Posted by: Shanna Germain | 05/18/2009

Pg. 48: Path Poem


Such a tease, this sunshine, this flowery spring.


  • Weather: Soaked.
  • Mileage: 3,457 stairs. No, not really. But I did go up and down them five times today, twice with laundry, once with groceries, once with recyclables and garbage and once empty-handed after a walk. At 76 stairs each time, each way (yes, I counted them!) that’s… uh… 760 stairs.
  • Discovery: The grocery store charges a pound for you to use their big carts instead of a wee basket. Explain that bit of good-business sense…
  • Media: Anvil New Poets 2
  • Worst Thing: Getting out of bed. It’s cold here in the rainy morns.
  • Best Thing: Toasties made in the cooker — bacon, cheese, tomatoes and mushrooms, all heated to a glowing brown under the broiler.
  • Quote of the Day: Only the buzzing of my own brain today. Which is…scary.
  • Word of the Day: Cooker. It’s the wee stove-thingy.


Rather than regale you with yet another essay about walking, writing and the ocean, I thought I’d do a fifteen-minute poem exercise. The way it works is pretty simple: You pick a topic and you have fifteen minutes to write a complete poem. It’s great practice for the poet, but usually not so much fun for the reader. So just bear with me through the muddle, and tomorrow I’ll have something semi-smart to say, I promise!

-Sets her timer.

Okay. Go!

Interior Landscape

I’m done with traveling the world. For now.
For now, I’m exploring the internal landscape,
my mental map, ridges and bumps and mountains.
This river I can’t cross. That jungle I can’t see through.

Sometimes–like right now, when I’m standing knee-deep
in mucked mud, swatting midges, crabby and pissed,
thinking “this is too hard, I want to go home,”
when I’m mostly lost, sometimes, like that

I want someone ahead of me, cutting
the brush, paving the path, blazing the trail–
all those cliches of what you do for discovery.
I want him tying flags on trees, saying “this way,

come this way.” Sticking sticks beneath bushes
so the adders scatter, beautiful deadly slither.
Telling me, “don’t drink that water, don’t
even touch it, it’s too old, too still. Let it lie.”

Or at the least, someone buff and brilliant,
a native, to haul my baggage after me,
up that slippery slope of time and memory,
pointing out the landmarks proper:

“Look, there’s the well your mother left.
There’s the bluebird of depression on the tree
of despair. And over here, look over here,
that’s the sinkhole of your first marriage.

Mind your step, go around.”
And I will. I’ll go around and around.
Never even get my shoes dirty.
Much less my mouth.

But other days, like tomorrow, when the sun
takes out the canopy, the moss whispers
sweet nothings to the mushrooms,
those days, I want to beat my own way

through the muck and the mire. Dirty
shoes, dirty girl, panting and pointing.
Touching everything, whispering,
“Remember this. Remember this.”


There: 12.30 minutes. -does a fist pump-

Rhythm and rhyme, s.



Just loved the way this looked. Rope on a gate.


“The mere thought hadn’t even begun to speculate about the merest possibility of crossing my mind.” ~Douglas Adams



  1. Gorgeous poem!

    Most supermarkets in Britain charge the £1, but you get it back when you return the cart. (Connect the cart back to the line of carts, and £1 pops back out.)

    I’ve always assumed it’s to keep people from randomly leaving the carts all over.

    • Aha! I knew there was a reason for the shopping carts! Hysterical and here I was all blustery. “Why would they do that?”


  2. Wow–you could probably do a kickass novel if you used the whole 15!

    Amazing website about “stray” shopping carts (it’s also a book):

    • Haha. Kickass novel my ass. One of these days 🙂

      LOVE the site… that’s bloody brilliant!

  3. Beautiful poem, Shanna! I especially loved the sixth paragraph. Stunning.

    (I was going to say the same thing re the money. You usually get it back, as Dayle describes.)

    • Thanks, Ella! That’s awesome. Funny, that was the stanza where I read it after and was thinking, “Hm… too maudlin?”


  4. I love the poem. All your words are poetry… I’m enjoying your travelogue immensely.

    The £1 is a deposit, demand it back! Apparently some people will walk trolleys all the way to their homes and then use them in the garden in place of wheelbarrows. Just one reason why we all have to suffer the grief of not having a pound coin on hand for every visit. 😉

    • Oh, thanks Saskia! That’s so nice to hear 🙂

      And, really? For wheelbarrows? I want to see that… and write about it! Heh.

  5. Back to read this again – geez, I might be able to write a haiku in 15 minutes – I find some of the lines here stunning. One in particular really gets me – not sure why – “Mind your step, go around.”

    Very nice Shanna.

    • Thanks so much! I know, those words of advice keep coming back to me too. Maybe it’s the fact that they’re kind of spooky or something…

  6. wow!
    you wrote that poem in 15 minutes!
    it took me 10 minutes to read it and 10 more to try and understand what you were saying.


    • Did you figure out what I was trying to say? If so, let me know, since I have no idea 🙂

      Usually, it takes me a solid three years after I write a poem before I know what it’s really about. And sometimes I never actually do!

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