Friday, February 5, 2021

let the cage fall

Today the Sunday Swaggers are writing to Catherine Flynn's challenge. Inspired by S. Kirk Walsh’s essay “How E.L. Doctorow Taught an Aspiring Writer to Hear the Sounds of Fiction," we are to copy a mentor poem (or other text) “word for word, then replace [that poet’s] language with your own.” For this experiment I return to Lucille Clifton and the poem that she says is one of the few that came to her whole. She says it has no title.

poem by Lucille Clifton

let there be new flowering
in the fields let the fields
turn mellow for the men
let the men keep tender
through the time let the time
be wrested from the war
let the war be won
let love be
at the end

"Let there be new flowering" from good woman: poems and a memoir 1969-1980 by Lucille Clifton.  (BOA Editions, Ltd, 1987)


more than one direction
                  for Duncan

let there be new burgeoning
in the boys let the boys
turn colors in their cage
let the cage fall carried
by the light let the light
be rescued from the core
let the core be cast
let love be
in the men 

draft ©Heidi Mordhorst

So that was a challenge indeed!  As the writer of the original article explains, "I copied...then replaced her language with my own — and began to understand how I could create my own musical arrangements in my imagination and on the page." I hope Lucille's music comes through here, and also a hint of how my shiny beautiful son lends new meaning to the term "martial arts." Also I reserve the right to edit this throughout the day.  It ain't done yet.

Check out the re-creations of all the Swaggers here, as we very deliberately swag the language of other writers and use them with stylish confidence.

Catherine Flynn @ Reading to the Core 
Molly Hogan @ Nix the Comfort Zone 
Linda Mitchell @ A Word Edgewise 
Margaret Simon @ Reflections on the Teche

Our Poetry Friday round-up today is at Jone Rush MacCulloch's blog, where she swags words and lines from all her lovely New Year postcards to create something new.  See you there!


  1. This poem rumbles and rolls as if the boys are wrestling. Love "let the cage fall" as though for the boy to be a man, he must let the cage fall.

  2. You beautifully captured Lucille's music in your own poem. I love how it rolls on until the end.

  3. Such beautiful music in the original and yours as well. I love "burgeoning"!

  4. I think I am going to need to read the article and try one myself. I love the music of yours, and felt the two final lines should be shared with many men.

  5. I love the rhythm and ever-forward motion of this, Heidi. And that image of the was very mysterious to me, but totally captivating.

  6. Heidi, I love the fast flow of both poems and the fact they both carry so much meaning. I especially love your lines, "carried by the light let the light be rescued from the core."
    Great writing!

  7. Our wishes for our boys tremble with satisfaction when we watch them grow, Heidi. I love your call for them.

  8. So much of the meaning you have captured from the original is in the rhythm, the sense of becoming. Nice work.


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