The words unfreeze in my mouth

How do I beseech the
guardian of words
to thaw, to unfreeze
the ice that dwells in
my stomach, in my
shoulders, my throat and my mouth?
Such ice also lives in my heart and
occasionally melts when the
stuck, trapped phrases
are warmed with fire and are
sparked and sparkling and tumbling
with joy both out and upon
the air skipping jauntily upon my
parched twisted tongue
where they
pool, dance and scramble
streaming once more along
tapping against my
hard ceramic teeth
where they
find life and scatter…


The words unfreeze in my mouth is a Golden Shovel poem based on four lines from The Kalevala, a Finnish epic poem.

“The words unfreeze in my mouth
and the phrases are tumbling
upon my tongue they scramble
along my teeth they scatter.”

(1: 7-10 Oxford World’s Classics edition translated by Keith Bosley)

Golden Shovel

“Terrance Hayes invented a poetry form he calls the Golden Shovel. You take a line (or lines) from a poem you admire, and use each word in the line (or lines) as an end word in your poem while maintaining the order. If you choose a line with six words, your poem would be six lines long.” Taken from

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