Rattled Shook: From Free-Writing Draft To Final Poem

Rattled Shook

We were doing free-writing in the classroom yesterday, as a way to write our way into the day, and, as usual, I was scribbling alongside my students.

One of the pieces kept calling me back, for some reason, so I listened, and returned to a small poem multiple times throughout the day, scratching out words, drawing arrows to show direction of sound, adding ideas with carrots. The last phrase – rattled shook — was a mistake, I think, with words missing, but I became enamored of the way the two words leaned against each other.

Yeah, it’s a mess. My drafts are nearly always a mess.

Draft Rattled Shook

Later on, at home, I did some final editing and then used Pablo to layer in the visual of a tree stump and its rings. The poem is about a tree that has fallen, during a storm, and its roots not able to keep hold of the weight of gravity. But also, the way the rings tell the story of the tree, and how that story is a magical thing.


its ragged rings spoke
tenderly of time

passages inside
a circular wooden book

a celebrated story
captured in rhyme

and in dance,
even as its roots
rattled shook

Peace (within),

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