotted in a musk desk I don’t know
how I know that

All things considered
that is fine

All things considered
every thing is a little piece of reality

I can’t get anything
out of this program
Each year I’m smarter though

Liberty Mutual

This is my favorite slogan:
Responsibility; what’s your policy?
Maybe this is my favorite policy
Maybe this is my favorite responsibility

Melissa Block

Melissa Block,
you’re too sensible
Melissa Block you are too familiar
Melissa Block
Get a real name

Fresh Air

When on Fresh Air
guests cry
I can’t drive
They have never talked before
about the things they’re talking about
to Terry freely
out of her pitch
and when she’s not there
they do it to Dave Davies

They breathe short
their glands taut
and wrought from life
I infer

When guests cry on Fresh Air
I get pulled over
but they usually keep it together

Sometimes they hear clips
of their earlier selves and say,
“Gee I don’t remember that”
Terry chuckles
She remembers very well
Right here in Philadelphia
you had a past

She reveals about herself
inversely proportionately
to her guests
She is real

A lot of times the guests are not
actually in the studio but on the phone
The listeners are always warned about this
but we don’t mind
Sometimes it makes us feel even closer
I’d trust Terry Gross with my children

Car Talk

I for one am glad Car Talk is over
It taught me nothing about my car
It only taught me about men,
women, and teenagers
who as motorists are pathetic
but they’re great at life
cause it’s not nothing to pick up a phone
and anyway nobody lives like me
I do not know why
my radio fizzles
when I depress my brakes
I have bad chances of knowing
And I am not ready
to donate my car
in their face


They go through the day’s news
so we don’t have to
Ummm ok

Kai Ryssdal is a glassy
glassy man
and finds entertaining
things I ultimately find
entertaining cause he
gets to me so now
I like him

I know
this was probably not his idea
but “Stormy Weather” was a good choice
to play in the background
of doing the numbers
which affect me
the same way sports affect me
not how you affect me
in a heavy well

Story Corps

I have heard some real upsetting Story Corps
I have had to leave for work a little early
to hear them
in a daze and rattled
by mostly the horrendous lives
the one confirms the other had
In this dialog between intimates
all is known and tiresomely recalled,
as in a play, for our benefit,
and for the benefit of the society
now and forever
who can know the sickness
now that their forebears bore
in our land of hate and race
It is all saved and maintained
at the Library of Congress
who revises its bigotry slowly
and diligently
in committees
because of the new climate

Emily Toder

Emily Toder is the author of the chapbooks Brushes With (Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2010), I Hear a Boat (Duets Books, 2010), and Science (Coconut Books, 2012). A graduate of the MFA Program for Poets and Writers at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, she also holds master’s degrees in literary translation and library science. She lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, where she writes, translates, and works in a university archive.