Things You Can Do With An Oar

Today’s host at for the first day of June’s Open Write is Allison Berryhill of Iowa, who inspires us to model a poem entitled Things You Can Do with an Orange. You can see the prompt at

Come write with us! Allison will host three days, and Fran Haley of North Carolina will host two. We’d love to have you. I spun the online spinner and landed on Oar – so, here are Things You Can Do With An Oar:

Things You Can Do With An Oar

you can dream about it

you can dream about it
and let loose about 
that one time 
you went canoeing
down the Flint River
from Sprewell Bluff
to Highway 18
in Thomaston, Georgia
and ended up in the 
same boat 
with Randy
who’d tried to sing
like Burl Ives

it was a church youth
trip and you were
both chaperones
otherwise you’d have
had better sense 
on an ordinary day
than to row with Randy

Randy was an expert
and you were blessed
to be paired with him 
and his skill set

Randy thought he was a chief
and you his squaw
as he sat on the floor of
the canoe on his knees
giving you directions
on the roles of the rowers

when you tried to tell him
the boat was backwards
he waved his hand at you
dismissing your words

until you showed him the 
fanny cutout 
on the bench
how it was rounded at the
back and fannies 
did not fit this way

he acted perplexed
scratched his head
you know, I think they 
Installed those wrong

you rolled your eyes
kept rowing 
as Chief got all quiet
like he was preparing to
come up on some 
tribal camp
catching them by
surprise with a 
peace pipe

(weren’t no peace pipe in this boat)

teenagers on the trip 
were noticing and whispering
about this strange man

you just stared at your 
gold flip flops
and prayed these
three hours to the 
landing would fly by

and that Jesus kept
control of your tongue
on this church outing

until Chief lost his knee balance
in this backward boat 
and flipped the canoe
one gold flip flop 
lost forevermore

and in this dream
you can go back to that 
and pretend that Jesus
himself walked on water
handed you back your oar
and asked you what you
thought you could do
with an oar 
and looked the other way
long enough
for you to do it

Jesus handing me an oar in my dream

One Reply to “Things You Can Do With An Oar”

  1. Again – I am amazed by your story-poem, Kim! As I said on Ethical ELA: INCREDIBLE detail, so vivid that I was seeing the gold flip-flops (alas) glinting in the sun and the fanny-curve on the bench, not to mention feeling my own increasing irritation with this Randy… it would be poetic justice (divine retribution??), that thing you could do with an oar at the conclusion…my favorite line of all is the parenthetical ‘weren’t no peace pipe on this boat’. All in all, brilliant writing and an utter joy to read!


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