Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Found poetry April 15, 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
Tags: , , , , , , ,


Larry Gavin’s most recent found poem, read recently at a Cannon Valley Poets Poetry Reading at the Paradise Center for the Arts in Faribault, caused the audience to burst into laughter. He read a short “looking for work poem” collected from a public space. The poster sought babysitting jobs, but stated she’d rather pick rock. Alright then. A potential babysitter who prefers rocks to children is unlikely to get hired by any parent.

Like Larry, I find publicly posted messages interesting and often humorous. Unlike Larry, I’d never considered those notes as poetry. But I understand why he views them as such.

Inspired by my poet friend, I’ve upped my public message board reading, something I’ve done only irregularly in the past. I was quickly rewarded with a unique note tacked onto a bulletin board at the Salvation Army Thrift Store in Owatonna.



I snapped a photo with my smartphone and then edited out the phone number.

The note inspired me to write this poem:


She rocks—the cool blonde
with hair sculpted in a do,
stripe ribboned across locks,
eyes shaded behind sunglasses
like Jackie O.
Call if you see her.
She’s missing.
Last seen at the Salvation Army Thrift Store.


TELL ME: Do you read publicly posted messages like Larry and me? If yes, please share an interesting/humorous/bizarre one you’ve spotted.

© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


13 Responses to “Found poetry”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    What a fun thing to do. I need to start reading these public message boards more to see if I can find some treasures. I do hope that pillow case finds its way back to Melissa. What a treasure.

  2. I do read message boards – food, entertainment, lost pets, etc. I cannot say that recently seen of anything posted that was really interesting though. I did not think of these as poetry – interesting take for sure. Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂

  3. BERNADETTE Thomasy Says:

    Since college days, I have enjoyed reading message boards, but sadly few boards exist anymore probably due to electronic communications. I don’t have a humorous story, but in 1964 a message board at the U of Minnesota led me to a summer job as a cook at camp run by the Winnepeg YWCA on an island in Lake of the Woods, near Kenora, Ontario. I applied to be a counselor but really didn’t have the qualifications; the considerate director invited me to work as an assistant cook for 8 weeks and I said, “yes,” and had all sorts of adventures for two summers in Canada.

    • What a great opportunity for you to spend your summer at that Canadian camp. My second daughter also worked as a camp cook, at the Concordia Language Village near Bemidji. She had hoped to land a job as a Spanish camp counselor given she was a Spanish major in college. Anyway, it all worked out and she learned how to cook since I failed in teaching her. I’m a much better cook now that I have more time for that task. She has been a Spanish medical interpreter in Wisconsin for nearly 10 years now and is excellent at what she does.

      There are lots of community bulletin boards up here still in Faribault. At the library, grocery stores, etc.

  4. valeriebollinger Says:

    I don’t usually read message boards but maybe I’ll pay more attention. Usually I’m going to or from and do not take the time. Thanks for sharing this…it’s fun.

  5. Bummer about the pillow, I hope it gets returned to her. I sometimes read these message boards, but now I will probably notice them more after reading your post 🙂

  6. Wonderful! I loved this! I haven’t found one like this one before. I guess I need to start paying attention to more of them. This made me smile.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.