Olly Olly Oxen Free

We need a good soaking
rain the kind that
grays the sky
falls all day
puddles on the concrete
pours off the roof
swells the creek
turns it brown & rapid
drops on leaves &
makes ’em dance
flushes worms from earth
like olly olly oxen free
flushed us from
before I did those things to you
& you did those things to me

Click here to read Susan Fuchtman on the origin of the poem.

Image: “Rain” by Zoi Koraki, licensed under CC 2.0.

Susan Fuchtman:
I wrote “Olly Olly Oxen Free” a few years ago, looking out my home office window at verdant suburbia. I lived in Cincinnati metro at the time. The first line, “We need a good soaking rain,” is the kind of thing people say, and for some reason, sitting at that desk that day, that’s where I started. I don’t plan my writing and was as surprised as anyone when earth worms, soaked and struggling after the rain, reminded me of hide-and-seek with my sister. The ending changed a few times—the story of a lifetime with a sister is difficult to capture in any number of lines, and I finally decided on the vague and broad last couplet. I didn’t use any punctuation, but rather let the line breaks pace the poem, and used ampersands rather than “and” for speed and to keep those “ands” small. I recently worked on a final polish of the poem with poetry coach and editor, Tara Skurtu. We made a couple of line break changes in the body of the poem, but most of our work was on the ending: we removed a line “all those years ago” that was before the last couplet, took out a second “before” that was at the start of the last line, and moved the ampersand from the end of the penultimate line to the beginning of the last line.

Susan Fuchtman
Latest posts by Susan Fuchtman (see all)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

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