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2012 April PAD Challenge: Day 15

For today’s prompt, use the following five words in your poem: slash, button, mask, strap, and balloon. Use them in any order.

Here’s my attempt:


Clear the balconies and strap your masks on:
we have a poem to write slash poem–
to carry like a balloon or to wear
like a button for all others to see.



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370 thoughts on “2012 April PAD Challenge: Day 15

  1. AC Leming

    Mirror Mask

    My mask is in place,
    strapped on tight
    so you can’t see my weakness.

    I have no buttons
    for you to push
    to control my actions.

    No words you say
    can change my thoughts.
    My emotions, held tight.
    You can’t lead me around
    like a balloon on a string.
    Not any longer.
    I won’t tolerate
    your slash and burn
    technique for dealing with me.
    I’m still standing
    like that stubborn weed
    growing through
    the crack in the pavement.

  2. mschied


    Dreams are bubbles
    of things hoped for
    until someone pops
    them like a balloon

    Dreams are the buttons
    carefully stitched
    to your favorite sweater
    until you find one
    has fallen off, just when
    you want to wear it

    Dreams are the wishes
    you use to mask the fact
    that you have no purpose
    in life, that you are floating
    on existance like a feather
    in the wind

    Dreams are a self-portrait
    worked on little by little
    over time by your inner
    artist, until one day
    you discover
    someone has slashed it
    to ribbons

    Dreams are the parachutes
    you strap on when you fall
    which carry you up and away
    from the troubles below

  3. Paoos69

    The Journey

    It is each person’s claim
    Or their claim to fame
    That if they do something extraordinaire
    They will burst with flair
    Have the capacity to slash
    Every fear, every obstacle
    That is but a mask
    Keeping them from the pinnacle
    Of everything that defines success

    It is but they themselves
    That strap their progress
    Button their potential
    And into an abyss digress
    Oblivious of the possibilities
    Averse to the sensibilities
    Of many a wonderful things
    Far-fetched and near
    That fathom ambition

    Set them off in a balloon
    On a journey
    Long-awaited, never too soon
    To explore, indulge and reap
    To endure, conjure and seap

  4. Arrvada

    Bright Mind
    The mind is like a balloon
    We fill it up each day
    Strap down behind the desk
    Press the button
    Computer comes to life
    We read through the curriculum
    The highlighter makes a bright yellow slash
    Across the page, highlighting words
    Creating the illusion of the mask I wear
    Today I am a student
    Here to illuminate my thoughts
    Chase back the darkness of ignorance
    The balloon fills and fills
    And on some days
    Threatens to pop!

  5. ceeess


    His lips form a flat slash between
    the tight tense cuts along
    the nasolabial folds, character
    lines or gravity’s pull down-
    ward over time, the surgeon’s slashing
    scalpel might tailor him a new mask

    his eyes close as the balloon
    of anaesthetic sends him lofting ceiling-
    ward, his limp limbs held tight, tense
    by a well-placed strap just north
    of his protruding belly button.

    Carol A. Stephen
    April 15, 2012

  6. Arike

    On the mend

    You cut the thread with a slash
    Can you sew back on that button?
    Mary, look, it snapped again, the strap
    Just needs a little work to mask
    Your fortune’s popped like a balloon

    Worn shoes, thin shirts you can’t mask
    A swiss cheese sock is not a button
    And the back gave the ghost after the strap
    Appearance, it’s a leaking balloon
    Just needs a prick or a slash

    The news blows up like a balloon
    Comes from a mouth you can’t button
    A tongue you cannot strap
    Down, the friendly neighbour’s mask
    Your suffering destroys it with a big slash

    Lost your friend, the hot-air balloon
    You’re naked without your mask
    Feeling as large as a button
    Holding your pants up with a strap
    Everything gone in a slash

    Clear the table with your hand’s slash
    Enough, order them to button
    Up, you will not be strapped
    Down, nothing to lose now, no mask
    You’re poor and light and free as a balloon

  7. Caren

    Ill Fated Balloon

    The jagged rock slashed fabric and wicker
    As the balloon crashed into the mountain.
    We clung to the ballast straps, the pilot
    Doing all he could to mask his terror
    In the face of embarrassing failure.
    Our lives in his hands, we looked for guidance;
    His blank expression gave us no comfort.
    Yielding to gravity, we plummeted,
    And though he searched, the pilot couldn’t find
    An “easy” button to help him through this.

    Caren E. Salas

  8. Tanjamaltija

    Life is for living…
    Fine words butter no parsnips;
    Slash-and-burn doctrine.

    Life’s a switch-button;
    You think you’ll beat the pressure –
    Then a gasket blows!

    Life, a voodoo mask;
    Truth, embarrassed, blushes hard
    Both of them are frauds.

    Life is a balloon;
    No beginning and no end –
    Embracing a void.

    Life is a crossroads…
    Direction signs confuse you;
    Keep you strap-hanging.

  9. po


    Like a lead balloon
    I fall from the sky
    and turn to stone
    other than a bump
    on my head shaped
    like a cone. I fare
    well with nothing
    to do but stare
    at my stone mother
    slashed to the mask
    of a ship into fair
    button harbor.

  10. foodpoet

    At the party, you know the one
    Where the children are second
    To slash and burn politics, where
    The mask of conformity rules,
    You plan the even with bosses in mind.
    You push the right buttons, walk the corporate line.
    Strap in for full throttle apologies
    For another missed event.
    You chose work and putting food on the table
    Over the glow of happy eyes.
    Another balloon falls as you decide
    Who you are tomorrow.

  11. Jaywig

    Day 15 – use slash, button, mask, strap and balloon in the one poem

    The leather strap
    slashed the air
    and a brown hand.

    Both faces masked
    lips buttoned, no
    emotion flashing.

    But I could see their thoughts
    as if speech balloons filled
    the sky, covered the class-
    room walls around them.

  12. maxie2


    You button me together on Monday morning,

    slash my Tuesday debts with forgiveness,

    wash the pompous mask off Wednesday’s face

    and by Thursday You strap my confidence

    to Your saving grace.

    when the sun sets on Friday

    hope is an invincible balloon

    buoying me again, up to You.

  13. Lynn Burton

    The Clown

    In awe, I wonder what he’s like
    under that painted-on mask
    with the expressive eyes, big
    red smile, and rubber nose.
    Leaning in close,
    he hands me my sword balloon,
    and I slash it through the air.
    My brother popped the strap
    on his suspender, and all he
    got was a pocket full of lint
    and a button.

  14. Khara H.

    Mississippi Stomp

    Strap the woman down begins the dance—
    his flair for fire, the trim step, one, two, three, across her back
    As her face swells like the first hot air balloon
    lacing its way like a feather past the Parisian sun.

    Her steps drip with sweat
    Into the cup of her hems, her hair, ruffled
    like the cotton doilie dripped with taper wax.

    He steps into each slash, this blood and water masquerade
    that curls her up against her bones, fast then slow.

    He loses a button—she can use it, when she finds it,
    for a baby doll façade, for her daughter,
    wrapped in stolen printed paper. Now they tussle,

    Hers a mask of leathered silence
    while he waltzes her, once, twice,
    traces her head to toe,
    before she unfurls.

  15. seingraham


    I step out the front door
    And a string dangling from the sky
    Smacks me in the face

    Eyes turned up I spot a festive balloon
    Pink as candy floss caught in the crotch of our tree
    It registers: from the party our baby just attended …

    Then – on the walk, the empty stroller, a rebuke
    Both of its straps flap un-naturally, slashed through
    Restraining baby no longer
    The world begins to tilt and whirl

    On the ground I notice something
    And kneel to find a tiny pink pearlized button,
    Its thread attached but torn –
    A testament to something brutal
    I picture a hand-knit angora sweater

    As I stand on legs that barely hold me,
    I spot something balled
    Behind the stroller and stoop to pick up
    A dark woolly hat – no, not a hat
    A ski mask – what do they call them?

    A balaclava, I think – yes – that’s it
    Then as the reality sinks in – a mask?
    Now tossed? What does it mean?
    Oh.My.God. What does it mean …

  16. Katrin

    After three double espressos and
    much thought (twenty-three kilos of it),
    she took off her mask,
    button by button,
    tightened the strap of her
    jelly shoes,
    rehearsed her defense with
    a slash or two of
    her cocktail sword,
    popped the balloon that
    was blocking her
    front door,
    and marched out,
    ready, at last,
    to pick the daisies

  17. currencem


    the strap of your dress
    fell sideways as you wobbled
    to the black limo of awaiting strangers,
    their white shirts unbuttoned,
    their blue ties wrung like gift ribbons.
    You, the night’s present,
    disturb only the fallen balloons
    and broken champagne glass
    as you walk towards the masked horror.
    I turn away — the first slash
    from your own personal Brutus.

  18. gtabasso

    After ee cummings

    The balloonman whistles far and wee
    until a little girl, cute as a button,
    dances over from her games
    to buy a red one with a blue ribbon
    (her two favorite colors),
    but she stumbled on the way home,
    lost it, tore her dress, skinned her knee,
    was late for afternoon tea
    then begged and cried for another
    until her father’s strap cut
    like a slash across her back,
    until she wanted to fly away
    into the night sky to see
    if the moon is a balloon or a mask.

  19. JanetRuth

    There is no ‘easy button’ in life
    The bog and slash of yester-strife is past
    Don’t cry

    Mask your sorrow with a smile
    Strap faith’s balloon to hope’s trial; cling fast
    And fly

    There is no ceiling in the sky

  20. Dyson McIllwain

    Legend of the Lough Ne$$

    Tales of the Tail emerging
    the murky bog of Lough Ness
    slashes at the sunrise
    as if wisemen had foretold
    her arrival. A matter of myth
    in search for survival. A legend
    expanding; a balloon filled
    to a breaking point, meant to mask
    your presence. Strapped for funds,
    it had gotten messy. A solution?
    Mundane buttons are sold reading
    in bold script: “I HEART NESSIE!”

  21. Margot Suydam

    Control Chaos

    A ballooned slash straps
    A buttoned mask straps

    A slashed balloon masks
    A buttoned strap masks

    A slashed mask buttons
    A strapped balloon buttons

    A buttoned balloon slashes
    A masked button slashes

    A slashed strap balloons
    A masked slash balloons

    So slash a strapped balloon
    or strap on a slashed mask

    button a slash with a balloon
    or strap a mask with a button

    button on a ballooning mask
    or strap on a slashed button

  22. Mark Windham

    Prayer for my Children

    Strap a ballon to your
    back and sail across
    the skies of your dreams,
    then slash the strings
    and fall into the abyss
    of love.

    Leave off the mask, show
    the world who you are,
    no pretenses or games.
    Keep your finger on the
    button of joy, make time
    to enjoy silence.

  23. Walt Wojtanik

    The lateness of the 16th prompt raises the thought: Is Robert on his annual South-North trek to Ohio (which seems to fall during the third week of the challenge)?

    This usually spells chaos (and a bit of skull-duggery) amongst we the poetic rabble. Let’s surprise the big guy and not have any of that tom foolery this time out so he can enjoy his trip without the need for chaperones! Put that passion in our poetry! This has been a Poetic Service Announcement!

  24. Marie Elena

    Weekend got out-of-hand busy. Oy … the best I can do for now …

    Escape Plan

    1. mask concern
    2. button lip
    2. board balloon
    2. strap yourself in
    3. slash tether
    4. head for nearest rainbow.

    Emerald never was
    your color.

  25. Walt Wojtanik


    Gigot walked the boulevard
    his heavy overcoat buttoned to his chin.
    The children always tagged after the mute
    lumbering figure. His satchel draped
    over his shoulder, the strap stretched
    across his large chest. Gigot’s smile
    warmed and comforted, slashing through
    any sadness or despair; it never faltered
    in it’s mask-like appearance.
    The vendor near the Avenue des Champs-Élysées
    hawked his balloons prompting
    the children’s longing and Gigot’s generosity.
    Purchasing a balloon for each of them
    the gentle giant sat on the bench
    offering his sugar cookies and his company.
    Night fell and the children departed for home,
    to dream of broken cookies and red balloons.

  26. zevd2001

    Take me somewhere, to a place
    that lets me live without
    having to walk in the wind and the rain, when
    the waters crest up along the shore,
    the skies are filled with foreboding clouds, lightening

    flashes down at the trees as I sit
    in my late model car, praying I won’t become
    a source of static electricity. Give me
    this day, my daily bread
    and butter . . . toasted with strawberry jam

    on a patio facing the ocean, with nothing
    to worry about. Running to the beach
    into the water. Skinny dipping, jumping
    up and down as if I was born
    there. Still I know better

    everything around me tells me it ain’t
    so. This world is bound to get nastier
    before it gets better. Give me a space
    with a lot of cushions. My bones will not feel

    the impact. I’ll wait until
    the catastrophe plays itself out.

    Zev Davis

  27. tunesmiff


    Slash the button
    from the strap that
    holds the mask tight

    against your heart,
    letting the light
    shine on your soul

    and sadness fly
    like a balloon
    in a windstorm.

  28. drwasy

    At night, perched in the Pamirs
    high above the Pech
    the air thins cold
    and vision is possible:
    you seek the slash
    of poppy orange in grey rock,
    yellow gleams from copses
    of holly and cedar,
    the silver of wire lining
    the goatherd’s path.

    The thin cold air
    magnifies night-sound:
    the snap of twigs, the soft
    snap after the bullet
    slashes air, the snap
    and slap of gear
    buttoned on and down,
    magazines loaded,
    soft violences masked
    by mortar thrum.

    In the cold night air
    dark stretches and thins:
    tracers limn clouds, yellow
    dust balloons behind ridges
    illuming villages
    on fire, rockets explode
    and reflect in the Pech
    red and black streamers,
    some reverse fireworks,
    some strange awesome
    terrible celebration.

    For a story in progress, I am writing war, reading war, and the these words resonated with this theme. Peace, LindaS-W

  29. ina


    When as many people
    were listening in the bar as
    possible, he’d tell her
    to button her lip because
    she didn’t know nothing and even
    lit by blue neon they could see
    the blush staining her face.
    Now that death has claimed
    him, his mouth is no longer a
    slash of ugly words across his face,
    and his lip is buttoned. The mask of
    death is strapped across his face, closing
    the nostrils he no longer needs to
    smell or sneer or breathe. His
    soul trickles from his body like
    helium from a balloon and rises
    through the ceiling leaving the limp
    corpse to sink into the ground.

  30. De Jackson

    A companion poem to How to be Happy, offered earlier today.

    How to be Sad

    Mask pain.
    Strap button to mouth.
    Slash balloon.


  31. Bruce Niedt

    If you like word prompts, try the blog The Sunday Whirl, which offers a “Wordle” graphic every Sunday featuring twelve words to work into a poem.

    I had a lot of fun with this prompt, because NaPoWriMo’s prompt was to write a parody poem, particularly of a poet that you don’t like. I never really got Gertrude Stein, so she was my subject. If you’ve never read Francis Heaney’s book “Holy Tango of Literature”, it’s full of very funny parodies of poets and writers. He takes the author’s name, anagrams it, and then writes a poem or prose on the title’s subject in that writers’ style. Thus, T.S. Eliot becomes “Toilets” and Emily Dickinson becomes “Skinny Domicile”. I wrote several poems inspired by the book, like “Zaro and Up” by Ezra Pound:

    The education of these faces in the classroom;
    numbers on a black, dry board.

    So here is my Gertrude Stein parody, complete with anagrammed title:

    Registered Nut
    by Gertrude Stein

    Tender buttons, but on tender, tender your buttons, butter your tendons. Strap on your mask to mask the strap. Button the strap on your mask and strap your mask with buttons. Button your yap and yap yap with a strap on your tender buttons. The moon’s a balloon and the balloon’s a moon balloon too soon in June. The moon’s a tender button with a mask or a mask with a moon. Slash the strap and stash the slap and button your yap. Prices slashed on masks with buttons, balloon straps and moons that yap. Tender, tender button-strapped masks and slashed balloons under the yappy moon.

  32. Buddah Moskowitz

    The Foreman Speaks

    Ok, listen up, you hacks.

    I’m sure you’ve all
    received the memo from
    Research and Marketing,
    and the word is
    that the big bosses
    are behind this
    so they’re serious.

    The online e-card sites
    are kicking our ass,
    so if we can’t beat them,
    Corporates’s going to slash
    the creative division.

    Research tells us
    the market wants
    from America’s premier
    greeting card company.

    No more balloons
    or cakes
    or cute little
    puppy dogs
    on birthday cards.

    No, they want
    S&M masks,
    and anything that

    button your lip!

    If you want to be
    an artist,
    get the hell
    out of here.

    Go back to that
    blog of yours,
    with its lousy 50
    you loser.

  33. pmwanken


    a mask covers nose and mouth
    eyes dart left and right
    as someone tries to strap him down

    Where am I? he struggles to ask
    but the loud thumping
    serves to mask his words

    the taste of blood
    from the slash in his flesh
    touches his tongue

    images flash in his mind’s eye
    a light, blinking rapidly
    the button, lit bright red

    sounds ring in his ears
    bells, whistles and popping sounds
    as that of a balloon

    his heart throbs beneath the strap
    he feels the welt above his eye
    begin to balloon with each beat

    reality starts to slash at his memory
    recalling the last thing he did…
    to snap and button himself into his harness

    surrounded by rugged mountains,
    the spinning blades of a chopper,
    and medics in camo…

    his world fades to black

    P. Wanken

  34. Benjamin Thomas

    This Old Bag of a Balloon

    Give me those primal cheeks, those irresistible charming buttons
    and don’t turn away,
    but let me clasp your cuteness betwixt thumb and index…
    yes, palpable pleasures, indeed enjoyed, compressed, still squeezed.

    Let me see your winning countenance
    display those genuine sizzling smiles
    slashing self’s misery straps
    once thickened with constraining wiles

    Now this old bag of a balloon
    is released in the joy of your unmasked face
    now this old bag of a balloon
    re-inflated with your effervescent child-like grace

  35. walkwrite@sympatico.ca


    The path of your slash is barely visible
    if anything it widens my smile
    I refuse to button my lip
    or don the mask
    you would strap to my face
    I float free today
    a balloon bouquet
    of purples, yellows, greens
    and white
    soon so distant
    you lose sight
    of me

  36. Dan Collins

    A Face in the Clouds

    The boy
    is so much
    like a balloon;
    each day farther –
    he is floating away
    like a bloated
    red and yellow mask,
    as it drifts off
    into the blue
    above the open
    fields below.

    He is too far away
    to slash the ropes
    that strap him
    to the hot air
    and the time
    has long past
    since anyone
    could button him
    down to the earth.

    1. Dan Collins

      The boy is so much
      like a balloon now;
      each day farther –
      he is floating away
      like a bloated
      red and yellow mask,
      grinning as it drifts
      off into the blue
      above the open,
      ignorant fields.

      He is too far away
      to slash the ropes
      that strap him
      to hot air rising;
      and the time
      has long past
      since anyone
      could still button
      him down to earth.

  37. cam45237

    If only I could drop this mundane mask,
    Slash these tired ties,
    And loose these barren bonds,
    I’d strap myself
    to a cerulean balloon,
    Float skyward
    til I was but a button
    in the clouds.

    1. KristiOhio

      Nice, Cam! I don’t know how bonds are barren. I like how when the speaker is bound, you used alliteration, but then when the speaker is free (although still strapped to something), the language gets lighter, the lines shorter, and the poems ends on a dot disappearing. I felt the release of stress, a relaxing, while reading it. I need to keep this poem at my desk at work.

  38. Jerry Walraven

    “Afternoon Delight”

    There is still wonder
    in the silent passing
    of a hot air balloon.
    People, buttoned down
    on the outside,
    cannot mask
    their joy at
    this simple
    mode of flight.
    We rise higher
    but still
    people slash their
    hands through the air
    communicating a simple
    wish– take me with you.
    The wind takes us
    where it will
    and when time comes
    we find a place to land,
    surprising onlookers
    who rush over
    to grab a strap
    and help us stop,

  39. Marcia Gaye

    You’re Not the Boss of Me

    Balloon, ba-schmoon. I’m no buffoon and you can’t make me do this.

    I’m usually all smiles, sometimes wear a mask of angst, but this just makes me angry.

    A strap is a very good thing if it holds you safe and tight or a very bad thing if it slashes in the night. Today I’m not at all sure which strap comes to mind.

    My pretty pen makes dark thick slashes across my notebook. Guess you’ve found how to push my buttons. Knock it off.

    -Marcia Gaye
    (Yeah I’m a grump today.)

  40. Yolee

    Beauty for Slashes

    At 84, Papi still straps wooing words to his love
    for Mami like strings on red balloons he released
    one evening in 1959 to alert he was a ladder’s
    climb away. It is as if he still sees her in a violet
    nightdress with unbuttoned youth, on a veranda
    while coquís masked forbidden conversations
    with symphonies. And he wants to reach
    some secret door, rap on it, watch her
    appear, willing to stroll in his court.

  41. periwinkle


    A balloon bouquet freely floats about the room
    as she fends off sleep. Drifting she encounters
    her nemesis. A masked stranger drags her into a
    dark alley. Hand cuffed to a car bumper, he
    lashes her body with a leather strap worn on
    his belt hanging from a gold metal button.
    A final crack of his leather whip leaves a
    bloody slash across her once flawless face.
    Moaning, tossing, once again awake, she
    has survived evil. Sleep is punishment.

  42. deedeekm


    Slap a strap around your waist
    And tie it to a blue balloon
    Button up your over coat
    Take off time is soon

    Check your mask the air is thin
    (make sure you have warm shoes)
    Find a cloud and jump right in
    Toss your fears, enjoy the view

  43. just Lynne

    (Inspired by my viewing of the musical “Gypsy” today)

    The Burlesque beauty
    eyed the unpolished brunette
    in the dressing room
    “You see,”
    she spoke with authority,
    “If you’re going to make it on stage,
    You have to have a hook
    A signature that makes the men remember you
    You can’t stay country and make it”

    The girl nodded, swallowed,
    unbuttoned her plaid shirt
    slipping on one of the silk gowns
    the previous occupant had left
    (before the cops escorted her
    from the premises)
    she chose the most modest gown on the rack
    navy blue, rhinestone-rimmed neckline
    squinted her dusky blue eyes
    at the smudged mirror
    and twisted her wavy hair
    into a bun
    a few rebellious strands falling

    the veteran studied her and frowned
    “No, it’ll never do”
    slipped a knife
    from the glittery folds of her skirt
    yanked the hem of the navy gown
    as the girl stumbled
    carefully slashed it from the floor
    to the girl’s virginal hip
    the girl gasped and tried to seal it
    the woman sighed

    “How are you going to make it Burlesque
    without showing a little skin?”
    the girl frowned
    then narrowed her eyes
    determined to make it
    stumbled for a minute in those heels
    found a Mardi Gras mask in the corner
    made seductive poses behind it
    with lips she lined a defiant scarlet
    then she let down her hair, shaking it back
    lifted a leg
    spun into a quick pirouette
    skirt ballooning about her shapely legs
    the fingers of her left hand
    slipped a dainty strap off her shoulder
    as she slowly slid the feathered mask
    from her eyes to her hips
    looked down at the woman
    through thick, steaming lashes

    the woman Burlesque,
    knife still in her palm,
    was stunned

  44. Janet Rice Carnahan


    Trap the strap,
    Lash the slash,
    Top the button,
    Chop the mutton,
    Produce the mask?
    Just ask,
    Stop the balloon,

    POP . . .

    Opps . . . too soon!!

  45. wolfbolz

    A Flying We Shall Go

    Slash that strap
    and button up,
    a flying we shall go.
    Above the clouds
    in our balloon,
    above the rain and snow.
    Where worries flee
    and matter not,
    where time slows to a crawl.
    Where earth looks like a checkerboard
    and people insect-small.
    We’ll shed our mask
    and smile a bit,
    forget our daily woes,
    as up above the clouds we sail.
    A flying we shall go.

  46. vincegotera

    My post from earlier seems not to have taken. Posting again.

    I’ve been mashing up prompts from Maureen Thorson at NaPoWriMo, Andrea Boltwood at Circle the Block, and yours, Robert. Here’s the result today:

    Prompts: Write a Parody, a Limerick, and Use
    The Words Slash, Button, Trap, Mask, Balloon

    For Maureen Thorson,
    Andrea Boltwood, and
    Robert Lee Brewer

    There once was a poet named Brewer
    Who said, use these words and no fewer:
    Slash, button, and trap,
    Mask, balloon,
    and — oh, crap,
    I’ve run out of wo-ords, for su-ure.

    by Vince Gotera
    The Man with the Blue Guitar

  47. Linda Rhinehart Neas

    Scenic View

    The radio was blaring an Oldie but Goodie –
    “Would you like to ride in my beautiful balloon?”

    The button of her new white cami had just
    popped of letting her strap fall seductively down

    her shoulder, as she scrambled to mask
    the problem, she accidentally ripped a hole

    in the side of her new skinny jeans –
    the slash revealing more of her than she

    had wanted to share on a first date.
    He simply sat enjoying the view.

  48. PSC in CT


    I slash through dark nights, sunlit days,
    wielding mace, sword and strap
    (vestigial remains of troubled times)
    buttoned behind this anonymous mask

    oblivious of these balloons
    rising aloft outside my door,
    while I need only grasp their strings
    to take to the sky and soar

  49. DanielAri


    and I button myself into the green polka-dot jumpsuit
    and strap on the red ball nose for the third day running
    because South Plaza Mall would collapse into chaos
    taking the county and the whole world with it should
    the balloon clown man fail to show up with a big smile
    on his mask. Daydreaming of my joke of a paycheck
    inflating like a balloon, bouying me up past the need
    for a paycheck, I begin to build the canopy of colors
    above my head. This could actually fill a young man
    with wonder, but I am instead dreading the enconter
    I know is coming. Every day so far, for weeks running,
    the field of my transactions–cheerful, bored, pissy or
    grudging–sprouts its ugly moment in the day of child
    and parent. Look, kid, I know you need a nap though
    you want another soda; and sir or ma’am, I see your
    fun outing or necessary errand has soured into a sick
    nightmare, but all I have here are helium ballons to sell.
    I can do only one thing for you. My last day on the job,
    a boychild of about six and a mom of about thirty-tired
    converge on me at three sharp to heap all their crabby
    dissatisfaction onto my face, the work I do, the product
    I deliver, wrong colors, wrong ribbon, wrong size, poor
    professionalism, bad clowning, bad attitude, ugly face,
    bad person, wrong, bad, wrong–and I pop–and I slash
    my ribbon knife against the rope of balloonstrings. This
    sends the whole festive cloud up like particolor sperm
    to the arched ceiling, and while every eye turns to look,
    I escape unseen without my paycheck, but with my life.


    1. Janet Rice Carnahan

      WOW, Daniel! “Ari” it is! Talk about the great highs, lows and goodbyes! Such a moving picture of the literal ups and downs of clowns and those who can puncture any balloon or moment in a heart beat! Very, very nicely done! Loved your well crafted use of the words!

  50. posmic

    Los Angeles Dawn

    Slash misses the days when he wore
    a mask to escape that one groupie
    who once pinned a GN’R button
    through each nipple and chased him,
    bleeding and frenzied, down alleys
    in the Los Angeles dawn. He thought
    those days would never end. In a way,
    they haven’t; other, less crazy ladies
    still love to see him put on that top hat,
    strap on his guitar. They scream, and
    there are some glimmers of mayhem;
    maybe one or two will still give chase.
    But fame is a balloon you can only
    ride once, no matter how close
    you get to the sun.

    1. Janet Rice Carnahan

      This is a great use of the five words, Posmic! Your ending and title worked beautifully to complete the picture! Loved your poem and reference to fame! So true!

  51. taylor graham


    In her sky-blue silk blouse
    she finds a tear – no, a slash. Small,
    a perfect flaw, like life
    lived long enough.
    She can’t see to thread a needle
    or sew a button back.
    How could she make this beloved
    fabric whole?
    Or the strap of a grandchild’s
    sundress – only needing mending;
    her daughter will throw it away.
    She peers through the wrinkled
    eye-holes of her mask
    of years. What does she see?
    Here on the front step, remnants
    of a silver balloon,
    and tied to its string
    a note in childish script:
    Whoever finds me,
    have a beautiful beautiful

  52. Kendall A. Bell

    Sunday at the farmer’s market and after

    The day took off its mask by noon and
    soon a slash of light beat down,
    covered us in the warmth that its
    name conveyed. We walked through rows
    of people’s used wares, typewriters
    with taped up cords, a pair of pants
    without a button, watched children
    walking with custard cones and balloons,
    ate a cheesesteak pretzel and apple
    cider donuts. Both of us, unprepared for
    the gray’s lift. Later, your shirt strap
    moved and revealed white around the pink
    on your shoulder. We rubbed aloe into our
    skin, felt the cool relief and collapsed
    into the comfort of the sofa for the evening.

  53. Walt Wojtanik


    The warrior stands high upon the hillside,
    wearing his visor like a mask,
    giving the impression of anonymity.
    His mail is creased; a battering blow
    from an enemy sword, a slash
    with his hardened steel blade.
    He was an ominous figure,
    strapping and muscular.
    His jaw square and jutting;
    the button of a nose on his chiseled face.
    And his chest balloons with each deep breath.
    All the smoke has cleared and the dust had settled.
    He had proven his mettle to reign victorious.

  54. Michelle Hed

    To the Death

    Putting on his mask,
    strapping on his sword –
    he is ready.

    He walks out,
    bows to his opponent,
    takes his stance.

    He has slashed the button
    off his opponents chest
    without blinking.

    He quickly dispatches his opponent.
    As his opponent dies, he thinks he can see their soul
    ascending into heaven like an escaped balloon.

  55. cstewart


    The new button marked the spot
    Where the slashed area had been,
    Masked by the neat mending job
    She had managed after he
    Ballooned up in tears and
    Winced thinking of the strap that
    His friend’s father used on him
    When things like this happened.
    He hoped that kind of punishment
    Would never happen to him.
    She smiled at him and said
    “Now, isn’t that all better?”.
    His left-over tear dropped on her foot.

  56. ely the eel


    On Sunday’s, I strap on
    my go-to-meetin’ best,
    (which is not much, really),
    and head off to the Unity Center,
    my spiritual sanctuary,
    where struggle and strife
    get left at the door, and
    all social masks are deposited
    in the bin next to the umbrella stand.
    I seek a non-anxious presence
    in an anxious world , which
    can be work of a sort, but
    not if the trying is removed,
    silently slashed away by
    that still, small voice.
    Unity is not a bumper sticker type
    of place, and we don’t wear buttons
    with witty sayings of positive thinking.
    We do wear name tags, however,
    and “effortless effort” is present in
    invisible ink on each.
    On Sunday, when we gather,
    it is clear that it is love and light and good
    that are real in the world,
    not evil, that nonsubstantive thought balloon
    that goes “poof”, as we sit like
    the lilies of the field.
    We sing and pray and meditate,
    rejoicing in the effect that community brings.
    I don’t know what name to give that effect,
    but it is tangible, and even though,
    like the wind, it is invisible,
    we experience it.
    Unlike the wind, it reaches inside,
    warming and shaping, often healing.
    By the time Reverend Wendy speaks,
    it is almost unnecessary.
    Wanted, always interesting,
    definitely challenging,
    but unneeded.
    Really, she could just stand there and
    smile at us.
    It would do.

  57. Karen31

    Trick or ….

    October dwindles into windy days
    that witches’ brooms sweep into chilly nights
    and we set tasks to turn front yards to graveyards
    and welcome the little darlings.

    White-balloon ghosty heads stream on strings
    tied to creaky porch rails, sheet-bodies snap
    and ask to race against the moon
    to greet the little darlings

    Maroon paint slashes across the scene, stars
    buttoned into place, waxy bones and styrofoam
    stones map the cemetery grass and mask
    the traps set for the little darlings.

    Fortune smiles as the cats prowl, the bats
    with strapped-on wings and the wild
    buffoons thrust sacks at our waiting hands.
    We just love the little darlings…

  58. hurtin-heart

    Today just not my day!
    Breakfast was a disaster
    as i slashed my finger on
    a knife newly sharpened.
    So i tried my luck at sewing
    on a button.
    Got a needle in finger
    on that one.
    went to grab my purse
    to head to the store
    to buy a balloon and mask
    for party i was throwing.
    the strap breaking as i
    slung it over my shoulder.
    Whats next,
    before this day is over.
    Samantha Tinney

  59. Sheryl

    Do not Release

    Button your lip
    and slash those
    words from your
    mind before they
    balloon out into
    space, where no one
    can strap them down
    and mask your
    sinister meaning.

    Sheryl Kay Oder

  60. claudsy

    Little time today to dawdle. Too many obligations. This is the best I can do for now.

    Day in the Park

    A knife can slash,
    A button to cache,
    You wear a mask,
    Even on task,
    A purse with strap
    Lies in your lap.
    Air fights balloon
    Band strikes up tune.

    © Claudette J. Young 2012

  61. Domino


    I never chose this mask, this domino
    that hides who I am.

    I never chose to look the way I do
    the horror in your eyes at my
    unwilling disguise

    The scars and slashes the fire left
    still pain me, in a ghostly way
    and I’ve not felt like me in

    The most painful thing, though,
    is how people see me, or rather
    don’t see
    at all.

    If people would just stop
    stop buttoning that lip
    I’d rather they just ask
    what happened
    what made you look this way
    why are you so ugly?

    Even when I try to smile,
    the scars pull evilly,
    produce a snarl, so instead
    I strap my heart down, try not to feel
    let my emotions go, tied to
    a helium balloon that floats away
    and disappears,
    like I want to.

    Diana Terrill Clark

  62. Janet Rice Carnahan


    Born happy this lad,
    With great loving joy,
    And parent would be glad,
    To have this big smiling boy!

    His healthy true grin,
    Immediately engaged others,
    Glancing at him, it would begin,
    Drawing envy from mothers!

    His father however,
    Became filled with jealousy,
    He wanted all bonds to sever,
    Child made him that angry.

    The boy was punished,
    For being so good,
    Constantly banished,
    Hidden from the neighborhood,

    The father would slash him,
    With any strap he could find,
    Any chance to bash,
    Him on the behind!

    Until the smiling happy son,
    Ran away to the circus,
    Knowing he was all done,
    With the domestic ruckus!

    He wore the mask of a clown,
    With a painted on smile,
    Making balloon animals for those feeling down,
    Riding the circus train, mile after mile!

    One day walking under the big tent,
    With a new big water button to squirt,
    He finally knew what it all meant,
    Aware how much he’d been hurt.

    As he stood there not knowing,
    If he should scream or cry,
    Before the next showing,
    His parents came by!

    They, of course, didn’t recognize,
    This clown was their son,
    They couldn’t tell in his eyes,
    He was going to have fun!

    As they sat down,
    On the cold, hard seat,
    Up came this clown,
    With big floppy feet!

    He got their attention,
    Made them look at his grin,
    And before they could shun,
    His giant squeeze made water begin!

    Their boy now a man,
    Drenched them but good,
    He emptied the whole can,
    As they sat hard as wood!

    Then he walked away,
    In complete delight,
    Knowing he’d had his say,
    And if he’d made them a balloon animal . . .

    It would actually bite!!

  63. Domino

    Spy Movie

    Enter the room with delicacy.
    Hide caution to mask the subterfuge.
    Once you spy the object of your mission,
    undo the bottom button of your Tuxedo jacket,
    unstrap the holster of your gun, and
    loosen the sword in your cane.

    Be prepared to move when necessary,
    aware of innocents that may be blocking
    the target, but don’t let them stop you
    from completing the job.

    When the balloons fall at midnight,
    the time will be right.
    The distraction will be enough to
    give you the opportunity you need
    to shoot or slash your way to the

    When you’ve completed your task
    the limo will be waiting
    two streets over.

    Do not fail.
    He needs that mochaccino more than you know.

    Diana Terrill Clark

      1. Domino

        Who says he/she isn’t one? (The Tuxedo is no giveaway, women wear them all the time…) ^_^ Thanks for reading Catherine! Maybe I should’ve made the mochaccino-craving ambassador a woman, but that seemed wrong… LOL

  64. Rosangela

    New World

    At the push of a button you can see
    a whole different world, a cue,
    a new dimension, and it’s free
    just for you and a few.
    Get in there, strap your hope
    to a led balloon.
    Make a lasso with your rope
    and climb the moon.
    Drop you mask.
    Don’t ask!
    Slash your path through
    Dare, advance, find the clue.

  65. omavi

    Carpe Diem

    Enjoy the sunshine as the mask
    Of darkness is so far away
    Playing the games that are meant to be played
    Running into the wind
    Like a balloon soul floats high
    This niceness pushing the button
    That makes a smile shine bright
    Wanting just to strap this sun to back
    Delivering it to all who
    Forgot how to enjoy what nature gives
    Slash the sadness and depression
    Causing passion of the day
    To slowly leak in
    Raising head to the sky
    See beauty for all that it is
    Enjoy the day
    Tomorrow may not be like this

  66. dandelionwine

    One More Green Thing

    I remember. You were the one
    who ran down back roads in shorts
    saying your heart would swell
    and burst. I button those days
    into a pocket of spring air, the tender
    string long since slipped through
    your fingers, a sad balloon caught
    in thermals spiraling ever further
    away. This is how it is. No one can
    strap down youth’s optimism, and
    you won’t mask disillusionment with
    false sentiment. To be respected. Still,
    all these years later, I wear shorts
    in spring, run hard and leap high
    through your slash and burn, praying
    for you one more green thing.

    1. Janet Rice Carnahan

      Great title, Sally . . . and any day the creative juices fly unbound . . . it is a good day indeed! Thanks for inviting in the lift! Love it!:)

  67. Sara McNulty

    April 15, 2012 – day 15
    Use the words: slash, button, mask, strap, balloon

    The Watcher

    Wizened man, rests his bony butt
    on a green park bench
    overlooking a lake frequented
    by families. Children chuck
    bread bits into the water
    to feed the ducks, others circle
    a man in clown mask, his mouth
    a crimson slash, his hair a mop
    of orange, twisting balloons
    into shapes of silly animals.
    The old man sighs, opens the
    straps on his backpack,
    and removes a thin sandwich,
    two pieces of stale white bread
    stuck together by a spoon
    of grape jam. He smiles,
    happy the park has not changed
    over the years, well, at least
    not as much as he has.

  68. cstewart


    He strapped the balloon
    To his shirt through his button hole,
    Put on his mask, and slashed
    The rope to the anchor,
    He floated for days,
    Viewing the world as design,
    Colors, shapes and weather,
    Before he reluctantly, sadly
    Without incident, Floated
    Silently to the ground.

  69. uneven steven

    In the same way

    a button
    and a
    can mean
    no entrance,
    or stop,

    depending what you
    imagine –
    a jacket,
    a street sign,
    or emoticon
    to be,

    the giant poster
    the grand ball soiree
    with the

    can either mean
    you were invited to
    a really, really good party
    which you crashed like some
    black bandit
    slash hero,
    ready to even
    the score

    or not

    the victim
    of a scene
    casting random
    images on the screen
    of your life
    no closure,
    no entrance,
    always stop

  70. JRSimmang

    We are children,
    clinging to the last balloon hopes,
    wishing the wind would not carry them away
    into the suns we create.
    We wear our mask, made of clay
    washing the wrinkles in the dirt
    trying to reform the memories
    lost long ago,
    a slash in the delicate fabrics of our
    big fish stories.
    We strap on our shoes,
    button our jackets,
    stand up tall
    and pretend we are no longer
    the cherubim,
    fat bellies and cheeks,
    overjoyed at the slightest sight
    of something sweet.
    Our parents still speak to us as children.
    Do we never grow up until there is no one left?

  71. Iain Douglas Kemp

    A Wink and a Smile

    She slashed the whip down
    against her thigh high leather boots
    her scarlet silk blouse
    seductively one button too low
    her breast heaving enticingly
    the balloon of suspense pops
    as from beneath the cat-like mask
    she gives a wink and a smile
    and says
    “Anyone for tea?”


  72. Mary Mansfield


    Rainbow suspender straps
    Holding up my voluminous pantaloons,
    Feet floating in my floppy shoes,
    Oversized flower in the buttonhole of my lapel,
    A slash of red across my white greasepaint
    Marking where my smile should be.
    You must be a fan,
    You always return for an encore performance,
    An opportunity to watch me
    Dance from ring to ring to ring,
    Juggling the pieces of a broken heart
    As I mask my pain behind the follies.
    The show must go on,
    Even one strictly for your amusement,
    And the last of my dignity floats away
    Like a lost helium balloon.

  73. vincegotera

    I’ve been mashing up prompts from Maureen Thorson at NaPoWriMo, Andrea Boltwood at Circle the Block, and yours, Robert. Here’s the result today:

    Prompts: Write a Parody, a Limerick, and Use
    The Words Slash, Button, Trap, Mask, Balloon

    For Maureen Thorson,
    Andrea Boltwood, and
    Robert Lee Brewer

    There once was a poet named Brewer
    Who said, use these words and no fewer:
    Slash, button, and trap,
    Mask, balloon,
    and — oh, crap,
    I’ve run out of wo-ords, for su-ure.

    by Vince Gotera

  74. Iain Douglas Kemp

    Dear Moosehead,
    I have little say on the subject
    of yesterday’s debacle. I buttoned up my coat,
    strapped on a mask and slipped away, slashing
    the balloons of the glory that had ceased to
    enrich my heart. 1 – 7! What the ____
    was that all about? Nonetheless we shall
    overcome! Today will see us once more
    glorious and don’t forget it’s Jackie Robinson Day
    – a day we can all be proud.
    Pick ya up at 7 – bring money for beer.

    Yours celebrating the diversity
    Ringo the Howler

  75. LCaramanna

    Garage Sale

    Following tips for success
    “How To Have a Profitable Garage Sale,”
    bought for $5.00
    at the Dollar Store.

    Advertising in the newspaper classifieds,
    gaily bobbing bright blue balloon at my mailbox,
    marking the site
    of bargains galore.

    Displaying treasures attractively in my garage,
    early birds swooping in,
    vultures attacking prey
    bargain hunters, nothing more.

    Pointing out every imperfection
    of the valuables
    at my garage sale of
    discarded treasures, nothing more.

    Not one willing to pay a reasonable price
    for the goods upon my tables,
    shoppers’ assertive behavior
    impossible to ignore.

    Left shoe with a crack in the leather,
    Missing a button on this shirt,
    That mask without its feather,
    Toothless zipper on this skirt.

    A lamp without a shade,
    Blue prom gown with a broken strap,
    Working chainsaw – dull blade,
    Baseball uniform without the cap.

    A CD Player missing earphones,
    Broken handled garden rakes,
    Princess Barbies without thrones,
    A bicycle with no brakes!

    The assault of the shoppers relentless
    haggling prices,
    expecting discounts,
    until I could take no more.

    Only one way to end this fiasco:
    Give it all away for free,
    slash prices by 100%
    and close my garage door.

  76. Eve Brackenbury

    The problem with prompts: I just spent an hour reading and writing about slash, button, mask, strap, balloon. I wrote first, feeling witty. Then I read a whole lot of other witty. Now I feel cliche. I even wrote a poem about poetry. groan…. And why am I humming “Send in the clowns?” (God love us.)

    1. Walt Wojtanik

      Eve, did I plant a nasty seed; a sort of “Finnegan, Begin Again”? Robert has said on many occasions, it’s all about the process. And even a poem about poetry is as expressive. A good read; I enjoyed it.

  77. eljulia


    the emotion ballooned
    so I fastened my winter jacket
    button by button
    preferring to slash my losses
    and face the cold
    than to strap on the happy mask
    I usually wore
    to hide the anger within.

  78. Eve Brackenbury

    Poems Lost

    Poems are like balloons
    set free against a tall, blue sky
    littered with cumulus clouds.
    We understand the depth
    and the loftiness
    and the loneliness.
    Poems do not mask our pain
    and let us forget our sorrow.
    We feel the sting of exposure
    and often the strap of guilt.
    We read them and let them go.
    We watch them leave us,
    hoping they will never return.
    Besides, we tell ourselves,
    once set free, poems will eventually
    fall from grace, slashed and tattered,
    of no use to us but to remind us
    of abandoned prayers and unshed tears.
    And if, by some miracle we do find them again,
    it will be like finding a lost button
    that belongs on a shirt long since discarded.
    We should just leave it lie
    and accept what is lost is lost,
    but instead we’ll toss it in our lost button jar.

    And our lost button jar we keep,
    just in case we ever venture to write our own poems.

  79. Walt Wojtanik


    The jolly joker, baggy pants and scant
    patches of outrageous hair ; smiles and gags
    abound. But nobody knows! Nobody knows.

    And still, he’ll strap on his suspenders,
    Seltzer water at the ready and a steady
    Stream of laughs and guffaws, canned

    And recorded for such times.
    For his mind is a million miles away,
    And all the pain does is slash at his heart.

    His plaid jacket held together by one large button
    It does not hold him tightly as he wished
    He could hold his young daughter.

    His tragedy feeds his comedy,
    His funny side is the mask that hides
    the tears of the clown. Only one wish –

    that he could take his helium balloons
    and allow them to float him to his little girl.
    Separation takes its toll on all concerned.

    The clown cajoles and entertains,
    But no one ever sees his pain.
    And their laughter does not heal him.

  80. Tracy Davidson

    Man at the bus stop

    a slash in his jeans
    a button hangs by a thread
    his smile is a mask
    as fragile as the frayed strap
    holding his balloon hat in place

  81. emmajordan

    Under your bed I found
    your treasure box.
    I sat on the floor
    opened the lid to this once cigar box
    and for a while
    just stared.
    All jumbled remembrances like jewels
    shone back at me.
    Your Batman mask was
    most obvious because it took so much room
    and lay like a blanket
    over other gems that could only peak out
    at the light of day.
    I remember when you were Batman,
    running through the house with your over-sized flashlight,
    the cape I made for you,
    and of course
    Batman Underoos.
    I picked of the worn mask and saw the elastic strap
    on one side had no silver-colored metal piece that once held
    strap to mask.
    The mask was more pliable than it should have been, but
    you loved it so I was surprised it was not in shreds.
    I put the mask down next to me, and reached in for
    another treasure of childhood.
    A popped green balloon, string still tied tightly.
    It had a faded picture of Cookie Monster holding his
    ever-present chocolate chip cookie, his food of choice
    before they started making Cookie Monster eat broccoli.
    This treasure box held jacks and a bouncy ball
    of multi-colored stripes.
    The jacks, there were only three.
    There was a band aid, used, that said “Ouch!”
    something he was given by the nurse in the ER
    when he slashed open his knee
    falling off his first two-wheeler.
    There were pennies, twelve of them,
    darkened and rough edged,
    pennies he’d discovered while out on
    pirate adventures looking for gold.
    Last of all I picked up the button to
    his Osh Kosh overalls,
    the metal buttons that were at the bib,
    the buttons the overall straps attached to.
    There is no mistaking those buttons,
    the ones that say “Oshkosh B’gosh.”
    But now he is grown,
    my only babe, and his room is empty
    except for this treasure in a cigar box.
    I put them all back inside and
    slid it back under the bed,
    where it belonged,
    and got back to my dusting.

  82. lionmother

    The Button Room

    My life began with buttons
    their company my adventure
    stories where I was the princess
    strapped to the stone chair
    and my brave rescuer in
    a mask swooped in and
    with a slash of his powerful
    sword untied me and
    I floated like a balloon
    into his strong arms
    all the while imagining
    the airless room where
    I played with those
    buttons was the open
    sky and I landed in
    a soft splendid carriage
    with my prince instead
    of the hard wooden chair
    in the room I grew to love

      1. lionmother

        Ah, thank you, Hannah!! When I saw button as one of our words it brought me back to the little room in the back of my parents’ material store where I spent hours making up stories with the various colors of buttons.You know I once wrote a prose piece about this place and those unusual and numerous buttons.:)

  83. Jane Shlensky

    The Name of the Game

    The local kids admired attitude,
    renaming themselves to assert
    the degree of toughness they felt
    they could attain and maintain,
    names that vaguely referred to
    a physical aspect or habit of
    each one. Slash, with a mouth
    like a paper cut, was sure
    to become the leader with
    his grandfather’s old WWII sword
    at work on neighborhood flowers
    and shrubs. The rest buttoned on
    their new identities as Strap, with his
    Father’s old belt snapped like a whip,
    and Mask, who had succeeded
    in frightening his own mother
    into a swoon at Halloween.
    They were a fearsome lot
    until the new kid, Balloon,
    huge, menacing, and oval,
    moved across the street.
    A fellow that can pull off that
    nickname cannot be trifled with.

  84. Nancy Posey

    Not sure where this one came from!


    The nightmare scenes roll in like film clips
    spliced without continuity: the balloon man
    with his grotesque mask, a frozen smile,

    the parachute lacking a release strap
    failing to unfurl, sending the dreamer
    plummeting down, the earth flying up,

    the black-gloved finger hovering just above
    the button set to detonate, setting waves
    of explosion across the strange terrain,

    the slashes found in curtains, in racks
    of prom gowns hung for resale, no sign
    of the malcontent wielding the knife. Then

    the sleeper wakes, shakes off the scale
    of sleep, and rises, washes all away
    with morning sunlight, a warm full mug.

  85. alotus_poetry

    A New Hero in Town

    Buttoning up his suit
    and carefully adjusting his cape,
    putting on his mask
    and strapping ten smiling
    helium balloons onto his legos-
    constructed Jokers,
    my 8-year-old nephew
    is ready for a long day
    of gobbling his birthday cake
    and slashing his villains
    with his cardboard sword
    while screaming across the backyard,
    “I AM BATMAN!” Oh, my hero. I’m sure
    it’s every mother’s dream
    to get birthday frosted kisses from the one
    who will save the world.

  86. Jane Shlensky

    Into the Fire

    What began as a cigarette
    butt soon resembled a slash
    and burn of a national park,
    flames running up trees
    driven by winds that ballooned
    the inferno from smoke towers
    to red fingers of heat pointing
    up toward planes dropping
    sand, water, and masked
    men buttoned into packs
    and harnesses, parachutes
    strapped on and waiting
    to release,
    lift briefly,
    and fall.

  87. Michael Grove

    Strap Yourself In

    Strap yourself in for a bumpy
    ride to the finish line. Slash
    your way thru the thicket
    that has grown up around you.
    Button your lip save for the
    battles that are worth fighting.
    Don’t let your problems
    balloon out of proportion
    or mask them such that
    you refuse seek solutions.

    By Michael Grove

  88. mlcastejon

    Our journey

    Everytime I come to you
    I do it open with no mask
    I slash my flesh to let you
    see me from the inside.
    I need you to know me
    there is no other way
    we are in this together.

    I follow you picking buttons up from the floor
    we’d better strap ourselves in and hold
    the baloon tight, our trip is about to start.

  89. Jannelee

    Her face a mask
    Impossible to read
    ebony hair, dark as
    the early morning gloom

    Blood red coat
    buttoned to her chin
    black leather boots
    that kiss her knees

    Velvet riding helmut
    strapped under her chin
    cruel whisper of the crop
    as it slashes the air

    Leather boots creaking
    voicing restless agitation
    back, forth and back again
    thru the carpet forest

    A card on a silver tray
    brought by cutaway butler
    shredded to hurled confetti
    a moment of red rage

    Silky shoulders slump
    like a deflated ballon
    then her arrogant chin lifts
    a fox smile on her lips

  90. De Jackson

    How to be Happy

                 this mask.
               your song.
                          to lapel.


  91. ina

    Just wanted to say I liked each of the poems above. A really creative bunch. Me? I’m tempted to say that the five words are a poem all by themselves – evocative – but that’s cheating, right? Back later

  92. PKP

    Here we come and there we go….
    (slash, button, mask, strap, and balloon)

    Oh the parade it was a starting high-step marching up The Street
    each wearing their bright button not a mask did one there meet
    In tambourined, tromboned, or sweet molasses strap
    Each individual created their own joined manner of applause filled clap
    As each alone or together – arms linked or leaning against a leafy tree
    Lifted eyes to the parade and to the sparkling sky where a glorious sight did see
    In the sun-shined slash that flooded luminous brilliant light through the darkest cloud
    floated the collective beyond-helium-high lyric filled balloon of the PA poeming crowd

    1. lionmother

      You made me laugh with this poem evoking past epochs you have written about us! Yes, you are right the collective works of all the PA group is like a balloon. You describe it so perfectly: “collective beyond-helium high lyric filled balloon”.

  93. Catherine Lee

    Grrr! Really hate to re-post, but here is the correct version…

    The Clown

    The happy white face
    Is betrayed by coal tears
    Slashed onto powdered skin
    By the steadiest of hands

    Gloved fingers mangle
    Pink balloons into eyeless
    Animals stretched into
    Long bodies twisted

    Rows of rainbow buttons
    Enclose every strap of truth
    From the silent man living
    Beneath a shroud of white

  94. Catherine Lee

    The Clown

    The happy white face
    Is betrayed two coal tears
    Slashed onto powdered skin
    By the steadiest of hands

    Gloved fingers mangle
    Pink balloons into eyeless
    Animals stretched into
    Long bodies twisted

    Rows of rainbow buttons
    Enclose every strap of truth
    From the silent man living
    Beneath a shroud of white

  95. dextrousdigits

    Renaissance Party
    It was the talk of our small town
    everyone was a stir about this event
    children and adults were tossing
    football size ideas around.

    Stepping into the hall,
    we were surrounded by Madrigal Minstrels creating a mood
    with guitars, violins and voices belting their songs
    followed by jesters in floppy hats sometimes juggling
    other times with bawdy jibs and jokes.

    Stepping into another world,
    where many neighbors were unrecognizable.
    Sedate, quite women with balloon size breasts
    exposed by low cut dresses and synched up waists
    laced between rows of buttons,
    sitting on the laps of local men in tunics and tights.
    Men walking around with bows and arrows in a pouch
    held on with a leather strap.
    A few queens, princesses, and kings with crowns
    caps, hats with feathers, tricorn hats and masks a plenty.
    Goblets of wine and beer in abundance
    dainty ladies and hard working farmers
    ravishing turkey drumsticks and each other.

    Many a young lad pranced around in colorful
    Musketeer tabards with crosses a fixed and
    swords swinging often as they passed one another
    they would engage in playful combat
    swords would slash and cut.
    If one was stabbed,
    obligingly he would fall to the ground
    and writhe in agony.

    Indeed it was quite an event
    with even more talk after the event than before.
    What I saw was that even people I thought I knew well,
    given the chance have hidden kernels
    waiting to blossom.

  96. Miss R.

    Lessons Learned

    I floated over my world serenely,
    Like a hot air balloon above the clouds,
    Oblivious to the approaching storm . . .
    With a slash a flash of cruel lightning
    Dashed the calm to frantic pieces,
    And my happiness hung like a thin strap
    Of burst rubber from my pocket.
    Ashamed of my jolly naivety,
    I buttoned my mouth and froze on a smile
    To mask my juvenile foolishness
    And the pain that it had caused me.

  97. Linda Voit


    I think I knew when she unbuttoned her shirt
    to wash it in the laundry shed out back
    that the guy with the mask
    strapped around his face
    was going to slash her.
    Balloon heads, pretty and full of air,
    are necessary in horror films
    so we can deal with the results.
    Obviously, we would not be stupid enough
    to go out in the dark in undies
    and a matching bra
    while we were babysitting.

    Linda Voit

    Linda Voit

    1. Brian Slusher

      SO recognizable–we do need those “balloon heads” to feel safe and superior. Very clever use of the words–all seem necessary and none stick out. MUCH applause!

      1. LCaramanna

        Garage Sale

        Followed the tips for success in the
        “How To Have a Profitable Garage Sale” book,
        bought for $5.00
        at the Dollar Store.

        Advertised in the newspaper classifieds,
        tied a gaily bobbing bright blue balloon to my mailbox
        to mark the site
        of bargains galore.

        Displayed treasures attractively in my garage,
        early birds swooped in,
        vultures attacking prey
        bargain hunters, nothing more.

        Pointing out every imperfection
        of the valuables
        at my garage sale
        discarded treasures, nothing more.

        Not one willing to pay a reasonable price
        for the goods upon my tables,
        shoppers’ assertive behavior
        impossible to ignore.

        Left shoe with a crack in the leather,
        Missing a button on this shirt,
        That mask without its feather,
        Toothless zipper on this skirt.

        A lamp without a shade,
        blue prom gown with a broken strap,
        working chainsaw – dull blade,
        baseball uniform without the cap.

        A CD Player missing earphones,
        Broken handled garden rakes,
        Princess Barbies without thrones,
        A bicycle with no brakes!

        The assault of the shoppers was relentless
        haggling prices,
        expecting discounts,
        until I could take no more

        Only one way to end this fiasco:
        Give it all away for free,
        slash prices by 100%
        and close my garage door.

  98. Brian Slusher


    Coiffed, polished, spray-tanned,
    sequined as though they’ve been
    rolled in sugar, buttonhole roses
    and one in a pure-white Sinatra
    swinger’s hat, they process
    wearing the mask of elegance
    to begin the spring rite: massed
    on the dance floor, they become
    something ballooning on a biology slide,
    an amoeba composed of grinding cells,
    flagellating arms, slashes of color
    and chemical heat. The straps start
    to fall, tux coats and stilettos are
    flung off the brink of decency
    and one barefoot girl bumps so
    fiercely to the beat her dress
    strains to contain her. When they
    finally spill disheveled into the
    midnight air, steam seems to rise
    from their skin, as though something
    costly has been unleashed, or freed,
    or maybe lost.

    1. Linda Voit

      I LOVE “sequined as though they’ve been rolled in sugar” . . . and the rest of it, too. You have SO captured this dance on the brink of innocence and coming of age. BRAVO!

  99. Joseph Harker

    Morning After

    Unbuttoned jeans, shirtsleeves undone.
    And one
    boot strap peeled down. A tailored fuss.
    Of “us”,
    no sign: the dawn-slash sunbeams care
    not. There,
    you’re masked with sleep, your body bare,
    used condom slipped like a spent balloon.
    I pull on shoes. You’ll wake up soon,
    and one of us– not there.

  100. Marianv

    The pillagers

    The mask of the devil
    Covered his face
    From behind it, his eyes
    Gleamed, beady and red
    The man and the woman could
    Not hide their fear.
    A heavy strap bound them
    Each to their chair
    He searched through their room
    Even under their bed. “There is
    No gold here, nothing, I swear”
    The masked man pointed to where
    They trembled. “Button your lips”
    He quietly said.
    “Nothing happened, do you understand?”
    A quick slash of his knife and they were free.
    A sudden noise, like the pop of a balloon
    Sent the man running out the door.
    Galloping horses – guardsmen gave chase
    And asked the old couple “Tell us, who
    Was here?” “It was the devil” they answered
    And watched in dismay
    As the guardsmen feasted on every bite
    That they had saved for their holiday.

  101. mich

    Now two months and seven thousand miles
    from sneak water-balloon attacks by his kids
    Hank tightens his helmet strap
    No need to hit the panic button
    Every night starts the same
    Insurgents no longer wearing the mask of friend
    Slash into secure territory
    Preferring perpetual conflict to mutual accord
    –Lyn Michaud

  102. Beth Rodgers

    When I read the prompt today, for some reason when I saw the word “balloon,” it made me think of the short French film “The Red Balloon”. I don’t know if anyone else has heard of this movie, but I remember watching it as a kid, and it was about a boy who is befriended by a red balloon, and it follows him around his neighborhood. That’s what I was thinking of when I wrote this poem — just to give you a little insight :-)

    Throw caution to the wind and
    Embrace the red balloon.

    Without masking determination
    It slashes through barriers.

    So, strap yourself to imagination
    And press the “on” button to embrace youth
    Once more.

  103. Maurie

    Incredible Race

    A strapping young man went to town
    Face masked in perplexed frown
    His ballon been slashed
    All hopes now dashed
    Of winning the button shaped crown

  104. J.lynn Sheridan

    “June 6,1968”

    Mrs. Adams pinned the birthday button on Kevin K.’s shirt,
    pushing aside the balloon tied to his chair, chocolate cupcakes
    waited in a box on her desk, we inhaled in advance of the
    birthday song.

    A tapping at the door, she put up a finger to quiet the class.
    Principal Olson, peeked in wagging his finger at Mrs. Adams
    to meet him in the hall.

    No spit balls, no hair-pulling, just whispers and giggles.

    The door opened again. Mrs. Adams wearing a red-eyed mask,
    head down, quickly walked to the front of the class and said,
    Robert Kennedy.

    That’s all.

    Kevin W. made a slash across his throat with his hand.

    Mrs. Adams grabbed her purse and ran out of the room,
    black strap flapping against her hip.

  105. Charles Cote

    Since I’m behind, I decided to combine the last 4 challenges:

    Something Borrowed

    I’m broke and need to slash
    my cell and cable, save some
    cash, my credit shot.
    I’m strapped and can’t afford
    my car, my home, the payments
    due, ballooned beyond my means.
    I’m on the button, pushing in
    my stack and putting on
    my poker mask. It’s time
    to see the flop.

  106. RoseLeaf

    The Astonished Knight

    Determined, face set like a mask,
    the man fastened his last button,
    tightened the remaining strap,
    and stared down his final foe.
    With his sword raised ready
    to slash and stab,
    his courage firm,
    and his head high,
    he awaited the coming dragon.

    He staggered back,
    his mouth opened,
    his eyes wide–
    unable to believe this sight.
    For the speck had formed,
    not into a dragon–
    but a great ball,
    with his friend
    hanging underneath.

    “Hello!” His friend shouted.
    “How do you like my invention?
    I call it a balloon!”

  107. Jackie Casey

    Tanka (use: slash,button, mask, strap, balloon)

    “Move On!”

    Slash the wrist of fate
    Thus button down bright future.
    Rise in your balloon;
    travel where no straps hinder.
    Take the mask from off your soul.

  108. Imaginalchemy

    “Button and Balloon, the World’s Best Assassins”

    Button and Balloon were highly skilled assassins,
    The best in the world, the rumor spread ‘round.
    Button could slip silently through the smallest of holes,
    Balloon, quick and light, could not be held down.

    It was said they took out a whole rival gang
    With nothing more than a five-inch leather strap,
    Their knives were so sharp, that could slash through light
    They were the Cut-throat Kings, the Masters of Mishap

    Button in his coat hiding his daggers and secrets
    Balloon in a night-woven cloak and domino mask
    Were a formidable sight (if they allowed you to see them),
    They never failed when given a terrible task

    But in truth, it was rare that these hired killers
    Drew a knife or gun, to cease their prey’s breath.
    More often than not, all they did was give their names
    And their victims would laugh themselves to death.

    1. Rosangela

      Wow! This is downright creative! Your pieces are really, really good! (I’ve read your letter to Cheyenne, from King Wuggles! I just loved it! You rock!).

  109. competitivewriter

    She buttons her coat because its cold
    By the cross on the side of the Road
    Just outside of town

    She releases her guilt like a small
    Balloon that floats into the clouds
    Until it disappears

    She unleashes a sigh and with
    Tears in her eyes falls to her
    Knees to pray

    Like fingerprints of ghosts the scars
    On her forearm won’t let her forget
    The night she tried

    To slash her narrow wrists
    To drain away the pain
    Of a broken heart

    I kiss her arms now, they’re not ugly
    Just part of her story, part of everybody’s story
    In some way

    When she rises and smiles I know
    It’s genuine, not the mask she once
    Tried to hide behind

    And I’m okay as she walks away
    Because I know that she knows
    It wasn’t her fault

    I never buckled the strap and it
    Is a simple as that and now we can
    Both move on

  110. PassionateQuill

    (Daddy’s Girl)

    She stood motionless 
    Her navy wool coat buttoned
    Against the chill air that
    Slashed against her face, her heart
    As she watched her daddy’s fatigues 
    Disappear up the gangplank
    Her face mirrored the mask he wore
    Her small hand clinging tight
    To the strap of her red balloon
    Holding on with all her hope

  111. RJ Clarken


    Behind that mask he buttons on
    there lives a master talent drawn
    to songs and tales of Tennessee:
    the Phantom of Grand Ole’ Opry.

    If he’d just strap on his guitar
    he’d be a country super-star
    and fans would come…they’d flock to see
    the Phantom of Grand Ole’ Opry.

    Even axe-men, like Edge or Slash
    would venerate, like Johnny Cash,
    his world-class fretwork. They’d say he
    ‘s’the Phantom of Grand Ole’ Opry.

    So, send a message with balloon
    which says, “We want to hear a tune!
    You’ll be the next great honoree,
    O Phantom of Grand Ole’ Opry.”


    This was so not easy, Robert! You had to come up with a prompt that was all but impossible for the littel Kyrielle. But, I did it…even if it was pushing things a bit. Whew!

  112. RobHalpin

    Cobbling No More

    Manufacturing costs balloon
    while consumer spending drops.
    The hack and slash on my budget
    has me cash-strapped and forced
    into to desperate measures.
    The elves are done with buttons
    and thread and scissors and shoes.
    They now go out at night in masks
    and steal the gold from Leprechauns.

  113. Jane Beal - sanctuarypoet.net


    Button, button, who’s got the button?
    (It’s my grandmother’s voice, laughing
    on the other side of eternity
    reminding me of a game I never played.)

    Red balloon, bright red balloon, from a French film.
    (I remember it bobbing over cobblestone streets,
    maybe they were black and white,
    but the balloon was in color, and I felt so strongly
    that it was a heart alone in the sky.)

    Mask, masks on the wall, masks we never wear.
    (Why would we wear an African mask? Or
    a brightly painted porcelain mask? Or
    even my Mardi Gras mask when Lent is over?
    We have other masks we never take off.
    How could we wear two at once?)

    Slash, crash, burn, bash—it won’t last.
    (It’s a goblin song. Don’t you recognize it?
    They sang it to my cousin when she was
    cutting herself. But they have stopped
    their vile enchantment. Now she is expecting a baby.
    Her husband is feeding her tender grapes.
    A life of joy has begun.)

    I strap myself into an imaginary cockpit,
    the hot air balloon basket, and rise,
    looking down at that strange, miraculous landscape:
    memories like buttons in the distance.

    Jane Beal

  114. Mystical-Poet


    rugged winds etch a frontier face
    spinster masked by kindly tolerance
    soapberry trees guard a half-wild cemetery
    gravestones blooming in the shade
    symbolic nuances of ashes to dust
    resurgent dreams honed on straps of lost fog
    balloons filled with floozified laughter drift from town
    local flag slashed into gossip sewn quilt scraps
    dinner bell echoes a copper skillet sun
    whiffs of savory fricassee stymie homesickness
    waving fields and straw-filled button-eyed men saluting
    ‘neath a crop duster ride home

    ~ Randy Bell ~

  115. MiskMask

    Sorry! Wrong one. This one has all the words.


    An accidental
    quick level slash of the straps,
    and the balloon was aloft,
    escaping it raced
    for the bright side of the moon.
    A lingering pause,
    it casts a button shape mask
    across the ground below

  116. MiskMask


    An accidental
    quick level slash of the straps,
    and the balloon was aloft,
    escaping it raced
    for the bright side of the moon.
    A lingering pause,
    it casts a shadowy mask
    across the ground below

  117. Imaginalchemy

    “A Childhood Charm from the Pocket Junk Magician”

    1 button eye from a stuffed rabbit (a bear substitution will suffice)
    3 sequins and 3 feathers from a Halloween mask
    2 balloons (red works best, but blue will do in a pinch)
    1 strap of a friendship bracelet woven by a childhood best friend (no stealing!)
    1 small bag (like one used to hold jacks)
    1 generous slash* of chocolate milk

    The first four items into the bag should go
    And hang it above your bedroom or kitchen doorway
    So when you ever feel too grown up, you’ll always know
    Your childlike wonder is never too far away
    (Oh, and drink the chocolate milk. It’s good)

    *slash defined as “a large quantity of liquid, as in soup or broth”

  118. Connie Peters

    By Faith

    The problems of life pierce your soul
    Your enemies slash with vile hate
    You can submit to God’s control
    Relying on His love by faith

    It’s easy to step in a trap
    And swallow a hook with the bait
    So throw off temptation’s tight strap
    Relying on His love by faith

    Religion relies on a task
    Pretending that things are okay
    So take off the smile and the mask
    Relying on His love by faith

    Some folks try to button down truth
    And this becomes their sad mistake
    Instead of trusting in His proof
    Relying on His love by faith

    The Lord sings a beckoning tune
    He offers forgiveness and grace
    Hope floats like a hot-air balloon
    Relying on His love by faith

  119. Ber

    Glistening Sky

    As we drove along the dark road way
    In the still of the night
    Clouds hung low in the glistening sky
    Were we the only ones on this road alone?

    When all of a sudden my button popped out of my blouse
    Oh my I said to him
    I need to pull over to find it at once
    He said he would find it this was his response

    So he crouched himself over to my side to see
    When I then lost control of the car oh deary me
    With tear filled eyes how scared was I
    I had no other choice but to stop right now

    The tires had blown out
    The car just would go
    As we looked at the damage
    He stood up this man of mine
    He was wearing a mask

    What are you at I exclaimed to him
    Stop messing I don’t find this funny
    He didn’t mutter a word
    Just came at me with a knife
    He swung it high and low

    He began to slash the car
    He even caught himself
    This man I once new was a different person
    I had no clue

    I remembered looking to the sky
    Something went by
    He looked on too
    This stopped him in his evil actions
    It was an image of a balloon

    So as this passed by I locked myself in the car
    It grabbed his attention long enough for me to go far
    I turned the key to get away
    Oh please please work
    And so it did

    I drove off and as I looked back he disappeared into the night
    Like he was never there
    As I went up the road there was carnage everywhere
    It was like he had stopped me on purpose
    He pulled on seatbelt strap
    Only for this man I knew
    I would have been caught up in the accident and trapped

  120. Hannah


    becoming buoyant
    a balloon,
    only the string
    is slip/sliding from my grip
    as soon as I acknowledge it;
    strap to myself mentally
    an attitude of
    to certain outcomes,
    button-hole experiences
    as the good/bad
    in any given day
    as if one could really exist
    without the other,
    as if they’re not really both,
    one and the same
    the beauty in bad
    just a mask for mishandled

    © H.G. @ P.A. 4/15/12

    1. Imaginalchemy

      I love your views on life and how we live day to day…”button hole experiences” and “mask of mishandled joy” really stand out for me. Whenever I feel like my day has gotten too burdensome, all I need to do is read a Hannah poem and I can see the beauty in my day again :)

    2. lionmother

      I loved this “unmasking” of your thoughts! Very seamless use of the prompt words. I don’t get to comment on your poetry often, but I’m always enjoying it. There is a peace that flows from your words always.

  121. PowerUnit

    Dear Robert,

    I am not a fan of restrictive prompts
    that slash my options,
    button up my creative jacket,
    and mask my inner eye.

    Poets need to be free to fly,
    strap on a balloon
    and drift aimlessly
    into realms of metaphor and simile.

    I prefer government control
    over literary shackles,
    presidentiial dictates
    over poetic mistakes.

    Keep the lines open
    for minds with no boarders.
    Keep your heart free
    for a writer with no fee :(

    1. Hannah

      This is a great use of the words, PowerUnit! I found this challenge to be especially fun, stepping outside of one’s comfort zone can sometimes bring new realizations, too. Happy poeming to you!

  122. Mariya Koleva

    :-) there is no such place called “the Ances”:

    Walking the streets of the Ances
    I can smell the early city,
    The steaming heat of the markets,
    And wonder what happened to
    The early people coming to the place.

    Did they have to strap the masks of gods
    so all the natives worshipped them?
    Or did they slash the inside of a goat
    to produce that same effect?

    Were they capable of escaping
    The loving ardour of their fans?
    I find their crashed balloon
    In the jungle just outside the city.

    Running along the street of the Ances
    I’m happy to know I’ve a button
    Just push it –
    It magically sends me
    Away and beyond
    Lunacy’s fences.

  123. Marjory MT

    Button, button,
    where’s the button?
    Under the strap?
    Behind the mask?
    It flew away
    on a balloon to
    slash past records
    for button heights.

  124. Marjory MT

    How can we fix
    what has a slash,
    its button gone,
    a strap all mashed?

    Dad always said, use
    mask-ing tape and wire
    unless what’s broke
    is a balloon.

  125. Marjory MT

    Today we have a task
    so un-button your mask,
    Slash away all pretence
    put down your defence
    strap on a sunny day
    grab a balloon and float away.

  126. PowerUnit

    We hacked and slashed our way to the finals
    The road to The Cup
    A fractured leg, a concussion, and
    a goalie mask smashed by a high slap shot
    couldn’t stop us,
    let a lone slow us down.

    Was it worth it?
    Does the victory parade
    colored with buttons and balloons
    inscribed with
    we’re number one
    and a beat up silver cup
    make up for all the years of physical investment,
    all the mental currency
    spent to repair broken lives
    and lonely wives,
    and a life lived under lights
    and in papers?

    Damned right it does!