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Poetry

The Yawn Snatcher

The Yawn Snatcher is a wily creature.

It has curling horns,

And curving fingers.

Its feet are quiet as a whisper.

You won’t ever hear it coming.

But you might feel it:

That reaching feeling just behind your ears

Like the pull of a magnet

Drawing the yawn away.

 

The Yawn Snatcher waits

In late nights

Early mornings

Afternoons that drag on.

The Yawn Snatcher loves boring lectures

Fancy dinners

And long waits at the bus stop.

 

When a yawn begins,

The Yawn Snatcher senses it,

Smells it.

With its spindle-thin legs

It strides across the land,

Fast as a shadow.

It crouches behind you,

Fingers curled

Elbows back

Ears cocked and

Eyes bright.

 

It reaches round you

— so quickly you can’t see it,

So deftly you tell yourself it was a trick of the light—

And plucks the yawn right out of your chest.

Its fingers curl, cage-like

Around the vaporous, wriggling yawn.

Then it gobbles it down

Or stuffs the yawn into its sack

Or one of its many bulging pockets,

And lopes off

Back to its lair in the misty mountains.

And you will stand and scratch your head:

Where did that yawn go?

 

Sometimes, the Yawn Snatcher will trip,

Drop its sack with a spill,

Or the yawn will wriggle out through a hole in its sweater

And fly back to the yawner.

 

Sometimes, if it has flown a long way,

It will be a weak little thing,

Hardly satisfying at all.

 

But sometimes a quick and clever yawn

Will break free

And gather momentum.

It will hit you square in the back

Sending a shock through your whole body.

And then you will have the most jaw-cracking,

Arm-stretching,

Mumble-moaning yawn in years.

A yawn that makes you blink your eyes and smile.

 

The Yawn Snatcher will gnash its teeth,

But it can’t do a thing about it.

It will slink back to its cave

With a grumble and a grimace

To sit and stroke its stolen yawns

And swallow them one by one.

 


 

(Inspired by Ennis taking FOREVER to get that yawn out last night!)

Ice Skating

As soon as the ice would hold us
My sisters and I went to our cousins’ farm everyday after school,
Stumbled over lumpy earth and stubs of cornstalks under the snow,
Or slip-slid across the slick gravel road, polished winter white.

Chip kept the pond shoveled clear
Leaning against the curves, a crest of snow curling in front of him
Black skates crossing, right, left, right.
He egged us into playing hockey in our figure skates.
He was always faster, always better, always convinced us
— all the kids—
To play against him one more time.

I remember
The pinch of skates
Laced tight around my ankles;
Cold toes, thick socks.
The lone yard light a boundary of brightness.
The pastures dark, cows warm in the barn.
I circled that pond a hundred-thousand times,
Click-whoosh, click-whoosh.
It was like swimming, like flying.
Click-whoosh.
I opened my jacket, unraveled my scarf
Let the fresh, cold air in.

When it had been dark for hours
We’d change back into boots,
Toes stiff and numb.
The world no longer slid beneath me
And every step was halting, short.
I remember the swish of our snow pants as we walked back home,
The pink of our faces
The dark of the crossing
The squares of yellow light in our yard
The heat of fire and food.

The pond
The night
The ice
The stars—
Every time I skate,
I am there again.

 

 

(c) Rose Arrowsmith DeCoux, 2016

Blackout Editing

I’m editing another middle grade book. It’s about a boy (Jorian) whose dreams and adventurous spirit are sorely tried by his dull, gray orphanage life– Until Ruby shows up and things start to happen. There’s a kidnapping, a gryphon, an escape, a Marsh Witch, and golems.

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I wrote the first draft the summer of 2014, shared it with some readers, and let it sit. My first crack at editing was a Question Edit– lots of Whys and What Abouts and Maybes.

But midway through, a pile-up of questions and possible solutions got me stuck. It felt like when I was a kid attempting to read the Choose Your Own Adventure books and not die or be marooned on a strange planet. I marked every “turn” with my fingers and would backtrack over and over again, trying to find the winning path. I always failed.

Tom Guald_hero's journey

So I set the manuscript aside (pretty unwillingly and basically in denial the whole time) for a month– and then remembered Austin Kleon’s Blackout Poetry.

I enjoy doing blackouts. It’s a good reminder that when I write or create I’m not actually making something up. I’m not generating anything– I’m just brushing away whatever is Not It.

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I thought, Maybe I can edit the same way: just cross out what’s Not It.

I decided to cross out whatever snagged. Whatever posed a question I couldn’t easily answer. I haven’t stuck with that rule, but it got me editing again. That black marker goes a lot faster than the red pen! It’s even freed me up enough to write some new chapters in a thin spot. (Thanks to The Story Grid for giving me a new perspective on what happens in the middle of a book).

I’m thinking of trying out Beta Readers when I finish this draft. If you’re interested in being on the list, sign up for my sporadic Mailchimp emails (and get a free download of 5 of my favorite oral stories).

In the meantime– grab an old magazine and try Blackout Poetry for yourself. See where it takes you.

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