Posted by: jeannineatkins | January 22, 2008

Finding my Way Home – or Through a Poem

Some years ago I took a wrong turn out of a parking garage in Boston. The street we were looking for wasn’t there, and I had to make a fast right or left. Either direction was wrong. My daughter beside me was freaking out as I headed down a dark street in a city famous for fast drivers and bad signage. “We’ll never got home,” she shrieked.

“Of course we will.” I felt like screaming, too, but kept my voice calm. “There will be signs for the Mass Pike somewhere, and we’ll get out of here.”

“We don’t know where we are! We’re stuck.”

“Nothing looks familiar yet, but sometime it will.” I so totally wanted to slam on the brakes, grab my daughter, get out, run. But with fast cars and trucks ahead and behind, I had to keep going. I couldn’t stop in the middle of the road. And eventually – I’m here to write this tale – we spotted a sign and found our way to the home of the calm-seeming driver who was shrieking “eeeeekkk!” inside.

Starting some poems, I want to scream “eeeeekk” some more. What am I doing? Where can these images coming from and where can they possibly go? I throw them down. I let them cluster. I make a mess. I know that if anyone looked now they’d think: you call yourself a writer?

So where is the calm-seeming driver, my other half? I remember this traffic jam of words is how I start. What’s like the speeding cars ahead and behind me, a line that keeps me going? I suppose knowing I’ve set out into grand messes of words before and found my way out. I don’t know just how, but I’ll do it again.



  1. Oh, I love this analogy–this is how the *novel* revision feels to me. Poems to me usually feel like an oasis out of all the chaos. Our brains are funny things.

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