The poet’s process — a guest post by Peg Duthie

Today’s post for Couplets: a multi-author poetry blog tour offers a look inside the process of Peg Duthie, whose chapbook Measured Extravagance was recently released from Upper Rubber Boot Books.


This is the first draft of my poem “Proportions”; the finished version appears in my chapbook, Measured Extravagance.  I was sitting at a friend’s kitchen table the day after Christmas, thinking about how to fill the gaps in the manuscript. I felt there ought to be a poem or two that specifically used the words “measure” or “extravagance,” so my brain was circling around notions of waste, investment, hoarding, and penny-wisdom/pound-foolishness — hence the working title of “ROI/Return on Investment.”

The decision to sketch out the poem in 5-7-5 stanzas was initially just to get the gears in my brain cranking — working within a form, at least to start, has a way of nudging my thoughts out of their usual ruts when it comes to word choices. In this particular case, it was also dictated by the fact that I’d brought only a pocket-sized memo pad with me.

And here’s the finished version as it appears in print:


Thinning out seedlings:
the harvest will yield enough
for bird and table.

The child wants to save
every plant we’re tugging out.
I talk about odds

and tithes. “God’s greedy,”
she declares. I reply,
“Aren’t we also?”

She frowns at the limp
green and white scraps on her palm.
She hasn’t seen yet

how compost is more
than a heap of waste and flies.
Hasn’t yet learned

how most of our lives
are a mélange of garbage
and triumphant blooms

–how incessantly
we measure ourselves to see
if we measure up.

Check out the other posts this month from Couplets: a multi-author poetry blog tour!

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