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Writing Through, a hybrid of journaling and poetry (1 Viewer)


Senior Member
So many of my poems have been like this one below, Hardly. A journal entry of a life event written in poetic form. In my book, Allsville Emerging, I introduced the term "acting through," as the constructive alternative to "acting out."

Once we journal the acting through experiences, it becomes (with a little imagination!) "writing through." Life is viewed as a poem that shows/"writes" signs/messages for insight and growth and meaningful direction. Writing through is simply recording the messages that life seems to be giving/writing.
This poem's title was inspired by the self-referential poem, Two Syllables Short of a Haiku, that someone recently shared in the Poetry Showcase forum. My Journal-poems are "hardly" poems; then again, they are not not poems.


It’s a three dog night,

but we only have one

between the two of us.

With any luck though,

we won’t freeze to death up here.

Hardly a “successful” summit.

A lot of things went wrong.

Yet here we are,

fourteen thousand feet above sea level,

sheltering in, of all places,

the cab of a garbage truck.

You just don’t find many of those

on top of majestic beauties like this!

But this was an unusually popular peak,

a paved road going up it

and a souvenir shop

on top.

We came up the other side of the mountain,

the hard, slow, stumbling, side—

the side I got drunk on

from altitude sickness,


throwing up as I was going up,

seeing black flies swarm around me,

at an altitude where they aren’t.

My son said something about going back down.

I mumbled, as drunkards do:

“We came here to climb a mountain, didn’t we?”

And that was that.

And here we are.

Hardly a peak experience.

This time of night,

the tourist attraction is a ghost town.

We have the place to ourselves;

rather, the place has us to itself.

We’re the stragglers separated from our herd.

Easy game.

The wind howls, prowls—

its cold teeth biting,

as though the truck’s windows

were just an illusion.

Speaking of illusion,

this is hardly a poem.

It’s above the timberline

of poetic imagery and mystical metaphors.

It's a bare-rock account

of someone arranging an experience,

as though the moments rhymed

and formed lyrical lines.

Oh great!

The dog just shit on the seat—

runny, breath-robbing-ly raunchy.

Won’t the sanitation workers love that?!

It makes me willing to

go right back out where I nearly froze to death,

and get the cardboard boxes I just pissed on

(seemed like a good idea at the time!),

in order to have something to clean up this mess.

Maybe it’s just as well;

we need insulation anyway,

to place inside the windows.

The truck’s manuals

became a vest under my flannel shirt.

Still not warm, but helps

make up for the absence of the hoody

I gave to my short-sleeved son.

Hardly dressed for the occasion;

didn’t think we’d need winter clothes.

But starting off at the wrong trailhead

added nearly four hours to our little hike,

exhausted all hope of beating the sunset,

seeing the mist-layered vista,

staying warm.

Nonetheless, we were treated with a vision of distant light;

allowing us to look upon civilization.

Hardly a night’s sleep.

Nodding off, just to be interrupted

by the cold, over and over and over again—

a kind of death by a thousand cuts,

sleep by a thousand naps,

time frozen,

hell on earth,

in a place nearly touching heaven.

During delirium,

I briefly wake

to the fact that I have beside me

those I love,

and we are

(for-ever-so-slowly) going through this


The frost on the inside of the windshield

seems to be melting around the edges.

Is this subtle feeling—

this slight sense of change—


Is that soft glow

a sign of sunrise?

I drift off,

feel, for the first time, refreshed as I wake up.

A car pulls up in front of the truck,


We gather our wits

and our few possessions,

then slip out a side door,

hoping the official either doesn’t notice us

or is happy to pretend we were never there

(in a garbage truck on top of a mountain!).

Hardly a way to celebrate our survival.
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Senior Member
The poem, One Syllable Short of a Haiku, that inspired the self-referential title, Hardly, was written by Jenthepen. The poem about blue-tongued giraffes.

A couple of ideas about Writing Through poems came to me while running today: 1. Writing Through takes up where Acting Through left off. Acting Through requires an awareness of the symbolism of the life events happening AT THAT TIME. When you are acting through, you turn a reality into your own psychodrama. "What is God or Life telling me with the objects and events that are presented to me in this moment?"

Writing Through is a recognition/awareness AFTER THE FACT. Although I may have been too distracted or may have for other reasons (not ready to see?) "minimized" , as Mindell, author of Quantum Consciousness says. , the meaningful implications of the events. While writing about the life event after the fact, what symbolism do I grasp now as I mentally relive it?
The second insight is related to the first: The Writing Through poem should describe the events in the PRESENT TENSE. This is a new "rule" for the "game" of writing a Writing Through poem. A previous rule of the journal-like poems (that I now would call the Writing Through variety) was that the poem dutifully describes actual events.

I probably won't rewrite my journal-like poems to conform to the present tense rule. But the older versions are actual accounts of events and situations that really did unfold in my life.

This poem below, written as a tribute to the arrival (birth) of my granddaughter, Claire, recounts actual experiences my wife and I went through when we nearly lost Claire's father several years prior to the birth of her and her older brother, Simon.


The hospital staff directed us to a room;

“The social worker will be with you soon.”

‘That means we’ll be given his things

and go home with one less son,

our hearts so heavy

that the car will surely break down.

And, so will we.’

That was years ago.

The son we thought was gone

is your father.

There was room in the inevitable,

enough for it not to be,

enough, in time, for your brother,

and then you.

Did you wait in a room

with doors to your mommy’s womb?

Did it have windows looking out

at people preparing,

each in their own way,

to say “welcome”,

their arms aching to hold you?

Do you have room

for all that love?

Our hearts are unbroken springs

that lift you up,

help carry our precious cargo


from the hospital.
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