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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press

Playing Hooky from the Should

By: Alison Jennings

Stay irresponsible. (Allen Ginsberg)

I pray

for dispensation –

no, absolution –

from the should,

as Time,

a booming


agitates my tired heart;

and the spirit tugs

on heavy,


shackles that thwart

the progress

of its ultimate task:

to harness

mind and body

into a seamless vessel,

then ferry willful

essence ever forward:

to ride quicksilver

winds, to hear

celestial music –

not random static –

to witness Michelangelo

blue skies,

and startlingly white

clouds of puffy purity;

finally, to linger

in a sunlit, dappled garden;

to ecstastically collapse

on fragrant leaves

of grass,

a modern Whitman–

with no weeds,

no needs,

no tasks, no asks,

nothing left to do

but write, and write, and write,

forever . . . .


Alison Jennings is retired from teaching and accounting; throughout her life, she has composed over 400 poems, and recently published three of them, in print journals and online. She lives in Seattle, where she writes poetry whenever she has time.

"This poem arose from a workshop at the Skagit River Poetry Festival in May 2014,

entitled “Metaphysical Poems, Contemporary Poets”. I have always been interested

in the metaphysical, which I think of as the intersection of mind and matter, or where

the physical world intersects with the spiritual or philosophical. The workshop

was taught by Kelly Davio, a wonderful poet, who led us through some imaging

exercises and poetry examples about what makes a poem be about the metaphysical.

I was able to write a draft of a poem which became “Playing Hooky from the Should,”

and Kelly was kind enough to give me some invaluable feedback. I wanted the poem

to portray, in a kind of Walt Whitman manner, the feeling I get sometimes in nature

when the “other” world of the metaphysical feels very close.

Then the poem went through several revisions, and it ultimately ended up as the version accepted by Cathexis Northwest Press!"

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