Inkling Challenge: Change

This month Heidi challenged us to write in response to the theme of change. She wrote, “Write a poem that 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.”

When we met for our biweekly meeting, we all confessed that none of us had created much poetry over the holidays. Mary Lee suggested that we try creating an exquisite corpse poem and then work from that to create our challenge poems. You can read a full explanation of the form here, but the long and the short of it is that one person sends a line of poetry privately to another person, who responds by creating their own line and sending it (and not the preceding line) on to the next person. This continues until everyone has added a line to the poem, seeing only the line that comes immediately before theirs. Our only guidance for this was the theme “Change.” I maybe whined a little before we started, but it was “fun”! (Thanks, Mary Lee!)

After each of us had contributed a line, here’s what we had:

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.

Pretty cool, right?

We agreed that we could alter these lines in any way shape or form as we created our poems. I decided to bold the original words so you can see how they contributed to my effort.


Leaves on the forest floor acquiesce 
lift and subside, rustlesigh
tornado-up toward blasting skies
always at one with the wind

Meanwhile, flapping map clasped in hand
we march onward
focused on forecasting, predicting
altering and resisting
weather eye to the sky
unaware of how much we’re missing

Still the wind unwinds us day by day,
changeling breeze and blustery gale
shifting clouds, shining light or casting shadows
The only certainty
that unknown steps and stones
still lie ahead

©Molly Hogan, draft

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Catherine Flynn. You can go to her blog, Reading to the Core, to see how she responded to this challenge and other poetic offerings. You can check out the other Inkling responses by clicking below:

Linda Mitchell
Margaret Simon
Heidi Mordhorst
MaryLee Hahn

16 thoughts on “Inkling Challenge: Change

  1. maryleehahn says:

    Nice! I love that middle stanza, plus all of your wind descriptions: “rustlesigh,” “tornado-up,” “changeling breeze,” “blustery gale.” And YES to putting down the maps (and phones) and paying better attention to the world around us!


  2. Kay Mcgriff says:

    I love that middle stanza, especially the contrast with the beautiful descriptions in the other stanzas that highlight all we are missing.


  3. margaretsmn says:

    Every one of us took off with the original lines and created something unique. I love these wind words “lift and subside, rustlesigh
    tornado-up”. Tornado being a bit close for comfort. I think my poem and your final stanza speak to each other.


  4. lindabaie says:

    Oh, I like the way you’ve included “steps and stones”, Molly. (I’ve only read Catherine’s thus far.) This is going to be interesting to see them all. Happy New Year!


  5. Well done, Molly! I love the “rustlsigh” of the leaves, and the chiming of predicting/resisting/missing in the second stanza.


  6. Susan says:

    Now that’s pretty cool! Well done. I like both poems, and admire how y’all came up the first.


  7. heidimordhorst says:

    Oh, you enriched our original lines very much, Molly! I love the line “changeling breeze and blustery gale,” giving plain ol’ Wind so much more character. What “fun” we’ve had!


  8. Ramona says:

    Rustlesigh is such a perfect word for leaves! I love the poem you created from the words shared by your group.


  9. Jone says:

    I love the wind images. I also love the process that the Inklings used for the challenge.


  10. cvarsalona says:

    There are so many parts of your descriptive poem that I love, Molly. Nature is at its best in your poem of change. It’s good to connect with you again.


  11. haitiruth says:

    It’s so cool to see how this developed!


  12. Linda Mitchell says:

    Beautiful…your words holding all the others together. Really, really nice and so like you! “Eye to the sky,” love that.


  13. Really love the way acquiesce and rustlesigh sound together as end words.


  14. Very nice, Molly. I leaned into “rustle sigh” and let those leaves carry me with them. And then a later phrase stopped me in my tracks: “weather eye to the sky/unaware of how much we’re missing” – a call-out if ever there was one… how often do we obsess and worry over what’s to come and miss what’s right in front of us… Thank you for this gentle reminder.


  15. rosecappelli says:

    “rustlesigh” – Wonderful!


  16. tee+d says:

    You all came up with an unbelievably brilliant…”corpse” from which to work. I love the image of the windblown traveler, grimly marching onward with a weather-eye on the sky while clutching the flapping map… Here’s to not missing the journey in favor of the destination.


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