Hold on loosely

Grab hold

Grab hold! Jannes PockeleCC BY

Just hold on loosely,
but don’t let go
If you cling too tightly
you’re gonna lose control. 

—38 Special/D. Barnes, J. Carlisi, J. Peterik

The draft of this post has been sitting here a long time, gathering cobwebs, while I considered how to write it. The idea began with seeing connections between teaching, instructional coaching, parenting…with those cautionary lyrics, above, coming to mind: “If you cling too tightly, you’re gonna lose control.”

That’s the problem with many relationships, isn’t it. Control. As in, who‘s trying to assert it? By holding too tightly? By force? What are the consequences? Why do I think of Aesop’s fable of the North Wind and the Sun trying to prove who was stronger by making the Traveler remove his cloak? What does this imply about human nature?

And not just human nature…that little green vine in the photo, above…it has goals, doesn’t it? To keep growing, climbing, gaining strength daily…soon the difference between “holding on loosely” and “clinging too tightly” will be evident in the absolute destruction it will wreak. It cannot know the cost to whatever tree, gate, house, other plants, anything it overtakes.

How did I land here, when I began with thinking on connective threads of teaching, coaching, parenting? Where will my metaphorical thinking take me next? What philosophical point am I trying to make?

Is this out of control now? How DO I write this persistent…thing?

When at a loss to say what can hardly be said, there’s always poetry. Maybe that’s what this idea wants to be…

Each poem is a metaphor, a philosophy, a journey of its own. This one, like life, goes fast. The form is designed for that. Sylvia Plath said that once a poem is written, interpretation belongs to the reader. Read it just to read, then maybe reread to decide for yourself if you see threads of teaching, coaching, parenting…and more. With poetry, there’s always more.

So here’s where the poem took me. I landed in a blitz: “Hold On Loosely.”

Have only today
Have and to hold
Hold my hand
Hold it dear
Dear one
Dear children
Children laughing
Children leaving home
Home is wherever YOU are
Home place
Place of remembering
Place in the sun
Sun rising in the east
Sun dappling the grass
Grass rippling in the breeze
Grass withering, fading
Fading light
Fading fast
Fast go the hours
Fast and furious
Furious argument
Furious storms
Storms wreaking havoc
Storms passing
Passing over
Passing by
By the way
By getting to work
Work it out
Work hard
Hard to handle
Hard to reach
Reach anyway
Reach out
Out of time
Out of breath
Breath of fresh air
Breath of life
Life is short
Life is precious
Precious moments
Precious faces
Faces in photographs
Faces tugging at heartstrings
Heartstrings reverberating at final words
Heartstrings tied loosely
Loosely hold on
Loosely, not letting go.

What threads did you see?

Oh, and writer-friends…maybe reread one last time to see how the blitz might describe a relationship with writing.

Having shaken off the cobwebs, I go on…

7 thoughts on “Hold on loosely

  1. Fran, I’ve read your poem once. Loved it. And, I’ll read again but need to think before I respond. There are so many connections here – to life, seasons, raising children, letting them go, teaching a lesson or class or grade level, and letting it go. We all struggle with control, I think. I know there are many connections between teaching and parenting, and probably mentoring too (although I’ve never been one of those unless you consider being a preceptor for nursing students). Frequently, I find connections between the professions of healthcare and education. I’ve held jobs in both, working with children in both. Both systems are broken. But, your poem also makes me wonder – Does the more we try to fix by instilling change, cause us to hold on to the old system and ways of doing more tightly? Great food for thought! Thank you! (I also love that .38 special song! )

    Liked by 1 person

    • I so appreciate your insightful comments and the linking to the field of healthcare… one I would have seen but I can now. How we bring what we know to our reading! This is why discussion is so important in school – students need freedom to bring different interpretations; isn’t this what reading is about? Thank you for your words and I am so glad you enjoyed the poem. And the song! How much better things would be, often, if we held on loosely … I think of teenagers, striving for independence, learning to drive, parents struggling to trust them, to step back and give them space… yeah, holding on loosely but never letting go… it’s a love lesson.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Fran, I did really enjoy your poem and was happy to lend my interpretation of what I saw. Yes, healthcare and education have great similarities as far as issues regarding their “systems” are concerned. I’ve often thought about it but never wrote about the subject. The song is so relevant for me now, as we are letting our youngest fly and move away from home. It is scary but also must be done. We are trying just hold on loosely and support his choices. So far, so good. Thanks for an insightful poem!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Fran, sometimes words and ideas need to marinate before they are ready to be lifted into the light occupied by readers. The process and your internal machinations reveal much about the writing journey your poem has taken. It was reading about Blitz poems over the weekend. You have inspired me to go a little further.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is definitely not the post it started out to be, but I am glad. It is much more. I love the blitz form – started using it earlier this year. With this one I made sure that the title (first word of line 3 and first word of line 47, conjoined with a preposition) would be “hold on loosely.” I worked out from there. In previous blitzes, I let this land as it would. Thank you, Alan – enjoy blitzing!


  3. First, the song: it was a constant in my Austin to El Paso road trip playlist, that .38 Special cassette tape.
    Chaotic thoughts fit perfectly with this chaotic poetic form…but the threads are definitely there. Passage of time–maiden/mother/crone, and all that comes with those stages. Teaching–the arc of getting to know students, successes and failures going by in a short nine months, the letting go with hope of a better future because of your influence (not unlike pregnancy, just realized in this writing). And writing–the glorious “aha!” of an idea, only to struggle with the fleshing out, never quite sure that one is done with the story yet sending it out anyway, tentatively, one eye open to see how well it’s received.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s