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:>)