Going off the Rails

I don’t know about you, fellow poets and poetry lovers, but when I sit down to write, what ends up on the page is rarely what I think will end up on the page. More often than not, my mind goes off the rails, scurries down rabbit holes, mole holes, lots of holes, and utterly surprises me with what it latches onto.

For example, this month, I have been soaking up poetry wisdom from the fabulous Georgia Heard and Rebecca Dotlich at the Poet’s Studio. Given the prompt to write about autumn and to lean into metaphor, I thought I would write about building a fire in my woodstove. I mean, who doesn’t love the glow of a fire, the scent of smoke in the cold night air, the way that a hearth fire draws the people you love to a common room where you can pass an evening in the warmth of each other? See, poetry is just begging to be written about this.

Instead, I got this…

…which is quite the opposite of fire in the woodstove.

But you know what? I really like this. And following all the weird twists and turns in my brain allowed me to remember, contemplate, and experience all over again the amazing time when the outside air bobs above and below freezing. Do you remember walking to school and blowing clouds from your mouth? Pausing to examine the overnight lace work on your windows? Crunching grass under your feet? Squinting against the dazzle of a frosted field? Frost is COOL! (Wink, wink.)

Feeling all these feels and reliving all this life is what Georgia and Rebecca would call the magic of poetry. I couldn’t agree more. May we all have a little more magic.

Now, please head on over to Bridget Magee’s blog, wee words for wee ones, where you can read the whole Poetry Friday roundup!

12 thoughts on “Going off the Rails”

  1. Lovely, Marilyn. I also love that your mind takes you to unexpected places. Your poem is beautifully crafted. I want to tell you what grabs me but frankly it all does. The pin-pricked sky, the angry seamstress, the needling new threads all after First Frost……I am curious how many drafts this took. And your lovely post in white, is this done in Canva? I really think it is as I said, lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Janet, thank you. As for how many drafts – what I posted is actually a piece of draft, maybe number three(?) of a longer poem. I posted this for a workshop with Georgia and Rebecca and, boy, did they have some great suggestions for improvement. I would say if I ever submit this anywhere or put it aside as “finished” it might go through a total of five or six versions. And, yes, the image including the photo was made on Canva. I probably spent too much time messing around with it and I ended up, finally, upgrading to the pro account to get the exact photo I wanted, but I’m happy with the way it looks. Not bad for a beginner.


  2. “needling new crystal threads” is the magic of winter days & now, your poem, Marilyn. Yes, I remember blowing those breath clouds, not exactly new to us as children but we loved doing it. And yes, my mind changes as I write, perhaps from one word that bends another way. Fun, right?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. those words, “ripping out the stitches…” are just wonderful and perfect. I can feel the stitches of warmth and sunlight just being ripped away. Lovely final draft. I don’t care HOW you got to it…except that I’m very glad you enjoyed the surprising journey of it.


  4. I’m with you 100% on the twist and turns the brain takes from Idea to a Draft that’s share-ready. Always a journey. Your metaphor is all kinds of perfect. This Angry Seamstress gets a little carried away, knocking down zinnia stalks as she stomps around covering grass blades in her hoary fury. (furry fury?? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, she does. In the longer version of this poem, First Frost goes on to spook dawdlers to run for cover and she leaves the ground littered with shards of green glass. When Georgia was finished with her comments about this poem, which I thought were absolutely brilliant, my only sadness was that I truly love the first frost of fall but she came off as…a bit malicious. Georgia assured me my love for fall and frost came through with the words I chose. I hope she’s right. 🙂


  5. Good on ya, Marilyn, for letting yourself follow that angry seamstress. I’m pretty sure most lackluster poetry results from insisting on writing what you set out to write instead of loosing your grip and letting Subconscious and its cousins lead the way!

    Liked by 1 person

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