Posted by: Shanna Germain | 03/27/2010

Pg. 212: Five-Minute Poem

Five-minute poem. Care to join me? Share your own, inspired by the photo above or the poem below.



I’m doing good. And then, today, this:
Tears and rain in torrent, in floods held too long in cloud.
Mad scramble for bra and socks, shoes and hat, tangling in them.
Rabbit goes through the hole, comes out again, his ears caught in laces.
I haven’t run in years. Not since there was something
to run away from.
Or to.
The gravel turns to mud turns to river turns to blood.
I’m not racing anything. I can’t even catch my own breath.
There are things I’m afraid of here. Long brambles that scratch
and cut, roads that go to nowhere, winged things that buzz
my mouth and want the curled pink of my ears.
There are things I’m afraid of everywhere.
My father is a runner. There’s something in him that needs to move.
I don’t know why or how or if that matters to this poem, but as I run,
I picture him sitting, one leg on a lawn chair after knee surgery,
his fingers drumming a path on the arm through a long summer night.
We went for a walk later, slow, and I thought about age, the way the
body succumbs to the weight of what we carry.
The run today? You made me cry. It’s as simple as that. As complicated.
It wasn’t even you, or the loss of you or the
so many years gone gain of you.
It was the way of you, the away of you.
I’m not running away from anything.
I’m not running toward.
I’m just here, now, stopped-time, still motion, suspended animation.
One leg poised, step-siding a deer print, a coyote print, an imprint
in the muck of where we’re never going, where we’ve never been.
Tomorrow I will feel this, the way
muscle tugs on bone tugs on breath tugs on lung.
Tomorrow I will feel this, the way
fists fingers fears untangle loosen let go of hearts.


  1. love it love lit love it. and the photos, too.

    A xxx

    • Thank you, darling. That means a ton coming for you. I always miss writing poetry when I don’t do it. And then the return is: ahhhhh. 😛

  2. nice stuff, beautiful fotos

    Haven’t written a poen since junior high

    I gave myself five minutes with the foto of the dinosaur (that’s what I saw) and came up with some very strange prose as follows:

    As I drift
    farther and farther
    from my center

    I take note
    of the fragility
    of all that surrounds me

    Even the journey
    whether complex or simple
    is frail and has to end

    I bask in all of the revelry

    it basks in me

    Soon after
    it basks not

    And in amber
    I am born again

    • Hi Dean…

      Oh, wow. A poem. A lovely awesome poem. Thank you so much. I’m so glad you wrote something for this. Such a treat.

      • It was a bit of a challenge but in that the last time I did something like that was a bunch of years ago, I may try again. Thanks Shanna for the inspiration.

  3. Wonderful! You did that in 5 minutes? This paragraph touched me…reminds me of so much…

    The run today? You made me cry. It’s as simple as that. As complicated.
    It wasn’t even you, or the loss of you or the
    so many years gone gain of you.
    It was the way of you, the away of you.

  4. The sun is rising through the barbed wire
    It’s rays are caught in my sharp thoughts and twisted emotions
    How to break free of the cold pressing down my sunshine, blocking out my light
    Loneliness has me fenced in with a friend who has his own cage to escape from
    Barbed wire needs to be gnawed through with teeth and nails
    A bloody battle painting my trembling lips

    My 5 minutes gave us a much shorter poem…and a depressing one…lol…

    • Oh, see, this is what I love best about writing five-minute poems. It’s the poems that come in response. This was beautiful. My favorite line is:

      Loneliness has me fenced in with a friend who has his own cage to escape from

      Yes. I feel that. Very much so.

  5. written in 5 minutes, but spent 10 on grammar and spelling.

    I was a long distance runner once, before the knee surgery. On sunday I walked two houses down on Salmon street. Bee and I. We went for our long run then. Before the sun came up to our waist. We stopped by Grand Central at the very end for two cinnamon buns hot and sticky like us. The others would join us at the table. Both controlling our lives engineer and architect He always said she was fat. She was beautiful, radiant. Mine, mine said nothing. That was plenty.

    She’s from the South can’t remember where Mississippi? New Orleans? No I don’t know somewhere hot I know that. she writes stories,and it’s always hot or too hot. Like her. Eyes, mouth, hands, hers––where they belong––on me, I light up. She saw the scar on the little finger of my right hand, said “well what happened here” but didn’t wait for the answer. Lifted my hand, kissed the finger.

    • Oh, wow, Chloe. This has such lovely images. The bit about the sticky buns made me laugh, and I love that last line. The scars we have, the way they tell our stories by themselves. Reading this makes me think, “yes, that’s just what it’s like.”

      So glad you were inspired to write this.

  6. I’m savoring.

    • Me too, Isabel. Me too!

  7. nice work, Shanna, nice idea, thank you.

    The angle of my laptop screen in the dimly lit room makes the photo look much darker. Shall we say.

    There is barbed wire stretched across my way.

    Before I can reach the wide open skies,
    I must scramble across it
    tear my hands and knees on its spikes
    and brave the tenuous bounce of its thin support
    the push and wobble under my hands
    that will threaten to throw me
    rend my clothes and leave me scarecrowed, crucified upon it
    I’m chasing the sunset
    Will the sky be dark before I extricate myself
    from its cruel grip of grief and blame?
    nothing left of the light but a line of fire on the unreachable horizon

    • Oh my gosh, I’m loving all these poems.

      Jo, just gorgeous:

      rend my clothes and leave me scarecrowed,
      crucified upon it
      I’m chasing the sunset


      • Thanks for commenting! Yay 🙂

  8. leave me scarecrowed……………i do really like that to, I’ve always related with the guy who didn’t have a brain, jealous I guess

  9. It was bitter cold that day
    that December day
    Christmas Eve day
    coaxing me onto a frozen field.
    You ripped your jeans on barbed wire that
    surrounded the crumbling foundation of
    Foster High School, now torn down and
    carted away.

    You fell to one knee, a
    young girl’s fantasy
    asking for my hand,
    offering a pledge, and I
    knew you loved me without reservation.

    Same place as your parents, you said,
    Same place as mine.
    An auspicious start surely to a marriage
    intended to last a lifetime.

    But what I remember most about that
    bittersweet day is the tear in your jeans,
    bleeding flesh, a crown of thorns, and a
    scissor-tail flycatcher startled off the fence and
    into the dawn of a new day.

  10. in my five minute haste there’s a tiny error – should read same place as your parents, you said, same day as mine.


    • Every morning it seems I wake up to another gorgeous poem in my comments. I love, love the last stanza, how the rip and the cut returns in an entirely new way. A crown of thorns, a marriage ring. Lovely.

  11. Wonderful to wake up to your beautiful poem LJ. Thanks for accepting my dare! I think we’re ready for Sage Cohen’s one poem a day in April.

    NaPoWriMo 2010: The Writing the Life Poetic Challenge

    • Oh, Chloe, I forgot about Sage’s poem-a-day. I think we should all totally do it!

  12. Here’s the official link to her challenge:

  13. Go, Shanna, go! I love the blog, the invitation, the five-minute poems, the ALIVEness that is pouring out of you and into me! Thank you, blessed life-luster and beautiful soul!

  14. Ha! Just saw the link to my challenge; you sent it to me earlier today, but I was too distracted with my work day to understand that this conversation was happening between you and Chloe on your fabulous blog! Since I won’t have time to write a poem a day this month, I will be living vicariously through all who participate in the challenge! Thanks for sharing the link!

    • Right back atcha, Sage, on all of this. I miss you and your golden, poetic soul. Can’t wait to see you this summer!

      And you’re leading us all on this poetry charge even if you aren’t writing yourself — it’s all your fault. I mean, inspiration! 🙂

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