Whee! It’s Day 30 of Irene Latham’s wonderful Progressive Poem (read more about this April tradition here).
I will admit to being a bit nervous about being the last line. But last year, I got to be the first line, so…I figured turnabout was fair play. Plus, just like when I write group poems with students, I never know whether they’ll turn out amazing or wonky, and it doesn’t really matter. Just the process of creation is worthwhile.
I love National Poetry Month. My only complaint is that there is SO much wonderful poetry being shared, and yet I’m so busy with my own poetry project that I miss 90% of the cool things all my poet friends are doing. I have stopped in every few days to check on the Progressive Poem, though I haven’t read it every single day. In fact, I felt myself getting a little anxious as I wondered what story would evolve and whether there would be a clear path to an ending. That’s ridiculous, I know, as poetry is often about avoiding the clear path and following the more surprising one or the hidden one. But you know what I mean. Would I be able to unearth an ending that worked?
This year’s Progressive Poem is full of wonderful, sensual language. Concrete nouns that I can see. Textures I can feel. Words I can smell and hear and taste. We have a lot of rhyme, but it’s a jumbled treasure chest: some perfect rhyme, some near rhyme, some internal rhyme…and the rhyme scheme varies from stanza to stanza. So, where to go? When I reread the poem so far on Day 28, I decided that since we had all four-line stanzas up to that point, I would try to make my Day 30 line into a couplet with Charles Waters’ Day 29 line. Easy to vow that before the Day 29 line was written:>)
And now, here is our Progressive Poem!
The Secret Inside the Book
I’m fidget, friction, ragged edges–
I sprout stories that frazzle-dazzle,
stories of castles, of fires that crackle,
with dragonwords that smoke and sizzle.
But edges, sometimes, need sandpaper…
like swords need stone and clouds need vapour.
So I shimmy out of my spurs and armour
facing the day as my fickle, freckled self.
I thread the crowd, wear freedom in my smile
and warm to the coals of conversation.
Enticed to the stage by strands of story,
I skip up the stairs in anticipation.
Flip around, face the crowd, and freeze!
Shiver me. Look who’s here. Must I disappear?
By hook or by crook, I deserve a second look!
I cheer. Please, have no fear. Find the book.
But wait! I’ll share the lines I know by heart.
Mythicalhowls, fierytones slip from my lips
Blue scales flash, claws rip, the prophecy begins
Dragonworld weaves webs that grip. I take a trip…
“Anchors aweigh!” Steadfast at helm on clipper ship
a topsail schooner, with sails unfurled, speeds away
As, true-hearted dragon pirate, I sashay
with my wise parrot, Robyn, through the spray.
“Land Ho!” (“Land Ho!”) We’ve hooked the whole crowd.
So it’s true what they say: the play IS the thing.
Stepping back from my blocking, theatre grows loud…
I draw my sword, while shielding the BOOK–the house din dies.
With rhythmical wordplay, I unleash a surprise…
I leap into my book, bid my readers “Goodbye!” (“Goodbye!”)
I mean for those last two lines to be a couplet, but I can’t make the spacing right.
Because of a lunkhead move on my part, I thought Charles’ line still wasn’t posted at 6 pm. I had been nervously watching for it all day. When I finally messaged him to check on it, I found it had been there all along, just with an unexpected date on it. My sister-in-law and brother-in-law were on their way over to play games, so there was no time to focus on it. Now it’s just past midnight, the games are finished, and while taking Jack on his last walk of the night, I decided the surprise would be that our narrator (and parrot) would dive back into the book, their true home, and breathe a fiery goodbye to the audience. I wasn’t really able to convey all that in one line, but…well, that’s what I’ve got. I have a feeling I’m going to read this when I wake up tomorrow and think, What the heck was I thinking?
But for now, I’m just thinking, thank you, Irene, and thank you, poets! It’s fun to share this story with you:>)
Linda Mitchell says
Fantastic! I’ve really enjoyed watching the poem grow. I love this group of poets!
Thanks, Linda, and thanks for all your beautiful poems this month!
Connie Currie says
Laura, You are special. What a great ending to a great undertaking. Love it. I’m copying it and hanging it by my computer.
Aw, thank you, Connie! I was nervous about this line, and your Comment was so reassuring first thing this morning!
Janet F. says
I’m in ! I love it. A terrific ending and a surprise. Back in the book to our fidgety, freckled friend. I love participating in this and enjoy everything about NaPoMo in the Kidlitosphere blog.
Thanks, and it’s great to see you around more lately, Janet! xox
What a fabulous collective effort and a wonderful ending, Laura! It’s been wonderful to follow the creation of this poem and I admire everyone who participated. Kudos to all!!!
Donna Smith says
PERFECTO! Did I just shout? I hope so! Love this ending SO much.
Yay–thank you, Donna, for your shouting enthusiasm. I was worried about my line!
Of course our character lives in the book! Love that you figured that out.
Heidi Mordhorst says
Aw, Laura, you nailed it! I couldn’t think how you were going to unleash a surprise AND conclude the poem, but this works great and somehow is NOT the equivalent of “And then I woke up.” It actually seems like a fair and true ending for the character I introduced in Line 1, who shimmied out of their armour in Line 7, came to the stage webbed in strands of story in Line 11, and rode both stage and waves with fiery wild sashays to the appreciative roar of an audience. So it is that books come to life, through the voices of characters!
Thanks, Heidi. Loved your opening line and all the wonderful-sounding lines in between. Last night, I just kept thinking, “Well, I’ll follow whatever resolution Charles introduces, so it won’t be that hard.” And then I saw his line. Panic attack. But this ending felt right to me, even I wished I had room for more wonderful words/sounds in it. But still–yes! Proud to have been part of this!
Laura, I love that you brought the character back into the storybook, chapter and verse, read, written and done! And I love that ““Goodbye!” (“Goodbye!”)”, echoing that he(she) is not alone, a wonderful wrap!
Thanks, Linda–I’m glad you noticed that because it felt important to be clear that the parrot was with our character:>)
Irene Latham says
Laura, I love how you gave us a satisfying ending! And like others, I love the echoing goodbye. Do you have a title in mind?? Does anyone? We need a title! Thank you! xo
Ooh, I forgot about that. I threw a possible one at the top, but let’s brainstorm!
Fantastic, Laura. It is the perfect end to the poetic adventure. What a satisfying finish!
Aw, thanks. I appreciate that!
Buffy Silverman says
Your thinking was brilliant–so cool that the narrator and parrot slip into the book. You’ve brought our journey to a magical end. And the title fits. (Thanks also for replacing my lost s!)
Well, it was maybe more panic than brilliance, but I’ll take it. And you’re welcome. (Something similar happened to one of my lines and it drove me nuts, too:>)
Amy Ludwig VanDerwater says
Just fabulous! Huzzah for our pirate character and her friend! Thank you, Laura, for such a great ending! xx
Thanks, Amy:>) Loved the ending of your rainbow poems. So heartfelt but real!
Robyn Hood Black says
BRAVO, Laura (tosses flowers on stage for the newly disappeared narrator & parrot) – and to all the creators.
I look forward to this crazy collaboration every year. (Thanks, Irene.)
This was one of the best, don’t you think? :0)
Thanks, Robyn. The language this year was aMAZing. Wish I could have worked more of into the last line.
Catherine Johnson says
It’s fantastic! not only are you all great poets but you have wonderful imaginations too.
GREAT JOB, LAURA!!!
Thanks, Tabatha–last is scary!
Thanks, Mary Lee!
Matt Forrest Esenwine says
Even under pressure, you deliver! A nice conclusion to the poem, Laura…thanks for pulling it all together!
Penny Parker Klostermann says
I love it! You are awesome, Laura! And I agree that this year was aMAZing! It’s absolutely my favorite!!!
Renee LaTulippe says
I’d say it’s the perfect ending, Laura! And I love that you brought back that parenthetical echo. ????
Brenda Davis Harsham says
Great last line! I love that you managed a surprise and gave the parrot the last word.
Michelle Kogan says
I love this last line Laura, the echo, and leap of faith!
Hey, you could Comment!