The Key

The second piece was the salvaged end of a first attempt. The first poem I feel much stronger for, as I do about most of the poems I write lately in which I struggle to understand how to live this new life as a father without feeling resentment at having lost something from my former, free and easy lifestyle.

the key is to remember
you are not alone
in your one-handedness

mothers, fathers
and caregivers
for thousands of years
have been doing

the key
is to think
each task through completely
to prevent your inevitable
inefficiency from becoming

the key
is to wash your hands
one at a time
of your stress
over the situation

the day’s doings
will be done, be it slower
much slower
than anticipated

the key
is to set small

the key
is to take the time
all this one handed
of life

all this responsibility
in one hand
baby in the other hoping
1. actually get the kitchen picked
up or your boots
put on instead of those slip on clogs (which
are not suitable footwear for Alaskan beaches)
so that you can walk the dogs
whose whining your are holding
in your third and fourth hands
and in the muscles
of your neck
2. not to drop your sweet, smiling,
I don’t care that you’re juggling me and life,
baby, who coos and caws
and only occasionally declares
“enough is enough, dad, stop
all this unessential crap and play
with me dammit!”

the key
is to think
it all through
and drop any idealizations
of clean floors
and just put your boots
on before putting
on the baby
so you can drop
the I-feel-like-a-fat-man
and get outside
where you don’t need hands
just legs
to walk
and eyes to take
it all in
and your poet’s voice
to translate
all into the language
your child understands

the key
is to smile with your eyes
laugh with your heart
and whenever possible, hold
what you love
two hands


on this beach I found
a key
a rusty key

who knows
whose doors
it might open?
or engines it might start?

perhaps it once knew
just how
to turn
that seized up
barnacle covered
half buried
by twenty years
of glacial sediment
septic outflow
and salmon carcass

the key
to understanding just
what this carefully
cut piece of steel
may have opened
is to open oneself up
to all possibilities

for now
only those doors
open and close
on my imagination
are opened
by this mysterious

8 thoughts on “The Key

  1. thanks for the suggestions for adjusting line breaks. i made some changes and feel that the way it was before made sense to me, but the rhythm was already in my head, now the rhythm is in the verse, where it belongs.

  2. “the key is to
    think it all through
    and drop any idealizations
    of clean floors”

    It sure does..:D

    I agree with Kimberley. You need to fix the line breaks. Otherwise it jars at certain points.

    Some times the reader needs clear cut demarcations. Free verse is not really freeas some thing. It to follow certai pattern and rhythm.

  3. Kimberly- thanks for the feedback. I’ve never had much of an idea about line breaks, though I feel like some days i get it right, most of the time i’m just working with rhythm instead of punch, trying to keep readers eyes moving to the next line. I find i really like poets whose line breaks are unexpected and keep my kind of gasping for air.

    no cream puffs necessary, i’ll come check out your piece. it’s difficult to only accept criticism when it is asked for, but i’ll accept that invitation.

  4. Lea and Tumblewords- thanks for reading. It’s been a very good few weeks for me since coming across this community and the Poetry Book Club at Jessica’s 9 to5 Poet site. I’d been pretty stagnant in my writing life for sometime as is evident by the sparseness of posts to my blog in June and July. keep reading, i’ll keep churning it out, as if i had a choice.

  5. Hi Jonas,

    I liked the idea of giving and receiving gentle critique 🙂 – (I sure could use some suggestions!) But with the condition that it is given only when asked for. I posted at writer’s island my rational behind my opinion.

    I enjoyed reading your poetry. There are some lines I particularly liked. Like these:

    I feel like a fat man
    who can’t see my feet dance
    and get outside
    where you don’t
    need hands
    just legs to walk
    and eyes to take it all in
    and your poet’s voice . . .

    One suggestion: You may want to reconsider your line breaks. Ending with words such as “to” “is” “this” etc. robs the lines of their “punch” – Experiment with using stronger words to end lines with. Hope this was helpful.

    I would welcome critique on the piece I currently have up for Writer’s Island. It is a weak, in my opinion, attempt at a little humor about creativity block. Look forward to hearing from you. (Can I use cream puffs to bribe you into coming over?) 🙂

  6. such good writing… all those multiple, juggling arms, the visual is very powerful, and finding that key to stop the juggling act… then the key on the beach, so simple, yet again powerful, unlocking the doors of imagination. I so enjoy your writing and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to walk the beach of writers island with you and the other islanders!

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