2015 Progressive Poem - Day 23 is here!

Greetings! I've been followng along this month as the poets have been sharing this writing project and what an interesting, twisting journey this year's poem is on. Yesterday was Pat's turn at Writer on a Horse and today it's my turn to contribute a line to Irene Latham's 2015 Progressive poem. 

How I arrived at my line:

After Pat’s riveting, “hidden sentries,” and “bitter taste of impulse” rushing into the fisherman’s lungs, my first thought was that this guy is in grave danger - he has to fight, breathe. But then I watched (of all things) the new Pandora jewelry Mother’s Day ad – the one where blindfolded children seek their own mothers from a line-up. Whether or not you appreciate the ad is a question for another venue – what struck me was that the children were using senses other than sight to connect with a close family member. And it started me thinking…What if? What if, in this danger, the fisherman’s senses become heightened? Since he’s been restrained, what if the girl comes back to help him? What if she can communicate with him through nothing more than the swish of her tail? What if the sentries weren’t out to harm him, but willing to help if only he would be calm? And my lines came into focus. Here they are:

Her flipper flutters his weathered toes

–      Pearl’s signal –

Stop struggling.

The Sentinels will escort you

I decided to leave my line open-ended for Tricia to guide where she believes the poem needs to go. 

Since this is a free verse narrative poem, I also decided to format it so that the organization of the words on the page compliment the meaning. Seeing it this way helped me focus on specific details and lively actions and phrases that help tell the story, and helped me choose my lines. Maybe the format will be different tomorrow when Tricia takes over, but for today I am enjoying the look of our poem along with the words and their meaning.

Here is the poem to date with my line at the bottom:


She lives without a net,

walking along the alluvium of the delta.

Shoes swing over her shoulder,

on her bare feet stick

jeweled flecks of dark mica.

Hands faster than fish swing

at the ends of bare brown arms.

Her hair flows,


in wild wind

as she digs

in the indigo varnished handbag,

pulls out her grandmother’s oval

cuffed bracelet,
 strokes the turquoise stones, and steps

through the curved doorway.







hair first





She                  glides               past                 glossy              water

hyacinth to shimmer with a school of shad,

listens to the ibises

roosting in the trees

of the cypress swamp

an echo

of Grandmother’s words, still fresh

in her windswept memory;

“Born from the oyster,

expect the pearl.

Reach for the rainbow

reflection on the smallest dewdrop.


The surface glistens, a shadow


above her head, a paddle


she reaches, seizes. She’s electric energy

and turquoise eyes.

Lifted high, she gulps strange air – stares

clearly into
 Green pirogue, crawfish trap, startled

fisherman with turquoise eyes, twins

of her own, riveted on her wrist–

She’s swifter than a dolphin,

slipping away,

leaving him only

a handful

of memories

of his own

grandmother’s counsel:

“Watch for her.

You’ll have but one chance


to decide. Garner wisdom from the water

and from the pearl

of the past.”


In a quicksilver flash,

an arc of resolution, he


into the shimmering water

where hidden sentries restrain  

any pursuit and the bitter taste

of impulse rushes

into his lungs.

Her flipper flutters his weathered toes

–      Pearl’s signal –

Stop struggling.

The Sentinels will escort you


I'll look forward to tomorrow, when Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect adds her line. 

Thank you, Irene, for such a fun project to contribute to during National Poetry Month, and to the poets who go where the words take them! 

This week's Poetry Friday is being celebrated tomorrow with Renee LaTulippe at No Water River.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Reader Comments (7)

AAAH! I LOVE THIS, TAMERA! I love the formatting and I love where you've taken the story– the sudden calm. I wish we could continue into May... I don't want this poem to end.
Love the deepening connection you've drawn between the pair--and I'm so glad that the sentinels are helpful sentinels! Great formatting too.
April 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBuffy Silverman
I don't know where my earlier comment went, Tamera, but want to tell you this is a lovely turn again, to finally have the two together, whatever the relationship. I love the way you formatted the words too, slowing down at times, speeding up in other scenes. Thanks for all-love hearing your thoughts, too!
April 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Baie
Hooray! And I love what you did with the formatting.
April 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRuth
Yes, this is what the poem needed to make it flow! And the sentinels as guides is a good twist again. And now for another twist? What's next? Do we have to stop Irene? There were a couple more poets that wanted in on a line - I remember coming across some...maybe ending for Mother's Day? Just a what if, because this story seems to be just starting! And then it needs an illustrator...
April 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDonna Smith
The formatting is beautiful! Love! And your line is just what we needed :-)
Your reformat is the the breath of fresh water that this poem needed, Tamera! Is Pearl her name? Very exciting!
April 25, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterHeidi Mordhorst

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