2013 Progressive Poem

Poetry Month 2013: The Progressive Poem, Day 17

2013 Progressive Poem

It’s here!

Started by the lovely poetess Irene Latham, the Progressive Poem is a group poem that’s been traveling around the blogosphere all month, with each writer adding one line. Yesterday, Liz Steinglass added her soaring line and passed the flaming baton to me.

This is my stream of consciousness process, coming to you live…

For last year’s poem, I added my line near the very end, which was nerve-wracking yet somehow easier. This year I’m right in the middle where things have to happen! What should happen?!

Let’s see…we’ve got words/poets as dancers…then trapeze artists. They’re doing a lot of swinging and jitterbugging and risk-taking. Liz left me soaring, but I feel this thing needs to be grounded right about now, set back down on the page. The words/poets have had their dancing time and need to buckle down and get to the work of writing!

But I’m not sure I can do that in one line. It’s a long drop from the trapeze to the ground, and Mary Lee’s safety net is dubious comfort. Maybe it’s too soon for the words to settle down. Maybe they need to scramble, rumble, play musical chairs, twist around in one of those long pieces of fabric, hang by their legs.

What happens when they hang by their legs?

When you listen to your footsteps
the words become music and
the rhythm that you’re rapping gets your fingers tapping, too.
Your pen starts dancing across the page
a private pirouette, a solitary samba until
smiling, you’re beguiling as your love comes shining through.

Pause a moment in your dreaming, hear the whispers
of the words, one dancer to another, saying
Listen, that’s our cue! Mind your meter. Find your rhyme.
Ignore the trepidation while you jitterbug and jive.
Arm in arm, toe to toe, words begin to wiggle and flow
as your heart starts singing let your mind keep swinging

from life’s trapeze, like a clown on the breeze.
Swinging upside down, throw and catch new sounds–
Take a risk, try a trick; break a sweat: safety net?
Don’t check! You’re soaring and exploring,
dangle high, blood rush; spiral down, crowd hush–  


Hm, it seems paranoia has set in with the being watched thing! As I mentioned, I kind of wanted to start bringing the words down to earth, back to paper, knowing that they would eventually be seen by other eyes, so they better start to shape up!

For me, the shift to shorter words and a more staccato rhythm that Mary Lee started signaled the beginnings of revision, when we take all the high-falutin’ and expansive ideas we’ve thrown on the paper and start snipping.


More than once I’ve watched a fascinating documentary on how performers are chosen and trained for Cirque du Soleil. It’s a grueling process, but I’m thinking those acrobats got nuthin’ on our twisty words/poets. It ain’t easy wrestling words to the page, and I wonder how the remaining poets are going to tame them. And so I pass our poetic performer(s) off to the delightful Penny Klostermann, secure in the knowledge that she’ll help bring them safely to rest.

Here are all the places this poem has been and where it’s going still:

1  Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
2  Joy Acey
3  Matt Forrest Esenwine
4  Jone MacCulloch
5  Doraine Bennett
6  Gayle Krause
7  Janet Fagal
8  Julie Larios
9  Carrie Finison
10  Linda Baie
11  Margaret Simon
12  Linda Kulp
13  Catherine Johnson
14  Heidi Mordhorst
15  Mary Lee Hahn
16  Liz Steinglass
17  Renee LaTulippe
18  Penny Klostermann
19  Irene Latham
20  Buffy Silverman
21  Tabatha Yeatts
22  Laura Shovan
23  Joanna Marple
24  Katya Czaja
25  Diane Mayr
26  Robyn Hood Black
27  Ruth Hersey
28  Laura Purdie Salas
29  Denise Mortensen
30  April Halprin Wayland


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Arrivederci! Goodbye! Auf Wiedersehen! May you be well and rhyme-y until we meet again.