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If I Had a Boat

May 20, 2012

I readily admit it—I’m a bad artist. I easily let life get in the way of my art. This is my excuse for the lack of activity on this blog. But the good news is that a stagnant site has prompted me to think about what I want to achieve by sharing my work here. Thanks to this blog, I’ve been connected with an incredible international network of talented poets who gently yet thoroughly rip apart pieces I am struggling to finish. That group gives me the freedom to post raw, fresh-from-the-pen poems here—a prospect that ranges from scary to numbing depending on my frame of mind. But on the best of days my frame of mind tells me that working to create art rather than waiting for it to spontaneously appear is exactly what I need.

So that’s the latest phase of the JulieBook. Fortunately, poet friends again come to my rescue by offering ideas, challenges, and prompts that encourage me to explore major keys and minor variations. Some might be insipid, others overwrought, but the new motto is “Words will flow.”

Here’s the first attempt, written for the dVerse Poets Pub Poetics challenge:

If I Had a Boat
The twitch master rises
knowing races start
long before launch
Brown Dog is prepared
visualizing his course
He pauses only to gulp food
that keeps crankiness
and distraction at bay
wishing his human
would offer pizza and beer
but willing to settle for kibble
if it means arriving first in the yard

Rigged for release
Brown Dog hovers
staring at his future
He jockeys for position
eager to take the lead
hoping his stupid human
won’t drive him off the line

No air horn here
Door creaks
clasp snaps
and he crosses over at full speed
heading for the mark
seeking clean air

He tacks to port
Shiny object
or strategic course change?
His line pulls flat and taunt
as he beats upwind
to lay the line

Back on starboard
he comes in too tight
squashing momentum
before accelerating downwind
ears full

Heeled over
he rounds the pin
and trims his sails
for his final run
tail high as he crosses an invisible line

Clearly his race is run

He eases to cruising speed
grabbing a final loop
leisurely sniffing out the best wind
before heading to port
course set for home

The challenge: Pick a craft, trade, job and to think about the specific verbs (or really any words) associated with the craft…. Then, write about something completely different, incorporating, if you can, some of those specific strong technical verbs.


9 Comments leave one →
  1. May 21, 2012 3:47 pm

    Julie, I enjoyed your poem and your humility. There are a lot of fine people here, and you never have to be afraid to share. Thanks for commenting on my blog. I do think reciprocity is the key. Am so glad I was introduced to your blog


    • May 21, 2012 5:40 pm

      Thanks, Mary! Fine people and fine poets, judging both those whose work I was familiar with and the poets I was introduced to in this challenge. As an overachiever and perfectionist, the fear of writing and sharing in such a tight window comes with the territory I think. But the fabulous feedback and encouragement I receive certainly make it easier!


  2. Dick Jones permalink
    May 21, 2012 11:43 am

    You create a quirky, almost cartoon-like setting and sustain reader belief throughout. Clever, witty and very effective.


  3. May 21, 2012 6:09 am

    I like your motto, and I love this poem. I usually publish mine just as they come out, but my “flow” has had years to cut its path. I go back and look at old poems–post some of them–and think, “Good Lawd, who wrote THAT!?!?” I can usually tighten them up, but some I just have to laugh and throw away. (I don’t actually throw them away, just file them in a safe place.) My point is, don’t be afraid to post them as they come; you’ll get some good feedback from some great folks, and eventually your channel will be carved out. You might also want to adopt my motto as a secondary one for yourself: “Don’t be Skeert”


  4. May 20, 2012 10:02 pm

    now this dog has a will of his own…smiles…like how you use the sailing verbs and quite the journey you took us on..


  5. May 20, 2012 9:17 pm

    So clever. Really well done. Work on the polish but keep the ignition going here – that spark and energy. K.


  6. May 20, 2012 8:40 pm

    nice…i really like your opening 3 lines…i think they set the pace…really strong use of the sailing terms, i like that…as far a crit, i would try to more away from pronouns a bit in this and that would tighten it up all the more…


    • May 20, 2012 8:50 pm

      Thanks, Brian! I’m not used to putting pieces out for view so quickly; I definitely hesitated before pressing the “publish” button. But I’m happy to hear the tone and terminology came through–and will certainly work on the polish.


      • May 21, 2012 10:07 am

        def dont sweat it….its all part of the refining process…i often put them out and use any feedback i get to help make any needed adjustments before sending them on or doing something with them…glad to have you at dverse…smiles. happy monday.


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