AN ODYSSEY OF PHOENIXES
I used to be in too much of a hurry to notice the little things, but now I am more intentional and focused and thankful for nearly all of it–even the stuff I wouldn’t choose, for it all contains a lesson.
I used to be together, but now I am scattered, lonely, alone.
I used to be the happy, hopeful mother of two living children, but now I am a grieving, sorrowful mother who has lost one of them.
I used to be hopeful but now I am cynical.
I used to be hopeful but now I am resigned.
I used to be a garbage can collecting all the sin, but now I am a refrigerator that has to stay plugged in.
I used to be good looking but now I am old
I used to be a public frog but now I am nobody
I used to be moldy, but now I am cold-y.
I used to be tan, but now I am not.
I used to be troubled but now I am better.
I used to be an empty rain-catch but now I am a reliable well.
I used to be busy doing, but now I focus on being.
I used to be young and ambitious but now I’m older and wiser.
I used to be the guy saying ‘stick it to the man’, but now I am a safe, careful part of the establishment machine.
I used to be a scientist, but now I am an experiment.
I used to be the one who asked the questions, but now I am the one who knows the Answer.
I used to be unsure, but now I am aware that I don’t have to have all the answers.
I used to be opposed to opposition, but now I am content embracing hugs.
I used to be too old for this shit but now, thank heavens, I am a child again.
I used to be young, wild, and free but now I am old, wild, and free.
I used to be a guitar but now I am a trombone.
I used to be timid, but now I am fearless.
I used to be burning, perhaps not the fire, but the wad of documents, flaked edges aglow, the light hypnotic, paper on the verge of becoming ash, a supply of memory, the inked word shrinking into nonsense as they were consumed; but now I am rising, a spark gleaming in the air, the cascade of heat shimmering above the coals, the searing chronicle of the blaze.
Our contributors for this project hailed from various cities and towns in Pennsylvania, New York, Maine, Ohio, Florida, Texas, and Georgia.
Mindy Wells Hoffbauer
Lori B. Duff
THE COLLABORATION PROMPT
Each participant responded to this prompt:
I used to be ______ but now I am _______.
As I read through the responses, I noticed a pattern of hope/despair/hope, life/death/life calling to mind the cycle of the Phoenix. I learned that a large group of Phoenixes is called an Odyssey, which seemed a fitting way to title this collaborative journey of rebirth.
This Exquisite Collaboration Project is based on the Exquisite Corpse, a technique created by Surrealists in the early 1900s, in which participants add to a work with no one seeing what the other participants contributed. The goal is to encourage non-writers and artists to embrace their creative selves in a safe, supportive, “you can’t fail” environment. What began as a way to maintain some sort of connection with other people during the early days of the Covid lockdown has continued to unite strangers from around the world in creative collaboration.
Click here to read the series of Exquisite Poems done during the Covid lockdown along with other collaborative projects.
To learn more about my workshops, visit my website.
To be part of future poem projects, follow me on Facebook @joannebrokawwriter for prompts or join my mailing list by filling out the form on my website.