Obstruction #9: Home as Foreign and Familiar


Writing about home is difficult, but writing about home as “strange” may be even more difficult. In the poem Early Swimming, the speaker seems surrounded by a place that they know well but also that they don’t see as the same anymore. In Obstruction #9, the challenge was to write about home taking this into consideration.


End words must have significance (scenic power, strong images etc).

No line features more than 14 syllables.


Good strangeness of home. Home as foreign and familiar. There is a mystery to investigate and a discovery to reveal.

Body and the City are important parts of the poem. Awareness of a body in place.





First Draft Version

I should know what happens when I’m not there.

Someone else will walk the dog.

I should know the path, I know what you’ll see.

I know everything you need to know.

In November it’s cold, but it’s fine.

It must be good to live on the coast.

The same truck will be parked

Next to the line of black pine trees.

I can taste pepper mussels and squids

Fried with lemon, oil and beer.

I can touch the messy hair of my sister

Feel the thickness of my turtle’s shell

Under the tip of my fingers.

Still I can’t know what happens,

Because I’m not there.

What if they read my stories,

Open my drawer, put on my clothes?

What if they tidy them all up

As I get on the plane to go home?

When I set foot in my old house

I feel like I’ve never been away

Still, everything changes a bit.

I see books missing from my shelves.

When I walk the dog, he does not follow.

He wants to take other paths

Paths I’ve never gone with him.

I loosen the leash and follow.

It’s never too late to discover home.

After this class, Ron introduced the theme of the next session, about Architecture. He wanted us to send him updrafts of one or more among obstruction 6, 7, 8, 9. I was already scared, but the time was passing and we needed to have a clearer idea about what we were going to use for our final project.



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