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. 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.)

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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!!

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. 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

  11. 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!

  12. 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!

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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…

  20. 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

  21. 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

  22. 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

  23. 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

  24. 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!!

  25. 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

  26. 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.

  27. 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

  28. 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!:)

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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

  32. 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?

  33. 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?”


  34. 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.

  35. 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

  36. 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

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

  39. 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.

  40. 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.

  41. 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.

  42. 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

  43. 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.

  44. 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.:)


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