A Golden Shovel of Fire
After Pablo Neruda 

On my last day, I will be a wild-haired

crone, a shriveled dragon spitting fire.

I will stand on street corners, not jumpy

or cold, in my Goodwill gumboots and

layers of flammable wool, blind

to gawkers, to compromise, to handouts, but

ablaze with a conflagration of couplets to Medicaid, and still studded

with enough reason not to torch the food bank, with

enough pride to look young poets in their mocking eyes,

crackling sassy,

half-remembered sonnets, tardy

but embroiling metaphors and

charred rhythms unpredictable

as the sun, golden

as a dying star.

On my last day, I will ignite my successor, an image thief,

a highly combustable, thin-as-kindling kid made of

pine or fir, the soft wood

of forest infernos, a not silent,

bellower of outlaw

flames who can keep the poetic blaze alive, a cooker

of carrot cinquains of

odes to onions,

one not necessarily a renowned

bard or bardette, or burning with merch, nor a sapphic swindler

of staggering greatness, or a scorching sorcerer or sorceress of slam cloaked

and branded in

sizzling Shakespearean sparks.

Day 5: Todays NaPoWriMo challenge was to write a “Golden Shovel,” a form invented by Terrance Hayes in his poem, “The Golden Shovel,” in which the last word of each line is a word from Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem “We Real Cool.” If you read the last words of each line of Hayes’ poem  in sequence, you’ll actually be reading Brooks’ complete poem.

A lover of Pablo Neruda, I stole all of 28 words from the first 10 lines of “Ode to Fire,” found in Odes to Oppositesand wrote them down as end words. The challenge, huge but enormously amusing for me, was then to write the rest of each line. If you read only the emboldened end words of my poem (after reading the entire poem, of course!) you will find that together they comprise the first 10 lines of Pablo Neruda‘s original poem:

Wild-haired fire,
and blind but studded with eyes,
tardy, and unpredictable
golden star,
thief of wood,
silent outlaw,
cooker of onions,
renowned swindler cloaked in sparks.

Watercolor by the author.

16 thoughts on “A Golden Shovel of Fire

  1. Well, I found you! 🙂 How creative and clever you are! – “taking” the end words from Pablo Neruda’s poem and creating your poem!!! I’m impressed 🙂 btw, I read it “golden star thief” rather than, “golden star, thief of wood” 🙂 You “outlaw” you… 🙂


  2. Cj, thanks, love! If you hadn’t posted the info re: NaPoWriMo I would not have taken the challenge. YOU ROCK, plus it’s great knowing that you, too, are writing poems each day. Gracias.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s