13 Ways of Looking at a Broken Ankle

I’ve been reading Kyle Vaughn’s Lightning Paths: 75 Poetry Writing Exercises, (available on Amazon, linked on title or here on NCTE), which inspired me to delve into another book study of poetry forms and responses. I’ll be making my way through the exercises and prompts between now and the end of the year.

Today’s exercise is based on Wallace Stevens’s Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird to inspire multiple points of view in sections about the different ways we see a particular thing. I broke my ankle a week and a half before Fall Break….so I spend a lot of time looking at this elevated, swollen, bruised, broken ankle. But I’m on the mend.

Shiny new blue scooter
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Broken Ankle
a missed step
in an unlit stairwell
nondisplaced fracture of
lateral malleolus of right fibula
displaced avulsion fracture of right talus
a pair of crutches 
like Tiny Tim's ~
God bless us, every one!
a flashback fashion
black boot like that ice boot on  
Mendenhall Glacier for dogsledding
so I can pretend to be cold, 
mushing, Gee! Haw!
a shiny blue knee scooter (with basket)
borrowed from Mrs. Bell
(I got her a new blue bell)
it's fast like a dogsled
no pain meds 
for three days 
workers compensation: inhumane
no housework
no cooking
no laundry
just Netflix and Hallmark movies
and The Great Alone 
set in Alaska
no fall break vacation
to go hiking
in the mountains
at that cozy cabin
I cancelled
challenging showertime
vulnerable nakedness
~what if I slip and fall again???~
~and can't get up???~
a temporary handicapped 
parking tag
when you want to go nowhere anyway
because you order even Aleve
and hairpins 
and all your pretend dogsledding gear
from Amazon
a heightened sensitivity
to open doors,
assist those who need it
when you are healed
a renewed appreciation 
for freedom of movement
praising God that 
it wasn't much worse
that you’re still alive
that your team is pulling you 

Made with Padlet
Special thanks to Two Writing Teachers at Slice of Life for giving writers space and inspiration!

11 Replies to “13 Ways of Looking at a Broken Ankle”

  1. I love how the mentor text got you to look at this one thing in SO many different ways!! Awesome!! You are so kind to share all your inspiring mentor text. I may be checking them out too as it seems to work. Your writing is so strong!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Sally! The first form in the book grabbed me and made me want to write to all of Kyle Vaughn’s inspirations. I am working to make this Padlet more user-friendly like the one I used for Dictionary for a Better World. I’m fine-tuning.


  2. What Sally said! (IX made me shudder—I’d worry about something like that!) The crafty use of Tiny Tim and the gratefulness that resounds throughout—beneath it all. This is wonderful, Kim. I just checked out Lightning Paths; how have I missed that one? I love that you are sharing another writing adventure on padlet. I’ll be following along.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This format really works here, because you reveal so many reactions. Something bad could have been worse. But there are always advantages (that binging your favorite series.) But then all the cancelled plans. And needing help. But appreciating help. And vowing to be helpful in future! ( I liked that one a lot.) And you utilize different language for each, like the contrast from the medical to the whimsical.
    Heal well !!
    (I will be going back to read the poem, too.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Fran! Yes, I have been all over the place emotionally and physically. Quite the change for someone who usually isn’t. From a crying meltdown of sheer helpless frustration to a praise session for what could have been and wasn’t. You picked up on something I see but hadn’t realized. Thank you, friend!


  4. What a great poem – the thirteen ways of looking at the broken ankle takes me through the thoughts and mindsets (not to mention challenges and gratitude!) you’re having as you work through the healing process. Here’s wishing you a speedy recovery!

    And now, I’m headed off to the bookstore to find myself a copy of the poetry exercise book! Would you say it’s more geared towards adult writers, or could it be adapted for younger ones as well?


    1. Hi, Lainie, it is geared for perhaps secondary – maybe middle, high, college, adult) but can definitely be adapted for younger writers. It is available through NCTE and I will go back and link it in my posts. Thanks for inspiring me to do that. I have been in contact with Kyle and hope to use 3 of his prompts in November during the next Open Write. I invited him to come along with us those days and am looking forward to interacting with him. I particularly love his shorter forms – Monostitch, One-Word, Two-Liner, and chose these because I believe that we may have new writers join after NCTE and these forms offer success without a lengthy process. Thanks for your encouraging comments today! I do appreciate this group!


      1. Me too! This group has revolutionized the way I move through the world as a writer, a teacher, and as a human. ❤


  5. I am so sorry you are missing hiking and the cozy cabin, but you’re using this limited mobility moment to write poetry. Isn’t it a miracle how poetry serves us during these times of struggle. I love the original “Thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird” and think you honor it in your poem, especially that last stanza. I hope that ankle heals soon so you can run through the halls at NCTE.


  6. My Dear Amazing Poetess Friend Kim: 13 Ways is one of my favorite formats; I used it once for writing about black cats (my favorite, although I am terribly allergic). Once again your wry wit and warmth win the day, although I continue to cringe with empathy pains. I broke my foot for a second time in February 2020, right before the onset of the COVID pandemic. Spent the first weeks reading extraordinary novels like The Goldfinch; ever how strange, I wouldn’t trade that time for anything. I rejoice that you’re on the mend. Your stanzas has me wincing and chuckling in turn, and that final stanza of praise especially brings tears for the inherent gratitude and grace (even as our own gracefulness fails us, alas). Ongoing healing prayers for you-


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