2012 April PAD Challenge: Day 5

For today’s prompt, write a poem about something before your time. Maybe it’s a certain time in history. Or a type of music. Or a story that was shared by friends or family–before your time.

Here’s my attempt:

“A Stroll Through Oakland Cemetery”

Each mausoleum and tombstone
hides away countless stories. From
Margaret Mitchell’s epic love
story to the master golfer
Bobby Jones, this one cemetery
holds its share of celebritites,
but also the first Atlanta
mayor, Moses Formwalt, who served
one year before he then became
a deputy–only to get
killed while he was transporting
a prisoner, or poor Agnes
Wooding, who was buried right here
before the land was sold by her
husband, A.W., to the city.


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517 thoughts on “2012 April PAD Challenge: Day 5

  1. Charles Cote


    Before my time my parents met
    and how many other pairings
    might have been had they not,
    he a cook and she a nurse,
    that one summer and how many
    other jobs could they have worked?
    And so they met before my time
    and how many others might have
    met that summer, all those others
    that might have paired before
    my time, but she a nurse
    and he a cook and all that
    might have been that summer
    before my time?

  2. Kayla

    Let’s Play Ball!!

    It’ Saturday and she’s out with friends
    tonight. Havung a blast and cheering
    the others on. What a sight!
    Bowling is their choice of venue.
    Ten-pin, nine-pin, five pen. O how
    hard to chose! She now stands
    with her back facing the pins.
    Bowling skills she hardly lacks.
    Oh my gosh! Where’s the ball?
    She slowly turns to see quite
    a sight. As the pins fall..One
    then the next..


      1. Kayla

        Thank you for reading it Ms. Linda! My mom used to always tell me the story of her and her friends going bowling one night…Laughing and just all having a good time above all else.. And so my mom stands at the foot of the lane with the ball in her hand..and what happened with the ball at this time I’m not sure but she ended up bowling a strike backwards!! And the crazy part is is that I could actually see her doing this! 🙂

        And about the poetry..I’m brand spanking new at this, but, I’m giving it a go! I just turned 30 recently and trying to turn things around in my life so I figured..Why not get in touch with my artistic side?

  3. Sara McNulty

    April 5, 2012 – Day 5
    Write a poem about something before your time

    1941 (shadormas)

    Mom met Dad, subway
    in Brooklyn,
    seat woven
    of cane. Dad in Army duds,
    Mom just seventeen.

    She fell under spell,
    brown eyes, while his gaze rested
    on eyes of emerald.

    They married; he left,
    gone to war.
    Two years stretched
    into five. He fought; she worked.
    Sixty-four years spun.

  4. Jane Beal - sanctuarypoet.net


    Before God spilled the stars like diamonds
    across the velvet black sky,
    before the sun eclipsed the moon,
    before the sweet-pea flowers grew in the garden of Eden,
    before rain fell in buckets too big for earth,
    before an old man got drunk in his vineyard,
    before no one could understand one another anymore,
    before the princess was barren,
    before the patriarch raised his knife over his son,
    before the trickster met the shepherdess by the well,
    before the mandrake roots and the coat of many colors,
    before dreaming in Egypt, before escape, before the Promised Land,
    before conquests and kings, prophets and traitors
    and the Carpenter-Christ—

    your soul was known by the Maker-of-all-Things
    and swaddled forever in the heart of love.

    Jane Beal

  5. Andrew Kreider


    Joy was born in nineteen-fifty-seven,
    beautiful and musical, with raven
    tresses framing dark eyes. Eisenhower
    was president, and science our tower
    against all ills. Except for cancer. When

    they first suspected, the word was spoken
    in hushed tones, even though she was three. Then
    came the tears, the faith, the waning power.
    Joy was born

    too early for a cure. Instead, five men
    with medical degrees put her through ten
    thousand tortures, until that frail flower
    could stand no more. After her loss, the hour
    of my birth was bittersweet. For once again,
    Joy was born.

    1. De Jackson

      Andrew, my daughter’s name is joy (Abigail, which means joy, and then middle name Joy, too, just for good measure)…so this poem held double emotion for me. Absolutely beautiful. And sad, and heartbreaking, and hopeful. Everything a poem should be. Everything yours always, always are. Thank you.

  6. Walt Wojtanik

    MARCH 1876

    Mr. Bell had placed the call,
    but Watson did not answer.
    Alexander called again,
    it never made the transfer.
    He stood at once and marched the floor,
    straight to Mr. Watson’s door.
    Dear Watson’s plight made Alex moan
    it seems that Watson dropped the phone.
    “Forgive me sir, this may sound dumb,
    but alas, it seems that I’m all thumbs!”
    A light bulb flashed in old Bell’s head,
    “I should have thought of this instead!
    I have this telephone all wrong!’
    That rang in Bell’s mind like a gong.
    “This telephone ’til now has vexed me,
    but how do I get someone to text me?”

  7. klittle11

    There was a time, I never knew, although it bred me so;
    My parents felt something called love, a life ahead to go-
    and now it looks like nothingness; or hate, it seems bazaar;
    the years have wedged a space between, and they have fell apart.

    The time they met outside of work, she bummed a cigarette-
    He said she looked so beautiful, her hair all soaking wet.
    The first date at the concert when he stole himself a kiss;
    the howling speakers by their head vehemently remiss.

    The time she met his mother, the day their vows were sworn;
    the trip to California, or the day that I was born.
    It’s hard to see these things as past, as so-called history-
    for now they are all meaningless, at best, forgot with ease;
    I can’t believe they can just let it go, and leave it up to me-
    to find someone I trust to love, if ever, what I’ve seen!

    The fights, the tears, the battleground, the pillow ‘round my head-
    the love they had is final, done; completely gone and dead,
    The memories are in the past, a page in history-
    And with it went my hope of love, a page in his story.

  8. laurie kolp

    Life Without Technology

    Can you imagine life without round-the-clock TV?

    March Madness
    Golden Globes
    RE-AL-i-ty (crap)
    Or lIve probes


    Now visualize sports sans the net, fans lacking RPIs.

    instant replays
    beer ads
    baseball trade-offs
    betting Dads

    missed games
    couch potatoes

    Have we progressed or digressed with this technology?

    1. Brian Slusher

      Regressed, but I can’t judge too much–I love stuff like FB and Poetic Asides. I guess life’s just different now and it’s hard to take it all in.

  9. MichaelMcLain

    squirrels fly on fattening branches
    of old florida oaks
    full of bullets
    fired from rifles of long dead
    white men
    whose lead struck saplings
    florida sands regurgitate indian pottery
    ignored in the rusting lures and
    broken budweiser diamonds
    a wet sidewalk
    hides a penny made this year

  10. CMcGowan

    The leaves slapped hard

    While men lapped up the water

    given in honor of a fallen comrade.

    Bullets flying, choppers trying

    to evade the brush, kicking up dust.

    Fist up.

    Stop, drop, hide

    inside the Jungle musk

    praying for daylight,

    for the rain to stop,

    for letters to drop.

    Visions of home, showering alone

    hugging their own land

    worked by the hand,

    that now pulls the trigger.

  11. Buddah Moskowitz


    I first met him in his cartoon
    where he plays an emotionally
    distant Lone Ranger
    who ends up taking Tonto
    away for a consensual
    unnatural act.

    I was instantly hooked.

    As he mocked
    the pseudosanctimony of
    Ike’s America,
    I was stuck in
    Reagan’s Movie America
    and he sounded prophetic.

    He wasn’t just telling jokes,
    but trying ideas.

    He peeled back the
    “what should be”
    to reveal the caustic
    “what is.”

    The popular version is
    that he was a dirty mouth comic
    who just said “cocksucker”
    and lowered the bar
    for generations of vulgarians
    waiting at the Gate (of Horn).

    To me, he was a poet
    with words and sounds
    and bad movie star imitations.

    He was desperate
    for the truth
    and when he gazed upon it,
    he found it painful
    to the point
    of heroin.

    More than a martyr,
    he was an artist,
    trying to tickle out an honest laugh
    and some truth,
    the same way that
    Charlie Parker tried to
    coax something hitherto unknown
    out of the trunk of jazz standards.

    His was an alto saxophone voice,
    alive and demanding,
    bending notes with
    Yiddish rhythm,
    street profanity
    and the tsuris of
    five millenia and
    six million Jews.

    He never tried to do the
    same thing twice
    and I understand
    he was genuinely kind
    and generous to a fault.

    Who else but SuperJew
    would stand up
    and say
    “Have rachmones
    for Adolph Eichmann?”

    Only Jesus Christ
    and Lenny Bruce.

    (Yiddish translation notes: tsuris=suffering, rachmones=compassion)

    1. Brian Slusher

      My favorite stanza:

      His was an alto saxophone voice,
      alive and demanding,
      bending notes with
      Yiddish rhythm,
      street profanity
      and the tsuris of
      five millenia and
      six million Jews.

      I think Ginsberg would have approved of those words.

  12. Anders Bylund

    Hidden Treasures
    Who put the “bomp” in the surfin’ bird?
    It was an itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny blue moon
    And I’ve never seen Bristol but I know the stomp
    Rocking me to sleep every night
    Scratched from vinyl many times my age
    Found in a closet
    Buried in boxes
    Under piles of moth-chewed dresses
    Not worn for decades.

    The girl, I can’t help it, neither can I
    Still in love with songs I had no business knowing at all.

  13. HannaAnna

    Gothic Soul Trapped

    Under gray, noonday sky I walk
    to the old cathedral
    The only thing standing out against the gray
    is the black we all wear
    The only sound I hear
    is the steady footsteps of the dark figures moving about
    As the clouds begin to weep
    I put my black umbrella over my head
    A mother passes by me on the street
    her dejected child walks two paces behind her
    keeping in step with her ill looking mother
    For a moment I wonder how my mother is doing
    locked away in the attack
    in the attick, where the insane always arrive and remain
    The stone steps move under my feet
    I pause before the cathedral door and look up at the gargoyle just above my head
    as I have so many times before
    But this time it reaches out for me
    its open jaws thunder as they come for me

    The stone has broken away and eaten my life
    but I cannot see the light

    Under the bright, sun washed sky
    I walk to the cathedral
    I’ve made my way there every day
    for hundreds of years
    Surrounded by noise and light and joy
    I envy the souls who are not there
    the ones who have moved on
    and could remember the world the way it was….

    dark, lonely, sedated

  14. ceeess

    I don’t usually post two in a day (other than sometimes on Tuesdays when I can manage to work my brain around two slants on a prompt. This is the one I posted on my Quillfyre blog at http://quillfyre.wordpress.com/ as a combination sports/non-sports metaphor poem that actually fits with today’s PAD Challenge prompt. Only a small stretch of logic to get there…

    Slide into the water, slick, slither
    away from the sides of pool.

    slice the surface and pull down
    against water’s tension, feet

    feathering, propelling forward
    a steady glide of crawl to

    the other side, then touch, turn,
    push off the wall and

    back the way you came.

    Then float, facing the ceiling,
    contemplating weightlessness,

    buoyancy and bounce, the way water
    licks softly at your skin,

    the way skin remembers.

    Carol A. Stephen
    April 5, 2012

  15. lydiacutrer

    “And Obey”

    No toll-free numbers
    No support groups

    Family knew and hushed over
    Surely not the only one

    She took his fists
    Then set his plate

  16. Marie Elena

    If you haven’t yet read De Jackson’s “Of Parks, and Buses,” I recommend this great read. Thank you, De, for the inspiration for my piece below. This is a true story of my dad, back in ‘the day. ‘ You know the one … the one I’m thankful to be far removed from … but not far enough, yet.

    Two Navy Gentlemen

    While waiting for the bus,
    you engaged in conversation
    with the gentleman beside you.
    So much in common …
    jazz percussion, daughters,
    service to your country.
    The bus arrived, and you both
    (not dark enough),
    you followed your new friend
    to the far end
    and sat beside him,
    “shootin’ the breeze.”
    It seemed a long time that the bus
    did not budge.
    Feeling the uncomfortable itch
    of eyes,
    you looked up to realize
    all stares
    were on you.
    The driver advised
    gruff and gritty
    that you move toward the front.
    You apologized
    to the gentleman you’d befriended,
    collected your seaman’s bag,
    and walked to the front.
    The bus jolted mightily,
    throwing you
    to the floor,
    introducing you to your place
    in this race.

    1. De Jackson

      Oh, Marie. This has brought tears.
      Especially love:
      “Feeling the uncomfortable itch
      of eyes”
      and that last line.

      Thank you for the generous shout out. Your poem was absolutely inspired, yes…by much more than me.

    2. Sheryl

      It took a while for this to click, but it is an homage to your dad that he was so engrossed in conversation with his newfound friend he was not aware of doing anything “wrong.” This is a great job of show, don’t tell.

  17. Sheryl

    Arousing Suspicion

    Granddaddy walked and drove too fast.
    One day the police he had passed.

    That would not have been so bad
    except for the bag that he had.

    He carried it wrapped up tight
    and ran with all of his might.

    He threw that bag into the car;
    Mr. Suspicious would not drive far.

    The policeman’s shout made him jolt.
    “Sir, I will not let you bolt

    anywhere with your prize.
    Your crime you cannot disguise.”

    Granddaddy was then befuddled.
    That officer’s brain must be muddled.

    “Sir, what crime did I commit,
    which has you in such a fit?”

    “We saw you sprint from that house.
    You are a thief, you louse.

    What booty have you bagged
    and from that dwelling dragged?”

    Being honest, as was his habit,
    he said, “It’s only rabbits.”

    “Get out of your car this minute,
    I must see that bag and within it.”

    So, shaking his head at this stop,
    he hoped no bunnies would hop

    as he showed that suspicious man
    the rabbits with which he ran.

    That officer had no retort.
    I would love to see his report.

    Sheryl Kay Oder

    1. Sheryl

      Whoops. Line two should read, “One day a policeman he passed,” and stanza nine, line one should have an I instead of a we. Originally I had pictured more than one policeman. When I changed it, I did not proofread well enough. Obviously, I know only the vaguest details of this old story. I have no idea if there was one officer or two.

  18. Marianv

    Yesterday’s “Five Corners”

    The stoplight is gone from the intersection
    of E. 142 street and Lake Park road.
    Once it was the busiest in the city –
    Busier even than downtown. A streetcar
    Stop on E. 142 street and a bus stop on
    Lake Park Road.
    The streetcars have been gone for years.
    The busses still run, but not very often.

    I remember people running for the street
    Cars. My mother grabbing my hand
    As we raced for the bus. All around us,
    Busy people. People talking, people
    Laughing, people shouting at one another.
    The automatic doors on the grocery store-

    Sliding open, sliding closed. Groups of
    Boys, young men, standing around,
    Joking, getting in the way, sometimes
    An argument. People spilling out ’
    of the taverns, yelling at taxis that
    didn’t stop-

    Always the stoplight blinking red,
    Blinking green. The crowds of people
    Hurrying across the streets. We always
    Looked both ways. Stop then go.
    Sunrise, sunset, bright lights all night
    Long. People still coming, still going-
    Going, going,

    Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.

  19. competitivewriter

    Inspired by a baseball I found embedded in an oak tree

    An audience of oaks

    On this land a farm once sat, surrounded by a wooded lot
    And in the clearing boys would play for an audience of oaks
    Baseball was the game of choice and it was so much more
    Magic happened when they played the world became transformed
    The broad oak leaves became the fans filling stadium seats
    And the boys themselves were strong and tall hall of fame athletes

    There were rivalries among them some had strength and others heart
    There were lopsided victories and some were epic battles
    They played in sun, they played in rain, they into the dark
    They boys grew and fought through the perils of their age
    They brought beers to drink and girls to watch them as they’d play
    And when they’d leave the woods would whisper about the games

    One a particularly crisp September night, a chill ran through the air
    The boys arrived in a solemn march with purpose in their eyes
    Something important was going on and the trees stood
    Silent and alert as the emotional game unfolded

    Through the dust and grass, the final moments came
    Bottom of the ninth, down by one, with a runner on,
    Tommy Day stood at the plate
    On the mound was Douggie Young
    He’d end the night with one more strike
    They stared each other down.

    Douggie got the call and gripped the ball and sent its on its way
    A miracle of math and physics it twisted through the air
    Whizzing with the ferocity of a kamikaze plane
    Tommy held his ground, squeezed his bat, eyes locked the prize
    He bit his lip, dug in his feet, and unleashed a mighty swing
    And unleashed his sorrow, fears, and anger, his entire being
    It sounded like a cannon
    The ball flew like a rocket
    It thudded into branches, but it was long forgotten
    Tommy rounded all the bases and collapsed upon the plate
    And Douggie jumped on top of him as did all the rest
    And the trees applauded the young man’s valiant quest

    That final game lingered there for many years to come
    While the farm fell down and a neighborhood was built
    Children played in the large trees shade unaware of their history
    Until one day I stumbled upon a testament to their legacy

    A baseball fused to the tree itself a bark encrusted souvenir
    The last remaining evidence of the games that were once played here
    I show it to my young son, who marveled at the sight
    And then he ran to get his glove and ball
    Underneath an audience oak trees we played a game of toss
    And it could have been the wind, but I swear I heard the trees’ applause.

  20. cindishipley


    People know how to read and write, but the camels don’t understand road signs,
    and don’t plan on learning.

    Kuwait, the fortress built near water.

    The camel crosses the new tarmac
    with brightly painted yellow lines.
    The sand makes the land look
    as if it is smoking.
    A commuter bus with the
    brand name Mercedes,
    runs over a clump of fur
    the camel has shed.

    There were camels
    when ancient Sumerian, Mesopotamian, Indian and even the Greeks,
    traded with the Failakan tribes.

    There were camels
    when the Bani Utab established the modern history
    of Kuwait.

    In 1930 with the discovery of huge oil reserves,
    everyone is ready to defend the borders of Kuwait.

    Only the camels understand
    that borders are an illusion.

    Another camel crosses the road
    going wherever he feels like.

  21. De Jackson

    Once Upon a Time
    (a short story)

    Mary, worn.
    Joseph, torn.
    Tired feet.
    Crowded street.
    Full womb.
    No room.
                   Humble, tumbled start.

    Thorned crown.
    Laid down.
    Aching loss.
    Quiet cross.
    Then, soon:
    Empty tomb.
                   Full, forgiven heart.

  22. Jackie Casey

    Romancing the Fig

    In a search for my descendants
    I happened upon the rare site.
    Told the story of Aunt Minnie
    how she gave the family a fright!
    By the old fig tree she did swing
    her face full of bulging-sad eyes.
    She’d stood upon old apple box
    to accomplish her demise.
    Old folks tell tales of Minnie’s end:
    (she’d reason-romantic to die].
    But others know the truth is low
    ‘neath Minnie’s fee lay slimy figs
    all blue-purple, slippery ripe!
    She’d climbed upon the box to pick
    burgeoning fruit, over-head high
    but grabbed the child’s swing as she fell
    thus lassoed her neck all to Hell.
    Aunt Minnie’s past (no lover, alas)
    romancing the figs in the end.

  23. Marjory MT

    Twelve and one gathered
    in a borrowed upper room,
    at a humble table set to remember
    a promise of two thousands years before.

    Shared wine and bread symbolic
    of events to come,
    the humble washing of others’ feet.
    The sadness of a broken trust.
    A song, a prayer
    a garden walk to watch – to pray – to wait.

    Marching feet, torchlights approaching,
    a quick betrayal kiss.
    In sharp defense an ear is bleed,
    A hand stretched forth to heal.
    Then fear producing flight.

    Angry voices, accusations and lies,
    Spits, abuse, a thorny crown,
    a phony trial, a mob scene wild.
    The sentencing to cruel death,
    faced with silent dignity.

    The rising sun,
    the bearing of a cross to Calvary,
    a trailing mob, taunts and weeping,
    forgiveness to a thief.
    Soldiers gambling for a cloth,
    as darkness comes, a curtain rent.
    One last cry, “It is finished.”

    A sword pierced side, a borrowed tomb.
    Rock rolled to seal what cannot be held.
    Guards stand watch through a Sabbath rest.

    A death offered up for sin,
    The death cannot hold –
    So comes the resurrection –
    The hope of all eternity.

    Then the coming of the morning,
    See His hands and side –
    Cry – He is Risen as He said.

  24. ely the eel


    Standing almost at the top of Sonoma Mountain,
    the Santa Rosa plain in white-out from the August fog,
    it is easy to imagine the time before the Europeans came,
    before a different type of white-out.

    The peaceful Pomo people, basket makers,
    made not just for function, but for art as well,
    their work now in the Smithsonian,
    amazingly, also in the Kremlin.

    The quiet Miwoks, or simply The People,
    who knew the truth of time and things,
    who buried their artifacts, their “stuff”
    with the dead who had made or found them.

    With the rooftops below obscured by the mist,
    One can imagine these hunter-gatherers,
    bows and clubs in hand, snares at their waist,
    bags of mussels and grasshoppers for a later meal.

    The resilient Wappo, in their homes of leaves, branches, mud,
    living in small groups, extended families, one for all,
    their baskets so perfectly made they’d hold water,
    all their work for community good.

    Winters were mild, game was bountiful, fish plentiful,
    survival not an issue. No mortgage, no outside noises,
    time for family and friends, singing and dancing,
    time to embrace their spirituality, enjoy nature, create art

    As the sun peeks over the mountain, lifting the fog,
    the houses appear, the roads, the cars.
    One can imagine Drake, maybe Magellan,
    the Spanish priests and Russian trappers,
    later, the frightfully greedy immigrants and gold seekers.
    One can grasp the meaning of paradise lost.

  25. Domino


    An anachronism
    is something
    out of place
    in time.

    An anachronist
    is too.

    Maybe that is why
    I’m driven
    to make
    hand-beaded 15th Century
    German gowns

    Cotehardies with
    buttons up the back that
    would have been worn
    in the 12th Century

    horned-headresses complete
    with embroidered veil
    that could have
    any 14th Century

    the corset that
    renders the 16th Century
    Elizabethan gown
    perfectly flat in the front,
    just as it would have been
    done in the

    Oh, these fads
    and fashions
    were from well
    before my time,
    but that does not keep me
    from utter fascination
    with (and,
    a little longing for)
    the complex
    methods of
    of people

  26. Monik

    I believe I live in a wrong century and time. things have changed,people no longer rhyme. So I thought I saw a charming knight I’m pretty sure his horse was white. Later on, it turned out we were only centuries apart.

  27. kenia_cris

    The ghost in the farmhouse

    They tell of a ghost who
    occupied my uncle Gerry’s
    old farmhouse.

    There were reports of
    frightening sounds and footsteps
    being heard in the living room late night.

    Uncle Gerry himself
    spotted him once
    on his way to the kitchen

    A slender elderly man with
    little graying hair and tiny eyes.
    They exchanged friendly smiles.

    The ghost,
    my uncle’s only company,
    left the house after he died

    Good old uncle Gerry,
    a slender elderly man with
    little graying hair and tiny eyes.

  28. claudsy

    In The Beginning

    When moss covers your stone walls,
    And days move to the staggered step of age,
    Memories become legend,
    Legend moves to make myth of history.

    Giants walked and played with gods,
    Dwarves forged treasures to grace gods’ palaces.
    Gods fought, jealous foes attacked,
    Gods’ magics did turn, slaying their jester.

    Winged horses, heroes gone,
    Man-eating play things making Earth their home.
    Beware, Mighty Ones, servants
    Who have power to shape the world they own.

    Horses fly, dining on man
    Dwarves burrow deep, hammers ringing against gold,
    Fist held power strangles all,
    Lightning strikes both bearer and those fleeing,

    For those with magic travel,
    Living where whim allows for freedom’s play,
    Caring not for gods’ verdicts,
    But only for personal gain in time.

  29. Joseph Harker

    I’m pretty unreasonably excited about the subject of this poem, I won’t lie.

    In Utero

    Any day now, Elizabeth tells me. This kid
    needs to hurry the fuck up.
    Week thirty-nine, and she is
    taking it like a champ, the last shifts in amniotic sleep

    that send quakes along her belly. She doesn’t know
    if it will be a boy?, girl?, both or neither?, but I said,
    every kid needs a gay uncle and dropped my name in

    for consideration. Laying your palm on the swollen,
    soft satchel of a womb is akin to running it through
    field grass after an April rain: thick soil

    teeming with life under a quiet coverlet,
    whose sudden pulse is sensed in the echo of your own.
    That is an experience: trading warmth and pressure

    with something unnamed and still unknowable.
    Elizabeth is about to have an Aries baby, headstrong,
    horned with fire: an Easter baby, coming in

    like a lilac-choked god (or goddess) of dawn. And I will be
    just a pawn on the periphery, looking in, maybe
    a little bit jealous of how every child emerges bathed in

    mother’s blood. (What deeper connection
    can there be?) Even if I know I’m not yet ready,
    to figure it all out: to find a husband, settle us down,

    waver between adoption and donation, figure out
    whose genes will be passed on, waltz with the law.
    Too many questions, for now. But I’m getting there:

    the next birth, one of a blazing line of epiphanies
    where a curtain splits before your outstretched face.
    What stories will we tell Elizabeth’s daughter (or son)

    after it starts to ask questions? Mine will be
    how I touched that cocoon of sugared meat,
    when its bearer said, here, you can feel it move a bit,

    and how the little mystery inside touched back.
    Deeper, too. With a long rope of thought, full of knots,
    peeling layers of me as I wake it almost into the world.

    1. maxie2

      Very cool images:

      “Laying your palm on the swollen,
      soft satchel of a womb is akin to running it through
      field grass after an April rain: thick soil

      eeming with life under a quiet coverlet,”

  30. Dare




    Space Time Light

    Particle Atoms Elements
    Planets Oceans Land
    Trees Rivers




  31. De Jackson

    Of Parks, and Buses

    Stubborn girl.

    Just trying to get home
    from work,
    tired feet aching
    sitting where you “should”
    then asked to move
    voice quiet,
    told that driver
    on a December day
    when the color of your skin
    revealed the content of his

    Refusing to let
    be displaced,
    you sat down
    with grace
    to stand up
    for what was right.

  32. Iain Douglas Kemp

    Dear Moosehead,
    Ha! That’s my boys!
    Oh yes indeed! Scampering back across
    the Queensboro Bridge went those half-assed
    Mets with their tails between their legs!
    Swing Batter!!! We need some more of that.
    We need a team like the ‘27ers – 110-44!!
    A couple of fellas called Ruth & Gehrig slammed
    107 homers between ‘em not to mention 307 runs!!
    Oh boy! I’d live in peace with every harpy in your crazy
    mixed up family if I could watch a team like that.
    Yessirree Bob!! Rest day for the boys, so I’m workin’
    and basking in the glory of yesteryear and yesterday combined.
    Road game tomorrow – see you at the sports bar at 2.
    Bring money for wings & brewskies…I believe it is your turn, sir!

    Nostalgically yours,
    Ringo the Howler

  33. Wendy Stevens


    Where the sun lights the dark
    and chases away the shadows,
    is the place I always share with you.

    Our home upon the sand,
    we sift out the broken pieces
    and collect the fine grains.

    Children’s laughter fills these walls,
    arching over rainbows
    moon jumping with the cows.

    Listen to the echoes and hear the refrain
    through passages among the stones,
    our past lives now our new beginning.

  34. Iain Douglas Kemp

    April 12 1961

    23 days before I entered this world
    a brave young man left it
    the first of his kind
    the first of man-kind
    Yuri Gagarin flew into space
    and returned safely
    to Mother Russia
    to Mother Earth

    I sat in awe
    mouth open eyes wide
    (I still tear up to recall it now)
    I can’t recall exactly the time
    I was 8 years old
    late at night or the early hours
    it matters not
    my father knew how important this moment was
    he knew I’d never forget
    never give up hope
    the hope that began with the words
    “Houston, Tranquility base: The Eagle has landed!”
    We cheered
    we cried
    we danced
    we stared in wonder
    as Neil took the giant leap for mankind
    and now I wonder still
    did Neil and Buzz think about that bright young Cosmonaut?

    Yuri never saw what I saw
    never knew the race he’d started was lost
    He left this world forever
    16 months before that momentous day
    but nevertheless
    thanks to him
    thanks to Neil and Buzz
    and those other brave men and women
    I still have hope
    hope that mankind will overcome its faults
    and once more reach for the stars
    as a planet united in peace
    and love


          1. Domino

            Not so strange. Memory is strange sometimes, isn’t it? I’m glad you shared even with the intensity of the memory, and in fact, that probably made the poem that much better.

  35. Walt Wojtanik


    Without the stigma,
    stationed and docked,
    harboring no ill will,
    a thrill for a young sailor,
    my father in a tropical setting,
    letting his guard
    serve his mates and country.
    In peace time Cuba,
    before the “Beard” reared his head.

  36. De Jackson

    Prairie Girl

            At 8 I ached for horses
            and wagons and peeling barns
            and crickling creeks and double braids
            streaming out behind me
            as I ran barefoot down gentle green hills,
            home to parents named Ma and Pa
            who served all the answers
            with thick homemade bread,
            boysenberry jam and rugged hands.

                                                                 At 42 I still yearn for bare feet
                                                                 and horses and creeks
                                                                 and answers
                                                                 but mostly I’ve learned to
                                                                 adore my own little house,
                                                                 this life stretched out
                                                                                              before me.

  37. Catherine Lee

    “I got a tree on my back and a haint in my house.”
    – from Beloved by Toni Morrison

    I carry a tree on my back
    The trunk is all bone
    Hardened spine crawling
    Up the middle passage
    Of vertebrae cut off
    At the root planted
    Again in strange earth
    To grow again
    Branches made of skin
    Broken and reknit
    Into cruel shapes,
    Twisted lashes of cord
    Strong and stretched
    To touch black leaves
    Too many to count
    Sixty million
    And more

  38. Maria Phoenix

    I want to glean the beat- dada-post-modern from sloping sidewalks,
    Huff the human smog,
    Smell the lingering reefer mountains from one of Kesey’s wild parties,
    Feel the morning dew fog gather my pores as I strain to see Alcatraz with Asian tourists snapping with their cameras at the stranded sailors entering the bay,
    Take me to the holy typewriter, the holy bar, the holy galleries, the holy purple fire, the holy holy shit clippers waiting before grocery store fronts for harvesters to take them to the wheel in the sky keeps in turning,
    See futhur futhur out west ripping highway one in half with voices of rage and ruin, raising up craving ether, craving madness, raving happiness,
    I want the drugs of your everlasting covenant, AMEN.

  39. Imaginalchemy

    Okay, taking another swing at this…I got to thinking about the concept of Time itself, so I am going way, way back…

    “The Invention of Time; or: The Moment When We All Got into this Mess”

    He came to the others who were building the Universe
    And said,
    I’ve made something truly ingenious!
    It will set all the Universe in order,
    Dispel chaos and randomness,
    Set things on a straight, continuing course,
    Create predictable routines, measure the lengths of lives,
    even predict what may and will happen,
    because it will be a basis for intelligent organisms to record
    what has happened.
    I will call it…Time!

    And the others scoffed and jeered,
    What a ridiculous invention!
    No one will use it, why should they care?
    They know the sun rises and sets,
    They know someday their lives will end.
    Why need to know how long a day is?
    Why need to know when one may die?
    It will give them nothing but neurosis, impatience,
    Anxiety, and fear, waiting for things to happen
    When they could be content just living.
    As for chaos, randomness, and disorder,
    They are silly creatures; give them Time,
    And they will only create more chaos
    By trying to control it.
    Nope, put your silly Time away or dispose of it.

    But the Time Maker, without the others watching,
    Imbedded his creation in the minds
    Of a race of creatures he knew would use it,
    Live by it, set up their entire civilization around it.
    Why us?

    Because he knew we’d be the only beings
    Who had even the faintest hope
    Of programming the clock on a VCR.

  40. Brian Slusher

    Charleston, SC 12/20/10

    Outside the South Carolina Secession Gala,
    how lovely the women are in satins
    and brocades, white-gloved hands securing
    lace shawls, and how elegant the men
    in sober top hats and high snowy collars
    as they parade past the protestors who
    shout, wave yellow signs: SC Suffers
    From The Confederacy of the Mind.

    From the street, I can hear the strains of
    Dixie, and imagine the whirl of hoopskirts,
    the tap of silver-capped canes, the flutter
    of ivory fans. The chaplain of Session
    Camp #4 scowls from a ballroom window,
    wonders why the loud mouths beyond just
    won’t let it go, as a period waltz flows
    through the hall, instead of the rattle of
    actual chains.

  41. RJ Clarken

    Alta’s Story – 1912, A Kyriellongated Poem

    …and it started with a pogrom,
    the State’s ‘get them out now’ program.
    They said, “You are uninvited.
    On this point, we are united.”

    Alta’s family worried for her.
    They knew they would not ‘ignore’ her.
    To think otherwise? Shortsighted.
    “On this point, we are united.”

    Young and pretty, Alta needed
    chaperoning, they conceded,
    if she were to be ‘new-sited.’
    “On this point, we are united.”

    So her family scraped together
    funds to cut her homeland tether.
    “Go with Uncle,” they recited.
    “On this point, we are united.”

    But the uncle was self-seeking.
    Uncle wanted, plainly speaking,
    to get paid to go. (“Delighted!”)
    “On this point,
    he was united.”

    Heading west, through territories
    Alta later told the stories:
    when in London, they alighted,
    on this point, ‘twas not united:

    at her medical inspection,
    she had red eyes, per detection,
    due to lack of sleep. (Benighted..)
    At this point, she’s un-united.

    So they quarantined poor Alta
    (all the way from Minsk…or Yalta?)
    No hope to be expedited.
    At this point, so un-united.

    Then her uncle said, “Too bad, lass,
    but my ticket, which says third class,
    sets sail soon. I won’t be slighted.
    On this point, I am united.”

    “If you end up sick (deported,)
    all my plans will have been thwarted.
    Motivation’s been ignited.
    On this point, I am united.”

    So the uncle? He deserted
    her. He would not be diverted,
    though he should have been indicted.
    On this point, we’re all united.

    Alta spoke no English, poor tyke.
    Can’t imagine what it was like
    to be twelve and lost and blighted.
    On this point, we’re all united.

    But what happened next? Astounding.
    In this foreign land’s surrounding
    Alta’s plight would soon be righted.
    On this point, let’s get united.

    Lady, traveling with a kid,
    in second class, said, “God forbid!
    Sail with us: you’re now invited.
    On this trip, let’s be united.”

    Soon, the Customs fellows cabled
    Alta’s stateside folks and labeled
    her as healthy and all-righted.
    On this point, we are united.

    O’er the Atlantic, Alta cruised.
    Her new world promise not refused,
    as New York’s harbor was sighted.
    On this point, we’re all united.

    Alta’s final destination
    on her trip of immigration
    ended with a hope ignited
    for the future: Reunited.


    Notes: First – Sorry I haven’t commented much (really busy, not that that’s a great excuse) but I have been reading everyone’s work – and I have to say, your poems are so amazing. (And I’ll try harder to comment in the future.)

    Second, since I’m trying to stick with the Kyrielle form for this challenge, I wanted to use the form here, although it’s probably not quite well suited for a long, serious narrative, which is why I invented the Kyriellongated form.

    Third: The story above is true. Somewhere between 1910-1912, my grandmother’s cousin Alta was sent to live with cousins in America, for her safety, due to the pogroms. Since young girls couldn’t travel alone in those days, she needed an older male relative to travel with, and so they appointed her uncle as her chaperone. This uncle also wanted to get out of the country because he was actually older than the authorities thought – and he was afraid they’d catch up with him sooner or later. The reason for this was that it was customary in the early 1900s to file birth certificates a few years after the birth of boys in order to delay service in the Russian army.

    Unfortunately, the uncle (from what I’ve been told) wasn’t a very nice person. When he and Alta eventually landed in London, her eyes were red (lack of sleep? allergies? who knows..,) and as a precaution, the authorities there quarantined her and put her under observation. The uncle was afraid he’d miss the boat (figuratively as well as literally) if Alta was sent back home due to illness, and so he abandoned her. At the time, she was a young girl of 11 or 12 and she did not speak any English. But nevertheless, the uncle took his ticket and the money – and headed off on the train to the Southampton port, where he caught their ship. He sailed steerage class on a ship to America.

    Just when things looked really bad for Alta, a woman who was returning to the USA, in second class, overheard Alta’s story. She was crossing to back with her child (or children) and since she could speak Russian and English, she told the Customs people to alert Alta’s family in the US to meet them in NYC when their ship docked – and she would take Alta with her as her ward.

    The uncle did make it to the US. So did Alta (in somewhat better accommodations than did her uncle.) Although I never found out why, the family did nothing to the uncle as a punishment for the rotten treatment of his niece, and he never got any come-uppance, which among other (and more personal) reasons, ’til the day she died, my grandmother totally hated this uncle and never forgave him. As it happens, he was her uncle, too.

    1. JanetRuth

      RJ, I empathize with the ‘busy’ thing. I want to sit here and read ALL the poems and comment…My kids want to eat ( hopefully, fresh-baked Easter treats, if I stop reading;) and clothes to wear, preferably clean:)

      I’m so glad I read this. I love this form, have never heard of it before! and oh, this story is to incredible not to share…if only our ancestors would have journal-led their lives , right? sigh, but they couldn’t because they were busy just like we don’t because we are….busy. Thank-you again for sharing this!

    2. Domino

      What a story!! Oh, the glory of genealogy! So many tales that might never be known come out of the woodwork once you begin searching for your relations. Well told, indeed, RJ!!

  42. Arike

    Antwerp central

    King’s hall for a citizen
    Old ghost passing through this station
    Marble arches up four storeys
    In a public building, this city
    Bragged to its inhabitants
    Monarchy and nobility afterthoughts
    In black brocade and lacy froths

    Urban palaces for mastercraftsmen
    The guild houses huddle over the market
    Sometimes it’s good to remember
    Modernity was three centuries old
    Before we first shouted hurrah for a king


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