Out of the Driver’s Seat

Together and Apart

One tight embrace. One shared story from different angles, through different filters. We are family. Held together and apart. Vast spaces of misunderstanding, silences and anger balanced and unbalanced by laughter, memories. Our known history. We create ease. The ease of dinners together, track meets, recitals. The ease of similar, intersecting humor. But also the ease of knowing all the buttons and how exactly to press them. We are family. One tight embrace balances and unbalances all.

I’m suddenly remembering one of my issues with writing poetry. Have you noticed it, too? That totally-bent-on-the-depressing through-line in these poems? Every time I finish, I’m sad. Not ideal. But also not under my control — we write what we write. We don’t get to drive the train, just describe the scenery that flies past, make note of the stations.

Those of you who know me know that what I just said is shocking for me and my notorious writer-as-control-freak self. Can it be that the key thing Junot told me in workshop four years ago is finally sinking in? That would be kind of amazing. But it feels true. I start off thinkng I have an idea what I’m doing, where I’m going. And then, four seconds in, I’m being pulled along some other path, led by the hand to some surprise destination. And I haven’t resisted it, haven’t forced the poem to turn back and find the path I thought I was on. It will be interesting to see if this is a temporary turn of events or a new and long-awaited development.

I’m not hating these poems. Certainly not (yesterday’s, in fact, is a particular favorite already). But they aren’t what I saw coming, and it’s disconcerting.


NPM15_ForSite_FINAL_FINALAre you writing poems this month? Where can I see them? Let’s share this craziness!

As I did last year, I’ll be following along with the Poem-A-Day challenge at Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides Blog. Today’s prompt is to write a departure poem. That wasn’t where my head was today, however. You can post your daily poems on Brewer’s page. The top poem from each day will be included in an anthology later this year!


One thought on “Out of the Driver’s Seat

  1. Welcome to understanding you are a tool of your muse and not the other way around. It’s often like a game of telephone. The message you start to send will often end very differently than the message given. All writers, especially poets learn this eventually. That being said, some of our best, and yes worst, truths come out of this.


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