Threshold is the single word prompt for the church’s writer’s group this month. I struggled with this one a bit and ended up writing two pieces. I thought a poem would be nice, but then I didn’t really like what I wrote so I did something with more prose in it – you might call it a prose poem. Still, that one wasn’t exactly what I was thinking of so I just took both writings to the group and read them both.

The first piece is titled, Threshold while the second piece is titled, Threshold. Please read them and let me know which you think is the better piece, Threshold or Threshold. Spoiler alert: the writing group thought Threshold was better …


0.7 volts.
The minimum energy required for a transistor to start working.
Once crossed, amplifiers amplify and music is heard.
Below the threshold lies silence and a gentle breeze.

divides the two worlds.
From the portal he stands
looking towards her.
An open barrier he can’t cross
a word and a step
takes flight leading to the next

a rock sits at the summit
for eons unmoving
a push beyond inertia
sets the rocky cascade.

Standing at the end,
Looking back will we look back
at thresholds crossed
just fall through the last door
with our song unsung.


0.7 volts is the semiconductor threshold.  Below this voltage, diodes, and transistors won’t conduct electrons and radios, phones and computers don’t work.  Set the circuit so that the voltage across the diode is above .7 and current flows – amplifiers amplify, computers compute and all the high tech magic comes to life.

Threshold, that energy level needed to overcome inertia.  You can push on a table, but it doesn’t move until a certain minimum force is reached. A boulder on a mountain top might sit there for centuries until just the right force comes along and sends it crashing down the hill.  Your car idles at the stop light until you move a small muscle in your foot, unleashing the power of the engine. 

There is an emotional threshold, an intellectual threshold – a minimum effort needed to start a relationship or learn something new.  Ever need to call a plumber? Think of the effort to find one, call, make the appointment, and then wait for them to arrive.  Sometimes we just let the faucet leak instead of making that call.

How many new friends have I not made because I couldn’t take the effort to say, “Hello.”  How often do we miss out because we won’t move our hand, meet a glance or take just one step?

Threshold, that thing on the floor. That thing that defines a door – a separation from one place to another and one time from another.  I remember being 18 and having the feeling of standing on the threshold of life.  So many doors to choose.  Picking one meant rejecting another.  Joining the Navy would end my life at home while going to school would take me to a safer high tech career.  Even today I, I look back through the portals I have past and wonder if I stepped over the right threshold.

It’s easy to second guess the past.  The view on the other side of the door is different – the room changes as we enter and walk through to the next decision point.

Doors can be walked through, but they also enclose us.  Threshing is the process of removing grain from the stem and a threshold keeps the valuable grain on the threshing floor.  Some doors are slammed shut on us – death of a loved one, loss of a job.  Some doors we close. Sometimes a door needs to be shut and barred to protect us.

Sometimes a threshold shouldn’t be crossed. Violence, anger, and hate take us to rooms that tear us down, render us less than when we entered.  Some words can’t be recalled, some doors won’t close.

0.7 volts, the minimum energy we must spend to start the current of life flowing.

About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I worked in the high tech world doing software release engineering and am now retired. Then I got prostate cancer. Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
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26 Responses to Threshold

  1. As is so often the case, poetry speaks louder in fewer words. On many levels, I find the poem winning its way to my senses with more freedom. It has my vote.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. mitchteemley says:

    Glad you wrote both, Andrew. Lots of food for thought here!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Debra says:

    “Threshold” really is the better piece! I concur with you and others.

    But “Threshold” #1 is my favorite of the two. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved them both, but definitely prefer “Threshold”. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dave says:

    It’s the poem for me, especially that last stanza. Thought-provoking, to say the least.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. jfwknifton says:

    I prefer the second one, because it is in prose which, for me, suits the subject matter so much better.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Baydreamer says:

    I like both, but the prose version is the winner because of the thought-provoking details that resonate. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pied Type says:

    The prose version is the one that got me thinking about all the thresholds I’ve crossed and reminded me once again that crossing all of them (including the bad ones) is what brought me to today. Each was a necessary part of the journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Dave Foyle says:

    Very Nice! Both of them!
    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I knew you’d be clever about this.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ray V. says:

    I like the second version….more in depth and easier for my brain to follow and absorb.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. The free verse/poem version. It captures the essence.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. lifelessons says:

    A very interesting and informative piece, Andrew.

    Liked by 1 person

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