Editors Blog

2013 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 11

For today’s prompt, we’re going to write ekphrastic poetry–or poetry based off another piece of art. In the past, I’ve provided paintings, but today, I’m picking photographs (for something a little different). You may use one of the images below or choose your own.

Sam Taylor-Wood (via The Picture)

Sam Taylor-Wood (via The Picture)

T S, "Hakuna Matata, 1" (via 1stDibs)

T S, “Hakuna Matata, 1″ (via 1stDibs)

Mikola Gnisyuk, "People in Trees" (via Baibakov Art Projects)

Mikola Gnisyuk, “People in Trees” (via Baibakov Art Projects)

Robert Dawson (via Amy Jackson blog)

Robert Dawson (via Amy Jackson blog)

Here’s my attempt at an ekphrastic poem:


We looked for the people,
but they were nowhere to be found.

Their houses crumbling beside
the Red River, we checked the ground

and spotted their shadows.
They were hiding in the leaf-less

trees. They climbed higher
until they transformed into giraffes

flying through the clouds
no longer bound to the earth.


Workshop your poetry. Click to learn more.


Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and the type of poet who will turn to art when he’s stuck in a rut. He’s the author of Solving the World’s Problems and a former Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere. He’s married to the poet Tammy Foster Brewer, who helps him keep track of their five little poets (four boys and one princess). Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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276 thoughts on “2013 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 11

  1. Jezzie

    The typhoon struck as
    I cowered in the basement
    waiting for the storm to pass
    And at last
    it was all over.
    My home was in ruins.
    Of my family I had no news.
    I stood on a chair
    to get better views,
    but all I could see
    above the clouds of debris
    were men who had climbed
    to the top of the trees
    and the giraffes who still
    stood above it all.
    And I fell,
    as the chair tipped over.

  2. Glory

    All Gone

    It came from nowhere
    the fierce biting wind
    that blew and blew,
    along with rain
    throughout the day
    through the night
    until all was as if it had
    never been, only
    the sodden ground,
    the empty derelict house
    and the dead strewn across the
    muddy plane.

  3. alanasherman

    ehphrastic poem

    Approaching Storm
    (watercolor–Milton Avery)

    Wind tossing
    leaves, everything not nailed
    down is moved,
    lifted. The day
    darkens and a solid gray
    wall settles in above me.
    I sit back
    the relentless buzz
    in my ears
    drowned by trees
    clattering. A strange light takes
    over, spills in through the windows.
    We are all babies
    when storms prowl.
    Ziva’s nervous grumbling
    makes me remember
    other torrents.
    I’m happy
    to sit here despite
    what tempests bring: roses
    shaken loose, trees uprooted.
    I count the seconds
    between sound
    and flash wondering
    how long it will be until
    we can rest again.


  4. bjholmes


    Frozen in time for futures to see
    of four generations looking back
    my granddaughter, daughter, my mother, and me.

    Happiness and smiles on all our faces
    for next generations to wonder
    the thoughts we were thinking as we stood in our places.

    The hope for the future in the smallest of all,
    and arms of protection from the wisest
    surround the me and my daughter standing so tall.

    Four generations
    each with their own
    thoughts of the past, the present, and the futures unknown.

  5. seingraham


    It was the flood of the century, everyone said
    And I felt foolish at first, worrying about the zoo
    But the more I thought of the place
    built on an island, and the waters rising
    ever higher — the sicker I felt —
    But it seemed like all was well, at least
    it seemed that way until I heard about them

    Them, being the giraffes, the gangling goofy
    big, lumbering, spotted, long-necked mammals
    that have no distinctive sounds and ugly black
    snake-like tongues…They, it turns out, really
    hate change, and aren’t too fond of cold and wet
    Imagine, as I couldn’t help doing, how these
    almost domesticated ones must have felt,
    locked in their pens, with no fresh water or food
    appearing for days and days — it ended up being
    over a week — and no light at night, which they
    were used to, no human voices or touch
    which they were also used to…

    I couldn’t help picturing these gentle giants
    with their long-lashed, doe-eyed faces
    Looking so perplexed — and they can
    I’ve seen them — looking askance when
    the male lions are upset and making
    their grunting noises that can be heard
    all over the zoo; I’m betting there was lots
    of that going on, amongst other perturbed
    animal sounds…

    Did you know there are many varieties
    of giraffes in the world…and all of them
    endangered of becoming extinct?
    Some can only be found inside the pseudo
    protection of zoo enclosures
    and many cannot be found anywhere at all
    now…hunted or starved off the earth already

    In my dreams these long-legged ones
    from the flood gallop silently as if racing
    with eternity; they look peaceful.
    I get the impressions they think they’re
    winning; I hope they are…

    (inspired by T S Hakuna Matata)

  6. bjzeimer

    The Great Appalachian Migration

    It was in the forties when Ben came home
    from the war and married Nellie.
    Not wanting to spend the rest of his life

    in the coal mines, he took her and the children
    and their Uncle Roy and left West Virginia
    for Ohio. There wasn’t anyhouse waiting,

    but he loaded up everything they owned,
    anyway, along with an army tent,
    bought the last lot on the Boulevard

    on Big Darby Creek and he and Roy
    put up the tent and Nellie made a home.
    He got a job hauling concrete

    earned enough for a meager living
    and to buy concrete blocks and lumber
    a few at a time, carried water

    from the creek to mix mortar and mud
    watched the walls go up. Nellie
    sewed curtains,clothes and bed sheets,

    cooked three meals a day with
    rolled oats, potatoes, beans and apple
    butter and bread. But, on Saturday

    night, he brought home a case of beer,
    took his bow and fiddle down
    from the wall. Roy played the jug.

    Nellie and the girls did the
    Hillbilly Stomp ‘til the floorboards shook,
    and none of them ever looked back.

  7. Amy

    Of the Trees

    We are extremities of our environment;
    products of our place.
    We dangle from the intrinsic notion
    that we will always belong


    No matter how far we stray,
    how scattered we become.

    I am a leaf, pitched across
    the rolling miles;
    cast from palpable roots.
    But I still feel the genuine pull;
    I still hear the warbling whistle,
    calling me home to


  8. Yolee

    Times Square Kiss
    The fine sailor kisses
    the girl in white with his
    hands, arms and mouth.

    She is a hostage to fortune
    pinned to his home
    sickness, coming and land.

    The city folk sandwiched between their hot soup.

  9. Yolee

    Times Square Kiss

    The fine sailor kisses
    the girl in white with his
    hands, arms and mouth.

    She is a hostage to fortune
    pinned to his home
    sickness, coming and land.

    The city folk on sandwiched between their soup.

  10. dandelionwine


    As people in trees,
    as leaves of light,
    we inhabit a vertical world
    first to embrace the sun,
    and in blazing brilliance,
    last to let go.

    (in response to Mikola Gnisyuk’s “People in Trees”)

  11. julie e.


    There are things she understands
    like, he must have the upper hand
    and final words are always his
    that’s just the way it is
    There are things she believes more
    like there’s no point in keeping score
    and in a marriage when you choose
    to win, you both will lose
    She’s getting to a better place
    and finding balance, seeking grace
    she looks for things to fill her cup
    and keeps on growing up
    But some things she will never get
    like why her love can’t cover it
    and help his broken soul to mend
    maybe someday when

    she can hover in midair
    and not think twice of being there
    when people grow on sapling trees
    swaying in the breeze
    when giraffes grow up to the sky
    and duck their heads as planes pass by
    that’s when she will comprehend
    maybe then.

  12. deringer1


    His skin is bronze and his hair is white.
    I gaze at his portrait every night
    and wonder who he is.

    White mustache and beard define the face–
    his smile is faint, but just a trace
    of humor shows.

    Above all, though, it is the eyes
    that fascinate. They seem so wise
    and yet inscrutable.

    Those dark eyes seem to follow me
    and I can’t solve the mystery
    that graces my wall.

  13. Rosemary Nissen-Wade

    The House

    I always wanted
    a little house by the seashore —
    a house with a red roof,
    a house built up on stilts
    to make a cellar underneath,
    big windows in every wall,
    so I could look out
    at the billowing sea
    and the grass on top of the cliff.

    I always wanted
    a house on top of a cliff,
    overlooking the sea.
    And somewhere back from the edge,
    behind it, there must be
    acres of thick rainforest.
    Maybe this house
    is somewhere in North Queensland,
    in a space I haven’t found.

    Poor house,
    is it waiting for me?
    When I built it in dreams,
    did it grow up fully formed?
    How long has it waited
    there on the edge of the cliff
    with the ocean below
    and the forest behind,
    The Green Grass of Home underfoot?

    Poor house,
    it has waited too long; it has crumbled.
    I never went and found it
    and now I am old.
    The roof has lost its paint.
    The steps to the front door
    are falling away,
    and the door itself is gone.
    The wind blows through.

    Perhaps it is not too late.
    Perhaps one night,
    in the middle of a dream,
    I may rise;
    I may follow a path
    through wilderness,
    guided by clouds.
    With love, the old waiting house
    restored, will welcome me in.

    In view of the recent poetry plagiarism scandals in Australia, let me point out that the reference to ‘The Green Grass of Home’ is an intentional allusion to a nostalgic song. (Although in that case, the word ‘green’ is repeated.)

  14. shanezie


    Too long spent in trees
    leaves the people’s minds rotten;
    leaves a home forgotten
    and decrepit. The people stand in trees,
    faceless above the freeze. They stare
    at snow to see the ice unending. They glare
    at what once was home, with heads
    lifted like giraffe, they see the dead
    land where the sea receded. The maelstrom leaves
    the home a rusty shell. The people refuse to leave
    their trees. They are safe in
    their trees. They remember when
    the girl froze to the walls of their home.
    She could not make it to the trees, so they left her alone
    to swim forever in shadow on their walls.
    Her memory recalls
    a time when home was home, before
    grass grew in to carpet a rotten floor,
    before the swallowing sea swept in and they were
    forced to leave for trees to see above the sea. Sure,
    the ice has long since thawed and the swallowing sea
    receded. Sure, they know that they must seek
    the mountain seen above the trees, but
    the people refuse to leave their trees. What-
    ever waits beyond the sea below the trees
    requires belief, and the people refuse
    to believe. How can they choose
    to leave behind the safety of their skeletal leafless trees?

  15. JRSimmang

    I was away from the computer yesterday. Sometimes, it’s nice.
    So, in order to catch up, here’s my ekphrastic, inspired from La Sagrada Familia, located in Barcelona, Spain, and quite possibly one of the greatest devotions to God on the planet.



    I grew up
    with the Lord’s prayer.
    To see the
    words, inscribed
    in everlasting metal,
    I change my Amen.

    -JR Simmang

  16. Amanda Oaks

    The History of Love Between One Kiss Lock Closure
    After Red Purse, a painting by Vladimir Kush.

    We hung open like a jaw waiting to be threaded
    to our belly. It was winter. There were not enough workers
    to fill the third shift so the factory would close down
    just before midnight. All the underpaid seamstresses
    filed out to their warm beds & we were left to shiver
    through the night. I would count the minutes until sunrise
    just to see your face before you opened your eyes.

    I would have done just about anything
    to kiss the cold condensation
    off your cheeks.

    The day she stitched us to our blood-red
    body, she was trying to hold back her tears.
    Something about finding a paper trail
    to his infidelity. Credit card receipts,
    ATM withdrawals, a cell phone bill.
    She missed a stitch out of sorrow.
    Lined our guts up all crooked.
    She left her broken-hearted fingerprints
    inside & out. They lived forever
    in all of our corners.

    The first time we kissed
    we were all arms.
    Fumbled into each other
    with too much friction.
    Time would smooth us over
    & time was all we had.

    We actually believed that nothing
    would ever come between us.
    We were all tight embrace
    beneath the slick wrap of resilience
    that new love so often brings. Promises
    were made the night before Thanksgiving
    but we knew what was coming.

    We knew.

    Black Friday:

    Their hands were earthquakes.

    We split open at our fault line
    for the first time in over a year.
    Aftershock after aftershock after aftershock
    we held onto each other. Determined
    to make it through

    until he chose us.

    Had us wrapped right at the counter.
    We left the mall riding under his arm.

    I looked at you & said,
    Here we go, love, here we go.

    We waited under the red & green glow
    of the tree, through their argument
    after Christmas Eve dinner, boxed-up
    & priming our lips for her hands.

    The first time she took us out was on a weekend trip.
    Her cousin was getting married. That little black dress.
    We sat quivering on her thighs all the way through dinner.
    We were almost forgotten on a barstool after
    too many drinks— just to be thrown
    across the hotel room floor
    before they made love
    on the sheets.

    She loved us. She did.

    But she shoved every godforsaken thing
    between us. Our body— fat with too many pennies,
    scrunched up tissues, the too-heavy key set
    with four keys & six key rings. That horrific perfume
    that would make you sneeze. The too-tall wallet
    she would cram into us. Sometimes our arms
    wouldn’t touch for days .

    The hairbrush: a bed of nails.

    That time she was all rush
    & threw in an uncapped pen,
    blackening our souls.

    The night she was mugged, the police found us
    across the street in an alleyway. I will never forget
    the sound of her heart pounding against us
    before her attacker snatched & fished around
    in our insides, the blood charging through his veins
    rattled with desperation.

    When her granddaughter ripped us down one side
    she was out of breath with fear as she folded us
    in half & pushed us to the back of dark drawer.
    Why she chose to leave us apart, I’ll never know
    but that was the first day of our 30 year separation.

    The first years were the hardest. I heard you
    crying night after night & I knew, I knew
    the rust would have to be brushed from our limbs.
    I knew our reunion would not be smooth.
    We sat inches from each other unable to touch.
    After awhile, there was nothing but silence between us.
    We had no words left to exchange. We told & retold
    all our stories. We prayed for a natural disaster,
    a clutter-free purge, a new job, a loving set of hands,
    her death.

    Until the day time settled down into us
    just enough so we were able to reach
    each other’s finger tips. Lightning bolts.
    Tidal waves. A fuckin’ tornado of hope
    raced through all of our stitch holes.

    The day they moved our prison cell
    to the other side of the room,
    they never removed the drawers.
    His back was out for a week.
    Stupid assholes.

    When she died, they all came
    to help him clean out the house.
    The air was so thick with sad chaos
    that we choked on it through our pleas,
    though our begging that one of them
    would would find heart enough to snap us
    back together.

    We hoped that the tear down our trunk
    would be passed over by all those eyes
    swamped in grief. We wondered
    if we would be deemed decent enough
    to escape the landfill.

    Our first kiss back together
    was full of thorns. We aged apart.
    Our kind’s worst nightmare.

    Our thrift store stint
    was like a second honeymoon.
    We spent the rest of our days kissing.
    Prying fingers came & went
    & came & went— searching
    for loose change, love notes,
    tiny treasures that our heart
    could no longer hold.

    We swam in that bin fully present,
    dreaming of nothing
    but each other.

    Every morning, we would admire
    our imperfections. We would thank
    each & every one of them aloud
    for keeping us

    We laughed at the attraction
    holding together the magnetic locks—
    oh that young love. We watched
    how they fought too hard
    to stay together— how they
    held on too tightly
    until they ripped their seams

  17. Other Mary

    I continue to be fashionably late, but here it is:

    We cling to the familiar,
    to what we know,
    long after we know
    it no longer serves us,
    no longer is true.

    We cling to the familiar,
    because we have done this
    for so long,
    to pry our fingers away is painful.
    Our hands are adhered,
    seared to the surface
    of the obsolete.
    And in tearing them away
    we leave
    raw, bloody layers
    of ourselves

    We cling to the familiar,
    because we do not know
    what else to cling to,
    and the thought
    of empty hands,
    of free falling,
    with nothing to hold on to
    terrifies us.

    We cling to the familiar,
    because we know it,
    because imagining something else,
    something new,
    is hard,
    and we are lazy.
    We resist when we can simply cling
    to the familiar.

    So we do.
    We cling to the familiar
    long after
    it has become

    And it’s also on my blog here:

  18. Tracy Davidson

    To Van Gogh, On Viewing ‘Sunflowers’

    Were you happy
    in your yellow period
    among sunflowers
    before the blues took hold
    and turned your mind to black?

    Did the vibrancy
    of those petals cheer you,
    their showy heads
    full of life and a joy
    you could only dream about?

    Did you dare dream
    that this simple still life
    would be famous,
    that your name would be known
    and praised for centuries?

  19. MichelleMcEwen

    Falling Apart

    I am drawn to things
    falling apart

    like boys with broken 
    hearts like 

    tattered quilts like wind
    battered screen doors like

    boots with the heels worn
    down like an overcoat

    on its last leg like blue
    notes like the shanty house 

    down by the river
    with the singing 


    *Inspired by the Dawson photo

  20. Cin5456

    Sorry for posting late. Drove over 450 miles today, and it’s still Monday in Calif.


    I came to see Old Sequoia,
    found him betrayed, apathetic.
    His beard and mustache drooped
    in an Entish way. He said the air
    and the water poisoned his Earth,
    his life as with all life, suffering
    Man’s legacy of pain.
    In deep contemplation he told of
    the ill-health of Life on Earth,
    devastated, soon dangerous.
    I approached in compassion
    to stroke the frown he wore.
    I sought to bring hope, lift
    his worn spirits. I related
    recent sights in my travels.
    But, if a being of solid wood,
    rooted to the earth could
    cry, I would have seen.
    I spoke of walking back country lanes,
    hiking in tall places, my visits
    with Natural Gaia. Not the least
    relieved of his lethargy, he related
    the state of his wood,
    and the poisons seeping
    in his sap, creeping,
    into his leaves,
    settling into his veins.

    This was known to me.

    At the confluence
    of southern rivers, we fished.
    We heard high pitched squeals.
    An Amazon River dolphin bobbed
    in the waves, beak pointed skyward.
    I asked why he cried. His reply
    tightened my throat; my chin wobbled.
    He led me to a sea change, where
    black water pollution met
    thick, silted brown runoff,
    at the confrontation of two rivers.
    His high pitched scream was
    his appeal to all the powers
    for justice, but he had
    no hope of answer.

    Photo 1: http://i.imgur.com/W8QUz96.jpg
    Photo 2: http://i.imgur.com/aVT6Itg.jpg

  21. cholder

    inspired by Robert Dawson photo

    decrepit domicile of a forgotten era
    blighted by the sea
    testimant to time
    rhetorician of antiquity decide
    bleak beauty
    rusty relic

  22. cholder

    inspired by Roberty Dawson photo

    battered ruins of a forgotten era
    blighted by the sea
    a testimant to time
    rhetorician of antiquity decide
    bleak beauty
    rusty relic

  23. Broofee

    Suicide forest or revolt

    This Mikola guy
    Made a photo that I’m supposed
    To cover with a poem.
    Black and white forest
    With people in the trees.
    It looks as if they
    Hung themselves
    Fed up, I guess
    With life.

    I guess I’m being overly
    But that’s not my fault.

    The Philippines,
    The suicide bombings,
    The school shootouts
    All that you read in the news
    Is it making you feel positive about life?

    Another family losing their house to a bank
    Another old lady without enough money for food
    Even two workers that got hurt cause
    Their asshole boss sent them to do construction work
    During a storm.

    That’s all there is,
    At least all I notice
    When I open the news
    And then this Mikola guy’s photo
    Comes along
    And desperation is all I can think of
    Bunch of desperate people fed up with all of this.

    Everyone complains
    Life is hard today
    More than ever
    So what are we to do?
    Hang ourselves in suicide forest
    Like they already have in Japan
    Or maybe
    Just maybe
    Start a revolt
    Take matters in our own hands
    And stand up for ourselves like those workers
    In Chicago
    All those years ago.

  24. Broofee

    Suicide forest or revolt

    That’s all there is,
    At least all I notice
    When I open the news
    And then this Mikola guy’s photo
    Comes along
    And desperation is all I can think of
    Bunch of desperate people fed up with all of this.

    Everyone complains
    Life is hard today
    More than ever
    So what are we to do?
    Hang ourselves in suicide forest
    Like they already have in Japan
    Or maybe
    Just maybe
    Start a revolt
    Take matters in our own hands
    And stand up for ourselves like those workers
    In Chicago
    All those years ago.

  25. Jacqueline Hallenbeck

    – after Sam Taylor-Wood (via The Picture)

    I don’t envy her beauty, her youth or her hair
    but the way she balances herself on that chair.
    I am not one to moan (must avoid the Lord’s wrath).
    She most likely hit the floor in the next photograph.

  26. bethwk

    People in Trees

    At the start of it we traveled through a fat mist,
    a couple dozen of us in the thick soup,
    and all was silent except for the light drip
    all around from leaf to leaf,
    and our footsteps on the ground,
    and then the huff and shuffle of our breath
    as we sped faster through the trees.

    It was not fear that drove us on,
    I know that now. Nor just the thrill
    of what we knew must come. Still,
    on we moved, and faster, through the birches.

    And then the murmurs of the others,
    the shift and scrape of feathers
    and the whoosh of the wind,
    and we were flying, a body of starlings,
    twisting and whirling as one through the trees.
    Like separate atoms of one single bird
    we flew through the morning
    and into the day.

  27. Domino

    Not Quite a Wreck

    It’s a patchwork house,
    surprisingly sound,
    though it looks like a relic
    of things lost and found.
    The roof is on piecemeal
    with patches and bits
    of rust covered metal
    and not so much glitz.
    It’s tattered and holey
    and looks quite a wreck
    but the glass in the windows
    are whole, without fleck.
    The paint job is lacking,
    the wood bare and free,
    and somehow remarkably
    reminds me of me.

  28. Jerry Walraven

    “Ghost in You”
    (Veterans Day 2013)

    These souls
    climb barren trees
    on their way to heaven,
    wondering why these last moments
    tethered to the Earth
    are as difficult
    as the field
    where they lost their lives.
    Then one steps on a branch
    which breaks
    under earth bound weight
    as it lands,
    it sprouts as a child
    carrying his name
    Weightless now,
    he feels the tree
    fall away
    and Earth

  29. carolecole66

    The Dark

    My doppelganger showed herself
    shadowed on the wall only
    when I sang or slept or felt
    my spirit slipping through
    the looking glass. This day
    she so enthralled me that I leapt,
    arms out wide embracing her.
    The careful trappings of a careful life
    toppled, and for one breathless moment
    I hung suspended there, not knowing
    if this earthly gravity would send me
    crashing to the floor
    or I would finally fly.

  30. Mywordwall


    There was nowhere to hide
    there was nowhere to run
    so they escaped upwards
    of whatever’s hunting them down
    there was fear
    there was hope
    there was anticipation of what they’d see
    they climbed higher and higher
    until they reached heaven
    and they were free.

    ~A poem inspired by Mikola Gnisyuk’s, “People in Trees”

  31. Julieann

    Since today is Veteran’s Day – I thought of planes flying in and above the clouds for cover. Salute to our brave men and special breed of people from WW2.

    Doolittle’s Raiders

    Heads high above the clouds
    Beauty unequaled
    On a deadly mission of

  32. mjdills

    it was time that melted
    while you spoke
    in smoky drones;
    redwine smudged your teeth
    and bluesky turned to black;
    i crept
    like a mouse
    (some might say rat)
    my small ear cocked in the direction of your murmurs…
    just to know
    (before the candles were blown out…)
    the chances, luck, the secrets of our destiny.
    my shadow slid against the wall
    and one of you said
    “did you hear something?”
    and the other said
    “it’s nothing”
    as if I wasn’t there…

    to see the photo of which this poem is based, go to my blogsite at:

  33. Sara McNulty

    Learning To Fly

    I turned to tango
    when jaded with jazz
    freestyle dancing,
    and ended the prim
    poses of balanced
    ballet. Seeking to soar,
    to leave the floor, if merely
    for a magic-carpet moment,
    I tight-roped across tops
    of chairs, which I now nudge
    with tips of toes, the white
    wall stained with the strain
    of my shadow.

  34. Benjamin Thomas

    The Art of Balance

    inspired by Sam Taylor-Wood (via The Picture)

    The art of balance a gift
    of poise, vision, and sense

    A harmonious synchrony
    of bone, muscle, nerve

    In blatant defiance
    of the laws of gravity

    And master of equilibrium
    Any movement is possible

  35. Benjamin Thomas

    Hiding Place

    inspired by (Robert Dawson photo via Amy Jackson blog)

    Some people push away memories
    Into abandoned shacks
    Bawdy and riddled with age

    There resides the rotting shadows
    Residue of forgotten reality
    Moldy remnants that never fully dissipate
    A storage house of pain not too far from us

  36. Jane Shlensky

    Strange Fruit
    (In memory of Lillian Smith)

    A barren tree against the sky
    can have no say in human choice.
    A head of leaves or balding boughs,
    a tree stands stolid, lacking voice,

    while people dress its reaching limbs
    with lights or sights to haunt our dreams,
    a testament to artists’ whims
    or expose’ of mankind’s schemes.

    Like vultures perched among the boughs
    awaiting daily carrion,
    dark shadows question, when, who, how,
    small nagging birds fleeing the sun.

    A piece of land has memories
    like trunks that grow from wintry ground;
    dark haunting fruits hang in the trees,
    dark passions twisting to astound.

    (after People in Trees, Mikulo Gnisiuk)

  37. LeAnneM

    The Hubble Extreme Deep Field Image

    I look at the XDF
    Almost every day

    At the farthest away
    And longest ago
    We’ve ever seen

    A cross-section of the universe
    A core sample

    A tiny block of southern sky
    And then straight back
    14 billion years

    It seems so busy
    But there are vast distances
    Between those discs of color

    What you see
    Is nothing like that now
    Some blue white galaxies
    Have aged to red
    Some no longer shine

    Behind the last smear of light
    Are galaxies so far away
    That it would take more time
    Than the universe has been
    For light to make the trip

    And there are galaxies at the edge
    Racing away from us
    Faster than light can travel

    We’ll never
    See their light

  38. cbwentworth

    Inspired by Mikola Gnisyuk, “People in Trees” (via Baibakov Art Projects)

    Cut from a template
    choices are stolen
    Followers go blind,
    voices fall silent
    Gathered on the edge
    of a space they fear

    There are rules to keep,
    and those worth breaking
    The wise walk away,
    climb high in wonder
    Ask what lies beyond
    the accepted fate

  39. taylor graham


    He went to fish along the river’s tidal shore.
    He never came home. The search brought us
    to a lonely cabin gray-weathered as the day.
    Empty, no one there. As if abandoned years
    ago – its occupants simply walked away. No
    trace. Mud sucked at my boots, wind numbed
    my hands. The tide was flowing back to sea.
    My dog alerted on a deputy slogging shore-
    line in hip-boots and raingear. Not the man
    we were looking for, but a “find.” I threw
    a stick as reward; my dog started after it, it
    sank slowly into mud. She thrashed herself
    free, covered in black-ooze that stank and
    clung. Quicksand? The cabin stood without
    windows or door, gape-mouth in winter air,
    not answering our questions. For cellar, river-
    bottom mud. As if the fisherman had gone
    down there.

    on Robert Dawson’s photo

  40. Bruce Niedt

    Robert, I love all these photos, and I may come back to them for a poem. But since I’m sticking to a baseball theme, I thought I’d use a classic baseball photo instead. If any of you are interested in seeing it, here’s the link:

    Mick, June 1965

    He was great once, but today,
    he’s just made another out.
    The injuries, the age and the bottle
    have taken their toll.
    Slack-jawed, he hangs his head
    and flings his helmet toward home.
    It hangs in the air like a lopsided frisbee.
    His limp right hand hangs there too,
    a tired hand, a tired man,
    with all his glory in his rear-view mirror.
    The crowd sits silent in the summer haze.
    Mantle trudges back to the dugout.

  41. Linda Rhinehart Neas


    Squeals of laughter used to vibrate
    through the rooms, as summer
    built on summer. Now, the
    sighs of onshore winds escape
    through broken windows.

    Sandy feet once scrambled
    across the floors, as summer
    built on summer. Now, the
    sand exfoliates paint and vanish
    revealing bones long forgotten.

    Families came repeatedly
    filling the house, as summer
    built on summer. Now, the
    bats and birds gather within
    the empty shell.

  42. Cameron Steele

    Ignoring the Big Picture
    Inspired by Sam Taylor-Wood’s photograph

    I spend so much time
    analyzing my own shadow:
    the expansive darkness
    of my thighs, the way
    my buttox swells above
    them like a thick moan
    that’s stuck in my throat.
    I want to erase
    every divet and dimple
    that connects pelvis
    to quad, ankle to foot,
    the knuckles of my spine.
    I want to fold in
    on myself so my panty-line
    and thick wrists cannot
    betray the smoothness
    of my belly.

    Maybe I am missing the point.
    Maybe I am a beautiful girl
    who will kick off her chair and
    learn how to fly.
    I know that I’m willing
    to fall down if it means I
    can be weightless
    for one small moment.
    But my eyes are not closed
    and my head has never stayed
    in the clouds.
    Even when I try to fly,
    I ignore the bigger picture.
    It’s easier to face the wall,
    trace all the ways I’ll never
    be able to shed my own weight.

    1. Margie Fuston

      I love the way you see the photo. “Maybe I am a beautiful girl / who will kick off her chair and / learn how to fly.” Beautiful lines and a beautiful, but sad poem.

    2. De Jackson

      I love this, Cameron, as I love all things that carry your voice…and that your voice carries. The multiple meanings of “weight” in the last line make for a stunner. And that “thick moan that’s stuck in my throat” is gonna stick with me.

      1. cholder

        Beautiful and relatable! My favorite line was also “thick moan that’s stuck in my throat” I believe I do that every time I see my reflection or shadow!

  43. Karen H. Phillips

    Day 11
    Prompt: Write an ekphrastic (based on a piece of art) poem.

    Defying Gravity
    (From Sam Taylor-Wood’s photo of woman balanced on tilted chair, as if flying)

    All is a balancing act.
    Launch your life from a tilted chair,
    about to topple as you spread your arms toward
    limits of a room.
    Who knows?
    Perhaps the ceiling will burst forth into sky
    and your flight then know no bounds.

  44. DWong

    The House

    Family after family
    tried to change your look
    but only on the top
    like changing wigs
    on a whim of needing change.

    Family after family
    gave up after years of
    trying to keep you up
    while distant waters sprayed you.

    Family after family
    never could realize
    you were the one to keep
    them together
    through fog and hot summer days.

    Family after family
    forgot to thank you
    for the warmth and shelter
    and now you are
    gone to your own heaven

    Kept warm by your grassy children
    Laughter with windy friends
    Washed by the spray and rain
    forgotten by
    family after family.

  45. creativemetaphor

    Two by Two

    When Noah brought into the Ark
    Animals of every kind, packed full
    Leaving to the coming floods
    The all-but-two who remained outside.

    Rising waters made the sheep
    Look like fluffy clouds upon the sea;
    Elephant trunks turned into snorkels
    As fish explored new ivory reefs.

    For a while the arrogant birds
    Thought themselves above the disaster
    Until one by one their wings gave way,
    Exhausted, stars falling from the sky.

    Still it rose,
    Until the last giraffe’s neck
    Wasn’t quite long enough to take
    Another last breath of air.

    (I didn’t notice until after I’d written it that the giraffe’s are poking through the clouds, not the surface of water. Ah well, art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose.)

  46. Margie Fuston

    The Balancing Act

    She’s only got one toe left, balancing, on her one legged chair.
    The first toe is out buying sexy lingerie for her anniversary.
    Her second and third toes went to yoga, keeping her body
    firm and sculpted (it takes at least two for this to happen).
    Her fourth toe is rocking the baby back to sleep, again.
    Her fifth toe left for the grocery store to buy snacks
    for another Saturday morning basketball game.
    Her sixth toe is scrubbing last night’s macaroni
    from dirty plates that just won’t come clean.
    Her seventh toe went to bake pink-frosted
    cookies for her daughter’s class tomorrow.
    Her eighth toe is calling home, wishing
    a happy birthday to her tired mom.
    Her ninth toe is out too late with
    a friend, oh, wait, that never
    happens, it’s actually home,
    trying to rest, for once.
    If you saw her shadow,
    you might have
    thought she
    was flying,
    but she

  47. PressOn


    Though parted in space with a great deal of fuss,
    the figure and ground, like a saucer and cup,
    met with a thump. But the bright side is thus:
    when something comes down, it must’ve gone up.

    NB: also inspired by Taylor-Wood photo.

  48. Lori P

    Finding my place

    crumbling red-head you’ve known the sea
    far too long, forgive me
    if I move on to those young enough to climb

    acrobats, imitators of leaves, still the sky
    is out of reach, so I’ll say good-bye
    in favor of those who have broken through the clouds

    noble animals but so much unknown here
    feet on the ground, it is now clear
    I should find one who flies heart and soul

    step off, child, and find your wings
    I won’t move on to other things
    time must be frozen for you to fly

    so here I’ll stay

    1. cbwentworth

      Beautifully done! Love this line in particular: “acrobats, imitators of leaves, still in the sky.” I love how I don’t need the image to see your imagery.

  49. DanielAri

    “A mushy pear”

    Please excuse Daniel.
    Yesterday, he wrote
    his daily Ghazal,
    but it was a fruit
    for the compost pile.

    On the sweet pursuit
    of a Parisian
    day, who cares what art
    has to say? No grain
    scrapes to spark a pearl.

    His words fell supine
    in giggling puddles,
    convening at nine
    into a little
    daydream of moments.

    He barely cobbled
    the sea-glass bottle.

    based on photo at http://imunuri.blogspot.com/

  50. Michelle Hed

    Kilimanjaro Clouds

    One Hundred million years ago
    the thunder lizard lumbered around.
    He was the Brachiosaurus of the Mesozoic Era
    and he rumbled the ground.

    One Hundred million years later
    the Giraffe waltzes by.
    She is the ‘Brachiosaurus’ of the Cenozoic Era
    and she seems sky high.

    So now imagine
    instead of twenty feet high
    our lovely little Giraffes
    are fifty feet into the sky.

    Not nearly enough
    to get their heads in the clouds
    but we can pretend
    by dreaming out loud…

    The Giraffes are tall
    and great lumbering beasts.
    They eat the tops of trees
    and drink a cloud feast.

    They’re gentle and kind,
    just don’t get in their way.
    They often forget
    to look down when they sway.

    If you’re lucky
    you can hop on a back –
    go for a ride in the clouds
    on a gentle, tall hack.

    “Billy!” screamed Mother
    “come down from that roof,
    come eat dinner
    before it goes poof!”

    “Why is your hair wet?
    and there are leaves in your mouth.
    I thought you just sat
    while gazing south.”

    (TS Hakuna Matata)

  51. De Jackson

    And a quickie, to the Sam Taylor-Wood photo…

    The Teachable Imposture of Always

    To sing her true song, she must
    balance toes, nose,
    soul; control the arc of
    her own stilted shadow

    It’s by far
    the least ergonomic thing
    she’s done all


  52. laurakutney

    Ack–I got two days confused. oh well. . .

    The Other Side of a Breath

    He breathes for her
    Her hair, near transparent, & golden in the sun
    One of her safe parts
    It frames her exquisite, radiant face
    But he can not see it

    His love is the color of day light
    He can not help himself
    Although she has rough, thorny elements;
    Her hurting places
    In the glow of sun, her beautiful aspects distract

    Her shadows cast over her sharp rough regions
    Her bright places illuminate

    How can he help himself?
    She is a balance of tough & delicate
    He only sees a save haven
    Perfect for love to dwell & thrive

    He continues to breathe for her
    To keep her afloat

    Laura Kutney, November 11, 2013

  53. taylor graham


    I dreamed of giraffes swimming in the waves –
    or was it clouds? a sleep-scape as unreal
    as mind afloat in its subconscious sea.

    I woke. Those horses driven into sea
    to save a doldrum’d ship – they drowned in waves.
    No dream; a tragedy historic, real?

    On last night’s news – as prophecy-for-real –
    a coastline is submerged in rising sea,
    beachfront property disappears in waves,

    these waves of tiding, real as endless sea.

  54. De Jackson

    Cordelia’s Cottage for Wayward Sea Maidens

    If you crave legs,
    girls, just crawl aboard
    this verdant shore.

    A roof made of more
    than salt and wave?
    Come, be saved by
    copper, and balsa
    and sunlight. Feel
    the blades between
    your hungry toes
    and know that
    this world is made
    of more than shim
    -mer, sway.

    Stay as long as you like
    but when you go, take
    a piece with you
    back to sea and leave
    something in its
    a sapphire scale, a trinket,
    a finely finned tear.

         Every storm steals some
           -thing, leaves something
    else behind.


  55. PKP

    She Stayed

    when they came
    with flashlights
    and the tide
    she stayed
    when the power
    final-flicked and failed
    she stayed
    as the cold
    came and the
    walls crumbled
    she stayed
    and the
    sun eventually
    and so did they –
    Carried her
    forever smiling
    feet first
    as she always
    said she would
    have to be
    in order
    to leave

  56. Earl Parsons

    The Birch Perch

    As hundreds watch all in line
    We climb to claim our perch
    On thin, frail branches carefully
    We climb these trees of birch

    There is no sense to what we do
    But we do it just the same
    The highest birch perch wins a prize
    On which they’ll carve a name

    What else is there for us to do
    The winters here are dreary
    We climb the birch trees every year
    And hold on ‘til we’re weary

    People come from all around
    To watch the birch perch crew
    I’m sure they’re secretly thinking
    We’re all just whack-a-doo

    Inspired by Mikola Gnisyuk, “People in Trees”

  57. Walt Wojtanik


    A ramshackle shack pushed back
    to the furthest reaches near the beach,
    a hovel that required a shovel to put it
    to eternal rest. At best a target for

    a sharp shooter’s game or a wrecking
    ball’s deadly aim. Desolate and left to rot.
    But it has got a certain appeal and the deal
    that had been struck secured her.

    Not much to see from the street’s view,
    but you’d be amazed by what love can do!
    An urgent prayer from the young residents
    there; a sister and brother, and a mother

    who had seen better times but knew instead
    to keep her offspring fed with the paltry sum
    she could amass. A cold-handed scratch
    on a batch of weathered pages, staged this

    revitalization, for somewhere in this North Pole
    station, the request was heard. Snowbird One,
    (Mrs. Clauses handle) stood by the screen
    with a candle in hand, swiftly sending

    the command to the man in demand.
    A house, no matter how lousy, can be
    transformed by the love of another. And though
    they didn’t have much, sister and brother and

    mother had enough love to fill the Christmas Eve sky.
    As far as they could fly, the reindeer flew
    clear across space to this place where
    love resided. There was no hiding its worth.

    More rapid than eagles they flew and they knew
    Christmas would be different this year,
    and every year hereafter. From the joists
    to the rafters the house transformed and was

    warmed the moment I descended the chimney.
    A house is a house is a house, but home
    is where the heart resides. From inside and out ,
    the station was brand new, through the want of

    a child’s wish. A home that brought back
    memories and hope for futures bright,
    a bit of Christmas whimsy in flight for the cause
    as long as I remain, I am Santa Claus!

    Based upon Robert Dawson (via Amy Jackson blog)

  58. Susan Schoeffield


    This house,
    once filled with love,
    crumbles on a foundation
    of crippling indifference,
    empty and forgotten.

    This heart,
    once filled with hope,
    bleeds from the wounds inflicted
    through too many years of neglect,
    abandoned and unloved.

    Both this
    house and this heart
    remember days of promise
    before they were left to decay
    alone and forsaken.

    © Susan Schoeffield

  59. BezBawni


    Have you ever seen someone
    who doesn’t look their age
    and you thought they were older?
    I’ve seen a house like that which wasn’t old,
    but death itself looks better.

    The roof with its decrepit crippled ledges,
    the slanted fence, the morbid countenance
    with hollow windows-eyes and missing
    doors made it seem ancient – the house
    was mere 10-15 years old.

    I wondered if it had an owner who
    could have some people come,
    take care of the streaks of filth and mold
    on its pale walls – the smeared mascara
    on a crying girl’s cheeks is less poignant.

    The panes were broken-down, the house
    was derelict, raped of its youth, and,
    being a miserable sight, it looked …ashamed.
    The house reminded me of a heart
    without a living soul inside it.

    inspired by the RD picture of a dying house

  60. Michelle Hed

    Flying Free

    She wanted to fly
    with Peter Pan
    so she set her shadow free.

    She stood on a chair
    and closed her eyes
    and thought please let this be.

    She balanced carefully
    to get it just right
    and spread her arms with glee.

    And for a moment
    while her shadow flew
    she thought this is how it would be.
    So she set her shadow free.

    (Sam Taylor-Wood Picture)

  61. MasonKelsey

    At first I thought it
    said “People in Texas”, but
    it was Trees instead.

    It sort of fit, Trees
    replaced by Texas, good and
    evil replacing good.

    But it was the guys
    up in the trees, black or white,
    a binary world,

    while I wrote poems
    of a surreal photograph
    without an ending.

  62. Dare


    It’s an ordinary face
    If such there be
    Expressions speak silently
    Her hidden thoughts and dreams

    She dances before me
    As a god to her creation
    Controlling my every move
    I remain trapped within a shadow
    Forever Faceless

  63. Jane Shlensky

    Good Bones

    That one-roomed shack was better made
    than lots of mansions built today,
    solid foundations made of stone,
    a tin roof praising drumming rain
    and sifting snow. You think me daft
    to see it now, gutted, rusting,
    spare and small, but, look you how
    it stands so straight, its window frames
    so square and sturdy all this time.
    My Pa would say it had good bones—
    like marriage is for some of us.
    He fished here some along this lake
    and flirted with your mother some.
    She loved and coddled that old man;
    I saw his envy more than once.

    We slept well wrapped in love them years
    until you children came to us.
    Then it was small and too far out
    of town for schools and docs and friends–
    what people call a starter home.

    I tell you plain, odd as it seems,
    it figures often in my dreams.
    The lake still laps the pebbles, sighs,
    the way waves did those first years here.
    A man can prosper in the world,
    his cares reduced to growing old,
    but miss a time when he was poor
    but loved along a sapphire lake,
    his future foggy, prospects dim,
    but be contented listening
    to water birds along the shore
    no words to say, feeling so right,
    a one-roomed shack is all
    and more.

    (to Dawson photograph)

    1. PressOn

      This is another soothing and wise bit of storytelling, so much your forte. Well, you have lots of fortes (fortees?), but storytelling is one of them, and this is a splendid little example, in my view. Thanks so much for posting.

  64. annell

    Little House by the Sea
    You are older
    Than I remember
    For so long
    Place to fish
    Place to play
    Place to love
    As the days go by
    Swim by day
    Dance into the night
    I remember you
    As you were then
    Hope you remember
    Me, too

  65. RJ Clarken

    The Old Lake House

    old house
    by the lake
    is no longer inhabited by us,
    but rather, has become a part of sand,
    air and

    one time,
    long ago,
    that crumbing edifice was full of life.
    The summer scents of wet bathing suits and
    clung to

    to it.
    I miss that.
    But how do you recapture something that’s
    not yours anymore? Memories linger,
    but that’s not
    the same


  66. taylor graham


    There’s someone hiding in the trees
    this morning for my dog to find.
    I walk softly, checking the breeze
    and with what-ifs playing in my mind:

    if camouflaged, he’s leafed and vined.
    If someone’s hiding in these trees,
    his human figure’s realigned,
    invisible in canopies

    of oak and buckeye, rookeries
    of raptor birds or hunter’s blind.
    Somewhere, he’s hiding in the trees –
    a game that’s been designed

    to test us, dog and handler twined
    in trust and possibilities….
    My dog just leaped and wagged and whined.
    Here’s someone hiding in the trees!

    1. PressOn

      I love this. The form looks like a retourne, or something akin to it, and the sliding-down effect somehow reminds me of the figures in the trees, who, presumably, have to come down sometime.

  67. uneven steven

    Danseuse ajustant sa bretelle, Edgar Degas (photograph)

    As if through
    a window
    we see her
    dancing enraptured
    she dances forever
    a Degas dancer,
    his own rapture
    captured impressions
    perfect moments of movement
    in stillness
    moving us to stop
    and wonder
    at something
    we can’t quite
    hold on to,
    this something
    than a century gone
    now and always
    inside us

  68. Hannah

    Worm-bored and occupied of knotholes
    it’s wood-bold even in its aged-gray,
    it renders my soul whole,
    this storm-weathered abode.
    It has endured the most rugged of them
    and tethered to this lush sea knoll
    it’s kissed of ocean mist and cured of sunshine.
    Tufts of grass have claimed space
    plotting upward with green feet
    ascending cement steps gracefully-
    it crests across the threshold
    spreading the most warming welcome mat;
    it beckons one to stand within,
    to watch the sun-dialed shadows slip silently,
    striping gold, its worn floor.
    It begs that one pause,
    wait out a sudden summer downpour;
    rest beneath the rhythmic beat of this tin roof-
    be swept away by the orchestra played there,
    sway within the shadows, hidden and held.
    As one watches through these glassless windows-
    framed moments swiftly become memories.
    Copyright © Hannah Gosselin 2013

  69. Nancy Posey


    Somewhere in the tension between dark and light
    I’ve lost myself. I know I’m here, but with you gone
    I have no touchstone. Lost as a bill without a coo,
    a yin without a yang, Laurel without—oh well,
    you get the point. I’m a bat searching with sound
    for the cave walls. Nothing bounces back to me.
    Exhausting metaphors and similes, mistrusting
    hyperbole, I’m longing for something concrete.
    For now, I’ll trust my shadow. If I see it, I’m alive.

  70. Linda Goin


    Kids want to believe
    a house will be theirs
    forever, never understanding
    what it takes
    to keep that house up,
    what it takes
    to keep leaves on trees
    what it takes
    to keep so many heads
    above water,
    what it takes
    to balance on shadows
    that disappear
    even when the sun shines.

  71. rosross

    In corrugated clarion call
    the metal shows its face,
    revealing time’s persuasion;
    surrendering with grace.

    In weathered welts of years
    the walls and roof have shed,
    the brightness of beginning;
    donned rusty cloaks instead.

    In pock-marked perseverance,
    they stand against the sun,
    brace for bitter winter nights;
    know that age has come.

    In weeping shred of flakes,
    they drop the skin of youth,
    and offer toothless hope;
    the years so soon reduced.

    In dulled and dusted dressing,
    they hold to shape and life,
    as wearied, worn, decaying;
    no longer shining bright.

    In days of shuddered sleeping,
    they hold horizon’s hand,
    and echo tales forgotten;
    lost part of someone’s plan.

    NB inspired by image of decaying house.

    1. Hannah

      Oh, this reads so flowingly with your rhyme and rhytmn. So many parts that I love but especially the idea of holding horizon’s hand…the concept that the land comforts this place…I really like that. Beautiful poem! That one really got me, too. :)

  72. Walt Wojtanik


    Tiptoes gives her elevation,
    and her situation is precarious at best.
    Who’d have guessed she would find
    herself on the verge of teetering
    on the brink or thinking she could
    achieve the heights she had all ways hoped
    to reach. If you had come to teach
    each other anything, it was that hearts
    can soar to an infinite place where love
    becomes the fuel and the destination.
    The more you expend to get there,
    the more that awaits you when you do.
    To love and be loved in a breath that
    remains closerthanthisclose is the height
    that this flight will attain, again and again.
    Prepared for take-off and it’s off she goes.
    Her lightness assures her she is loved.

    Ever airborne!

    Written to Sam Taylor-Wood (via The Picture)

    1. Hannah

      “If you had come to teach
      each other anything, it was that hearts
      can soar to an infinite place where love
      becomes the fuel and the destination.”

      Beautiful poem and I love the word mash…very effective.


  73. MLundstedt

    My blog is kinda all about this. I photograph and write. Sometimes the poem inspires the photo, and sometimes it’s the other way around. https://mflundstedt.wordpress.com

    “My Shadow”

    I haven’t seen my shadow today.
    I think he may have run away.

    A day ago we had a fight,
    Which ended when I killed the light.

    Now, I think I miss that guy . . .
    Though, not enough that I might cry,

    But just enough to look for him
    In places where the light is dim.

    –Inspired by the Taylor-Wood pic.

  74. Misky

    Walking a Pie in the Sky Path

    We balance
    on the balls of our feet,
    on the slim side of chance,
    our heads in the sky
    above long lines of clouds,
    and we look
    at the distance
    without noticing
    our path.

  75. bxpoetlover

    A Walk at Sunset
    Inspired by Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”

    We recoil from madness, don’t we?
    Why did his friends only walk away
    when they heard his screams?

    Under that bloody red sky
    by that blue black river
    I would have been running

    1. Cameron Steele

      Also, I just have to say I love that you picked “The Scream” for your muse. That picture has haunted me ever since I studied it in my first college art history class. This summer I made a sculpture based on the painting — I think I was hoping that I’d work it out of my nightmares but no such luck! I keep coming back to your poem. It’s really THAT good. I hope you’ll submit it somewhere.