Editors Blog

2014 April PAD Challenge: Day 13

I often come up with prompts for my weekly Wednesday Poetry Prompts on the fly. However, I try to get all my prompts for the monthly challenges set before the month starts–to avoid “prompt block.” For that reason, I had to turn down two good prompt ideas from the guest judges: Vince Gotera wanted to do something related to hay(na)ku and today’s judge Daniel Nester wanted to do a sestina prompt. I’ve done the sestina prompt before, and it drove many poets crazy (still littering asylums across the globe). I was tempted to change my prompt, but decided to hold firm–so nobody is obligated to write a sestina for today’s prompt (but if you want extra credit, both Nester and myself would love to see a few sestinas today). Click here to learn about the sestina.

For today’s prompt, write an animal poem. Pick a specific animal or write about your animal spirit. Maybe you’ll get tricky and write about mustangs (meaning the car) or jaguars (meaning the American football team). Maybe you’ll do an acrostic, or even go crazy and write a sestina (crickets).


2014_poets_marketPublish Your Poetry!

Learn how to get your poetry published with the assistance of the 2014 Poet’s Market, edited by Robert Lee Brewer. This book is filled with listings for poetry book publishers, chapbook publishers, magazines, journals, online publications, contests, grants, and more!

Plus, it contains articles on the craft, business, and promotion of poetry. There are interviews with poets, original poems, and so much more!

Click to continue.


Here’s my attempt at an Animal Poem:

“Animal Sestina”

First thing’s first, I must pick an animal.
My logical first choice is the cheetah,
because I’m first and foremost about speed,
though in high school I was often called horse–
as much for my long stride as my long hair–
still today, I resemble platypus

as I’m hard to classify. Platypus,
frankly speaking, is a weird animal:
It has a bill, otter feet, and hair;
did I mention it’s venomous? Cheetahs,
on the one hand, are faster than a horse;
every molecule seems built for speed,

but there’s more to picking end words than speed.
After all, some end words, like platypus,
are harder to use. Meanwhile, the word horse
is easier, not for the animal
but syllables–three to one. The cheetah
offers two syllables and spotted hair;

they eat gazelles and zebras, even hares.
Their sprinting prey dictates a need for speed;
there’s no such thing as a chubby cheetah.
Though they store fat in their tails, platypus
are not the heaviest of animals–
maybe five pounds. Definitely the horse

weighs a lot more. For instance, race horses
can hit 1,000 pounds. Beneath their hair
are the thick muscles of an animal
bred over generations for top speeds,
kind of opposite from the platypus.
Speaking of breeding, the shallow cheetah

pool of genetics means there aren’t cheetah
variations the same as with horses,
though I’m not really sure on platypus.
One thing is certain: I must prefer hair
over genetics and relative speed,
at least when we’re discussing animals.

I’m an animal, but I’m no cheetah–
lost my speed, though I may still be a horse
with short hair, storing fat like platypus.


Today’s guest judge is…

Daniel Nester

Daniel Nester

Daniel Nester

Daniel is the author of How to Be Inappropriate, God Save My Queen I and II, and is editor of The Incredible Sestina Anthology.

His writing has appeared in N+1 The New York TimesThe Morning NewsThe Daily Beast, The Best American Poetry, The Best Creative Nonfiction, Third Rail: The Poetry of Rock and Roll, and Now Write! Nonfiction.

He teaches writing at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY

Learn more here: DanielNester.com.


PYHO_Small_200x200Poem Your Heart Out

Poems, Prompts & Room to Add Your Own for the 2014 April PAD Challenge!

Words Dance Publishing is offering 20% off pre-orders for the Poem Your Heart Out anthology until May 1st! If you’d like to learn a bit more about our vision for the book, when it will be published, among other details.

Click to continue.


Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems. He studied under sestina master James Cummins at the University of Cincinnati–once writing more than 20 horrible sestinas in one quarter. Learn more about him here: http://www.robertleebrewer.com/.


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476 thoughts on “2014 April PAD Challenge: Day 13

  1. TylerG

    *Ivy League*
    Spring rain coats my surface in the familiar moist
    dew of the morning, as my woody ivy
    leaves get caught up in the wind and attempt to fly
    away and break free of their
    eternal cage that permits nothing but rest,
    slowly realizing our faltering fortitude.

    Enduring the same monotonic life, our fortitude
    can only hold on for so long in the moist
    embrace before our disclination for rest
    takes over and turns to loathing of being ivy.
    With such interesting lives out there,
    we were cursed to sit and watch the birds fly.

    As we idly sit and watch the world fly
    by, we stand by our fortitude
    and wonder what else is out there
    beneath the thin film of moist
    dew that coats our ivy
    leaves just like the rest.

    But as it always has, the rest
    of the world won’t sit still, and as we watch it fly
    by we realize just how monotonous life can be as a simple ivy
    tree. Nothing with freedom requires the fortitude
    we must have when our only job is sucking up the moist
    nutrients from the rich soil situated right down there.

    Although we love the birds who land on our limbs, and they’re
    so much more lovely than us, they can’t deny they’re less than the rest.
    Even though they can fly freely, they reach a certain height where a different moist
    substance coats their wings as they fly
    around with their exalting freedom. Though they lack out fortitude
    they have a much better life than a leaf of ivy.

    But even we have our days to shine, as poison accumulates on our ivy
    leaves and we are forced to leave it there,
    we watch we know we will make a noble human’s fortitude
    quickly falter as we send him to bed rest
    after watching our burdensome oils fly free
    as he connects with us, leaving a patch of poison, not dry, but moist.

    As we well know, their fortitude will falter as they rest
    because they’re forced to be sedentary, not fly
    just like all the ivy because they have to be dry – not moist.

  2. stepstep


    Running wild, running free
    Head held high in dignity.
    Truly a mind of its own
    A very fit body, extremely toned.

    Neigh to the left, neigh to the right,
    Pride is always kept in sight.
    Enjoying nature everyday
    Enjoying life in every way.

    The breeze brushes across my fur
    Which I display so beautifully.
    I shy away from nothing much
    Heavy or light items I transport easily.

  3. azkbc

    Animals and the Zoo

    When you were a baby you had a mobile of monkeys.
    Now that you are older we go see them at the zoo.
    There are so many yellow and green elephants on your blanket
    You took it to the park yesterday when you played on the swing
    And when play time was over we went home and read books about giraffes that night.
    A teddy, a bunny, and a giraffe sit on your bed with other animals.

    You like to read books about animals
    And just got some brand new stickers that are monkeys
    I watched you zip up and down the sidewalk on your scooter last night.
    Today it’s Saturday! We get to go to the zoo!
    We’ll see the kangaroos first then play on the swing.
    At night we’ll say “we had such fun today”, and you’ll curl up in your blanket.

    At night when you’re sleeping you like to have your special blanket
    And have with you all your favorite animals.
    Tomorrow you will play with Dan on the swing.
    Then come in and climb on the couch just like a little monkey.
    Yesterday it snowed but today it’s all melted at the zoo.
    You asked “who puts the animals to bed at night?”

    The zebras stay in their pens at night.
    Did you ever see a lion with a blanket?
    How many of your friends get to go to the zoo?
    Did you ever want to be a wild animal?
    If you were an animal, I think you would be a monkey.
    And do you know why? Because you climb and play on the swings.

    We can walk to the park to swing.
    Playing is something you like to do both day and night.
    Do you want your new stuffed animal to be a monkey?
    Should we look for fabric to make you a panda blanket?
    It’s so much fun to look at the animals.
    We all have a good time when we go to the zoo.

    Oh yay! Pauline and Brendan want to go to the zoo.
    After we see the llamas do you want to go to the park and swing?
    Would you want to live at the zoo and be a zoo animal?
    Where do you think the peacocks go at night?
    Do you think the leopard needs a blanket?
    Is your favorite animal still the monkey?

    See the monkeys at the zoo.
    Did you take the blanket to the swing?
    During the night, did you dream of the animals?

  4. Suzanne_Noelle

    Canis Lupus

    Running fast, panting, panting
    Large paws with toes spreading
    Snowshoeing across the icy tundra until
    Warmth! I sense warmth
    Ptarmigan, fresh and hot and delicious
    I smell it, I feel it, I hear its heart beating
    And then its heart stills.
    Warmth trickling down my throat, rich and filling
    Crunching between my powerful jaws
    Feathers flying, a tasty snack
    And then I continue to run
    Singing out the cry of my people.
    The old haunting sounds of my ancestors
    Ring off the evergreens
    Echoing back to me, a feigned response to my own calls
    But then different voices answer
    Rising up around me as my family converges upon my trail
    Entering the clearing with heads down, tails down
    Licking my mouth, showing their bellies
    They know me as Alpha
    And they are my pack.
    They submit to me, but we all work together
    In a perfect hierarchical system
    Following the ways of wolves from long before
    Running in the pawprints of those whose calls
    Were silenced long ago.

  5. ianchandler


    velvet shell
    maybe you’re the fastest land mammal
    but can you
    in milk
    like it’s part of the willow
    like it’s
    to your marrow
    can you breathe
    in the wild

  6. PenConnor

    Raven’s Flight (a sestina)

    I just want to stretch my wings
    and float on the air of the night.
    Here I stand, face to the moon
    wishing I were more clever,
    and could find my way to freedom —
    a flight to carry me past the trees.

    You make your throne in this tree,
    sit majestic with ebony wings.
    You wear the mantle of freedom
    and rule the skies of the night.
    No other creature so clever
    lives under the silver moon.

    I spy a girl’s face in the moon,
    as I lean into your great tree.
    Her smile is wicked and clever,
    and I long for ebony wings —
    so I could fly beyond this night,
    and whisper to her of my freedom.

    I have always admired your freedom,
    your silhouette before the moon.
    Your feathers as dark as this night,
    I barely see, perched in this tree.
    Stretch your beautiful black wings.
    I hope I’m at least half as clever,

    as you, sister raven, so clever.
    All others will stretch their wings,
    join in they flying dance of freedom,
    beneath this night’s full moon.
    Alone, I will sit at this tree
    my face turned up to the night.

    I’ll sit beside the black night,
    with toes tapping to melody, clever,
    at the base of celebration tree.
    While night creatures toast their freedom,
    beneath this night’s full moon,
    I’ll fall asleep imagining my wings.

    Dreaming of great wide wings, black as the air of night,
    I’ll climb to my sister the moon, whispering secrets so clever.
    She’ll speak the spell of freedom; I’ll take flight from this tree.

  7. Susan Budig

    Canis Lupus

    Mimi’s waiting patiently for a blood-red
    moon, an eclipse that starts past
    midnight, that starts with a wolf’s
    muzzle pointed skyward, its lips
    making a howling lament, a rumbling
    moan until it’s joined by a rough pack

    Fellow canines, sister bitch, form a pack
    friendly to none but the other, their red
    focused eyes wait until a train rumbles
    far down cold, steel tracks, past
    farmhouses where prayers on lips
    form, children breathing like a pack of wolves

    Tangled like a litter of whelps-to-wolves
    Tussling for their place in the pack
    Tough and snarling, their bristled hair, lips
    turned back in a sneer, yet their red
    tender hearts bleed of memories past
    today and tomorrow with the past rumble

    By 1926, the last wolves were rumbled
    back to their graves in Yellowstone, No Wolves
    became the mantra, this shameful past
    beholden to government control. Yet a pack
    beneath the radar, sheltered on a red
    bed of secrets, grew in Minnesota, on the lip

    of Lake Superior—those wolves’ curled lips,
    open teeth, and crouched haunches, rumble
    outside where they sleep, no predators with red
    objectives will attack them. The alpha wolf,
    only betrayed by man, runs in tight packs
    or strikes out solo in search of a mate. In the past,

    no wailing wolf could be found. “That’s in the past,”
    newspapers claimed, but Mimi still believed, her lips
    not opening, not even mouthing the truth. A wolf’s pack
    need not fear, Mimi’s tongue will not wag,nor words rumble
    nilly-willy. Mimi sets salt-licks for the deer, knowing a wolf
    nearby will soon down one for its dinner, under the moon, blood-red.

    Wolf-packs survive despite past histories of scourge
    Mimi, so unlike Little Red Cap, licks her own lips
    As thunder rumbles and her wolves wake for the night

  8. lethejerome


    Nothing like a shelter from the cold remembrance
    Of the straight and narrow, of the bone and marrow,
    But just enough to hide amid my heat and hunger
    And lay far underneath the pliant cartilage
    Of the past, of the will, and of every spasm,
    In abandonment to the soil, in earth that stirs.

    The sky waits between moon and high noon, the sky stirs
    What is left of the ground, that solid remembrance
    That draws me out and makes me prowl in spams,
    Already blood and heartbeat, already marrow,
    Teeth cut teeth caught between air and cartilage
    Between whistling and speech, in sleep and in hunger.

    There is fact and knowledge; somewhere there is hunger.
    Beneath fangs and blurred eyes, a renewed vision stirs
    Matter and light, leaving the whole to cartilage,
    To the logic of crevices of remembrance,
    To narrow bridges over spillage of marrow –
    There is morning, there is dusk, settling in spasms.

    I am knees am elbows am standings am spasms.
    Eyes on the horizon, line of silent hunger,
    Ears on fingertips’ resounding taps on marrow,
    Nose-mouth in the unison of a tongue that stirs
    The fluidity of remains and remembrance,
    I am joint I am bendings I am cartilage.

    Circulation in the unfolding of cartilage,
    Circling with the contraction in every spasm,
    Encircles, besieges the heart as remembrance
    Surveys the depths of the stomach’s mounting hunger,
    Survival in its knots, the untying that stirs,
    Ensures that the dye passes into the marrow:

    The dyeing of the brooks, the softness of marrow;
    The dyeing of bedrock, craters of cartilage;
    The dyeing of oak shade, colours in wind that stir;
    The dyeing of underbrush, a fire in spasm
    In forests of thirst and in jungles of hunger,
    A convergence of lives and pasts through remembrance.

    In my jaw remembrance of the shock of marrow,
    In my belly hunger from lungs and cartilage:
    Fixation in spasm as something outside stirs.

    Jérôme Melançon

  9. suddenleigh

    Not All Black Bears Are Black!
    By Stephanie Reardon

    “If I could be
    any animal,”
    he said pressing
    his long hands
    to the glass display.
    “I would be a bear.”

    Beyond the glass
    Long-dead, now stuffed
    Black bears
    Falsely foraging
    In a diorama displaying
    Their true habitat.

    Three on display,
    A grim nod to a familiar fairy tale.
    The largest looked coldly
    With plastic eyes that challenge
    Each onlooker.
    His head is huge and misshapen.
    His shoulders hunch, his lip curls.
    The smallest is at his feet,
    Looking dumbfounded
    As if confused by his short lifespan or
    The people who study his corpse.
    The third is strikingly blonde,
    And made to look as if
    Climbing a tree.
    “Not all black bears are black!”
    The plaque beside him reads.

    “You would have to be mainly vegetarian.”
    I replied.
    “I mostly am already.”
    He said, digging his hands into his pockets.
    The bears watched us leave
    In the name of science.

  10. Snow Write

    I had to try the sestina, just to say I tried. There was no hope for iambic pentameter or anything even close, but it was fun to tell a story within the framework anyways…

    We heard the bellows of the elephants
    Before any other safari sounds
    We were on a mission to find crocodiles
    But on land didn’t see any around
    We had to keep a lookout for lions
    And be sure to get back to camp before dark

    We approached the water, murky and dark
    Taking care not to bother the elephants
    In the distance we spotted a pride of lions
    Though how, we’re not sure; they made nary a sound
    We searched the sea with focused eyes while one kept watch around
    In hopes of spotting those elusive crocodiles

    At first we weren’t sure we saw the crocodiles
    Their big black eyes poking out of the dark
    But quickly noticed no other animals around
    The few by the pond backed away like the elephants
    Who still marked their territory, raising their sounds
    We became aware all were watched by the lions

    There was doom in the prowl of the lions
    As they stared at the water and the crocodiles
    We didn’t move a muscle, tried not to make sounds
    Even with shelter we felt the ominous dark
    The wildlife was nervous except the elephants
    Who sauntered ‘cross the desert as if no one were around

    Our guide cautioned us against moving around
    Though some wanted a better view of the lions
    Who were crouched in the weeds near the elephants
    All focused intently on the crocodiles
    Watching their eyes float in the water so dark
    Everyone’s ears perked by the deep moaning sounds

    The vehicle shook from the rumbling sounds
    As the animals chorused from all around
    Shadows disappeared as the sky grew dark
    We drove away, the patience of the lions
    Outlasting our observations of the crocodiles
    The last view we saw, the silhouettes of elephants

    We heard elephants and all the animal sounds
    Blend with the crocodiles still lurking around
    As we left the lions to prey on them in the dark

  11. TuLife

    “Virgin Queen Bee”
    By: Tuere Aisha

    Everyone wants to be Queen Bee.
    Virgin Queen Bee sounds better to me.

    She remains beneath the radar,
    not publicly a star.

    Born into royalty,
    yet earning her loyalty.

    Fighting off other virgin queens –
    using her stinger as her means
    to eliminate the competition,
    assassinating in repetition.

    Not as flashy as the Queen Bee;
    worker bees must work to see
    that a young virgin is on the scene,
    instinctively bearing the monarch gene.

    By the time she’s grown and ready to be mated,
    her appetite for fame is satiated.

    Why stand out as a target like the Queen Bee?
    Though I’d rather not be a worker bee, as he
    will only slave for the comfort of she
    who earns her keep as Virgin Queen Bee.

  12. julie e.


    Dog, you are so furious,
    running from window to
    window to yell at the
    How dare they use
    the sidewalk
    outside your house!
    How dare they
    push a stroller,
    stand at the bus stop,
    laugh on their way
    home from school!
    And I become as loud
    as you saying
    BE QUIET! No one
    wants to hear you!
    But who am I,
    telling you,
    The Dog,
    how to do
    your job?

  13. Julieann

    Butthead Was Her Name

    A little black kitten
    With one white mitten

    Who’d put her life at stake
    When she’d play with the snake

    She grew to be
    So large and free

    A little black kitten
    With one white mitten

  14. clcediting


    They run,
    sometimes so fast
    all feet leave the ground.
    Hooves clad in iron
    pound across the miles
    galloping down dirt roads.
    Wildness barely kept in check
    by the bond between
    and Horse.

  15. mimzy13


    I’ve decided to stop feeding the ducks. First of all, there is a sign by the pond in the Boston Common that clearly states “No Feeding The Ducks”. Second of all, I suspect I’m giving the ducks—through no ill will of my own!—the wrong impression. Lately, I’ll be walking along the pond path on the way to work, when suddenly they will emerge from their strategic posts under the dark bridge recesses to form a single undulating mob in the water. I will quicken my pace but they remain just to my left, hovering on the periphery of my vision. Oh no ducks I whisper so people won’t hear me not today. Then the ducks start their low quaking Too late they say you have acknowledged us. Now you must give us your bread. The smallest and most sickly ducklings are sent to the front of their assembly. They straggle up onto the path, wobbling and collecting dirt clots on their undersides. You don’t know what it’s like they say as I hurry past those aren’t our real parents! I can see my office building on the other side of the park and remember the note on my computer last week that said STOP FEEDING THE DUCKS. IF YOU ARE LATE AGAIN YOU WILL BE FIRED. My resolve strengthens, when suddenly a feathery lump appears in the grass. I go over to it and kneel down. It’s okay I say with a tight throat there was nothing you could do. Then I bury the duckling near the tree by the pond. The other ducks watch as I walk away towards the office, the job I no longer have.

  16. TylerG

    Ivy League

    Spring rain coats my surface in the familiar moist
    dew of the morning, as my woody ivy
    leaves get caught up in the wind and attempt to fly
    away and break free of their
    eternal cage that permits nothing but rest,
    slowly realizing our faltering fortitude.

    Enduring the same monotonic life, our fortitude
    can only hold on for so long in the moist
    embrace before our disclination for rest
    takes over and turns to loathing of being ivy.
    With such interesting lives out there,
    we were cursed to sit and watch the birds fly.

    As we idly sit and watch the world fly
    by, we stand by our fortitude
    and wonder what else is out there
    beneath the thin film of moist
    dew that coats our ivy
    leaves just like the rest.

    But as it always has, the rest
    of the world won’t sit still, and as we watch it fly
    by we realize just how monotonous life can be as a simple ivy
    tree. Nothing with freedom requires the fortitude
    we must have when our only job is sucking up the moist
    nutrients from the rich soil situated right down there.

    Although we love the birds who land on our limbs, and they’re
    so much more lovely than us, they can’t deny they’re less than the rest.
    Even though they can fly freely, they reach a certain height where a different moist
    substance coats their wings as they fly
    around with their exalting freedom. Though they lack out fortitude
    they have a much better life than a leaf of ivy.

    But even we have our days to shine, as poison accumulates on our ivy
    leaves and we are forced to leave it there,
    we watch we know we will make a noble human’s fortitude
    quickly falter as we send him to bed rest
    after watching our burdensome oils fly free
    as he connects with us, leaving a patch of poison, not dry, but moist.

    As we well know, their fortitude will falter as they rest
    because they’re forced to be sedentary, not fly
    just like all the ivy because they have to be dry – not moist.

  17. pmwanken


    In and out
    of my apartment,
    back and forth,
    doing my
    laundry…he was there, watching,
    tugging at my heart.

    Puppy dog
    eyes pleaded with me.
    He wasn’t
    begging, he
    just needed help, asking me
    to find him a home.

  18. PKP


    He came
    not quite two
    pounds of coal
    fluff – as I was
    writing macabre
    Kaitlin poems of
    a little murdered
    girls who appeared
    to me in a yellow
    sundress as a
    November PAD
    He came
    three times
    to the door
    so tiny that
    his persistent
    nickel sized
    paws only
    grazed the
    He came and
    I mistook him
    for an incarnation
    of Kaitlin and kept
    writing of the
    dead child
    I thought I find
    him a good
    home – a so called
    forever home as
    I held him and wrote
    poem after poem
    never thinking that
    he had already

  19. JayGee2711


    Winter turned the orchard white last
    night, but four of you, long ears, soft fur,
    have come out to nibble branches
    new with buds. I’m afraid for you,
    I want to say. You don’t even
    know what color you are. But spring
    has that effect on all of us.

    Julie Germain

  20. ASperryConnors

    Squirrel Monkeys

    Yum-yum strangers march down a path
    With bowls of strawberry, melon and grapes.
    Leaves flutter. Fur whispers softly in the shade.
    You sneak from the canopy like bark coming to life.
    Soft little Angel wants a pomegranate seed.
    Sister Patress wants only that which is orange.
    You are two little squirrel monkeys on a mountain side,
    Picking through life’s sweet nibbles as if they were jewels.
    Big eyes, dark marbles in a furry white mask.
    Pink ears blossom from the poopy army-mustard on your head,
    Melting into the dandelion dander of your velvety arms.
    Long fingers and toes with pads feel like cold buttons,
    As you trail my arm-shoulders-arm as a bridge from one
    Pile of friendly delectables to a gathering of scrumptious disarray.

    1. ASperryConnors

      The poem above was written for DISCOVERY. This one is my animal spirit)

      She is still water that runs deep
      Reflecting all things heaven sent.
      Her neck, pure white and questioning
      A bridge from mire to magnificent.

      Wings that beat slowly, steadily
      For endurance is the key.
      She gathers and stores knowledge
      From the Great Spirit of Remedy.

      Sacred to Venus, goddess of Rome
      Beloved in Ireland, she denotes the Soul
      Where poets cloak themselves in her feathers
      And children of Lir, her virtues extol.

      Her spirit awakens grace, inner beauty,
      self-esteem and evolution dreams.
      She is love, poetry and music!
      All things lovely, so it seems.

      Siren of serene she conjures the flow…
      Working through you, through the ages.
      Her voice instructs the mysteries,
      Her wings, they turn the pages.

      She sees and reads reflections-
      Knowing we are more than we appear to be.
      Both physical and spiritual natures,
      Souls in human bondage, humans being free.

      A mate for life she shows us respect.
      We have chosen and must carry on.
      Love is sworn forever, she sings.
      And thus, the essence of… a swan.

  21. Anders Bylund

    The Moose

    Haveyouseenitemergingfromwoodsinthedew?. Oy .Suchgentlepowerandgrace
      Orone,unexpectedlystaring you up anddown. for mi nutesfacetoface?
      Ifyouhaveyouwouldknowwhat it is aboutm o ose.th.atsetsmypulseracing
    Whetheritsrunningorleapingor s l .eeping or.just.peacefullygrazing
       Themooseistheepitomeofkingly grandeur, I.am.totallycertainofthat
     Ifyougavemeamooseonacuporashirt youwouldn o.tbethefirst,orevenahat
    It'sbeenwellknownhowmuchIapprecia  tethem.. ajesticEurasianelksince
       Iwasaweelad,thefirstpoemIwrote          .celebratedtheforestprince
    Turnonmycellphoneandwhatdoyousee   ?        "Adeadmoooseisabadmoose"
       Ifthedogisman'sbestfriendthe               "nthemooseisaZeus
      Aruler,amaster,aboss'mongst                      """""heetrees
       Asanimalsgo,thefinesttome                                  """""
     Thestrongest,thebestyou'll         see                            
     Ithinkyouwillsimplyhavetoa        gree                            
     Thatthemooseisatreasure,acr     ucialkey                            

    (…hope the formatting works…)

  22. bxpoetlover

    I Don’t Have Any

    Some things are not meant
    to be possessed.

    Clean, sexy, strong
    hunts alone.
    Cannot taste sweetness.
    but can kill a cobra
    if pressed.

    If there is such a thing as reincarnation
    send me back as a cat.

  23. Penny Henderson


    I cannot fathom the flight of words.
    I don’t know where they go from here.
    They rise from the page like trembling birds
    but where they settle is unclear.
    They may drop cargo like bomber planes,
    causing lives to go up in flames.

    Perhaps they bring dew to douse the flames.
    Nothing soothes like perfect words,
    beaming like blooms on a flowery plain,
    singing a song I can almost hear.
    The whole picture wobbles, becomes unclear.
    lifting, settling schizophrenic birds.

    Not all words go flapping like birds,
    nor rocket toward incendiary flames.
    Some obscure detail, made vistas unclear.
    If you want to confuse, my dear use words.
    Paste them on, first over there, then here.
    They’ll create fog like crop duster planes.

    Like Euclidean geometric planes,
    a three point vee of flying birds
    shifts perspective, brings awe and fear,
    each goose a word, wings fanning the flames
    soon incinerating the words
    you wrote to shine out crystal clear.

    But persevere, tho’ the way is unclear.
    There’ll be another shifting of planes.
    Down from heaven will rain the words,
    not dumping crap like naughty birds,
    but feeding the mind’s creative flames
    with lyrics the ear can almost hear.

    The reign of faith will settle here.
    Nothing will remain unclear.
    Doubt and fear go down in flames.
    Hope will rise on the wings of a plane,
    not flapping about like hapless bird,
    but fed by the jet fueled power of words.

    So take your words and float them here
    like birds whose fortune is unclear.
    Trust the rusty cargo plane will not end in futile flames.

  24. Anders Bylund

    If I Were Ready
    If I were ready for it
    I would have told you

    If I were ready for it
    You would have known

    If I were ready for it
    I wouldn’t scold you

    If I were ready for it
    There’d be no, “Don’t!”

  25. Louise Findlay

    Title: The Wolf

    The Wolf, stands, snarling wide,
    Jaws to crush your foes.

    The Wolf, stands, ready to pounce,
    Claws to tear your foes.

    The Wolf, stands, ready to sink,
    Teeth into a jugular.

    The Wolf, stands, ready to fight,
    To the death and beyond.

  26. cdonnelltx@yahoo.com


    I sat upon a grassy hill, beneath a spreading oak
    and watched as autumn sunlight turned green leaves to burnished gold.

    A bubbling stream ran at my feet, its soothing sounds did flow.
    The cool clean air did fill my lungs, refreshing flesh and soul.

    A crackling in the brush did cause the reverie to end.
    My eyes sought out the noise’s source and spied the russet skin.

    The Lord of forest dark and deep did pause to view his realm.
    He turned and contemplated me with head, imperial.

    I gazed into his sable eyes and saw my own face pale.
    He showed me then the hunters’ guns defaming glen and vale.

    I shed one tear, and as I stared into those regal orbs,
    I swear to you, I saw there too, a drop in his eye form.

    And for one timeless moment two united in that wood.
    Our minds, our hearts, our souls did blend. At last, I understood.

    I heard a shot ring from the west. “Go, run the other way.”
    I shouted, pointing to the east to try to aid escape.

    But sportsmen had their way today. Mere contest was their goal.
    Those antlers, just a prize to place for viewing on a wall.

    I went to see that royal head, to pay my last respects.
    For one brief instant, I did wish the hunter’s there instead.

  27. horselovernat

    The Beauty of Wolves by Natalie Gasper

    There is nothing more beautiful
    than the unbridled power
    of a pack of wolves.
    They spend much time running
    as a group, always following
    their leader because it is in their nature

    to do so. It is not natural
    for these creatures to see the so-called beauty
    of domestication, as they have no reason to follow
    mankind. While we may have great power,
    humans so often choose to run
    in the face of danger, unlike a wolf

    who will always fight. Understanding wolves
    gives one a deeper insight into nature.
    Just imagine the freedom of running
    alone in the woods with a beautiful
    sunrise there to power
    every step along the path being followed.

    But few things that are wild ever follow
    a path. Especially not a wolf,
    with his keen instincts and powerful
    muscles. Sometimes solitary in nature,
    these animals will stand alone on a cliff, howling at the beauty
    of the moon, wishing to run

    alongside her. Watching them run
    can be an eerie sight when they follow
    the scent of deer. Such a beauteous
    thing, to witness a pack of wolves
    as they succumb to their more violent nature
    of being hunters. No match for the power

    in their jaws, their prey will undoubtedly fall. The true power
    of wolves lies in the strength of their spirits, always running
    like they are the pure heart of all nature.
    Kings of their world, it is hard not to follow
    them and do as they do, for a wolf
    is superior in his beauty.

    There is great beauty, fierceness, and unrestrained power
    to be seen in the eyes of a wolf, as he so freely and graciously runs,
    following only his wild inner nature.

  28. Jay Sizemore


    Downtown is a blood-clotted cluster of veins,
    where light is pollution and the sky never blue,
    every hillside quiet as a grave,
    waiting for something, anything to break,
    to feel that dampness on the edge of the wind,
    memory smothered with a shopping mall.

    There’s a monster, a wad of cash in its maw,
    an arrow in its throat like a bad weather vane
    oblivious to the direction of the wind,
    everything dying, born to be blue,
    comfortable in slate as the storm cloud breaks
    turning all young faces into open graves.

    Time existed before a clock face engraved,
    that presence acting on all surfaces like a maul,
    pounding, relentless until they crack and they break
    an eventuality that makes individuality vain,
    why every bird only seems to sing the blues,
    and every wild thing needs a window.

    An old watch will eventually need winding,
    as the joints of giants are grinding into gravel,
    the hottest stars are burning bright blue
    so far away their beauty is a ghost mallet
    leaving an echo where meaning taps its vein,
    bulldozer drivers taking their foot off the brake.

    The modern age can’t stop to take a break,
    to wonder where all the breathable air went,
    it would destroy the moon to find a precious vein
    and tell children to make their wishes graves.
    Behind every parking lot there’s a skyscraper mal-
    ignance, saying sapphires in the sea keep it blue.

    The ice caps melted before the volcano blew,
    and the eruption lit the night like an early dawn breaking.
    These warnings of repetition fall on ears malformed,
    as miles of concrete grow to outnumber the wind,
    all earth removed part of an unmarked grave
    where falling acid rain whispers the words, “in vain.”

    The needle in the vein was always full of wind,
    without green a malicious shade of deoxygenated blue,
    a promise that the grave could never break.

  29. Michelle Murrish

    The Butterfly

    By Michelle Murrish

    I still remember my amazement
    Staring up at rows and row of frames
    Each housing a beautiful creature
    Wings pinned, bodies frozen, under glass

    I told myself they were sleeping
    Holding still so an artist could paint
    My young heart wasn’t ready for the truth;
    That science leaves death in its wake

  30. Mickie Lynn

    Hen House

    The fox
    and the man
    are constantly fighting their
    battle over the board
    with a hole in it, that leaves open access to the house
    that holds precious chickens in black, white, and red.

    Perhaps you have read
    of this clever fox,
    who will so often house
    desire for all that is most precious to the man:
    plump creatures of generosity, love, and attention that he will board
    in his soul; trying to keep safe his heart, that also lives there.

    His chickens, they’re
    cherished, especially the beating red
    heart, but he is willing to share. She is bored
    and will eat all he has to give. Then this fox
    will leave the man
    broken and hollow in his empty house.

    All that was kept in the house,
    the kindness, the passion, the time that abide there,
    were meant to nourish everyone special to the man.
    The slick, slender vulpine with hair of red,
    the sexy, alluring fox
    destroyed the man when he allowed entrance through his board.

    The hole in the board
    is lust, a yearning that leaves the house
    vulnerable to crafty felines, and the fox
    takes advantage of this weakness. She squirms in there
    to tear the insides into bloody entrails of red
    ragged scraps of what was once a whole man.

    It is not the ultimate ending for the man.
    He can repair the board
    and paint the walls red
    to heal the house
    and carefully guard who enters there
    avoiding those like the fox.

    The battle of the fox for the essence of the man,
    they’re the fierce gnashing of teeth against that which is bored
    deep into the house painted red.

  31. drwasy

    A Song My Flute Plays

    The song of the hawk,
    a thin keen, pierces the spirit;
    on my flute the notes soar.
    The white hare
    delves below brush to burrow
    until the safety of night.

    In deepest night
    no one fears the hawk;
    night itself is a kind of burial,
    a space to shelve the spirit
    until sunbreak, when the hare
    and I look for shadows to what soars.

    On wind my song soars
    but notes deaden in the night.
    My flute trembles for the hare,
    heralds the circling hawk:
    his omniscient spirit
    seeks those who burrow.

    Night and denial are burials
    of sorts; only breath makes my song soar.
    It takes breath to summon spirit
    and courage to stay the night,
    even for the hawk
    when he sleeps like the hare.

    A timid trickster, the hare’s
    magic makes his burrow.
    There, he hides from the hawk
    who sees through clouds as he soars
    an avian knight.
    The high cry of the hawk pierces all spirits.

    My flute honors the spirit;
    the dried bones of the hare
    gleam in purpling night.
    Kits tremble in their cold burrow;
    their mother, like stars, soar
    higher than flute and hawk.

    Our hawk hearts are life spirit;
    we sing always to soar, but our hare
    heart buries, afraid in the night.

    Animals? A sestina? It didn’t gel for me until I started playing my native American flute. Needs a lot of work, but I put the sestina up there with water torture! Peace…

  32. gloryia

    Complex . . .

    You look at me with the saddest eyes
    You listen hard to my replies
    You answer when I call your name
    You sleep, you eat, you never complain
    I love you, yes I really do
    I love to spend my time with you
    You brighten up my every day
    I’m glad you’re here, here to stay
    The only thing that bothers me
    Is when you wag your tail so free
    I thought it love, but can it be
    If you wag for every one you see
    I think I’m beginning to recognise
    That sad, sad look is your disguise
    I don’t know you, no not at all
    I’m just a sentimental fool
    As each day you teach me
    How complex a dog like you can be.

  33. Alaska Christina

    And as the sun rises, I lean in to the light
    Ever-lengthening rays of spring
    Grounding me gently, firmly
    Planting roots down deep in to warming soils
    This heart reaching ever upward
    A song of thanks, whispering caught on the wind
    Carried beyond the horizon, beyond the clouds
    Dancing, rising, soaring
    Throat caught in the soft belly of my animal human
    Upward into the ebb and flow of all that was, all that is, all that will ever be

  34. shethra77

    Carpenter Bee

    She hangs onto petals with all six feet,
    (no hive for this lone mother)
    bobs the flower in the evening breeze,
    rocks herself to sleep.

    All day she chews out holes in wood–
    a sheltered spot to keep her eggs–
    gathers pollen, packs it in.
    Her babes will want for nothing.

    She guards her chosen chunks of wood
    from any wasps, from animals,
    hovering, humming, vigilant,
    and knows I’ll never hurt her.

    We have an understanding
    from conversing days before
    neither harms the other
    while she’s buzzing ‘round my door.

  35. taylor graham


    On my climb back up the hill,
    hay-rake over my shoulder, bucket
    of coarse-salt in hand, I see
    his prick-ears high on the slope above
    me, his head raised in alert. He’s
    on guard to keep me out of danger.
    He’s got the best view from up there,
    he can see a threat coming
    from a quarter mile away. Besides,
    he knows it’s a long walk down
    to the hayfield and an even longer,
    steeper way back up. He’s
    getting old. Shepherd-dogs don’t
    accept retirement, but they learn how
    to manage their job. Efficiency,
    patience. He waits till I round
    the curve, then he hitches himself
    up, stands at attention. Greets me,
    tail wagging. So glad he was
    able to keep me safe.

  36. Kit Cooley

    Still working on my animal sestina (farm work and freelance writing/editing clients are demanding my attention right now). Here’s a fun little poem, inspired by the lambs of April.


    Every one of the ewes is eating hay,
    not yet aware of what comes their way,
    nap time is over, nine babes have stood
    up from the bower at the edge of the wood.
    Ears are twitching and little hooves prance,
    brown, white, and black, all begin to dance.
    Running through the trees, now they gain speed,
    Look out, mamas! Here comes a lamb-pede!

    ~ Kit Cooley

  37. J.lynn Sheridan

    “Dogs of Yesteryear”

    After he locks the doors and the night settles around him like a thick taste of black licorice, and his feet
    are bound between oak and cotton, and his teeth are still rattling in the glass in the bathroom, she lifts the chain, her night gown in a shimmy to her knees, one sneaker untied, right foot on the concrete cold and entertaining. Gray-teethed callings and a midnight romp to the park, a twirl around the merry-go-round while searching for the lost schnauzers whose bones reside in a jar in a box in the basement in a layer of dust.

    The chill is in the empty calls.

    The joy is in play of lost memories and mind.

    But fear is mine alone to tarnish when she wanders far from home.

  38. ToniBee3


    Stunning segmented sand-lover silently spectates
    Craving the colossal centipede clearing the cave.
    Once the opportunity opens,
    Rushing through rocks and rubble —
    Pinch… puncture… paralyze!
    Imploding innards are imbibed.
    Other opponents observe this occurrence.

  39. BezBawni

    Doggy Life

    My limbs hurt, it’s hard to stretch.
    I wonder if in spite of my dark-brown skin
    anyone can see a smile on my face.
    No, I’m not happy, I’m catching my breath;
    I’ve only escaped death because I can run.
    It’s not the first time I lick the wet ground.

    But at this very moment when I’ve ground
    my teeth to sand, I’m glad, in the short run,
    that I’m alive. Under my ragged breath
    I whisper to passing feet, ‘In your face!’
    I still have pride, a few spare knees to skin,
    and staying alive isn’t much of a stretch.

    Some would think I’m cute, but still waters run
    deep inside me, where nothing, not a breath
    of wind stirs them. I know my lovely face
    doesn’t look mean, more than once it saved my skin,
    but to say I’m harmless is quite a stretch;
    I could chase a wild cat into the ground.

    It’s always been like this, from my first breath,
    from the moment my mom’s tongue touched my face,
    and I nuzzled her belly, soaked to skin;
    hands tore me away, and hours at a stretch
    I lay hungry and blind on frozen ground.
    When found by some stray female on the run,

    shaking, I grabbed a nipple and stuffed my face
    till my stomach hurt and the tender skin
    on my gammon felt raw, but by no stretch
    I was able, or was going, to give ground.
    I lived, and before I could walk, I’d run
    until I would collapse, gasping for breath.

    I let nobody get under my skin,
    it’s thick enough and not easy to stretch.
    Life taught me to keep my ear to the ground,
    I’m so good, were I human I could run
    for office, but I’d rather save my breath
    and be a dog till I’m blue in the face.

    When I’m finally on the home stretch, alive by the skin
    of my teeth, in one breath hundreds of doors slammed in my face,
    I’ll take the high ground and howl that I’ve had a great run.
    by Lucretia Amstell

  40. Puja


    She resorts to shade
    and resigns to sun
    Her day will fade
    Just as it has begun
    Amidst tyres, she plops, like a wilted flower
    Post our lunchtime begins her happy hour

    Hasn’t wagged in forever
    Her eyes have no spark
    Don’t think I’ve ever
    even heard her bark
    Did the years claim that jump in her gait?
    Did her affectionate licks meet a listless fate?

    Obediently, she pursues
    your lunch remains pile
    How tragically she’s reduced
    to a species more docile
    And you feel so noble watching her graze
    An ecru mongrel living her ecru days

    When we retire
    from fighting life’s battles
    And all of us sires
    are reduced to cattle
    Would we ask ourselves at the end of our strife
    whether we could achieve living a dog’s life?

  41. David Walker

    Buzzfeed Quizes

    Oh what knowledge we attain
    from thee. Facts and qualities

    we had no idea we wanted or
    cared to know about ourselves –

    and still the ever-ambiguous
    titled quizzes that cause us pause

    and rereading to fully grasp
    exactly what it is we are venturing

    down when we come across you
    on our Facebook feed. What is

    Your Inner Potato? Which Celebrity
    Should You Hook Up With? And

    my favorite: What Is Your Spirit
    Animal? Easy. The Chinese Zodiac

    tells me that I am the over-sensitive
    crab – at least the placemats at

    the restaurant do – but you, Buzzfeed
    Quiz, have a different take on the matter.

    Darting from the unrelated question
    about my guilty pleasure food

    to the unrelated question concerning
    my favorite movie genre to even

    more confounding queries, you have
    deemed me The Hedgehog. And

    while I appreciate your flattery
    of my intelligence, no fool would

    give up pinchers for pins.

  42. Mustang Sal

    Make Up Your Mind

    Life is like a sestina, with each part
    self-contained, a story in its own right,
    but flowing together line after line,
    year after year, with repeating words
    and themes all adding up to a larger truth,
    ending in envoi. But then again, no.

    Maybe life is a novel. We all know
    it’s not laid out in neat seasons, each part
    exactly the same length or meter. The truth
    is some sections are longer, some downright
    short – thank God for that. If the bad words
    were longer, we wouldn’t make it to the finish line.

    Speaking of bad times, I’m thinking when I line
    up everything in my life – I don’t know –
    it’s more like a test essay, every word
    you sweat over, making the first part
    ever so enticing and then you write
    and write and write and hope you end up with truth.

    But then again, now that I’ve mentioned truth,
    what’s truer than a picture with a line
    or two added for fun in just the right
    places. A picture book – it’s clear now. No
    tome of just print can tell every part
    of a story. Still, if the perfect word

    came along, I could find another word,
    a rhyming word and put it to song. Truth
    be told, I could come up with a chorus, part
    of my life a refrain, a repeating line
    after each new verse. Oh there is no
    better form for my life than a song. Right

    now though, I’m not feeling rhymey. I’ll write
    down my thoughts without sing-songing a word.
    Because they say writers should write what they know,
    I have a feeling that unvarnished truth
    doesn’t care about rhyme, rhythm, or line,
    but spills out in free verse – in words strung apart.

    I guess there’s no write way to box up the truth.
    I’ll start word by word and then line by line.
    Just know that a life is so hard to impart.

  43. madeline40

    Meeting of Their Minds

    Hundreds of zebra and wildebeest
    march toward the Mara River
    in long straight lines.
    Their mission, to cross over
    to the wet side, as they do
    every six months or so.

    They step to water’s edge
    stop, look down, and watch
    as one lone zebra gets in
    and makes it over
    after kicking its heel
    out of a waiting croc’s mouth.

    The others discuss
    in shriek-y honks, hooves kicking up
    dust on the ground about when
    and at which point along the river’s edge
    they’ll gather enough nerve
    to take the chance.

    They don’t speak the same language
    yet, heads nod in agreement
    as they walk en masse in one direction
    then to the other,
    deciding which is the safest spot
    to outwit the crocs watching their prey.

    A few zebras, the nominal leaders,
    step toward water’s edge.
    They turn, they walk back and forth,
    back and forth, the others follow.
    They return to starting point one,
    stop to wait out the crocs again.

  44. PSC in CT

    Wild Animals

    It starts out simply enough:
    a week off from school – two cousins,
    of like mind, seeking companionship,
    playing friendly games for hours –
    social otters keeping company.

    But boredom sets in:
    curious competitions ensue,
    agreement evolves into discussion;
    entertainment escalates, and soon
    two chimpanzees commence
    to making mischief.

    Before long, dialog diminishes,
    volume intensifies, debate turns into argument.
    Squabble erupts into bicker, lambaste and brawl
    and two flying monkeys
    emerge shrieking,
    wreaking havoc.


  45. BDP

    A little late to add this, but I really like your sestina, Robert. It keeps playing around in my head in an enjoyable way. Platypus, cheetah and horse!

  46. bookworm0341

    “Love is Black and White”

    Our Country’s Capitol
    Was where I first
    Laid eyes on you
    Love at first sight
    As plain as black and white
    There you were
    Starring right back at me
    From behind the bamboo.

    Mei Xiang,
    you and Tian Tian
    Are a symbol of life,
    An emblem of survival,
    A sign of friendship
    I’d love to visit
    your natural habitat,
    But China is so very far
    I am so glad that you
    Immigrated my way.

    By Jennifer M. Terry
    April 13, 2014

  47. Heidi


    The day the dog dies
    is the day I’ll start carrying
    my gun.

    I prefer his wet
    nose to the cold, steel barrel and
    one word

    that protects me from
    thugs, and housewives snaked into thieves,

    from neighbors, rings off
    fingers, and purses in parking
    lots full.

    “Yes ma’am. One word and
    your hand is gone. He listens and

    Not that I’d give The
    Command to thieves, his look alone

    Child molesters and
    murderers beware! The Command
    I’ll loose.

    The day the dog dies
    is the day I’ll find a new pup-
    py trained.

    Heidi R. de Contreras

  48. Scribbling Sue


    A regal feline, with fine coat of fur,
    Disdainful of the dog with dirty paws,
    May look at a queen, so we sometimes hear.
    The jungle king can easily overpower
    With claws as sharp as sabres, while his prey
    Will struggle to escape with all its might.

    Vanity drives them; but a lion might
    Lie down with a lamb, lay his clean, soft fur
    Against this shaggy, woolly-coated prey,
    He, yawning sleepily, decides to pause
    His killing instinct, switch off the power,
    Become a guardian of his frail foe here.

    I pity that poor lamb if it should hear
    The lion’s roar, for leg or lamb chops might
    Be on the menu. Softly padded paws
    Unleash their savage weapons of power
    And, in the flurry of lamb’s wool and fur,
    Poor bleating lamb succumbs; king swallows prey.

    Speaking of swallows, now is when I pray
    To see these jet-like birds return home here
    In April. None so far this year, but might
    Be, must be, on their way, and so I pause
    A moment to recall Zoe, our fur
    Ball of soft, fluffy black and white power.

    How far swallows fly! What staying power!
    Most undeserving to end up as prey!
    One flexed its wings, left Africa and might
    Have built its nest and raised its family here,
    Were it not for our ball of feline fur
    In our bathroom window with outstretched paws.

    Their innocent faces, soft killing paws,
    Double act of love and death, cats’ power
    To enthrall me still endures, though I might
    Be sometimes angry at their choice of prey,
    All anger flies swiftly when I hear
    Self-satisfied purring from regal fur.

    So, sovereign cat, with soft fur-coated power,
    Before I hear you next attack your prey,
    Consider, please, the might held in your paws!

    Suzanne Lalor
    13th April 2014

  49. sbpoet


    On the afternoon of the morning
    my neighbor showed off his new slingshot

    I find a dead squirrel stiffening in the grass.

    Is she someone I know? Did she grow up
    with her siblings at my backyard feeder?

    The nick on her ear seems familiar, but then
    my neighbor and I, we are human and she

    was just another animal.

    ~ sharon brogan

  50. Angela

    I know this was last week but here is my sestina:


    She has the most beautiful chocolate eyes
    And, to go with them, an understanding mouth
    Dimple filled and crimsonly stained cheeks,
    And fragile, loving hands
    A loving but still cautious heart
    And a safe, inked, and scarred body

    Scarred with heartbreaking stories on that beautiful body
    Caused by the chaos seen by her chocolate eyes
    Too much destruction to hold together her heart
    Too much slander spoken from an ugly masculine mouth
    As the blade felt belonging in her hands
    The forbidden tears rolled down her cheeks

    They graciously bore witness, those lucky, lucky cheeks
    As the tears poured out, so did the blood from her body
    With regret filled and shaky hands
    She physically photographed and mentally captured the pain with her eyes
    As the heart wrenching screams of abandonment poured out of her mouth
    The walls continued to cement around her heart

    As this broken little girl cried, so did her heart
    The burning sensation hurt her cheeks
    And tired from the wails “I refuse to speak” said her mouth
    Filled with pain and irritation “please stop” said her body
    Raw, glued shut, and bloodshot were those sad chocolate eyes
    They finally stopped, those strong, brave, rebellious hands

    Pinky promised their perfect match to never hurt again, did her hands
    Open and receptive for love was now her heart
    For the first time gentleness was felt by her eyes
    And kissed so gingerly were her flushed dimpled cheeks
    All because of the desperate cries made from her injured body
    And her more than willing to comply mouth

    Mine, equally exhausted, finally met her mouth
    Mine, now equally strong, met her loving hands
    Mine, equally scarred, lies freely upon her now safe and inked body
    Mine, filled with love for her, is living harmoniously with her heart
    Mine, crimsonly stained as well, now brushes upon her cheeks
    And mine, locked into that delicious gaze, have finally met her chocolate eyes

    My safe body is home for her cautiously loving heart
    Her understanding mouth kisses the scars on my hands
    And her dimple covered cheeks will forever be seen by my hazel eyes

    ~Angela Perrin

  51. Poetess

    Misogyny Man Fear

    Scoff and roll your eyes
    Bristled at my being
    You began to feed on me
    A mockery I was seeing

    The fraud of you who?
    So unique you’re not
    You’re just a simulation
    Of a replica I forgot

    Mad misogyny man
    Animal raping emotion
    Devouring over and over
    The object of your devotion

    A piece of fiction you are
    In your no man’s land
    Sneering and sniping
    You think you’re so grand

    You died long ago
    A zombie your likeness
    Permanently grieving
    Invading others’ brightness

    Pathetic and faceless
    You perpetuate abuse
    You are the currency
    They the supply of misuse

    The monster lurking
    Sadistic self inside
    Psychologically penetrating
    Those who cannot hide

    A pitiful persona prison
    Wounded animal clear
    Unable to save it
    Misogyny man fear

  52. Phil Boiarski

    All the tricks
    are forgotten.
    The favorite treat
    won’t get a beg
    or even a roll over.
    If a thief should
    come in the night
    there’d be not bark
    and, of course,no bite.
    It’s not fair, I know,
    but can’t remember why.

  53. Kimiko Martinez

    I’m no glutton for punishment. No sestinas for me!

    Here’s my attempt for today:


    We teach them to hunt
    packs of brothers
    praying they won’t have to

    use what they’ve learned, but
    knowing full well
    that one day they will

    kill without hesitation
    and hope they
    never hunger for that power

  54. Aberdeen Lane

    you said wild horses wouldn’t drag you away
    but you couldn’t hold them back
    so you run with the horses
    fly by day
    fly by night

    I thought I didn’t want wild horses to drag you away
    and I’m glad you couldn’t hold them back
    I watch you run with the horses
    spry by day
    spry by night

    It turns out I have some wild horses of my own
    yet we always meet at the crossing
    we speak of our horses and unwind
    fly by day
    spry by night

  55. KiManou

    My first attempt at a Sestina…not about animals…random words chosen chosen by my sisters…

    The place smelled of smashed ginger
    I sat comfortably, watched him peel a mango
    my taste buds simmering with passion
    I turn away, look up into the sky
    heaven above, earth below, is this love?
    every nuance, I had no expectation

    I put a bronze hat on my expectation
    became the fragrance of ginger
    reveled in the lure of love
    savored juices of sweet-sour mango
    we eclipse in the light of the sky
    the atmosphere was passion

    Incense burning fragrant passion
    flames exceeding my expectation
    out of body we drift into the clear blue sky
    bodies essence of lemon and ginger
    kisses tasting of succulent mango
    this is exotic fervent love

    Drowning, deeper than love
    I grip him with tender compassion
    amid the tropical, my lips ripe like mango
    he is my greatest expectation
    spicy like ginger
    no roots, we transcend in the orange sky

    Sun sets, moon rises, there is rest in the sky
    he lays beside me, his love
    disintegrates like powered ginger
    pausing from our play of passion
    souls waiting in expectation
    care free, relishing our resinous mango

    A jolt of living love from a slice of mango
    a glance of infinity in the sky
    uniting in endless expectation
    suspended in boundless love
    satiated in tranquilized passion
    exposed, refreshed in a bath of ginger

    Sipping on tea & ginger, in the aroma of mango
    Dancing in passion, to ribbons in the sky
    This pure love travels us to the apogee of all expectation


  56. nmbell

    The Horse

    Horse is my totem animal
    My guide through the mysteries
    Offering me courage
    And greatness of heart

    Demonstrating unconditional forgiveness
    Willingness to serve with unquestioning loyalty
    Power, strength and bravery without end
    Wrapped with gentleness and kindness

    I can only hope to become
    Half the Spirit that Horse already is

    Nancy Bell 2014

  57. kevinwiatrowski

    The black dog walks beside me
    From home, then coming back
    The click of claws on concrete
    The leash between us slack

    This route we take routinely
    Through pools of yellow light
    That illuminate quiet streets
    And wash away the night

    Beyond the electric veil
    The hunter and his hounds
    Chase their prey across the sky
    Forever together bound

    The bear, the hare, the red-eyed bull
    The crab, the ram, the lion
    Ancient when the earth was new
    New each night to someone

    Separate yet together
    We walk without a sound
    One with his eyes cast skyward
    The other nose to ground
    We don’t hunt enormous beasts
    No giants stalk our town
    We seek scents and silence
    Both elusive ‘til they’re found

    Under Canis Major’s eye
    Frogs trill somewhere unseen
    Bats flit beneath the streetlights
    Toads stake out warm concrete

    I walk beside the black dog
    The leash between us slack
    Our quiet task accomplished
    Our journey rounding back

    Our routine route has led us
    Around and home at last
    The hunter too heads for home
    His season once more past

  58. briehuling

    April 13, 2014

    Day 13

    this poem is an animal

    This poem is alive
    it’s got a tail and two eyes
    dirty feet and poops
    anywhere it wants to.

    This poem is breathing
    rapid, urgent little breaths–
    two nostrils and a wet nose, it
    inhales, exhales, likes what it smells.

    This poem is running
    on four legs through the dirt
    after a shadow or shape
    it’s not sure it’s actually even seen.

    This poem is in heat
    it’s female and beautiful
    and wants it right now and bad
    like vacation sex bad.

    This poem is in love
    it’s found the mate it was searching for
    and won’t let go until
    until it can howl the word family and mean it.

    By Brie Huling

  59. Nanamaxtwo

    Animal Sestina

    The challenges of chickens in the suburbs remain
    to be their lack of subtlety and need to scratch
    looking for protein in the grass, and where the grass
    has been scratched into oblivion, they proceed to search the ground
    toeing up grub or worm to augment the grain
    you feed them from a bag poured into a bucket round

    except where the car’s tire–effectively round–
    ran over the bucket leaving the bottom to remain
    supporting the sides, functional without a scratch
    except for the slightly concave side. Moving the chickens to another area of grass
    allows you time to rake and reseed the ground
    they macerated the days you neglected to feed them grain.

    Standing in the big box store pondering seed, you wish the grain
    had been closer to the back door where you would have seen it without going round
    the back of the garage, ducking under the dilapidated overhang where the grain will remain
    until you clear the garage interior of Christmas decorations, broken bicycle parts and scratch
    your arm on the rake stuck handle down in a barrel while you are distracted thinking about the grass,
    and how to explain to your landlord his lawn bears pockets of bare ground.

    You also ponder your reasons for raising chickens considering the lack of eggs and your thinking to be self-sufficient will be ground
    into oblivion when the landlord raises your rent and the cost of grain
    further increases thanks to drought in the Midwest where they have acreage to install round
    irrigation booms while you remain
    here in the suburbs feeding six stupid chickens who don’t lay eggs and only know to peck and scratch,
    making work for you to replace the landlord’s grass,

    grass you are tired of watering and mowing and grass
    you wouldn’t need to consider if your wife had agreed to the condo the ground
    of which is cared for by a commercial company, who also shovel the snow. The chicken’s grain
    could either stay in the store or rot in the round
    bucket where it would remain
    and you wouldn’t need to worry what they ate or where they chose to scratch.

    Conclusion: chickens should remain countrified where they can scratch
    whatever grass they find, or poke at beetles on the ground,
    or peck for every single grain or seed that brings their egg laying round.

  60. Grey_Ay

    Cleaning Paws

    “Oh, what is this?”
    said the mother cat
    to the kit who washed
    her toes.

    “You cannot be
    a prissy girl
    if you hunt in gardens,

    Licks. “But mother,”
    said the little kit,
    “no huntress life
    for me.”

    “For I have found
    a human friend,
    and a house cat I
    will be!”

    -A. Ault-

  61. stargypsy

    Tried all day to log in yesterday — 3rd time I have had contact support to be able to log into this site. Here is my poem for Day 13.


    She is a beauty
    Black curling mane
    and feathers
    on her feet

    Running wild
    and brave
    and free

    She is called

    Copyright © 2014 Annie – Original Poetry
    Always…I wish you peace, joy and happiness, but most of all I wish you Love.
    As Ever, Annie

  62. LizMac

    The Fall of Pride and Prejudice

    The horse looks at me with triumph in its eye
    While I shrink deeper into failure;
    It knows this and watches, unsurprised.

    First, I will myself to stand
    Ride the pain of bruised bones and deepening doubt
    As I struggle to reassert my two-leg advantage.

    Still, the horse watches, skeptically;
    And I’m not yet ready to fully meet its gaze
    As I scan my body and spirit for signs of critical injury.

    It snorts with laughter, pawing the ground,
    Unconvinced by the unsteady creature before it;
    Then turns, unconcerned (yet curious), to graze.

    This is it, I decide – the moment of truce
    With little but shattered dignity and battered determination
    To approach this tower of deft and dense magnificence
    That so recently dwarfed my own assumptions.

    Seizing the reigns and grasping the saddle,
    The horse thrusts up its head wild and amazed,
    Yet did I just imagine a startled reevaluation
    Flash faintly through those voluminous eyes?

    The merest touch, and both creatures suddenly fly
    Carried forward in new, if tentative, respect:
    A new willingness to understand and reconsider
    The nature of this strange relationship.

  63. Mark Danowsky

    “I’m dead at x and y coordinates,”

    the Doctor says. He is leading
    a study about moose overrun by ticks.
    “You can get 100,000 ticks on a moose”
    corroborates the biologist with the Game Dept.
    The article’s author tells us moose-
    watching is a “$115-million-a-year business”—
    but it’s not just about watching.
    Three years ago, we created the first heart
    that does not beat. So you can live now
    without a pulse. When the heart
    of a tagged moose dies—it texts
    to let researchers know where to go
    because there is precious little time.
    They say ticks drive moose to madness
    leading some to do what captive animals do
    earning the nickname ghost moose—a sign
    moose won’t make it through winter.

  64. emmaisan0wl

    Animal Electromagnetism
    “here’s a fact: every day,
    your body makes
    300 billion new cells.
    that’s three times
    the number of galaxies
    in the universe.
    here’s a fact: you are
    animal. you are skin
    and flesh
    and blood
    and bone.
    you are instinct.
    you are fight
    or flight.

    here’s a fact: 40% of your cells
    were formed in the heart
    of a star.
    you are nuclear.
    just think; long ago,
    someone may have made a wish
    on a star that created you.

    here’s a fact:

    your very existence
    is magnificent.”

  65. DanielAri

    “Salamander Sestina”

    As the colloidal creature crawls across my hand
    I’m back in that photo—blowing the dandelion, a child
    subsumed by a Missouri sky and the gentle ribbons
    of seed going where I can’t see anymore, into green
    into up and down, past and future, hot and cold—
    its feet on my skin, melody of nature, a silver flute.

    The flat head, the black eyes, the body moist as a flute
    of champagne circumnavigates my turning hand,
    turning it cold, reminding me amphibians run on cold
    blood and no bellybuttons. The salamander child
    is a tinge of the green, enveloped in the green.
    Salamander children swerve their lengthening ribbons,

    and my daughter, her hair in cloth and grass ribbons,
    is down by the pond’s edge, the piper with the flute
    hands, coaxing five, eight, a dozen dark lines from green
    and orange depth. Without reaching, they come to hand,
    as though not to find food but to find the child.
    In time her hands become as smooth and cold

    as the pond water. Now the sun’s up it isn’t too cold.
    Chris has shed his jacket and unfurls ribbons
    of melody into the meadow, skipping like a child
    or Fred Astaire in “Finian’s Rainbow,” piping a tin flute,
    piping even as his eyebrows rise looking at the hand
    turning and turning for the orange and green

    creature. Chris goes to fetch the rest from the green
    meadow where they rest and shed the prior night’s cold.
    My daughter lets one go and another comes to her hand.
    The others come to the pond to see, all wearing ribbons
    of meadow green and orange in their hair. Now I flute
    on my thumbs and a blade of grass, as I did as a child.

    The grass stalks are children. The spawning pond is a child.
    Her hands are green. The curving pond wall is green.
    The salamanders emerge like tarnished silver flutes.
    from the murk, and every one of us who feels the cold
    trail of their feet exclaims in wonder, and ribbons
    of breath sing upward as we turn and turn our hands

    to continue the path of children who come vital from the cold,
    emissaries of green and orange who hover like saturated ribbons
    of melody sung from a flute, tickled by huge and tiny hands.

  66. jean2dubois

    by Jean Dubois

    when I was a kid I was scared
    to death of dogs even the one
    that lay on the rug at Uncle Parks’
    house never did much but
    look longingly up at me fix
    his big brown eyes on mine

    the summer I lived there with Parks
    Parks and Aunt Ruth and her mother
    he tried to get me to liking dogs
    Parks was a big square Swede
    hair the color of straw standing
    straight up from his forehead

    a man you could trust but no one
    could tell me that dogs were OK
    so he taught me survival skills
    rule 1 don’t let the dog
    know you’re afraid this is basic
    rule 2 stand your ground

    rule 3 stretch out your hand to him
    in a friendly way palm up and
    let him lick it and these rules will
    always work and they always have
    even in Newport Oregon
    that awful awful day

    while sitting in my Subaru
    watching a beautiful orange and
    puple sunset an ugly dog
    a tremendous dog a
    carmel-colored black-faced Mastiff
    broke away from his master

    ran to my car stuck his head through
    the open window I could tell
    by the look on his master’s face
    he wasn’t sure if his
    hound would lick my cheek or bite off
    my nose nor did I but

    followed rule 1 do not let the
    dog know you are afraid rule 2
    stand or in this case sit your ground
    rule 3 did not apply
    for he slathered my face slathered
    my face with his grainy tongue

    when it was over when the hound
    master had got the dog to heel
    when I got the car window shut
    I collapsed on the wheel
    shaking shaking shaking shaking
    meanwhile the hound master

    slunk across the parking lot got
    into his car and drove away
    no word spoken neither he nor I
    how could we have left it so
    I still tremble in my heart and
    he must fear what I might do

    who I might report him to
    we needed to resolve this now
    he should have manned up and said I’m
    sorry Ma’am I shouldn’ta
    let my dawg get loose like that
    I’dve had the chance then to

    pretend it was allright and say
    oh don’t worry it’s OK one
    of those things no harm done none not
    so but this I swear is true
    I’dve never got through Dog Day
    without rules 1 and 2

  67. LauraLynn


    Single and speckled a chicken
    passed my porch today.

    Mrs. Shay raises pullets down the road;
    this one escaped — flew the coop —
    spontaneous and instinctive,
    it tapped its way among my azaleas.
    Harmless. Witless.

    Suddenly, the bird enraged me.
    Haughty strut and absurd pecking.
    I wanted to
    get the hatchet and watch the headless
    fucker run
    to collapse in a heap of death.

  68. ambermarie

    Black Widow Ring

    The darkness stopped the bloodflow
    I felt my finger begin to die
    Suffocated by its own commitments
    To danger and drama
    One by one, the little legs encased me
    Depriving me of the free will I once had
    To choose something new
    She urges me to begin again and again in the same place
    With a familiar poison to intoxicate me
    So that I am so drunk on the illusion of separation
    That I don’t feel the broken promises or heavy regrets
    And always return to the past where she thinks I belong
    Forever facing phantoms that ceased to haunt me ages ago
    Rather than meet the challenges of today –
    To leave behind my fear of becoming the red hourglass,
    Surviving her bite as I awaken to grace
    To live apart from the wrath of time
    Embracing the profound sense of freedom
    That only structures founded upon rules and honest promises will allow
    A feeling of real creative power
    Driven by discipline and the will to control a destiny
    Makes a marriage to success

  69. Delaina Miller

    An Owl in Love with a Deer

    (A Sestina)

    Oh me, I’m an owl.
    I sleep at night so I can follow a deer.
    Don’t worry, I still have my insight.
    That is how I found her sheltered grace.
    There was a spark full of magic
    right from the start, my heart had the wisdom

    not to hesitate. I’m born with this wisdom
    being an owl.
    One look and I saw the magic
    in her doe eyes and thought: “Hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo dear!”
    A thousand winks I would miss, just to see her golden grace.
    My feathers all ruffled with the desire she incites.

    So lucky I am to have this great insight
    this intuitive wisdom
    to know change has it’s grace.
    The mysteries of life are shown to an owl
    just as tenderness and tenacity are known of the deer.
    Besides, her eyes cast a spell — magic

    it was — truly and indeed magic.
    Her agile and vigilant insight,
    common of a deer,
    gave her the wisdom
    that something was a foot with this goofy owl.
    but she showed the grace

    not to laugh as I swhoo-hoo-hoo-hoon in her grace.
    Maybe, just maybe she felt some magic
    for this birdbrained Great-horned owl.
    We both have the insight
    and the wisdom
    to know the transitions will be fierce for an owl and her deer.

    But what does it matter if an owl loves a deer.
    Love is grace
    and life is for wisdom.
    It is passion and magic
    that makes insight
    and devotion true for an owl

    for me, and even you. Together owl and deer
    inspire insight with grace
    as they frolic in a world of magic and gentle wisdom.

  70. Karen H. Phillips

    Day 13

    Write an animal poem. Extra challenge: make it a sestina.

    A Little Lower Than the Angels? Or Than Animals?

    Is man an animal?
    Does walking upright or using right and left brain
    make him, allow her, the right to rule?
    Does ruling make man the ultimate authority?
    How do we explain man’s compassion?
    How do we justify his cruel heart?

    Desperate wicked, deceitful the heart,
    man’s insulting the beasts to be called animal.
    Perhaps a rabbit doesn’t have compassion,
    but neither does anything in its brain
    give it the authority
    to kill its own kind. That’s against rabbit rules.

    Man deludes himself, expecting to rule,
    also by believing he can rule by his heart.
    He recognizes not the author of authority.
    He rants in anger or succumbs to lust of animal.
    Though it seem superior, there’s baseness in his brain.
    Yet intelligent creature can murder or show compassion.

    Man has lost his moral compass.
    He lives by selfish, not by Golden Rule.
    “Me, I, my” is stamped upon his brain,
    laws of love aren’t written on his heart.
    Would that he show the gentleness of animal,
    one that answers, if by instinct, to God’s authority.

    Why do we kick against authority?
    Why do we mete out, piecemeal, compassion?
    Why do we run from God like a wounded animal?
    Why do we rebel at the very word, “Rule”?
    Why do we deny wicked inclination in our hearts?
    Why can we not control what acts emanate from our brains?

    Thoughts, the seeds of acts and speech, grow in the brain.
    The Pharisees asked Jesus, “By what authority?”
    But He knew what was in their self-righteous hearts.
    He looked upon the crowds, felt and showed compassion.
    No follower understood how He would come to rule.
    Comprehending His Kingdom, they were dumb as animals.

    The meek lamb is an animal with a sheepish brain.
    Yet with the shepherd, it submits to his rule and authority.
    We can’t or won’t submit to the Shepherd’s compassionate heart.

  71. Linda Hatton

    Nocturnal Chitterings from Animal Guides

    Somewhere around the middle of self-examination, raccoons
    splashed into my internal chaos, slipping a dip in my pool
    of confusion, leaving behind a delicate message
    I yearned to interpret. Wait by the corner just beyond
    sheltered borders of your complacency, spread yourself, unfold
    your soul, and embrace your endearing curiosity.

    But sleep won me over, wooed back to slumber by chittering curiosity
    bouncing from bedroom walls to backyard grounds where raccoons
    tip-toed in, took quite a drink, their possessiveness beginning to unfold
    and take a lick at solitude I’d gotten used to beyond
    the last twenty years of beer mugs, dartboards, and pool
    tables, unable to hear signals of smoke hidden as a message.

    My eyes drifted back to planes where spirits floundered with a message
    for those in touch enough to see, nurture innocent curiosity
    about things eyes cannot perceive
    , only senses beyond
    the usual five can enhance awareness for talking with raccoons
    or interpreting things they do when they pool
    around your life, helping your spirit to unfold.

    Still, nocturnal creatures at each corner yearned to unfold
    the fleeting earth, draw attention to time’s sacred message:
    take off your mask, trust in others, pool
    resources with those of like curiosity.

    I began comprehending signals from those raccoons
    weeping and screeching—what is greatest lies beyond.

    So lost in the depths of immobile-bodied dreams beyond
    any I’d ever had, my understanding of existence began to unfold.
    Yet refusing to let go of my time and attention, those raccoons
    tried once again from outside and in to get across the full message.
    Refuse to lose yourself in daily routines, nurture curiosity
    for all grand things, and take a plunge in life’s nourishing pool.

    By this time, I was quite exhausted, splashes in my backyard pool
    disturbing me again. Stomping to sliding door, I looked beyond
    the raccoons’ outer appearance, admiring their curiosity.
    Pursuing desires left them unafraid. I’d watched their character unfold
    before my tired eyes, once and for all receiving the message
    from those masked bandits disguised as raccoons.

    Quench your thirst for curiosity with a spin in life’s pool,
    buoyant with vigor.
    I’m left thankful those unwavering raccoons navigated beyond
    from their home to mine all to unfold this vital, now-recognized message.

    –Linda G Hatton (who is still not content with this poem, but has too much work to do to continue editing) :-D

  72. Ian Randall Wilson

    Little Black Shadow
    –For Monk 2001-2014

    The door would open
    as if by itself.
    First a circle
    about the reading room

    only to leap
    against the window
    chattering toward
    the prey outside.

    He is sleeping now
    in the place they all go
    when they leave us.
    Dreaming of birds under claw.

    –Ian Randall Wilson

  73. Margie Fuston


    A cougar slips into a silk dress.
    She licks her abnormally white teeth
    as she sharpens her claws like knives
    to play with her prey.
    She looks for another’s young
    to toy with before she bites.

    A vulture searches for a bite,
    checking the pockets of dresses
    once they’ve lost their youth.
    He’ll even count gold teeth,
    patiently pacing his prey.
    He’ll never lift a knife.

    A wolf slides through the crowd like a knife,
    looking for a thigh to bite,
    a pretty piece of prey
    in an I-Taste-Good dress.
    He’ll sink his blood-stained teeth
    into almost anything, but he likes them young.

    A pack of hyenas circle a young
    girl on the edge of a knife
    as she tries to avoid the teeth
    of her own bite.
    They only laugh at her dress,
    but she still feels like prey.

    A weasel can look like prey,
    slim, handsome, charming, and young.
    Smooth talk and dress
    can sometimes hide a knife,
    but never lessens the bite.
    You’ll be left counting only your teeth.

    A bear slams the front door, rattling teeth
    and making his cubs pray
    to avoid being bitten.
    He’ll always feed his young,
    but his roars still prick like dull knives
    and can still be felt behind a mother’s dress.

    Sometimes dress can hide animal teeth
    until they slide knives in their prey,
    stealing youth in one quick bite.

  74. DanielAri


    my friend Bear and also his girlfriend Kestrel believe
    in totems, and I believe in Bear strongly enough to
    know he’s experienced the hibernating den first hand,
    arisen skunky in spring between his furry brethren—
    so I’m not a skeptic. Kestrel brought over her deck
    of animal totem cards. Alice picked Eagle and was
    pretty happy about that. She put her arms out and
    flew once around the kitchen. Then I picked Elk and
    was so visibly nonplussed, Kes said I could pick again.
    Otter. Whatever. Mischievous, playful, loyal, inner
    fortitude, swims and likes shellfish. I waited until
    they left to call Bull. “I’m supposed to pretend I see
    the world like an otter? That I’m really into rivers?
    That I love oysters because in a past life I lived in
    Monterey Bay with my little otter lover? Do my
    whiskers smell like fish? You can tell me if they do.”
    “Humans are also animals,” said Alice, soaring above
    my sudden snit. “Maybe your totem animal is human.”
    “Damn right. Elks can kiss my ass. I’m a people animal.”


  75. jean

    The Tragic, Short Life of Frankie Blue-eyes

    The strange little dog had blue, blue eyes,
    A spotted dachshund, mostly white,
    His tale was long; his legs were short.
    We were so struck by his sweetness.
    He sat in my arms the whole ride home.
    Clues hinted a little trouble.

    His funky name caused us trouble,
    So we dubbed him Frankie Blue-eyes.
    He immediately took to it and his new home,
    Bounding out the dogdoor, a flash of white,
    With the other dogs, a rough sweetness

    We were his 3rd family, a span so short.
    He was only two! What was the trouble?
    Oh! Oh! His quirky sweetness!
    The lovelight shining from his bright blue eyes!
    The strangeness of a dachshund white,
    Please stop fear-peeing in our home.

    The dosier mentioned an abusive home,
    The first apparently mercifully short.
    The second rescued him, alright,
    Taught tricks inappropriate, causing back troubles
    Inevitable from jumping straight up. Oh, Frankie Blue-eyes!
    Your tricks unsolicited come out of your sweetness!

    Undoing his habits takes a firm sweetness,
    Adding stress to our special needs home.
    Frankie tried, but he blew wisdom
    By jumping up straight, he came down short.
    The scream he emitted! We knew there was trouble!
    Excrement and pain stained the white.

    Within 12 hours, paralysis. What?
    Surgery risky — How is that sweetness?
    Reality hit us; our conclusion, so troubling.
    No cart would work in our stair-studded home.
    So we indulged him for a day – Oh, so short!
    And said, “Sleep peacefully, Frankie Blue-eyes.”

    Frankie Blue-eyes, spotted and white
    His life was short, though long on sweetness.
    There’s a hole in our home; his death, still troubles.

  76. Andrea Heiberg

    The Stable Minute

    The dim light,
    the sound of 68 cows,
    the smell so clinical clean,
    the sound of the machine
    animals lined up chewing,
    saying good morning
    in her cow language
    and me saying the same
    when saying
    good morning Red.

  77. Mark Conroy

    The Holy Ghost of Hummingbirds”

    It happened one night when I was sleeping alone.
    First, I woke up and saw something in the corner, up against the ceiling.
    It looked like a little silver globe with a molten edge that seemed open and glowed.
    I was asleep, but sure I saw it. I turned over and looked again.
    It was gone. I wondered? I need my sleep, and it’s the middle of the night.
    A little later, I woke up again in the same bed.
    This time, a pretty big light came swirling up out of me, turning tight circles and leaving a tail.
    It was headed where the silver globe used to be.
    I watched; reached up to grab, but it was gone too. So was the globe.
    My exact words were—“Huh?”
    I was awake now and looked around the pitch dark room.
    Above me, climbing up the wall; was a huge firefly, as big as a humming bird,
    With beating wings and a bright tail that pulsed.
    I stretched up out from under the covers to catch it—It was just out of reach.
    Then the light went out and I couldn’t see.
    I got up and looked under the bed.
    There was nothing there; no globe—no spiraling light—no humming bird,
    With a glowing tail,
    But my eyes had seen all three.

    Mark Conroy

  78. bartonsmock

    -shadow forth-

    sometimes you see the dog
    when dog
    was wild

    and father
    with that straw

    trying to take
    the air

    and on the dog’s back
    a village
    or two

    seeing is yeah


    how I still bring water
    to the stomping grounds
    of jesus
    on a walk, say,

    for son

  79. Debbie


    Seven times ours is one dog year
    our age and theirs is not even near.
    The numbers are staggering in need and care
    hoping for love from anywhere.
    But they need to roam safe in comforting hallways
    and we do so knowing it will be always.
    As they enter a brand new place to grow
    little by little, personalities start to show.
    Inside the home for the first time
    are many curious expectations to climb.
    Little accidents happen here and there
    it’s a work in progress, together we share.
    Each achievement beams proud upon their face
    with expected treats soon finding their place.
    Young and energetic with toys and balls in play
    dem bones, though, they far outweigh.
    We sit on the floor and watch TV
    maybe they’re in a dog bed or cuddled with me.
    Mealtimes signal on their invisible clock
    trust me, they watch it like a hawk.
    Pick up that leash and here we go
    a sniff, a bark, pure enjoyment in tow.
    Unity comes at bedtime, all in their places
    the sun rises, see all their faces.
    Collars may be pink, green, or even red
    but beauty extends far beyond their head.
    Kept smiles reflect from morning until night
    so happy, so grateful – all is right.
    Yet it seems so sudden when age appears
    and wins a battle that we all fear.
    Expected or not, sadness takes hold
    of inevitable parting of our pot of gold.
    Quality and time are forever strong
    a bond so tight and so lifelong.
    For our lives and theirs, even times seven
    will always connect in doggie heaven.

  80. novacatmando

    Sestina: but use words

    but words
    are taken too
    darn seriously
    when intended for
    a moment of silly
    in their use

    and not used
    comically, as words
    these silly
    words are supposed to
    be taken for…
    why, seriously?

    Yes, seriously.
    We can use
    frowns for
    (or instead of) words
    to scold, to belittle, to
    stop line-jumpers silly.

    It is quite silly
    thinking serious
    retribution to
    those who use
    profane words
    or gestures. Before

    considering force for
    youthfulness (dumb or silly)
    remember choice words
    prevent the seriously
    wrong use
    of death, too.

    Stronger wit, not two-
    barreled might for
    a rude & crass use
    of air by the boneass-silly.
    Let’s not take it too seriously.
    Naive as their too simple words.

    A sally may seem too silly, but, seriously, use words!

  81. foodpoet

    On a November kissed day
    In morning fog
    The shell light house
    Glimmers off the point where waves
    Meets the river
    And I walk to join the whale road

    On the back of the broad road
    Whales Surge and fly free of times day
    Surging through cold current river
    Through depths ocean fog
    Up to dance with waves
    The humped back eyes the faded light house

    The faded light house
    Lights no routes no roads
    To safety from the river Bourne and cresting waves
    And each day
    Repeats fog
    Blurs the line between waves and river

    Riding the outgoing river
    Surges brakingbreaking the house
    From safeties foundation fog
    Rises and the road
    Is buried. On this winter day
    I do not see whales or even waves.

    I do not see whales waves
    And on the long curve the river
    Current mixes salt with fresh water , days
    Tears. The broken light house
    Falls pieces scattering on the whale road
    Into the fog

    Below the fog
    Blanks the waves
    Hides the whale road
    Only a glimpse of the incoming tide river
    Covers what’s left of dreams and houses
    And I walk into shattered day.

    I walk the fogged whale road
    On a November kissed day, the waves
    Curve river strong and I rebuild houses

    Megan McDonald

  82. Domino

    Secret Depths

    Deep waters, cold and clear
    lie above the reef. Anemones
    wave tentacly fingers in the water,
    catching what unwary prey they can,
    then closing violently at the first
    sign of danger. Watchful fish dart,
    keeping a nervous eye on any
    newcomers who may want a fishy
    dinner. Eels lurk in hidden depths,
    snaking paths through the bed.
    But silently, away from the frenzied
    fuss and furor, the oyster silently
    builds a pearly secret.

    Diana Terrill Clark

  83. DanielAri


    I turn my hand over and it explores
    the reverse, front then back, the shifting range
    of a rotating world, meeting my pores
    with cold that’s cold enough to turn orange
    to pale green. The ribbon of its tail curls,

    a liquid cuff , palm to knuckles, verging
    on falling back into the olive green
    pond, without an apparent urge to go.
    I don’t think we know quite what we’re seeing
    here between our feet and the towering

    heavens. I’ll speak for myself. The being
    leaves me on the grassy bank to hover
    in the water like an entity made
    of water, with the gravity of earth’s
    umbilicus, magnetic and turgid

    as the slime in the water it converts
    into a wriggle that moves as it curves.


  84. DanielAri

    “Mondo Kane”

    Dogs can walk through walls.
    They’ll come and find you
    with soft eyes that smell
    your isolation.
    They’ll pant your troubles

    into meadow greens.
    A good dog can cook
    you a pot of beans
    and rice. How they look
    into your bowels

    and know all it took
    to bring you muzzle
    to muzzle. Shake. Shook.
    A dog can guzzle
    rivers, eat mountains,

    solve crossword puzzles
    with one warm nuzzle.


  85. Mr. Take The Lead

    Jungle of Adversity
    Daniel R. Simmons
    As I set out on my journey to greatness
    Adversity tries to snatched away my motivation
    But I continue hunt down my success as though it is my prey
    Yes I hunt my dream down like a starving lion
    I may be in adversity’s jungle
    But in here there’s only one King

    You see adversity can’t stop me for I am King
    All adversity does it awaken my greatness
    I won’t crumble in adversity’s jungle
    But will drink from the rivers of motivation
    And gain the strength of a lion
    As success becomes my prey

    Success is my only prey
    Capturing it will crown me King
    Fear talks but I roar back like a lion
    If you don’t know by now all fear does is unleash my greatness
    Pain them becomes my motivation
    As I spend another hungry night in adversity’s jungle

    Yes going after your dream is like living in a jungle
    You start to feel like that you are the hunted prey
    As the monsters of doubt chase you, trying eat away at your motivation
    At this point you’re not feeling like much of a King
    Yet in still you fight on your quest for greatness
    Even you feel defeated like a tooth less lion

    But regardless of my state I am still a lion
    This isn’t my first rendezvous in the jungle
    After all this is the birthplace of my greatness
    And I am no one’s prey
    But a king
    With a crown of motivation

    Yes I bear the jewels of motivation
    And rule this jungle like a lion
    As adversity bows down, realizing I am king
    I stalk skillfully in the jungle
    Determined to catch my prey
    And eat of the sweet savory meat of success and greatness

    I am on a hunt to achieve greatness, fueled by the hunger of motivation
    Success is my prey, I am the Lion
    After all this may be adversity’s jungle, but in here I am King!

  86. brendam

    My son was fascinated by the platypus
    And I could never fathom why.
    It looks as made from leftover parts
    From the bottom of a burlap sack
    And cobbled together haphazardly
    Then set on the island of Australia.

    It was on the island of Australia
    Where kangaroos joined the platypus
    Cohabitating haphazardly
    And they never contemplate the why
    Nor checked to see if they came from the same sack
    Or they if had interchangeable parts.

    For though many of their parts
    Are unique to their Australia,
    Perhaps they were still not the same sack
    And many continents made the platypus.
    Perhaps we can never know why
    It seems so haphazardly.

    Perhaps it only appears haphazardly
    And random assorted parts
    With a complex answer to the why
    Found only in Australia
    Like the kangaroo, emu and the platypus.
    Perhaps the universe is a sack.

    Perhaps we are all part of a sack,
    All assembled haphazardly.
    This makes us closer to the platypus
    And all his glorious parts –
    We are all part of Australia
    And that is the true answer why –

    The true answer why
    The universe is more than a sack
    Of which only a small part is Australia
    And assemblage is not done haphazardly
    Nor from random little parts
    Despite the look of the platypus.

    Pursuit of the platypus and its following why
    Contemplating the theory of parts in a sack,
    The plan is not done haphazardly, most evident in Australia.

  87. k_weber

    A kind of cage

    On all fours again
    and the breathless

    My ponytail
    won’t escape
    the rake and pull

    The safari
    is in the heat
    of this car

    I lick your mouth
    then you lick
    my face

    mounts the other
    and touches tufts of fur

    We are dying for water
    but relish the small
    pools of liquid

    – k weber

  88. Mokosh28

    Swan Vigil

    I never saw your swans, though you
    told me about them again
    and again. They were what you waited
    for through the last of autumn
    and the pale winter. The pond

    was small seen from your back porch
    across a field that years ago held
    horses and one goat. These you also
    described for me so that my picture
    of those dying grasses held
    hoof prints. But it was the swans

    you longed for: great gales
    of wing fissuring silver, spring-fed.
    I never got to see them
    since you left before this respite
    in their wind traced migration.

    Or perhaps one night they did
    arrive and took you in your sleep,
    water keeping this secret, and sky
    mute with emptiness,
    witnessing a wait, ended.

    Joanne Clarkson

  89. gus

    Day 13: Like An Animal

    I am an animal.
    Like the king of the jungle,
    Swiftly I move
    Through the thickets and vines.
    I stalk my prey,
    Attacking so fast
    That they’ll never know
    What hit them.
    I lurk through the night,
    Making paths for myself.
    And nobody could ever
    Bring me down from
    My thrown.

    -Gus Gonzalez

  90. Zart_is

    Vexing Turtles

    As we were going for a swim
    I saw the turtles little heads
    popping up and down and up again,
    disturbed that we have entered their pond,
    eyeing us indignantly as they scramble
    treading the ripples our entry causes.
    Resentment expressed,
    as their agile little bodies
    manage the water just fine
    but at the shore they are clumsy
    on the land, clicking
    as each step brings their shells in contact with the rocks.
    It is so soothing to lie back floating for hours
    as the skin of our fingers crinkle with saturation.
    It becomes a challenge
    to see if we can convince the turtles to return
    trusting that the calm water
    will persuade them of our absence
    as we lie nearly breathless
    waiting each victorious moment
    as they reclaim their pond
    one after the other joining us for our swim.
    Our tranquility will end
    as we must eventually stand
    and send them rushing
    to avoid the leviathans
    we surely appear to them.
    As we leave this serenity
    the rocks make us all stumble awkwardly.

  91. Reynard

    the lion watched the deer
    walk to the river
    and quench his thirst
    in the raging waters
    and had a hunger
    for death and life

    it is a fast life
    the life of a deer
    jumping the river
    feeling the thirst
    scared of water
    always a hunger

    the predator’s hunger
    satiated by the life
    of the quick running deer
    caught at the river
    whose thirst
    led him to the water

    they are by the water
    the lion of hunger
    draining the life
    of that deer
    who went to the river
    with a different thirst

    yet the lion’s thirst
    was not for water
    but more of a hunger
    for taking a life
    and the quick deer
    was slow by the river

    now rages the river
    with its very own thirst
    washing stones with water
    moving with its own hunger
    creeping with its own life
    paying no mind to the deer

    so is the story of the deer and river
    a story of thirst at the waters
    and nature’s hunger for life

  92. Azma


    You think I’m like a lamb
    innocent, meek and timid.
    For the ways that you exploit me
    there seems to be no limit.
    It’s like you wave your shepherd’s stick
    and push me into compliance,
    you turn deaf ears quite skillfully
    to my objections and defiance.
    You laugh and do what you wish
    you brush me off with a little ‘shoo’.
    But let me remind you in case you’ve forgotten
    I will grow horns too.

    -Azma Sheikh

  93. BDP

    “Rockies Drought”

    This winter dryness:
    stars brand foothill nights, the winds
    rope in straying grass.

    I dream down through deep
    canyons, fires spread roads, boulders
    sit on the mantle.

    Wake up! Wildflowers
    shrink mountains, embroidery
    made for hands and knees.

    Zipping hummingbirds
    kamikaze through porch rails—
    I dive, dust off, sit.

    The great blue heron
    plumes the dead oak by the dam,
    a feather, thin hair.

    Mule deer want their trail
    my house sits on, ancient route,
    I’m in hoof step prison.

    This one fear divvies
    the spoils when rain comes to pass:
    steeping well, small pot.

    –Barb Peters

  94. Autumn


    As muscles tighten and extend,
    My hooves are met with no impact,
    But the fluff white blanket beneath me.

    The clouds form soft mountains on the horizon,
    The sound of my wings beat around my body,
    My mane flies wildly behind me.

    I dive forward, holding steady,
    Twisting through the blue and white,
    And I pull up just before the ground takes me.

    As my hooves finally pound the ground,
    I slow to a halt and shake out my coat,
    Forever beautifully free.

    You cannot capture me,
    You cannot tame me,
    No human will taint me.

    But forever beautifully free.

  95. Earl Parsons

    The Feline Reunion

    If what I believe is true
    And I believe that it is
    My mansion in Heaven will be
    Populated by all of my cats
    Except for, possibly, Gizmo
    ‘Cause I think he may have been

    But I’m sure Tom will be there
    The Maine coon black and white
    24 pound long haired monster
    He spent 19 years with me
    He’ll have his ear back
    And the tooth he lost
    In a fight that he had
    And won against
    The neighbor’s dog

    Tippie will curl on my lap
    With his black fur and white feet
    And that white patch
    On the very end
    Of his tail

    Charlie, the orange tiger cat
    So stupid that he was cute
    Will entertain me again
    By walking into the walls
    And jumping in the air
    At nothing at all
    Poor Chuck

    Sylvester was a magical cat
    Unpredictable in every respect
    He would disappear for days
    Return out of nowhere
    Just a few hours
    After we’d given up
    Looking for him
    Then he’d do it all over again
    Until one day he
    Didn’t come back
    At all

    Two of my favorite cats
    Well, favorites as of late
    Will once again be reunited
    For Scratch has been gone for six years
    We all miss this black and white beauty
    Long haired and long in the tail

    He left Sniff behind
    Our gray oversized tabby
    He ruled the house
    And my office chair
    And would sit on my footstool
    Until one day he was no more
    Taken by repeated strokes
    Just a year ago

    And then there is Keno
    A long haired orange stray kitten
    That showed up at our door
    Hungry, dirty, and loving
    We let him in and cleaned him up
    And he took over the roost
    Because he thinks he’s a dog

    Of course, over the years
    There have been many more cats
    That have curled on my lap
    Knitted on my leg
    Purred in my ears
    Licked my hands
    Grown old at times
    And died

    But in Heaven I believe
    They will be with me

    Oh, by the way
    What I inferred about Gizmo
    May have been stretched
    He was just crazy
    Not possessed
    He’ll be my heavenly
    Outdoor cat

    © 2014 Update Earl Parsons

  96. Michele Brenton

    In Defence of Snakes.

    I have always rather liked snakes
    they have such friendly eyes
    and soft warm skin
    and they don’t have a chin
    and they’re usually smallish in size.

    One was put in the frame in the Bible
    for inciting the innocent Eve
    but to smear a reptilian
    seems to me supercilian
    though you’re welcome to what you believe.

    My mother is terrified of them
    which I tend to view as a plus
    though I’m slightly ashamed
    the snakes cannot be blamed
    how we view them is all down to us.

    Michele Brenton 13th April

  97. grcran

    Hornworm in Tomatoville
    By gpr crane

    Went outside to check on young tomato
    Plant decimated, poor thing gobbled green
    Sad search revealed the culprit as a hornworm
    Daytime gave no chance for his fluoresce
    Wormy turdpiles fading fast to brown
    Wormy beast not old enough to fly

    Snatched him, smushed him, made his carcass fly
    Need that lycopene in my tomato
    Cannot have my prostate dyeing brown
    Pesky pest a nasty shade of green
    Oozing worm guts showed how to fluoresce
    Now the world has one less fat hornworm

    Next morning went looking for more hornworms
    Bees made honey, rot drew in the fly
    Wildflowers bloomed nearby with their florets
    Found another worm on my tomato
    Blending in so well, a plant-y green
    Thoughts of him in skillet turning brown

    Wormy critter not good, even browned
    Did a search on how to find the hornworms
    Blacklights adjust these dudes to different green
    Gotta find ‘em ere they change and fly
    Blacklight reveals the red leaves of tomato
    Pick worms off quickly with good green fluoresce

    No tomatoes grow inside the forest
    Gardeners there presenting thumbs of brown
    Manduca quinquemaculata ‘mater
    Means gardeners in the sun fight the hornworm
    Organic gardeners won’t let poison fly
    Instead they work to keep the planet green

    Not seen a hornworm? Then you don’t know green.
    Something in the brain sees them fluoresce.
    Rebirthing into hawkmoths, off they fly
    These handsome moths are all in gray and brown
    They lay some eggs, hatch caterpillar worms
    Proceed to ravage foliage of tomato

    Spring rains painted my garden brightly green
    And hornworms also brilliantly fluoresce
    Big brown tomatoes hit me on the fly

  98. jsmadge


    Got pain? Go find a Laborador
    Retriever, bring him home. His eyes
    Give you back unto yourself until you wonder
    That you ever doubted God,
    That you ever thought bad comes from
    Above, like storms which fling ships to beach.

    Divinity is big dogs running the beach,
    Pointers and Saint Bernards, Retrievers and Laboradors,
    All pounding sand like thoroughbreds from
    Kentucky, tongues tasting joy while eyes
    are nothing but Ahead! and More! – God,
    Did you ever see such wonder?

    I wonder.
    If you walked by yourself on the beach
    Could you find God?
    Perhaps. But She’d be nothing like a Laborador,
    Mix of deep soul and doofus shining from eyes
    So unlike any other; where did they come from?

    Out of the mists, pulling wet ropes from
    Which fishing boats dangled these dogs came, and we wondered
    Exactly when and exactly how they appeared, but our eyes
    Only reach so far; get stranded on that northern beach
    Filled with fur growing icicles from the waters of Laborador,
    Sky lit with aurora borealis, fog, home of God.

    In her infinite wisdom, keeps us from
    Losing ourselves as we watch Laboradors
    Love, without measure, without price, until we wonder
    “Is this the secret?” Is it this simple – the beach,
    The dog, the joy, these trustful eyes?

    Look deep into a dog’s eyes.
    There, you will find God.
    And the pack of dogs on the beach,
    Flat out running from
    Imagined post to invisible finish – never wondering,
    Just running together, Pointer, Saint Bernard, Laborador.

    It is as plain as a Laborador. Your eyes see
    With wonder that God,
    Who you thought came from afar, lives on this beach, this dog, you.

    Jo Steigerwald

    1. grcran

      Unlike many of the poems about God, this one resonates quite strongly with my own beliefs… and I don’t even like dogs, I’ve been bitten several times… but your poem is evocative and warm… and you’ve done a great job of incorporating the sestina requirements without awkwardness… thanks!

  99. tunesmiff

    G. Smith
    What’s up, pup,
    Lyin’ in the sun?
    Why don’t we
    Go for a run?
    We’ll start out
    Your tail waggin’,
    And come back,
    Your tongue draggin’.
    Not the same
    As fetchin’ balls,
    Then again,
    Can’t have it all.

  100. Jaywig

    A Conservation Corridor

    Just out there, where the ferns
    leave earth and reach into a mighty universe
    if only they could break through
    shade cloth,

    and where the ground covers
    were burnt on those forty-five degree and more
    days to the colour of dung,
    the mouse crosses.

    Not always when I’m looking,
    of course, so the thrill is greater catching
    a brief glimpse. I know nothing about
    real mice, whether

    he or she lives alone, has bred like rabbits,
    has found a niche in the slab
    or created an empire under the deck
    sealed off from cats.

    Nondescript, yet I see “it” as “she”, making
    a necessary journey across a pebbled
    path, or boulders, if you are
    small enough.

    Otherwise, she lives a secret existence,
    she’s a mystery; all I know is
    the world alters slightly when
    she crosses my path.

  101. lionetravail

    (And the other combination-inspiration extolling the animal nation…)

    “Brave Crane: a Haiku-tina”
    by David M. Hoenig

    Not all cranes can stand
    on only one leg, with calm:
    just those who are free.
    None but fearless crane
    will lift one foot to find joy
    and enduring pride.

    For it’s surely pride
    which inspires the brave to stand
    and discover joy.
    To understand calm,
    a bold, introspective crane
    must set spirit free.

    It needs to be free
    of all doubt, for absent pride
    in own self, the crane
    won’t take risk to stand
    on one leg to reach for calm
    and the path to joy.

    Ultimately, joy
    is achieved by lifting free
    of gravity’s calm
    attraction: then, pride
    and kind self-regard will stand
    always for the crane.

    For it is the crane
    willing to risk, who finds joy
    in one-footed stand.
    Whose spirit soars free,
    filling with justified pride
    and satisfied calm.

    He who finds the calm
    within the storm is a crane
    worthy of all pride!
    Bold, he learns the joy
    of what it means to live free
    and make a firm stand!

    Take joy, one-legged crane,
    in calm of hazarded pride,
    yearning to stand free!

  102. lionetravail

    (By way of introduction, I wanted doubled extra credit, and decided to play with combinations of forms about animals during long plane travel. Here is the first- hope it is enjoyed!)

    “Just Horsing Around With a Fib-tina”
    by David M. Hoenig

    is, indeed
    a horse, of
    course, as well as one
    with innate force, we all call “horse power”.

    calculated one,
    as work horse
    multiplied by time course of
    now bygone days, might equal kicking ass, indeed.

    born of
    muscles developed a
    long time ago, the horse
    was a treasure if ever there was one.

    could horse
    around, but power
    of partnership made “horsemen” a
    reality, which centaurs were merely a myth of.

    perspective, a
    horseless cowboy, indeed,
    would inspire westerns without power,
    compelling like the colloquial ass of a horse.

    awesome power,
    and never one
    particular creature taken lightly, indeed
    was a prime ingredient of history: Grade A!

    Even “grey mare” of one
    famous song, indeed, may not be all a
    venerable horse used to be. Without doubt, though, she still has kickass power.

  103. Gwyvian

    If I were an optimist

    If I were an optimist, I’d assume there’s a master plan
    for this place that sings anthems while trampling flags,
    and races to topple oppressors while carrying one
    on their shoulders – I’d think there’s a purpose, that
    maybe everyone is lying, and someone will announce
    there’s been a mistake—

    If I were an optimist, I’d believe there’s a chance for change,
    for the pattern that weighs heavy on us since generations to
    begin to unravel – if I were a fool, I’d assume that’s exactly
    what is happening, but I know that is not the case:
    I’ve lived much too long in this place to have faith in that—
    but if I were an optimist, perhaps…

    If I were an optimist, I’d keep searching for certain things,
    a place to work, a perfect time to create, perhaps I’d ask
    about how my pieces are doing… if I were an optimist, and
    had any faith at all in their success, if I didn’t think that I have
    a knack for ‘second-best’ and ‘not quite yet’, I’d believe, but
    sadly for the optimist in me: I have experience.

    If I were an optimist, I’d think my outlook would be less bleak,
    I’d have some kind of plan, how to square away debts, how
    to find opportunity without it having to knock me over before
    I see it – I like to think, though, that I am a realist, despite
    my flights of fancy – but perhaps I’m just bitter, perhaps
    I haven’t had reason before this – perhaps I will one day? Or not.

    If I were an optimist, I’d think there’s a reason to my rhyme
    why I keep wrapping myself up between the lines of
    existence and non-reality; if I were an optimist, I’m sure
    I’d have more success, and I’d believe my shortcomings
    are simply not finding the right outlet – perhaps I’d be one,
    living somewhere else – and perhaps there’s no hope of that.

    If I were an optimist, I’d say there’s a point to fighting, that it’s
    never a good time to give up as long as there’s a chance, but if
    being an optimist means lying to myself, I think I’d rather not—
    I mourn my brothers and sisters whose minds have been
    blurred beyond all reason – if we were optimists, perhaps
    there would be a way out, if some thought as I:

    …if I were an optimist, I would believe my homeland
    has a chance, I’d believe I have a future and success waiting,
    and perhaps I’d just keep trying and scrabbling with
    bloody fingers on the edge of my cliff with a stupid grin;
    but if I were an optimist, I don’t think I could bear what goes on here,
    I don’t think I could take another blow, and I’d never laugh again—
    if I were an optimist.

    April 14, 2014

    By: Lucy K. Melocco

  104. dsborden

    A Bit of the Story was Left Out
    by D. S. Borden

    While the hare napped beneath a tree
    Out of the blazing sun
    The tortoise continued to creep along
    As slow as she could run

    The day had grown quite long and hot
    The tortoise watched her pace
    Suddenly a cobra took the road
    And stared her in the face.

    She did not waiver from her course
    The cobra’s eyes did smile
    “Hey, Beautiful,” he hissed into her ear
    “Can I come with you a mile?”

    He slowly spoke with confident words,
    “If you want, I can eat the hare.”
    The tortoise paused to tilt her head.
    “No, thank you. That wouldn’t be fair,”

    The cobra said, “Suit yourself”
    And slithered to the tree
    He silently bound the hare in knots
    So that he couldn’t get free.

    The hare awoke, “What’s going on?”
    The cobra said nothing at all
    Until the tortoise was out of sight
    And the sun had commenced to fall

    “Dear, Hare, by now you’ve lost the race
    There is no sense in running
    Tortoise, has claimed the hefty prize
    And thinks it came by cunning.”

    The cobra finally relaxed his coils,
    Letting the poor hare breathe
    The latter bounded down the path
    As fast as he could leave.

    That night at the local cocktail bar
    Cobra was full of pride
    He filled the tortoise’s champagne glass
    And asked her to be his bride

    “Yes,” said Tortoise, “you’ve proven your love.”
    Cobra said, “The truth is, Honey,
    I wish my motives were purely romantic
    But Hare, he owed me money.”

  105. FaerieTalePoet


    My girlfriend has a secret identity. Her name is Vixie. She’s half leopard half fox with rainbow spots. Her fur is teal and oh so soft. She is anthropomorphic and has golden strawberry locks, which she wears in pigtails. Vixie, like my girlfriend is a black belt in karate. Vixie has the cutest little rainbow pajamas. She loves to drink hot cocoa. And cuddle up with me, her tail curled about my waist.

    Vixie likes to come out and play with all her furry friends at fur con. Once a year all the furries get together and put on their fursuits. My girlfriend is still designing hers, but as you can see she has lots of ideas. At fur con you see raptors and dragons, unicorns and kitties and even a few hybrid animals like Vixie. The hotel is practically littered with wolves and huskies. A lot of hugs are given and there are even cuddle parties.

    Too many people forget, as they grow up, what it was like to play pretend. But Vixie and the folks at fur con, they never forget. They retain an innocence most of lost when we packed away our barbies and stopped playing house. And though there are people who point and laugh at all the furries. There is an innocence in a furrie’s eyes and a warmth in their hugs, that most people will never know. So open your arms and hug a furry today.

    Dana A. Campbell

  106. lionmother

    My Lion Obsession

    Whenever I see a lion in repose
    I feel peaceful
    and I know that this majestic animal
    lives inside of me

    It surfaced years ago and now I wear
    a gold medallion around my neck
    reminding me of the power inside myself
    and the beauty of the lion

    I know if I met a lion in the wild
    I, not being so brave, might not
    want to spend any time with it
    but still I admire it from afar
    in photos and statues

    Being near these photos
    and statues brings out the lion
    in me causing my dormant roar
    to emerge and then my quiet exterior

    transforms into the power of a lion
    and those times you want to stay
    far from me, for I am as a lion
    Fierce and dominant and fighting
    for the ones I love.

  107. brandonspeck


    crouching on hind legs
    claws running with blood.
    This is what I am inside.

    A creature who never learned to love
    with claws so sharp,

    a bear
    who only meant
    to hold you.

    //brandon speck

  108. viv

    Fast Food

    Gangster brothers, fancy-suited,
    on the prowl, Chicago style;
    rhythmic steps in unison,
    eyes narrowed, sinew tense,
    slow convergence with focused gaze.

    Through the head-high vegetation
    strolls the target, unaware.
    A sudden leap, three pairs of feet
    pounce together on the prey.
    Frenzied flurry, kicking, snapping,
    twisting, tearing: dish of the day.

  109. tbell

    Run Toward the Roar

    Run toward the roar
    fierce, unafraid
    counterintuitive, yes

    but wisdom resides
    where you tremble
    to set foot

    and those keen
    on courage know
    the Savannah

    is ruled not by the lion
    but the lioness waiting
    in stealth for her prey

    darting and dashing
    away from the rumble
    fearing for life

    they unwittingly turn
    toward silence
    certain death.

    Copyright © TD Bell
    All Rights Reserved

  110. pcm

    Equus Sestina or Midlife


    You looked back, little black horse
    your ears alert, swivel and turn,
    listening to the squeal
    of tires that whine in the rain
    as wheels spin
    beneath the trailer where you stand almost still.


    Asphalt unfurls for miles quiet and still
    between fields unfit for grazing a little black horse.
    You can’t put your nose to the wind on this spin
    through the country to the butcher that will turn
    your shining eyes to lifeless marbles in the rain
    as your heartbeat’s last note trumpets a squeal.


    Beyond the stockyard gate, the trailer brakes squeal
    to a stop in the acrid fumes that burn my throat still
    as I recall the fumes of rotting flesh in the rain
    where they would make dog food and glue of a little black horse
    that leapt over the moon and charged canyons in turn
    heart wild and feet free flying so the world could spin.


    Imagining you, little black horse, my heart would spin
    quiet and crazy inside of me when chalk on the board would squeal
    in class and we’d raise our hands to answer questions in turn
    and I’d disappear for hours into books. While others jabbered, I was still.
    Until walking home, when a boy would throw rocks at me and call me “Horse,”
    following me home and I’d say, “Hey!” and run through the rain.


    Then there was the day Kennedy was buried and we all cried in the rain
    watching the little black horse carry backward boots and wanting them to spin
    around and make everything right again, but horse after horse
    kept on course with the casket in solemn reel to reel and television squeal
    and we kept hoping it wasn’t real, that it would stop and be still
    while we commandeered history to undo itself and turn.


    I grew up and at story time for my little boys, I’d read when it was my turn
    and we’d snuggle and giggle and sing out of tune sheltered from the rain.
    Little boy big eyes would peer out from the covers when the wind was still.
    A dancing cow, a cat with a fiddle, a sheep or two in the mobile would spin
    We’d play eensy spider and count piggies and each pinkie toe would squeal.
    Watching them sleep, I felt warm and cozy and wouldn’t give my kingdom for a horse.


    Now, I see the little black horse before me and watch him turn.
    I hear the squeal of history and smell tears in the rain.
    Upside down inside the spin of the earth, my pain will be buried in the dark and still.

  111. seingraham


    Wolves, I’m sure we can agree, it’s fairly well-known are social animals
    The lone wolf moniker, also a known thing, is a misnomer at best
    But if frolicking in forests appeals to you and the woods are your place
    Then, wolf familiarity by all means, is not a bad thing to know
    Imprint strongly upon your person a beast or two, or more
    Unless human beings are actually more to your taste

    But don’t get all confused thinking it’s all and only about taste
    Sometimes, actually most times, it’s a case of zoo, farm, and all animals
    knowing a thing or two, or dozens upon dozens, hundreds maybe more
    than most humans do even and when/if they for sure think they know best
    Ask a wolf, surprisingly, or maybe not, you’ll find out what they know
    Be careful though, a wolf won’t hesitate one second to put you in your place

    And he won’t think twice about leaving you there in that place
    And you know it might not be somewhere that’s entirely to your taste
    But what you can do, if you feel adaptation is your wont, you do know
    Maybe you’ll live there with the wolves, with other beasts, and animals
    Eventually, after all, it just might be the place you end up liking best
    If not, you could always ask the accommodating wolf to look for something more

    A smart-aleck wolf is a formidable guy but especially on the search for more
    than something very ordinary, something ho-hum, something that’s just a place
    to hang your hat and he will take you by surprise when he finds you the very best
    of all possible places; you will be dazzled by what he comes up with to suit your taste
    It will have you thinking, maybe just maybe, not all wolves are animals
    But, of course it’s hard to say for certain for sure what you’ll know

    Be sure to keep your eyes on the wily wolf, and his pack, for then you’ll maybe know
    All that went before and if there’s something else to come and possibly some more
    Than what’s been going on between all the people, well, maybe most, and the animals
    But, remember, sometimes how much you didn’t like it and how it wasn’t to your taste
    And don’t forget at all times to recall the times you were being put into your place
    In the end, it will be up to you to decide if it’s you or the wolf who really knows best

    My calculated guess, after doing fancy math is that your decision will be that you know best
    Unless you somehow astoundingly, you find yourself with a wicked wolf that’s in the know
    If that’s the case, it will more than likely be a wondrous wolf with incredibly fine taste
    And then, lucky, lucky you! You’ll have someone with whom to share your big empty place
    Best of all, and you know this, everything will be done, you won’t have to wonder any more
    And maybe even better than best of all, you won’t have to choose between man and animals

    I guess at times animals living with you might seem hard, might seem like it’s not for the best
    But just think, you’re doing the best you know, and you’re even giving them a home, your own place
    How could anyone ask of you anything more, you are doing things that might not even be to your taste .

  112. Michael Wells

    Billy Goats
    by Michael Wells

    I feel a mystical connection with goats.
    Only vaguely do I recall, but story is
    I would walk around as a child holding
    an imaginary leash with four invisible
    goats in tow—

    If disposed of to use the restroom
    others were asked to take their leash
    and hold them till my return. Did I
    realize that only a cat will return
    to a feral state as fast a goat?

    It’s unclear why I was drawn to goats
    as a child and not something more
    powerful like a tiger or regal like a lion.
    No, I fancied the Billy goat gruff.

    In my mind they were over the bridge
    guarded by the troll or standing atop
    a thatch roof eating away.

    I thought of them eating tin cans,
    the drying clothes on a line, or
    the shirt off your back. Unaware
    was I of the fainting goats or
    pygmy goats, these truly would
    have delighted me or as I have
    more recently discovered—
    these creatures can walk straight up
    the sides of mountains and stand
    on almost vertical inclines. That’s
    pretty magical even to me now.

  113. aphotic soul

    (I ignored the animal theme. This is my first ever Sestina poem.)

    Sanguine Sestina
    By Paul Andrew Ryan

    This life seems like a long lost shore,
    Where the people I adore,
    Never want something more,
    So me they choose to ignore,
    And down the drain I pour,
    The love I had, once long before,

    I don’t know if it was like this before,
    Nothing but blood on this heartside shore,
    To where another drink I pour,
    And cry over the one I can no longer adore,
    So the feelings I detest I can ignore,
    Hoping with tomorrow morning, comes something better more,

    Ever and ever more,
    I wish I could reset this life to a time long before,
    Where feelings I didn’t have to ignore,
    Where blood didn’t pollute my heart’s icy shore,
    And the people I did adore,
    Wouldn’t mind the love that I’d pour,

    But with every drop I pour,
    The feeling means a hundred times more,
    For I cannot control who and how much I adore,
    And that’s what got me hurt before,
    A cold bitter frosty shore,
    A strangulation I could not ignore,

    However, rules I can ignore,
    For my heart is bound by no limits on how much love I can pour,
    Whether or not a drain is my new ocean shore,
    I decide whether or not it means something more,
    For I am not the same person that I was before,
    And I frankly do not give fuck who or what you adore,

    Because for death I do adore,
    And life I do ignore,
    For no damage can match what I’ve gone through before,
    Let any rain cloud try to match and out pour,
    But I will simply smile and request a drop more,
    For sadness is my sanguine shore,

    A bloodied shore to which I do adore,
    Gone for now but nevermore, for it and you I cannot ignore,
    And down the drain my life I pour, just as it was long long before.

  114. anneemcwilliams


    Pretty soon we’ll have the talk.
    She’ll ask me if she’s too fat
    And I will tell her.
    The distance between a soft stroking
    and a snack is about thirty seconds.
    And the diameter of moonlight
    squared on her hips says so.
    I watched it happen,
    how a tiny kitten born in an old tire
    took to the bowl. It takes a lot
    to get from bed to sup
    and back to bed, where she
    lies on her back
    with her paws in the air
    sprawled and spread out,
    finding herself irresistible
    adjusting to the space
    with ease. Pretty soon
    we’ll have that talk.
    first draft 04/13/2014

  115. Astrid Egger

    This was by far the most difficult assignment yet. Here is my try.

    All Kinds of Otters

    From my kitchen window, I detect the river otter
    diving down, as I lift the lid and check the waffle
    Is it golden brown, as the book says, or must I leave
    It alone, for some more minutes? Prepare as you wish
    when it lifts easily off the iron, I tap the sides for spring,
    now thinking about its nutritional content, I feel some guilt

    You are sitting across, cell phone in hand, wrapped in a quilt
    and swimming on their backs, eating , would be sea otters
    they are extirpated here; still one was sighted last spring
    at the southern islands. Looking at the photo we waffled
    to decide that this was so, but it’s easy to make a wish
    much harder to reach for accuracy instead of make-believe

    Reintroducing sea otters to the islands is risky beyond belief
    Post contact their furs traded at imperial courts, prized as gold
    With care I pour maple syrup to stay within the ridge of the dish;
    you are checking your text messages contained by the otterbox
    “Enough, “you say, and add fruit and whipped cream to your waffle
    A bit of decadence, every now and then, is a good thing.

    Ana’s hummingbirds are here and we are getting ready for spring
    Above the raised beds we fasten bird-netting with a tight weave
    Its not as warm as I thought and I go inside to grab the waffle coat
    my friend left here on her way to a meeting of the weaver’s guild
    She asked what my favourite animal was. It is, of course, the otter
    It seems to frolic about in the water and more play is what I wish

    for; It is important to approach a problem calmly, generate fresh
    ideas and my fur bearing animal spirit could teach me a thing
    or two. A marine weasel with the tightest fur of all, the sea otters
    will raft along bull kelp, before its time, one by one, to take their leave
    They are fierce predators and we humans can’t just quickly rebuild
    an economy tied to the sea without causing a big kerfuffle

    When it comes to their families, river otters don’t waffle
    about who goes first, they move easily among mollusks and fish.
    They are said to transform into human form and back at will
    Beware of their power and don’t just avoid them full swing
    when you are steering the boat because they could easily heave
    To and you find yourself closer than ever in dangerous water

    Remember this when you board the twin otter, and hear waffle
    in your earphones, determined as you leave, you make a wish
    that we care to reread Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring without guilt.

  116. Dennis W

    Here I am Once Again

    Here I am once again with news to sing.
    I sing for you Queen the King is away.
    At the edges of your kingdom is sand,
    In the inner reaches there is magic.
    In the forests, there are beasts of plenty
    and your soldiers feast on manna.

    They went to find game but they found manna
    There they rejoiced and they began to sing
    For their bows and arrows found such plenty
    That they sent all the birds and deer away
    They need not this game with manna magic
    And sit there eating while the glass loses sand.

    But my Lady, strange ships soon reach your sand.
    Your men are sated from eating manna.
    Some tune then would wake their slumbers magic.
    They will wakened when the tune begins to sing’
    Then they would stand and run the ships away,
    and the kingdom will still be of plenty.

    But in slumber, there is danger plenty.
    There could come the last grain of sand,
    when shows the meaning of finding manna.
    You could waken your men to send ships away
    and then there would be much we all could sing.
    The land would be restore to its magic.

    A kingdom enchanted must have its magic.
    Magic will fill forests with everything plenty
    and birds and trees ever will then sing.
    All this occurs when men defend your sand
    and they are not lost in eating manna.
    Alert, they will send sailing ships away.

    It all depends on you with King away.
    Act soon and save kingdom’s very magic
    Send the sparrows to sing away manna,
    tell them to sing tuneful and with plenty
    for the kingdom might turn to but just sand.
    Yes, you must beseech them to joyful sing.

    Theirs is to sing slumber away from sand
    and wipe away effects of this magic
    and then restore our plenty from manna.

    Dennis Wright April 13, 2014.

  117. Shell

    How dare the courage of such great specimens awe inspire; to demand casual acceptance in a world taketh by vulgarity.

    Sleek fur at first look is so black its blue, one of nature’s greatest deceptions; ghost striping soft as silk, deadly as poison.

    With green eyes, more beautiful and magnificent than any creäture walking among this dying rock; melanistic jaguar.

  118. Pengame30

    “The Human Animals”

    They believe they’re worlds apart, these humans.
    To them, lesser than is an animal.
    It’s funny, because we all give live birth.
    It seems that of this, they were quick to learn.
    Although we could care less to don a dress,
    we every so often do have sex.

    I never asked to be an animal.
    Quite sadly you all still have much to learn.
    What is the intended purpose of sex?
    Should I be skinned, and sewn onto a dress?
    Will you abort or decide to give birth?
    There’s lots to consider, being human.

    Are there any new positions to learn?
    Can you find a reason to wear that dress?
    You are a conceited bunch, you humans.
    We’re one and the same, when it comes to birth.
    You dilute reproduction down to sex.
    Now who’s the one to be called animal?

    A doctor determines a baby’s sex,
    and whether it’s alien or human.
    A nurse asks if you have a wound to dress,
    and gives you crackers shaped like animals.
    You say thank you, as it’s what we have learned.
    It’s been instilled in our minds since child birth.

    If you do the deed, get used to child birth.
    That’s the real reason god created sex.
    This is the one thing most care not to learn.
    What’s the point of distinguishing humans,
    when you are laughable by animals?
    It should be you skinned, and sewn to a dress.

    Look at the girl twirling, with her new dress.
    You waited to buy it for her since birth.
    She falls down while chasing an animal,
    It’s a girl, but it matters not the sex.
    Either way, she’ll grow up to be decent,
    depending on future things she will learn.

    In what world does dead flesh hang from a dress,
    or people freely slay the animals?
    This world, where there’s recreational birth.

    Written By: Sean Drew

    This is the revised version of the previous entry. Thank you.

  119. jakkels


    It stalks through the jungle with hair slicked back Occasionally it grimses and incisors shine white

    It’s dangerous and vicious and kills on a whim 

    The animals all sense this and shrink from it’s path More vicious than tigers, it oft kills without eating Not even it’s mate and offspring are safe 

    It’ll drink noxious water and eat long dead meat 

    And it fights with it’s own kind, sometimes to the death

    But often forms packs for it’s a coward at heart

    It destroys nature and fouls the water 

    Someone should wipe out this gangster human.

  120. carolecole66

    Why That Owl?

    For weeks now, behind the neighbor’s fence, I’ve heard barking
    so coarse and constant, I couldn’t believe it could be a dog
    but the chorus of yips and yowls drilled my brain. I had to look into his yard,
    violate his privacy. Nine dogs, all rescues; the noise had become like water
    torture. I thought about reporting him, but stood uncertain. Overhead an owl
    contemplated nothing. When I was a child I wanted a horse

    badly. I begged for one, imagined one; I thought I was a horse.
    I would go into the nearby woods and rub against bark
    as I thought a horse would do. From the tree a barred owl
    stared at me. I whinnied at him but felt more like a dog
    whose owners had left him without food or water,
    one who had, for too long, been chained up in the yard.

    Later, foolish as it seemed, I kept a pygmy goat chained in the yard
    and lizards in the house. I forgot completely about the horse
    I’d dreamed about so long. By then I lived right on the water
    and thought of boats, planned to build a canoe of birch bark,
    live a simple life, hunt and fish for food. Fantasy still dogged
    my waking hours. High in the oak behind my house, the owl

    still watched. I remembered a story, a child’s book, a bespectacled owl
    in bow tie, more wise than vicious. This one’s wings spanned a yard
    at least and he looked hungry. Wild with rage, my hunting dog
    tried to climb up after him. I screamed at him “Get off your high horse
    you foolish goat.” I wasn’t making sense, could only bark
    a sharp rebuke. To calm myself, I stared across the water

    where a manatee occasionally swam. Brackish and dark, the water
    was not prime for most sea life. Rodents roamed the bank; the owl
    stayed fed. I stood under the oak dreaming and stroking the bark
    of the ancient tree certain that indians had camped in my yard,
    cooking their fish, sharpening their stones, corralling their horses.
    If only I had lived then, I would have been Princess Strong Dog,

    wed to a handsome warrior. Instead, I was beset by dogs
    howling next door. I thought of getting the hose, aiming water
    at them. It had worked before, better than screaming myself hoarse.
    By now, I was lost in my dreams, half child, half witch. The owl
    still perched on a high limb and threatened me in my own yard
    and all I could hear was the incessant sound of nine dogs barking.

    I never got the horse of childish dreams nor set out on the water
    in a birch bark canoe. The owl still hasn’t moved, still hangs
    around my yard, a perfect illustration of dogged determination.


  121. Patricia A. Hawkenson

    Patricia A. Hawkenson’s Day 13 Animal poem


    Perhaps they dream
    in the brightness
    of noon
    of broom wielding women
    who will not stop screaming
    or emptying cans
    to fashion traps
    with no regard
    for the cruelty
    of leaving
    little babies

    Do they wake
    in a sweat
    and cry
    before clawing
    a plan
    in the attic dust
    and teaching
    their children
    to fly?

  122. KellyDelValle

    The sestina was too much for this free form poet, so I decided to get my feet wet in the pool of poetry forms by trying a haiku. I’ll work my way up from there.

    They Come Out At Night
    An eight-limbed slumber:
    sated lovers rendered as
    a sleeping spider.

  123. susanjer

    What Animal Are You?

    I’ve been content to be a rabbit
    as assigned by the Chinese Zodiac.
    Nibbling on my salad of crisp romaine,
    thin slices of celery and sugar snap peas
    snipped moments ago from vines
    clambering up the bamboo trellis on the deck,
    am I not a quintessential rabbit?
    I admit I sped through Mr. Updike’s novel,
    Rabbit is Rich, racing to beat a hypothetical tortoise.

    But, all day I’ve been hesitating.
    My Facebook friends post the results
    of their “What Animal Are You?” online test
    and suggest I, too, need to discover
    an answer to this life-defining question
    by replying to eight queries.

    What if I turn out to be a wolf like Mary Alice
    with her habit of slinking up on people
    and running with a pack? I did,
    after all, spend hours curled up in the den
    reading Women Who Run With the Wolves.

    So I take a look at question number one:

    Which of these scares you the most? snakes,
    guns, dogs, none of the above.

    Well, my answer is all of the above.
    I refuse to let my rabbitness be thrown
    into the briar patch. What could it hurt
    to look at question number two?

  124. Rolf Erickson

    The Mountain Lion

    The mountain lion
    my mother came upon
    while hiking alone
    in the wilderness.

    Just sitting there in
    the middle of the trail
    as if wondering what
    might happen next.

    She stopped and said:
    “you’re so beautiful”
    “you’re so beautiful”
    “you’re so beautiful”
    over and over again.

    Until slowly it rose and
    glided into the underbrush
    then sat to watch her once again.

    In the end she gently
    walked on past it
    speaking softly
    in the way that perhaps
    only she can.

    In the way that perhaps
    only a mountain lion
    might comprehend.

    That was my mother.
    And that was me.

  125. LizMac


    The horse wept for the unicorn it could never be
    Made mad by impossible visions


    The burning bright tiger
    Thought about the lamb
    And wondered;
    So fearfully made.

  126. GirlGriot

    Oh, still puzzling through the suddenly open door of family discoveries. I may be here a while.

    branches –
    this tree grows
    out and still out
    live oak of family
    here –
    where I
    thought were shrubs.
    Where are the links?
    Will this door open,
    through dim
    light to sun?
    What’s real in this?
    What flowers will bloom?

  127. Cameron Steele


    Honey, they’ll tell you all about yourself:
    girls are more like dragonflies than anything else,
    all buzz, some bite, often annoying but easy to ignore —
    just watch how fast they talk, how little they say,
    the way their whole bodies shake with their words,
    poor things don’t even know how flighty they look.

    Or they’ll make eyes at you, darling, leer as they look
    up your flowered skirt, the one you bought yourself
    when you craved the feel of silk against thigh, nothing else,
    but they’ll say you wanted it, dressing like that, they’ll ignore
    the protests you make, observe the way you move your legs, say
    you’re just another girl who begs with her body instead of her words.

    Maybe, sweetheart, they’ll kiss you to avoid those desperate words,
    maybe they’ll call it love or chivalry because they’re looking
    at your eyes instead of your breasts — proof for yourself
    that they know only enough to make you wish you were somewhere else,
    at home with a book or back at the boutique, wishing you had ignored
    the damn skirt in the first place, no matter what the sales lady said.

    And later, baby, when you’re too tired or drunk or lonely to say
    no, they’ll nuzzle your neck in all the wrong places, with all the wrong words,
    poking you as if you are the undercarriage of a car in a shop, looking
    for the wonky part that needs to be twisted back upon itself
    to work the way they want it to, move the way they want you to, or else,
    because they can’t take it when they feel ignored.

    So just for good measure, sugar, learn to ignore
    the pain of being forced open, of saying
    maybe when you mean no, of swallowing your own words
    back into your shaking body, of closing your eyes so you don’t have to look
    while they trace the flowers on the skirt you picked out for yourself,
    learn to ignore the shame of wishing you’d bought something else.

    I know, my love, they know you didn’t want anything else,
    you don’t want to lie down and ignore
    everything they told you that you couldn’t say
    or do or feel, because you’re buzzing with the words
    and the motions of a million dragonflies caught by the window, looking
    for shelter or, at the very least, to make a spectacle of yourself,

    Searching for self in the reflection of something else.
    What they ignore about dragonflies, what they don’t say
    with words is this: We always move too fast for them to get a good look.

  128. encrerouge

    darning needle outspread at rest

    Yesterday, the remembered being by the river
    echoed from its wings a question:
    why walk without the ever mutated uncertainty,
    when even the river can’t hold a grasp?
    remembering my mother’s words is seldom
    how I wished that today I felt inhabited

    even you little creature of inhabiting
    bathes in the Trade Winds making rivers
    triggers, that puddle inside the mouths like questions
    the quivering mantra before the uncertain
    has pulled the heart chords with quite a grasp.
    The forest adopting to a routine, which is seldom.

    then again, whispering to dragonflies is seldom
    but where would the water flow and inhabit
    the propelled bodies by the bench of the river
    If it were not by the ability to question
    the statement of the insect’s flight above the uncertain
    even the Odonata know of the grasp

    they have reached with sunset floras the grasping
    melting the legends for armoring the seldom
    events that make the everyday pollen inhabited
    crusade with my sighs and I shall become a river
    like your way of becoming multifaceted by questioning
    the speed of the forewing’s uncertainty

    today, in numerous has conquered my uncertainty
    trying to find what has been lost by a tight grasp
    which never intended to be permanent or seldom
    but cultural ideas clasp and hardships inhabit
    a mind full of thirst for consuming the questions.

    as my parent’s lessons circle around a question
    with it also rises tears beckoning uncertainty
    rebounds lowering the grasp
    of an unrelated culture that reflects, besides the seldom
    usage, a mirror on this body of water, inhabited
    by playful summer painters, igniting memories by the river

    How can a river question
    the fooled speed, uncertainly grasped,
    when I left the feeling seldom inhabit?

  129. Hannah

    Nymphalis antiopa

    Winter has lifted its icy veil
    Mourning Cloak gifts us with presence
    flits on deep maroon fringed of pale yellow
    iridescent blue spots line their wings
    we’ve arrived again to their favorite place
    pine-padded and glowing with spring sun
    a pair circle, glide and dip – land on our heads
    and we smile at the welcoming gesture
    we surge in the joy of being butterfly kissed.

    Copyright © Hannah Gosselin 2014

  130. poetrycurator

    Here is my Animal Haiku for day 13


    Wind your way around
    Busch Gardens where fierce creatures
    and children converge

    By Denise Fletcher Copyright © 2014

  131. Zeenie

    human insects

    When I was sixteen,
    I almost stepped on the dead
    remains of a raccoon –

    open and mangled,
    a swarm of tiny insects
    attacking each vital organ –
    they were buzzing knives,
    vicious and unrelenting;

    they knew the raccoon
    could not close,
    could not save himself.

    I’ve always seen
    relationships as trusts –
    there are certain parts
    of yourself, safe only
    in the elbow-crooks

    of your sister, your mother,
    the boy you loved first,
    the girl you’ve never stopped loving –

    but there are other parts
    lurking in the heated marrow
    of those you find hard to digest –
    the sister who never calls,
    the mother who silently left,

    the boy who assaulted you,
    the girl who spit germy hate
    between your eyes –

    hungry insects swarming
    your slitted body.
    But unlike the raccoon,
    you are not dead.
    You can save yourself.

  132. DCR1986

    To Be a Painted Lady

    If it could be,
    then just let it be.
    The day I grow
    Wings of a rainbow,
    Transforming my anatomy.

    I merge from the ground
    Onto a sunflower—
    Staring eyes compound.

    Freely I fly,
    I spread and I flap
    My fore and hind wings
    Into the sky.

  133. Amirae Garcia

    Like Animals – Amirae Garcia

    “Let’s love like animals,” he said to me,
    eyeing me like I was his mate, like we were already primal.
    I laughed at him, a growl arising in my throat.
    Weren’t we already? I used to think that.

    I used to live in the warmth of your back.
    I would mark my territory in scratches and
    leave my scent all over you. I might as well have
    left my lipstick all over your neck, because the other
    felines knew. Oh, they knew that you were mine.

    Maybe I should have loved you like a penguin.
    You would have heard my devotion in my screeching
    call and you would have came back to me.
    It would have been forever. It would have been eternity.

    Since you left, I have been howling, grunting, and making
    every animal noise known to man. I’ve released the wild
    in me and I can’t contain it. I can’t put it back.
    I find myself back at our spot, back to that day and

    I have been waiting, waiting, waiting.
    I am howling at every moon, howling for you.
    Let’s come back as the animals we were meant to be.
    Let’s come back and tear each other apart.

  134. mshall

    For man’s best friend we pick the dog
    Although it could have been a frog
    Dogs are true
    They stick by your side
    Frogs are green
    And not very clean

    But must our lives always be clean?
    If it takes as much effort as a dog.
    Combing and grooming, clipping and snipping till the grass turns green.
    Not so with the frog
    He turns to the side
    And let’s his life be lived modest and true

    Frogs are ugly it is true
    If they had mirrors, they best not be clean
    Warty, lumpy and asymmetrical from the side
    But prideful and vain is the dog
    If we could be more like the frog
    Jealousy would not paint is green

    A natural life, pure and green
    Simple and true
    Lives the frog
    Undisturbed nature dictates its own clean
    Artificial, superficial super-sized lives the dog
    With us trailing helplessly by his side

    But warmth and loyalty are on his side
    When life gets us down in a bog of green
    Argues the aficionado of the dog
    Only a princess gets love from a frog, it’s true
    But if our hearts were more noble and clean
    Could we not rise up to love the poor frog?

    Enough, enough of silliness with the frog
    A dog is always by your side
    But annoying I find it, if I may make my conscious clean
    That a creature won’t act on his own, till the cows turn green
    A frog can live by himself and be true
    To himself, to God, and also to good Dog

    So at the end lets love both dog and frog
    One is man’s best friend, but on the other side
    One is green, his nature keeps our hearts clean.

  135. Clark Buffington

    Our Dogs

    Chewing your way through life
    Happily never thinking of the future

    Always there with a wag and a bark
    Never holding back the love and joy

    You leave us to soon
    Our hearts with a hole

  136. flood

    It Is Supposed To Snow Tuesday

    There’s a long-running joke
    in the city of Cleveland
    that there are only two seasons:
    winter and construction.
    This is only two-thirds true.
    The third season is roadkill season.
    In one five mile stretch of road today,
    I saw two dead raccoons,
    a dead dear, two dead squirrels
    and a dead skunk.
    Crows were alive with hunger
    and circled the cloudless sky
    oblivious to the five day forecast.

  137. shellaysm

    The Chosen Six

    If given the chance to reincarnate, I’d return as one of six animals.
    The first would be a koala, with the gentlest Aussie spirit.
    I’d spend my days soaking in the ultimate solitude of the wild,
    happily lonesome at times. With a diet less than colorful,
    from my lofty vantage point, tree-perched, I’d savor
    each eucalyptus leaf, chewing rhythmically in zen-filled peace.

    The second, a Japanese koi, would be the most colorful
    (tangerine with opal) of all my serene chosen animals.
    With shimmering scales, I’d gracefully glide across water and savor
    each given day–warm or cool, rainy or sunny–with equal peace.
    Protected now in welcome captivity from my roots in the true wild,
    I’d pride myself in being as agile in movement as in spirit.

    In no particular order, a leopard would be my third selected animal.
    Undecided on snow, black or traditionally spotted–uniquely colorful
    each in their own way–to me, this option feels the utmost wild.
    With a mysterious, raw, beautifully untamable spirit
    I’d demand that the world respect my space and peace.
    Through vast terrain I’d prowl, the world my oyster to savor.

    Perhaps in seeking greater empathy with the wild,
    or being envious of a greater sense of personal peace,
    I long to connect with these free, miraculous spirits.
    In this mindset, I pick the dolphin as my fourth potential animal.
    This creature swift and joyful, possesses energy I long to savor,
    a role model, dressed in skin so sleek and a soul so colorful.

    Switching gears, a wild pony–a guided spirit–
    marks my fifth reincarnation consideration animal.
    Galloping along the beach, mane flowing wildly,
    the pony represents freedom, all that’s colorful
    about a life, a chance to roam in peace.
    This icon is oft overlooked yet it’s message is one to savor.

    Now to my final decision, the sixth of my treasured animals,
    I believe I’ve saved the dearest for last, this one is less wild
    than the others (smallest, too) but full of spunky spirit.
    My mom always called me her little ladybug, a mascot I’ve savored,
    it’s personal connection, a token of peace.
    As it goes, the ladybug flies home, the place to each most colorful.

    What does it all mean, these six wild animal selections?
    I believe they reveal a desire to find my true north’s colorful spirit,
    that finding and savoring peace is still reachable within this life.

    Michele K. Smith

  138. Scott Jacobson


    I don’t want to be a rhinoceros
    because poachers would shoot me for my horn.
    She is a swan. Just look at that long beautiful neck.
    It was made for nibbling on all night long.
    I can’t be a cheetah. I don’t run fast enough.
    Sometimes I waddle like a penguin,
    but only when my pants are down.
    The owl’s always pester me with their
    who this and who that, so I refuse
    to tell them who I am dating.
    I want to do it with the swan bunny style,
    but I would starve if I could only eat carrots.
    I must be some extinct species like the velociraptor,
    short arms that can’t hold onto anything
    and a big mouth with lots of teeth
    good for playfully nibbling on that swan’s
    beautiful outstretched neck.

  139. beale.alexis

    “Like A Bird”

    Four walls
    is all it takes to contain me.
    Spring is finally here,
    the perfect time
    to spread
    my wings and fly north.
    My parents urge me
    to follow and stay close
    with the flock,
    but my body refuses
    to conform.
    It refuse
    to turn black and shrink
    into the size of a flying pack of ants.

    I don’t want to be this
    caged animal. What
    they’ve done to me
    is unnatural. My inner self
    craves to find its own
    sense of freedom.
    I want to be
    like a bird
    in it’s purest
    most natural state.
    I want to chose
    to fly
    or stay put.
    I want to have my own
    way. And not give a damn
    about what the world thinks of me.

  140. skanet

    Four legs and a broken back
    My one good horse fell off the track
    He left me there
    I died alone
    High flown winds have come and gone

    Four legs and a broken back
    My only love was gone like that
    The dusty trail
    Reclaimed my soul
    Took back my dearest, brown-eyed foal

  141. dandelionwine

    Perfect Falcon (a sestina)

    In the photo, he’s perched on a mountain.
    This was the first glimpse we’d catch
    of Rumi’s perfect falcon, who for no reason
    landed in our lives, became our dog.
    We drove to get him, and he rested his head
    on my shoulder for the long ride home.

    He wasted no time making himself at home
    in his third life, reaching countless mountain
    summits. In the photo, he stares at my head,
    at the apple held in my teeth, ready to catch
    the core. On the trails he’s always a dog
    in work mode, sidetracked for no reason

    except for squirrels, which gives us reason
    for worry. Once he took off, far from home,
    out on a trail with no way to find a lost dog
    but to call, whistle, pray. The mountain
    brought him back winded. He couldn’t catch
    his breath, nor could we. Resting his head

    on the ground, placing my hand on his soft head,
    I watched his chest rise and fall. When reason
    returned, we headed back. He didn’t catch
    that squirrel. In the photo, he’s back at home
    fixed to the window for the squirrel mountain
    channel, maybe the favorite of any dog.

    But he’s unique in all the world – he’s our dog.
    If we say “run” or “pizza” he tilts his head,
    when we handle the packs he expects a mountain,
    and if we cry or raise our voice for any reason,
    he keeps vigil at our sides for a peaceful home.
    In the photo, he’s leaping sideways to catch

    his bright orange ball. He’s content to play catch
    until the end of time or until he’s no longer a dog,
    until he exchanges this life for another sweet home.
    In the photo there’s grey spreading across his head
    and up his paws, but we find no other reason
    to call him old. He’s strong as a mountain.

    We can’t own a mountain or catch a falcon,
    yet for no reason we can name, this perfect dog
    pushes his head against our hearts, walks us home.

    Sara Ramsdell

    1. dandelionwine

      Last stanza correction:

      We may not own a mountain, nor a falcon catch,
      yet for no reason we can name, this perfect dog
      pushes his head against our hearts, walks us home.

        1. dandelionwine

          Thank you! The form got away from me at the end a little before the correction. It seems the second of each chosen word belongs at the end of the line, so I tried to accommodate.

  142. Deri

    “Must Love Dogs”

    I question
    with much disdain
    why we equate
    men with dogs,
    as if a dog
    has the capacity
    to break your heart.
    A dog waits
    by the door
    whether you’ve
    gone to war
    or the mailbox,
    the greeting
    of slobbery affection
    the same regardless.
    A dog won’t tell you
    “now isn’t a good time”
    and will never let you
    eat a meal alone.
    Equal part therapist,
    comedian, best friend,
    confidante and
    road trip co-pilot.
    No, keep your
    feckless men.
    I’ll take wet noses
    and tail wags
    and dog hair
    on my pillow
    because I know
    I’ll never sleep alone.

      1. Deri

        Thank you! It applies the other direction as well. Initially I tried to incorporate the whole idea of calling hateful women “bitches” as demeaning to dogs, but the point of view got all muddled up. (and of course, I don’t believe all men are horrible!)

  143. LCaramanna

    Dog Day Donuts

    Ridin’ with a backseat point of view,
    Truckin’ to our local donut drive thru,
    Nothin’ but delicious from my master to me,
    I drool in anticipated tail-thumping glee.

    ‘Cause I’ve been invited to climb aboard,
    I know I’m headed for a delectable reward.

    In recognition of loyal doggy-ness tried and true,
    I’m truckin’ down to that donut drive thru,
    sittin’ straight and tall on the backseat,
    eager to devour a sweet tasty treat.

    Nothin’ but delicious from my master to me,
    I drool in anticipated tail-thumping glee.

  144. Kendall A. Bell

    Off the bridge, into the river

    All the little fish scatter
    and I feel myself get heavier
    with gravity, with liquid.
    I’ve never seen a turtle
    swimming under water before.
    I want to let my lungs be
    heavy with this, stay perched
    in this water casket, but I
    lurch back up, let my head
    crest the surface. Ducks and
    geese fly overhead. Not a
    single boat is in sight.
    I cannot swim. I do not try.

  145. bethwk

    Ceremony for the Lost Ones
    by Elizabeth Weaver-Kreider

    Before you cross the threshhold,
    remember to greet the guardians of the place.
    Step to the center of the circle.

    Stand still and silent,
    watchful and waiting.
    Close your eyes, and you will feel them all about you:
    soft breath, whiskers, and feathers,
    cool sinuous scales and rough bristles,
    hints of movement like the whispers in a dream.

    Turn to the east, to the birds, to the wing-folk,
    turn to the flying ones, feathered and beaked ones.
    Feel the sky darken as the Passenger Pigeons fly over.
    Hear the maniacal bark of the Laughing Owl,
    the whistles and chuckles of the Carolina Parakeet,
    the caw and the clamor of the Hawaiian Crow,
    the deep distant drumming of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker.
    All these, the People of the Wind, gone now. Gone.

    Turn to the south, to the mammals, the fur-folk,
    the ones who run with the fire of the sun in their blood.
    Here is Celia, last of the sure-footed Pyrenean Ibex.
    There, standing silently like a shadow,
    the West African Black Rhino.
    And there, sliding down the riverbank,
    the Japanese River Otter.
    This one, the Eastern Cougar, stealthy as a dream
    That one, the Formosan Clouded Leopard.
    All these, the People of the Fire, gone now. Gone.

    Turn to the west, to the fish, to the fin-folk,
    turn to the gill people, the swimmers, the divers,
    the people of the moist places, the wetlands.
    That sleek gentle head over there in the water
    is Baiji, the dolphin of the Yangtze River.
    There is the fluke of the Atlantic Gray Whale.
    Shimmering in the cool depths,
    the Blackfin Cisco, the Galapagos Damsel,
    the Blue Walleye, the Gravenche.
    In the swamps and the wetlands,
    the Golden Toad, Holdridge’s Toad,
    and the Cape Verde Giant Skink.
    All these, the People of Water, gone now. Gone.

    Turn to the north, to the reptiles and insects,
    turn to the cool ones, the scaly, the earth people.
    Larger than a rock, there is Lonesome George,
    the last of the Pinta Island Tortoises.
    There, in coils, like a great rope,
    the Round Island Burrowing Boa.
    This lizard–the Jamaican Giant Galliwasp.
    The Lake Pedder Earthworm,
    the Polynesian Tree Snail,
    the Rocky Mountain Locust.
    All these, the People of the Earth, gone now. Gone.

    And wandering in brilliant circles and meanders
    in the sky about us, but not yet within the circle,
    bright orange butterflies, the Monarchs,
    and droplets of sunlight zipping through the trees,
    the Honeybees. And others, too, not yet gone–
    the Pangolin and the Mountain Gorilla,
    the Hawaiian Monk Seal and the Island Fox,
    the California Condor and the Amur Leopard.
    All these, the next in line, the ones on the brink.

    As you step out of the circle,
    look to the air above you,
    see the Bald Eagle wheeling on the wind,
    the Peregrine Falcon diving toward earth.
    See the Wolf, the Bison, the Bobcat.
    These are the ones who stood on the brink,
    who wandered back to the woods and the wildlands,
    who walked away from that veil and returned.

    Now we must shift. Now we must change.
    Now we must make a new way.

  146. Natasa Bozic Grojic

    The poem is about the West African rhino, which is now extinct:


    We are all gone from this planet,
    except for me.
    And I only exist
    In your dreams.
    Every night
    I come to you.
    I lie by your bed
    and let you stroke my horn.
    In your dreams
    I give you my horn
    because it’s the only thing
    that can still save her.
    I watch you
    as you grind it into fine powder
    and mix it with
    raspberry juice.
    Always her favourite.
    She drinks it, then removes
    the tubes they placed inside her.
    The machines scream in panic.
    In your dreams, she gets up,
    her old self again,
    then strokes my head,
    which is now missing its horn.
    In your dreams, I return
    To the savanna,
    to my brothers and sisters,
    and everything is fine
    once again.

  147. shellcook

    Prompt 13
    Animal Sestina

    The owl still stood on my bedroom floor
    Beneath the fan, beside the door,
    He appeared waiting, I know not his source,
    though he was big and beautiful to behold
    he scared me some, I must admit
    How often does an owl come to visit.

    So unsuspecting of this visit,
    I launched myself from bed to floor and
    even though I failed to admit it,
    this owl beside my bedroom door,
    Serenely stood, I now behold.
    From whence he came? The heart of source.

    Where to begin when calling upon source?
    Beyond the veil, he started this visit,
    a brilliant moment to behold,
    I left my place upon the floor
    and headed toward that blessed door.

    Reaching out for veil admit
    I came to see surrounding source
    spider webbing toward the door.
    I stepped over this threshold and began my visit,
    manifest, real to touch, out upon the darkened floor.
    This mysterious bird I now beheld

    with glow of feathers, I soon beheld
    To my delight, by granted admit,
    to holy space on foresaid floor.
    He turned his head to source of sound
    And blinked his eyes to acknowledge visit
    then vanished magically upon said door.

    What was the message that opened this door
    And gave to me this sight beheld?
    A privileged recipient of this wise visit
    and though the message I must admit
    To fear to witness such blessed resource
    Steadfast, head bowed, I prayed upon this empty floor.

    I will admit to the departure from that wondrous door,
    With light source dimmed, but brilliance beheld
    beyond words, floored, thankful for this claiming visit.

  148. MyPoeticHeart

    When most hear the name Kansas
    People will likely think of Kansas City or the KC Chiefs-tornadoes
    There is so much more that those who have never lived there
    Cannot fathom in the minds eye it is either cities or tornadoes
    Ask me about Kansas and watch my face change
    A smile of fond memories will open up with secret thoughts held back

    Sit with me awhile close your eyes let your mind expand
    Your imagination takes over so you can see clearly
    All that is held deep in memories of days gone by
    First the cry of ‘mother’ as she soars above you so high
    She is a speck of debris or so she seems
    Bright soft clouds her covering as you listen to her once again

    I believe that this Red-Tailed Hawk was watching out for me
    As much as she was searching the skies and looking down below
    Every day at break time I went out to the deck of the senior home
    Looked up around noon to see if ‘mother’ was watching from above
    Six months this happened five days a week same time of day
    Three times a day for two breaks and getting the mail at four

    To the unbeliever you might say coincidence for me not so
    She knew far more than she let on far more than I would understand
    The news just in the senior home closing splitting up
    Moving away today was my last day
    Out on the deck I searched the sky nowhere was she to be found
    I turned the corner to sit in the chair instead I found her there.

    True story – July 2003

  149. SuziBwritin

    Mother nature take a bow
    Plants, man and beasts
    From the youngest calf
    To the clouds that loom
    And the fields covered in crap
    I sing my song and I toot my horn

    As the music leaves my horn
    Lilies in the field must bow
    And the farmers spread the crap
    A lowing is heard from a baby calf
    The farmer’s wife sits at her loom
    And the weather rains down on the beast

    It’s blowing and snowing, on all the beasts
    Whether bare-headed or wearing horns
    To protect their eyes their heads must bow
    They want to get out of this crap
    Safe in the barn is that baby calf
    While outside thunderheads loom

    In a world where danger does loom
    A mother cow moves close to her little calf
    It’s the warmth and the food of the she-beast
    And protection from the sounding horn
    To reassure him her head she bows
    And the weather outside is crap

    Manure on the field and dangerous crap
    Out on the plains the coyotes loom
    The mother cow readies her horns
    Her feet are steady and her head in a bow
    Undaunted, she is a very brave beast
    Nothing will harm her newborn calf

    With an innate wisdom unusual in a calf
    Who has already seen his share of crap
    Knowing outside this barn dangers loom
    He sidles and leans on his mother the beast
    While she’s careful not to catch her horns
    He leans in to suckle, his head bows

    In the barn with the bowing beast
    Protecting calf from what looms
    The world is crap and blowing horns

  150. tunesmiff

    G. Smith
    Dogs don’t ponder the deep things;
    They don’t worry what their days may hold;
    They don’t sweat the vet or the headlines,
    Or fret about heaven or growin’ old;

    They’re content sleeping under the front porch,
    Or out in the grass in the sun;
    They’ve got it all if they’ve got a ball,
    Or some woods where they can run.

    Man’s best friend’
    To the very end;
    A yawn and a stretch,
    and they’re ready to fetch;
    That’s man’s best friend.

    Dogs don’t care about papers,
    They’re not concerned about a pedigree;
    They’re not braggin’ when their tongue’s a-draggin’,
    And that’s all the matters to me.

    Dogs will scratch where it itches,
    They’re happy when you toss ‘em a bone;
    They like to ride around with the window rolled down,
    And drink from the toilet if you’ll leave ‘em alone.

    Man’s best friend,
    To the very end.
    A yawn and a stretch,
    and they’re ready to fetch.
    That’s man’s best friend.

    Dogs might hide from the weather,
    Or snap if you get under their skin;
    They don’t mean no harm with their tail waggin’ charm,
    They’ve got no concept of original sin.

    Dogs don’t ponder the deep things;
    They don’t worry what their days may hold;
    They don’t sweat the vet or the headlines,
    Or fret about heaven or growin’ old;

    Man’s best friend,
    To the very end.
    A yawn and a stretch,
    and they’re ready to fetch.
    That’s man’s best friend.

  151. smdnyc

    Crazy ’bout Cats

    Someone once said that falling in love is an accepted form of insanity, which I think is true of cat lovers especially (Harper’s Magazine recently reported that “middle-aged women are the most common victims of cat bites to the hand”), and which I think helps to explain what was happening when I, a 41-year-old woman who lives alone in New York City, fell for a cowardly lion who lorded over me with a regal quality you’d really have to admire if you didn’t think about how discomfiting his gaze was, a gaze that any woman of any age would recognize as a gaze, a gaze made of one blue eye bluer than the other, a gaze that was at once wild and calming and most definitely come-hither, a gaze that rested at half-mast as he lay in only a robe on his bed, his feline body propped up on one elbow, the robe opened just so to expose a ball sack resting its tender weight on the inside of his left thigh as his noble tail lolled up and down with an ease that showed approval of all current proceedings, a gaze I absorbed from across the room where I sat on a hardback chair at his kitchen table feeling a giddy dread, unclear how I’d make it out alive as I chattered on about my personal history and my day and my desires, a gaze played as a higher-order quality of attentiveness that I’d never before enjoyed from a cat, a gaze that belied the fact that he’d actually listened to very little of what I’d shared but instead retained only a few certain words that he would later use in sport, a gaze that purred, yes, an audible gaze that did this reactive thing to my lady brain despite the fact that he’d already ripped the tip of my ear off in a scrap months before, a gaze cast with a dismissive air as he licked one terrific paw for a terrific unending time while I looked on with admiration for his thorough work—and it was the thorough work of how he cleaned himself free of any residual dirt, how he dug into the yes-ness of the moment that really clinched the deal for me, that put me at the mercy of his gaze—a gaze so powerful I was sure it had been cast upon me in a previous life, a gaze that made me forget the scars on my hands and the golden rule, a gaze that even made me forget that he was a cat, hoping as I did that he be a human man with the strength of a human heart, which is just the kind of thing a woman who’s crazy ’bout cats would forget—that cats are cats and as such, love nothing more than the adoring attention of a lonely woman who’s confused him for a mate.

  152. uneven steven

    amoeba blues
    or my single cell prison memoirs

    they say
    thin skinned
    and exposed
    little more
    than a bag
    all surface tension
    and equilibrium
    these too thin
    of self
    one small part
    in one big whole.
    I float –
    getting too full
    of myself –
    too tight genes
    and twisting
    like some crazy
    balloon animal.
    a taste
    of who I really am
    neither he nor she
    but another me
    linked and joined
    finally going
    making something of …
    One final pop
    and I split –
    to myself
    once again
    and left wondering
    if I can ever really be
    more than just

  153. Bucky Ignatius


    Young mantis tiptoes
    the leaves of new bluebells
    lighter than breath, shifting
    weight with such grace
    stems don’t bow,
    nothing notices.

    Bucky Ignatius

  154. SestinaNia

    The Gem of Andalusia

    Nestled in the valley, you hearken to dulcimer
    melodies that remember the days of copper
    metallurgy. Drink from Guadalquivir, drink stardust,
    and waltz along the Roman bridge—Cuidad Cordoba,
    you ancient denizen, shaped by hands
    not your own, loose now your knowledge.

    It was here in your mills where the knowledge
    of grain first found me—a lonely poet with a dulcimer
    to fill the hours—the notes came easy from my hands.
    I am no Senca, nor Lucen; I am copper
    to their gold, and I feel unworthy of Cordoba.
    But on this noche preciosa, I am wooed by stardust.

    So I stay, and I will pilgrimage through stardust
    and memory to find Saint Raphael and his knowledge.
    I will pray to ten statues, strewn throughout Cordoba,
    and lure wolf and lynx from the hills with my dulcimer.
    Bring me wine in a copper
    goblet so I may bless these quivering hands.

    My spirit I commend into your hands—
    please scatter me to the universe, let me be stardust,
    and my story will sparkle like flame reflected in copper.
    Only the most humble will glean my knowledge
    and find comfort in the hammered song of the dulcimer
    that echoes down the streets of Cordoba.

    In the shadow of Sierra Morena, Cordoba
    reflects imprints from all the hands
    that shaped it—Muslim and Spanish themes delight the dulcimer
    as it sings of palaces and bathes the city in stardust.
    Can you take this venerable knowledge
    and shape me a heart out of cold copper?

    The lynx, with its flaming eyes of copper,
    haunts the montana that surrounds Cordoba.
    It has seen saints and sinners swap knowledge
    like coins and secrets trading hands.
    And the sad refrain twinkles in stardust—
    come, now, and play my life on the dulcimer.

    Take these copper-laden hands
    and pledge them in service to Cordoba—they will become stardust
    as they devise the knowledge concealed within the dulcimer.

    –Sara Doyle

  155. Vince Gotera

    Prompts today: Robert, animal poem (maybe a sestina); Maureen, poem with kennings. Mash mash mash up up up by me.
    “Dragon Sestina”

    What could be more optimal for a Dragon
    Sestina than using the word “dragon”
    as an end word? All six end words could be “dragon,”
    in fact. That way there’d be no drag in
    having to sort out when you’d need “dragon”
    again, ’cause every time you’d put in “dragon.”

    Yup, dragon.
    Then dragon.
    Then, uh-huh . . . dragon
    again. But given today’s prompts, you’d have to drag in
    a kenning or two, right? For example, a dragon
    kenning might be “fire worm.” But that’s a familiar dragon

    image already, from ancient days. A new kenning for dragon
    might be “reptile flame-thrower.” But that dragon
    just might be too moderne. Violating the traditional dragon
    mystique. You could allude to the constellation Draco
    by kenning “multi-double-eye snake” because Mu Draconis
    is a binary star in that system, along with Nu Draconis

    and Omicron Draconis and several others. Some Draco
    stars, in fact, are actually triplets. Because of the Draconids
    meteor shower every October, “stone-rain dragon”
    could be another kenning. Is it too draconian,
    do you think, to insist on repeating “dragon”?
    Are you, dear reader, getting tired of hearing “dragon”

    so often? Would it stretch credulity to hear “dragon”
    right now? For me, it isn’t yet a drag, and
    we’re still having fun, right? We’re not dragging
    our feet yet, thinking, “Oh jeez, here comes ‘dragon’
    again.” In reference to military history, “dragoon”
    might give us a little break from the word “dragon.”

    Another variation might be the name Count Dracula
    taken on by Vlad the Impaler when he became a Dragon,
    or more precisely was invested in The Order of the Dragon.
    The kenning then might be “blood-gulper son-of-a-dragon,”
    the literal technical meaning of the word “Dracula,”
    not the blood part but the bit about sons and dragons.

    Dragon sestina about done. Should we avoid dragging on
    by saying “dragon dragon dragon” now or does “dragon”
    need sestina’d with respect? Nah. Dragon dragon dragon.


  156. Bartholomew Barker

    Nameless Beauty

    She was clinging
    To my bare arm
    Or maybe he
    Let’s assume she

    I felt her tickling
    The hairs at my sleeve
    Green as a young leaf
    Slender as a twig
    Six long legs
    An exotic beauty

    I dropped her off
    At a convenient branch
    No need to squish her or him
    Just as I would prefer
    Not to be squished
    Should I ever find myself
    Clinging to a whale
    Or giant squid

    It could happen

  157. uneven steven

    The Phylum Chordata Sestina Blues

    it’s hair of the dog, pouch of the wallaby time,
    fuzz of the navel gazing wanna see
    yurs too warm blooded heat
    seeking missile builder heart
    like my pecos laden bill of sale
    before it was bread, bill and don knotts, fuck you

    you say tunicate I say tunicata you
    say I’m budding another you I mean me it’s time
    to breathe and filter feed and everything’s for sale
    in this sessile existence stuck to a substrata in a sea
    of us I mean me my swaying separate heart
    beating in time with the tides but lacking any heat

    thin skinned and breathable permeable to heat
    and water mucous secreting amphibi-us you
    are more than your egg laying larval staged heart
    splayed and dissected on an 8th graders table- time
    will tell you gotta kiss a lotta frogs you see
    they’re evaporating in a flag waving distance and no longer on sale

    tongue prestidigitation on a prodigious sliding scale
    round rock hugging heat
    seeking cold blooded slit eyed licker that sees
    us feeling something in the dead yew – you
    a desert blind slithering under a rock the last time
    it beats for having disturbed your slumbering my heart

    sweet birds of a morning feather one in the hand my heart
    sings its territorial mating bill of sale
    pecking order hollow boned migration time
    lack of sun and seasonal green light food and heat
    wing beat of a thin ancestral dinosaurian you
    your black eye moving among twenty snowy mountains all i see

    more than all the others there are plenty in the sea
    gilly aquateers water runs your heart
    schooled or stalking it’s all about you
    always moving even breaking your atmosphere to sail
    into an air you have no name for the sun’s heat
    washing over you breathless and out of time

    all this time wandering in and out of seas
    in and out of sailing bodies minds seeking heat
    seeking maybe the heart of another me I mean you

  158. miaokuancha

    April 13, 2014

    Prompt: Animal

    He sees a water bird in flight
    The eagle clan guards the roads that she travels
    Wings mark the sky of her day
    Loon call crosses his lake at dusk

    He places a pinch of tobacco at the roots of a fallen tree
    She sends lung smoke out to the winter air

    ~ miaokuancha

  159. AC Leming

    Lions at Play

    We share a totem animal, he and I. But our lions
    aren’t from the same pride. His lithe animal seeks sunshine
    while I hide in the shade, though we discovered a shared goofball
    sense of humor. He lives much more in the present
    than I, stuck in my squirrel-mind distractions. A Scorpio,
    he embodies all the good qualities of the sign. A natural athlete,

    just like our totem, his goal is to find the athlete
    in everyone he meets, me included. But my lioness
    is a lazy cat, likes to laze out of the sun, not chase scorpions
    for fun. Just like his totem cat, he loves the sunshine
    as much as it loves him. His bronzed body, a sensual present
    to all who gaze upon him, despite his goofball

    antics. When together, neither of us resists our goofball
    natures. Like our inner cats, we pounce and play. I lose any athletic
    contest. My leonine friend twists me into a knot as a present
    to my ego, which should be bruised. But my inner lion
    refuses to admit he can best me, despite his prowess. The sunshine
    caresses his skin. I envy it. I want to bask in his attention, forget the scorpion

    sting, that I must accept his restrictions, see him on his schedule. His Scorpio
    nature loves attention and my lioness doesn’t want to share his goofball
    humor with the rest of his harem. So I wait for my sunshine
    boy, determined to be the one person who won’t put this athlete
    into compromising positions. My cat wants to press against his lion
    in ways I won’t allow. But I stay strong, so I won’t present

    him with a triangle he can’t triangulate his way out of. So my presence
    stays hidden, like a dirty secret he can’t admit to knowing. The scorpion
    stinger of jealousy embeds itself deep, even in the hide of a lion.
    And sometimes I feel both user and used, but my goofball
    sense of the absurd can’t stay away from his. We feed a need in the other, the athlete
    and I. And though I feel a bit uneasy, his sunshine

    smile and platonic hugs chase away my shadows. Sunshine
    cleanses, purifies. It penetrates the shady patches present
    in my broken life. That my antsy friend, this natural athlete
    takes time to answer my silly teasing in kind rather than scraping
    me out of his life like the current, lost love, well, my goofball
    nature recognizes his. We escalate our play, two lions

    batting at one another. Two lions tumbling in the grass and sunshine,
    reveling in each goofball face-plant into the dirt. The affection present,
    which no scorpion’s stinger can wound, stays strong between me and this athlete.

  160. lshannon

    I did the animal one first and then tried my hand for the very first time on the sestina. Hard but fun. (not related to animals though)


    Another season has arrived it is spring
    Feelings of newness fill my heart
    Each morning we rise in discovery
    And a day of missed beauty is disaster
    Around every corner is an optical feast
    and stirrings of longing in a kindled passion

    Recent winter under heavy cloud dulled passion
    All memories and senses faded of a distant spring
    Bodies weighted by a sloth of holiday feast
    Gifts of calories clogging the heart
    Clothes tight and uncomfortable in a diet disaster
    In front of a mirror, disgust and discovery

    We are reimagining the years, a discovery
    Stages of coming youth of rising and falling passion
    Then all was epic drama and recounted disaster
    Relationships as volatile as the weather in spring
    On tree bark deeply your letters knifed inside my heart
    Young years we tore into with sharp teeth a raucous feast

    Summer a blanket on grass you spread your feast
    We two have known years still surprising discovery
    Your gaze and your laugher like I know my own heart
    The heat your sweat and the sun kissed beach my passion
    So much more than the tentative reaching of spring
    In humid nights and steaming morning’s storm cloud disaster

    Foreboding blackness and electric disaster
    Our autumn event laid out in intricate detail to feast
    With colorful foliage but an unknown hurricane ready to spring
    Into weather reports of past history loss listed as discovery
    Even in storms the harvest ignites a nostalgic passion
    Remembering first days, your grasp on my then confused heart

    Years listed and counted the ledger of my heart
    Worn and strengthened by facing down disaster
    Being familiar has not surprisingly diminished my passion
    Becoming an intimate dinner for two not a crowded feast
    Of many. instead just us together a blossoming discovery
    Growing tentatively like the early snowdrops of spring

    I released the spring within the lock and clasp of my secret heart
    My knowledge of self and of you a discovery of diverted disaster
    The richness of our feast and the simple seasons of our passion

  161. JoCam

    Sestina (fox, walks, mocks, paradox, equinox, orthodox)

    As the world springs toward the equinox.,
    Consider the plight of the arctic fox.
    The ice subsiding wherever he walks,
    while seagulls screech at him mewing mocks.
    His reaction to them is orthodox:
    He barks, then flees, such a paradox.

    As do we all play with paradox,
    entreating the coming of equinox,
    afraid of offending the orthodox,
    we bundle away coats of arctic fox,
    haul out from our closets sandals and mocs,
    preparing for jaunty spring time walks

    Time tends to scamper down brick-lined walks
    while we trudge behind it, a paradox –
    time-trodden, we hear the faintest of mocks,
    farewell, as it were, to the equinox,
    the ghostly voice of the arctic fox.
    Winter to spring is orthodox

    But spring to winter’s not orthodox!
    Yet here, where frost heaves our roads and walks,
    we bay the moon like the arctic fox
    Surviving the nameless paradox,
    thumbing our nose at the equinox
    as winter returns despite our mocks

    for climate change will survive our mocks
    though ecologists stern and orthodox
    tell us man’s speeding up the equinox,
    but no matter how hard or fast he walks,
    he can’t outreach time – the paradox.
    Hark to the yips of the arctic fox!

    We owe our lives to the arctic fox.
    The trickster teaches as much as he mocks,
    balances the terms of the paradox
    makes heretics out of the orthodox,
    and tangles them up in random walks
    through the witless winds of the equinox.

    The world’s given up on the equinox, gone off to the realm of the arctic fox.
    We are left in the wind of our aimless walks, while the spring delights in spiteful mocks.
    Let’s remove our minds from the orthodox and concentrate on the paradox.

  162. Roderick Bates

    Brook Trout

    by Roderick Bates

    Fishing the West River near Londonderry,
    I cast out a chunk of nightcrawler,
    and immediately it gets hit, hard.
    I wrestle in a good size brookie.

    Curious as to what it has been feeding on,
    I open it up, find that its stomach
    is swollen and firm and full.
    I slit the stomach and find a mouse.

    Later, as I eat the trout, I compare
    my vague guilt at having killed it,
    to the drive with which the trout hit
    the mouse and then attacked my worm.
    I can only conclude that I am less
    well-adjusted than the average Vermont trout.

  163. Emily Cooper

    Holy Animals

    (Sung by Pope Francis at St. Peter’s Square)

    Oh faithful
    do you understand me now

    I’m smilin’
    for this “selfie”

    but I’m sad

    ’cause leaders are lyin’
    when they disguise
    themselves as angels

    for even great people
    can do bad.

    I’m just a pope
    whose intentions are good

    oh Lord
    please don’t let me
    be misunderstood.

  164. cam45237

    The Arctic Fox

    Vulpine white on white, a paradox
    That strains the optic nerves and mocks
    The mind – it is not orthodox
    To look for white at night. The equinox
    Makes shadows shine, and on the tundra walks
    The ambiguous figure of the Arctic fox.

    Have you seen the ghosting fox?
    it’s gleaming fur a paradox?
    The common red fox often walks
    in Autumn but when Winter mocks,
    When day demurs to equinox,
    you’ll find colors blind, hues too, less orthodox

    The stars divide the skies in orthodox
    Design so light can find the fur that limns the fox
    His spine seems split, a centered equinox
    Half bright, half shade, confusion mocks
    The mice and moles and voles, the victims of this paradox
    See there? An unsuspecting creature walks

    Looks back, sees naught but white and walks
    on. His world secure and orthodox
    All’s calm, all’s right and nothing mocks
    His sense of safety but the Arctic Fox
    That sneaks behind, a silent paradox
    of white in black, of day in night, an avatar of equinox

    Sun and moon stand mirrored doors, the equinox
    Aligns the hours on either side, that central second walks
    the thinnest line of surest paradox
    and scoffs at measured moments and their orthodox
    arrangement and the fox
    Flips his silver tail, with mischief mocks

    The solemn moon. The moon in turn then mocks
    The structured conceit of the equinox
    That dares to dictate nature, forms the fox
    Who sleeps and dreams and wakes and hunts and walks
    despite celestial placements orthodox
    arrangement. That’s the paradox

    We do not dare ignore the paradox, the discord of a nature that now mocks
    the order in the orthodox, the equal in the equinox
    Unnatural nature opens arms, out walks the shifting figure of the Arctic fox.

    1. cam45237

      We did this as a family challenge. My mother, sister and sixteen year old nephew all sat around the kitchen table this morning struggling with structure – much fun. I have included their efforts attached to mine! My mother’s is seperate as she is participating in the April challenge.

      1. cam45237

        Upon the melting hill of snow the arctic fox,
        picks daintily as it walks
        It’s stark color mocks
        The green and blooms of the vernal equinox
        The pastel colors of coming spring are orthodox
        Making the stark coat a winter paradox.

        But what an obvious paradox
        The browns and greens with the white fox
        The stark against the orthodox
        It picks along the path it walks
        Matching the path of the vernal equinox
        Despite the fact that it’s stark coat mocks.

        Why do we think it mocks?
        Why a paradox?
        Does it care about the equinox?
        The pretty, wild arctic fox?
        Does it like the muddy path it walks?
        Can it become an orthodox?

        Spring equals orthodox?
        White coat, spring mocks
        It is a lonely path it walks
        The sole figure to the teeming spring’s a paradox
        But lo the fur of arctic fox
        Begins to molt as the equinox

        The lovely, warming equinix
        That which is true and orthodox
        Begins to change the arctic fox
        So that it no longer mocks
        No longer is a paradox
        As along spring’s path it walks

        As along spring’s path it walks
        Following the equinox
        Where now is the paradox?
        All now is orthodox
        Nothing now mocks
        The dull, brown-coated arctic fox.

        This is about the arctic fox and where it walks
        The ice and cold make sure it mocks the pretty vernal equinox
        I know it is not orthodox to think life is a paradox.

        1. cam45237

          On the day of the great equinox
          An event happened out of the stream of the orthodox.
          There was a great arctic fox.
          He was a paradox,
          For he mocks,
          All he sees when he walks.

          For when he walks,
          On the day of the equinox,
          He mocks,
          For he hates the orthodox,
          And he loves a paradox.
          He is a great arctic fox.

          There’s a great arctic fox,
          Goes on many walks.
          He beholds all paradox,
          And he loves the equinox.
          His is out of the stream of orthodox,
          For all he mocks.

          He mocks,
          All he sees, for he is a great arctic fox.
          All in the stream of orthodox,
          Hate when he takes one of his walks.
          For on the day of the great equinox,
          He was a great paradox.

          For one who loves many a paradox,
          And one who mocks,
          So much, on the day of the equinox,
          No one saw the great arctic fox.
          He was not on one of his walks.
          This is what broke the stream of orthodox.

          None knew what to do with the stream of orthodox,
          For this was a paradox.
          The fox was not on one of his walks,
          No one heard his mocks,
          And none knew where the great arctic fox,
          Was on the doay of the great equinox.

          On all days of equinox, the orthodox,
          Has changed, for the great arctic fox is gone, and it is a paradox
          He never returned from one of his walks, for one deceived him for his mocks

  165. Elizabeth Koch

    Horses and My Dad

    In a dream he
    walked toward me
    across green pasture
    from beneath the trees
    They followed him out
    from all around
    trusting where he led
    I woke and wondered
    what it meant
    A cowboy
    trailed by horses
    And then I knew
    the truth I saw
    My dad just
    draws souls in
    Yet he will always
    come to me
    if I am lost from him

  166. MaryAnn1067

    Zoological Garden

    peacocks threaded through
    the tables at the
    snack bar, seeking out
    the rinds of pretzels as
    we ate sandwiches of
    black pudding and drank
    from a flask of tea

    and the lions still
    recline, in relief, facing
    each other, as we
    faced each other, only
    later stumbling in the
    World of Darkness and
    grasping for each other’s

    timing the turbulence of
    the river against our
    breathing, pulsing over the
    rocks, while common
    chipmunks scurried past,

    on their way, in a
    hurry, somewhere,
    while we wait for
    the day to expire,
    roaring at the lions,
    never expecting them
    to answer

  167. Blaise


    Across the watering hole from us humans,
    African elephant scoops hay with relaxed trunk,
    sweeping the ground near feet, no need to look,
    letting sweet aromas guide the nonchalant motion.

    More purposed coiling up to the mouth,
    right back down to continue the forage.
    Tail sweeps sideways in a slower rhythm,
    not to chase flies – dog-like pleasure?

    One tree trunk of a leg cocked at a slant,
    like a street corner dude posed to impress,
    two curved tusks intact, surely not worried,
    safe from poachers in the North Carolina Zoo.

    No concern of being killed and chainsawed
    for ivory trinkets, just natural calm
    and surprising cockiness on display.
    Belly laugh given today’s P-A-D prompt.

  168. Alphabet Architect

    The Unexpected for the Unlikely

    This man the crowd calls King
    Comes riding on an ass,
    While children with palm branches
    Wave and pave the road
    With cloaks and shout, “Hosanna!”
    The streets have never seen such life.

    This man who last week restored a dead man’s life
    Attracts crowds, irks rulers who think a king
    Should look royal and worthy of Hosannas.
    Really? Salvation comes on an ass?
    Those who lined Jerusalem’s road
    Take sides; divide into separate branches.

    Chief priests and teachers form one branch,
    Plotting to take the donkey-rider’s life.
    Fear unites them, moving them along the road
    To avenge blasphemy of the would-be king
    Who upset tables, making them look like asses.
    His arrest is intended to end the hosannas.

    Only a small band still cries, “Hosanna!”
    Theirs is the smaller, weaker branch.
    “He who comes riding on an ass,”
    They have heard throughout their lives,
    “Is your salvation; He is your king.”
    They believe in the man they lauded on the road.

    No more happy throngs line the road;
    Only silence among those who would sing, “Hosanna.”
    A crown of thorns adorns the king,
    And switches have replaced palm branches.
    No less is demanded than his life.
    He will bear his cross alone -without so much as an ass.

    The rulers, the crowd, you, and I are the asses;
    The sinners; the mockers up and down Calvary’s Road.
    For us the humble king willingly gave up His life.
    So today and all days we praise Him, singing, “Hosanna!”
    The children shout too, waving their palm branches,
    Hailing Jesus, the King of Kings.

    The king who rode into Jerusalem on an ass
    Extends the olive branch to all as He walks along life’s road.
    Shout, “Hosanna,” to the giver of peace, forgiveness, grace, and life.

  169. Alpha1


    Full moon hanging
    Low in the sky
    Glaring down
    Guiding the way
    On the run
    Foraging for flesh
    Alpha leading the hunt
    For blood
    On edge
    Howling at the moon
    Glaring through the glen
    For enemies
    Lurking in the dark
    Living out
    His destiny
    Keeping the pack safe
    To live free
    To run
    To hunt again

  170. Snowqueen


    The bitter wind blows through the woods
    It stings like the passing of a close friend
    We came for one last walk
    Soon all will be covered in white not green
    My jacket covers a shirt of flannel
    Leading the way is Rex, my dog

    Time was when Rex was a puppy dog
    How he’d run, such freedom in this great big woods
    Adventure was worth leaving his blanket of flannel
    So inquisitive was my new friend
    He examined each tree, hole and plant of green
    Unintentionally creating memories each time we’d walk

    Rex mellowed a bit, trading his run for a walk
    You know, he’s cool – he’s a “been there, done that” Dog
    He’s got experience now, he is no longer green
    Senses however, they stay in overdrive as we explore the woods
    Each going to different points of interest, but I can always see my friend
    Joyfully, our paths cross periodically like the lines on flannel

    Rex’s chocolate-brown and snow-white hair is soft as flannel
    His snow lined mouth now shows his age as well as his meandering walk
    But still it’s good for both of us, so we pay a visit to our woodsy friend
    Young at heart is a good way to describe this dog
    For quick as a flash he’s off chasing a speedy rabbit through the woods
    Did you see that? I still got it, laughed his eyes of green

    Your season in life is winter but outside today it’s green
    You stay so close now to your flannel
    I can just tell you need a trip to our woods
    Don’t worry; I’ll carry you when you’re tired; you will not have to walk
    Come on old pal…come on dog
    One last time with a forever Friend

    Just a few days later I lost my Friend
    My world has gone a dirty black, I wish that it was green
    I miss you Rex, I couldn’t have asked for a better dog
    Your unconditional love was as comforting as flannel
    I must go to our favorite spot, come meet me there and walk
    Thanks goodness for the memories we made in these very woods

    I loved our trips to the Woods, you were my cherished friend
    Alone I walk through familiar trees, to spread your ashes in the lush green
    My tears drench your flannel blanket; you truly were a special dog
    Karen D.

  171. CLShaffer

    The Neighbors Left Their Dogs To Starve by C. Lynn Shaffer

    I found a large bag of dog food
    tossed on our porch overnight and thought
    they’d left it for our dog. When it was opened
    no note explained Please take care
    of our dogs. Thank you. No cages
    on their stoop. No sign of life.

    Two dogs alone in a house, their lives
    at first unchanged. People go, come back, food
    follows. During the day they’d sleep in cages,
    the only furniture. How often my thoughts
    have left their cages, watched them wandering, uncaring,
    not yet wondering when the door would open.

    Light moved across the room but no brightness opened
    in the middle where the people went. The only lives
    the two of them and a mouse their pacing scares
    from hiding. No tables, no beds where food
    might be found. They must have been full of thoughts
    as they nosed open the blinds in their new house-cage.

    They abandoned one crate, slept together in a cage
    that could now hold them as one. The door did not open,
    we did not open it, and I wonder now if they thought
    of us, the people they could hear, who could fill their lives
    again with movement, with sustenance more than food.
    Did they imagine our footfalls, guttural moans calling for care?

    What sins are committed for a deficit of imagination, of care?
    What else but they gnawed their own feet, their tails, once their cages
    were stripped of plastic, the wood from baseboards their last food,
    splintering their gums and throats. Though I often open
    the house and call them to me, their spindly lives
    are wasted, like these frequent and pacing thoughts.

    When we realized what had happened, a sickening thought,
    the landlord let us in and we entered slowly as if taking care
    to not wake what was left of them. Life
    had vacated the room. The mass of them still in one cage,
    their ribs so white in the stark sunlight we had opened
    into a tomb, gums drawn back, teeth poised for food.

    When I watch the news, hear the phrase food
    for thought, I think of dogs, of children, of hope
    turned to a shriveled heart inside a ribcage.

    Note: “Food for thought” should be italicized.

  172. Lori DeSanti

    Our Hands In The Night

    When we were teenagers, we’d sneak out of
    our cabins on the Coosa River, slip between
    rays of the blushing moon and leave caution

    and our clothes on the banks. I remember
    touching your skin below surface, my hair
    billowing in the current. We ducked with

    a lungful of air under darkness with each
    sound of a broken stick, each shriek of owl
    prey in the night, and we made love for

    the first time. It was that night when we
    saw them, floating in silence; we thought
    they were logs, drifting branches from the

    canopy of river trees, their wet pelts like
    water-logged tree bark—pairs of sea otters
    on their backs, arms linked to each other

    so they wouldn’t separate in the night. We
    watched them until the moon hid behind
    the clouds, until we could stand up from

    the river and be clothed from each other’s
    eyes by the shadows, where you lead me
    back to my cabin down the unlit path, never

    letting go of my hand.

  173. Ashley Marie Egan

    I can understand those frustrated with the sestina style. I’ll have to practice that a lot more before I can write a poem like that. Anyway, here is the (non-sestina) poem I wrote.

    A Wolf Howls
    by Ashley Marie Egan

    The moon is full,
    A wolf howls,
    Deep in the woods,
    Sending chills,
    Through my bones,
    Until I feel a clinch,
    In my heart.

    I know,
    I belong,
    With them.

  174. pamelaraw


    She likes her dogs the way
    she likes her men–large and long-
    haired, happy to be at her feet.

    She keeps them close, tethered,
    lets them walk ahead, sniffing
    and stopping every few moments

    to turn back to see if she’s pleased
    and feels protected. She leans
    down to pet her approval, whispers

    Growl for me, baby,
    show the world
    your teeth

    then slinks behind their shadows.
    She has no nose for danger, no gift
    for burying old bones. She only does

    what she’s been taught:
    sit, look pretty, fetch,
    roll over, beg, stay.

  175. Anvanya


    Ursula is the best dog in the world –
    she’s been gone now fifteen years, but her spirit
    occasionally takes up residence at the foot of the bed
    when I have called her or she intuits I need a pal.

    A fluffy ball of blond fur, Ursie was the runt of the litter,
    with enormous paws into which she eventually grew.
    I thought she looked like a bear cub, so Ursula she was named.
    Half German Shepherd and half Collie,
    she had fur that just did not quit. Every opening of the
    fridge door came with one or two Ursula hairs extra.

    Known for racing like crazy in our back yard,
    chasing the neighbors’ cats or running
    with the boys on their bikes, her favorite spot was
    a shallow nest she dug in the cool dirt beneath
    the camellia bushes of a summer day.
    If it got really hot, she’d retreat to the garage interior
    and lurk beneath the laundry sink.

    Betimes she patiently lay still on her back on the porch
    while I combed the fur and clipped it to reasonable lengths –
    over and over and over.
    Kevin’s dog, mostly, Ursula would stretch
    across his shoulders, imitating the Las Vegas lion kings.
    They laughed together.

    When she was about six or seven I realized that
    our dog understood lots of words and phrases.
    I gave up cataloging them after I hit thirty-seven –
    probably she knew more. As she aged her joints ached
    and her hair began to thin alarmingly. Walks in the
    neighborhood were tough on the old gal. The day arrived
    for her to shuffle off to heaven and we wept for a time.

    Six months later a white shadow drifted into the bedroom
    and paused at my feet – I knew it was Ursula, come to say
    hello. Good girl! That day I was in need of consolation
    and her quiet presence reassured me that all would be well.
    Once I told my daughter-in-law about our ghost dog:
    she refrained from commenting.

  176. De Jackson


    (Says Tina):

    Of zodiac and other signs, we ox
    -idize our own hearts, rat
    -tle tired empty cages; tender dog
    -ma, as slender chances slag and drag on,
    lost. We tossed too many sheep
    -less nights to sky, waited for rooster

    to crow his cheerful cry and roost er
    -ratically until dawn. You stubborn ox,
    am I some quiet mewling sheep,
    your prey? Today I stand to rat
    -ify my name, hold this dark dragon
    still at bay, a begging dog.

    Of silence and other sighs, we hold our dog
    -ma loose and prize the way this new roost er
    -ases both our pasts. At last, perhaps we’ll drag on,
    dive in full, unfading. No need for ox
    -ygen or breeze, we’ll squeeze the last rat
    -tled breath from lungs plunged deep, sheep

    -ish promises to keep: to spend nights counting sheep
    and stars. If ours is such a fiery, dog
    -tired tongue, how then can we rat
    -chet back our fear? This rooster
    here has all but sung. Listen, you headstrong ox:
    I can slay my own damn dragon.

    Of will and other whys, we do drag on.
    We follow suit like helpless newborn sheep,
    young lambs who hew to ox
    -en, yet unyoked. Is there some dog
    -eared tome that says we must stay? Let’s roost here,
    come what may and choose to rat

    -tle someone else’s sky. (Oh, I smell a rat.)
    Shall I allow this to drag on?
    Take that, and crown the rooster
    noisy king. I have tried to love my darkness, but she ep
    -itomizes everything I see inside your dog
    -ged, backwards smile: first cart, then ox.

    Oh, stubborn ox, oh, dirty rat –
    You are a hungry dog, and I a breathless dragon
    sans her voice, as sheepish clock and rooster have crowed thrice.


  177. PowerUnit

    I have a problem with keeping pets
    Animals do not belong in wooden homes where they eat
    An endless supply of food and clean water
    They sleep in a warm bed with a warmer woman
    Maybe if the pets were not here
    Someone would feed me fancy meals and seek my warmth
    Why can’t I be treated like a pet?

  178. toujourskari

    Little Wolf

    Little wolf so sweet and grey
    I shall be your lunch someday.
    For now you snuggle meek and mild
    like every other mother’s child.
    Soon you’ll leave this happy home
    to hunt for prey on hills you roam.
    You’ll soon forget who saved you then;
    You’ll track my scent upon the glen.
    Your hungry teeth will find my heart
    and rip my tender flesh apart.
    Until that day so grim and dire,
    let’s snuggle close beside this fire.

  179. robinamelia

    13 Animal

    How can I be anything but a cat?
    Raised by them in ex-urban wilderness
    (father working a bridge leap away,
    mother tied by phone cord to kitchen wall).

    If only those two wise creatures had their claws
    I might have learned more useful skills:
    how to play with the mean girls
    how to bring home the prey.

    Robin Amelia Morris

  180. ninocka

    I do not like sestina but here is my attempt:


    On Sunday afternoon we did some rushing
    because we wanted to encounter tiger
    just didn’t know he would be very white
    and eyes in his nice head would be quite sad
    he lain and ate his food behind the bars
    not ready to go sleep or negotiate

    In the hottest hour of the day we negotiate
    what else to see but everyone was rushing
    to see this animal so rare behind the bars
    compare him to the other kind of tiger
    find out what makes him really sad
    and why his fur has always been so white

    By growing up in ZOO with walls so white
    he could not help himself and negotiate
    though story of this cat is mostly sad
    we do not want to say all that in rushing
    but nothing good can come out of this tiger
    who has to spend his short life among the bars

    And then we ate our Mars and almond bars
    in thinking why our race is also white
    perhaps slowly extinct just like that tiger
    although we did learn how to negotiate
    in work and life that is around us rushing
    happy moments come but end is sad

    This predator was exquisitely sad
    in fur destroyed by genes, lived near the bars
    while all his blood was circling round and rushing
    when he stared at many people very white
    that looked at him and started to negotiate
    about strange ways of nature and this tiger

    In cage all life was normal for the tiger
    to be endangered did not make him sad
    he was not able to kill his prey or negotiate
    therefore the people surrounded him with bars
    sly wilderness did not allow him to be white
    this animal could not live free in rushing

    But we went rushing to this gentle tiger
    that was nice white and seemed so very sad
    we ate our bars and stopped to negotiate

  181. GarrinJost

    The Failure of the Antelope

    It is my words that I’ll be eating
    This calm journey, slow to embark
    The perfect poem’s campfire glow
    The uncracked nut of dead stillness
    All bowed and wrapped and set to amaze
    And still, I must include the antelope

    Now, the unfettered mental stillness
    The sun-stain on eyes, inspired glow
    Success’s fetal balm, yet to amaze
    Still that goddamn unused antelope
    The thought of completion and eating
    The poem uncooked, yet to embark

    Still, the hero or heroine has to embark
    The story full of marrow for joyous eating
    Alike, the gravity of the fearful antelope
    Alight and alive, frantic eye glow
    The always promise of death’s coming stillness
    food to the watcher, endless amaze

    Why oh Why run, promised antelope
    Your pulsing blood helps only to amaze
    Hushed breath of mouth’s perfect eating
    Dark, holy journey- only to embark
    And yet, the future keeps it’s only glow
    The coming moment breeds a silent stillness

    Your boldness does help the senses wild amaze
    We both long always for heart’s stillness
    Calm yourself, we are poised to now embark
    We are keen to the inequality of eating
    We both are one, mild antelope
    We share the same crop of Nature’s glow

    The antelope has been eaten, expired glow
    The word and thing that’s won is only stillness
    Impossible, holy, grand, deadly stillness
    One’s failure, meant to always amaze
    The doomed journey, why embark?
    Success is eaten, and we are only eating

    The antelope failed, so we are eating
    To again embark, no, stillness conquers
    The glow is not lost, nature is to amaze.

  182. ninocka

    I do not like sestina but here is my attempt (tried to keep iambic pentameter as well):


    On Sunday afternoon we did some rushing
    because we wanted to encounter tiger
    just didn’t know he would be very white
    and eyes in his nice head would be quite sad
    he lain and ate his food behind the bars
    not ready to go sleep or negotiate

    In the hottest hour of the day we negotiate
    what else to see but everyone was rushing
    to see this animal so rare behind the bars
    compare him to the other kind of tiger
    find out what makes him really sad
    and why his fur has always been so white

    By growing up in ZOO with walls so white
    he could not help himself and negotiate
    though story of this cat is mostly sad
    we do not want to say all that in rushing
    but nothing good can come out of this tiger
    who has to spend his short life among the bars

    And then we ate our Mars and almond bars
    in thinking why our race is also white
    perhaps slowly extinct just like that tiger
    although we did learn how to negotiate
    in work and life that is around us rushing
    happy moments come but end is sad

    This predator was exquisitely sad
    in fur destroyed by genes, lived near the bars
    while all his blood was circling round and rushing
    when he stared at many people in white
    that looked at him and started to negotiate
    about strange ways of nature and this tiger

    In cage all life was normal for the tiger
    to be endangered did not make him sad
    he was not able to kill his prey or negotiate
    therefore the people surrounded him with bars
    sly wilderness did not allow him to be white
    this animal could not live free in rushing

    But we went rushing to this gentle tiger
    that was nice white and seemed so very sad
    we ate our bars and stopped to negotiate

    1. SestinaNia

      I’ve found with sestinas that the less you impose on them (other than the end-word order) the more they tend to blossom. I’d encourage you to try it without the additional meter and find the rhythm created by the repetition of the words!

  183. MeenaRose

    When Tomorrow Comes
    By: Meena Rose

    Brilliantly black and royally plumed;
    Your gaze, intent and defiant;
    The ask, the dare, the invite,
    Is made crystal clear;
    I take a deep breath and leap
    Into bottomless onyx eyes.

    The world within, a feast for eyes;
    No longer human, I am plumed;
    A shawl of wings, I take the leap
    And soar, bewildered first then defiant;
    My identity is no longer clear;
    Kindred Raven, thank you for the invite.

    I caw and mind laugh, the invite
    Demands surrender and fearless eyes;
    This much has become clear;
    To be among the plumed,
    Shed you anchors, break the shackles – defiant;
    The grandest spiritual leap.

    Filled with joy, transformed by the leap;
    I extend you an invite
    To explore the other side, defiant
    And proud, come see it with your eyes
    Winged friends so colorfully plumed;
    That is not real is not very clear.

    Look upon the pond, so pristine, so clear;
    Watch all the others surrender and leap;
    With each an escort royally plumed;
    Have to go, sky tango, just got the invite;
    Don’t look at me with those can’t believe it eyes;
    Fine, call me defiant.

    Oh, so now who is defiant?
    It has become very clear,
    Your very real eyes
    Will never take a chance and leap;
    Kindred Raven’s open invite;
    Still brilliantly black and royally plumed.

    Emotionally defiant, the grandest leap,
    Spiritually clear, the open invite,
    Fearless eyes, royally plumed.

  184. lshannon

    Leash Lessons

    So much heart
    You give me every day
    waking and watching
    to see where I will go
    if I will take you

    Cold nose, wet eyes
    can express silently so much

    I am too crazy for you
    But I will not force you
    in people’s clothes
    not crazy like that, never

    Each day remembering
    our time is limited
    stop and love scratching
    behind your ears talking
    you share an important lesson
    told in leashes and water bowls

    Listening hard tilting and turning
    trying to understand, So do I,
    crossing languages
    in energy and reaction

    I did not have a child
    for limitless reasons
    but you came into my life
    just willing and loving
    going and doing whatever

    We must take longer walks
    and slower mornings
    more time with that bright ball
    and the silly yellow duck
    which you will not give me
    (not all that fun for me, by the way)
    It makes you happy

  185. Shennon

    Be still my aching heart
    No longer can I cry
    No longer able to catch my breath
    Such sorrow does consume
    As I set down my glass of wine
    I find myself wanting to die.

    ‘Twould be so easy to lay down and die
    Such peace would fill my heart
    Instead I’ll settle for the wine
    It doesn’t care how much I cry
    No matter the alcohol I consume
    I mutter under my breath.

    I wonder if sounds of labored breath
    Echo loudly before you die?
    If the terrible pain that does consume
    Lifts high and frees your heart?
    Oh why do I waste my tears and cry?
    Who listens when I complain and whine?

    The night grows darker, I drink more wine
    My heart palpitates , I have uneven breaths
    Never did you hear my fruitless cries
    With each rejection a part of me dies
    A thousand tiny needles sting my heart
    As I fight to free a love that did consume.

    So much food I will consume
    I’ll drink cheap beer and wine
    Although I know deep in my heart
    That I’m just wasting my breath
    Rejection makes me want to die
    But I’ll settle for a good, long cry.

    What good is this to sniffle and cry?
    I must fight the fire that consumes
    To surrender is to give up and die
    “To life!”, a mock toast with my wine
    I gather my courage, I take a deep breath
    I’ll be fine, I know in my heart.

    Courage coming from the heart, a newfound battle cry
    With a triumphant breath, I vow to consume
    The rest of my wine, while my love for you dies.


  186. elishevasmom

    The Nature of the Beast

    In all of the
    animal realm
    man is unique
    in his proclivity
    for killing
    all species
    (including his own)
    for pleasure.

    Ellen Evans

  187. ehauswald

    Field Guide

    The green frogs
    celebrate the evening,
    crying out
    over each other
    like a thousand

    When we come back
    from fighting
    over dinner, the
    orange light of
    dusk is piercing
    through the house,
    a spirit. It throws
    itself out across
    the lawn, casting
    steep shadows.

    By the time
    we settle into our
    own beds, the
    frogs will have
    turned in for the
    night too, and
    a tentative
    calm will pervade
    the wild night.
    But for now,
    for hours now,
    they will keep
    singing, tirelessly,
    their single note.

  188. beachanny

    Earth’s Loss

    It seems an annual vile masquerade
    of camouflage that masks the great deceit —
    to hunt is justified. By their intrigue
    of luring forest dwellers to descend
    into their traps, what they, in fact, desire
    is pleasuring themselves by deaths to possess

    the total aggregate the animals possess.
    They claim they need their meat; but masquerade
    their true intent, the festering desire
    for more: gain power, conquer by deceit.
    They don’t assess the cost as they descend
    into blood lust while plotting new intrigue.

    A few demented minds who use intrigue,
    inflict great pain on creatures who possess
    no natural defense to guns. Descend
    into those psyches, strip their masquerade/
    Their cruel methods reveal deceptions
    enhance their want, their weapons, their desire.

    Do they respect the creatures’ needs, their desire
    to feed and shelter their own young? Intrigue
    and dark designs may yield more deceit
    as they, like men of old, who tracked, possess
    some now unneeded skills. This fact they masquerade
    as need before they take their young, descend

    again to ritualistic haunts, descend
    with cautious words as they’re the prey desired
    by deer or elk. Sometimes they masquerade
    while dressed in their dead furs, suppose intrigue.
    The animals would plot demise, and would possess
    outstanding skill, while using wild deceit.

    These men presume their minds would craft deceit
    like wolf, or bear or fox. This lore allows descent
    to worlds of mythic times where they possess
    more skill than they’ve acquired; when need, desire
    made hunting mandatory by intrigue.
    when their survival was not masquerade.

    Through their deceit and mad-to-kill desire,
    the hunters now descend through wild intrigue;
    possess a madness through their masquerade.

    © Gay Reiser Cannon

  189. Benjamin Thomas


    I have no dealings
    with the famed beast.
    As far as the west
    is from the east.
    They say he devours
    poet and he,
    who writes words
    so delightfully.
    He gathers them quick
    for hors d’oeuvres,
    plucks and chomps
    until they’re served

    He sinks his teeth
    deep into their will
    shreds and tears
    as they lie still
    I have no dealings
    with the beast.
    As far as the west
    is from the east.

  190. Shennon

    Behind my ears!
    Under my chin!
    Down by my tail!
    I implore you with chagrin!

    Won’t you scratch me?
    Just a little harder, please?
    I’ve been ever so itchy,
    Since my brother gave me fleas.


  191. CathyBlogs

    Elephant in the Room
    (A tritina)

    This room overflows with you and me and silence,
    I’ve given this shitty conversation way too much effort,
    and have no energy left for more wretched words tonight;

    you know the dark hours don’t just belong to the night,
    the pale morning will bring unwelcome clarity to the silence
    and our argument will rekindle with the smallest effort, but,

    baby, if you can’t give even this fight your best effort —
    it’s not like you even tried to understand tonight,
    seriously, when I asked, do you love me? All I heard was silence

    and the truth: Our story ends with your silent effort tonight.

    by Cathy Dee writing at CathyBlogs

  192. cbwentworth


    Drawn into the stars,
    they decide our fate
    Surefooted with horns,
    reliable Ram
    The hard-headed Bull,
    grunts and stomps the ground

    Limitless fences,
    of sparkle and blue
    Don’t mess with the Crab,
    full of fire and red
    Regal and royal,
    the Lion will roar
    On the defensive,
    the Scorpion stings

    Galaxies will spin,
    the wheel still turns
    Chatty is the Goat,
    stubborn to a fault
    Caught in the current,
    an enlightened Fish

    – – –

    C.B. Wentworth

  193. MeenaRose

    Muffled Whimpers
    By: Meena Rose

    High noon in the desert;
    Stopping for another errand,
    You somehow forget your best
    Friend, your life’s companion,
    In the back seat – sweltering.

    Long forgotten, you in your
    Air conditioned haven never
    Hear the muffled cries – barely
    Audible muffled whimpers;
    Paws feebly scratching at the

    Window futilely trying to climb
    Out of a furnace of man made
    Design and man made negligence;
    You then must understand why
    I shattered the windshield.

  194. Linda Lee Sand

    Pretty Beast

    Oh you pretty lioness, green-eyed beast
    Lounging in the window-patterned sun
    Stilled for now the wildness and hope
    I see how every muscle, taut on fire
    Lies beneath that black fur and fine heart
    For now you melt into the wood, you dream

    There was a time I gazed skyward and dreamed
    And courted danger like a jungle beast
    Examined it with jaguar eyes and sun
    It shone within and burned like burnished hope
    Not like fire in a grate but wildfire
    And then I lost my head and lost my heart

    Do you know how much it costs, a heart?
    Do you know how much you’d pay, a dream?
    Just as much as beauty paid the beast
    But not as much as moon owes to the sun
    Oh yes, it hurts but more it burns, that hope,
    a dream without a home is like a hearth without fire

    Don’t stand there in the rain and light a fire
    Don’t bite the hand that feeds your soul and heart
    Don’t lie about the sunshine if you dream
    Don’t spring if you don’t have to, like a beast
    But do lie in the window in the sun,
    You’ll lie there in the sun and dream, I hope

    Dream of wildflowers and of summer hope
    For in winter you must fuel a feeble fire
    With a wide and open-minded heart
    Even when it can’t be found in dreams
    Even when it seems like there’s a beast
    That blows it out, your fire, and covers up the sun.

    Shine on then, shine on fair sun!
    Dream on you little feline in your hope!
    You really are a lioness on fire
    And own within a queenly sovereign heart
    You really can again believe in dreams
    It’s time that you unleash the pretty beast.

    It’s springtime for your sun and queenly hope
    It’s summer fire for your drumming heart
    That beats within that lithe and fiery breast.

  195. Lindy™


    She’s a silent stalking shadow
    on the metaphor of life,
    faster than snapping neurons
    inside a dream-filled night.

    Her vision crystal clear before her,
    all around and in hindsight,
    she watches with cunning stillness
    then pounces prey with might.

    Her survival skills have saved us both
    from many a gruesome flight –
    she’s my Guardian of Darkness,
    leading me towards the light.

  196. Donna_KM


    A songbird fashions a
    bowl of tight, woven twigs,
    thistles, and blossoms.
    She flies about—
    swoop, dip, loop-de-loop—
    further collecting items
    of furnishing. Pine needle
    potpourri, pink shells and
    shiny pebbles pleasing
    to the eye. She lays
    a grass mattress, a blanket
    of leaves,
    and secure
    in her nest devoid
    of eggs, she waits,
    singing a mimic
    song of the mother bird.

  197. intheshadowofthesoul

    Hidden Prowess

    Lydia Flores

    The world is a zoo

    many irises gleam
Blue, brown, green

    making me a memory.

    I sit quietly, patiently in my

    cage of seamless chain links
I am bordered by celebrity and 

    authority, But they call this 

    The land of the free and home—

    I feed the cubs before my

    own stomach begs anything.

    I lick my paws I find myself sleep
I let the cubs grow their manes.

    Have I satisfied their curiosity

    do they fear my nails and teeth?
But I am only as dangerous as
they make me out to be.

    I take in the world, in silence
Seeking my prey, I devour time

    But when right, you’re gonna’ hear

    my roar, for this kingdom is mine.

  198. EbenAt

    “What a piece of work is a man,”
    eh, Will?

    Oh sure,
    the Prince begins
    with apparent admiration
    yet ends in dust.

    As are we, M’ Lord,
    as are we all.

    such gifts,
    capable of great beauty,
    amazing vision,
    yet we wallow in
    greed, porn
    and Schlitz.

    Is it life that debases us
    or vice versa?
    It seems our
    common denominator
    is playing handball
    against the curb.

  199. Jacqueline Casey

    “Requiem for a Bedbug”

    “Delicious Morsels, Edible Earth for
    Bed Bugs” blink signs tonight in this Paris*.
    “Let them eat Earth, they’ve bitten me no more!”
    Marie, named Antoinette , she snored a while
    as little vampires ate her, banquet style.
    Now comes the dawn, a sorry sight; en masse

    of Bed Bugs dead, humongous, in en masse.
    These bugs have thus, a predilection for
    a heavy lunch; a banquet-gathered-style.
    Prepare they now to munch the queen’s Paris.
    She slept, Marie, who knew naught for a while
    or that, voracious bugs had plans for more.

    Was but a pound o’flesh. They wanted more!
    The Bug Captain thus counted comrade’s mass;
    commissioned ready soldiers wait a while:
    “Await the broom, the mop, the sacred pail for
    we shall love a tasty, clean, Paris”.
    Ladies-in-Waiting steamed queen sheets with style!

    The Queen took to her bed in regal style:
    “’Let them eat cake’; they shall eat me no more!”
    Surprise for bed bugs to this site: Paris.
    And so brave ladies sweep them in a mass.
    Bugs sniff burnt sulphur: this they’re waiting for.
    Sing dirges for their dead comrades a while.

    The nightly stampede starts in just a while.
    Bug Captain says “Ho, Forward!” , and with style.
    The sulphur burns the lungs of sick crew for
    they breathe vile fumes and munch upon Queen more.
    “Comrades!” Bug Captain shouts, “We’re dead en masse;
    abandon Queen in bed to her Paris!”

    Hear, hear this story of the fair Paris:
    not pretty! Head-bowed, bend your neck a while…
    Bed Bugs. They had their day and night, en masse.
    They fought a brave, new battle with such style.
    But none could fathom sorrow so much more
    than what Ladies-in-Waiting… waited for:

    No Paris defestation for a while:
    The guillotine exacts from Queen her style
    As all her ladies scream: “More bugs en masse!”

    *(Paris pronounced: “pair ee”, lol)

    April 13 PAD, Writer’s Digest. Prompt: compose a Sestina)

  200. kh42711


    Have you ever seen
    a creature so lovely,
    emerging from embers
    the essence of life,
    a mockery of death.
    The fire feathered Phoenix?

    If you gaze upon the Phoenix
    once you have seen
    the shadow of death,
    revere your great loves
    reflect on your life
    for everything burns to embers

    and smoldering embers
    will bear the Phoenix
    breathing fire into life,
    a sight to be seen
    for nothing so lovely
    could justify death.

    But yet we suffer death
    and no one remembers
    how lovely
    the Phoenix
    was seen
    bursting into Life.

    So renews the cycle from life
    to death
    in shadows unseen
    Ashes to Embers
    Fly away Phoenix
    on wings so lovely.

    The world so lovely,
    reminds us to live
    For if we find the Phoenix
    and are sentenced to death
    we will forget those glowing embers,
    our tragedy unforeseen.

    But if you can see hope hiding in love
    Remember that life
    The Tempest of death, renews the Phoenix.

  201. Kevin D Young

    A “diminishing sestina” variation …
    Miller Williams (1986) Patterns of Poetry: an Encyclopedia of Forms. Louisiana University Press. p164.


    A cow can tell you very little
    you cannot figure out yourself, given
    enough time and a little horse sense.
    Herefords, though, are a bit more clever,
    within, naturally, the limits
    of their kine, so the wise would be wise
    to consult them, given the brittle
    nature of the brains we’ve been given.
    You and I both know it makes no sense
    to pretend we are over-clever,
    ignoring the practical limits
    confining us to that which our eyes
    alone can see. Meaning, in some sense,
    we are fools to rely on one given
    viewpoint. During the Dust Bowl, clever
    bureaucrats, with printed documents,
    outlined their economical sense
    of the answer. Each rancher was given
    one dollar per head, stud to heifer,
    then all were shot dead. Prices rose. Sense
    tells us it worked. It was a given
    (though the cows look through a different lens).

  202. creilley


    The hen fluffs tail feathers, hoping for a glance,
    From the cock of the walk, a cackle and dance.

    Scratching so gentle amongst the hay.
    With dreams of her cock coming to play.

    Alas! She sees the one of her desiring.
    Mounted atop another, in the process of siring.

    This fowl wench will not be left out in the cold.
    She strolls over to them, so quick and so bold.

    Flipping her feathers just under his beak.
    Thinking to herself.. I shall have what I seek.

    The hen whispers low, with barely a care.
    In the ear of the cock, “Her eggs come out square.”

  203. Nancy Posey

    Had to give the sestina a try:

    Of Mice and Women

    I heard the sound of mowers in the field
    beyond the fence between my yard
    and the neighbors’ down the way
    I knew I’d soon see tell-tale signs
    of mice who find their way into our house
    seeking a place to build a winter nest.

    It took me days to find their nest
    tucked in my sewing basket, filled
    with notions in the attic of the house–
    quilt squares, batting, and yards
    of cottons, ginghams, fanciful designs–
    long forgotten, stored out of the way.

    Her blind and hairless babes, lying the way
    my own young once slept; she’d made the nest
    as soft as down. I almost missed the signs,
    chewed batting, boxes gnawed. In the field,
    their old nest strewn across the yard;
    They faced less danger here inside my house.

    Did she think she’d find refuge in this house?
    Years ago my old cat ran away.
    I wondered if she’d watched me from the yard,
    sizing me up, before she built her nest.
    Would she have wondered how I’d feel
    when I had sensed her presence by the signs?

    Living here in the country, I’m resigned
    to live in tune with nature, but my house
    should be my castle, hers, the field.
    It makes perfect sense to me this way
    but she was not content to build her nest
    in the uncertain safety of my yard

    I stood at the back door, surveying the yard.
    putting myself in her tough spot and sighing:
    Where could I help her relocate the nest
    so I could reclaim the solace of my house?
    Without being cruel, there had to be a way
    to return them to their place back in the field.

    I walked through the field next door, the fenced-in yard,
    the deserted driveway, past a rusty For Sale sign
    and placed on the porch the squirming babies’ nest.

  204. Rosemary Nissen-Wade

    I’m having an insanely busy April, so have opted for a mini-sestina, a form devised by Aussie poet Myron Lysenko:


    In the dim light
    he is hard to see,
    the tawny tiger
    resting in the height
    of the shadowy green
    in the sly dark.

    Though his face is dark,
    his eyes gleam light
    not yellow but green,
    and I know he can see
    where I try to hide,
    my fabulous tiger.

    And I can see, against the green
    of the bedroom chair in which he hides,
    my cat in the dark with eyes of light.

  205. Sharon Ann

    The Boar

    When I came face to face with the boar,
    I nearly fell on the floor.
    I ran quickly out the front door.
    I did not stop until I got to the store.
    One inside I inquired, “Have you seen this boar before?”

    Well, they just about fell on the floor.
    The manager locked the front door.
    “It’s alright, stay right here at the store.
    You can leave when it is safe, not before.
    If it is big we can call in the corps
    to take care of this nasty boar.”

    Some of them moved toward the door.
    They lined up and peered out of the store.
    Their faces looked different than before.
    It was clear they were rattled to their core.
    One woman cried, “This boar is a bore!”
    She stomped her foot on the floor.

    The boar now stood in front of the store.
    He was snorting much more than before.
    He belched from somewhere at his core.
    The manager said, “I am going after this boar.
    Everyone down on the floor!
    I will shoot him right through the front door!”

    The people all scattered before
    he screamed, “Don’t worry, I’ve called the corps!
    They too are now after this boar.”
    He tripped, nearly fell on the floor.
    He jammed his left shoulder on the door.
    He took a deep breath then opened the door to the store.

    My body had ice at its core.
    Surely he knew how to shoot a boar?
    The manager knelt on the floor.
    He pointed the gun out the door.
    He shot one round and slammed the door to the store.
    “Was he really this angry before?”

    We agreed this was one angry boar, he was pacing and pacing the floor.
    He turned to charge at the door, breaking right in to the store.
    Then the woman who had stomped before, subdued him with an apple core.

    The boar that I have seen, a javalina really, was outside the front door of an apartment community that I was working at in Tucson, Arizona. Not angry at all really. You can see the photo through my website newspage, click the blog link.

  206. Janet Rice Carnahan


    Through forested woods my eye catches a glimpse of their wings,
    In an instant my spirit begins flying free,
    Up to their wisdom, finding the thermals in the sky,
    Encircling the currents going higher,
    Listening for their distinct shrieking cry,
    Even perched, their head aims up on the tree!

    Their magnificence is silhouetted above the branch of the tree,
    As their feathers fold into their breast, allowing rest for their wings,
    Quietly, they stay alert, always watching despite the silence of their cry!
    In any second, without notice or fanfare, they launch and begin flying free,
    In a spiraled dance, they soar even higher,
    As wild winds carry them effortlessly towards a most welcoming sky!

    In sacred union, their connection to the expansive, sapphire sky,
    Keeps them as aloft, inviting the greater view, just like their chosen tree,
    Guiding me, reminding me to let my small concerns go to realms higher,
    To aspire and naturally follow the ease and upswing of their wing,
    So I, too, can begin to join them in their height of flight to fly free!
    Holding quietly to me, the freedom I silently cry!

    To release from any burdens, worries, fear, even as I cry,
    As if calling to heaven itself, knowing I can let it go to the sky,
    The blessings from the eagles are to continue flying free!
    Choose the higher perspective by selecting the highest tree!
    Trusting my very spirit lifts me by invisible wings,
    And unseen things based on faith, carrying my awareness even higher!

    Feeling all lifted off, lightens my load so I naturally go higher,
    Evoking joy to dance and smile and become my cry,
    Creating the emotions and motions as if all around me are wings,
    With no limit of joy, just release since there is no stopping the sky!
    If my spirit should tire, I know to rest on the best of the tallest tree!
    Until once again, I hear the call to fly free!

    In a dense earth human body, it isn’t easy to remember to fly free,
    Yet trusting we, too, are our heart, soul and spirit, we naturally go higher,
    Like the view from on top of a tree,
    We can imagine and release our deepest, most primordial cry,
    Way up there, no one else can hear it but the sky!
    It is the joy our spirit sings on the silent movement of all our wings!

    Give gratitude to the eagles as they cry, flying free,
    Watch them soar higher into the sky,
    Let your spirit land with them on their tree or stretch with their wing and sing!

  207. Janet Rice Carnahan


    By their very sleek design, dolphins swim and carry such fluid grace,
    Coming to the surface, filling with the fresh air,
    Appearing to smile, displaying such an obvious playfulness,
    Their motions through the ocean has them swimming free,
    As if they are abandoned to their friendly, warm nature,
    With every fluid bounce, they remind us the absolute joy of water!

    Surfing in and through the waves, they reveal their inherent joy of water,
    With a unique style and apparent fluid grace,
    Such is their liquid mobility and warm animal nature,
    Captures our imagination, dancing in the fresh air,
    Watching them from the shore, bobbing, weaving and swimming free,
    In a pod or on their own, their movements appear so genuine and playful!

    As we feel them in the open sea, we are encouraged to enjoy our playfulness,
    Demonstrating from our very core a true joy of water!
    From the time we develop in our mothers, we have a sense of swimming free,
    Encircled in love, care and being carried in a natural fluid grace,
    Until we were born, allowing into our lungs the first gulps of fresh air!
    Smiling, gurgling and enjoying our parents with our sunny, warm nature!

    Their exchanges with us in union with their caring warm natures,
    Creates the environment of safety and love, promoting playfulness,
    And as human beings grow, we seek being outside in the fresh air,
    By mountain streams, lakes, or the beach to participate in the joy of water,
    Taking our guidance from dolphins, we enter and explore nature’s fluid grace,
    Trusting, often after instruction, the sport and art of swimming free!

    Once we know the flow of the currents as they invite and allow us to swim free,
    We openly surrender to water and its supportive, warm nature,
    Becoming ourselves, nothing separate from the fluid grace,
    Feeling the tease of the breeze, we let go to floating waves and their playfulness,
    A grand release to the ease and truthfulness inherent in the joy of water!
    In harmonic balance, taking turns holding our breath in water while taking in the fresh air!

    Calming our human systems is easy when we balance the elements of water and fresh air,
    Allowing ourselves to move about and, through a lifetime, swim freely,
    Giving ourselves the chance to dance through the joy of water,
    Letting go to the sunshine, bringing into our body conscious warm nature!
    Remembering our childhood and our once open and natural playfulness,
    And how we moved through all of life’s rough seas with a fluid grace!

    Burdens can simply be released through going outside in fresh air, enjoying nature’s warmth,
    Opening up our hearts and minds to swim free in playfulness,
    Completely trusting ourselves to the joy of water always guiding us with its fluid grace!

  208. Emma Hine

    Don’t Play With A Python

    Down to the water’s edge slid the slippery, speckled python.
    His forked tongue flicked as he savoured the air around him.
    A splash of muddy water and company appeared
    in the form of a scaly, green river crocodile.
    “Greetings!” hissed the python, for the croc was not fair game.
    The crocodile spoke not a word but opened wide his jaws.

    The snake slithered back away from those wide jaws.
    The jagged teeth of Crocodile too sharp even for Python.
    Once at safe distance, the python yawned as if it were a game.
    He knew if Croc attacked, it would be tough to fight him.
    And thus the creatures eyed each other, snake and crocodile.
    Deep down that snake was more afraid than he at first appeared.

    But Python, he said nothing as with a flick, his tongue appeared.
    With a fearsome snap, the crocodile closed his gaping jaws.
    ‘Surely you’re not afraid of me,’ sneered the crocodile
    as, emerging from the river, he crept towards the python.
    He took his silence for an invitation to attack him.
    But Python was too clever and understood Croc’s game.

    Hissed Python to the crocodile, ‘You think this is a game?’
    And flickering in warning, his poisoned tongue appeared.
    The crocodile threw back his head and laughed out loud at him.
    Never noticed Python wrap himself around his jaws.
    The laughter stopped. Croc’s mouth was shut by coils of slippery python.
    ‘You may have razor teeth but I’ll still kill you, Crocodile!’

    The python held him fast. Was this the end for Crocodile?
    In frenzied fear, the crocodile, no longer playing a game,
    made a dash for the water’s edge, his jaws still wrapped in python.
    Entering the muddy water, the two reptiles now appeared.
    Python’s body squeezing ever tighter around those scaly jaws.
    Croc splashed and rolled and rolled and splashed to try to unstick him.

    To no avail! That slippery snake was firmly stuck to him
    as he wrapped his coils around the writhing crocodile.
    Entwined around Croc’s legs as well as round his jaws,
    Python’s hold on Crocodile had rendered him fair game.
    Beneath the murky waters, the two sank and reappeared.
    Mighty predators in battle, Crocodile and Python.

    The crocodile was still. Python had squeezed the life from him.
    And onto land the snake appeared, dragging Crocodile.
    The game now up and Python’s jaws embraced that lifeless croc.

  209. Liliuokalani

    The sestinas here are impressive! Thank you for sharing them.
    I will post my sestina…but only after I post its descendent (below).

    Backyard Dining with Dionysius

    Arching bark to bark and limb to limb
    tree trunks tango-swoop and feather-step
    then freeze –
    when winter roots spiral deep
    to siphon subterranean nectar
    that will spill into spring,
    the time of sing song conversation,
    April’s tabletop gossip,
    spilling from beak to lip to limb.
    June’s laughing chorus line blooms
    and raises a toast to summer
    when back yard branches do-si-do,
    rumbling ground, then throwing fireworks,
    sticks and seeds for squirrels to bury.
    August trunks are slathered in moss
    and woodpecker excavations –
    windows to a world
    where a beetle’s feet shuffle
    the foxtrot and cha cha
    as mandibles chomp
    the woodpecker’s pilings;
    it swallows bits then spits out sawdust.
    October’s roaming insects,
    Damsel- and dragon-
    flies trail daisy petal footprints
    over braided December limbs,
    when stems and petals and wings and feet
    dance themselves into winter’s sleep,
    when the lawn is still
    and the sky is quiet.

    1. Liliuokalani

      Nobody Wants to Read About Trees Dancing for This Long (sestina)

      The trees in our back lawn dance in couples
      Arching bark next to bark and limb to limb
      Trunks in form to tango swoop and feather step
      Ball change, buffalo, shim-sham, scuffle, stamp
      Piroutte – then freeze – when winter roots vine
      Lines spiral deep for water petals

      To suck underground nectar from petals
      Spilling feasts for the party of couples
      Who chat sing song letting conversation vine
      From thought to lip to ear to brain to limb
      In a laughing crowd, an approval stamp,
      A toast to raise a glass to oaks in step

      In the back yard trunks promenade in step
      Flex back dropping leaves and flower petals
      Thrusting forward throwing sticks and stamping
      And stomping, rumbling ground as they couple
      Entwining twig, root, branch, bark, seed and limb
      Backyard, party tree chorus line vining

      In silence, at night together in vines
      Wood in rhythm with water every step
      Slow with the pull of the sun on their limbs
      Their north side slathered moss-covered petals
      In lichens and woodpecker holes coupling
      Into nests where beetles wriggle and stamp

      Hairy feet scuttling, shuffling and stamping
      Mandibles chomping wood morsels off the vine
      Swallowing sawdust and spattering out coupled
      Of woodchip bugspit that rest near squirrel steps
      Leaving footprints, little daisy petals
      A path of flowers on outstretching limbs

      A whole world in dancing trees with thin limbs
      A world of scuffling riffs and stomping stamps
      Nature’s dancing not delicate petals
      Every piece moonwalks on point into vines
      Interconnecting roots and feet in steps
      A bustling planet full with Earth’s couples

      All the oak limbs are vining
      Stems and stalks stamping in step
      Pedaling backyard couples.

  210. Janet Rice Carnahan


    He built an ark,
    They came on board to begin anew,
    Birds, snakes, tigers, gnu, make that two,
    Just want to know . . .

    Where’s the shark?

  211. Margaret Benison


    A big black spider wandered into my house
    late at night when I was the only
    one awake, as it was unlikely
    for me to stay
    up that late
    But something told me not to shut my eyes

    I flipped through channels aimlessly,
    turned my head and there I see
    the big black spider
    heading to the hallway
    I shrieked,
    clinging to the opposite wall
    It sensed my fear,
    so on it crawled,
    deeper toward the open bedroom door.

    Beseeched my cat,
    hoped it would fight it
    Emptied the can of pesticide
    My heart stopped as I watched it slide
    Under my bed seeking a shelter
    As I’m writing this I wonder
    is it dead or still alive?

    The whole night I observed the doorway
    feared to see my guest emerging
    and plotted ways by which in future
    disrupt the odds of such incursion

    The light replaced the murky darkness
    nocturnal creatures retreated along,
    but way too soon the sun had drowned
    below the middle eastern grounds

    Having no choice but to surrender
    to the slumber stolen afore,
    I plunged into the other world
    for long hours at an end
    As the pest controller plucked my lungs
    another weight on them I felt
    Opened my eyes and there I saw
    The spider lying on my chest.

  212. Janet Rice Carnahan

    GLOBAL GLORY – a lune series

    Circle of life,
    Brings us all back home,
    To one place!

    We cannot look,
    Away from our true connection,
    To all around!

    In every breath,
    We are not separate from,
    The global glory!

    Animals with wings,
    Creatures tall and small crawl,
    Yes, even snakes.

    People in lands,
    Far away from where we,
    Stay in comfort!

    Young and old,
    Told they will never know,
    Or see life!

    Seasoned, worn politician!
    Gathering all forms of religion!
    Even wise shaman!

    Beyond human boarders,
    Including the sane, the ill,
    Yes, even hoarders!

    Wealthy, healthy, wise,
    Moving, grooving, on the run,
    Affect the whole!

    In any degree,
    On any continent or sea,
    We’re one naturally!

    Once we see,
    No separation, you and me,
    Embraced . . .

    Global Glory!

  213. jclenhardt

    Mr. Sly

    And I have forgotten
    what it’s like,
    to see images
    of myself,
    wrapped up
    in a sly fox
    with sharp eyes
    and a bushy tail,
    and always
    in a wag
    about my neck
    he is,
    as soft
    as the downy
    round his grin,
    and as burnt orange
    as the autumn sunset.

  214. Walt Wojtanik


    Oh, canine of mine,
    who would hurt you,
    desert you,
    leave you for dead?
    What’s in your head?
    Timidity and suspicion,
    are conditions from which
    you suffered. Your life,
    confusing and refusing
    to give a dog a break.
    Their mistake was our gain.
    Love and affection are now
    you affliction, still with
    trepidation, but your tail
    wags elation a telling sign.
    There was no mistake
    in making you a part of the family.

  215. RebekahJ

    Tanka Blessing for the Human Microbiome

    With thanks to Thich Nhat Hanh

    Microbes crowd our gut
    Skin, brains; their cells outnumber
    Ours ten to one.
    Each self’s a community
    Washed in grace, we inter-are

    Kimberly Gladman Jackson

  216. Monique

    A Swan’s Sestina

    Once upon a time, there was a swan
    Hatched all alone, her parents a mere dream
    She spent years thinking she’s nobody’s child
    Little did she know when she found a car to steal
    She would meet a thief, handsome and charming
    Who would soon set her heart on fire

    Their loved burned with a passionate fire
    No longer was the orphan a swan
    Instead she was the thief’s lucky charm
    Living on the run was living the dream
    Always on the lookout for things to steal
    Laughing the night away like little children

    The thief had the face of a child
    The orphan felt like her heart was on fire
    Every day was time stolen
    Taking flight like a pair of swans
    Finding a home became their new dream
    So the thief stole a good luck charm

    He found, in a motel, a Native American charm
    That was used in bedrooms of little children
    It protected those sleeping from bad dreams
    The nightmares would burn in a holy fire
    While dreams would fly, diving like swans
    Creating the peace that anxiety would’ve stolen

    But eventually, the orphan and the thief had enough of stealing
    The life on the run had lost its charm
    They were tired of always swanning
    The orphan longed to bear her lover’s child
    And a new idea sparked a fire
    Finding a home became their new dream

    They looked for the home of their dreams
    Willing to beg, borrow, and steal
    Adrenaline rushing like gasoline in fire
    They found a town with antiquated charm
    And in that town, the woman gave birth to a child
    A son of a thief and an orphan swan

    The swan found peace that she thought existed only in dreams
    She had her lover and child, no desire to steal
    The new charming town, and a home with a fireplace

  217. Sara McNulty


    Protesters with picket signs,
    “Free Packy,” stand in front
    of the Oregon Zoo. First
    elephant born here
    in many years, is aged,
    fifty-one now, plagued
    with tuberculosis, and other
    ailments that have sparked
    action in the community.
    ‘Let him spend his remaining
    years free of fear, and comfortable
    in a sanctuary,’ they cry.
    Packy poses as neutral.
    Zoo officials claim he gets
    excellent care, and that this
    is where he has always lived.
    A gentle creature, the elephant
    has no say in the way his future
    will be determined.

  218. Lori D. Laird

    To the Victor Go the Spoils

    Once upon a time a tiger
    gave me rainbows and butterflies.
    A turtle came out of his shell.
    An ugly worm was beautiful in his eyes.
    It doesn’t bear understanding but he won her heart.
    That is until a snake in the grass tore us apart.

    A rattler with vicous intent.
    She wanted the tiger to lay
    his sins bare and repent.
    The turtle felt he had to pay
    for what he did to the worms
    and the butterflies in the past’s forms.

    But one butterfly believed
    the turtle could do no wrong.
    The viper couldn’t see who he really was
    and couldn’t hear the tiger’s amazing song.
    The worm went into hiding.
    She couldn’t bear her soul unbinding.

    She barred her heart.
    The tiger gave up his soul.
    The butterfly lost her wings.
    The snake thought she was whole.
    The turtle returned to the sea.
    The worm had no choice but flee.

    The turtle said love was no more.
    The butterfly was too scared to cry.
    She couldn’t bear to leave her cocoon.
    The worm feared she was going to die.
    The tiger put on his mask of pretend.
    Only the snake was happy in the end.

    The worm knew it wasn’t over though.
    The butterfly inside still had hope.
    The tiger had to do what he had to do.
    She had to bear the agony and learn how to cope.
    The snake continues to slither.
    The turtle has started to wither.

    The worm and the butterfly are one.
    The tiger and turtle hangs her sun.
    The snake thinks she’s the bear that won

  219. Angie5804

    A Deer Sestina

    Mist above the meadow in the spring
    Breaks open to reveal a deer
    There where green grasses grow
    Bending in the breeze so soft
    Sweet clover scent in the air
    The morning stirs with life

    Streams of water giving life
    Slaking thirst in the spring
    Pond blown in ripples by the air
    Beckons “come and drink” to the deer
    And she comes to lap softly
    As the fawn within her grows

    A bit of warmth in the air
    Wildflowers blue and purple grow
    Yellow and orange petals soft
    Among them the honeybee lives
    Busily flitting all the spring
    Working to make honey so dear

    Sun rises , now still is the air
    Sunshine , a force to make things grow
    In the cool forest rests the deer
    Quiet and still now her life
    Noonday resting in the spring
    All nature resting in the soft

    Butterfly with its wing so soft
    Slightly stirring the air
    All the colors of the spring
    From a caterpillar did grow
    A wonderful plan of life
    Beckons “come and play” to the deer

    In the cool of the evening comes the deer
    Quiet feet treading softly
    Full of refinement and life
    She stops; sniffs the air
    Feeds on the rich grasses growing
    In the meadow in the spring

    Exploring in the spring goes the deer
    Her fawn inside grows, her heart is soft
    Love in the air awaits a new life

  220. KatNalley

    Another Day
    “If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine. It is lethal.” — Paulo Coelho

    For what seems like days, I’ve noticed the holly berries
    turning from tender green to vibrant red, the loropetalum, magenta.
    I’ve taken morning showers, soaped the underarms and private
    parts, brushed my teeth for seven minutes, gone to work, read the emails,
    watched the Web, put the kids to bed, fed fish treats to the cats,
    turned off the lights, tried to sleep, fumbling around in bed, awake again.

    Another night, another day, another routine to begin again.
    The grass turns brown, the leaves fall down, and the berries
    hang their heavy heads from the holly branch, arching like a cat’s
    back when startled. My cheeks flush magenta
    in the cold air. I turn on the computer, adjust my eyes, check email,
    fix the kids a snack, pet the dog, sigh, sigh, and wish for one private

    moment of peace, of reflection, left alone with my own private
    ponderences. Alas. Another afternoon coming to an end again,
    another supper to burn, another batch of dishes to wash, more emails
    to check. I envy the hollytree—forever changing—brim with sweet berries.
    How I wish at least once I could dye my hair magenta,
    pierce my nose, run around on a whim like the neighborhood cats

    who chase the birds, the squirrels, and doze in sunny spots. Ah, the cats—
    without a daily schedule, without concern for self-actualization, or private
    thoughts. Those brief synapse flashes of gold and umber and magenta,
    when you know you’ve thought of something brilliant, but again
    have to push it toward the “to-do” pile, where wishes scatter like berries
    tumbled from their branches, lying dormant on the ground. For now, emails

    and immediate to-dos, washing dirty dishes, bathing kids, reading damned emails,
    searching Google for what to do when a neighborhood cat
    gets trapped in your chimney — if the brick and mortar and soot will bury
    her, or perhaps if the long vertical pit will become some sort of private
    place where she can collect herself, lick away any injury from the fall, again
    tend to old wounds with her cleansing magenta

    tongue, while you watch the loropetalum turn green to purple to magenta,
    and wash your underarms and feed your own cats, and respond to emails
    from an old lover, beckoning you back again,
    hoping like hell that the trapped cat
    has been able to climb out of the chimney, that she’s taken a private
    note not to ascend the roof again, and instead be happy to paw-tap the berries

    that roll like a child’s plastic ball, or to again nap under the bush’s magenta
    canopy, play and laze and not give one thought to old lovers’ emails
    or private dreams unfulfilled or to the Tom cats waiting to pounce.

  221. Bruce Niedt

    It’s so hard to write a sestina without having it seem like little more than an exercise in form. I hope this one succeeded on some level. (NaPoWriMo’s prompt is to write a poem which contains at least one “kenning”, a trope invented by the Norse. Mine appears in line 5.

    The Weird Family’s Kid

    First warm weekend in spring – people walk dogs
    with impunity. In my neighborhood
    there is a dog in every family
    but mine. They all parade past my window-
    furry little leash-puffs the size of bees,
    hulking hounds as tall as a sunflower.

    I know their names. The pug in the flowered
    sweater is Bessie. The big police dog
    is Bear. He likes to snap at honeybees.
    Fred and Ginger trot through my neighborhood,
    two Korgis in tandem. Through my window
    it’s a kennel show – all the families

    strut them proudly – all but my family.
    My parents are allergic to flowers,
    and anything that floats in the window –
    dust, pollen, smoke, and especially dog
    and cat hair. I stroll through the neighborhood
    petting every dog, avoiding the bees.

    My folks are even allergic to bees.
    Just how I escaped all these family
    traits is a mystery. The neighborhood
    is a battleground for them. No flowers
    in our yard, and obviously, no dogs
    or cats. And we always keep the windows

    closed. Our neighbors see our blinded windows
    and shake their heads. But I don’t want to be
    seen as a weirdo. That label won’t dog
    me to adulthood. When those families
    see me on the street smelling the flowers,
    speeding on my bike through the neighborhood,

    they will say, “Look, there’s that nice neighborhood
    kid, the one whose parents keep their windows
    shut – he’s not so bad.” When my life flowers,
    when I’ve learned all about the birds and bees,
    I’ll move out from this shut-in family,
    and maybe even get myself a dog.

    People in this neighborhood buzz like bees.
    They want families with open windows,
    who plant flowers and like to walk their dogs.

  222. cobanionsmith

    Sestina for Elephants

    Yesterday, my husband and son
    visited the zoo,
    but I was stuck
    at home on the couch
    laid up with a spring cold
    and far along pregnant.

    No accident being pregnant
    with another son,
    a heater who keeps the cold
    away in our sometimes zoo,
    my womb now a couch,
    a little house where he’s stuck

    for nine to ten months. But an elephant stays stuck
    for almost two years when pregnant!
    Does resentment couch
    in the cow’s heart for her son’s
    long stay, even more so in a zoo?
    Does her heart grow cold

    waiting through heat and cold,
    seasons shifting, location static, stuck
    with all that expectation, and in a zoo
    full of gawkers? Being pregnant,
    even unwitnessed or in the sun,
    makes a woman feel as big as a couch

    but there is no couch
    big enough for an elephant, no cold
    can excuse her or her sons.
    There’s no release for the sick or unsticking the stuck,
    whether mated and pregnant
    or available and looking, from a zoo.

    Our home will be even more a zoo
    in a couple of weeks and this beloved couch,
    a place to lounge for the pregnant,
    to recover from colds,
    may become the place where I am stuck
    for a while like I was with the arrival of the first son.

    But I chose this couch and both of you, my sons.
    Being pregnant is temporary; I’m only a little stuck.
    So stay forever in the zoo of my heart, and in this house, never feel the cold.

    (c) Courtney O’Banion Smith

  223. inkysolace

    Every bird was new to me when I watched them from my bedroom window.
    I wanted their feathers, their solid eyes, their disappearing act,
    so I plucked sour grapes from the vines in my backyard
    and ate them with my neck cocked to the sky.
    I was ready to run away
    but too big for freedom
    so I looked out my bedroom window and gave the birds names
    and spindled family trees, each time starting anew because I knew
    you could never see a bird more than once
    unless you flew with them.

    –jessica marino

  224. diedre Knight

    Oppressive Visitor

    Her arrival has the effect of the sun,
    diving behind a rain-laden cloud.
    An embargo of mid-morning sound
    and movement.
    But for Bees and one Hummer;
    flitting around as if the golden orbs
    hold no menace,
    as her presence; extended,
    heightens an onerous pall.
    Until, at her sudden departure,
    freed from the breathless gloom,
    former captives rejoice
    and release a collective sigh.

    diedre Knight

  225. Andrew Kreider

    Cats and Dogs

    They say the difference between
    your average cat and dog
    is that when you feed and pet
    a dog, it thinks: Wow, this human
    must be a god! But try and pet a cat
    and it thinks: Wow, I must be a god!

    Both animals are, of course, wrong, but God
    help you if you try to drive a wedge between
    your pet and its beliefs, whether it is a cat
    with a divinity complex, or a dog
    with an overinflated opinion of its human
    owner. Go with the flow and allow your pet

    to develop whatever hair-brained pet
    theories it may have. I reckon God
    created this situation to remind every human
    that we can’t control what goes on between
    the ears of another creature. A dog
    will be blindly loyal, a cat

    independently superior. You can’t make a cat
    toe the line – it will claw the carpet
    whenever it darn well chooses. At least a dog
    has the good grace to look guilty-before-god
    when it chews your bowling shoes. I spend between
    three and five hours a week in human

    time (and remember we multiply human
    time by roughly seven for a dog or cat,
    so that’s really more like between
    twenty-one and thirty-five hours a week) on pet
    related household tasks. .And I’ll tell you, as God
    is my witness, I’m glad I have a dog

    not a cat, because after I clean poop, vacuum hair, dispense dog
    food day after day, in return at least I get the very human
    reward of devotion and love. I am not really a god,
    but I appreciate the worship anyway. No cat
    would ever show such gratitude. That’s the lesson pet
    owners must learn: God or Servant, there’s no in-between!

    Never forget, my friends, that GOD spelled backwards is DOG.
    There’s no contest between cat and dog for the discerning human.
    Get a dog. A cat will never really let itself become your pet.

  226. LeighSpencer

    I attempted a sestina! It was a fun exercise and I hope I got it right. Either way, Apple seems honored to have a poem about her. She showed her appreciation by snoring more loudly, :)

    Apple (Ode to a shelter dog)

    Her intake picture looked pathetic – old stray dog
    Fat chiweenie girl was meant to be someone’s companion
    So we drove an hour to the shelter
    To be sure her hope wasn’t lost
    Tested her spirit with our whole family
    Appreciation shone in her cloudy old eyes

    Cataracts also shone in those sweet eyes
    This was a fat, lumpy, very old dog
    With manners that say she came from a family
    Tail wagging, child following, happy little companion
    How on earth was she lost?
    Picked up as a stray and dumped at the shelter?

    Is a cage with food and a cold, wet concrete floor really shelter?
    Strange noises and smells make fear visible, even through blind eyes
    Love, warmth, security, her life before – lost
    But her tail never stops wagging, silly hopeful dog
    She’s still an enthusiastic companion
    Just waiting for her chance to show a new family

    I have to wonder, sweet as she is, about her family
    How they let her end up here, a death row dog, at the shelter
    So gentle, she immediately chose the spastic 4 year old as her companion
    Before age clouded them, did she look lovingly upon a similar child with those kind eyes?
    She’s a tolerant, non-growling, mellow gem, this dog
    Did they even look for her when they discovered what they lost?

    Maybe the puppy glow is what was lost
    Did fatty tumors and bad teeth revoke your place in the family?
    I like you, old girl, so much better than a yappy younger dog
    But so many like you end up here, in the saddest wing of the shelter
    I must see the world with different eyes
    How do you put an age limit on a loyal, spunky companion?

    No worries, pretty girl, you’ll again be someone’s faithful companion
    And this time to one as faithful as you, never again to be lost
    You’ll be cherished and know love until the final close of your eyes
    However long or short that may be, we’re your last family
    I promise a soft bed, a place on the couch, affection, and treats – a true shelter
    Befitting such a happy, loveable dog

    A dog is the most forgiving, resilient companion
    Even in the shelter, when all comfort and hope seem lost
    Their eyes alight with joy, trust, and devotion when they recognize they again have a family

  227. Brian Slusher


    Weeding the plot I want for a garden
    Near the brick steps, I noticed a black snake
    Musing there like he was writing a poem
    And we both reared back in surprise or fear
    Wondering if either would deal out harm
    But he settled and slowly went his way.

    So I began to muse on all the ways
    Snakes have nurtured art, like in the Garden
    Of Eden, where Eve thought What’s the harm
    In a pleasant chat with a talking snake?

    She wound up fleeing Paradise in fear,
    Yet her flight was the genesis of poems.

    How often serpents help create great poems!
    Dickinson had one briefly block her way
    And recognized, beyond her flush of fear,
    A chance to nurture her rich word garden,
    To see a fellow, not merely a snake,
    While still acknowledging the chance of harm.

    But that’s all I can visualize: lurking harm
    Somewhere in my tall grass. I know no poem
    Will save me from the quick bite of a snake.
    Visualizing that dread gets in the way
    Of my enjoying my lush un-garden
    Because I’m turning and turning in fear.

    Lawrence understood, despised this dull fear
    And wrote about his sad attempt at harm
    On a visiting snake to his garden:
    With sinuous, delicious words, his poem
    Chronicles his shame at the petty way
    He throws a stick at the retreating snake.

    Yet common sense shouts: kill the wayward snake!
    Or am I just a beast driven by fear
    Wanting no chaos in my staid way,
    No creeping anarchy, no crawling harm
    To strike the clean heart of my placid poem,
    Poison the myth of my perfect garden?

    As I garden, I’ll think of you, dark snake,
    And this poem will remind me: narrow fear
    Will harm joy, steal it silently away.

  228. break_of_day

    black boxelder bug on my arm
    hitching a ride to Starbucks
    startling me along with any dark speck,
    and every little itch,
    every sensation real and imaginary
    that might indicate something crawling on my skin

    black boxelder bug on my toe
    searching for a safe spot after being
    exiled to the floor with a quick, frantic swat of my hand
    made me jump again
    we need to work out a system
    so you don’t startle me while I’m driving

    black blob spied in the corner of my eye
    are you a spider or a strand of clothing made ominous
    by your proximity to spring,
    when the sun comes out of hiding
    and brings the creepy crawlies with it?
    the North Pole is looking good this time of year

  229. Pengame30

    “The Human Animals”

    They believe they’re worlds apart, these humans.
    To them, lesser than means to be an animal.
    Well, we all give live birth.
    This, they were quick to learn.
    Although we could care less to don a dress,
    we every so often do also have sex.

    We never asked to be animals.
    You all still have much to learn.
    What’s the true purpose of sex?
    Should you cut me up, and sew me onto a dress?
    Will you abort it, or give birth?
    There’s a lot to consider when being human.

    Are there new positions to learn?
    Can you find a reason to wear that perfect dress?
    You are a conceited bunch, you humans.
    We’re all one and the same, especially when it comes to birth.
    You dilute the word reproduction down to sex.
    Now who’s the one who should be called an animal?

    A doctor determines a baby’s sex,
    and whether it’s alien or human.
    A nurse asks if you have a wound to dress,
    and offers you a cracker that’s shaped like an animal.
    You say thank you, as it’s what we’ve learned.
    It’s been instilled in our minds since birth.

    If you do the deed, be prepared to undergo child birth.
    That’s the real reason god created sex.
    This is one thing most people care not to learn.
    What’s the point of distinguishing yourself as a human,
    when you make choices that are laughable, even by an animal?
    It should be you that gets cut up and sewn onto a dress.

    Look at your little girl twirling around, admiring her new dress.
    You waited to buy it for her since her birth.
    She runs to a pool of mud, drops in it, and rolls around like an animal,
    then you think. It wouldn’t look so bad if she were a different sex.
    Either way, she’ll still grow up to be a decent human,
    unless there are other horrendous things for her to learn.

    In what world could a little girl not learn the value of a dress,
    or not know that a human should not act like an animal?
    In this world, where people have sex but have no intentions on giving birth.

  230. feywriter

    The Reign of the Night

    Brothers walking in the rain,
    our destination nowhere;
    afraid to prove
    what we already knew —
    that our string of lies
    wouldn’t get us through the night.

    We find a barn late in the night,
    shelter from the soaking rain…
    but danger in the shadow lies,
    tooth and claw tear us where
    lifeblood flows, I know
    this the end will prove .

    We die and rise the same, and prove
    ourselves creatures of the night–
    a taste for blood I hadn’t known,
    the cravings I try to rein;
    my brother finds a dame from somewhere,
    paints her as a whore, but I sense lies.

    I sense her heartbeat where she lies;
    I turn away, my honor to prove
    and make one little room, an everywhere
    within to contain night;
    I will not let it reign,
    I must keep saying no.

    My brother insists, he knows
    resisting is a lie,
    with our new life we can reign,
    to our debtors prove
    we will rule the night;
    we can go anywhere.

    It is a strange world where
    my brother is the one to know ,
    the one to lead the night;
    I will see where his path lies,
    let him be the one to prove
    that he can take the reins.

    I fall into where the darkness lies,
    abandon humanity I know would not approve,
    surrender myself to night’s reign.

    by Mary W. Jensen

  231. Nabeela


    I spelled Kitty F-R-I-E-N-D
    With her tail in the air, she would pass me by
    rubbing her body with my blue jeans
    ensuring the relationship to be lasting
    her fur contains something that sticks to me forever
    and no matter where I go, she can always smell
    and know I’m her person

    I spelled Kitty F-A-M-I-L-Y
    How true is it that cats incorporate themselves
    into the bread of our mix
    into the bindings of the blood that rages like fire
    through our veins
    but the blood she shared
    ran deeper than any ocean or river
    present on this planet

    I spelled Kitty L-O-V-E
    Spiraled on my pillow
    I found her hair today
    On my sweater, my notebook
    It came as a shock
    because I know she’s gone
    Her past still lingers
    in this empty air
    That unheard meow hangs deeper
    as it radiates through my system

    I spelled Kitty F-O-R-E-V-E-R
    She had always been there
    on my bed, in the garden, rolling in the sun
    It feels empty
    like the moon, hanging in the sky all by itself
    the stars have somehow forgotten to accompany it
    And I feel the moon looking at me
    like it feels the same way I feel.

  232. Gammelor

    My first attempt at a sestina. Not very good, not at all pentameter and only slightly iambic. Picking a trochee for one of my end words was not the brightest idea I’ve ever had.

    Driven Bats by Sestina Form

    The animal we call the bat
    is often symbol of the night.
    In our minds it flits and flies
    as dark embracer of the wild
    and haunts each eerie, unlit tower
    that thrusts itself against the wind.

    A silent flutter on the wind—
    the graceful darting of a bat
    as it leaves its nesting tower
    and goes out hunting in the night;
    as beautiful as it is wild,
    every beat a call to fly.

    Some in you see mice that fly
    and scream whene’er you’re on the wind,
    but I see you as glorious wild
    incarnate as a wooly bat
    that keeps me going in the night
    here locked away in lonely tower.

    In dusky light you are a flower:
    Unfurl two petals, spread to fly,
    a dark hibiscus in the night,
    off chasing insects on the wind.
    Enchanting is the lowly bat
    that bears the secrets of the wild.

    When he was up, the crowd went wild,
    ‘cause he could hit to farthest tower,
    another chance for his mighty bat.
    His solid hit at speed did fly
    and out of stadium on the wind,
    then hit a flittermouse in the night.

    A strong, well-set and gentle knight
    who fought against the violent wild
    once heard a crying on the wind–
    A damsel fair in highest tower.
    So forth on gallant steed did fly,
    and swooped to rescue like a bat.

    A clinging bat awaits the night
    So it can fly both free and wild
    Above the tower, leaf on wind.

    Gammelor Goodenow

  233. Taylor Mali

    A Sestina about Animals

    The problem
    with sestinas
    is the words
    keep repeating,
    becoming tiresome
    and boring.

    Totally boring.
    That’s my problem
    with tiresome,
    repetitive, sestinas,
    always repeating
    the same words.

    Choose better words!
    Like drake or gaggle. Not boring
    words hardly worth repeating.
    You got a problem?
    Why don’t you go write another sestina?
    What? You think I’m tiresome?

    You know what’s really tiresome?
    The six words
    in any motherfucking sestina!
    For instance: boring,
    and repeating.

    Especially the word repeating.
    We get it! It’s a tiresome,
    Fucking boring

    That’s the fucking problem.

    Big fucking problem. Fucking sestinas. Fucking words.
    Fuck repeating. Fuck tiresome. Fuck boring.

  234. PressOn


    The woods in their hospitality
    invite me to tarry in moss-strewn pews;
    to contemplate the peace of great trees
    and meditate in a silent green
    sanctuary, among the creatures
    in the last freeborn climax forest.

    I am a stranger to this world of forest,
    but I accept the proffered hospitality.
    I wander among fallen creatures,
    among nurse logs, the life-giving pews
    for seedlings sprouting in rising green
    testimony to the greater trees

    above them and above me. Surrounding trees
    lead my eye down the arching forest
    nave, to the sheltering mist of green
    before me, to hospitality
    without censure. Around me, the pews
    fill with other passing creatures:

    owls; worms; squirrels; beetles; all creatures
    at home in the chancel of the trees.
    A loud silence envelopes the pews.
    Before us, the spirits of the forest
    welcome us, their hospitality
    whispering forth from their robes of green,

    splashed golden where sunbeams gloss green
    with glittering blessings. We creatures
    acknowledge the hospitality
    with eyes and souls raised. In the trees
    the music begins. The whole forest
    echoes the hymnody rising from pews

    along the nave and transepts; from the pews
    it reaches the clerestory of the arched green
    far above. The song of the forest
    sanctifies all: the creatures
    and the spirits; the seedlings and the trees.
    We are one in hospitality.

    The hospitality of the pews
    is eternal. Here, in the trees, in the infinite green,
    I am one with the creatures and the forest.

    William Preston

  235. Walt Wojtanik


    Upon the reservoir near the railroad tracks,
    back up where the critters nest and burrow.
    Every tomorrow a new adventure,
    a nature un-preserve. Reserved for the creatures
    in habitat and residence, the disturbance
    has shaken them. It has taken them
    from their homes to come down to unfamiliar
    lairs under porches and houses,
    or targets for fresh road-kill. Groundhogs,
    deer and skunks, hunks of furry beasts
    scurry to shelter in their helper-skelter world.
    Will they ever be left to live freely.
    Are we really so superior in the Grand Plan?
    Sanctuary usually spells safety.
    But not now. Not lately!

  236. Connie Peters

    The African Bush Elephant

    The biggest critter of the land
    With four strong legs on which to stand
    A tusk about as big as man
    The African Bush Elephant

    With ears the shape of Africa
    A trunk that’s very practical
    A mind that’s almost magical
    The African Bush Elephant

    The elephant’s an herbivore
    And they may live to sixty four
    They have one calf which they adore
    The African Bush Elephant

    They are extremely sociable
    Like poets, they’re emotional
    That goes for both the cow and bull
    The African Bush Elephant

    They mostly have no enemy
    But hunters of their ivory
    And those who crowd where they run free
    The African Bush Elephant

  237. Walt Wojtanik


    The end approached. An entrance.
    to a new day. The way covered in cloaks
    and branches to celebrate. He is amongst us!
    Riding astride a foal of an ass, cries
    and cheers proclaim, He is here.
    Hosanna, praise to the One. He is the Man
    The way soon to be paved with His blood; a flood
    of regret yet felt, slowly on a colt to
    the city most blessed. The rest observe
    and plot. All to assail a betrayal.
    It is not a good time to be a King.
    And that’s the thing. When is a good time?

  238. Karintha Valentine

    As the Sun Sees

    The sun seems male, and earth is like a woman,
    the field is humble, and the forest proud; —R. M. Rilke

    Sometimes I walk out after supper and watch the sun
    set. This time of day, I suppose I should see it as male,
    plunging as it does into the folds of the earth,
    as if sated and ready to lie on a woman’s
    breast all night in the sweetness of the fields
    or wrapped in the pinestraw of the forest.

    I don’t know how I could live without forest
    around me. I don’t know how I could live without sun
    breaking out of the leaves, sweeping shadows across the fields
    as if it were deternined to confound its male
    symbology. The ones who swept always were women
    and what they kept trying to sweep clean was earth

    around their houses. I did it too, sweeping yardfuls of earth
    smooth till my cousins and I could go running into the forest
    and play being lost, round and round in the shadows like women
    rehearsing their lives. That’s when I knew I needed sun
    nearby. I can navigate by it. Who cares if it’s male?
    I never felt lost when my grandfather drove through the fields

    with us bouncing in back of his pickup. He loved his fields
    as much as he loved us. We were all of his earth,
    all come from the same place. So, I grew up to think male
    was better, I’m sorry. I wanted to be brave as a man in the forest,
    to walk just as far as I wanted, squinting my eye at the sun.
    Sitting, sitting the day through, that’s waht a woman

    did. Shelling beans. Rocking babies. Talking woman
    talk which went on and on, no matter if the fields
    might be burning up, no matter if the sun
    lost himself under the cornfields, If the earth
    should stop turning, so what? One spark and the forest
    would flare up like lust. Fire is male

    like thunder and rock. Silence is most of all male.
    You can ask any woman
    who’s been lost in the forest.
    I like best standing at the edge of fields
    Just lost enough to wake up and look at the earth
    as the wakening birds must when the sun

    rises. But how might the earth look if we let go of
    male. Of wo-man. We might see the field again
    as field. The forest as forest. We might see as the sun sees.

  239. barbara_y

    Dead Bat

    It was the first warm rain of April. Beginning of the Age
    of Chaos, but all ages are chaos. Michael was in town to read
    from the Thoreau book. I saw the corpse of a bat
    on the library porch. There was neon in the night,
    and smells of pollen and tacos with the smell of dead
    creature. But night was just beginning, and so was the rain.

    Thoreau kept meticulous notes. First buds, birds. Spring rain
    was coming earlier and earlier in those years. The Little Ice Age
    had climaxed and was coming to an end. It was not dead,
    but we can look back at its erosion, and we can read
    the returning warmth, and the coming war. We call it night,
    when we face away from the sun. The time of owl and bat.

    It was at the entrance of the Divinity Library that I saw the bat.
    Like the butt of a fat, fat cigar flattened and swelled by rain.
    It had been dead a while. It smelled. Not like tobacco. Night
    hides a lot of misdemeanors. I may disguise my past with age,
    but my sins are plain to me as joint pain. All our wrongs can be read
    in joins and plumbing. When you smell death, something’s dead.

    The year before Thoreau was born, summer was born dead.
    Snow flew in July. Disoriented snow. Out of place as a bat
    at Sunday Worship. It was a portent for the ignorant to read
    as the world’s last breath. The first drops of Noah’s rain
    vindicated his obsession. Am I wrong to see this as an age
    of chaos? More ominous with every day, by every night.

    I invent mythologies, whisper new creations to myself at night.
    Grow sacrophage sciences on agar cooked down from dead
    religions, mis-apprehended signs on church lawns, new-age
    unstructured duets of window glass wall and pinging bat.
    Pretend the sound of drops is not the metal in the rain,
    and that the end of my kind here is a dark beach read.

    I’m too elated to write, too depressed to read.
    The same words repeat at me all night,
    like voices made of glass and waves of rain.
    It doesn’t help to know that when I’m dead
    like the wing-folded corpse of my bat,
    chaos, fire or winter will create the next age.

    Human, I ask and explain. We do. Explain rain, old age,
    night. We ask for myth behind the hands that fly the bat;
    write ring cycles to be read above us when we’re dead.

  240. dextrousdigits

    A black and white flash jumped behind some bushes.
    When I came out to trim the roses,
    she ran across the driveway and
    through a missing wooden slat in the fence.
    Later that day, I saw her lying down
    under the neighbors rusty 1974 van.
    I tried to coax her out
    by cooing, “come kitty, come”
    gesturing, beckoning with my hand.

    She immediately ran to safetyland for refuge.
    For weeks, just the sound of my voice,
    regardless of the tone, frequency, tempo or words,
    would send her into hiding.
    Then one day when I spoke, she just sat
    and watched me. I was silent for 90 seconds
    while we stared at each other.

    I began putting out small bowls of kibble.
    When she began eating,
    I stood at the French-windows to watch her.
    Next, I dropped the kibble in the bowl outside
    so it made a tapping sound.
    Soon she would come into sight
    when she heard the tapping.

    She needed a name.
    White except for a black mask covering her eyes
    hinted at Snowball, Snow, Mask, Bandit,
    but I chose Zorra..

    Gradually, she came when she heard her name,
    keeping her distance at first.
    She laid under my car,
    then moved to the steps,
    Now Zorra eats with me on the porch.
    I inch my way toward her.
    I look forward to when I can touch her
    stroke her, and have her come to me
    on her own and even come into my house.

    Muses have I wooed, enticed, pleaded, cajoled, sweet-talked.
    Now I invite them to eat at my feet, to purr into my ear,
    to help me release the cat in me, the lion, the frog,
    the princess, the wench, the nun, the witch
    and all that inhabit my world that have a story to tell.

  241. Ravyne


    Their bodies, concrete grey
    move like monks in a prayer procession
    steady, fixed gazes ahead
    across the Savannah, whole families
    in route to ancestral ground
    There, they will roll around the bones
    of their ancient ancestors, remembering
    they will honor their lives and deaths
    teach this act of alms to their calves
    and then slowly, amble back
    back to their feeding ground
    leaving the old to die with dignity

    Copyright 2014
    Lori Carlson

  242. candy

    May I Have a Cat Please

    She pleaded to have a cat
    We brought Kitty home in a cardboard box
    He ran and hid when I ran the vacuum
    I thought I might return him to the shop
    But he looked so cute among the blocks
    I had second thoughts when he ate my plants

    He dug out all the dirt around the plants
    What was I to do about the cat
    Further damage must be blocked
    Maybe I should keep them in boxes
    Or I could return Kitty to the shop
    Every day I’ve had to vacuum

    It would be easier if I lived in a vacuum
    However then I can’t grow plants
    Tomorrow I think I’ll have to shop
    For something to deter the cat
    It might be a feline size box
    I need to ensure Kitty’s safely blocked

    Even though he is so cute playing with blocks
    I’m getting weary of always vacuuming
    Around all the cardboard boxes
    I guess I could get rid of plants
    Instead of taking back the cat
    To get a refund from the shop

    I’d rather not drive to the shop
    The last time there my car was blocked
    What will I do about the cat
    You won’t believe what’s in the vacuum
    No longer merely dirt from plants
    Now I’m sweeping up bits of boxes

    Maybe I’ll go hide inside a box
    Then I won’t have to shop
    Someone else can care for the plants
    And they can also pick up blocks
    I won’t have to run the vacuum
    Or clean up fur balls from the cat

    But I’ve grown fond the cat and the boxes
    I’ll keep vacuuming and not take Kitty to the shop
    ‘Cause he looks so cute among the blocks and the plants

  243. Jane Shlensky

    The Animals Talk of Love

    Listen at dawn or dusk in spring.
    Beneath the silence, the animals talk
    f love and food, like teenagers that call
    out for attention, laughing too loud,
    all sound a riot of vivid color,
    each in the voice of its own kind.

    A pond at night is charged with a kind
    of raucous ribbeting energy as bull frogs spring
    into water at your approach. Moonlight colors
    the world silver; constellations talk
    to cattails and fish, wind whispering sotto voce, loud
    as pond ripples and nocturnal love calls.

    Dawn’s rose is gilt, its golden edge, a call
    to rise up and walk with the sun, no matter the kind
    of creature you are. You’re given permission: loud
    is the volume of morning. Even turtles have a spring
    in their steps as creatures dine and talk
    of other meals, bears of salmon and berries the color

    of blood and honey, each perfect taste colors
    snouts scarlet. Birds, seed and berry picking, call
    their friends to come and share a meal, talk
    of nest assembly and coupling, flaunting a kind
    of chivalry for the ladies, drinking from the spring
    of life, their bright wings, like their love songs, loud.

    See me! They seem to say. Behold my confidence, my loud
    tweeting voice, my passion and feathers the color
    of your dreams. I profess I love! I confess it springs
    from a need to replace myself, create my own flock, call
    from my heart to one as lonely as I am, but kind
    enough to look more closely, consider, reconsider, talk.

    From elephants to earwigs, all animals talk
    of love and food, of danger and joy, loud
    enough to wake the dormant trees, the world suddenly kind
    to creatures large and small, every hue and color,
    hoof and paw, fin and claw, fur and feather calls
    Love me! Feed me! I’m awake! I’m here! It’s Spring!

    Even crickets saw their legs, spring forward and talk
    of new winters to come, new generations to call aloud.
    Ah, loving life colors us all, dark and light, with kindness.

  244. Linda Voit

    Squirrelling Away

    Outside my window, squirrel
    leaps across a branch,
    inside his cheek, a nut.
    Before, my thoughts were scattered,
    but I pause to watch him move,
    his tail a twitch of bushy gray.

    The clouds are puffs of gray
    perhaps a threat to squirrel.
    He’s always on the move.
    Even sitting on a branch,
    his eyes scan spots to scatter
    while he can, his precious nut.

    I heard somewhere so many nuts
    they plant in soil of gray,
    the ones they work so hard to scatter,
    are often left for other squirrels
    from other trees and branches
    as they through winter move.

    From couch, I watch him move
    his bulky stash of nuts.
    He bounds from nearby branch
    to trunk, swishing his tail of gray,
    then zips across the yard to squirrel
    away what he must scatter.

    His job, his food to scatter
    where he will in snow banks move,
    when he wears a thicker coat of squirrel.
    He hopes for meals of meaty nuts
    in coming cold, relentless gray,
    the days of empty branches.

    Back up on bending branch
    his morsel already scattered,
    he twitches his coat of gray
    awaiting his own next move
    to find the next fall nut.
    Does he ever rest, this squirrel?

    Perhaps I am a squirrel balancing on branches,
    ever in search of nuts for security to scatter,
    always on the move, preparing for life’s gray.

    Linda Voit

  245. lina

    dumpster diving
    in the dumpster
    the coyote tears into raw chicken
    while the girl waits
    with her pack open.

    she isn’t afraid.
    the coyote’s yellow eyes are soft
    and its teeth are not
    interested in her.
    she listens to him swallow
    and grunt,
    toss bread aside, and milk.
    swallow egg yolks
    from the carton
    she stands still
    stars blinking in the sky
    waiting for the coyote to finish
    so that she
    can start to eat.

  246. mfitts847@gmail.com

    I’d always been a cat fan for most of my life.
    They are easy pets; soft, cuddly, playful, yet aloof.
    You can leave them for the weekend, without supervision;
    As long as you have enough food and water and a clean litter box.
    Easy, Breezy!

    Enter my step-son, Cody: “Ree, Dad wants a dog. Can we get him one for Father’s Day?”
    Marie (Ree): Cody, Your Dad travels for a living. He won’t be home to take care of the dog. You arent’ with us full time and I’ll be the only one home dealing with the dog… and I don’t want a dog.”

    Enter my house 2 weeks later with my permission (but still a bit apprehensive): “Sophie”
    The most beautiful Australian/German Shepherd mix of a dog I’d ever seen! She looked like a snow leopard when she was a puppy. (Check out her pic on my twitter page: @mariefittsgig). They call that coat blue-merle, but we call it cookies and cream! One of the BEST decisions I’ve ever made! I can’t believe I waited so long to get a dog. She is more excited to see me when I get home than any cat ever thought about being!

    You can learn a lot from a dog too…Drink plenty of water. Stretch the first thing in the morning when you wake up. Get lots of exercise. Protect and guard the ones you love…and most importantly, to love unconditionally! I never got any of those life lessons from the cat!

  247. James Von Hendy

    With a deep breath, a sestina.

    Eagle of the Red Pagoda

    I might have said I didn’t choose the moment
    And yet, if not, what then? I walked the thirteenth balcony
    Of the Red Pagoda. Days of silent meditation were yet filled
    With sound: the wind soughing constantly through the pines,
    Fountains and streams trickling the seconds, the distant rumble
    Of the falls, even the cracking of ice in the basin each morning

    Before I washed my face, any sound save voices. Every morning
    A woman in white passed to my left. I began to expect that moment
    Yet it always surprised me like thunder on a cloudless day, its rumble
    Creasing the air. She passed and rain drummed on the roof of the balcony.
    Another time sunlight suddenly struck the tips of the pines,
    And a rainbow spanned the steel curtain of clouds that filled

    The southern sky. Today I turned the corner, my heart filled
    With expectation. She wasn’t there. How strange the morning.
    Surprise swept over me like the pungent scent of pines,
    And suddenly I stepped into the air, my arms folding into wings, a moment
    Of astonishing lightness. Distances drew into focus. The balcony
    Dropped away and there was nothing. I heard the footfall of the wood rat rumble

    In the valley. Even the wind riffling my feathers was like the rumble
    Of rock fall on the face of the mountain. I soared, and wind filled
    Me with quick gladness. I danced on emptiness above the balcony,
    Over mountain ridges, and flew into the sun. I wheeled over morning
    Like a god, then stooped and plunged over the hillside. The moment
    Demanded voice. I screeched over a string of acolytes praying in the pines,

    A voice of ecstasy. I twisted through the air, somersaulted through the pines,
    Righted myself, and circled the paper thin pagoda. A shoji slid open, a rumble
    That drew me down and into that open room, intuition’s lightning moment
    Of clear understanding. I perched on a highboy. The woman calmly filled
    A washbasin from a pitcher, then turned and waited. I bobbed. Sounds of morning
    Fell away. Then she, too, bowed, her blue eyes shining. Wind rattled the balcony,

    A signal calling me back into air. My heart soared. I circled the thirteenth balcony,
    And flew with joy over the roof and over the tips of the glistening pines
    Before gliding down, talons outstretched, to land in stride on my feet, a morning
    Meditation unexpected and beautiful. I heard again the rumble
    Of the distant falls with human ears, yet heard in the same moment
    Their thunder ringing for the eagle’s ears. My senses were alive, filled

    With every sound beyond the balcony and within, a deep, tuned rumble
    That like the wind in the pines was the whole of me filled
    With thankfulness for the morning, an abiding gladness of the moment.

    1. Linda Voit

      Enjoyed the flight through this poem! I especially liked: “And suddenly I stepped into the air, my arms folding into wings, a moment/ Of astonishing lightness.” as I imagine that’s exactly what it would be like.

  248. Pat Walsh

    PAD Day 13 – Not sure if I’ve got the format right, but I’m trying (and in some lines, VERY trying! :) ). This one was not easy, but a lot of fun.

    A Sort of Animal Sestina
    by Patrick J. Walsh

    High above there sits a hawk
    briefly bereft of his usual motion
    he seems somehow deep in thought
    as he gently bends a timid branch
    his perch enthroned in light
    as though favored by Providence

    Indeed it is in wise Providence
    that I happened upon the hawk
    as it opened my eyes to the light
    for a moment pausing my manic motion
    and caused my path to branch
    into a new and different line of thought

    And in memory and recaptured thought
    those gifts of most kind Providence
    my vision trailed along the mottled branch
    trying to discern what it had to hawk
    in the small bit of the great bird’s motion
    in the vast blue dawning of the light

    Though the bird was solid the branch was light
    or at least that was my line of thought
    and as I watched I wondered how much motion
    might prove to tempt the fate of providence
    but all the while it bothered not the hawk
    as he gently bent the timid branch

    And I thought of how my path was like the branch
    as it wandered from dark to light
    and I felt sore less than the stately hawk
    as I so often became enmeshed in thought
    not paying enough heed to kind Providence
    as I thrashed along each day in manic motion

    It struck me how much we measure by motion
    from department to division to branch
    as we try the tensile flex of providence
    and heavy our days with blinds to block the light
    enmeshed in detail of every thought
    so unlike the unhurried splendid hawk

    Silently sits the hawk, briefly bereft of motion
    seeming lost in thought, on the timid branch
    serving as a signal light, for love of wise Providence

  249. P.A. Beyer

    Flight Makes Right

    Man glares at pigeon.
    Pigeon stares at man.
    Heads cocked.
    “You are ugly and worthless.
    Nothing but a rat with wings.”
    Man puts down brief case.
    Kicks an Old Style can at Pigeon.
    Waits for southbound train.
    Pigeon flies away.
    “I’m free.
    You choose to be caged.”
    Bird gives man a parting gift.
    “Stupid Fool!”

  250. P.A. Beyer

    Flight Makes Right

    Man glares at pigeon.
    Pigeon stares at man.
    Heads cocked.
    “You are ugly and worthless.
    Nothing but a rat with wings.”
    Man puts down brief case.
    Kicks an Old Style can at Pigeon.
    Waits for southbound train.
    Pigeon flies away.
    “I’m free.
    You choose to be caged.”
    Bird gives man a parting gift.
    “Stupid Fool!”

  251. laurie kolp

    Ted the Goat

    Ted spent his days in a trucking garage
    along with a Dalmatian he didn’t like.
    After work he went home to a trailer
    and hung with dogs he related to–
    Labradors, this silly kid named Ted
    with an identity crisis, poor goat.

    An experiment dummy, this goat
    falling prey to vet students in a garage
    where they castrated poor Ted
    and removed his musk glands (like
    he might stink up the place) only to
    let the kid rest overnight in the trailer

    then next day remove him from trailer
    for vet students’ de-horning of goat.
    Now the projecting horns connect to
    sinuses, so before he reentered garage
    they wrapped bandage under chin like
    in a cartoon with bow on top, how cute Ted

    looked cross-gendered. Before long Ted
    developed a sinus infection at the trailer
    and the vet student’s boyfriend who liked
    no, loved, this kid had to change the goat’s
    bandage and clean the holes at oily garage
    during work. Well, there was a sneeze and two

    holes blew in the guy’s face, sticky snot to
    clean off; whale spouts, only worse because Ted
    wasn’t full of water. What a mess the garage
    was, and poor guy who rushed home to trailer
    showered three times while the sick goat
    wrapped with gauze reclined like

    your highness, except he was male, so like
    your majesty—oh, whatever you want to
    call the kid who thought himself dog, this goat
    now sexless, scentless and hornless, Ted
    with a bow on his head living in trailer
    of vet student and guy christened at garage.

    Soon the garage was immaculate like
    the guy but the trailer remained too
    messy for anyone but Ted the goat.

  252. gmagrady


    The charger’s chosen first for ev’ry battle
    to lead its troop to certain victory,
    so all the town can raise their flags and cheer.
    The soldiers ride, heads high and filled with pride,
    adored by all, accomplishing their goal.
    They praise each horse for being such great sports.

    A mascot for their school in ev’ry sport,
    the charger represents athletic battles.
    To play with honor is the major goal,
    of course, they’d like to see a victory.
    No matter win or loss they end with pride.
    No matter win or loss the fans will cheer.

    To morning games we travel with good cheer.
    We pray for pleasant temps with this fast sport,
    as Chargers take the field with schooling pride.
    Opponents block and trap in this great battle
    as crowds cry out to fight for victory.
    And finally we clap as refs call, “Goal!”

    On courts they shoot for two or three field goals
    with sideline rivals chanting fervent cheers.
    The Chargers strive for OT victory;
    the Lions want to dominate the sport.
    And so it goes, the steal a key in battle,
    long pass, down low, the lay up brings us pride!

    They join, the boys, for fun with full school pride.
    To strengthen skills with each new set, the goal.
    The girls, though, serve and spike in focused battle.
    A winning match received with joy and cheer.
    I’ve got it! OUT! It’s mine! A vocal sport,
    a lively treat despite a victory.

    For school and independent victory
    they run with steady speed and pacing pride.
    Endurance crucial for this graceful sport,
    each stride and eyes determined on the goal.
    Awaiting lines they’ll cross to such great cheer,
    each meet, the stars prepare with mental battle.

    The Chargers battle hard for victory.
    Each teammate cheering on Ascension pride.
    Play hard, set goals, respect the school and sport.

  253. dextrousdigits

    Kali, a Calico Cat,
    named not for her colors,
    but after Hindu Goddess with multiple arms
    and of “Time”, “Destruction” and “Death”
    As a kitten, Kali’s paws were into everything
    shredding things apart,
    curious cat.

    Today, she lived up to her name.
    Into the bedroom she came
    head proudly lifted,
    dragonfly in mouth.
    Gently laid the squirming insect gift
    on the carpet in front of me.

    An iridescent dragonfly,
    trying to flutter,
    a fairy unable to rise.

    Its delicate wing frayed,
    unable to lift its fragile body off my hand.
    Its string thin legs churning,
    but unable to do more than tickle my palm.

    “What should I do?”
    A biology major I knew
    the cleanest way to end the misery
    was decapitate the creature.

    I who have smashed snails with brick and foot.
    I who have squashed black widows with gloved thumb.
    I who believe in Mercy Killing
    I who have had a dying dog put down.

    I looked at the frail stem trying to move.
    Unlikely to survive, yet I couldn’t harm it.
    I gently laid it out in the sun on a flower petal.

    Was it because there was a thread of hope?
    Was it because it struggled so?
    Was it that I saw my own frailness?

    Two days later, I still could not go out on the porch and
    look at the flower to see if it was still there.

  254. DanielR

    Donning feather stitched tuxedos
    they waddle like old fat men
    trudging through snow and ice
    before diving into frigid waters and
    taking flight, propelled by rigid wings

    Daniel Roessler

  255. Michelle Hed

    Fear of Wolves
    (six words: alone, free, sees, intelligence, magic, mischievous)
    (I used the format as put forth on the shadowpoetry page, hope that’s alright.)

    She stands alone
    but free,
    surveying all she sees
    with keen intelligence
    and the magic
    of a bit of mischievousness.

    Feeling a streak of mischievousness
    stirring from too much loneliness,
    she shivers with the magic
    of a plan to use her freedom
    and her intelligence
    to play a joke on what she sees.

    She runs toward her vision,
    the imp of mischievousness
    tickling her insides as her intelligence
    tries to rear his head but she is no longer alone
    and the pack is on the loose, free
    to cause a little magic.

    One by one they howl a little magic
    into the night sky just to see
    what goes jump in the night, snickering freely
    with smiles full of mischief
    as together and then alone
    and back, they zero in on the not so intelligent

    animal that jumped in the night. As the intelligent
    pack moves so quietly, like magic
    toward their elusive but lonely
    prey, they track it by sound, then sight
    and with mischievous
    glee they pounce before it can get free!

    No longer free
    it struggles against this intelligent
    pack, seeing their cruel, mischievous
    grins, until as if by magic
    they seem to disappear, no longer seeing
    the tormentors, he is alone.

    His fear has fled, he is free of their spell, their magic;
    he now understands with intelligence, and his mind sees
    that which he misunderstood for mischievousness, was really an attempt to not be alone.

  256. rlmatt7

    The City on the River (thinking of river Thames winding through London)

    The deep dark river
    glides through the city
    Gifting it with life
    Dull in colour
    In the morning crowds, it’s lost
    Until evening reflections, it’s found

    As the day ends, it’s found
    The eternity of the river
    a magnet drawing the lost
    of the city
    in the dull of the deepening evening colour
    reflecting about life

    Watching as war crippled life
    watching as empires were found
    Watching ash blend into colour
    Through black plague, wars, fires, the river
    has stood by the city
    quietly, sometimes defeated, never lost.

    Into skyscrapers, it gets lost
    Into varying hues of life
    Hugging the embankment of the city
    The serpentine water is found
    Turning the brown of the river
    Into the city’s morning colours

    Wisps of colour
    that soon get lost,
    running trails along the river,
    dawn runners bring to life
    the sleepy river, found
    snuggling tightly into the sleeping city

    The sleeping awaken, emerge into the city
    They throng the streets, riotous colour
    Emerge from the underground, are found
    rushing into concrete cages, where they are lost
    until evening, when streets fill up with life
    While in the background, flows the river

    The river merges into the city
    A perfect life, salubrious brown entwined with raging colour
    Lost histories, renewed anew everyday, like newly found.

  257. Cass Aleph

    By Cass Aleph

    Three walls define the space and time.
    I asked to be in here.
    And when I plan a new escape,
    There goes another year.

    I entertain through looking glass.
    The keeper always sees.
    So I compose a stunning show,
    And collect royalties.

    Oh how I miss the summer breeze,
    That blows right through my fur
    The mighty Serengeti sun,
    That makes a lion purr.

    I lacked the reckless bravery,
    To choose a life to roam.
    One day I’ll find that seed inside.
    For now this is my home.

    Three walls define the space and time.
    I asked to be in here.
    For now this is the lot I’ve got.
    Maybe I’ll change next year.

  258. utsabfly

    This poem is for my Niece, Vivian Lee. Flamingos have been her favorite animal since she was three. She still adores them, and she turns 7 in May! Enjoy!


    Vivian wants a pet flamingo
    Who’ll live in her back yard
    And wade around in her kiddie pool
    Which, for a kid’s pool, is quite large

    She will name her flamingo Sally
    One of her very favorite names
    She’ll put bows in her feathers
    And they’ll play dress up games

    Sally’s toe nails will be painted like rainbows
    She will sparkle in the sun
    One leg up, standing proud
    Floppy hat and sunglasses on

    Every day Vivian will feed her
    Special order crustacean yum yums
    So the beautiful pink she adores
    Will stay bright, and Sally will stay strong

    Her mom says maybe next year
    She said the same the year before
    But Vivian hasn’t given up
    Sally the Flamingo is worth waiting for

    ©E.D. Allee
    April, 2014

  259. mzanemcclellan


    This poem came to me today as I was reflecting on my earlier entry for Writer’s Digest’s Poem A Day Challenge. I tend to write either too literally to the prompts, or too abstact. Today’s challenge made me think about how we refer to violent humans as animals, and what an injustice that is to the animals. Nevertheless, this poem came to me, so I share it with you.

    I would like to dedicate it to anyone suffering from any kind of abuse, anywhere. May your spirit fly free soon. Peace.

    The Animal

    He beat me for no reason.
    He beat me because I cried.
    When I made the smallest mistake,
    I was beaten no matter how hard I tried.

    I was punished for his moods.
    I was punished for mine too.
    No matter which way I turned about,
    I could not figure the right thing to do.

    I was neglected for his drinking.
    I was neglected for his friends.
    All the sacrifices I made for him,
    were not enough to make my pain end.

    He cast dagger looks at me when I smiled,
    would tell me “shut up” when I laughed,
    and lo these many years later in life,
    I still suffer in his violent aftermath.

    I found a way to forgive him,
    this animal that terrorized me.
    That was the only way to heal myself.
    Today I am blessed with self love,
    and my spirit is free.

    ~ M. Zane McClellan

    Copyright 2014
    M. Zane McClellan
    All rights reserved

      1. mzanemcclellan

        Thank you Linda. Fortunately this is a fictional piece for me. The title of my blog is a double entendre of sorts. The poems often just pop into my head as was the case with this one. So as mentioned in the ppreface, it’s dedicated to those who are not yet free.

      2. mzanemcclellan

        Thank you Linda. Fortunately this is a fictional piece for me. The title of my blog is a double entendre of sorts. The poems often just pop into my head as was the case with this one. So as mentioned in the preface, it’s dedicated to those who are not yet free.

  260. pomodoro

    Hiss Off! : A Sonnet

    Rows of tomatoes planted on hillsides
    remind me now of the boy who threw snakes.
    He made the cats howl, he riled up the drakes
    and spooked the old nag that took me for rides.
    He made it a sport; he tormented me
    by tossing a snake headfirst at my face
    and shoving one in my collar of lace,
    making me scream when it tried to get free.

    This cruel vicious boy who inflicted pain
    his treatment of creatures was inhumane.
    It was always my wish for that pervert
    that he could feel how much it hurt and
    that just one snake he pulled from its lair
    would be a constrictor and him ensnare.

  261. Joseph Harker

    A sestina, you say? Well, why not.

    Shapeshifting, with Occasional Music

    Our local shaman brings a bag of “green tea”
    he bought at the bodega for a song.
    His beard webs spit, which turns it crystalline
    as he talks small talk– basketball, weather,
    mixed with instructions for the brew, sip, change.
    You serve him grapes. Then he goes on his way

    and we’re left with a fist of leaves that barely weighs
    one ounce. Boiled for half an hour, the tea
    smokes gold like fresh piss: certainly a change
    of pace from our usual. We need some songs:
    you vote Pink Floyd’s Meddle on vinyl, whether
    I think it’s trite or not, you’re whistling

    til we drink the contents of the vessel in.
    We mark the order in which things fall away:
    now ego, now id, loosed to the weather,
    what we call “self” untethered. The sourdrop tea
    soaks deep. You get your tabla, start a song
    but laugh and can’t keep time. Now comes the change,

    real easy, like peeling fruit, the kind of change
    you do without thinking. Hair bristling,
    back arched, my bones go hollow, and I’m song-
    bird calling home the spring. You make your way
    into some lost Egyptian deity,
    snake-headed, man-bodied. We watch the weather

    turn Revelation, our inner weather
    stormed out onto the sky. Our tongues exchange
    their tastes; you swallow me to fill what’s empty
    inside you. Meanwhile, I fly, the missile in
    my chamber released at last. My feathers sway.
    My talons curl. Each word becomes a song

    more beautiful than the last– until my song
    pairs with Roger Waters. “A break in the weather,”
    he sings as I come down; you up; the way
    rejoined but dulled, like laundromat loose change.
    We taste the tang from where we put the pistol in.
    (Unfired, it seemed like nothing more than tea.)

    We change back: human blood, viscera, skin.
    We put animals away. Whether this tea
    told truth with its body-song– we cannot say.

    1. Linda Goin

      Hey Joseph — so glad you’re participating. I’ve been enjoying your poetry all month. This sestina is killing me — I kept waiting to see how you would use the word “crystalline” six times, so I scanned the poem and then realized what you did. Love your work. Each word IS a song. Thanks!

  262. Cin5456

    Which Animal Are You?

    Which animal are you?
    Answer these random questions,
    which reveal your personality,
    but never quite describe you.
    Relevance matters,
    so rate the questions like you rate
    gadgets you ordered through Amazon.
    Don’t worry if your imagination
    feels stretched to outer limits.
    Pick a character from
    “Game of Thrones” and
    one from “Bewitched,”
    then choose the photo of your
    favorite pizza. For precision’s sake,
    rate the television programs
    you missed last week, so we
    will know you are too busy to care.
    Your haphazard answers to
    these arbitrary questions, which have
    little-to-zero significance in your life,
    reveal that you are an aardvark,
    with a pointed snout, extra-long tongue,
    and a penchant for sticking your nose
    where it does not belong.
    That’s strange. I thought I was a
    yellow-cheeked gibbon or a quoll.

  263. Walt Wojtanik


    There were a lot of ocelots
    Running through my yard,
    Eleven rotten ocelots
    Eating my Swiss chard.
    I wondered what an ocelot
    ate, and now I know,
    But I have not got an ocelot,
    so I don’t care, oh no!

  264. Nanamaxtwo

    Fishing Below Lake Red Rock Dam

    Keep Back
    200 feet

    The siren sounded minutes following the fisherman
    capsizing too close to the spillway grappled in the foam,
    beer cans flying, his body tumbled and held down breathless
    in a nest of whirlpools. Lazily his intended catch surfaced,
    its gills fluttering, mouth gaping, barely beneath
    the surface; an eagle’s shadow hovered dark on the water
    downstream. The bird’s wings extended straight board flat,
    then it dove. With legs lowered vertical as the dam’s walls,
    talons at ready, it seized the fish and wings working
    rose to an updraft where bird and fish floated above the river,
    wing feathers spread like a pianist’s fingers stretch for an octave.
    Adults and juveniles circled around him, graceful gliders
    drifting in arcs, effortless breathing, surfing thermal waves.
    Talons opened; released, the fish plummeted until clutched
    by a second raptor inches above the river surface,
    yards beyond the exclaiming rescuers, campers, fishermen
    distracted from the human drama that brought them
    to the river’s churning edge. Seize, swoop, release
    repeated. Over and over the fish dropped and was snatched
    carried high in the air, circled back toward the dam,
    above the lost fisherman done with his drowning,
    and then finally to the trees, to the nest.

    Sestina is on my desk and deep in my running theme of alcohol, early childhood trauma and famous writers, but in the Pac NW we are planting our gardens today.

  265. taylor graham


    The boss has a pain in his shoulder
    so deep, nothing can reach
    it. It comes from steering against the wind.
    Beside my desk, my dog
    snores in her sleep, her wordless dreams
    that read the weather’s mind.

    The boss believes in progress of mind,
    though it aggravates his shoulder
    when he’s off-guard, in his dreams.
    But he keeps his devices within easy reach.
    I’ll just take a break with my dog
    and read the old scrolls of the wind.

    This morning it’s a west wind
    that’s got a serious storm on its mind.
    Across the lot it pulls my dog –
    just look at the stretch of her shoulder,
    that long, herding-dog reach
    to carry her as far as her dreams,

    free movement, the spirit of dreams –
    she’ll almost catch the wind.
    How far can the human eye reach,
    the ionized, measureless side of the mind?
    Storm over my left shoulder,
    at one with the stride of my dog,

    unleashed spirit of Dog
    like old friends who visit my dreams,
    loping shoulder to shoulder
    muzzles lifted, inhaling the wind –
    which the boss calls a thing with no mind.
    He can’t grasp it. His reach

    fails when the WiFi’s out of reach,
    internet error; dead dog.
    His computer lives in the wireless mind,
    its inscrutable dreams
    unpredictable as storm; wind
    that twists the knife in his shoulder,

    boss-shoulder that’s lost its reach
    as the wind sings to my dog
    so she dreams running hills of her mind.

  266. Gabrielle Freeman

    by Gabrielle Freeman

    In Old Grandfather, the ancient loblolly, an owl
    hoots Who looks for you? as dusk turns to night, changes
    my landscape from grounded in the sun’s heat to flight.
    Through the thin fringe of needles, stars surface, and the moon
    calls my skin to develop feathers, prepare to hunt.
    Quills push out, unfurl. My eyes become fixed. A vision.

    It is said that the owl sees what others cannot see.
    The great pine stands sentinel at the creek’s edge. The owl
    grips its lowest branch with talons tensed for the hunt.
    A shift in sound, a low rustle. Indications of change.
    Who looks for you? I open my eyes wide to the moon,
    formulate strategy for the quick drop, silent flight.

    Every inquiry signals intuition, no flight
    of fancy, but revelation, a true gift of sight.
    The tree trunk’s girth says great age, constant beneath the moon
    for a hundred years. Generations of owls
    soaring, swiveling feathered heads over land changing
    from Tuscarora path to battleground. Human hunters

    of animals and men. Owls swooping down to hunt
    emerging cicadas, field mice, disregard the flight
    or fight beneath them. From battle field to farm, change
    perpetual. From farm to home, the owls have born witness.
    I stand at the boundary. Above me, the barred owl
    calls Who looks for you? and I answer, bathed in moonlight.

    This space, the muddy creek shore carved by water, moonlit,
    is full with metamorphosis, life. A fulsome hunting
    ground verging on a world other than this. The wise owl
    hoots Who looks for you? I answer as the last bats fly,
    as dragonflies light and rest. Liminal space of sight,
    blurred lines, murk, the in-between. A fertile field for change.

    Old Grandfather’s bark is gnarled and rough. His faces change,
    crack and grow strange as my pupils adjust to the moon.
    If I listen, tune my ears to the night, learn to see
    through my spirit animal’s eyes, I won’t have to hunt
    for meaning in cards or bones or the strategic flight
    of birds. I listen. Who looks for you? asks the owl.

    I exchange my arms for wings. They know when to hunt,
    when the earth sings under the moon and is ripe for flight.
    Who trusts my eyes to see? I do. I do. calls the owl.

    Thanks for reading! Check out my writing process website http://www.ladyrandom.com.

  267. Amaria


    Rarely had I seen something as beautiful
    as you slither through the tall grass.
    The diamond scales glistened in the light.
    The silence of your moves was mesmerizing.
    Lovely as you were I naively thought
    everyone was wrong about heart.
    So when I foolishly picked you up,
    never did it occur that you would bite.
    As the venom pump into my veins
    knees became weak and I fell down.
    Everything around me went silent.

  268. elledoubleyoo

    I have always wanted to write a sestina, but I don’t have that much time today! I’ll try again later maybe. On this one, I’m not too sure about the rhyming, but I’ll come back when another idea strikes me.

    Crow Funeral

    They circle overhead to mourn their dead,
    a broken winged, fallen thing,
    a black stain on the ground.

    Their raucous calls in unison enthrall
    me, alone under this cyclone,
    a churning, feathered storm.

    I look to the sky and count their cries,
    seven each time; it’s like a rhyme,
    a dirge for a fallen friend.

  269. lionetravail

    “The Briefest Pause In Duties”
    by David M. Hoenig

    From high above, one can see the sun’s fire
    cresting the curvaceous horizon to lovingly kiss the Earth.
    As shadow races away from arc of descent, the blue of water
    becomes more vivid through the clear air
    which, like careful shroud, lies between
    the cradle of life and the cold emptiness of space.

    Crossing at Helios’ behest, there’s plenty of space
    for Phoenix to make its majestic way, robed in fire
    and bearing the dawn as solemn office. Midway between
    life and death, it deigns to land, touching earth
    so gently that, despite its heat, brings no smoke to the air
    as it flows over the ground like smooth-running water.

    When it finally runs out of land, it reaches water
    but is not quenched, finding, for its wings, enough space
    to spread widely and cruise over the interface of ocean and air
    like an unsinged Icarus, proof against lethal fire.
    With all the smooth perspective change of Google Earth,
    it flies inevitably onward on its long way between

    continents and the domains of man. Between
    one breath and another, it leaves the water
    behind, once again bringing its boon to solid earth,
    and green to any untouched, fertile space.
    Emissary of celestial origin, bearing benign light and fire,
    its great wingspan stirs life-affirming turbulence in the air

    across an entire world. Phoenix puts on no haughty air
    in its service, at heart a humble creature caught between
    vocation and avocation. Crawling with living fire
    which sheds from it like drops of water,
    at the very end of sun’s reach it banks and climbs for space
    in a bid for return to its King, to leave behind the Earth.

    It doesn’t make it. Straining against pull of whole wide earth,
    over which it once passed, rippling the air,
    its mighty wings suddenly crumple before it again reaches space.
    Falling, Phoenix’ sun god-granted strength fails between
    Heaven’ and Earth’s embrace, as night rolls like water
    across its tail and quenches its once-awesome fire.

    Crashing down in fated plummet, it bursts into new and fierce fire
    as it rips through the keening air and splashes to its end in rebirth’s water.
    Caught in the moment between eternal duties, its death provides but the barest breathing space.

  270. Erynn

    Eagle wings and sharp eyes
    Gleaming talons ready to descend
    It’s shrill call sounding through time
    Sending courage to all who hear it

    Short and sweet :)

  271. alana sherman

    The Vixen

    At first something moving
    in the field caught my eye.
    I stood very still, got a glimpse
    of rusty tail and ears. She was
    so a-glow with light I wasn’t sure
    what she was. My looking made
    a patch of day lilies where it shouldn’t be.
    She didn’t know I was watching
    and kept to the fence line purposefully.
    I moved closer hardly breathing,
    stopped on a small rise. She came into
    the clearing and stood there, still,
    turned to watch me And, she let me look,
    didn’t run away. I saw the whole of her—
    Two pointed ears, long bushy tail
    and the two kits close behind.
    It was a moment that made time stop
    like when you are lying in bed listening
    to your own heartbeat and you sense
    the wide world waking to your waking.
    We stayed like that—she let me caress
    every bit of her fur, let me inhale her
    wild scent and cunning for a few breaths.
    She let the afternoon hold us for a while.
    Then she nodded her head to the tall grass,
    barked and brought the minutes back.



    secretive, shy
    almost invisible
    among the bristle
    and shrub of the field

    but one is singing
    as he launches himself up,
    a blur spiraling
    into the dimming sky

    descending at last
    in wide arcs
    with a liquid warble
    heady and deep
    to celebrate early
    spring’s fleeting warmth.

    1. BDP

      Love the name “timberdoodles”–I hadn’t heard woodcocks called that before. Thanks for the introduction in a nice poem. “The Vixen” is also very nice. I like the lead in to the last 10 lines–those lines work so well for me.

  272. dianemdavis

    THINGS WERE (Berlin 1945)

    He wears blinders
    like a horse,
    looking the other way so as
    not to see or hear
    my stories.
    I was his angel,
    a Mother in the Reichland.
    He placed a veil of innocence
    over my head
    keeping me safe from his enemies
    while he went to war.

    But when I try to take the veil off,
    let him see the hunger, the death,
    the struggle for survival–
    he refuses to listen.

    And if I fight to be heard,
    I will lose him

  273. Linda Goin

    The Tax Collectors’ Bones

    In morning dew
    I often glimpse wings of bald
    eagles chasing scents
    to add to a hoard
    of rodent bones, bare
    trees frame them as they weather

    still-sharp winds. Whether
    or not the tax is due,
    I will not lose myself, bare
    myself to the balled-
    up emotions the hordes
    claim are poorly sent.

    If you want my two cents,
    I’d rather be wethered
    than be whored
    when made to pay those dues.
    My neighbor bawled
    like a baby when he bared

    his cupboards, his bear
    chest heaving as he sent
    his children packing. Bald
    eagles know how to weather
    sharp turns, what to do
    when hungry, how to hoard

    bones picked from hard
    waste, how to bear
    burdens by burying what’s due.
    The cellar doors bar scent,
    and they keep bones, whether
    or not the family knows. Balled

    tumbleweeds drift, and bald
    eagles cry for more pickings, a horde
    of collectors, a whole team of wethers
    can follow my few cents,
    and they’ll all meet the same do.

    My taxes are due, and bald
    eagles have the scent. My hoard
    of bare bones will weather.

  274. mbramucci

    Unbridled Gait
    By: Michelle Bramucci

    Foremost seems nature’s destiny of woe;
    When seeds of ash this lethargy does sew.
    Walk on! Walk on! Tread steady through
    The quest that has been laid for you
    Be careful not to sway or you might trip.
    The curious are met with crop and whip.

    If one should amble on through pasture known,
    The greenest grass grows round the resting stone.
    Gallop! Gallop! Around the track
    With blinders so you can’t look back
    And see opponents racing beaten path.
    With fiery eyes that sear with jockey’s wrath.

    But some do not bear saddle, strap, or reign;
    They graze and trot, where shepherds do refrain.
    Do Reach! Do Reach! These supple limbs
    And pioneer with clever whim.
    To forge by truth a destiny and fate,
    As life was made for the unbridled gait.

  275. DanielR

    Steady falling hooves in heavy gallop
    pound the hot, dry earth like rhythmic tom-toms
    giving birth to dust clouds that rise and drift away
    toward splendid rocky peaks on west horizons
    the thunder echoes as it rumbles to me
    sorrel mane flows as easy as the wind
    nostrils flare with the fullness of heavy breathing
    while lather gathers on massive shoulders and back
    until his gait slowly melts into a canter
    and in dark, intense, haunting eyes lies the answer
    that there is a freedom in the running.

    Daniel Roessler

  276. omavi

    failed evolution

    stalking. the night calls
    the beast in the form of man. but
    man is just a simple creature. scary. weak.
    claws dulled by comfort. teeth
    no longer sharp. incisors grounded to rounded
    knobs. harmless. the taste of meat no longer
    needed. the haste of the hunt no longer
    heeded. the rush of running in plains
    where even the grass kills. man succeeded
    in becoming prey of all that lives.
    succumbing to air as lungs breathe.
    fearing water. fearing earth.
    man no longer stalking
    sulking and hiding
    slowly dying

  277. Eibhlin

    NOAH’S ARK: a sestina

    According to the Good Book’s holy tale
    When once Creator looked on what “he” ’d made
    “He” cried, “They’re bad! They stink! I cannot bear
    to have them in my godly sight! O no,
    they must be all removed from my eyes’ arc!
    I’ll wipe them out with floods and floods of rain!”

    Still more Creator thought, and said, “But No-
    ah, he is good, and should not have to bear
    the punishment I’ll bring about through rain.
    I’ll save him, he shall live to tell the tale.
    I’ll save him from the flood that I will make;
    he’ll build, at my direction, one great Ark.
    “Who told you build a great big wooden ark?”
    his wife exclaimed. “From where comes such detail?
    And why’s there so much room in what you’ve made?
    We’re bringing WHAT? No way, I cannot bear
    to live cooped up with animals! The rain
    won’t wipe us out. O no! O, please! O no!”

    Then came the clouds that augured heavy rain.
    She paused. She sighed. She said, “Okay, I know
    that what you’re saying is not some made-up tale.
    Because you listened, and you’re good, you built this ark.
    Right now it seems so big, and rather bare,
    but let’s all board this vessel that you’ve made.”

    So all the creatures Great Creator had made
    in couples solemnly boarded Noah’s ark.
    They hopped or scuttled, jumped or walked, and no
    refusals sent,* for sensing mighty rain,
    to flee the deluge, live to tell the tale,
    they trusted Noah’s ark them all to bear.

    And though ‘twas tough and rough, it did them bear!
    The forty days and forty nights of rain
    did not destroy the valiant wooden ark
    that Noah with his grit and skill had made.
    (*Except the dinosaurs. They said, “Thanks, no.”
    That’s why they didn’t live to tell the tale.)
    Now someone’s made a movie of this tale
    about the Ark that triumphed over rain.
    No, haven’t seen. I don’t think I could bear.

  278. CristinaMRNorcross

    Cleopatra’s Cat

    Cleopatra’s cat feels guilty.
    He could have loved more,
    given more,
    scratched at the door more –
    sounding the alarm to intruders.

    In the end
    no sleek, feline skills
    would have been enough.
    Her escape was a final one.

    All black lines
    and silent stealth,
    Cleopatra’s loyal pet
    stayed close,
    as poison touched
    ruby lips.
    He glided next to her,
    holding vigil,
    when porcelain skin grew cold.

    Cristina M. R. Norcross
    Copyright 2014

  279. writinglife16

    The secret of the Sphinx

    The cat sleeps.
    Fourteen hours a day.
    They stretch out
    and curl up.
    Humans wonder if cats dream.
    The Sphinx knows the truth.

  280. spacerust

    “Remedy to the Sickness” by Karl A. Avila

    Society is riddled with gadgets of technology
    into bed while they lie, they still keep on the light
    to them it may seem like soothing music
    without giving it much reason
    it should be labeled as a sickness
    and testing selected random

    Candy Crush, Doodle Jump or any program random
    the power of our innocence lost in technology
    where else could you find advancement looked at as a sickness
    maybe one day, hopefully, we can turn off the light
    and realize the purpose, the position of my reason
    of living life as it once was, where nature was our music

    It’s always been free and beautiful, the natural sounds of music
    to close our eyes and listen closely to everything so random
    life is more than just a game, it has much more reason
    don’t get me wrong, I like it, but it has its place, what we know as technology
    but understand my plight of words, as we lie in bed, does it still have to light
    studies show that this obsession, can be classified as a sickness

    a cold, a flu, a fever, but advancement shouldn’t be a sickness
    a piano, a bird singing, a child’s voice are perfect as my music
    a candle, a flashlight, the stars, are what I consider lights
    all these things represented so many things so random
    although it can’t compare to the fulfillment of technology
    and open up our eyes again, to understand this reason

    come and join, realize the madness of my reason
    I am not a doctor, but see that society has a sickness
    with all the gadgets available, this disease named technology
    we have lost our sights on the beauty of our music
    thoughts that have come to mind are really not that random
    If then and only then will our society see the light

    and once again shall we have a natural light
    and once again shall we have common reason
    and once again shall it not be random
    and once again shall we cure a sickness
    and once again shall we hear the music
    and once again shall we harness technology

    that technology will shine its given light
    mobile music and rightful reason
    not be society’s sickness and only used at random

      1. spacerust

        This was my first attempt at the writing a sestina. I just thought about the first six words that came into my head and went from there. It was a good experience at trying something new.Thank you though…

  281. Clae


    scales and sinew, serpent tail
    breath of fire, wings on air
    gold and glitter for a nest
    meat of heroes to digest
    stars shake from a roar, a call
    moon is rattled but does not fall
    rule the mountain, roam the sky
    watch the earth with ruby eyes
    glimmer by moonlight, shimmer by day
    all other creatures merely prey
    dagger talons, diamond fangs
    all the bards and minstrels sang
    a marvel, deadly wondrous thing
    a dragon, more monster than king
    once long ago a kindly soul
    turned savage by a greed for gold

    T. S. Gray

  282. RJ Clarken

    Sorry…no Sestina (at least, now.) Just another Trillonet.

    An Exotic Sporting Animal

    The Jersey Devil has a tail
    that’s forked, and he has bat-like wings,
    and often makes blood-curdling screams.

    But diet? Healthy! Lots of kale
    and spinach, and some smoothie things.
    He takes his work-outs to extremes.

    He’s planned it out in great detail
    because he plays the Ducks and Kings…
    The Stanley Cup: his dream of dreams.

    Against Coyotes, he’s off the scale.
    And Sharks? He shoots and scores. (Then sings.)
    He skates against the best of teams.

    He is not imaginary.
    He’s the Jersey beast. Yeah, very.


  283. Kimmy Sophia

    Animal Poem(s)


    When I walk through
    a grocery store
    meat department,
    I see packages of suffering.
    Each morning I give
    a moment of silence for the sake of animals
    Dispatched for food.
    Without kindness or respect,
    like dangerous prisoners
    in deplorable conditions,
    without a Geneva convention.
    Temple Grandin said,
    “Nature is cruel. We don’t have to be.”


    I delight in every moo and quack
    oink and cluck,
    nay and heehaw,
    baa and bark.

    The meows and roars and shrieks and howls
    of cats and bears and apes and owls,

    Every hoof and paw
    and every feather
    I love each one,
    and all together.

  284. acele

    Little Grey Mouse

    Ooh there you are, little grey mouse.
    It seems that you think I inhabit your house.
    How funny it seems you think that I might
    Be the pest of the kingdom you rule in the night.
    When by chance we do meet you run, bolt in a hurry.
    I also do jump with a startling worry.

    The presents you leave are the source of my worry.
    Unwanted in cabinets are droppings of mouse.
    I dash for the bleach with no little hurry.
    And spray every surface and crack of this house.
    I wonder perhaps when you come back this night,
    If you’ll think that I cleaned it for you, well you might.

    I resolve that I’ll need more power and might
    To reclaim my kingdom, though how? I now worry,
    For I do not wish to snuff out this small knight.
    But I am afraid, oh small valiant mouse
    That I must now reclaim my stake on this house.
    So I’ll set up a trap for tonight when you scurry.

    So to the garage it’s my turn to scurry.
    I find a small box and I think that I might
    Find some wire mesh and a spring in the house.
    I fashion and fix my trap, but I worry
    Is it able to draw you oh grey little mouse,
    Into its lair as you search in the night.

    And so I have set up my trap for this night,
    Strategically placed in the path where you scurry.
    I wonder the tastiest treat for you, mouse,
    A snack so delicious and fragrant you might
    Be drawn to my box without any worry.
    I find in my fridge cookie dough. Yum! Toll House!

    I add peanut butter to the glob of Toll House.
    I smear it inside the box at midnight.
    To bed I retire with wonder and worry,
    Will my trap draw you in as you scramble and scurry?
    Will the spring then release with enough speed and might
    To prevent your escape, oh little grey mouse?

    Good morning grey mouse! Let’s go find your new house!
    In this barn there are several places you might tiptoe and scamper and creep in the night.
    I’ve left you some snacks so you won’t have to worry, and please, back to my house, don’t you scurry!

    1. BDP

      The first stanza was fun and set this sestina up nicely. Kept me reading through. Hope the now barn mouse doesn’t have a cousin who wants to take its place in your house.

  285. Jezzie

    German Shepherds

    Guard dogs and strong they may be, but yet they are
    Ever faithful and gentle, giving all their
    Real love to their owner, be it man, woman or child.
    Meant for companionship, once you have had one there’ll
    Always be no other dog for you and you’ll
    Never want to be without one by your side.

    Simply the best kind of dog to own and yet
    Have been trained as guard dogs or family pet.
    Everyone can see they’re valued by the
    Police because they’re trained so easily.
    Hours of fun can be had out walking. With their
    Endless energy they’ll run around ’til they’re
    Really tired, when they will want to come home for
    Dinner. Then eventually they will sure
    Sleep very peacefully lying by your side.

    1. Kimmy Sophia

      I used to be terrified of German Shepherds, because a mean one would stand in the road growling at me when I was a kid on my paper route. His name was Major. But recently, on a shamanic journey, the shaman said a German Shepherd has guarded me since I was a baby, and now I think of this invisible power animal with me all the time, (named Moses) and he runs with me, protects me and comes to me in my hours of sorrow. Quite remarkable. Thank you for this poem.

  286. AleathiaD

    Not Pavlov’s Dogs
    The mornings rise unembarrassed and bleak,
    their nature gray like the dog’s mingled fur, a field
    of uninhabitable expanse driven by the lack of science, dark
    matter, and the great wonders of the world. They are the gold
    that can only be mined by the strong, whose images touch the stars
    their fingers nothing more than hard worked bruises.
    The dog knows of these empty places, the bruises
    fresh on his heart like new fallen snow laid out bleak
    and uninviting. He knows it will be a millennium before he’s the star
    that falls into the hands of love, into the dreamed fields
    where he sprints unabashed like a thick-legged runner going for gold;
    he holds out for chance and variables of probability in the dark.
    I watch him dream, legs twitching, belly grunting in the dark
    wondering if his world feels like the pleasured pain of new bruises
    or if it is washed over in the rippling heat of gold
    summers where there are squirrels to tease his soul bleak.
    They taunt him from the trees that overlook the fields
    until he can no longer see the horizon’s first star.
    At night, we walk with purpose following a lone star
    and I never know who is leading who in the whispered dark
    alley and I spend the quiet trying to dig deep and field
    the emptiness in my own heart that sits purple like a bruise.
    It doesn’t matter how heavy it is, how bleak
    it seems, he always pulls me to a pot of gold.
    Another morning and the sun pierces us with gold
    rays still whistling cat calls at the last lingering star.
    The dog looks back at me with his bleak
    stare as if to ask when the fear in his dark
    heart will cease to be. I tell him it will always feel like a bruise;
    it will always feel like being the last player on the field.

    We stop at the top of the hill at the fields
    that overlook the dead grass, gold
    and unkempt, and stand lightly behind a shared bruise
    neither of us can identify despite it being the star
    in both of our shows. We are sad and dark
    together, we understand the meaning of bleak.

    Aleathia Drehmer 2014
    April 13 Animal poem, sestina

  287. Margot Suydam

    It’s a Life

    Whether jackass or jenny,
    we plowfields stand between
    morning gazes and hopes
    for handouts of touch

    or biscuits from walkers
    passing the prehistoric cliffs
    that line our treacherous sea.
    All that’s left

    for us is to watch as history
    mavens come and go
    and wait for farmer’s till
    to drag us home.

  288. Jerry Walraven

    No sestina today, how about a tritina instead:

    “The whys of wanting to be a squirrel”

    It was the first time I saw the leap.
    From the branch of the ash to a branch of the oak
    that I saw what couldn’t fly, could still soar.

    In my heart I knew I could soar.
    My muscles would tense, to follow that leap
    from my space way up high in the oak.

    My second home was way up high in that oak,
    letting go of the branches, pretending to soar,
    escaping the terrestrial world was my leap.

    Following the leap, sheltered in the oak, with the squirrel I soared.

  289. Amanda Oaks

    How to Skin a Pisces
    for Kurt

    I used to watch my grandfather
    clean fish at his kitchen table.
    One eye, flip— & then the other
    would stare down my putty heart.

    A pile of heads with hook holes
    in their lips, some in their throats,
    an omen of what was to come.

    I wasn’t even fishing
    when I caught you,

    I gave it up.

    My Leo pride
    had been watered down
    by too many fish
    before you

    but you flopped
    your beautiful body
    all the way up the beach
    to the bonfire in my bones
    & swallowed my baitless

    I still kiss the tangled line
    that dangles
    from your mouth.

    You have an ocean inside of you
    that I could burn on

  290. jacq

    Squirrel by Jacqualine Hart

    My backyard squatter is in rare form today
    rooting around as if exploring a grass maze
    on amphetamines seeking out its
    buried treasures, here and there,
    rising on his hind limbs, praying to the Gods
    when that misplaced nut has been found.

    Squatter’s kin spies the find and
    challenges its owner, who chases off the
    competition and proudly turns to his reward with
    blue jay standing majestically guarding his
    morning meal that now accompanies a
    stare down before snapping it up and
    flying away.

  291. A.A. Palmer (a.k.a. The Happy Amateur)

    Hi, Happy Sunday. Palm Sunday. Thirteen prompts, thirteen haiku.

    beyond the welkin
    a sleepy angel awakes
    off to work wings brushed

    the commute is quick
    one giant leap for mankind
    for angel one step

    the task is simple
    persuade men to be happy
    that’s what angels do

    since the creation
    happiness has been men’s foe
    men prefer ruin

    men long for passion
    harmony unsettles them
    men would rather burn

    men inhale cities
    drink beneath the rural moon
    on the airplane wings

    ever amateur
    created in God’s image
    hopelessly human

    torment their lovers
    dance themselves to destruction
    ever lonely men

    finding no refuge
    men cry when they see the Pope
    vagabond pilgrims

    empires rise and fall
    look back foresee the future
    humans do not change

    men bend their beliefs
    divide sex and sentiment
    still believe in love

    strolls through central park
    wild quarrels starting over
    beautiful and damned

    men battle their beasts
    walk along the precipice
    all the sad young men

  292. Gwyvian

    Prey of the dark

    Not only shadows lurk in the deep dark,
    but also big cat politics at play:
    growling and sleek, pure in subtle finesse,
    from desert to jungle those big cats reign—
    with spots and jaws to snap and claws to shred,
    those wild cats mercilessly hunt their prey…

    The minds of the little creatures of prey
    are riddled with fear of what’s in the dark,
    where shadows bark and single steps might shred—
    this place does not tolerate languid play,
    for in this space only the big cats reign:
    they cannot digress too far from finesse.

    Yet to hone themselves and master finesse,
    those creatures of prey must stop being prey,
    they must contrive to topple the cat’s reign
    and defeat their fear of the deep and dark:
    let shadows dapple and hunt turn to play,
    so cats will only find darkness to shred…

    Of the nest on high there is not a shred,
    in the night someone stole it with finesse,
    and though fowl and fauna learned how to play,
    to someone out there they still remained prey:
    lark song turns to owl’s hoot in the dark,
    where the snakes slither and begin their reign…

    Under the rule of a venomous reign,
    neither toothy roar nor flight helps a shred—
    sinew and hiss, snakes need not cloaks of dark,
    for snakes have a secret, deadly finesse:
    where all in the kingdom are the snake’s prey,
    now the game has new rules by which to play…

    Yet of hunters who choose this game to play,
    no single predator can keep their reign,
    after a time, even they become prey…
    the hoarse gurgles of death slice the last shred
    of dignity and their vaunted finesse,
    and something new always lurks in the dark…

    The soft coughs of the sly darkness at play
    dabble with finesse in animals’ reigns—
    though they shred, to darkness they… are the prey.

    April 13, 2014

    By: Lucy K. Melocco

  293. Jacqueline Casey

    A Feast For Crows

    Crows mingle where the vegetation’s scarce;
    they hang above eroded garbage dump.
    A stench; a blackened, garbage mountain, fierce.
    What God has given them this place to slump?
    The rain revisits now a righteous rot
    as fermentation stinks to heaven, high!

    The crow ; he visits scene and screeching high,
    he sings of rubbish, putrid treasure, scarce.
    He flings his feet among the dying rot;
    his nostrils now excited by the dump.
    His wings will flutter; in an instant, slump.
    Oh, loving is this forager so fierce!

    As death is celebration, crows are fierce!
    They utter cries to heaven, vented high.
    They crash and dive into a righteous slump
    and, grateful to their vegetation scarce,
    they sing a song of glee above the dump.
    Oh, land of stink; oh, land decayed with rot!

    To each his own, these birds do love their rot;
    their loyalty to land of stench is fierce.
    Crows sing, and grateful for their city dump,
    it’s here they bring their young to feast on high.
    Above their vegetation, holy, scarce;
    it’s here they teach their young to fly and slump.

    Oh, reservoir of crude and putrid slump!
    He caws, retrieves the flesh-corroded rot.
    A treasured pleasure in the sun not scarce,
    his love and loyalty is rightly fierce.
    He thanks the gods for rain, it comes from high;
    he thanks contaminated methane dump.

    Crows love the liquefaction of the dump;
    they feast where cells are in a dying slump.
    There, desolation of all matter, high.
    Yet, cry they will for masticated rot.
    Oh, wondrous is the greenhouse gas so fierce
    where death may turn to living! That is scarce.

    The crow will slump in garbage that is scarce.
    He favors rot that lives in city dump.
    This bird flies high; his loyalty is fierce.

    Day 13, April PAD, Writer’s Digest. Prompt: Create a Sestina poem.

  294. laurie kolp

    Bird Watching

    A crow’s side-shuffling on the telephone wire
    just as I did in exercise class last week
    with sliders, round things like Frisbees
    I’d not seen before, but then
    I’m no spring chicken either.
    We placed our balls
    of feet on the kite-like material
    and slid from one side
    of the room to the other.
    I tried so hard to keep my balance
    I’m not even sure it worked,
    but the crow’s putting on a show now
    as if to say, this is how we do it.
    Maybe next week I’ll get it right.

  295. antoniabryanblue

    I’m just a lady bug

    Just like a lady bug
    Painted the darkest of reds
    Rose powdered up rouge
    Just like a lady bug

    I dot my ‘i’s
    With white poker dots
    Flatter kindred wings
    All to catch Mistral

    Just like a lady bug
    Cursteying all lady like
    Blue black my shoes
    Just like a lady bug

    I curve my ‘y’s
    Not quiet a novelty
    Shifting through space
    All to catch Mithras

    Just like a lady bug
    My feet don’t sink
    Feather light float
    Just like a lady bug

    Singing ‘y’s and ‘i’s
    Pinch, pinch my cheeks
    Mistral and Mithras bow
    Curtsey, curtsey

    Tiptoeing on icy chill
    Time passes on by
    Thawing out strings
    Belonging to a cello

    Squinting under the heat
    Why oh why turns into ‘I’
    White powdered up rose
    I’m just a lady bug

  296. Espen Stenersrod

    Outside the prompt
    Day 13

    Topic: Uniqueness

    An atom
    Split up from its twins and siblings
    Found floating in mid air
    Barely escaping the dust particle storm
    Created in galaxies far far away

    Used to be a part of compound elements of grandeur
    But now it is floating in mid air
    Into the mere existence of self

    Had to detach
    From the safe patterns of
    solids, liquids and gases
    To find the sole purpose of what it could accomplish on its own.

    As a goodbye gift
    It asked two of its twins
    If they could merge with their sibling

    Floating in mid air
    Waiting for its reflection to appear
    So it could see itself
    For the first time

    In a bent image
    It saw the potential It wore

  297. antoniabryanblue

    The Dragon Rothova

    Flightless bird of stars
    And yet a crime to assume
    Magic is clipping your wings
    A giant jewel beats
    Beneath silky black scale
    Giant stone of fire
    Lost in breath
    Crushing all the questions
    No vein of confusion
    Is hooked up to pump
    Just spread your wings
    Tip toe to the edge
    Become the magnetic flow
    Stretch out your neck
    Take your time
    Burn the brightest
    And fall down
    Only to fly up
    Letting go of agony
    To become a black star
    Never to feel sorry again
    This is how dragons
    Become void of flight

  298. cindikenn

    Tricked into a Pet (Animal Sestina, novice attempt)

    The truth is, I didn’t want a pet.
    I already had three small children
    born in three years. Who needed a dog
    too? But pekes are cute when they’re small
    and I was tricked. My mom wrapped the bundle
    and gave it to my three perfect babies

    without permission. Three perfect babies
    kissed and hugged and snuggled and pet
    the furry, flat faced, wet tongued bundle
    which came unwrapped and chased my children
    in happy circles around the small
    room. It drooled and shed, just like a real dog

    but smaller. She proved that she was a dog
    when she peed inside, chewed my babies’
    toys, pooped on furniture big and small.
    When she was sick we took her to the pet
    doctor where I joked about pet children.
    The vet rolled my bill in a fat bundle.

    Our smash nosed girl was a hairy bundle
    of cute, but she was still a dog
    and I didn’t want one. She scared children,
    and some adults, but not the babies
    who were curious and begged to pet
    her. With sticky, licking tongues and small

    sharp fingers they grabbed, pulled and poked our small
    girl until we had to bundle
    our day at the park stuff, round up our pet,
    load our Datsun four door and hot dog
    it out of there while Velcro babies
    bawled. It’s difficult to prepare children

    to leave a place as mothers of children
    know. Especially when there are small
    animals involved. With three babies
    born in three years and a furry bundle
    of peeing wonder bound to be a dog,
    lines often blurred between kid and pet.

    I was tricked into a pet but my children
    and I loved that little dog. That small
    hairy bundle was one of my babies.

  299. myshkin2

    Cyclops in Love

    Everyone’s trying to get into the act,
    but who would have expected an ugly beast
    like him to croon like a Latin lover?
    His eye winking tearfully, such a deep unexpected blue,
    his fierce engorged head bent over
    to elicit sympathy, His matted body,

    kneeling in proposal, less massive than anybody
    would have guessed. An almost elegant act,
    pleading his case, his fertile land spreading over
    two hillsides, sheep and goats galore, not the beast
    you’ve heard about. She sits dreaming by the blue
    sea, barely attentive, her heart set on a different lover,

    a young shepherd bent on pursuing her. Love
    in her eyes sits playing, he’d sing, seeing her body
    barely covered, imagining the rest—an operatic blues,
    perhaps, by Handel, right in the first act
    when all is fun and games, before the percussive beast
    appears. It’s Cyclops, raging, melting, burning all over:

    Don’t think me unsightly, a lamb has wool all over,
    birds have plumage, trees have leaves, surely a lover
    of them can love me. If I were a just a beast
    could I offer you plums and cherries? Everybody
    envies my shaded dells and groves—why do you act
    like I’m not worth your time? Still she blew

    him off, remarked his one eye was not nearly as blue
    as claimed, and waved her shepherd boy over–
    hesitant until it’s clear in the final act,
    he faces competition. Now he’s the arch-lover,
    and she swoons and spreads for him, entire body
    opening. She will never ever allow the beast

    this access, and yes, this is place where any beast
    would grab a rock, not stopping at black and blue,
    in wild agonized rage, to smash at least one body.
    a satisfying end? We should, perhaps, think this over.
    Cyclops, seeing such fervent, such feral love-
    making, in this version, disappears into the act.

  300. mzanemcclellan

    Hawk’s Spirit
    Keen avian eyes capture all beneath,
    suspended aloft on a warm spring breeze,
    plumage fluttering on expanded wings.
    Mournful cries pierce the silence of my spirit.
    To bring a message that I must see now,
    wakeful watchfulness, my key to soar high.
    Moving with the serene grace in smooth flight,
    coasting effortlessly on the thermals.
    It surveys the vast empty plains below,
    expanding in ever wider circles.
    Searching for the necessities of life,
    Rising higher into the bright warm.
    It vanishes from my attentive sight,
    leaving me to my own contemplations,
    the patterns I have followed on my path
    in search of the thermals to uplift me.
    I am left in meditative reverie
    which suggests that I widen my circles
    and see … in full awareness of my Self,
    purpose, before I vanish in the sun.

    ~ M. Zane McClellan

    Copyright 2014
    M. Zane McClellan
    All rights reserved

    1. Linda Rhinehart Neas

      Hawk is messenger indeed! Hawk has been one of my constant messengers for many years, coming into my life quite unexpectedly like the day one sat in the tree not more than 3 feet from me while I hung laundry and talked to it. So magic! Great poem, Michael!

  301. Linda Rhinehart Neas


    Ever the teacher, showing errant pups
    the ways of the world.
    Modeling lessons with expertise –
    show, don’t tell – watch and see.
    Loving partner, fierce in your protection –
    familial ties bind you – one to the other –
    unless destiny demands you walk alone.
    You call out at night, crying to the Moon
    that sometimes echoes your lament across the miles.

    The hunted hunter, sorely misunderstood
    by those who fear the balance of life.
    Extinction has nipped at your heals
    through generations of progress and growth.
    Tenacious survivor, you have returned
    reclaiming that which was lost to kith and kin,
    once again the paragon for those willing to discover
    the inner workings of survival and destruction.

      1. mzanemcclellan

        Sad how we think we need to intervene and correct something we have very little understanding of. Wonderful poem about beautiful animals. Peace. ~ Michael

  302. Quaker

    Sometimes, you are waiting for a message
    that never comes, impatient for the spirit
    to lift the day like a small child into open
    arms of sky. But sometimes, you face silence
    and the loneliness is overwhelming
    and you find no place you feel welcomed.

    We all want to feel welcomed.
    The kind that brings a special message
    from the distance where waits the spirit.
    Why does the heart not feel open?
    The sky is sometimes a face of silence.
    Well, enter that silence into the overwhelming,

    Do not look back. Do not think it is overwhelming
    to find that which you are searching, that welcomed.
    The Spirit has wanted to share this message.
    It lets you know everything is fine. The spirit
    has known you as a child. Find that secret place open,
    through silent meditation where the heart knows silence.

    Sometimes, the answer has been there, in the silence,
    and you have not been listening. It’s overwhelming.
    Because we do not know it, we do not feel welcomed.
    Sometimes, we are searching for the message
    in the right places, the impatience cannot find Spirit.
    We are children never knowing which door to open.

    What in this world can comfort you? Open.
    There is welcoming in the silence.
    It is hearts of waterfalls overwhelming
    our loss like sun through clouds. Be welcomed.
    Hear it. It has always been here, this message
    and the greeting has been from the heart of the spirit.

    Like doors of butterflies, like jars of laughter, spirit
    has been waiting for you, to finally open.
    Light splits the chest open, and there in the silence,
    is a volume of welcoming. It is overwhelming —
    breaking clouds over anvils; banging a welcomed
    like gongs; like bottles cast into oceans have a message.

    We find that message, from a calming spirit,
    and it opens, tearing apart the silence.
    What remains is overwhelming. We are finally welcomed.

  303. LaurelRose

    Two Cranes

    Two cranes wade in open water
    their legs,
    snap elastic ripples and waves
    and from the edge of land and
    water, cold splashes lap at my
    toes with a drenched tongue.

    Do I believe in the other side?

    Staring towards the trees,
    they stand feather-to-feather
    as if to watch me, to wonder,
    stepping in gentle mud, with
    what my lips were searching for.

  304. Linda Rhinehart Neas

    She Flits Around

    lost in her own world, like a wayward fairy
    from one thing to the next, never content.

    She plays with her food, pushing through the unwanted
    only satisfied by the choicest morsels.

    No bigger than minute, her speed is breathtaking,
    like an athlete, gone Olympic – rapid – wing-ed.

    A blur of black and white, the grays a haze,
    stopping only to call the others, “Chick-a-dee-dee”

  305. Andrea Heiberg

    All About Love

    she was named
    after a little black boy
    in a children’s book
    only she didn’t mind
    being Bokti
    this curly black
    poodle dog
    so we forgot
    until the day
    she fell in love
    with a tiny white dog
    called Elisabeth
    being male alright.

  306. dhaivid3

    Poem Title: Run, ferret, run!

    I can hear a ferret, ‘tis running about –
    Running this way and that way, coming in and out.

    I see that the farmer is holding his gun,
    Turning this way and that way…oh run ferret run!

    I see that the ferret is nearing the fence.
    Will he jump it? Will he jump? I’ll bet ya six Pence!

    He’ll scale o’er that high gate and he’ll go Scot free,
    I’ve seen him once climb up an Iroko tree!

    The farmer is angry; his eyes are bold-shot
    For this ferret has ferreted his garden plot.

    He got in from the wild while all were away
    And all round the farmhouse, the ferret did play.

    The family heard him when to bed they went
    In the morning however, there was not a scent!

    I fear that the farmer has now had his full
    And soon on that trigger he’s going to pull.

    Oh run my dear ferret, I fear for your life,
    Your poor kiddie ferrets and for your dear wife

    Alas! Mr Ferret, you have now escaped!
    Please stay in your habitat, away and safe.


    I now hear a ferret in MY own backyard!
    Running this way and that way, it’s driving me mad!

  307. Emma Hine

    Bird of Prey

    Bird of prey circling,
    screeching in the night,
    wakes me from my slumber
    with its harsh rhythmic call.
    Peeling back the curtains,
    a silhouette of wings
    swoops low and disappears
    beyond the shadowy rooftops.
    Early in the morning,
    night time all forgotten,
    within the car discovered
    a tiny sparrow died.
    Seeking solace in the night,
    through the open window flew.
    But the eerie screech of hunter
    proved to much for hunted heart.

    Bird of prey circling,
    majestic in the sky.
    Shadowed by a smaller bird
    mirroring its flight.
    Magpie being hunted now?
    Or do my eyes deceive?
    Magpie flies above the hawk.
    No victim here today.
    Stupefied and mesmerised,
    I watch this scene unfold –
    Two airborne creatures dancing,
    in perfect symmetry.
    The wingspan of the magpie,
    half that again of hawk;
    yet flying as the stalker,
    never to be stalked.

      1. Emma Hine

        Thank you all for your comments. We have a couple of buzzards in the fields behind our house and they are mesmerising to watch. Both these incidents in the poem coincidentally occurred within a 24 hour period.

  308. donaldillich

    Crack Shot

    My Dad was the snake killer.
    He monitored the perimeter
    of his pond, looked for lightning
    zipping through the grass, hopping
    across the water like hovercraft.
    The moccasins were deadly,
    which is why he killed them,
    hitting crack shots, a military
    sharpshooter showing his skills.
    But I suspect he just liked firing
    his rifle, hearing the loud pop
    then the air shuddered aside
    as if it was nothing to a bullet.
    I would never take the gun,
    no matter how many times
    it was offered. Walking around,
    scared in the grass, I believed
    that any second I’d be bitten.
    I admired my Dad’s work,
    imagined being so accurate,
    littering the weeds with corpses
    that’d slide into the muddy water,
    then float up out of the darkness.

  309. EeLas6678

    Title: Anamorphosis

    There’s an urgency
    to figure everything out,
    to have all ducks in a row,
    distracts from immersing myself in the present.
    Not an emergency,
    still, I fear if one duck strays,
    the rest will follow.

    I don’t need straight lines and arrows,
    we draw our own, or so I thought.
    is not always thicker than water.
    Provides the initial source,
    but wells run dry.
    thin streams of clear,
    layer together, consistent,
    I’m thankful for the blood,
    without it I would have never been pushed to know-
    to leave stale waters.

    I just crave to know that this up-stream, feather-plucking process
    has some eventual product
    of purpose,
    that my passion to be authentic and not a quack will pay the bills,
    that the choice not to go south is worth it.

    Webbed feet elevate, wings ignite.

    -Emily Lasinsky

  310. Khara House

    Tiger, tiger

    You were a tiger’s breath,
    a feline woman with a tiger tongue
    that rolled out against this night circus
    to entertain the mouths of many men.
    Your body was a trapeze,
    ever up and down and spinning—
    though your spine was a tightrope,
    and many met their doom in your wake.

    How untamed you were, how streaked
    with black and ginger, a waking fire
    looking to consume all you could.
    Every night you went forth prowling,
    unleashed your fearful symmetries
    on the world’s sentries of masculine bones—
    to watch you evade the leash and spear
    made many a head swish disdain,
    many a tail wag dismay before tucking
    back between the legs that hunted you.

    You were a tiger’s heart, burning bright,
    before that long tide of time
    claimed your pelts for his own prize.

  311. alan1704


    A roar in the dark
    Pattern in the black sky
    White and gold
    Hiss and shriek
    Across the fields
    Beyond the dark river
    All those sounds
    Held by colour
    Create the tragic circle.
    Owl thought he lived
    Unfettered by time
    Free and alive
    To spin and cavort
    Intended to answer
    Only to God and fate.
    The sky that he flew in
    Found before life
    Thousands of years
    Chosen for freedom
    Guide to gracious power.
    He with distant kin
    With nothing to claim
    Skid silent in the air
    This way and that
    In the great wheel of life.

    1. Linda Rhinehart Neas

      “Skid silent in the air” perfectly describes owls ability to silently hone in on its prey. I got swooped by an owl once…just inches off the top of my head…I almost jumped out of my skin because I didn’t hear it until it was literally over me.