Editors Blog

WD Poetic Form Challenge: Golden Shovel

Let’s get the next Writer’s Digest Poetic Form Challenge kicked into high gear. As you’ve probably already deduced, we’re going to write golden shovels this time around. Click here to read the golden shovel guidelines.

Once you know the rules for the golden shovel, start writing them and sharing here on the blog (this specific post) for a chance to be published in Writer’s Digest magazine–as part of the Poetic Asides column. (Note: You have to log in to the site to post comments/poems; creating an account is free.)

Here’s how the challenge works:

  • Challenge is free. No entry fee.
  • The winner (and sometimes a runner-up or two) will be featured in a future edition of Writer’s Digest magazine as part of the Poetic Asides column.
  • Deadline 11:59 p.m. (Atlanta, GA time) on July 20, 2014.
  • Poets can enter as many golden shovels as they wish. The more “work” you make for me the better.
  • All poems should be previously unpublished. If you have a specific question about your specific situation, just send me an e-mail at robert.brewer@fwmedia.com. Or just write a new golden shovel.
  • I will only consider golden shovels shared in the comments below. It gets too confusing for me to check other posts, go to other blogs, etc.
  • Speaking of posting, if this is your first time, your comment may not appear immediately. However, it should appear within a day (or 3–if shared on the weekend). So just hang tight, and it should appear eventually. If not, send me an e-mail at the address above.
  • Please include your name as you would like it to appear in print. If you don’t, I’ll be forced to use your screen name, which might be something like HaikuPrincess007 or MrLineBreaker. WD has a healthy circulation, so make it easy for me to get your byline correct.
  • Finally–and most importantly–be sure to have fun!


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Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community, which means he has the pleasure of doing a lot of fun writing-related projects. He’s also the author of Solving the World’s Problems. He’s married to a poet, Tammy Foster Brewer, who helps him keep track of their five little poets (four boys and one princess).

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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763 thoughts on “WD Poetic Form Challenge: Golden Shovel

  1. Andrea Z

    I know this challenge is long over, but I wanted to give this poetic form a whirl:

    “In leaves no step had trodden black.” Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken”

    Bitter cold rushes in,
    Cold wind bringing dead leaves
    inside; they remain in the breezeway, no
    one notices, until a wrong step
    produces a “crunch!” and I wish I had
    taken heed of space previously trodden
    and cleaned up the leaves, now turned black.

  2. Andrea Z

    I know this challenge is over, but I wanted to give this poetic form a try:

    quote: “In leaves no step had trodden black.” Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken”

    Bitter cold rushes in,
    Cold wind bringing dead leaves
    inside; they remain in the breezeway, no
    one notices, until a wrong step
    produces a “crunch!” and I wish I had
    taken heed of space previously trodden
    and cleaned up the leaves, now turned black.

  3. BDP

    “Echinacea Healing”

    I never saw that coming,
    the way the stalk overnight snapped to,
    lifted its pink cone synched with ballerina flounce, this
    stumbling flower en pointe again. Chance has
    a way of hanging on, at times its
    force so faint that in response rewards
    are heaped: a blossom barely nothing
    praised. But a green stem is
    life promised
    through small steady thrusts upward where finally nothing
    but healthy seeds puff to soil. This is
    the best surprise: not what’s almost taken
    and given back, but what travels near from far away.

    –Barb Peters

    From “Coming to This,” by Mark Strand

    Coming to this
    has its rewards: nothing is promised, nothing is taken away.

    We have no heart or saving grace,
    no place to go, no reason to remain.

  4. BDP

    “Two Poets, a Single Steady Gaze”

    He taught us, his students, in a walkup, a self-effacing
    fifth floor pad that matched his persona. Like stripped trees,
    his place, each room with almost no foliage, so
    nearly empty, few chairs, lone guitar unstrummed, unlike
    my home with swathes of rugs from Germany, each with “the”
    in front, as in the prewar Berlin carpet, or the impossibly
    intricate Persian pulled from the Muenster house’s massive
    hand-excavated basement dug below the waterline and
    failing even as my husband’s aunt hefted buckets overly
    filled with sand hurting her already breaking back, serious
    weight, both pounds and mental. Call it a guilt of cedars,
    rough, red tinged nightmares from wrong place and
    wrong time, under-storied with dank-loving hemlocks
    known as Nazis each night forcing her to interpret, and
    the Russian prisoners were sure to die because of those
    translated words, her words. She clung higher in fir trees
    looking below to what rotted, what they were—are—
    those men who tried to make her into them. She chose brooders,
    heavy limbs filtering a plagued rain. Nothing dignified
    about sopping wet, as history, dense, pulled her, mist-shrouded,
    back toward perpetrators, so she, single, slew monsters
    with poetry, rhymed, rhythmic language slantly beautiful
    and hewn from sliver-edged bark, which brings this narrative of
    her around again to him, hers and his in a wending course—
    the things she’d no place for couldn’t fill her up and
    his were plain, barren—they wrote, both cleaved by awe
    that comes from line upon line of air, breath, itself inspiring.

    –Barb Peters

    From “ Dear Internal Revenue Service,” by John Brehm

    …self-effacing trees, so unlike the impossibly massive
    and overly serious cedars and hemlocks and

    Douglass fir trees of the Pacific Northwest,
    where I used to live until poverty forced me East.
    Those trees are brooders—dignified, mist-shrouded
    monsters—beautiful, of course, and awe-inspiring

    (I wonder if you have felt this), but too damply
    archaic and imposing and uncomprehendable
    for my taste. I like a tree you can take in with
    a single steady gaze.

      1. BDP

        I appreciate your reading and commenting, William. This poem made sense to me, but I wasn’t sure it would make sense to anyone else. My thanks to you is not just for my poem, however–it’s for your sensitive and insightful treatment of others’ poems as well.

  5. Jane Shlensky

    Tunesmiff has inspired me. Is there such a thing as a double mirror?

    (after William Carlos Williams, “The Birds”)

    The birds come to life each dawn, celebrating the
    World made new, miracle of sunlight on dewy leaf. Each world
    Begins like love—in the heart’s throat, in flutter of flight, begins
    Again when we wake grateful as the world embraces the world again.

    1. tunesmiff

      Glad to be an inspiration in some small way~ especially given the grand result~!
      I especially like bird images running (flying/gliding?) throughout…

    2. BDP

      This poem, via line choice and double repetition of it, makes me aware of the world’s rotation–that’s not something we, or at least I, think of everyday. I know it and feel it, but don’t think of it. Big world, small poem, daily beginnings. Nice.

  6. MNRWildhood

    by: m.nicole.r.wildhood

    with help from Rainier Maria Rilke**

    Our apartment, with the gaping windows and
    the whiney floors, sun and juniper crowding for prominence in the

    east-facing egg-white-framed glass, is frighteningly
    large for how small it is, stunningly silent

    for all the airplanes that streak the abyss
    of sky, and sorely nestled into

    multi-colored rhododendron billows to the west, which
    look like they escaped the circus, for how easily found it is by four-legged others.


    1. BDP

      I’m in the apartment, looking around at it (love: “frightening / large for how small it is”) and looking outside at the wider world, feeling like a newlywed again!

  7. Jane Shlensky

    Citizens’ Open Mike
    (after Yevtushenko’s “People”)

    He stands transfixed at the drumming in
    a driving rain, puddle wondrous, any
    hint of dry lost to him, a man
    who goes with flows, who
    worries that in quiet people breath dies
    first, snuffed out by pollution and greed. There
    in green nature, he lives and dies
    with walnuts and honeybees, with
    only an arid wind to heed him.

    “I protect rivers,” he says. They ignore his
    comments, knowing their plans already. First
    obfuscate, then lie, as he remembers his first snow,
    ice melt currents muscling him, and
    fog’s mist settling on him like a kiss.
    “Water is Life,” he tells them, “and
    thirst is a thing to make men fight.”

    He faces self-proclaimed decision-makers, not
    citizens like him who value life, but people
    who will gain by loss, who play percentages, die
    or kill for wealth and risk. They yawn, tap watches, but
    he speaks for air, sun, water, for worlds
    lost when fracking goes awry. All things die
    without sunlight, fresh water, and oxygen in
    the atmosphere. “Why not side with life?” he asks them.

  8. Jane Shlensky

    Over and Under
    (after Howard Nemorov’s “The Blue Swallows”)

    How long have you watched me sleep? Perhaps
    my eyelids’ blue veins shift like ghost tides when
    I blink, drifting in a dream, and you
    wait for my nocturnal drama to crest. What will
    snap me awake, startled and confused? Where have
    I left dream symbols like shells on this shore? Fully
    formed awareness comes slowly, awakened
    one cell at a time, until my pulse knows I
    am awake, calms, afloat on rational thought. Shall
    I slip to the sea and make a dream come true, show
    you what riding a sea horse entails, ask you
    why you sit quiet as the moon, watching my face, a
    kind of wonder in your sea-green eyes, a new
    recognition stirring you toward some new thing?

  9. Jane Shlensky

    Twelve Steps, with Wife
    (after Nemorov, “The Blue Swallows”)

    I wonder if perhaps
    you remember when
    my patience saved you
    from self-destruction. Will
    you allow me to say that? Have
    we parsed honesty enough to fully
    accept our need to be awakened
    to even a sleeping world? Perhaps I
    should not rush to claim credit, but I shall
    never regret my faith in your goodness to show
    you anew to yourself as someone worthy of love; in you
    joy and hope stand waiting for recognition and reflection, for a
    healing time away from lies, sadness, and doubt, your Self made new
    by loving eyes watching, mine, as you grasp that you can become a wondrous thing.

  10. Jane Shlensky

    The Tao of Poetics
    (after Li Po’s “About Tu Fu”)

    An artist is often poor;
    but poverty can grow old
    and cheerless as Tu Fu,
    contemplating worlds where ”I”
    is replaced with “they”, thought
    is ignored for blather. Then
    when words fall useless, he
    gathers sad syllables like wildflowers. Must
    heart and head, self and soul be
    joined? Must meaning be made only of agonizing?
    Must a poet’s struggles tower over
    his joys until he lets go and writes poetry
    to heal himself outside in again?

    1. PressOn

      I don’t know the original source, so I can’t tell if you’re twitting it, though that’s the sense I get, but the sheer images of this are mesmerizing, notably “gathers sad syllables like wildflowers.” Masterful work, again.

      1. Jane Shlensky

        Li Po and Tu Fu were fellow poets and friends who wrote poems to and about one another, mostly joking around or pinching one another a bit. Li was a drinker and womanizer and thoroughly good fun, while Tu was burdened by the wrongs in government and the world. One translation uses the word “suffering” rather than “agonizing”, but the pinch is the same for poor old Tu Fu.

  11. Jane Shlensky

    Whitman’s Saturday Market
    (after Ginsberg’s “A Supermarket in California”)

    The flower vendor is not where
    he was last week. Zucchinis instead are
    there entangled with brother crooked necks and tomatoes we
    buy to make of vegetables a colorful plate palette. Going
    down narrow lanes, we hail a wispy Walt Whitman

    lounging in doorways, munching samples, observing the
    vendors and buyers transacting out-of-doors,
    sky their canopy, air their roof. Streets close
    to traffic on Saturdays to clear pavement for walking in
    a maze of crafts, produce, clothing, and food an
    artist should paint, everyone reclaiming life this hour.

    We are waylaid by quilts, flutes, breads and honeys. Which
    sense will lead us among flowers, cut and potted, the way
    crowded with buckets of sunflowers, roses, hydrangeas. Does
    Siberian iris, surely hothouse grown, complement your
    pink and blue frilly delphinium, each golden beard
    furry as a centurion’s helmet? Ah, Walt, we are one of you. Point
    us toward freedom. A human river, we flow to you tonight.

    1. PressOn

      I expect Walt’s chuckling about this, somewhere. Sam Clemens might be joining him. Amid the rich observations and descriptions here, I feel a gentle needle. Delightful.

  12. Jane Shlensky

    (after Lu Xun’s “An Impromptu”)

    Children play farther afield each day where
    they won’t hear their mothers call and can
    lose themselves anew in delight. We
    watch their games’ progress as we go
    about our lives, remembering when
    we were they, wondering when life began writing
    our futures, spinning our narratives, as if story is
    unsteered, random, without design, but
    little more than a ragged ball rolling in the dust?

    1. PressOn

      This is wonderful. I especially like “wondering when life began writing / our futures”; it captures the wistful feeling of passing Toyland’s borders.

  13. PressOn


    See that curving tombstone over there,
    the one where the overgrown lilac bush is?
    The woman buried beneath it had a
    madness for music, a kind of magic
    in her fecund soul that fuelled every song she made.
    Read her stone, her message to all who pass by:
    “Play me no threnodies; remember me in melody.”

    William Preston
    using “There is a magic made by melody”
    from Elizabeth Bishop’s I Am in Need of Music

  14. Jane Shlensky

    (after T.E. Hulme’s “Image”)

    Old injuries are rainy day gossips, old
    voices echoing down hallways of houses
    empty of everything but ache. Were
    we reduced to skeletal scaffolding,
    we’d still make marrow of fractured joy, that once

    or thrice we fell—in love, in laughter and
    loss, in faith in hope, our cells, worthy workmen
    laboring in us to face pain whistling.

  15. Jane Shlensky

    One Master
    (after Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art”)

    He said I’d never amount to much, the
    doctor whose forceps dented my newborn forehead; his art
    is jerking life into being and making pronouncements. Tell a mother of
    the brain’s promise in the skull of her babe. Tell her even losing
    takes resilience and courage. Stopping being isn’t
    as easy as he thinks. Ask any of the dead how hard
    it was to loosen their grip on breath. To
    amount to much, we must yield to the unknown as master.

    1. PressOn

      I like the “how dare you” tone of this, in response to “pronouncements.” The final sentence has the feel of a mantra,. to my ear anyway.

  16. tunesmiff

    I s’pose y’all saw this one coming… an inverted/mirrored golden shovel…

    G. Smith
    Wood cut and stacked by the door;
    Yellow warm glow at the window;
    A picture of winter peace
    In some pastel imagining,
    Diverged from the reality of
    Roads iced over, power out;
    Two degrees below zero.
    Yes, again from Robert Frost’s
    “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…”

  17. tunesmiff

    Or the “mirrored” golden shovel~ the FIRST word of each line comes from the selected work…

    G. Smith
    Two lane blacktop, like so many country
    Roads, ran alongside the highway, then
    Diverged to follow the riverbank
    In its twisted way south to the Gulf.
    A similar path leads home, with paired
    Yellow lines stopping at a covered bridge of
    Wood before leading to a horizon balanced on the asphalt.

    Again… From Robert Frost’s
    “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…”

    And of course there follows (?) the inverted mirror…
    And what if each line uses the word in its original place in the referenced line?
    Or it’s the second (or third, or fourth, or so-on-th), word in each new line… The possibilities are (not quite) endless~ but might be worth the challenge(s) in their own rights…

    1. PressOn

      These alterations of the basic “golden shovel” challenge have their own feel. It would seem easier to write with the seed line(s) at the front of the lines than at the back, but I haven’t tried, as you did. I like this poem very much, especially the image of ” a horizon balanced on the asphalt.”

  18. James Von Hendy


    Whatever unfolds in the hills is outside time, our
    Passing here indistinguishable from nothing, our lives

    Less than wind. Do the trees even sense that we are?
    Down in the hollow a green carpet of algae floats like

    Solid ground at the far end of the pond where the birds’
    Nests hang, already abandoned, the broods dispersed, lives

    Not unlike our own, but wholly different. They’re flying
    Into their shadows without knowing. We look around

    From the shadows of our unspoken longing, wind-blown
    Like the thistledown passing us by and lifting away.

    From “Drone and Ostinato” by Charles Wright
    “Our lives are like birds’ lives, flying around, blown away”

    1. BDP

      Very nicely written, James. This poem reverses the zen question, “if we fall in the forest, do trees hear our sound?” I love the image of birds “flying / Into their shadows without knowing.” And then the entire sentence that follows and builds on that image is exquisite.

  19. tunesmiff

    An “inverted” golden shovel~ i.e. I reversed the order of the words from the original…

    G. Smith
    In the silent wood,
    Leaves have turned yellow.
    And there, beyond a
    Long, easy bend in
    The stream there diverged
    Logging trails, half-roads,
    Waiting for we two.

    From Robert Frost’s
    “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…”

  20. James Von Hendy

    Meditation While Mincing Vegetables for Breakfast

    Bright light, sharp and clear over my shoulder, just
    Enough to see by at the black counter. If I’d wanted

    That constellation of stone and glinting glass below the knife to
    Remind me, I didn’t know, but then the night’s dream let

    Itself slice between the leeks, the ghost of a lover. Do you
    Ever let things go? Her face invisible, her voice lost, but I know

    It was her. The ghost of my face floats in the counter’s sheen. It.
    Memory’s a tricky deception, and imagination, too, hasn’t

    Found its edges. Onion falls from the blade. Nothing’s changed.
    The woodpecker shrills from the trees, these peppers no

    No match for his red nape, that brilliant flash of flame out
    In the oaks a treachery of my wants, my needs, no

    Thing a symbol for another unless we put it to that end.

    From “Reply to Wang Wei,” by Charles Wright
    “Just wanted to let you know it hasn’t changed—no out, no end,”

    1. BDP

      Excellent, James. Like it all, but especially the night’s dream letting “Itself slice between the leeks” and “Memory’s a tricky deception, and imagination, too, hasn’t / Found its edges.” Actually, hard to find what I like best!

  21. tunesmiff

    G. Smith
    I can’t decide between the two.
    That’s the trouble with country roads;
    they’re like friendships that have diverged,
    gone their separate ways, one true, in
    a straight line, the other in a
    sharp cuve with twin lines of yellow
    leading to hills and a dark wood.
    From Robeet Frost’s
    “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…”

    1. James Von Hendy

      Yes, it’s been wonderful in many ways. One I’ll note is the lovely unspoken invitation (perhaps requirement) to go back and reread (or discover) the poems of poets we admire and appreciate. That journey has been wonderful. Thank you!

      1. James Von Hendy

        Marie-Therese, I’ve especially enjoyed your self-imposed goal of posting a golden shovel every day. It’s a challenge that’s clearly sparked you to some lovely, lovely poems. Thanks for them.

        Of course it’s also sparked many of us. There are many gems in this challenge!

        1. Marie Therese Knepper

          Addressing the last part of your comment first, I concur: there are so many noteworthy Golden Shovels submitted in this challenge.

          Thank you for your compliments on my poetry. I would love to be part of a workshop in which people alternate picking the line or lines from various poems to write new Golden Shovels. What can I say – I’m hooked!

    2. tunesmiff

      Definitely… I’ve found myself looking at others’ work differently as well… lines and whole stanzas or poems that open different vistas and offer new opportunities to expand on or take a tangent to the original work…
      Thanks, as well~

  22. Linda.E.H

    I used Dororthy Parker’s poem, Resume.

    Here’s the long version (using the whole poem):

    Jack-o-Lantern Girl
    after Dorothy Parker

    She carves herself like a pumpkin of flesh, razors
    her choice of medium to release the pain,
    to let it bleed out through etched lines on her skin. You

    are unaware of her straight flowing rivers
    that run crimson to scabby brown then white, for they are
    tucked in beneath a cover of clothing. Damp

    screams slip silently from her eyes, burn like acids,
    déjàvu droplets trying to wash away the stain
    of memories as she cuts and mumbles “Fuck you,
    you dirty little shit” between sobs. Depressed and

    alone she contemplates moving onto drugs
    to numb everything, to mask the memories that cause
    her suffering, to diminish the bewitching cramp

    gutting her every time she sees him. She thinks guns!
    guns would do the trick. What a treat, making him ghostly. Aren’t
    many girls gonna’ mourn him ’cause what he’s doing ain’t lawful

    but she has no guns, no weapons at all. No tethered nooses,
    no super-sized mousetrap, no poison-spiked punch to give 

    him, no torture chambers, no lethal injection, no deadly gas,
    just tiny, hand-held blades and pleasant distractions – when she smells
    jasmine in the air, when she hears the blackbird’s sweet song those awful

    feelings drift off and she vows to finally stop stitching with steel. You
    wouldn’t believe how many times she’s tried quitting. One might
    compare it to a smoker, months without cigarettes until needing a drag, or as
    an alcoholic who keeps falling off the wagon and into a glass well.
    She’ll either turn to mush or let the candle feed her, giving strength to live.

    And here is the short version:

    Jack-o-Lantern Girl
    after Dorothy Parker

    She carves herself; a pumpkin of flesh. Razors
    are her choice of medium tp release the pain,
    allow it to bleed out of etched lines on her skin. You

    are unaware of her straight flowing rivers
    that run crimson and eventually white, for they are
    tucked in beneath a cover of clothing. Damp

    screams slip silently from eyes and burn like acids
    raining down behind closed doors as she cuts. Tears don’t stain;
    so it’s easy for her to hide the truth from me and you.

    1. Linda.E.H

      I forgot to post my name. (No surprise there…I do it every time. I forget it just post me as Linda E.H.)

      Also here are the lines of the poem Resumé that were used:
      Razors pain you; Rivers are damp; Acids stain you; And drugs cause cramp. Guns aren’t lawful; Nooses give; Gas smells awful; You might as well live.

      Linda Hofke

    2. PressOn

      This sounds something like Parker, alone with private thoughts and not trying to impress the Algonquin Round Table. It’s powerful, breath-taking writing, creating clear and disturbing images. Wow.

    3. BDP

      My vote’s for the long version, Linda. Definitely. The last stanza is chilling. “Stitching with steel” becomes spot on after reading the poem through. The form works well here: Parker’s somewhat flippant sentences juxtaposed with this stark poem full of pain, which also has a touch of flippancy (such as “What a treat! Making him ghostly.”) I feel like have been on a seesaw of sadness.

  23. tunesmiff

    G. Smith
    I don’t know what’s next. Will you let
    me love you, or will you leave me
    in chains of heartache and tears, not
    knowing what next steps, or stops, to
    make on the road, whatever the
    path. Alone alone? In marriage
    Is there some happy midpoint of
    life that’s completely, always true
    to other’s hearts and souls and minds?

    Afraid to face or to admit
    there are roadblocks, impediments
    to out happiness, our joy. Love
    means having no fear, and fear is
    an odd way of learning how not
    to turn loose of all things; to love.

    Who is the one who loves, and which
    one turns for the other, alters
    his or her very being when
    that other arrives, as if it
    is the cause of alteration,
    the essence of the one who finds.
    From William Shakespeare’s
    “Let me not to the marriage of true minds,
    Admit impediments. Love is not love
    Which alters when it alteration finds…”

  24. tunesmiff

    G. Smith
    Together we
    Sing, dance, and wear
    The one thing the
    Heart asks: a mask
    That reveals; that
    Both cries and grins,
    Telling truths and
    Believing lies.
    From Paul Laurence Dunbar’s
    “We wear the mask that grins and lies…”

  25. mjdills

    “What fresh hell is this?”
    From Dorothy Parker

    It’s wiser to leave the phone unanswered and wonder what
    Awaits one in the dawn of a fresh
    Day, than to open the door to unrelenting hell
    Of news that will change the course of what is
    A new normal and not ever say: “I didn’t ask for this?”

    Margo Jodyne Dills

  26. mjdills

    I thought this poem was written by Zora Neale Hurston but after doing some research, I find it has been attributed to some and none and often the vernacular is different. Hurston’s “Stepped on a pin, De pin bent….” So whomever the author, my apologies in advance.

    “I stepped on a pin, the pin bent,
    “And that’s the way the story went.”
    Ah, the arrogance to think whatever I
    Deem important, might be a bit stepped
    Up in my mind; whereas others who are on
    Their own collision course with a
    Reality for themselves and a push pin
    On a mental board with the
    Sincere intention to accomplish goal of pushed pin
    No matter how twisted and bent
    That trail becomes and
    Giving rare thought to whatever that’s
    Going to do to affect the
    Viewpoint or others, I commit to seek the complicated way
    (Or perhaps horribly simple-minded) depending on the
    Outcome and what sort of fish story
    As explanation to which way it may have went.

  27. Marie Therese Knepper

    The Black Hole Of Despair
    by Marie-Therese Knepper
    (credit to Shel Silverstein’s “Where The Sidewalk Ends.” line used: let us leave this place where the smoke blows black)

    These old feelings won’t let
    go. The truth of us
    just won’t leave,
    and I’m stuck with this
    hole in the place
    I used to call a heart, where
    nothingness resides, the
    repository of smoke
    dreams, where the wind of despair blows,
    filling my world with black.

      1. Marie Therese Knepper

        Hello William :)
        Would you care to expound on what you mean by your comment “despite images such as a hole in the heart?” Thank you. Constructive criticism is always welcome and appreciated.

        1. PressOn

          I was thinking of these words, ” I’m stuck with this / hole in the place / I used to call a heart.” Perhaps my impression isn’t what you meant, but the image struck me as impossible (a heart with a hole in it), even though I recognized the poetic use. I commented that the whole effect of the poem was, for me, accurate and precise in describing despair, yet it’s not “accurate” to speak of a heart as having a hole in it, though I suppose there are some medical conditions like that. I don’t know if that is “constructive” for you; I hope it clarifies where I was coming from, though.

          1. Marie Therese Knepper

            Yes, thank you.
            I was trying to have the subject of the poem convey the feeling of nothingness inside of her. The imagery I had was of an empty shell filled with smoldering black smoke.
            I will be sorry to see this challenge end! I’ve learned so much in such a short amount of time.
            Thank you again.

  28. shellaysm

    “Spiraling Courtship”
    -after “Brass Kaleidoscope” by Dale Harcombe

    The carnival’s allure piques at the resurrection of a
    ferris wheel, its lights radiating in time to vintage calliope melody.
    Beyond its fences, firefly lanterns randomly flicker messages of
    innocent joy and magic’s promise. Trailing outward still, vagabond stars
    peek through the deepening darkness as a lone frog belts
    rousing chords of summertime courtship. The restless suitor, a
    serenader focused on perfecting his waltz-worthy tune,
    trills in humble hope of enticing a kindred female only
    a few hops away. Dizzy with cautious romance, she
    strains to locate the baritone dreamer as best she can.
    An errant ripple teases the pond’s surface. Leaning in closer to hear,
    the lulling swish of cattails and katydids finds her instead: an eclectic
    diversion. The pond diver forms dream-catcher patterns
    ignited by the breeze: exotic water prints in soft shiver.
    With shy sequence they stretch, freeze, stare, and
    at several pivotal moments appear to shimmer:
    a mirage under opal moon nightlight. Reality questioned, then
    the moment fails. The gypsy dancers retreat, leery for love’s first splinter.

    -Michele K. Smith

    1. shellaysm

      I guess I got so into writing (& revising word choice), that I changed line five’s end word from singing to belts. So, it should read: peek through the deepening darkness as a lone frog is singing/

  29. barbara_y

    My beloved little billiard balls

    sigh for my sister poet, my
    scuffed unrhymed rhymer, no beloved.
    brittle girl, she drinks a little
    killing time itself in billiard
    halls, counting syllables like balls

    “My beloves little billiard balls”
    __James Tate, Poem to Some of My Recent Poems

  30. shellaysm

    “Bottled Whispers”
    -after “Small Breaths” by Eileen Carney Hulme

    Miracles land upon weary shoulders and
    yet blindly get waved off or missed entirely. I
    feel their ill-appreciated pain, cry
    in their misunderstanding, nod at
    their bravery, and long for the
    beauty–ever patient–beneath the surface of uncertainty,
    where golden nuggets are lodged south of
    the shadows drowning too many rainbows.
    Chance and opportunity coexist all
    over, under, and are forever woven between the
    simplest moments. I’m guilty of clasping daydreams
    while refusing to see their potential. Today, I
    would rush to return days I once stole,
    when, stuck in my own tightfisted refusing,
    I foolishly left behind insulating joy to
    partake of fleeting security. If only I could give
    a handful, I would steal back and share them
    openly, equally with others. I’d turn back
    the clock and weed out the poisons which are
    now bullheadedly rooted and stored
    in silos I never knew I was filling. Just as
    each cloud possesses a luminous silver
    lining, the less dense outer layer of dust
    can be scrubbed away with diligence. And,
    though we can never reverse what’s been lost, each
    miraculously charged budding day
    offers second chances to right what is
    ailing and build up a layer of polish so a
    stranger may evolve into a friend and even small
    gifts may whisper renewal into stagnant breath.

    -Michele K. Smith

    1. PressOn

      This poem has a wealth of phrases I wish I had thought of, such as “bullheadedly rooted and stored /
      in silos I never knew I was filling” and “each / miraculously charged budding day.” Marvellous.

  31. shellaysm

    “Sealed Invite”
    -after “Small Breaths” by Eileen Carney Hulme

    Without renewed invitation, the sinuous paths
    of certain uncertain yesterdays which
    first offered me a walk, since forgot
    my naive smile and grew vacant to
    over-the-shoulder glimpses. Choosing then to follow
    treaded footfalls, stifled and cheated by choice, I now slowly
    tiptoe-trot over mossy rocks, grip frayed rope, rejoice: joy sealed.

    -Michele K. Smith

  32. shellaysm

    “Coming Unbound”
    -after “Belonging” by Eileen Carney Hulme

    Savoring twilight’s debut tonight,
    tucked away from reality, our
    jagged edges smooth, our souls–
    secret wayfarers–repent, rest.
    The horizon inhales fragrant
    slashes of watercolor skyline in
    rhythm with our own spiritual
    breathing. Found, yet in essence
    equally lost together by candle-flamed
    longing, one moment exists undamaged,
    bound to nothing–even itself–until utterly
    seamless, we’re awash in silent belonging.

    -Michele K. Smith

  33. Gabrielle Freeman

    by Gabrielle Freeman

    “You Don’t Get To Tell Me What To Do Ever Again” by Denise Duhamel

    You’re getting out of hand. There
    are important people here. We were
    supposed to stay sober. I’m be-wild-
    ered. Your expectation crushes
    my intention. Your posture says I
    showed my ass. Your drink is never
    in the glass long enough to let
    the ice melt. It’s high time to get
    another shot, another drag. Out
    the inevitable. I am of
    the opinion that your two hand(s)
    are the best/worst something(s), even
    better than the smooth of your mouth, though
    not by much. And I forget how one
    burning word makes me think of the time(s)
    you left me by the phone until I
    called your friends, made myself a fool, spent
    nights awake, alone. My memory the
    thing that tends to disappear. At night
    I dream your skin. I hover at
    the brink. Destruction. Desire. Someone
    should shake me. You’re someone else’s
    problem now. Our small apartment
    is a strip mall, a highway overpass. But
    I can’t help but feel all alone.
    Your haughty indifference imprinted on
    the backs of my eyelids, bright blight a
    field of mines in which to couch.

  34. Gabrielle Freeman

    The Edge
    by Gabrielle Freeman

    with lines from “Blue Stone” by Richard Hugo

    I want an infinity pool made of plexiglass, a
    ledge of water hanging heavy blue
    over the edge of a cliff carved from stone
    gray as the verge of sleep. The brink is

    an illusion looming sky, the drop only
    in the eye, in the mind. Set one
    foot at the bottom. I will piece
    together limit to limit, traverse the margins of

    water, air. I will walk over the city below, a
    cheap shot, a free pass, a peep show suspended, huge
    suspension of disbelief. Woman bending blue,
    legs like Colossus brass shimmering, stone

    sculpture scraping across streetlit night. No
    plastic contraption will do. No concrete hole. One
    step beyond futility. I will crawl to the chasm. Can
    I hang on to the lip, bring myself to the fringe, and find?

  35. Linda.E.H

    Not only do I have a weird sense of humor but I am also too dumb to post a correction. Here is the proper poem with Norman Bates style in it.

    Not Everyone Appreciates my Weird Lit Humor

    Setting on the counter, the boom box reverberates verses as it
    plays back poems recorded for class. The new theme is
    compare and contrast women poets past and present. Sylvia
    begins as I am chopping onions, and I joke I’m a Psycho-Plath,
    stopping to hold the meaty, long-bladed knife up in the air in
    Norman Bates style. Hubby just shakes his head before leaving the
    room. Alone, Sylvia and I shed our tears in the kitchen.

    (using the line “It is Sylvia Plath in the kitchen” taken from Billy Collin’s poem Aristotle)

      1. Linda.E.H

        Thank you. Your comment means a lot to me. Not only does my husband not appreciate lit humor but he also does not understand most of my poetry.

        And I forgot to post my full name. My brain is really not working this evening.

        Linda Hofke

  36. Linda.E.H

    Corrected version. (Sorry, Robert.)

    Not Everyone Appreciates my Weird Lit Humor

    Setting on the counter, the boom box reverberates verses as it
    plays back poems recorded for class. The new theme is
    compare and contrast women poets past and present. Sylvia
    begins as I am chopping onions, and I joke I’m a Psycho-Plath,
    stopping to hold the meaty, long-bladed knife up in the air in
    Norman Bates style fashion. Hubby just shakes his head before leaving the
    room. Alone, Sylvia and I shed our tears in the kitchen.
    (using the line “It is Sylvia Plath in the kitchen” taken from Billy Collin’s poem Aristotle)

  37. Gabrielle Freeman

    None Of These Say What Needs To Be Said
    by Gabrielle Freeman

    with lines from “Poem Almost Wholly in my Own Manner” by Charles Wright

    I despise Father’s Day cards. Those
    browns and blues, hammers, pitchers. To whom
    it may concern: might suit. Then the
    feet sticking out from under the car, dolly wheel
    stuck as ever. Grease has
    a way of staying, under fingernails, oil-pans overturned
    stain the driveway. Those
    man things. Fishing poles, tied flies. With whom
    I drove across the desert. From whom the
    grip of temper, the rage, the fire.

    Father in softened greens. A forest has
    manly implications. And
    boats, walking sticks, beards. Also the
    beach. A kite caught on wind
    tangles in telephone wires, crash-lands on the roof. Has
    it come unstuck?
    The string unravels, catches in hopeless knots. And
    I will not succumb. I will not be unstrung.

  38. Linda.E.H

    Not Everyone Appreciates my Lit Humor

    Setting on the counter, the boom box reverberates verses as it
    plays back poems recorded for class. The new theme is
    compare and contrast women poets past and present. Sylvia
    begins as I am chopping onions, and I joke I’m a Psycho-Plath,
    stopping to hold the meaty, long-bladed knife up in the air in
    Norman Bate fashion. Hubby just shakes his head before leaving the
    room. Alone, Sylvia and I shed our tears in the kitchen.

    (using the line “It is Sylvia Plath in the kitchen” taken from Billy Collin’s poem Aristotle)

  39. Gabrielle Freeman

    by Gabrielle Freeman

    using lines from “Anyways” by Suzanne Cleary

    A little green circle next to your name. This
    tells me you are there, and tapping the keys is
    like brushing fine hairs on your arm, just how
    I did another summer night when we
    sat close. I would send a message, but you know
    I’m there, too. Little green circle means I’m home.
    I’m online. I don’t want to be that someone.
    Obsessing on your face in the dark. Someone who
    sees the light on from the street, someone who will
    drive past your house just to feel, who will look
    at her hands on the steering wheel, into
    the rearview mirror just to check. On our
    night, that night. Your face in the dark. Your eyes
    found the full of my mouth. Your eyes tightened and
    I brushed my fingers along your arm say-
    ing everything in that light touch, what
    couldn’t be said. Your fingertips, tapping, could
    slip through distance, meet mine again, ruin
    me with words like our pressed palms. Everything,
    heat of skin on skin, laptop warming thighs. But
    that was just one night. Another summer. Say
    you remember. Write that you long for it,
    the heat from my hand in the dark, regardless.

  40. MNRWildhood

    by: m.nicole.r.wildhood

    with help from William Wordsworth**

    You have to come
    to the edge to see the back and forth
    of the sea. Sand and
    water bring their different mights

    and manage to make one with
    each other; can you
    find the place and peace to hold such a
    truce for the conflicting shores of your heart?

    It takes salt and sky, that
    openness that watches
    for the wave, that knowing the crash is coming and
    still receives.

    ** http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/174826

  41. Linda Hatton

    Bitter Fruits
    after “Mountain” by Clifton Gachagua
    (line used: grief saddled in my back like a bag of marbles)

    In the garden where I once pressed tomato seeds into dirt, grief
    flourishes, sprouting up with open arms, saddled
    onto this stiff body carrying me from bed to bed. In
    barren lands, I hunt for my former self—before tears bullied my
    desires, saturated my confidence, forced me back
    to sodden sighs that confiscate my days. Like
    a rabid fruit bat, fooling me into believing a
    lie, you flitted from one innocent bug to the next, displaying your bag
    of trophies dangling like a fig tree, pulsing of
    seduction. Me, a game you play like that old forgotten game of marbles.

    -Linda G Hatton

  42. Nancy Posey


    (after “God’s Grandeur” by Gerard Manley Hopkins)

    If we don’t stop it,
    now, nothing will.
    Even the eternal flame
    must sometimes secretly burn out,
    sputtering to nothing like
    the last pink candle shining
    on that birthday cake we bought from
    the corner bakery. Remember how we shook
    with laughter, wrapping the crumbs in foil?

  43. Nancy Posey

    A brief aubade

    (after “Aubade” by Philip Larkin)

    No one home, but still I
    hesitate to stop my work
    as if by dusk, all
    I have done on this one day,
    will add up to naught, and
    should I fare so well as to get
    a late night call from you, half-drunk
    and suddenly missing me at
    last, I’d gladly work all night.

    1. PressOn

      This leaves an ambivalent feeling, for me anyway, owing to the “half-drunk” characterization. Again I am impressed at how you draw such sharp pictures with everyday language..

  44. Nancy Posey

    after “Dreams” by Langston Hughes

    She chose to put her life on hold,
    discontent with driving too fast,
    singing too loud off key. She hopes to
    tie up all her dreams

    in a flimsy silk package, waiting for
    some more convenient day, and if
    she sleeps this time without dreams,
    perhaps false hope will die.

  45. Nancy Posey


    I might have asked others
    what you meant because
    in your imprecision, your hesitation you
    hadn’t let me know, and if you did
    maybe just at that moment I was not
    listening close enough. I couldn’t keep

    my mind off your perfume, hoping that
    you chose it just for me, or the deep-sworn
    vow you made, tremulous, a vow
    you surely made before to others who too have
    been caught off guard, have been
    hopeful you were more than friends,
    as all the while you were asking of
    them, as you ask of me, Could you be mine?

    (Deep-Sworn Vow by William Butler Yeats)

  46. Michelle Hed

    Until You

    I was drifting, just gliding
    along my path in life, not looking for
    love nor anything really, the days
    just normal days, but days without
    love I didn’t know I was missing, until a
    chance encounter with you, and being single
    no longer appealed – my heart was just half a wingbeat.

    Second line of ‘Drifting Off’ by Seamus Heaney
    From the book ‘Bright Wings’

  47. James Von Hendy

    Guardian of the City under the Trees

    A thin trail through vinca and tan oaks leads to that
    City of tarps down by the river, a dead cat
    Staked like a warning or totem against those who
    Aren’t welcome. Anyone lost to four walls comes
    Without needing invitation. The rest of us trespass during
    The worst of times. All they want is sleep
    And shelter after a day picking trash, quiet,
    As if that soothes the hunger gnawing on
    Their flesh, wasting muscle. He flexes his
    Scrawny arm at me. Unwelcome, cushioned
    In a scowl and then a string of invective with claws,
    The guardian of little more than nothing, without
    Much hope. Vitriol, bitterness, threatening violence.

    From “Without Violence,” by Pattiann Rogers

    That cat who comes during sleep, quiet
    On his cushioned claws, without violence

    1. PressOn

      “The guardian of little more than nothing” is the heart of this poem, in my view. “Anyone lost to four walls comes / Without needing invitation” captures the barrier (or wall) against those who have walls. This calls to my mind an “other man’s grass” situation in reverse, where the other man has no grass. Superb writing.

    2. TomNeal

      The guardian of little more than nothing, without
      Much hope.

      As always, your use of enjambment is always masterful. “The guardian of nothing, without” implies so much: it plays in a subtle way against the absent “without nothing”. Without also sets up an opposition be between “without” and “within”. As the line ends one still might hope that hope within remains, but the rejet immediately takes that hope away.

      Well done.

  48. MNRWildhood

    by: m.nicole.r.wildhood

    It’s Not Alzheimer’s
    with help from Mary Oliver’s “Wild Geese”**

    During those last visits, I remembered more of you than you.

    They had been saying, “there’s nothing we can do,”
    for months. Until the end, I would not

    have them do anything anyway, save what they said they have
    to do. But then I started wondering what you were staring off to,
    where you’d wander on your soon trademark “walk”

    around the grounds, why you, “Night Walker,” would turn all the lights on.
    It’s hard to imagine that your intention was to stand out. After all, your
    doctors found you in the brightened hallway at midnight, on your knees.

    ** http://www.rjgeib.com/thoughts/geese/geese.html

  49. James Von Hendy


    It was the way rain fell, I suppose
    That had me cross the river before
    It rose over its banks and took you

    For everything you had. I could
    Have warned you not to speak
    Poorly of the river. It heard you

    And took all you had while we watched.

    From “Suppose Your Father was a Redbird” by Pattiann Rogers
    Suppose, before you could speak, you watched.

    1. PressOn

      For me, this is a modern version of Kern and Hammerstein’s Old Man River. Warning or no, overheard or no, the river was rising. I think it’s a remarkable and memorable little piece.

    2. BDP

      Small poem that captures raging waters. “I could / Have warned you not to speak / Poorly of the river.” Something about that line spoke a rush of words to me.

  50. PressOn


    In the flock I see one bird. One.
    Within a sea of pale brown its white must
    scintillate, gleam, and have
    a certain impertinence, a
    demanding glow that calls to mind
    a diamond. This bird reminds me of
    all that, and the hoary hark of winter.

    William Preston
    using “One must have a mind of winter”
    from Wallace Stevens’s The Snow Man

  51. James Von Hendy

    A Saint is One Who Believes There is No God, But Lives As if There Were

    You asked about my dark nights and I said this was a
    Prelude to prayer, mine at least. We ate fish

    With our fingers, down to the bone. If flame jumps
    In the campfire is there a soul? And in aspens shaking

    Invisibly by the lake where we moored our canoe out
    By the rocks? Granite, older than questions, the flakes

    Of quartz chipped away for arrow heads, the midden of
    Peoples before us. They, too, looked up at moonlight

    And stars and felt their smallness before divinity, a
    Vast emptiness, just another phrase for awe. That single

    Word conjures the heartache of knowledge, wave
    Upon wave of unraveling. The darkness of water starts

    Anew, the soothing monotony of lapping lightly
    Reaching us. Relentless. The wind rises and

    Soon there’s nothing but soughing trees. Flames dance easily
    Before your face. You asked if I’d met one. Look shoreward.

    From “I Cry, Love! Love!” by Theodore Roethke

    A fish jumps, shaking out flakes of moonlight.
    A single wave starts lightly and easily shoreward, . . .

    1. tunesmiff

      “… If flame jumps
      In the campfire is there a soul? And in aspens shaking

      Invisibly by the lake…
      Granite, older than questions…

      Peoples before us… looked up at moonlight

      And stars and felt their smallness before divinity…”

      What great imgages…

      I love the way this speaks to the realization that there’s more than what we see…

  52. Marie Therese Knepper

    by Marie-Therese Knepper
    (credit to “Birch Trees In Sunlight,” by Morri Creech, lines used: those intricate details obscuring what was there)

    Posit: You cannot stifle those
    who revel in intricate
    minutiae and overlooked details.

    Posit: You cannot stifle those obscuring
    overlooked minutiae and intricate details from what
    revelers would likely deduce was
    secreted there.

  53. Linda Hatton

    Last Dance with You
    after “Dancing Toward Bethlehem” by Billy Collins

    I have expired like discarded minutes
    passing by, never to be held onto, like the death of
    words that wouldn’t come out, the
    way I waded through the twentieth
    relationship trying to find my way back to that century
    where minutes ticked longer than sixty seconds, for
    a chance to have one
    more hour that we could last
    in another destiny where broken hearts and minutes dance.

    -Linda G Hatton

  54. J.lynn Sheridan

    “Why the dreamer kept his dreams hidden”

    Lonely was the
    dreamer in the dead
    of a vivid night. Even the birds
    ignored the towering fell
    of his pondering hours. But
    still, the dreamer blamed no

    If he had,
    then the dreams he had seen
    may have taught them
    how to fly.

    From “Some dreams they forgot” by Elizabeth Bishop

  55. J.lynn Sheridan

    “Things I’ve learned along the wrong path”

    The pining of the evening winds tell
    another story—the capture of lovers and all
    their secrets never explored because the
    things that really matter are forgotten–truth,
    beauty, and purity—the trinity of passion. But
    when truth hurts and beauty fails to tell
    of its suffering, only purity remains. It
    stands alone as the plumb line without slant.

    From Emily Dickinson #1129

  56. J.lynn Sheridan

    “Laughing at fear”

    She says after midnight their
    stunt-flying stories and Mason jar lives,
    frothy and pickled from sun and tongue, are
    on display at Molly’s pub. Their vintage laughter, louder now
    than when shared tempers flared in those
    forgotten years of Hemingway’s war poems,
    heckle the faceless trigger fingers over the ridge that
    aimed to kill what they once were.

    From “One More New Botched Beginning” by Stephen Spender

  57. Marie Therese Knepper

    For Jabez (The Bandit Who Stole My Heart)
    by Maire-Therese Knepper
    (credit to “The Song of Songs,” by King Solomon, lines used: let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth for your love is better than wine.)

    Why does he let
    him kiss him?
    I’d never let him kiss

    Then you came along with
    your Joie de vivre, and the
    once vile kisses
    took hold of
    this caustic heart – his
    tongue soaking this parched mouth.

    Thank you for
    showing me with your
    unabashed love
    that welcoming truth is
    ultimately better
    drinking liar’s wine.

    1. TomNeal

      I think this is the second poem you have posted that is based on Solomon? (Turn Turn Turn is taken from the third chapter of Ecclesiastes.) In both instances you offered made something ancient something new.

      Well done.

      1. TomNeal

        Can’t edit, so (sigh):
        I think this is the second poem you have posted that is based on a text of Solomon? (Turn Turn Turn is taken from the third chapter of Ecclesiastes.) In both instances you taken something ancient and made it into something new.

        1. Marie Therese Knepper

          (double sigh) Not to worry about editing; evidently I’m unable to correctly spell my first name.

          You are correct about my using something attributed to King Solomon in 2 of my poems, although the song “Turn, Turn, Turn,” by The Byrds was the inspiration behind my poem titled “Churn Churn Churn.”


  58. grcran

    garden of the fishhouse
    (after Elizabeth Bishop)

    new love is like an innocent waif
    it chafes, delights, bedevils, insights, excites you
    terribly wasted if untasted
    so when, if, you get around to it,
    you’ll see it in its birthday suit
    so cute so good you would
    not believe that it could first taste bitter,
    and then
    you immerse yourself in the briny,
    as a proper heathen
    should do, all clear and true, surely
    full of heat too, don’t burn your tongue.
    As Adam and Eve found it
    in that famous garden, it went like this
    applesauced seduction, surprise climax, guilt-like
    response to you-don’t-even-know-what
    beyond anything they could imagine
    and thus, new love gives knowledge
    whether or not you want it to
    and gives way, and lets us, be.

    by gpr crane

    (original poem: At the Fishhouses, by Elizabeth Bishop, I used the first half of this set of lines from near the end of her poem:
    “If you tasted it, it would first taste bitter,
    then briny, then surely burn your tongue.
    It is like what we imagine knowledge to be:
    Dark, salt, clear, moving, utterly free,
    drawn from the cold hard mouth
    of the world, derived from the rocky breasts
    forever, flowing and drawn”)

  59. Susan Schoeffield


    I hear poems in my head. Somebody
    said this is a bad thing and maybe I ought
    to be fraught with concern. But to
    me, this slew of poetry is a way to examine
    the famine of words that sometimes is my
    downfall. So I think I’ll keep my poem-head.

    © Susan Schoeffield

    From “The Choice” by Dorothy Parker:
    Somebody ought to examine my head!

  60. Connie Peters

    Rain and Puddles
    (a Golden Shovel poem)

    The sky lets loose its bounty, so
    campers dash to their tents just past three.
    It’s the stormy season of the year.
    Huddled in tents, the young feel old
    and the old feel like children.

    The sun comes out, the campers enter
    the fray, splashing about in puddles, the
    end of the week, the devil-may-care phase
    of camping, jumping, laughing, making fun of,
    stomping, getting muddy, name-calling.

    (from Child Development by Billy Collins)

  61. TomNeal

    From “The Rest” by Ezra Pound
    Broken by false knowledge


    Her work ridiculed; and her** spirit broken
    By conformocrats who felt threatened by
    A life of art, preferring soothing false
    Images to honest lines expressing truth filled knowledge.


    *Conformeaucracy should never be spelt the same way twice. Acceptable alternatives include: konformeaucracy; conformocracy; and conphormocracy.

    **Charlotte Lennox
    Hester Thrale, Elizabeth Carter, and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu all faulted her, either for her housekeeping, her unpleasant personality, or her temper. They regarded her specifically as unladylike and incendiary. . . . Charlotte subsequently lived in “solitary penury” for the rest of her life, entirely reliant on the support of the Literary Fund. She died on 4 January 1804 in London and was buried in an unmarked grave at Broad Court Cemetery.

    3. The only key guaranteed to unlock this poem’s meaning:

    Thomas Neal

    1. TomNeal

      The poem is the entire text (notes and all), and not just its 4 lines of broken verse. It is more of an ormolu or pomponne than a golden shovel. :-)

  62. DanielR

    -Based on Song of the Wave by Robert Frost
    – Using the lines: Now in sunlight, now in shade & Lost within some ocean glade & By the restless waters made

    I wish it was then, now
    that you are only present in
    memories, waves like shimmering sunlight
    dancing off of broken glass. Now
    and then returning to my mind in
    fragments of shadows and shade.
    And without you I am lost
    searching for a peace within
    that delivers some
    relief like the cool blue of the ocean.
    A boy again wandering the glade
    desperate to be saved by
    something bigger than myself. The
    loss of freedom always made me restless,
    inner turmoil building to raging waters,
    but still you were the best decision I ever made.

    Daniel Roessler

  63. DanielR

    -Based on After by Robert Browning
    – Using the line: Take the cloak from his face, and at first

    What each man gives, another will take,
    burying it deep among the
    shadows, hiding it behind his dusty cloak
    desperate to conceal it from
    even himself, but it is his,
    revealed in the creases of his face.
    Until he confronts the mirror and
    a reflection staring back at
    him tells of his secret first.

    Daniel Roessler

  64. Susan Schoeffield


    Between evening and morning, when
    my demons come to wrestle in the night,
    a story in unfinished sentences drifts
    aimlessly through my brain. Along
    alleys covered in cobwebs, the
    shadows of my musings dance in the streets.
    Taunting and haunting, reminders of
    failure burn half-written pages and fan the
    flames until they consume this city.

    © Susan Schoeffield

    From “Solitaire” by Amy Lowell:
    When night drifts along the streets of the city

  65. Margie Fuston

    When the Moon Fell

    -after Edgar Allan Poe

    The moon dropped from the clouds once.
    I found her behind my house, lying upon
    a patch of dried-up needs. She wore a
    frown. I thought she always smiled at midnight,
    but up close she looked dull and dreary.
    We sat in the dirt in solidarity for a while.
    I asked if she ever wished on stars, and I
    sighed when she told me no. Together we pondered
    what made the air and the clouds too weak
    to hold us up. Eventually, we tired and
    I tried to lift her back, but I found myself too weary.

    1. shethra77

      This is so sad! but I love it, especially the “patch of dried-up needs”, and “I asked if she ever wished on stars, and I sighed when she told me no.” It’s a great portrait of animate and inanimate communing.

    2. Linda.E.H

      this is an awesome poem. I love the wording and the feeling of the poem. I like how she asks the moon about wishing on stars. However, my absolute favorite line is this one: Together we pondered
      what made the air and the clouds too weak to hold us up. That line is great.

  66. Margie Fuston


    -after Edgar Allan Poe

    When you hold my hand and tell me I’m the only
    star you see in the night and this
    is all you need in earth and
    heaven, I look at you and see nothing
    but this moment, and I know there won’t be more.

  67. Margie Fuston


    -after Robert Browning

    You wear jewels and think that’s
    all it takes to capture my
    attention and make it last.
    You call yourself a duchess,
    but I see the cheap colors painted
    over your lies and on
    your parted lips to hide the
    sight of a stone wall.

  68. Jane Shlensky

    Photo as Phantom
    (after Mary Oliver, “Wild Goose”)

    Ghost thoughts feather over my skin, you
    and I in younger days, sensations vivid, only
    years too late. Memory’s smoke and mirrors have
    dazzled me again, transported me to twenty, to
    skinny loveliness leaning against your chest. You let
    me sink into your muscles’ warm hearth, the
    trust in your solidity echoing through me like soft
    whispers tingling near my ear, brush of animal
    wonder at the presence we share in a single moment of
    recognition: now, this very second, I am your
    Love, your other, your friend, as if love has its own body
    palpable as clay—as if here where we stand, love
    wraps its arms around us and infuses us, as if what
    we feel in these few seconds is visible to all. It
    washes over us, quick as a shutter that loves
    youth and sunlight. I don’t need a picture to tell
    me we’ve grown old and forgetful, to remind me
    what experiencing such moments was about,
    that universes of breaths fan the edges of despair
    and joy. We walk among memories’ fallen leaves, yours
    tinted differently from mine, but rustling underfoot and
    coloring the present with fragmented pasts that I
    cherish despite their shadow lands. You will
    say I’m growing strange and solemn; you will tell
    me I’ve disremembered, misinterpreted, confused facts; that you
    forgot this pale picture existed. No matter. These ghosts are mostly mine.

  69. Jane Shlensky

    (after William Carlos Williams, “The Birds”)

    Family witnesses his release of breath, the
    separation from flesh complete, as a world
    upstairs is spanked into being; a cry begins
    to walk a path that leads to life, again.

  70. Jane Shlensky

    (after Carol Muske-Dukes’ “ Love Song”)

    Strays roam woods and alleys for leavings of love,
    scraps carelessly dropped by sated people. A feral life comes
    homeless, sniffing for sustenance, shelter, safety—hungry
    for freedom from storm, starvation, abuse—to
    survive until the slightest flicker of kindness is anyone’s
    sunrise, anyone’s safe harbor, anyone’s loving helping hand.

  71. icandootoo

    Very Funny, Naomi Poe
    -after “Aging Well,” by Robert Lee Brewer

    When he was young the
    vicar tried to be funny;
    but the thing
    churches and growing
    too daring with old
    ladies in puce is
    that you
    could nearly never
    really, truly know
    whether they found you clever, or were plotting how
    to slip arsenic into your tea. In the end, it was better to
    bring his own sugar, in case they didn’t respond.

    1. shethra77

      Ahhhh! It’s like the prelude to a murder mystery. (Or the vicar has had the canniness to prevent the murder.) Perhaps, barring the sugar, he should watch out for the little cakes and cucumber sandwiches. :)

  72. Susan Schoeffield


    When the crisp, cold of winter comes, shall
    we hide from each other under a quilt? Do we
    recall our youthful promises, or has too
    much time passed since our spring? To rise
    above the present is not to be forgetful,
    but twisted threads sewn in anger from
    impulsive irritations are not our
    story, nor can they put our love to sleep.

    © Susan Schoeffield

    From “Love and Death” by Sara Teasdale:
    Shall we, too, rise forgetful from our sleep.

  73. Tracy Davidson


    after Robert Browning

    Shot by Cupid’s arrow? No, that’s
    not at all how I fell for my
    current wife. She was nurse to my last.

    That one was as spoiled as a Duchess,
    pampered and primped and over-painted.

    I loved her, in my way, despite her carrying on
    with every male servant that crossed the
    threshold. Her antics drove me up the wall.

    Yet I missed her when she passed. I wasn’t looking
    to replace her, but I was drawn in as
    surely as a spider traps a fly. If
    there were awards for entrapment then surely she
    would win, this angel-faced succubus. I’d be happy if it were
    not for my doubts about how long she’ll leave me alive.

  74. icandootoo

    You said to make more work for you; and the dog got sprayed by a skunk, so I’m up…. all night. And I’m taking you at your word: Entry four…

    “I Hold” by Naomi Poe
    After “[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]
    – ” by E.E. Cummings

    Lean in: here, right here:
    Can you hear? Is
    your ear attuned? The
    silence? Yes, it’s deafening. That deepest
    silence is my secret:
    that nothing’s held inside my heart. Nobody
    knows I cleared you out – God knows.

  75. icandootoo

    “Coffee Talk” by Naomi Poe
    – After “Pippa’s Song” by Robert Browning, Jr.

    On the news this morning: more bombings and
    a shooting in California. Cover-all’s
    on sale, half off, but you must order right
    now. They reassessed our property with
    the school being flat broke, and all; and the
    Middle East is threatening to tear apart the world.

  76. icandootoo

    “I Dare” by Naomi Poe
    – After “You and Your Whole Race” by Langston Hughes

    They call us. The movers, the shakers, the big music makers. I
    know who they are, what they want us to be. I dare
    them to find me, to bind me, but you
    you welcome them in, you dance while they grin, happy to
    do what they want you to do. Though we come
    from one history, one story, the mystery is how one
    of us broke away and got free, while the other one’s step
    faces backward. I flee from the past, while you draw it much nearer.
    We both see the truth, but I fight for the truth. While the evil
    you do is to prostitute you to a white colored/ black colored world.

  77. icandootoo

    “Keeping Faith” by Naomi Poe
    – After “’Faith’ is a Fine Invention” by Emily Dickenson

    The Preacher tells me “keep the faith,”
    as if my faith is
    Slate-gray lead, a
    pencil tip to sharpen. That’s fine
    for those who think their faith a rather smart invention,
    who wrap their god in packaging. For
    those of us (for Gentlemen)
    for questioners, like me, who
    wish to prove the provenance of things we cannot see,
    faith seems a losing proposition. But
    place your angels on a pin! For microscopes,
    you know, are magnificent inventions. The instruments are
    potent tools when used with comprehension by prudent
    men; and prudent men will always save the day. In
    summary: doctors like me will certainly agree that an
    appeal to higher ‘power’ is key in an emergency!

  78. Linda Hatton

    Not That Man’s Best Friend
    After Billy Collins

    Why couldn’t you have stayed, like a good boy? Nobody
    came fetching for me yesterday (or any day before that). Here,
    by the door I wait, desperate to touch upon the likes
    of love, the likes of liking, feel a stroke down my back. But a
    few years have passed now and my love has turned wet
    like the fishy-breathed tongue of a neglected dog.

    -Linda G Hatton
    (Line used: “Nobody here likes a wet dog” from “To a Stranger Born in Some Distant Country Hundreds of Years From Now” by Billy Collins.)

  79. Jennie

    Lenore’s Plea to The Raven (From Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”)

    Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
    Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
    As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
    “ ’Tis some visiter,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
    Only this and nothing more.” ~Edgar Allan Poe

    Awoke in darkness; blindly blinking, realizing at once
    I lay surrounded by wood with earth upon
    While I banged, and scratched, and pleaded, a
    cry from above, muffled in my moonless midnight,
    bathed in tones so dreary
    breath caught on the sound while
    heart raced and I
    in my weak
    state, “Is it truly over?”

    Regrets, I have not many;
    I only wish for just a
    moment more to sip tea in quaint
    shops, while you tell tales of heart that angels and
    Gods both envy; curious
    how you loved, I loved- we loved with such volume.

    A second cry from above freezes wandering thought; of
    dark and death not forgotten
    it is made. This thing of lore…
    the Raven of saintly days of yore. I let hope fly, while
    I breathe in deep of my earthly tomb. I
    send a prayer to powers beyond; to Athena I gravely nodded
    I start tapping, loudly rapping, nearly
    ripping skin to bone, air fading, feel like napping
    kicking harder, rap, tap, tapping, suddenly…
    …an answering tapping…
    an eerie echo to my frantic rapping,
    a tip, tip, tapping at
    what is meant to be my
    forevermore chamber
    with suffocating death the only door
    “Dear stately Raven” I intone, “tis
    this only
    of you I implore; some
    words I beg of you dear visitor
    to my love from I,
    the love he thinks he lost, Lenore” I muttered
    as darkness seeped through my vision and tapping
    echoed at
    forevermore chamber
    with death the only door—
    unless… “Dear Raven, I ask you only
    tell him this;
    air is thinning, vision dimming, and
    he must make haste, let no one stop him, let nothing
    bar him, else I shall see him never more…”

    By Jennie Meres

  80. taylor graham

    after Maxine Kumin

    Beside her, awkward was I.
    Astride, I could think
    of knights in the lists, these
    books I read. And the real things –
    arroyos under untouched sky, each
    schoolday nicker-morning
    like an aubade I left her with
    my armloads of books, to shovel
    grades from grammar and
    winnow words as with a hay-rake.
    And each evening drawing
    down closer to this, the
    black mare of memory risen,
    wintercoat tinged with brown.

  81. Marie Therese Knepper

    Stop Yelling
    by Marie-Therese Knepper
    (credit to “Love In The Guise Of Friendship,” by Robert Burns, line used: talk not of love it gives me pain)

    Squawk talk
    ought not
    be indicative of
    true love.

    Yet it
    lives gives
    you and me
    brain pain.

  82. MNRWildhood

    by: m.nicole.r.wildhood

    First Love Never
    with help from William Carlos Williams “The Red Wheelbarrow”**

    When he said she said you met so and so,
    I beat around many bushes, found many stones but not much
    luck, and scared several cats out of their bags, though it depends

    I guess, on what you mean by bags. I set more than two birds carefully back upon

    their nests in the hedge, didn’t touch their babies or really a
    thing at all besides the red, red
    rose growing fiercely beside them and the slumping sun on its wheel.

    ** http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-red-wheelbarrow/

  83. JRSimmang

    -After Robert Fernandez’s “Epithalamion”

    The tall one could sense the
    weather change, the breeze tight
    under the patchwork filigree
    of clouds, of
    little nuisances, which itched like a
    lover and left no peace of mind.

    They could have gone this way or
    that, and instead chose your
    chaos splashing.

    Maybe one day, they’ll make it back around.
    But will you know, while you’re wrapped in,
    soaking and drowning in, your
    left-handed pandemonium?

    -JR Simmang

  84. Marie Therese Knepper

    The Zombie Ball
    by Marie-Therese Knepper
    (credit to “An Ode,” by Joseph Addison, lines used: what though in solemn silence all move round the dark terrestrial ball)

    Every Friday the Thirteenth Eve a Watcher does what
    needs to be and all is well, though
    on occasion one arises in
    vainglorious hopes of foiling the solemn
    walkers reprieve from death’s structured silence.

    At midnight the Watcher tolls a bell, summoning all
    those undead to answer his call. As bodies stir, the move
    is on. Restless spirits from their prison crypts gather round
    as the Watcher plays his eerie tune. Such a sight the
    undead make. They dance in thrall to some dark
    strains only heard on their terrestrial
    plane. Such is the Zombie’s Ball.

  85. jyork

    Go with Hope

    after Emily Dickinson

    Go with “Hope”
    for it is
    true and the
    most certain thing
    to travel with;
    the downy feathers
    of a newborn bird, that
    foretell of its perches
    in the tallest of trees, in
    the highest of skies – the
    prologue to the flight of its soul.

  86. Michele Brenton

    Three, two, one.

    You three conferred when
    the storm had past and I
    made tea and nothing was
    said when I returned; one
    habit that never died down, I
    blanked out awkwardness, had
    honed that skill until just
    traces showed something had begun.

    Years later and when
    you recounted it I
    found it strange that I was
    unaware how those two
    had been so cruel, that back then I
    had been maligned, it was
    a shock, very nearly
    heartbreak, yet nothing new.

    Michele Brenton
    after Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne

      1. Michele Brenton

        Thank you William. This was one of those times when I thought it was going to be one kind of poem and it decided to reveal something I had been blanking out. Every so often my jokey assertion that poetry is not an art it’s a symptom comes back to bite me on the behind ;)

  87. PressOn


    My cares succumb when evening comes
    and then I oft tread softly
    and cease my prattling when towhees, rattling,
    turn frowns full upside down.

    William Preston
    using “comes softly rattling down”
    from Robert Frost’s A Late Walk

  88. MNRWildhood

    by: m.nicole.r.wildhood

    A Trip to the Park with My Daughter
    with help from Robert Frost’s “Design”**

    On the grass, face to the sky: what if

    that cloud is really a house or a turtle, what if design
    and not chance is indeed behind their shape but the rules that govern

    there are the quiet magic of a

    fluffy white fish swimming after a thing
    not yet formed? What if the world we see adrift above is just so

    and the horses here on the ground are just small?


  89. Tracy Davidson


    after Dylan Thomas

    I’m tired of being told what to do,
    how to think and how not,
    where I can and cannot go,
    that tone of voice – deceptively gentle
    at first – which soon turns into
    something sharp as flint, that
    never leads to any good.
    I leave you, in my dreams, every night.

    1. PressOn

      For me, this recalls the old song, I’ll See You In My Dreams, and effectively turns it on its head. The poem has a gentle feel but a sharp effect. Wow.

  90. Azma

    I CARE

    (from the poem ‘A word is dead’ by Emily Dickinson
    using the lines
    A word is dead
    when it is said,
    some say

    I may not have a
    worthy consoling word
    that is
    enough for the peace of your dead
    And you may not listen when
    I try to express it
    But what you will realize later is
    whatever I had said
    I really meant more than what some
    others so monotonously say

    -Azma Sheikh

    1. PressOn

      I was struck by the word, “monotonously,” in this poem. I took it to mean that the speaker speaks with feeling, and others, speaking “monotonously,” do not. I think that’s a profound insight, carried in one word.

  91. James Von Hendy

    9/11, 9/11

    Time and again, I think, reading
    A critic’s dissatisfaction with what
    Is supposed to be a memorial to what I
    Can’t say, the ground an open wound I have
    Imagined is a symbol of festering pride, just
    A bully’s impotent reaction to injury, written
    At the foot of the newly towered commerce I
    Perceive of as our true God. There’s nothing now
    To do but question what we believe.

    Can we be so naïve? Really, do I
    Have to wonder? So many lives stopped
    That day, thousands more precipitously
    Sacrificed for no reason but loyalty so
    Blindly given, so fruitlessly thrown away on that
    Promise that destroying other protects my
    Freedom. How many time must that story
    Heap destruction on our innocents? It seems
    It’s never enough. Once we had a chance to
    Become citizens of the world, to have
    A chance at compassion. It’s what might have been.

    Instead we lick our wounded pride, and descend, ever so slightly,
    Into the open graves to salve our distorted
    Injuries as if this is a beginning, not an ending.

    After “Afterword”, by Louise Glück
    Reading what I have just written, I now believe
    I stopped precipitously, so that my story seems to have been
    slightly distorted, ending. . . .

    1. PressOn

      Lots of layers reside in this poem, which invites so much thought, I hesitate to comment for fear of seeming glib. Even so, for me the heart of this poem is here: “,,,, loyalty so / Blindly given, so fruitlessly thrown away on that / Promise that destroying other protects my / Freedom.” This summarizes for me the despair of reason and humanity. Thanks for posting.

  92. Marie Therese Knepper

    Again, Love
    by Marie-Therese Knepper
    (credit to “A Gleam of Sunshine,” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; lines used: through which I walked to church with thee o gentlest of my friends)

    Riffling through
    cherished memories which
    too long held forgotten, I
    chose and walked
    the aisle again, to
    vow anew before kin and church
    I’d love and honor with
    every breath, thee,
    tender, gentlest
    guardian of
    all my
    trusted friends.

  93. MNRWildhood

    by: m.nicole.r.wildhood

    And We Met Ourselves Again
    with help from Kathleen Norris’s “Little Girls in Church”**

    Did we yet hold (for long enough) a

    thank-you tribute to that girl?
    The one who we shook hands with
    at that 4th-of-July picnic so long
    ago? Was it her eyes or her hair that was brown?

    Did you have braids
    that day or was
    it me (or her)? Did she lead
    you or me or both of us to
    the lake where we found the

    only clear view of the icons
    of our longing: the mountains by
    the horizon, far but building just like her
    before she was called back by her mother?

    ** http://seanandrachel2008.blogspot.com/2011/04/april-21-poetry-little-girls-in-church.html

  94. Marie Therese Knepper

    For Betterment
    by Marie-Therese Knepper
    (credit to William Shakespeare’s “Hark! Hark! The Lark.” line: My lady sweet arise)

    Gentlemen please take up my
    cause, for she is no lady
    who revels in the moment sweet
    misfortune demands arise.

  95. candy

    ~ Candace Kubinec

    What is going to
    happen when all I love
    is banned like these
    well read books
    that show real life and
    in my mind are harmless?
    What will be next, black tea?
    Or coffee that has
    too much caffeine and always
    makes me wired like I’ve been
    given some illicit drug? Please not my
    Chocolate – my worst and best foible

    after Christopher Milne. – To A Lady Who Said Its A Sin To Read Novels

  96. Susan Schoeffield


    A thorny stem has taken the
    briefest moment of joy and tinted it red.
    The color of anger denies the beauty of the rose.
    Lifeless petals cascade to earth in whispers
    where they mingle with the soil of
    fleeting remembrances of passion.

    © Susan Schoeffield

    From “A White Rose” by John Boyle O’Reilly:
    The red rose whispers of passion

  97. shethra77

    The Hunt

    Fog commands the field. The
    pulsing fireflies light the darkness.
    We banish the fog—we shout! It crumbles
    and we chase it away.
    Now we are free to run after floating fireflies. But
    mist persists. This sweater of mine
    is coated with droplets of water; in
    a better world, fireflies could drench my
    sweater with light. Every child’s ear
    strains to hear my father, who is
    shouting encouragement, so we know we are safe—
    no Grendel will dare loom out of the mist. Just
    the fog to run through, the insects to swoop after, a
    dream chase where arms pinwheel and hands reach for little
    creatures. The car’s headlights blast a wall of white
    against the mist. Too soon we have to stop, must finish with
    this hunt, travel back to the house and our beds. Fireflies blink in peace; the
    fog soaks silently into the dust.

    Shethra Jones-Hoopes

    Excerpts from Break of Day in the Trenches by Isaac Rosenberg

    The darkness crumbles away.

    But mine in my ear is safe—
    Just a little white with the dust.

  98. PressOn


    Here, where
    dreams live and thoughts
    tarry for a time, are
    causes for my ceaseless singing:

    William Preston
    using “where thoughts are singing swallows”
    from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Children

  99. Marian O'Brien Paul

    Let the Cure Be Ice-cream
    by Marian O’Brien Paul

    After Wallace Stevens’ The Emperor of Ice-Cream,
    last two lines, stanza one.

    Snare the bungler, the one who let
    the maelstrom roam free, who let it be
    shaken from its canvas bag, who let it be
    unbound to wreak the havoc of finale
    disrupting the delicate chemistry of
    the brain so things are not as they seem.

    Return to the sperm-pierced egg, scouring the
    flawed genes, toxins, viruses, tolerating only
    optimal life events non-conducive to an emperor-
    complex. No need for another Napoleon who is
    sure he rules the earth, no matter how benign the
    reign. Excise all delusions that this “emperor”
    dreams, mending my son’s brain. Ask the healer of
    disease if the cure could be as simple as ice-cream.

    1. PressOn

      I don’t know Stevens’s work very well, but it looks to me as if you’ve captured his style in this poem, as well as using his lines for inspiration. I’ve read this several times, and talks to me differently, or grows, with each reading.

  100. MNRWildhood

    by m.nicole.r.wildhood

    with help from Langston Hughes**

    For the people who mean “no” when they say “maybe,”
    it’s hard to just commit to it,
    whatever it is. It may not be just,
    but fear soars; trust sags.

    Do you know what it’s like
    to feel that within you sleeps a
    friend longing to be there but it’s just too heavy,
    this love we know by it’s other name: load?

    I beg of you to see it, that it is not either/or
    for us. How will you see that “maybe” really does
    mean “no” even though we know it
    probably should just explode?

    ** http://www.cswnet.com/~menamc/langston.htm

    1. PressOn

      This is an almost-mesmerizing piece, inviting many re-readings, as I’ve done. It creates a feeling of tension, for me anyway, which makes the final word all the more fitting. I think it’s well done.

  101. RJ Clarken

    Summer Storm

    Lightning illuminates the
    dark clouds of twilight’s end, a last
    bold signature for a relatively quiet day. This contains a twist,
    or a paradox, at the very least. Of
    all the things that have occurred in the
    last twenty-four hours, none is more curious than what happened to the knife.

    From Rhapsody on a Windy Night by T.S. Eliot


  102. PressOn


    In time,
    all of time is
    nothing but timelessness,
    and no time is worth striving for,
    nor you.

    William Preston
    using “Time is timelessness for you”
    from Ogden Nash’s A Lady Who Thinks She Is Thirty

  103. Marie Therese Knepper

    A Matter Of Opinion
    by Marie-Therese Knepper
    (credit to “Ode To Stephen Dowling Bots, Dec’d” by Mark Twain. Lines used “despised love struck not with woe that head of curly knots”)

    That which was once despised
    is now their object of love,
    like all at once the lightning struck,
    illuminating darkened landscapes not
    penetrable by puritans with
    calloused eyes and hearts. The woe
    inflicted by hostile forces left scars that
    only those gifted using heart and head
    readily embrace, sculpting the layers of
    hardened, weathered, and curly
    roots into curiously fashionable knots.

    1. PressOn

      The imagery in this poem is wonderful, in my opinion” “roots” and “knots” fit the picture of “calloused eyes and hearts” so well, in my view. I love this.

  104. MNRWildhood

    by. m.nicole.r.wildhood

    Becoming Our Best
    with help from Louise Gluck’s “The Pond”**

    We sat on the
    shore of adulthood like hills
    that hesitantly are
    hoping to cozy up to the far

    sky. Like the future is away,
    we don’t know how they –
    hills or grown ups rise –
    is it okay to heap greatness up

    higher than another? That other then is eclipsed, blacker
    below us if we do. Not blacker than
    loss, even of childhood, though.

    ** http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/g_l/gluck/online.htm

  105. RJ Clarken

    Wrestling with a Snack Down

    In the pantry is a bag of Goldfish.
    They belong to my son. “Are
    you going to eat them?” I ask myself. Better
    not. Even ‘though I actually paid for them. What a terrible mother I am! I am stronger than
    that. Goldfish, I am stronger than you.

    For the Golden Shovel:

    “Goldfish are better than you.”
    From: Serious Concerns by Wendy Cope, London: Faber & Faber 2002


  106. RJ Clarken

    The Not-So-Funny Funny Bone

    The other night, I
    slammed my elbow (the not-so-funny funny bone part) on the doorjamb while sit-
    ting in the loo. I’d reached forward to put my cell phone on the counter; then leant back. And in
    that moment, moved with such force that the
    stars didn’t circle my head, but rather a seriously bruised arm-bone. Dusk-
    y words flew from my mouth. You see, f-bombs are not what I
    normally would ever say, but when pain am-
    asses like that, all
    you can do is let those evil voices out. Still, I thought I was safe, since I was alone
    in the privy. But no. As I exited the W.C. room and enter-
    ed the hallway, a
    loud, gusty laugh came unbidden, as if from a child.
    (It was actually two children and my husband.) And
    after politely inquiring as to my health, they grinned at each other, as an
    awful heated blush spread straight across my face. My husband suggested ice
    to take away the swelling, as well as some pain-relief cream.
    Then, they all burst forth with a soul-awakening gleam, that struck perchance the farthest cone.


    For the Golden Shovel:

    I sit in the dusk. I am all alone.
    Enter a child and an ice-cream cone.

    -from Tableau at Twilight by Ogden Nash

    The final line is from:

    Lament of Mary, Queen of Scots, on the Eve of a New Year, by William Wordsworth


    1. PressOn

      I had seen this before, but enjoyed it again. I think Nash would like it as well. He might say

      Expletives are best, they run straight and true
      to the very source of a pain in the loo.

  107. Marie Therese Knepper

    Hung Juries
    by Marie-Therese Knepper
    (credit to William Shakespeare’s “A Lover’s Conflict,” using the line “where want cries some but where excess begs all”)

    Captive spirits hasten where
    parched souls gather for want
    of unabashed yearnings to feel cries
    left behind though not abandoned by some
    pitifully ethereal creature passed but
    lingering still in familiar places where
    unresolved conflicts bleed excess
    through the veil which certainly begs
    plaintive appeal from ages all.

  108. PressOn


    “Follow the arc to Arctutus,”
    or so the pithy saying is;
    the way the savant says it, you’d think it was his.
    He has some degrees or other;
    initials after his name,
    and so he has his share of fame, but I’d
    rather guess that when he looks up there he’d rather
    gaze in the same wonder as I, and not call
    any star by words that define him.

    But no, he is an astronomer; here, he is the star,
    and here he must gave each star its
    proper name, as though it had one. It all seems strange, very
    strange, that he might mean
    that the star knows what he is thinking of;
    that the star is a respecter of science
    and so respects him; that the star aims to
    please him and will not go
    away while he lectures. So we wait, and,
    while he speaks, neither we nor the stars interfere.

    William Preston
    using a stanza from Emily Dickinson:
    “Arcturus” is his other name
    I’d rather call him “Star.”
    It’s very mean of Science
    To go and interfere!

  109. Linda.E.H

    don’t even ask me how I came up with this. I’ve had no korn, just coffee. Perhaps my muse goes whacky on caffeine. :-) Not even sure if this qualifies as a complete poem but am posting it for your entertainment.

    After Drinking the Korn
    after Linda Pastan

    The last of the sweet corn, lined up like six sleeping babies
    swaddled in silky green blankets on the counter, should
    be husked. He yanks down two leaves, watches an ear grow
    into a wispy-winged bird, then turns down the rest of the husk in
    like-wise fashion, envisions corncob ladies dancing hula in fields.

    (ending words “babies show grow in fields” taken from Pastan’s poem entitled “Notes from the Delivery Room”)

      1. Linda.E.H

        I had never heard of old John Barleycorn. I googled the name and found a song. One line of the lyrics says “And the tinker, he can’t mend kettles nor pots Without a little barley corn.” It makes me want to change the title to After a Little Barley Corn.

        1. PressOn

          I recall this from about 60 years ago:

          You’ve got to watch it, these dark nights, when old King Barleycorn is riding high. You could fall in and almost die. Then who is there left to cry?

  110. mjdills

    Here is my offering. It is written in memory of three young boys, who could have born anywhere but were so placed as to have a very short time on earth.

    Using the poem
    by Walt Whitman

    Let’s say you don’t like the way these boys dress or Look
    Or perhaps you, helplessly, down
    To your own calcified beliefs, have trouble being fair
    In a world, under the same moon.
    Maybe you see our children differently and
    You’re not interested in how we bathe
    These bloody issues, be they Israeli or Palestinian in this
    Complicated and hard to be neutral scene.
    Imagine the tears of three mothers and how they did Pour
    With aunts, grandmothers, friends and softly
    Spoken young girls, all falling down
    On knees with incalculable sorrow in the night’s
    Mourning, a glow of love and grief like a dimmed nimbus
    Like nothing you have ever, ever known, the floods
    Of untold loss, without relying on
    Memories of sweet babyish faces
    That now, after sharing ten silent bullets, are left ghastly,
    Found in an open area close to Hebron, swollen,
    Left in a field in the West Bank; cheeks, hands, lips purple
    These mother’s babies missing. Two. Weeks. Don’t tell me it’s not On
    Your mind what had to be acknowledged in the
    Cold bright room where they identify the dead;
    Does it matter to what god they prayed? on
    What day of the week? or the food on their
    Breakfast plate? … now that they lay on stiffened backs,
    What if it was your boy who died there with
    His school friends, last seen at the hitchhiking point in Gush Etzion with their
    Book bags over shoulders, dangling arms
    About each other, cares toss’d
    To the wind, with hearts opened wide,
    Not knowing what fate was about to Pour
    Upon them from heavens and hells that have been turned up side down
    While you were watching the five o clock news in your
    Cozy home surrounded by family and the wealth of unstinted
    Peace and security. Your borders are tight and the nimbus
    Of tranquility makes you believe your circle is sacred
    And your children are safe under that same moon.

    In memory of Eyal Yifrach, 19, Naftali Frenkel, 16 and Gilad Shaar, 16.)

    1. Linda.E.H

      Nice work. Excellent topic for a poem, nice description, and I love these ending lines:
      Your borders are tight and the nimbus
      Of tranquility makes you believe your circle is sacred
      And your children are safe under that same moon.

      1. mjdills

        Thank you, PressOn. As the mother of a son, my sorrow is exquisite. I’m incredibly grieved for all parents who lose children and in this case, feel compelled to express my sense of outrage and rage. How can humans feel so entitled to take the life of another with such cavalier? I appreciate your acknowledgement.

  111. Marie Therese Knepper

    A Sunder
    by Marie-Therese Knepper
    (beginning line from “All The World’s A Stage,” by William Shakespeare)

    I gave you my all.
    You wanted more. The
    two became one worlds
    apart. You and I a
    vacant stage.

  112. MNRWildhood

    by m.nicole.r.wildhood

    To Pilot a Plant
    with help from Walt Whitman**

    When I invite each new world into my home, O!
    but how I play host to more than houseplant: its Captain!
    It is more than the windowsill it decorates, more than my
    air it scrubs; it is what some call pest – the bug: and how to captain

    when you cannot steer by any of our
    definitions of the word? Is this leaf-dweller fearful
    as it awaits its next involuntary trip?
    Or can it tell by the settling of sunlight that its travel is,
    for the rest of the life in its home at least, done?

    **from: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/174742

  113. PressOn


    Speak, to
    inform and teach
    high pride, bland and robust;
    the blind kind an American
    will love.

    William Preston
    using “to teach robust American love”
    from Walt Whitman’s A Promise to California

  114. Tracy Davidson


    after Lord Byron

    No star in the sky as lovely as she.
    I love to watch the way she walks,
    how her hips sway, those long legs in
    motion, her behind a thing of beauty.
    I long to touch those pillow-like
    breasts, caress her curves, savour the
    feel of her silky skin in the night.

  115. James Von Hendy

    Poetry Lesson>

    If we thought we were poets, it was true, and we
    Were cocky, arrogant out of ignorance. We must
    Have sensed it and denied. It was not enough to wear
    Poetry and flaunt it to one another. If our
    Poetry was a like pair of pajamas and slippers,
    Well lived in, but shucked away by day and

    Hidden in a drawer, a poet told us, we were not
    Even on the page. Not until we could breathe smoke
    Without dying, as if it were air, not while we
    Thought poetry was ethereal. He said we must
    Learn to be with bits of broken brick and go
    To cities of desolation, our fingers tied to no

    Thing we could see, but to our own teeth, the further
    To choke on silence, the better to be, rather than
    To hop into bed with one another as if the
    Very acts we thought of as love were a sign
    Of our virulent verse instead of blindness. No,
    He said. Without real experience there’s no admittance.

    From “The Angel of History” by Carolyn Forché

    We must wear our slippers and not smoke. We must go no further than the sign NO ADMITTANCE.

    1. TomNeal

      He said. Without real experience there’s no admittance.

      I like the way you have dealt with the “lesson”.

      The medicine prescribed has been made palatable by your poetry.

    2. PressOn

      This is yet another thoughtful piece from your pen. I like how “Learn to be with bits of broken brick” uses alliteration to insert a machine-gun-like dose of realty in the middle of it.

  116. Amaria

    “To Rise and Fall”
    (from the last lines of “Lady Lazarus” by Sylvia Plath: “out of the ash, I rise with my red hair, and I eat me like air”)

    In this cocoon I bust out
    and welcome the warm sun of
    summer that will lead me the
    way from the blistering ash
    that I left behind as I
    soar above the trees and rise
    towards the shining night stars with
    your voice luring me to my
    death – I didn’t see the red
    dragon singeing my long hair
    with its vicious fire and
    falling down to the earth I
    enter the mist as crows eat
    away my youth and the men
    turn away from my face like
    I am death’s stench in the air

  117. Marie Therese Knepper

    At The Easel
    by Marie-Therese Knepper
    (lines from “Passing Time,” by Maya Angelou; One paints the beginning of a certain end)

    Were I the one
    creating magic who paints
    masterful strokes the
    artiste from beginning
    mixing swirling dabs of
    light contour a
    sumptuous eye certain
    with flourished end.

  118. MNRWildhood

    by m.nicole.r.wildhood

    Hallowed Be Her Name
    with help from T.S. Eliot**

    Until a person is in
    her grave: nuance, shadow. The

    room she has in our speech from then on: about the room
    she’ll have in the

    ground. Men and women are men and women
    while they live; when they come

    to death and

    from us, we begin talking
    about them, of

    them, as if each was a perfected Michelangelo.

    ** http://www.bartleby.com/198/1.html

  119. Linda.E.H

    This one is a prose poem. The line lengths are longer than I normally write. I hope it copies over properly.

    We Became Trees at Summer Camp
    after Amy Lowell*

    We both left our cabins, sneaking off into the woods, navigating a narrow trail under the
    canopy of stars to meet each night. With each encounter we became more like trees.
    Summer gradually turned our once-green leaves to golden foliage glittered
    with flecks of rusty orange and a blush of scarlet, our branches heavy with
    the weight of long-held leaves of lust. We found pleasure in shedding them on the
    last night of camp, our fingers forming soft rakes on skin, bare bodies tumbling
    around in the dirt making bark rubbings of each other. We didn’t think of
    parting ways in the morning. Perhaps we knew in our hearts such a moment never leaves.

    Linda Hofke

    *ending words of each line taken from her poem September, 1918 – “the trees glittered with the tumbling of leaves”

  120. PressOn


    The end is coming soon. My cares all fade
    and I, instead, may turn from near to far;
    I read the poems that take me lands away
    and bid all pain and frailty dissolve;
    that turn my thoughts once more to beauty and
    to loves I used to know. So I am quite
    content, for I have lived, and now you may forget.

    William Preston
    using “fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget,”
    from John Keats, Ode to a Nightingale

  121. Connie Peters

    River Rafting

    We drift down the river in rubber rafts, the
    currents gently carrying us as we bob along laughing, feeling free
    until the water turns white and we wield our oars like wings of a wounded bird.
    Our captain shouts orders, “All ahead! Get it together! Get down!” The raft leaps
    ahead and suddenly we’re drifting daintily on.
    Then we hit another rush and abruptly one of ours tumbles out of the
    raft. We surge ahead, unable to go back
    and get him. Such a helpless feeling. But then folks of
    another raft pull him in. Rescued! Then as the
    stream steadies, we pull our lost one back in from the other raft. The wind
    kicks up, the sky darkens, but what’s a little rain when we’re already wet? We stop and
    pull the heavy rafts on the mucky bank. We eat, talk and laugh. No raft floats
    further as we take a break. The guide rehearses the signals because downstream
    is the big challenge. We can bow out and walk in the woods and wait till
    the others make it through the rapids. But we the adventurers sally forth. The
    water churns, soon we’re in the midst. Violent force tosses two of us into the current.
    Our comrades pull us in by our vests. Then more rapids. Victorious! Soon our adventure ends.

    (From I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou)

  122. DanielR

    -Based on Daffodils by William Wordsworth
    – Using the lines: I wandered lonely as a cloud & continuous as the stars that shine
    The truth about me is that I
    have often wondered and wandered,
    trying to escape my lonely,
    which clings to me just as
    tightly in a crowded room as in a
    barren field under cover of a dark cloud,
    hovering and continuous.
    And I wait for my moment as
    if its someone else’s responsibility, the
    happiness that eludes me like the stars
    but it is in my waiting that
    I’m polished, and can finally begin to shine.

    Daniel Roessler

  123. DanielR

    -Based on Touched by an Angel by Maya Angelou
    – Using the first 3 lines: We, unaccustomed to courage & exiles from delight & live coiled in shells of loneliness

    I beg to differ that we
    aren’t similar, both unaccustomed
    to the thought that our lives belong to
    circumstances and fate. We summon the courage
    which is required of us exiles
    who have traveled from
    desperation to delight
    learning that what dies must first live.
    Our venomous enemies in corners coiled
    hoping their deadly strikes will do us in
    but we have hardened our shells
    keeping to ourselves the pain of
    our suffocating loneliness.

    Daniel Roessler

    1. PressOn

      I think this is profound, and the lines, “… traveled from / desperation to delight / learning that what dies must first live.” are the core of it, in my opinion. Wonderful.

  124. Linda.E.H

    On Saying Sorry
    after Pablo Neruda

    If you are repeatedly haunted by a
    ghost of loose lips, the word
    can’t always erase that which is
    already spoken in haste; one
    moment of anger on wing
    often lands with the smart of
    a hornet’s sting. Sorry is not the
    savior to break every silence.

    (ending lines – a word is one wing of the silence – taken from the poem XLIV: You must know that I do not love and that I love you)

  125. DanielAri

    “The Moon Did Not Stand Still”

    Can our St. Louis trip already be memory?
    I wondered silently about you on the walks
    we took by Old Man River and around _The_
    Blueberry Hill, from the song, its remnants
    a bar & grill and the record store I dreamed of.
    As your boyfriend, would I be a lingerer or a
    willow among many drifting by the twilit creek?

    A Golden Shovel by Daniel Ari on Taylor Graham’s Golden Shovel “Black on White” – a double golden shovel! A platinum shovel!

    “Memory walks the remnants of a creek…”

      1. DanielAri

        Are you a St Louisian? I can’t claim it myself, but my parents both were, so I’ve spent a fair amount of time in that sweet city, and at Blueberry Hill – and that amazing record store. I wonder if it’s still there.

  126. Marie Therese Knepper

    Golden Shovels
    by Marie-Therese Knepper
    (lines from “The Land Of Nod,” by Robert Louis Stevenson)

    Golden Shovels fill my thoughts from
    dawn to dusk, breakfast
    to midnight snacks on
    red plastic plates; shout through
    my dreams demanding all.
    Where is the
    next great inspiration? This day
    I’m wrestling hard at
    word weaving, finding home
    for poetic waxings among
    art-carved words my
    mentors animated; old friends
    by sentimental tomfoolery. I
    leave all chores bid stay
    till true works end, but
    some prevail, leaving every
    thought captive prisoners. Night
    comes. Sleep deprived, I
    let anxious inmates go
    with wanton abandon abroad
    hopeful aspirations. Afar
    designs burst into
    contented rems the
    insistent crew seeks land,
    and so I wake to write of
    those whose words we give nod.

  127. PressOn


    as dreams pass by,
    I think they wish me ill
    even though they be for angels

    William Preston
    using “Haunted by ill angels only”
    from Dreamland, by Edgar Allen Poe

  128. Azma

    (from William Blake’s ‘Cradle Song’
    using the words
    ‘Sleep, sleep; in thy sleep
    Little sorrows sit and weep’)

    I force myself to go to sleep
    There are too many troubles held in
    And nothing now but pity from thy
    peace gifted in my sleep
    Consolations are so little,
    blinded by clouds of sorrows
    When morning comes I’ll sit
    strong to build on courage and
    hope and bury the self that wanted to weep

    -Azma Sheikh

  129. Connie Peters

    Grace for the Taking

    Amazed, puzzled, surprised, no,
    just filled with childish wonder,
    to know the Mighty One, the
    creator of the stars, moon
    and sun, the trees, the grass in

    fields, the rushing rivers, the
    rain drops tapping the window,
    the whole world, loves us! It seems
    a dazzling dream come true to
    understand the gift we have.

    It appears we have drifted
    into our own schemes far out
    of amazing grace, out of
    hope, out of peace into a
    fake and temporary love.

    The God, the Man, the Poem
    expressed sweet compassion that
    wants good things for me and you,
    declaring joy to those used
    to earning what we’re drawn to.

    Shame may divide, but we know
    forgiveness was paid for by
    the divinely wounded heart.

    (From Forgetfulness by Bill Collins)

  130. candy

    Guilty of Ignorance
    ~ Candace Kubinec

    It was a college English class and,
    I was ignorant, of the rules of commas.
    Did you know, there were so many Or, are
    you as confused as I, about the
    legal use, of this small twist? Worst
    thing was, my paper showing up, as an example of
    mulitple, punctuation crimes!

    Dylan Thomas – “A Letter To My Aunt”

  131. candy

    ~ Candace Kubinec

    It’s only
    your thoughts that matter and when
    no one wants to be your other half of we
    I pause
    then mutter to
    myself, “No Wonder”

    from “Pastures Green/Pavements Gray” by Rod McKuen

  132. JRSimmang

    -After Tom Pickard’s “anabatic”

    Sometime after the sun had set , but
    not before the daylight dithered, the

    man dressed in guayavera and sage, has to wind
    his grandfather’s clock. His weather-worn hand has

    a single gold ring, no
    reason to have anything else. He tries to be objective

    scanning the luck-luster scam-kids riding
    through the begging mines on the

    stolen candy- boards, hitching the soft-slope
    down powdered noses of

    misspent half-truth adolescence. “My oh my,”
    he says, and lets it run off like rain on a roof.

    -JR Simmang

    1. PressOn

      I think this is a fascinating piece; its slices of life flash as though seen through a peephole. Love the phrase, “daylight dithered,” too.

  133. Marie Therese Knepper

    by Marie-Therese Knepper
    (credit to “Digging,” by Seamus Heaney)

    Appointed spaces in between
    silly ropes. My
    weight shifts right – left. Finger
    rolls, tongues clicking and
    whispered asides. Oh my
    aching back. Under the thumb
    of bureaucracy, the
    fat cats squat,
    loosed from their pen.
    One family rests
    tucked and snug,
    oblivious here as
    restless joes plot a
    coup. Leave your gun.

    (lines used : Between my finger and my thumb the squat pen rests snug as a gun)

  134. DanielAri

    “Hit parade”

    Given a karaoke microphone, I
    kill “Hot Rod Lincoln,” Commander Cody’s hit,
    but I have a singular daughter; therefore,
    if I’m near a karaoke microphone, we
    agree it’s her turn, which delights us both.
    Any “Itsy Bitsy Spider” fans? Yes, there are.

    Golden shovel by Daniel Ari on a piece of a prosepoem by Russell Edson. The extended quote:
    “I hit; therefore, we both are, the hitter and the one who gets hit, said the man’s mother.”

    1. DanielAri

      Don’t know about you all, but I’m finding it a super kick just looking for and finding seeds to use for Golden Shovels. Also noticing that I am steering more purposely away from seed quotes that contain articles or short prepositions as much as possible since I don’t like ending lines with the, a, in, of, and the like.

  135. PressOn


    always the first
    to proffer gifts of green,
    and in the forest, new green is
    old gold.

    William Preston
    using “Nature’s first green is gold”
    from Robert Frost’s Nothing Gold Can Stay

  136. PressOn


    Come, you
    who live in haste;
    cast all your clocks away
    and flow as time flows, even so.
    Come soon.

    William Preston
    using “You haste away so soon”
    from To Daffodils, by Robert Herrick

  137. RuthNott

    A Golden Shovel poem from “Café Comedy” by Robert William Service using each of the words in his line “and I forget I’m no more young and fair.”

    Deceptive Reflections

    I stare into the mirror and
    See the wrinkled old woman I
    Have become. I cannot forget
    The age spots and gray hair. I’m
    Unable to see the beauty within – No,
    Only the vision of failing health and more
    Painful infirmities unknown to the young.
    We are born in pain and die in pain and
    Are slow to learn that life is just not fair.

  138. RuthNott

    A Golden Shovel poem from “A Song of Life” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox using each of the words in her line “Come out in the sun while I teach you the secret of life.”


    I invite you to come,
    Pull away from the old. Come out
    Into the bright new day in
    Christ. Push away the
    Clouds of doubt and sun
    Yourself in His warmth while
    His everlasting Word I
    Proclaim and begin to teach
    His way and start to show you
    How sweet life can be in the
    Shelter of His arms. No secret
    This, but a familiar old story of
    Love, sacrifice and eternal life.

  139. RuthNott

    A Golden Shovel poem from “Café Comedy” by Robert William Service using each of the words in his line “falling in love just from a photograph.”

    Puppy Love

    Spiraling, spinning, falling,
    And rising again in
    A whirlwind of first love,
    Enthralled by the thought of just
    One tiny little kiss from
    That mysterious boy only seen once in a
    Friend’s tattered photograph.

  140. RuthNott

    A Golden Shovel Poem from “Where the Sidewalk Ends” by Shel Silverstein using each of the words in his line “There is a place where the sidewalk ends.”

    A Folded Flag

    Standing bravely there
    A young woman is
    Crying, holding a baby and a
    Folded flag, remembering the place
    Under this same tree where
    Once they had kissed and now the
    Color guard retreats down the sidewalk,
    Her heart breaking as the service ends.

    1. tunesmiff

      Hey, Ruth~!
      Glad to see you “made it”…
      This is really powerful… and to go 180 from the “play” of Silverstein to the somberness/sadness here…
      Good job~!

  141. Tracy Davidson


    after Lewis Carroll

    My throat so raw I cannot speak.
    Tissues rub my nose too roughly,
    even those soft ones added to
    with aloe vera. Those pills your
    pharmacist sells, they do little
    to help. It’s just a cold but, boy,
    it feels much worse. The rattle and
    hum of every cough, every beat
    of breath that hurts. Thank god for him,
    my husband, who nurses me when
    my defences are low. And he
    still kisses me, between sneezes.

  142. PressOn


    Sing now!
    Sing as if the
    world were deaf; sing, loud and lusty,
    that the universe may hear your song.
    Sing of all that you are dreaming of:
    of promises made, and kept; of passions, and their fruits;
    while you may, whisper the worth of flowers.

    William Preston
    using “Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers.”
    from To Autumn, by William Blake

  143. MNRWildhood

    Of the Way
    with help from Reinhold Niebuhr**

    I needed meaning, direction; I looked upon God,
    for surely those were just the sort that God would give.

    But just the sort of thing no one told us,
    and which I still wrestle to accept with grace,

    is that you rig your compass by the direction you turn to,
    that whomever you look towards you must accept

    the invisible angles and wings and shackles they come with.
    You do not have to do so peacefully or in serenity;

    it does not matter. That which attends the
    way you choose like barnacles, these things

    remain. The stay that
    way, that which they are, though they cannot

    be yet accepted. So I chose God; my direction is to be
    and to be changed.

    **The Serenity Prayer: http://skdesigns.com/internet/articles/prose/niebuhr/serenity_prayer/

  144. JRSimmang

    From Cesar Vallejo’s “Masses” as translated by Robert Bly

    Olive trees, but
    not the
    oak, which is a corpse
    now, show how
    even though winter’s sad-
    ness came and went
    they go on
    not dying.

    -JR Simmang

    1. PressOn

      Having lived in a place where olive trees grew, I am recalling the live oak, which also grew there and never looked like a corpse, but never looked like an oak, either. This poem, despite its somber tone, made me smile.

  145. PressOn


    together, swallows
    hunch, twitter
    softly in
    unison, and await the
    sun’s restaurant skies.

    William Preston
    Using “gathering swallows twitter in the skies,”
    from To Autumn, by John Keats

  146. tunesmiff

    G. Smith
    So, not wanting to wake
    you till the sun comes up,
    I ease out of bed to
    the kitchen, where I find
    the sink full. I let out
    the water, knowing that
    I do these things for you
    without your knowing. Are
    there things you do with the
    quiet times, when my eyes
    are elsewhere with sights of
    what should be; the good, the
    better, the best, our world.?
    (From Robert Hunter & Jerry Garcia’s chorus to the song EYES OF THE WORLD)

  147. tunesmiff

    G. Smith
    Here we are, you and I,
    looking back on what was.
    With the meter running
    I stop the cab, lean in,
    the window and see the
    future with our muddy
    feelings in the twilight.
    (From the opening line of Pier Paolo Paslini’s RUNNING IN THE MUDDY TWILIGHT)

  148. tunesmiff

    AM I PAST?
    G. Smith
    I don’t know what to say;
    I don’t like how “goodbye”
    leaves me with nothing to
    remember but blackeyed
    peas and lazy Susans
    and how our nights turn’d long
    dark, and cold as the sea.
    (From the opening line of Jill Bialosky’s AMERICAN PASTORAL)

    1. James Von Hendy

      Echoes of heartbreak throughout. Nothing to/remember but blackeyed/peas and lazy Susans captures the sense both of nothing to remember and the specific, odds thnigs we do recall in spite of ourselves, just not what we would prefer to recall, perhaps.

  149. Tracy Davidson


    after Christina Rossetti

    HIM: You’re finding it hard to remember
    who I am. Sometimes you look at me
    out of the corner of your eye, when
    you think I don’t notice, and I
    see the confusion on your face, am
    only too aware of memories gone.
    Every day you slip further away.

    HER: I don’t know where my family’s gone.
    There’s a strange old man who never ventures far
    from my side. I wish he’d go away.
    It’s not seemly for a stranger to see me into
    bed. And I don’t recognise the
    reflection I see in the mirror, that silent
    old lady who looks like she’s in la-la land.

  150. Marie Therese Knepper

    The Beauty
    by Marie-Therese Knepper
    (credit to Robert Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay”)

    I submit that nature’s
    beauty lies first
    in the variety of green
    palettes brushing the landscape. Is
    beauty found beneath the gold
    gently caressing her
    ample breast? So endures man’s hardest
    riddle. The fluorescent hue
    of moist skin compared to
    verdant rolling hills hold
    enchanted eyes gazing upon her
    sway; the luster of early
    autumn leafs
    drifting lazily towards a
    mossy bed hosting the single flower
    akin to the virgin’s boast, but
    this wanton beauty lasts only
    ’til winters chilly fingers wrinkle so
    callously and cruelly an
    unblemished gift. Her hour
    still comes to shock then
    tease, while Mother encrypts leaf
    as flora rests; one subsides
    while another flows to
    pique the reader to leaf
    through endless tomes so
    secret only Eden
    understood, then sank
    into debauchery. Still, to
    cling at Adam’s grief
    a vain attempt at best, so
    comes the never-ending dawn
    spreading light as season goes
    a’nesting, settling down
    in sweet repose. Are we to
    dread or greet the coming day,
    knowing well that nothing
    left of her but lifeless gold
    will jog remembrance? Can
    Mother make her stay?

  151. Linda.E.H

    Letter for my Husband
    after Nazim Hikmet

    If you hold this poem by its ends, you’ll find I
    have hidden a secret message to you. I want
    it in print, a confession that might help you to
    more easily accept my own end of the line should I die
    this morning, tomorrow evening, or any time before
    you. This is my wish, my truth written for you.

    (ending lines taken from the poem “Letter to My Wife” – I want to die before you)

  152. TomNeal

    Beyond Good and Evil

    She loves the Earth
    because it is
    where nature’s just-
    ice bleeds a
    flood to cleanse the bowl
    of paradise of
    all but her ideas.

    From Ted Hughes, “The Unknown Wren”
    Earth is just a bowl of ideas

    1. PressOn

      For me, the salient phrase here is “bleeds a / flood.” The image is both strong and meek, a marvellous combination in a marvellous poem, in my opinion.

  153. James Von Hendy


    We could be floating over the verdant land
    Were it not for turbulence, the way air lies
    In pockets over the mountains, hidden in
    Clouds. It’s a strange invisibility that carries water
    And buffets us over undulating folds as if it
    Were making clear we do not belong. The sky is
    Sacred. Our destiny lies below, in valleys shadowed
    With dreams, dirt roads, and farms carved from green
    Woods, where what we think of as ours is a shadow
    Passing over the land. We rise in denial or
    We drop in defiance on skids of air, and what we are
    Is clear enough. The clouds tell us nothing. They
    Hang at the verge of emptiness like the shallows
    At the edge of the sea where the mountains at
    Last fall away and smooth air rides over flatlands, its
    Buoyancy all that keeps us aloft on its soft edges.

    From Elizabeth Bishop, “The Map”

    Land lies in water; it is shadowed green.
    Shadow, or are they shallows at its edges

    1. PressOn

      I first read this hours ago, and wanted to savor it. For me, this carries the soft message that we are not of the land or the air, but are interlopers in both, even though “our destiny lies below.” This poem invites much reflection. Many thanks for posting it.

  154. RuthieShev

    I used lines from the Poem “Every Thing On It” by Shel Silverstein
    A frog, and a front porch swing.
    And a mouse in a mask –

    My Zorro

    I once had A
    Boyfriend people though looked like a Frog
    They told me to get rid of him And
    Change him for A
    Better one. But I kissed him in Front
    Of our home on our fancy white Porch
    While together we sat on the Swing
    Something happened And
    You wouldn’t believe it but he turned into A
    Man who was strong like mighty Mouse
    And cute like prince charming In
    The movies . He really was A
    Handsome man like Zorro in a Mask.

  155. DanielAri

    “Habeas corpus”

    My wife understands nearly everything
    except my music and my manhood. Before we
    embark on separate outings, we write
    practical and cute notes. These comprise our will.

    As each others’ counsel, our wills will be
    done, though we don’t know if they will be used.

    We counterbalance, one for, one against.

    Take paisley bedspreads: they please one of us.
    Take jojoba oil and Kind of Blue—or

    take the fumbles she doesn’t hold against
    me, but holds beside us both. On those
    nights, produce the body. On those nights, we
    lay a spirit to its final rest with love.

    Golden Shovel on lines from Adrienne Rich’s “North American Time”

    “Everything we write
    will be used against us
    or against those we love.”

  156. PressOn


    They’re not good for much, but here are what poems are good for:
    they help me to say what I’m dreaming of;
    they help me to make sense of all
    the events around me that make me sad;
    they use words to help me find new words,
    and, now and then, words to dispose of;
    they place music on the tip of my tongue;
    they loose languor when I write in fury, or
    anxiety when I have a lazy pen;
    paradoxically, they make me feel the
    gladdest when I am the saddest,
    even when reasons to feel that way are
    far from my understanding. These
    powers reside in poems, though many deny it.
    Poems have a subtle might
    about them; they have
    much to say about what is, is to be, and might have been.

    William Preston
    Using a stanza from Whittier’s Maud Miller:
    For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
    The saddest are these: “It might have been!”

    1. DanielAri

      This seems old to me in a good way, a speech by one of last century’s great orators. Uplifting and optimistic in a way I can certainly use, always.

      1. tunesmiff

        I have to second this thought…
        This does have that “statesman of the art” tone to it, explaining poetry’s value is beyond typical measurements of worth…

  157. Marie Therese Knepper

    by Marie-Therese Knepper
    (lines from “If You Forget Me,” by Pablo Neruda)

    someday suddenly
    I unfriend you
    don’t ever forget
    first you unfriended me

    1. PressOn

      I don’t use facebook, but know that “unfriend” is a term associated with it. Even so, it startles me to see it in print. The construction of your poem, however, makes it work with clear meaning; no post hoc fallacy here. I enjoyed this piece.

      1. Marie Therese Knepper

        Thank you for not only commenting on my poetry, but also for consistently commenting on all poetry posted here. It’s nice to read some type of acknowledge for your efforts.
        I don’t always comment. I find I have little to say more than “great job” and “well done,” which get redundant rather quickly.
        I have a goal of writing at least one Golden Shovel a day.
        This GS is about the irony of friendships on Facebook. You cannot literally unfriend someone who has unfriended you first on FB. I made use of this poem to bemoan the lack of true friendship in social media.


        1. TomNeal

          You are a gifted poet, and your work (posted) maintains a high standard. I would like to offer one secondhand suggestion for you to consider:

          ‘A writer,” E[dgar] A[lington] Robinson once told an interviewer, “should not be his own interpreter.” It is significant that Yeats was quite willing to write, for an anthology, a comment on one of his poems so long as the comment did not appear over his own name. “If an author interprets a poem of his own,” he explained to the editor, “he limits its suggestibility.” The poet is eager to be understood. But where as the comments of a critic may raise the curtain on a reader’s understanding of a poem, the poet’s own comments drop the curtain.’

          Don’t drop the curtain on your excellent poetry. :-)

  158. PressOn


    love is buried
    in quicksand and therefrom
    is not recovered by human
    dreams, weeping, or pleading eyes.

    William Preston
    using “Deeply buried from human eyes”
    from John Greenleaf Whittier’s Maud Miller

  159. James Von Hendy


    What if I were to lie down again on the land
    Where you first made promises that became lies?

    It was a cool night after a day of bringing in
    The hay. I had none of the innocence of water,

    Believing only in what I wanted as it
    Took another shape beneath my hands, and this is

    What gathered in my ears even then: the shadowed
    Dream it was. Would I feel again the owl’s green

    Screech thrill my blood, or know the long shadow
    Of quickening breath? Would I heed the rattler’s warning or

    The echo of rifle shot that froze us? They are
    The sudden no that turned us even before they

    Called us in from the dark. We waded through shallows,
    Cool water glinting with silver shiners. Look at

    How we laughed then, high, holding hands, the windrow, its
    Straight path to home a lie, truth lying at its edges.

    From Elizabeth Bishop, “The Map”

    Land lies in water; it is shadowed green.
    Shadow, or are they shallows at its edges

  160. DanielR

    -Based on Looking for a Sunset Bird in Winter by Robert Frost
    – Using the line: The west was getting out of gold
    The dark of night gives back the
    eastern sun, which returns again to the west
    vanishing the day that once was
    and we fight the temptation of getting
    lost among the sparkling stars out
    in the nocturnal waves of
    black, lit by the moon’s midnight gold.

    Daniel Roessler

  161. RuthieShev

    Picture Puzzle Piece by Shel Silverstein
    Lines I used: One picture puzzle piece Lyin’ on the sidewalk,
    One picture puzzle piece soakin’ in the rain.

    Love is Puzzling

    I thought you were the one
    I stare at your picture
    And it is still a puzzle
    As I try to piece
    Together why you were lyin’
    And how can I go on
    After everything you said the
    Other night out on my sidewalk
    You had found another one
    Whose picture
    Fits you like a missing puzzle
    I cried so hard I was soakin’
    Wet before I ran in
    To my lonely house out of the
    Cold dark rain

    By Ruth Crowell Shevock

  162. RebekahJ

    Bedtime on Independence Day

    “Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”—Emma Lazarus

    The GOP congressman says we should not give
    the impression they can stay. The coyote left me
    says Angel, 13, and I walked alone in the desert. Your
    policies did it, the president’s enemies say. They’re tired
    and hungry and scared, says the priest. They spend your
    tax dollars, says the radio man. Their homes are poor
    and murderous, says the advocate. Stay close to your
    brother were Ana’s grandmother’s last words. Huddled
    in detention centers, the newswoman says, these masses
    are overwhelming. I don’t fault their yearning
    says the mayor, but. I stop reading to put my kids to
    sleep. Their great-grandparents came in steerage. It hurts to breathe
    as I watch their faces: drowsy, safe and free

    1. PressOn

      Even in Lazarus’s day, many wished she’d quit being “Mother of Exiles.” This poem is indeed powerful and, for me anyway, is a history as well as a civics lesson.

  163. Marie Therese Knepper

    That Which Eludes Men
    by Marie-Therese Knepper
    (Lines taken from “A Woman’s Last Word,” by Robert Browning)

    Come along now. Let’s
    watch mighty men contend.
    Only one victor, no
    less, no more.
    It’s not love
    which makes them strive,
    neither virtue nor
    loyalty. Yes, some weep
    for want of it all,
    but don’t you be
    naive. As surely as
    those who came before
    them, there is no love
    lost, only

  164. DanielAri

    “my lunch hour, my business”

    i have eat the dagwood special (a

    daddy’s dream of meats, cheese, toast in a pile
    ortega chiles, fried egg, sauce, one leaf
    of crisp lettuce) and a cuppa coffa

    sitting alone, filling my belly full

    (nostalgic taste of my bachelor twenties)
    then i tipped big and left as it past one
    proving my free pursuits unpunctual

    phases of a trustworthy man’s business

    Golden Shovel by Daniel Ari after “l(a” by e.e. cummings






  165. MNRWildhood

    by: m.nicole.r.wildhood

    of Dylan Klebold* with help from Dylan Thomas**

    Did yours name you, as hopeful parents often do,
    after inspiration or as a tribute to it? These were…mostly…not,
    we now know, ways you would go.

    When all you plotted was painted into place, nothing gentle
    could be found to guide us into
    and through and, God help us, out of all that…that…

    gluttony of destroying all that was fair and good.
    You, with your friend, fired and fired, till it went night.

    *Tom and Sue Klebold named their son, Dylan, after poet Dylan Thomas: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/15/opinion/columbine-parents-of-a-killer.html
    ** http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/175907

  166. taylor graham

    from “The Centrifuge” by Billy Collins

    I stood at the vista over huge
    wreckage – how else to describe? – and
    marveled at the boulder-jumble glistening
    granite under blinding sun, as if it
    tumbled like ember-stars down. Was
    this creation’s dead-end or way-station? But
    my dog sniffed an updraft, bolted
    eroded rocks, through crevices – and,
    pursuing a lost man’s scent, giving
    us purpose, direction. I could see nothing
    as my dog led, discovering a way.

  167. PressOn


    When you are near
    I am not far,
    then love is near
    I would not be far,
    for only there would I
    know that where I am
    is home, where I am happy;
    only there is where
    love resides: there, where you

    William Preston
    using lines from Ogden Nash’s Tin Wedding Whistle:
    “Near and far, near and far,
    I am happy where you are.”

  168. Jacqueline Hallenbeck

    After Nikki Giovanni

    am the girl who wrote
    you an ear and whispered in your letter, and a
    couple hundred times, promised to be Good-
    God, I failed!
    Made your clothes and washed your omelet.
    Drank your lips and kissed your Gatorade, and
    what was silently eating you, I ate.
    Made you lemonade in winter and a
    cup of cocoa when it was stifling hot.
    Read a bicycle and rode a lovely poem.
    Took you honeymooning and married you the morning after
    and clumsily, irreversibly, couldn’t stop herself from loving

    1. PressOn

      I find this utterly delightful, confusion and transpositions and all. The single-word opening and closing lines act like punctuation, for me anyway.

  169. DanielR

    -Based on Onyx by Robert Brewer
    – Using the lines: knew I wouldn’t tell years later when & I did he said he could remember

    It was innocence that I knew
    but it slipped through my fingers and I
    let it, as if I wouldn’t
    even miss it. Now I can tell
    that it’s loss has shaped my years
    and sooner or later
    the day comes when
    I am confronted by the man I
    wanted to be, and his judgment did
    not cause me to flinch because he
    had been there for it all and said
    “it is time to forgive yourself.” He
    smiled and asked me if I thought I could?
    His kindness is what I chose to remember.

    Daniel Roessler

    1. James Von Hendy

      This evokes loss and comfort up to a point. “His kindness is what I chose to remember.” is an enigmatic response to the question in the previous line. It could be read as either yes or no, or something in between. It makes me ponder. Well done.

  170. James Von Hendy

    After Caretaking, the Bitterness

    July 4th, always a family picnic out
    At the farm, cousins I’d barely heard of,
    My aunt baking beans, pouring her black
    Rage into the pot, stirring bitterness bean
    By bean until it frothed and foamed and
    Hatred rose to the surface in clumps, wet
    With resentment. She kept score, the slate

    With our names pilloried over the bread
    Rising beneath a cloth of shame, one loaf out,
    Another in. Each of us had a turn, the
    Sharp tongue that scolded the lax son, acids
    Of rage. Did we know what life is made of?
    Duty. You owe it to your mother, she’d rage.
    Look at me. Is this what I wanted, the

    Years of caring for a mind lost to candor
    And appreciation? Even the simplest words of
    Thanks? I spent days slogging through tar.
    Don’t think I didn’t want to quit and get out,
    But did I? And you? What are you made of?
    Later, outside, we’d scrape the creosote
    From her grill, shake our heads, throw gasoline

    On the coals, and wait. One of us would drive
    For beer and ice. Afternoon wore on. Long shafts
    Of light and shadow danced across the wooden
    Picnic tables. Carefree cousins skated grandpa’s dollies
    Down the gravel drive and laughed, but even they
    Who were only children already feared the lion
    In the kitchen who let her bitterness grow.

    From “They Feed They Lion”, by Phil Levine

    Out of black bean and wet slate bread
    Out of the acids of rage, the candor of tar,
    Out of creosote, gasoline, drive shafts, wooden dollies,
    They Lion grow.

    1. PressOn

      Brrrrrrr….. an undercurrent of confusion runs through this, or so it seems to me, and I even get a flavor of understanding, from a distance. Powerful writing, accentuated by the vivid descriptions.

  171. Hijo de Gagos

    I’ve been pondering lately what “we”
    really means, contextually. That if you are
    other, and I am your hopes exhaled
    upon the thin-cold air, condensed from
    the unlatched door of your mouth, then mirrors
    too are doorways, are windows in
    which the view is only a reiteration of the
    simple act of breathing…
    What does our pulmonary love consist of?
    Bereave yourself of expectations–
    The mind alone
    mimics redemption, it says we’ll
    be libertine and wanton. Approach
    me now and smear the edge of my drawing
    where I glisten gray. I need you near.

    -Josiah Gagosian
    (from my own translation of a line from an untitled poem by the Armenian poet, Tontrag)

  172. Tracy Davidson


    after Ogden Nash

    My husband broke my heart the
    night he left me for his cow
    of a secretary. Now he is
    caught in the web of
    sin she started spinning around him the
    moment they met, her bovine
    features belying her ilk
    as home-wrecker. How can one
    woman do this to another? End
    her marriage? And yet, the last laugh is
    mine, for the silly moo
    doesn’t understand his finances, that the
    fortune is in my name, no other.
    He will beg my forgiveness, as a newborn begs for milk.

  173. DanielAri

    “After the crush, the wind and my lunch”

    I prescribe myself extra screentime to unwind from the wind
    that buoyed and fluttered me before carrying off what I wanted.
    Its calendar too full for me this year, the wind now sets to
    its compulsive reorganizing. Other voices than mine can sing

    because I’m going to stay inside with the sound of wind—but
    the digital kind, the indifferent, cooling kind of hiss we
    invented so as not to pout about the natural order. Didn’t
    the wind promise just above silence that we would fly?

    Let the lay of a 50-point Scrabble word crown the hour of our
    achievement. Let me click and scroll and swipe my red kite
    to its greatest high-score height. If I walked around the block, I
    might catch the wind I once rolled with, the one that flew.

    Now I sing my disrupted self and celebrate the static of myself.
    I lean and loaf and play my fingers over the remote instead.
    Tomorrow I will forget to take my lunch to work, and
    I’ll eat downtown instead. All day my little, packed lunch will let

    the warm afternoon soften its substance. My lunch will let itself go
    to a natural warming wilt. But I am kind. I will keep track of
    my lunch’s intentions; and when I get home, I will salvage the
    worth of it, eat it slowly, and play my game unstringing the string.

    Golden Shovel by Daniel Ari on lines from Stephen Blumenthal’s “One And One”

    “The wind wanted to sing
    but we didn’t fly our kite—
    I flew myself instead—
    and let go of the string”

  174. Marie Therese Knepper

    We Need More Candles
    By Marie-Therese Knepper
    (credit to “Ragged Old Flag,” by Johnny Cash. I used 2 separate lines: 1. And the government for which she stands is scandalized throughout the land, and 2. Cause I’m mighty proud of the ragged old flag.)

    Falling stars. Glittery orbs and
    echoed reports of victory. The
    newborn government
    created by and for
    hungry people long held captive, which
    spurred brave soldiers onward. She,
    the lady just, stands
    resolutely at her post. Is
    now the time for scandalized
    sensationalism? Throughout
    vast eons emerged the
    one and truly democratic land.

    So marches the cause
    for which we stand. I’m
    free. And all, in joyous union; mighty
    conquerors each, proud
    partakers of
    inalienable rights that
    were won by bloody ragged
    soldiers, merging old
    truths anew into one glorious flag.

  175. lionetravail

    “Intimacy of the Written Word”

    Sometimes, I consider what
    Rilke meant when he wrote of birds.
    I know they were freer than he, to plunge,
    and bank, and soar through
    spacious freedoms of expression he never had. It is
    sad, that the beauty of his sorrow was not
    embraced when it might have paved the
    way to a brighter day for him. His intimate
    thoughts were shared in the tight space
    of pages, with me, but he did so not in
    spoken words which
    might have kindled a keening empathy. You
    and I might well see
    his pain in every line, unbound through all
    the thoughts he shared, a bird free to soar through many forms,
    shaped by his heart’s despair, and through his pen, intensified.

    (Based on the line from Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem “What birds plunge through is not the intimate space”:
    What birds plunge through is not the intimate space,
    in which you see all Forms intensified.)

    1. PressOn

      This strikes me as not just a “shovel” for the sake of form but an exposition on the borrowed lines. A very thoughtful piece, in my view.

  176. Azma

    (from William Wordsworth’s ‘Daffodils’ )

    They said we were inseparable. You and
    I. This truth was not as strong then
    as it is now. You are like my
    own vein. Whose blood blossoms my heart.
    Your presence sparkles the moment with
    perceptibly pristine pleasure.
    Your friendship fills
    me with pride. You and
    I are inseparable. My cheerful dances
    and bold encounters with
    problems of life have now got the
    feel of walking through a field of daffodils.

    -Azma Sheikh

  177. Bruce Niedt


    so much depends

    a red wheel

    glazed with rain

    beside the white

    – William Carlos Williams

    This grinding life keeps us so
    flat-footed, agendas packed with too much
    stress. How we feel depends
    on our day, and today, we feel put upon.

    We just want to escape, take a
    long exotic trip to where red
    flowers grow everywhere. Let’s wheel
    into paradise, tour some ancient barrow

    of a lost civilization. When our eyes are glazed
    from the everyday, we can run away with
    the circus, run naked in the rain,
    run with the bulls, sail and ski on water,

    or recline in Adirondack chairs beside
    the lake, and watch the sunset in the
    yard of our mountain home, white
    clapboard, and out back, a few chickens.

    1. PressOn

      I confess that I never “got” Williams’s original, but yours draws me in, almost as a gentle cyclone does. Ditto the previous comment on the use of “barrow.”

    2. Linda.E.H

      I like how you instead of using wheel as an object you say “Let’s wheel into paradise” and insteaad of the obvious reference for barrow (wheel barrow) you write “tour some ancient barrow of lowst civilation”. Very creative word usage and the poem as a whole is lovely.

  178. TomNeal

    Mr Tambourine Man

    I want to sleep and let
    The waves send me
    Sleep. I want to forget
    The story about
    My reality today-
    Let me sleep until
    The last trumpet sounds tomorrow.

    [Let me forget about today until tomorrow - Bob Dylan]

  179. candy


    When I grow old I hope
    the fashion is
    to wear your heart on the
    outside – to let that thing
    called love float round me with
    abandon like a boa of feathers

    ~ Candace Kubinec

    From “Hope” is the thing with feathers by Emily Dickinson

  180. taylor graham

    after Linda Gregg’s “The Lamb”

    This somber country scene, as if pieces of
    a jigsaw puzzle come undone, or rubble
    of a landscape after – what? Memory walks
    the remnants of a creek, its banks a
    tatter and tangle of dark vines with a single
    shudder of leaves, of living life: one white lamb
    emerges, disappears. Then overhead, tilting
    wings so high, I can’t discern its
    vulture-beak and talons, nor its head;
    only the fingered wings – the curious
    circling-soar and lazy spiraling, unafraid,
    tatting the sky delicately, hungry.

      1. PressOn

        I agree. Just as Jerome Kern once remarked that “Irving Berlin IS American music,” so I think the same can be said for Ms. Graham and nature poetry.

  181. JRSimmang


    With his
    horse rusted,
    and a handful of shells for an antique pistol,
    he forgets his
    square and squeaky
    King James Bible
    as he walks on, prepared to answer for his
    only sin.

    -JR Simmang, after Terrance Hayes’s “The Golden Shovel”

  182. DanielAri

    “Group mind’s latest stroke. Of genius.”

    They choose their course like rubes in a skit—an old script—they’re flatly under it.
    I chide myself, “Lighten up, buddy. Their vision statement isn’t bloody.”
    But favorites and long shots will take your bets—and fluky odds are as good as it gets.

    The committee mulls over what to do. For now here’s a bus token—lucky you.
    The library’s free if not the study—that’s taxing, but, no, it isn’t bloody.
    You dream of apes jumping at a crown; you wake and keep your oatmeal down.

    The committee’s hamstrung in its glee—all paths are perfect evidently.
    Everyone’s a winner! Records are stricken. What’s for dinner? Smells like chicken
    with Neapolitan to wash it down—middling’s the custom in this town.

    Golden Shovel by Daniel Ari on lines from John Cooper Clarke’s “Evidently Chickentown”

    “It bloody gets you bloody down.
    Evidently chicken town.”

    1. PressOn

      For me, the rhyming accentuates the :”hamstrung” feeling: a back-and-forth process without resolution. I think this is a superb take on the seed lines.

  183. Walt Wojtanik


    Summer breezes wafting, making me feel
    surrounded, comforted by the
    warm wind wrapping its tender arms
    around me. It is a feeling that
    puts you fully within my reach,
    finding ourselves on a sandy beach, stars out
    and the sound of the waves there to
    serenade us. To keep us and hold
    us. Placing you here with me.

    I carry you here in
    my heart. The very place the
    summer sun transitions to evening.
    Nighttime is the time when
    lovers meet, a rendezvous away from the
    toil of our busy day.
    It is in that place where our hearts are, where love is
    and will remain when the Summer is through.

    The last lines from “Summer Breeze” by Seals and Crofts

  184. RuthieShev

    Taken from Poem “The Crossed Apple” by Louise Bogan
    The Line is: sour and sweet

    Green and Red Apples

    Green apples Sour
    Before they ripen red and
    Taste so very sweet

    By Ruth Crowell Shevock

  185. taylor graham

    from “Reunion” by Dana Gioia

    The unspoken truth is
    he left part of himself in hospital. This
    first day back, she says “my
    love” which encompasses their home
    and thirty-seven years or
    more together, two grown kids; an
    alpenglow over mountains, illusion
    of the otherworldly beyond all the
    infirmities of flesh. But bread
    is fresh out of the oven, resting on
    a red-checked kitchen towel, the
    loaf beckoning to table
    with its yeasty smells
    of living life, so achingly
    home-again real.

  186. Walt Wojtanik


    His enticement came. The
    chance to express to excess. From lead to golden voice, a “Chemist”,
    a poetic guy who provoked my own rhyme; an enchanter who
    proffered prompts and was
    encouraging, fully in support of
    the process of poeming. Of course,
    he is the “Master Brewer”, the
    man who was the yeast to helped ferment my original
    poems in the daylight. A guy
    that gave us room to grow, who
    took everyday things and gave
    us the seed to propagate poetically. I thank Him
    for this forum and all
    that he has done to allow me freedom of
    voice. My words fly because of his
    influence. I thank him for these poetic superpowers.

    From “Superhero” by Robert Lee Brewer, his example poem from the very first PAD Challenge (April 1, 2009) in which I participated. It’s all his fault that I’m a poet! ;)

    1. Linda.E.H

      Yes and no, Walt. I think even before the first PAD, you were a poet. It was there all along, in waiting. Robert just gave the nudge to release the poetic superpowers within you. (and I am glad he did)

  187. Marie Therese Knepper

    The Schemer
    By Marie-Therese Knepper
    (line taken from The Thinker, by Berton Braley)

    There he was, enticement personified, but
    Still for want of soul, paying back
    Evil for good, as though his quality of
    Branding made him the better of them.
    His record stands.
    Court has ruled and the
    Sentence passed. Schemer!

  188. JRSimmang

    (in cooperation with Woodrow Wilson’s “America Will Not Turn Back” and Shakespeare)

    The greymalkin kings gathered their tatters in the echoing walls of the great
    hall, pretending to be speaking lightly, treading lighter, on Liberty
    (whose gild-stripped golden wings tried painfully to spread, who
    remembered when she stood proud). Outside, the withering guards
    huddled, barren and cold, toget[her]
    around their crumbling gates.

    “Woe to the man who has lost his will,”
    said one. “For his armor will no longer hold shine.”
    He rested his arm, threadbare and wilted, upon
    the hilt of his sword, back against the deafening weat[her].

    To which the others replied, “in due course,
    brandished armor holds no shine. It’s the way of the world,” and

    the rain fell without warning, snuffing the light
    along the castle wall, while the moon and the
    stars neglected the skies. Oh, how the night would be long!

    They bethought of when they were noble and adventurous;
    now, they burned in the hearth the tapestry they once had the courage to lay upon their path.

    -JR Simmang

    1. PressOn

      Wow. This poem caught my attention immediately, if only because I had to look up “greymalkin.” From there it simply became absorbing. Superb.

  189. Misky

    One Night in Spain

    I was caught by the darkness of Spain
    where deep shadows of breeze frightened
    us from entering too far. You
    thought is was tapas and wine but my Spain
    was cool alleys and curtain confessionals where
    my northern acclimate prowled like hunger. I
    can’t recall despising heat so much. I felt
    at war with it. To think I wear thick socks at home.
    We ate late to avoid the heat. Everyone did. The
    flies circled our heads, hyaenas blood-raw
    and biting at our legs. You insisted on light
    to see the food on your plate, and the waiter, he
    lit a match to a snubbed candle that floated oiled
    in cloudy liquid. That fluid, whatever it was, anchovy
    oil perhaps, drew the flies so close we saw their faces.
    Their sooty eyes begging us to feast, the
    wave of our hands to no effect, as rhythms north african
    further developed the swelter of heat. A ladder of black
    oiled smoke funnelled from the candle, its edges
    tempting us into a kiss across the table. Where to,
    we asked, where next when everything
    about this place frightened
    me and you.


    (c) 2014 Misky Marilyn Braendeholm


    from “You Hated Spain” (by Ted Hughes from “Birthday Letters”)

    Spain frightened you.
    Where I felt at home.
    The blood-raw light,
    The oiled anchovy faces, the African
    Black edges to everything, frightened you.

  190. Kuheli.S

    “The rock and rain”

    rock was i never before, and
    a rain had fallen, sudden, all
    as you passed by the town, i
    silent rock, down in a lonely place loved,
    hither, the path of wanderer, and, were i
    wait not long for the one i loved
    now with you, rain, i am not alone.
    (c) Kuheli S

    Based on –
    “And all I loved, I loved alone.” from the poem Alone by Edgar Allan Poe

  191. DanielR

    -Based on Dust of Snow by Robert Frost
    – Using the first stanza

    I walked a path, the
    crooked one that goes the way
    of life, meandering to a
    place where the black crow
    watched me with black eyes that shook
    my bluster. I stumbled and fell down
    but no one saw because the only one on
    this troubled route was me.
    I regained my feet under the
    barely sun and swatted at the powder dust
    a freshly fallen silky snow
    gazing longingly in the direction from
    which I had come, a
    deep forest thick with the cover of hemlock
    and where I now stood there was nary a tree.

    Daniel Roessler

    1. PressOn

      I’m picking up on more than one Frost poem here, so so it seems anyway. The imagery is clear and sharp and well presented, in my view, and I love that phrase, “barely sun.” Wonderful work. Thanks for sharing it.

  192. PressOn


    In the latter part of the orange-and-purple season
    I will feel melancholy, and this is what I will be thinking of:
    the smarting scent of ripe grapes in the morning mists;
    the up-and-down grins of plump pumpkins in the rolling fields; and
    a glass of wine at a table overlooking them both. In that mellow
    moment I imagine I will savor it all, before the snows squelch all fruitfulness.

    William Preston
    using “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,”
    from To Autumn, by John Keats

  193. PressOn


    When you speak,
    speak mildly and low;
    time stands when
    I hear you
    whispering my name. Please speak
    forever, my love.

    William Preston
    using “Speak low when you speak, love”
    from Speak Low, composed by Kurt Weill; lyrics by Ogden Nash

  194. RuthieShev

    William Wordsworth from Lines Written in Early Spring
    Lines I used were: The budding twigs spread out their fan,
    To catch the breezy air

    Flowers in Spring

    I walk past the
    Flowers that were budding
    Among the nuts and twigs
    Soon like a carpet they will spread
    Brilliant pedals out
    through the dew covered grass with their
    leaves open like a fan
    as they attempt to
    reach out and catch
    A breath from the
    Wind so fresh and breezy
    Releasing the fresh air

    By Ruth Crowell Shevock

  195. DanielR

    -Based on Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost
    – The lines (Nature’s first green is gold & but only so an hour)

    I hear the sounds of nature’s
    songbirds singing of the first
    days of spring and calling green
    to paint the clover that is
    the luck of Irish gold.
    I appreciate her splendor but
    know that she will only
    stay so
    long before leaving me with an
    emptiness, longing for another hour.

    Daniel Roessler

  196. DanielR

    – Based on Tree at My Window by Robert Frost
    -the line (But let there never be curtain drawn)

    I run from the grip of fear, but
    it clutches me again and won’t let
    me embrace the freedom that I know is there
    just beyond the clearing, in a place I never
    reach, and far too old to be
    young again, I wait for my final curtain
    and the darkness to which my soul is drawn

    Daniel Roessler

  197. taylor graham

    after “God’s Grandeur” by Gerard Manley Hopkins

    Together up the path, my dog and
    I, neither questioning what-for
    because the morning’s blossoming all
    golden twittering, this
    new fledgling from its nest, Nature
    at her job which is
    joy on wings or wander-feet, and never
    lagging till the wind is spent.

  198. DanielAri

    “Orange / Bear”

    That time, that L.A. visit, everything felt like a test from hello
    to my duffel flung from your front door. What color M&Ms? What animal
    roams your dreams? _That_ kind of test, not one your could sacrifice
    ten sunny afternoons to ace, but one pre-scored at puberty. The hotline
    gave me five minutes, so I sat on the curb, a sentry with nothing to do.
    Someday another taxi will carry my essay portion to you.
    In two sentences, you’ll understand what it is—and you’ll incinerate
    the rest. That’s why I frontloaded my opening lines with teenage
    monomania: my quote will visit you verbatim as you play with other boys.

    —Daniel Ari
    Golden Shovel on lines from La Loca’s “Adventures on the Isle of Adolescence”

    “Hello, animal sacrifice hotline?
    Do you incinerate teenage boys?”

  199. JRSimmang

    (with the wisdom of JW Hackett’s collections of haiku)

    Take the dare! Act now!
    Learn the truth of how we soar
    like a butterfly —

    This is no lie, but
    your rut must flee hereafter!
    All you’ll do is take

    some goodness sake, more
    of gloried devil may care,
    and dream- catcher webs.

    Abandon your chrysalis, for emblazoned on your pap’ry wings are
    eyes that will see the will is fragile, entangled with the everywhere.

    -JR Simmang

  200. Marie Therese Knepper

    No More Secrets,
    by Marie-Therese Knepper
    (from lines in “Then Laugh,” by Bertha Adams Backus)

    Pick the lock!
    Unleash spoils all
    abandoned by your
    ancestor’s forgotten heartaches;
    the unspoken bond within.

    Open it!
    The past demands an accounting, then
    old spirits can sit
    idly while time marches on.

    Do it now! The
    voided curse, like steam under lid,
    has long been cooled, and
    fate enjoys her final laugh.

  201. TomNeal

    Beauty and Dust

    Before death effaces beauty, beauty
    Transcends the mortal force of what is

    Formed by dust and bone- temporal truth,
    Carnal sediment- with love kissed by truth,

    Art’s bliss: eternal renderings of beauty,
    Time’s vale rent by a subversive kiss that

    Contradicts established notions: beauty is
    The death of death- the poetry of all.

    I am born of dust and bone, a beauty
    Of carnal sediment, formed death is
    What it is to be me, and that’s the truth;
    But it’s not just me- you too know this truth
    About you- there is nothing, no beauty
    To rescue you- no sweet line is true that
    Promises more than dust, for dust is
    The starlight of our substance- that is all.

    Thomas Neal

    Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
    Ode on a Grecian Urn

    1. BDP

      The endings of both poems are wonderful: “beauty is / The death of death- the poetry of all” and “for dust is / The starlight of our substance- that is all.”

    2. PressOn

      These lines, such as “dust is / The starlight of our substance,” are stunning yet simple. very like Keats (whom I consider the best of them all). Thanks for posting this wonderful piece.

  202. RuthieShev

    Used “The Rosary” by Joyce Kilmer (my favorite poet)
    Lines I used were: There is one song that any mouth can say, – A song that linger when all singing dies.

    Songs To Grow Old By

    As I pray each morning I think there
    Will be a time when I remember that life is
    Short and I only get one
    Chance to do it right by singing many a song
    Of glory to our Lord and remember that
    Although I search I can’t accept any
    Ordinary words coming from my mouth
    Only love in my soul can
    Have control over what I say
    I am growing older and I realize a
    Life isn’t just any song
    I must be acutely be aware that
    Even though life is long and lingers
    The time will come when
    I must leave behind all
    And eternal life is attained by singing
    God’s praises before one dies

    By Ruth Crowell Shevock

  203. candy

    Learning To Sing

    I sang what you did because
    I thought you knew it
    All. But that tune has
    Become weary and a
    Burden. I shall sing my own song.

    ~Candace Kubinec

    ( Maya Angelou, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”)