Header PostFeaturedImage 06

Instructions for the Journey by Pat Schneider


There are letters to write. Some to you. Some to myself. And there are poems, oh page after page after page of them. Sometimes I wish I can show you.

Sometimes I wish I can take you. When I’m writing, I mean. But then we have this place, don’t we? Some pages a reckoning. Some pages a homecoming. But always, always a journey.

Yes, there’ll still be heavy stones scattered about my life. Some days I might even put them in my pocket. But I’m hoping I’ll kick them out of the way, watch them roll off the path, go about my day, eventually forget. I’m crossing my fingers.

I’ve left myself a thousand times before. I’m so concerned about being I haven’t thought about becoming.

If you are on an odyssey, I bid you good luck and a good sandwich. Carry poems in your pocket. If you are at a crossing, go where you feel there’ll be a kindness. Follow your nose. The answer is yes.

Instructions for the Journey
Pat Schneider

The self you leave behind
is only a skin you have outgrown.
Don’t grieve for it.
Look to the wet, raw, unfinished
self, the one you are becoming.
The world, too, sheds its skin:
politicians, cataclysms, ordinary days.
It’s easy to lose this tenderly
unfolding moment. Look for it
as if it were the first green blade
after a long winter. Listen for it
as if it were the first clear tone
in a place where dawn is heralded by bells.

And if all that fails,

wash your own dishes.
Rinse them.
Stand in your kitchen at your sink.
Let cold water run between your fingers.
Feel it.

[expand title=”Endnotes” tag=”h6″ expanded=”true”]

This poem appeared in Olive Street Transfer by Pat Schneider, published by Amherst Writers & Artists Press, 1999. Shared here with profound gratitude.

Read more works by Pat Schneider • Find books by this poet • Or view my library 

Explore poems in pursuit of: journeysself-forgivenessbecoming • Or browse the index


[expand title=”Dear Reader” tag=”h6″]

This little corner of the world is my passion project since 2005. My commitment is that it will always remain free to all. If this place holds meaning for you, would you consider supporting it? This can be in the form of a cup of coffee (+ other ways).

Note that Read A Little Poetry may receive a small commission if you make a purchase through any links on this site. It is at no additional cost to you and helps in the upkeep of this space.

Thank you for being here all these years—and into the future—as I hold poets to the light.


[expand title=”Pin This” tag=”h6″]

Instructions for the Journey by Pat Schneider


Comments (4)

  • Thanks for sharing this this poem. Wonderful instructions for living. Your introductory thoughts too are a pleasure to read.

  • What a nice surprise. I lived in Amherst for many years, have met Pat Scheider, and know a couple of the people in the Amherst Writers & Artists group 🙂

  • Meg

    I read you, like others read their Horoscope….

  • Mini

    I will never be able to describe just what the last verse of this poem makes me feel. It is the most I have felt understood by someone, or something. So grateful I found this poem. Or that it found me. Hope you’re taking care. Love, M.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: