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,


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