to the bone-a pantoum

The pantoum is a poetic form originating in 15th century Malaysia that uses repetition. It’s a poem of any length composed of four-line stanzas in which the second and fourth lines of each stanza serve as the first and third lines of the next stanza. The final stanza is often two lines from the first stanza.

to the bone

when life cuts you deep
serrated to the very bone
breathe in, breathe it in
and sit on that hot seat

serrated to the very bone
the cut pulls you deep inside
this hot seat burns and sears
an eruption of old impressions

the cut drags you into yourself
and compels a deeper holding
in this volcano of old emotion
you might slip off and fall

it demands a deeper immersion
into fear and misunderstanding
you might fall off the hot seat
rest awhile and crawl back on

parsing fear and misunderstanding
difficult and demanding work
rest awhile, but come back
this is yours alone to unwind

it’s difficult, demanding work
you wish it to be otherwise
but it’s yours alone to unwind
a puzzle of your own making

breathe in, breath it in
when life cuts you deep

2023 ©Amrita Skye Blaine
I’m writing a poem a day. These are drafts—not final versions.

10 thoughts on “to the bone-a pantoum

  1. poetfriend

    This is SO beautiful, Amrita! Thanks for sharing it. I just read that you teach memoir. I write poetry, but memoir is something I’ve tried to write from time to time. Do you teach it online or in person? As you may remember, I live in NYC.
    Lovely to connect in this way!! I’m so glad you have a poetry blog… With love, Arlene


    1. I teach online–have since April 2020. I turned from prose to only writing poetry last May, although my third and final novel will come out this summer. I’m working on the final edits. It’s been hard to complete the process because I think, write, and read only poetry right now. Will you remind me where we first met? I know it was about eleven years ago, because you visited when I lived in Cotati.
      with love, Amrita


          1. Annie Miller

            No, but my brother-in-law, Wali Via introduced me to your poems. You might know him from retreat. And I have commented (gratefully) before.


            1. Oh! I value Wali as a treasured friend and spiritual brother! We saw him last summer when we visited Eugene to see our failing brother-in-law (where we lived for twenty years). Yes, I value your comments. I cut and paste everyone’s comments and put them with the specific poem–inspiration, and feedback about what touches people and what doesn’t. I’m a fairly new poet–other than terrible teenage poetry, I only returned to it about six years ago. Now, I’ve forsaken prose and write only poetry. In fact, this blog started with prose–I think I have about 300 prose posts up on my blog. I started this in 2011. Do you live in Eugene or Noti?
              with love,


              1. Annie Miller

                Actually, I live in Jena, Germany with my daughter and her family. I love Wali, too, and am glad to make this connection.

                Beginner’s mind seems to be good for more than meditating….it seems to work for poetry, too!🤗


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