In Shelly Francis’s recent newsletter, I found a quote from poet David Whyte: Poetry is often the art of overhearing yourself say things you didn’t know you knew. It is a learned skill to force yourself to articulate your life, your present world or your possibilities for the future.

The quote reminded me of The Rut, a poem I wrote in 1993 and unearthed from old, paper-based files. I could not have imagined how the poem reflects much of I am now learning about my life.

Here’s the poem, exactly as I wrote it in 1993:

The Rut

Bob Gillen

For too many days,

Like a wheel rolling onward,

I am stuck in my unyielding,

Sunbaked rut.

Hard edges hemming me in, holding me

To where someone else has gone.

A gentle rain comes, frees me

To roll away from softened

Walls, broken down to mud.

My new track is uncharted.

Will anyone else follow?


I had a script written for the third act of my life. Actually, for the last scenes of the third act. Events of the last four months have forced me to toss the script for a series of ad-libs. As I wrote many years ago, my new track is uncharted. Exciting, and a bit terrifying. All I can say with certainty is that my writing will see me through the ad-libs. My hope is that, as David Whyte says, “Poetry (I would add writing) is a learned skill to force yourself to articulate your life…”