Friday, September 1, 2023

incomplete syntax, incomplete challenge

Greetings and rabbit, rabbit to you all. This illustration is by my friend Robin Galbraith, who has been spending an hour protesting Supreme Court ethics violations for *56* days!  See her activism on Facebook:

Here in the mid-Atlantic the day is dawning sunny and pleasantly cool (with 98* predicted for next week, so let's not break out our sweaters). As it's the first Friday of the month, we kick off with the Inklings Challenge, set by Margaret Simon:

Jack Bedell is a former Louisiana Poet Laureate. His poem “Ghost Forest” uses the poetic element of enjambment. Write a poem on any topic using enjambment.
Here is the Poetry Foundations definition:

I applied my Definito preparation approach and read about the etymology of the word jamb.  Come on through, readers; the doorway's open

Maybe every poem (not just every poem by me) turns out to be about the body somehow, the source of all our metaphors.  You could test that idea that by reading DEAR HUMAN AT THE EDGE OF TIME, the climate anthology published by Paloma Press, edited by three distinguished folks and including 69 distinguished poets and me. The virtual book launch was last night and it was most enjoyable!  Pre/order your copy at this link--it releases at some point this month, and my paperback copy is very satisfying to have in hand.  The variety of the poems is wonderful, and you can watch the recorded launch reading here.  That challenge is pretty complete, although I hope to participate in another of the readings that are forthcoming.

My Sealey Challenge, however, is another matter.  I cannot seem to read a whole collection of adult poems at a sitting; it's all too intense somehow.  So I went ahead with my attempt to catch up my inbox full of a Poem-A-Day, and was what you might call moderately successful.  Unlike some of you all, it turns out that a deadline by itself (as opposed to a deadline-or-else) is not enough to marshal my self-discipline; plus, I've had to give into a routine of very much less routine and structure than I'm used to.  It's been a year and I'm still not that comfortable with it!

But I am going to order 4 books like I planned:

An older one, Lace & Pyrite: Letters from Two Gardens by Ross Gay and Aimee Nezhukumatathil, two of my favorite poets;
One by Camonghne Felix, who was a political speechwriter before being a poet-- Build Yourself a Boat;
Swoon by DJ Savarese, and 
WELCOME TO THE WONDER HOUSE, poems by Rebecca Kai Dotlich & Georgia Heard.

You can see the rest of the Inklings' responses
to the enjambment
by clicking these 

Linda @A Word Edgewise
Mary Lee @A(nother) Year of Reading
Molly @Nix the Comfort Zone
Catherine @Reading to the Core
Margaret @Reflections on the Teche

Happy New (School) Year and honoring the Labor of all this weekend!


  1. I love how you take a challenge and reimagine it. This poem, so literal that it is almost entirely metaphorical. How do you do that!? A poem a day is all I can muster these days, but I am going to preorder this anthology. Congratulations!

  2. I've read your poem multiple times now, and feel so moved by it, yet unsure how to explain why. It feels like somehow it captures the human condition--the uncertainty, the striving, the "incompleteness." It feels so tender and so deep. I'll be reading it again.

  3. Brilliant! And, this is so close to a definito in it's way. All metaphors are about the body. Huh. This gives me something to ponder while I'm out weeding the garden today. You knocked this challenge out of the park. Bravo!

  4. The first and last lines make their own poem. One I'm feeling in my bones these days.

  5. opening!!! I'm in LOVE with that poem. I may have to carry this with me (you need to sign it).

  6. First, I love how you played with enjambment in your poem! And the poetry a day in your inbox was a BRILLIANT idea. I have a stack of poetry journals that I haven't read (hangs head in shame). That's what I'll probably do in my next "challenge." Haha! And I'm a huge fan of Aimee and Ross's Lace and Pyrite.

  7. Oh, Heidi, I love that thought of waiting at the door in the "liminal rhythm of our incompleteness." Wow, something to think about regarding metaphors of the body. Congratulations on your "distinguished" inclusion in the Dear Human at the Edge of Time collection! Woohoo!

  8. Heidi, yes! It is so difficult and intense to read and digest a book of adult poems in one sitting. I don’t want to rush through a poem or a book of poems, because sometimes I just want sit with them. I love your modified Sealy Challenge. I also enjoyed the use of jambs and enjambment in your poem.

  9. Thank you for delving into the etymology of "enjambment." A much more thoughtful approach than to just focusing on the "jam" part of that syllable! I love this poem for so many reasons and agree with Mary Lee about the first and last lines. "The liminal rhythm of our incompleteness" is a stunning phrase.

  10. Heidi, Congratulations on your poem's inclusion in what sounds like a book calling us to be aware that time is running out. "Opening" begs to be read and re-read, as if something is elusive and I can't quite catch it. Like others, I feel there is a wondrous depth to that last line!

    1. Heidi, that Anonymous is Joyce Ray.

  11. I‘be been
    Straddling your sill and
    Loving it and how it connects to En
    Ment, clever form you penned
    Heidi. Congrats on the anthology too, thanks!

  12. Jack Bedell's poem is wonderful to spend time with -- a good pick for a starting place. I love that you went the definito route. "Straddling the sill" <3 Congrats on BEING HUMAN! The poem I sent Janice is a climate poem, in its own way.


Thanks for joining in the wild rumpus!