Autumn 2021 – Poetry

Open Roads and Roadblocks

“Sun streaking a face full of melody, 

hair dancing to the music of the wind and

sunglasses reflecting mirrors

on this brush-stroked morning.

Her hands playing the strings on my battered blue jeans and

our bodies clicking and jazzing along

with the weaving back road.”

Matthew McGuirk

The Autumnal Issue of Spellbinder was released amid the noisy squabbles of our editors who kept trying to wriggle in one last piece before Linda or Amber could rush in with their pens blazing, reminding us of the rationale of selecting just one single gem out of several equally wonderful compositions submitted to us. For this very reason, we would love to share our editor’s pick here. This poem might not have been a featured poem in our latest issue, but it is definitely one of the few published entries that left an indelible impact upon us. 

On reading the first stanza of the poem, “Open Roads and Roadblocks”, we notice that the opening lines have an aesthetic quality about them, one that slowly develops a particular mood around us. Like a montage displayed on the screen, the poet uses flashes of imagery to reflect the visual scene in our mind. Both sunlight and wind are in juxtaposition with one another and, while neither description follows any visible pattern or rhyme, the verses possess a casual rhythm of their own. Words like ‘morning, playing, clicking and jazzing’ add to the consonance in the poem. 

What is interesting in this poem is how the narrative shifts from describing the weather to back roads to further associating it with memory lanes. One would assume a return to the past was a symbolic journey but in this poem, the metaphor stretches into reality and finally merges with a light-hearted road trip vibe that is, not only refreshing, but also innovative. When this train of thought is abruptly altered in the subsequent lines, the sudden gear change is synonymous with the literal slamming of brakes in a car. We are forced to take a pause too. The punctuation and formal construction of the poem brilliantly controls the pace of the poem.

Like a car gradually coming to a stop, the momentum slowly winds down as the lines become shorter and shorter until only ‘obstructed’ remains, strangely reminiscent of roadblocks. Words always matter but when they are in the hands of a poet like Matthew, they become magical.

Shrubaboti Bose, Poetry Guest Editor

Access on Medium by clicking here.

Photo by Sebastian Palomino from Pexels

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