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Sweet Home Renga: A Zoom Collaboration

Sweet Home Renga: A Zoom Collaboration

Sweet Home Renga: A Zoom Collaboration

This collaborative renga poem was created during The Wild Third Voice: Collision, Collusion, and Craft in Poetic Collaboration Workshop led by Denise Duhamel and Maureen Seaton for the 2021 RQ Writing Academy Workshop Series. A special thank you to Marlee Abbott for arranging the poem. (*Renga is a genre of Japanese collaborative poetry in which alternating stanzas are linked in succession by multiple poets. Learn more about regna here.)


In the place I live,
a thousand wait to be ghosts
on sinking sailboats.

In my dreams you live and breathe,
awake I cannot find you.

In South Florida,
to avoid undersea:
embrace second story.

The sand was slimy under
my feet, the waves slapping seaweed.

Tropical temple,
you holy swampland sanctum—
all hail the sawgrass.

Feet suctioned to Ohio,
there’s still plenty I know.

Tired of desert air,
I miss the smell of subway.
I’ve been gone too long.

Oakland morning draped in fog,
Zoom viewing Dickinson’s grave.

It rose a slow wave,
met my eyes atop mountains,
glow-song, a found home.

Don’t lean on trees whose fruit won’t
yield to touch. Like coconuts.

Bird’s nest drips old rain
from a tree in Wisconsin.
I did not see it.

Wind carries too many barks
and the sun butters, lemons.

I live between the five fingers
of a fiery deity—
I hold heat without pain.

At a Perkins over lunch,
my stepfather confesses.

Dull skies hang heavy.
Constant rain falls in our town;
flowers rewinter.

From water’s surface birds rise:
Anhinga with muzzled Perch.

Dreams reveal a room tucked
behind this house, storage
shed for what’s unsaid.

Silver strands of loosened hair
stretch moonlight from birch branches.

All the past year
I fed the neighborhood goats,
gone, emptiness.

It’s okay to be a wind-chime in the storm’s eye,

to mistake feet for elbows.

Little or no rain,
a mixed citrus canopy
says, We can wait, son.

Palm trees press against the sky
like paper floating in ink.

May breathes like winter.
Here faded stillness sparrows,
the mountains watching.

Winter pine trees on fire,
your voice, a shift, then silence.

–May 15, 2021

by Marlee Abbott, Jubi Arriola-Headley, Clayre Benzadon, Dustin Brookshire, Lenny DellaRocca, Denise Duhamel, Chloe Firetto-Toomey, Ellen Gould, Gustavo Hernandez, Holly Jaffe, Mia Leonin, Nina Lewis, Antonia Matthew, Jennifer Met, Cara Nusinov, Julie Roehm, Pe-ni Rogers, Maureen Seaton, Jennifer Steele, Stephanie Lane Sutton, Nicole Tallman, Kerry Trautman, Emma Trelles, and Josephine Yu