The Poetry of Transition by: Phoenix K. Brown as seen in SCBWI Kite Tales Newsletter (summer 2014)


Recently, I uncovered an unconscious belief that I’ve been holding. And that is, that life transitions should feel smooth, having the same look and feel as a Couplet. With

Couplets, no matter how intricate the poem, there is one certainty that we can rest in; the last word of each line must rhyme. That’s it, that’s the rule, that’s the law. There’s no way around it. If only life were that certain.

The catalyst for this discovery is the life transition that I am presently in. I felt the transition coming and I braced in my usual half-hazard way, knowing that the resolution was just around the corner, but four months into it and the snowball seems to be getting bigger and faster. Suddenly my life feels more like a Free Verse. And right here and right now, I’ll tell you the truth-Free Verse freaks me out. Anything can happen. Things don’t have to make sense; the poem might go on for miles and miles without form or metric pattern or be comprised of two lines. With a Free Verse, it’s line-by mysterious line. You have to take it as it comes. That’s the rule, that’s the law. There is no certainty.

Needless to say, finding myself as the lead character in some maniacal Free Verse is an unexpected, extra hard, thump on the noggin. And for some reason, the more I wish for a return to steady flow, the more things seems to spiral. At one point, I literally stopped, looked up at the sky and said to the heavens, “Is this a joke?”

Okay, maybe it’s naive, but I feel that there has got to be a way to skirt the rough edges of transition. I mean, if properly planned shouldn’t they be smooth for the most part. Look, I’m always in the market for learning new things, but-phew!

A good friend of mine accused me of thinking that things just magically appear. He has lovingly named me “poof”. I work hard, I say to him, but in some small way, I know he’s right. To me, a little shifting here and a push or two there is tolerable, things settle and poof! All is well. Is there really need for a grand heist of my mental capacity for change to take place?

Daily, I’ve tried not to nit pick myself for feeling like a spinning top gone rouge, but anxiety and panic have all found their way into my belly. I watch friends revel in the fact that they’re changing careers-still passionate even when things appear to be going awry. Do they flinch or roll their eyes? Nope. No complaining, only a “give me more” attitude - rolling right along with however things seem to be going. And then I think…but they wanted their change. In fact, they initiated it. But what if life forces you and transition is the only option offered? Change or sink. Shift or struggle.

I guess my take away in my desire to have my life transitions feel more graceful, is that perhaps while the Free Verse is happening on the outside, the couplet can hold the space for peace on the inside. Maybe instead of becoming entranced in the ever-changing story of life, it’s more productive to keep both feet anchored in the bay of my soul. It’s an idea that I’ve tried to put into practice from time to time when things start to bubble over, but bouts of amnesia keep me from making permanent change. This time however, it’s different.

Not only is it a must that I implement a permanent commitment to inner peace, but an even stronger commitment to gratitude is paramount. Sure it sounds cliché, but it’s true. It’s easier said than done, but hey, I might as well add one more challenge to the list.

After all, if the universe has infinite possibilities to get me from one destination to another, then patience is required as it takes me down side streets and alley ways, squeezing me through dark corridors, holding me up in hostels and keeping me at extra long red lights. I’m learning to observe my physical and mental reaction when the scenery starts to change and I no longer recognize the street signs; to trust and breath. Though letting go of the need for certainty is challenging (I can feel the universe prying it out of my hands right now), I know that loosening my grip and opening my hands is only making the way for me to receive the next big adventure. After all, what if there’s a mass conspiracy by the Universe to create lasting change in my life? What if the Universe is conspiring for my good, our good?

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