Re-Read: You Can’t Go Here

Colleen’s Pick:  Jessy and Derek’s Collaborative Poetry

I love “You Can’t Go Here” for so many reasons. Let me count the ways.
  1. It’s simply great writing. Tastes of intrigue, humor, regret, adventure.
  2. And it’s a fine example of a poetry suite. We like to publish pieces that might inspire other writers; suites can especially help young writers learn how to develop and sustain a theme or, as in this case, trace the arc of a life.
  3. Derek and Jessy began their writing collaboration as teenagers and it continues right up to the present. In fact, they even wrote one new poem for this suite to debut on YARN –which is its own collaboration of sorts between the writers and YARN.
  4. They wrote a blog for YARN about their collaboration process. I particularly love this because we learn that their collaboration is the product of both good planning and sheer serendipity.
  5. The writers sent YARN a photo of themselves as teens. It’s awesome. Totally 1980s.Don’t we all dream of our picture in the newspaper for winning a writing award? They’ve since gone on to win bigger awards, but I bet this was one of the sweetest.
By Jessy Randall and Derek Rowley



You Can’t Go Here

Photo courtesy of bluecinderella (

You can’t go here.
It’s behind glass,
or there’s a fence.

So you go up.
Or around, or through.
On purpose.

Your mother doesn’t like it.

The zookeeper
lurches forward: “Hey!”
You’re invincible –
but so is the lion.

You can’t go into the hall
without a pass.
So you remove the putty
from around the window
and explore the view from the roof.


Another Place You Aren’t Supposed to Go

Photo courtesy of bluecinderella (

Another place you aren’t supposed to go
is under her shirt.

You’re all smooth nonchalance,
sidling over, working
your way up.

But she’s not like that.
Or at least not yet.
By the time she is,
you’ll be somewhere else.

Looking at diamond rings
in the glass case at the big box store,
one hand covering your wallet,
one foot pointed out the door.


Your Place, Temporarily

Photo courtesy of bluecinderella (

You’re temping. It’s

The sales rep job only
lasted three days, but here
at the top of a telephone pole,
the breeze is fine. For one week
you can do anything.

Except dislodging a family of beetles
living nestled among the wires.
“No HBO today,” you tell them.
You’ll think of what to tell your boss
on the way down.


The Next-to-Last Place

The next-to-last place you’ll go
is very far from here.

Like the Himba,
you keep to yourself.
(You were never going to be
a regular person.)

You learn to knap obsidian
and live among the primitives.
The word “home” becomes
foreign to you.

Photo courtesy of bluecinderella (

No more automatic glass doors.
You walk to the world’s tallest cactus.
You stop making phone calls.
You stop checking your mail.


The Last Place

You scoop creamy durian,
skunky fruit of the
Malaysian peninsula,
breaking the hotel’s policy.

You escape
collapsing Zimbabwe
chased by thugs
with broken glass.

You make it! And then
you drown
in the Kunene.

It was just a river. But now
it’s the very last place
you weren’t supposed to go.

Jessy Randall‘s young adult novel “The Wandora Unit” is about the high school poetry crowd. She lives in Colorado, and her website is here.  She is working on a book of poems forthcoming from Red Hen Press and a new YA novel.

Derek Rowley teaches high school literature and composition in St. Louis, MO. His fiction and photography series “Ixchel” appeared in “Ocean Magazine.”  Derek’s review of Jessy’s book “The Wandora Unit” appeared in” Write4Children, TheInternational Journal for the Practice and Theories of Writing for Children and Children’sLiterature.” This summer, Derek is in Marseille, France, doing some travel writing about southernFrance and some literary criticism about Richard Wright for use with students this fall.

Jessy and Derek met on the staff of their high school literary magazine, “Galaxy,” in the 1980s. For more about their collaboration, see their guest blog this week.

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One Comments Post a Comment
  1. Haddayr says:

    I loved these!

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