Poetry Friday – Clunker Exchange Poem “Unchained”

It’s Poetry Friday, and Patricia at Reverie is hosting. She has a sweet poem about one of the sugar pine seedlings she planted in the forest. Thank you, Patricia, for your lovely invitation to new and old Poetry Friday people.  

Here is my clunker poem, thanks to Linda. As soon as I saw her list of clunkers, this line jumped out at me: “only sure of light pushing her brush.” I thought of this painting my mom made when I was in college. It has always held mysteries and some answers for me about my mom and dad’s relationship. She did tell me the dark square represented my dad’s death. (He died when I was seven.)


She was unsure
before her partner
of the double chain broke
She didn’t put the darkness
into many words
only into paint
only into life and love
only sure of light pushing her brush
ever upwards

And here’s a golden shovel with the favorite part of Mary Oliver’s “The Summer Day” poem I shared on Jone’s blog last week:

I am here today and I
don’t know when I will go.
Know this: I am
exactly in the time and place of
what is graced in
a full and favorable life. A
prayer is what I give, a prayer
is an upward awe-gaze.
I am here today to rest and
do nothing better than to
know, really know, God is
how I have peace
to live the days left, to
pay homage in rapt

Sibling poems, one line, more or less (continued).

The Poetry Marathon is coming up! Write a poem an hour for 12 or 24 hours. It starts Saturday morning, June 15. Sign up here.

Finally, have you heard of Jessica Jacobs and Peter Metres? They each published a book of poetry with almost the same cover. When they learned of the other’s book cover, they started a conversation and realized they and their books had a lot more in common than just their covers. I’ve ordered both of their books after reading and watching their conversations.

14 thoughts on “Poetry Friday – Clunker Exchange Poem “Unchained”

  1. Gosh Denise, I got the chills reading “Unchained.” You nestled the line in and it fits perfectly there. In your golden shovel, I may have to pin this line above my writing table:

    Know this: I am
    exactly in the time and place of
    what is graced in
    a full and favorable life.

    A prayer if ever there was one. Thank you!

  2. Wow. You have made art from art and…well, Linda calls them clunkers, but I say they are shards of art!

  3. Denise, your mother’s painting is fascinating. How creative to convey so much meaning through an arrangement of rectangles. I am pondering the meaning of each shape. I wonder if the pink rectangle at the bottom is you. Your poem fits the painting perfectly, and the “clunker” you selected fits perfectly within the poem. A beautiful nest.

  4. Oh my, Denise, that clunker line fits your mother’s painting so beautifully, and I love your reflection for it, “only into paint”. And I also enjoy your golden shovel, especially “I am
    exactly in the time and place of. . . and on. The poem feels like a nourishment.

  5. Your poem is so moving and poignant, the painting fascinating. I keep looking at it. Your golden shovel is lovely too. Interesting about Jessica and Peter!

  6. Oh my… the stories we carry, the lives we live. Both of these poems tell their stories so well, with depth and emotion. I salute you for sharing these. I especially love the golden shovel, as Mary Oliver is always a touchstone for me. The Jessica and Philip thing is a mystery to unfold. Thanks for sharing all this goodness.

  7. I am sooo intrigued by that painting of your mother’s and the way you incorporated Linda’s “clunker” (none of her lines ever sound clunky to me!) is fascinating. I read the painting down from top to bottom, but you made me reconsider it from bottom to top, where the light is brightest. Can’t wait to read more about the twin covers coincidence! Anti spam word this time is “egret err”!

  8. Another example of one person’s clunker being another person’s gem, Denise! Your mother’s art and your response is magical. And what a crazy coincidence about the covers/content of those two poetry books. I look forward to learning more. 🙂

  9. What a beautiful conversation with your mother’s painting. My goodness, there is such emotion in the history of how both came to be. “She didn’t put the darkness into many words,” might just be a line I need for some poems I’m working on. Thank you for this poem and this tribute to your parent’s relationship. Clunkers ALWAYS surprise me.

  10. Denise, thank you for sharing your mother’s art. And for your poems! The clunker poem–wow. The unflinching mention of the darkness, the partner of the double chain, and that repetition of only, only, only. It feels like a story of relentless survival and then hope. Lovely.

    And the golden shovel. This feels like exactly what Oliver means in her poem. And it also feels like a poem that could come straight from the heart of my 93-year-old beautiful mom-in-law. At peace. Full of attention and grace.

  11. Denise, your poems are so sensitive, loving reflections. Your mother’s artwork is inviting and once I read the backmatter, I realized how wonderfully you captured her artist thoughts. The clunker line is beautifully blended into your poem (with a depth of meaning). I would like to join Linda’s clunker line invitation but I cannot get into her site while in the hospital.

  12. Linda, I wanted you to know I cannot visit your blog post today. The hospital’s internet is not allowing me entrance. I look forward to seeing your clunker challenge.-Carol V.

  13. Wow! I loved: “She didn’t put the darkness
    into many words
    only into paint.” Powerful!

  14. Oh, Denise, your mother’s painting and your poem touched me so much! What a beautiful use of Linda’s anything-but-a-clunker. I love the image of pushing ever upwards. Thanks for sharing this. xo

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