Online Jigsaws: A poem about my latest addiction

Jigsaw online GoogleOver the past couple of months, I’ve developed a fiendish new addiction: online jigsaw puzzles. I’ve got a lot to say about it, but for now, I’m publishing this poem I wrote a couple of weeks ago. It went over well with my women writers’ group and at Poets Speak Loud at McGeary’s in Albany. I hope you enjoy it too. Please leave comments so I know you’re out there! And please subscribe so you don’t miss my next post.

Online Jigsaws

I

Instant jigsaw puzzles in the thousands

Only a mouse click away,

My latest online addiction.

I stumbled onto Jigsaw Planet unawares

At the tail end of a soap opera website

Detailing the latest travails

On General Hospital.

There it was, a photo of my favorite actor,

Michael Easton as Finn shooting up 4-8-16

Michael Easton as Hannibal Finn

The erstwhile vampire Michael Easton,

With his newest leading lady.

One click, and those gorgeous faces

Shattered into loopy fragments.

A few more mouse clicks,

And the lovers were reunited, whole again.

Little did I dream that single puzzle

Would tumble me into an abyss of endless jigsaws,

A time-warped universe destined to suck me in

And drain me of the precious hours

I’d promised to woo my elusive muse.

On Jigsaw Planet, I set up my own account,

Christened myself Jazzy Julie,

Created puzzles cribbed from photos of my life.

Posted them to the site. No one came at first,

But now I’ve got followers.

I follow others in return, anonymous online friends

Who while away the hours shattering wholeness into shards,

Then painfully piecing pictures back together.

Speed is of the essence. Once the timer starts,

The seconds and minutes flash onscreen

Below the puzzle, but peeking wastes precious time.

Instead I focus on the pieces,

Drag them into place.

If it’s a fit, they snap together with a delightful click.

The sound’s a giveaway,

So I keep it low and stealthy,

In hopes my spouse won’t hear.

When the final piece finds its perfect union,

There’s a climactic chime.

Only then do I check my time,

See how high I’ve scored.

With every game, every day I play,

I’m getting steadily better.

Despite the tremors in my aging fingers,

Even when thousands have played the game,

I’m in the top five percent, sometimes even first.

My adrenaline crests, creating a heady cocktail,

Merging with dopamine and serotonin

Flooding my body with bliss.

Awash in satisfaction, I contemplate my achievement

But the pleasure ebbs away too soon.

Just one more puzzle, I tell myself. My muse can wait.

Mired in shame and guilt, I peruse my choices. What will it be?

The Grand Canal in Venice? An array of wines and cheeses?

A litter of golden retriever puppies?

Thousands of options, with new ones every day,

Free of charge, but stealing minutes and hours

From my few remaining years.

II

I’ve always been good at jigsaws, but they bored me

Till Springbok Puzzles came upon the scene in 1963.

Their artsy designs and odd-ball contours captured my fancy.

First came a Jackson Pollock painting.

Untangling its spider webs of hurled and dribbled paint,

I wowed my fiancé and his mother at weekly Sunday dinners

On the upper East Side, refusing to cheat by peeking

At the cover photo. That marriage didn’t survive the Sixties,

And that husband’s now deceased.

A few years later, alone in my Broome Street loft,

I worked my Springbok puzzles

To wind down after days of painting, on nights

When there were no parties to crash. Too hip for TV,

I listened to FM rock. In 1968, I was tripping out

On a psychedelic puzzle designed by Peter Max

When the announcer cut in to announce

That Bobby Kennedy had been assassinated.

Fast forward eighteen years, to 1986.

Married once more, a mother,

I’d traded the SoHo loft for a house on sixteen acres,

With a creek that flooded every spring.

Home alone in January, wasted by the flu,

Using a sick day I’d earned at the psychiatric center,

I was working a Springbok at the dining table,

One of the circular puzzles, though I don’t recall which one.

Perhaps the kittens, the pizza with all the toppings,

The antique map of the constellations—

I solved my favorites many times.

The TV was tuned to a shuttle launch.

In my shocking pink chenille bathrobe,

A gift from a discarded lover of years before,

I watched the Challenger explode on live TV,

The forking trajectory of the white smoke plumes

Arcing across the cobalt sky.

I abandoned jigsaws after that,

Sold my Springboks at a yard sale when we downsized.

Today I Googled the company.

Their jazzy website says they’re going strong,

Proudly made in America from 100% recycled materials.

But Hallmark bought them out years ago,

And now they’re heavy on nostalgia—

No more Peter Max or Jackson Pollock.

I could order them online, but I’m not tempted.

Why bother, when I can surf the web

And capture an infinity of puzzling images for free?

Besides, my cat can’t bat the pieces off the screen.lunesta-on-printer-7-27-14

6 thoughts on “Online Jigsaws: A poem about my latest addiction

  1. I love this post, Julie. Bill and I mostly do jigsaw puzzles around Christmas time. For a few years we had a thing going with Bill’s sister. We and she tried to give the other a harder puzzle than the year before. One year she gave us the Jackson Pollock puzzle you wrote about so eloquently. We HAD to use the picture exact same size as the puzzle to get that challenger made. Phew! We’ve made a couple times since. The back and forth puzzle giving has stopped but we do acquire a new puzzle once in a while. For Bill’s retirement party from IBM, his fellow workers collected money and the collector purchased two BIG puzzles as gifts for Bill. One is 2000 pieces and the other is 3000 pieces. They remain unopened on shelf in our front hall closet. We like 500 piece or 1000 piece puzzles and have a nice stash of our favorites in the basement. Others went at one of our garage sales.
    More recently for maybe the past 3 or 4 or 5 years my friend who lives near Albany do a daily puzzle, share our time in minutes and our rating from 1 to 10 with ten being high with each other by email. Luckily for her and my time we only do one puzzle per day. I am forwarding this post from you to her. She’ll love it. And she’ll love your cat photo too. She too has a cat or says she has. Said cat hides when anyone comes into her apartment and won’t emerge till all but Eve have left the premises. I have never seen her cat. I just have to take her word that she really has a cat! Your cat is gorgeous.

    The same friend also plays a gambling game for no money but for points addictively several times a day.

    • Hi Betsy. Thanks for your feedback. I haven’t actually done a real “live” jigsaw in many years. I doubt I’ have the patience anymore. The most I’ve spent on an online puzzle is about 22 minutes, and when I do, I feel guilty. When you say you and your friend do daily puzzles, which kind do you do? Real jigsaws?

      My gorgeous cat is Lunesta, named after the sleeping pill I took for years, but I haven’t needed them for a couple of years, fortunately.

  2. Julie, I have enjoyed the more traditional jig saw puzzles at times in the past. Now, they are online? I am trouble! And, your near life story in one poem. Impressive.

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