Poetry Friday: Change

Heidi gave the Inklings our January challenge: “Write a poem which weighs the pros and cons of #change. For extra fun, use any form, but consider starting in one form and gradually transitioning in the course of the poem to a quite different form.” Oof. Not a small challenge to tackle in the midst of the holidays, and other assorted moves, births of grandchildren, and COVID episodes (none of these mine).

This past Monday on our Zoom, sensing (hoping) that we were all slightly poem-less, I changed up the challenge and suggested an Exquisite Corpse Poem. One line would be written and sent to the next poet via private chat, who would send only her line to the next poet, and so on until we had, if not a poem, then at least some words to use as seeds to grow a poem.

Here’s what we wound up with:

Leaves on the forest floor understand and submit
Submit without challenging the direction of the wind
to wander and wind along our way
the wind unwinds us day by day, shifting
clouds, shining light or casting shadows
Where steps and stones still lie.

Eight drafts later, I offer this:


Our planet’s slow, interconnected natural changes are sharply contrasted by the selfishly rapid changes humans have caused, presumably to benefit our species, but which in reality are destroying our home.

Here’s how the rest of the crew met Heidi’s CHANGE challenge and/or CHANGED the lines we began with on Monday to make a new poem:

Linda @A Word Edgewise
Heidi @my juicy little universe
Molly @Nix the Comfort Zone
Catherine @Reading to the Core
Margaret @Reflections on the Teche

Catherine has this week’s Poetry Friday roundup at Reading to the Core. Link up and/or check out ALL the posts there!

Thanks to all who signed up to host Poetry Friday in the first half of 2023. Let me know if you need the code for your sidebar.

The change image is via Unsplash.

18 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Change”

  1. Your use of repetition in this poem is really masterful. It makes the whole feel timeless– like a meditation. It’s such fun to see all the different poems! Thanks again for this idea (even if I maybe was a bit less than enthusiastic!).


  2. I am enjoying reading the results of your challenge–the variations from these words so far have been breathtaking. Yours is filled with such peace.


  3. I love how you whittled the lines down to these perfect haiku. The repetition is meditative. Thanks for leading the charge on this idea. It was fun.


  4. I enjoyed your condensing the lines all of you wrote to the essence of change, Mary Lee. The idea of the ‘shifting’ brings me to ponder ‘stalemate’ & hoping our actions can make “change”.


  5. You’ve captured the essence of our lines beautifully, Mary Lee. The repetition emphasizes the cycles of change and its inevitability. Thank you for nudging us out of our comfort zone with this challenge!


  6. I absolutely love where this went! I think one of the greatest gifts of the group work in a poetry practice is showing what richness exists even in draft materials. The collective diversity of expression from a common source is like the glorious shades of a favorite color.


  7. I also like the repetition, but the reversal, with the pivot point at “wind’s direction shifts,” is masterful. You altered not the lines but the order and structure, beautifully and yes, meditatively.


  8. Love knowing that the Inklings are sometimes poem-less! Love the thoughts you shared in your poem. I was incredulous when I read today that the Great Salt Lake may be gone in five years. We have done nothing for far too long (I’m so afraid we can’t reverse the effects), but change has to help. Right?


  9. Whoah…you pulled a reverso out of those lines. I’m impressed. And, it works. Well done, Mary Lee. I love learning from you and with you.


  10. I feel the pendulum swing of your words, Mary Lee. I read and re-read the poem and kept returning to the title: Change is Inevitable. I thought about those stones, lying still. Even if we can’t move or don’t move, change will shape us. Leaves lean in to the wind, give the wind its due. Clouds observe, reflect – perhaps even cause some of the circumstances for this change. And the wind shifts. And the change changes, continues. Yikes! So much to think about! Thank you!


  11. This is great, Mary Lee. I love the repetition. I don’t love the word “submit” in all the change poems, because I somehow want the leaves to wander but ALSO somewhat control their own destiny. Submit and influence, I guess. I don’t know. Your poem and the others are giving me lots to think about! Also, thank you for the lovely email about my poem this week.


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