Some Poems by Robert J. Tiess © 2019

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For my Writer's Digest poetry / contest submissions, please follow this link.

Divine Comedy (To Dante)

With Virgil as your ghostly guide,
you began your hellish stride,
"abandoning all hope" therein:
nine circles of Infernal sin.

At Purgatory's mount you trekked
up seven terraces and checked
on pride and sloth, pass gluttony,
to reach your Eden earnestly.

There, Beatrice flew you through nine spheres,
in Paradise, ascendant - here's
where planets whirl and angels dance,
Empyrean, enlightened trance:

more beautiful, that rose of light,
then St. Bernard to lead you right
to contemplate the Trinity,
engage God's love, infinity.

View this poem at

16 lines.  Inspired by Dante's La Divina Commedia (The Divine Comedy, written circa 1308-1320).  14th Century challenge prompt - link:
Submitted: October 27

Critical Thinking

Right before you, they may speak,
exploiting phrases, work you weak,
play images to jar your heart,
indoctrinate you from the start,
so you should think as they prefer
and be convinced you must concur,
suspecting least you're just their pawn
positioned as they'd have you drawn,
expendable when they decide
it's time for you to step aside
within this game few rarely win
- unless deep questions burn within,
and you begin to gaze around,
attending every sight and sound
with awareness to secede
from party, bias, lies, and greed,
regarding all without some slant,
perceiving things most others can't,
because you left your herd behind
and began to free your mind
beyond their fence about this land
to liberate and understand
how perspectives quickly change
once you stray beyond your range
and travel where you felt forbid,
examine lost horizons hid,
admit the dawning of new light,
discover sources pure and bright,
and contemplate the origins
of darkness, truth, and human sins:
those revelations ever there
to survey, learn, disclose and share.

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32 lines.  Hidden Agendas challenge prompt - link:
Submitted: October 27

Programming Langauge

Neglect quotation, colon, case,
or submit numbers when a word
was what the function never heard,
then bugs or unexpected crash:
when coders and computers clash
where syntax or instructions blurred
spur inaction, faults conferred.

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35 words.  Language theme prompt challenge - link:
Submitted: October 26

Bubble Dreamer

A bubble hung before her, wide,
spinning thinly as she eyed
reflections tremble on its shell
and emptiness within that swell

- a symbol of her lifelong dream,
as tenuous as it would seem,
to waver with the slightest air
and barely float upon a prayer.

She knew it shouldn't take too much,
just the slightest graze of touch
to grant this fantasy its end,
but, as her fingers did ascend,

the sphere inflated, swallowed all.
Inside, she felt no fear of fall,
but unexpected strength and sight.
This dream was hers, at least tonight.

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16 lines. Photo prompt (woman pensively staring at bubbles before her) challenge - link:
Submitted: October 26

Abstract Exhibit

Within this abstract gallery
the Fauvists and Impressionists,
Expressionists and Cubists call
observers curving into view:

a decorator gaining themes,
children glimpsing, sprinting off,
those artists anxious to adjoin,
couples lunging into frames,

past dancers dreaming bright ballets,
vain spectators seeking themselves,
psychologist with inkblot plots,
geometer who circumscribes,

travelers not gone this far,
professors dead set Renaissance,
an architect without a plan,
a gymnast's acrobatic pulse,

the speechless singer now attuned,
a famished chef ingesting forms,
the leveled demolitionist,
economists investing time,

four protestors yessing peace,
a surfer searching vivid waves,
an actress feeling genuine,
an aviator's inward flight,

the nurse reviving slighted love,
a plumber drained of tension here,
astronomer beyond her scope,
magicians conjured from old tricks,

a gardener construing blooms,
students on assignment, lost,
nuns engaging sacred aims,
musicians musing jazz alive.

Parades by paintings great or small
fascinating none and all.
What lookers see what others can't
- these questions of aesthetic slant

revealing cultures, visions, joys,
courses, forces, what annoys,
interpretations stranger, true,
exhibiting the art in you.

View this poem at

Pink Orange and Sixties Too - photo (abstract) challenge prompt - link:
Submitted: October 25


Bowtie, capped

Little dog
you couldn't keep.

Faux sunlit scene,
ideals, grin.

never you.

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16 words. Photo (boy wearing hat/bowtie and holding dog) + Brevity (18 words or less) challenge prompt - link: .
Submitted: October 25

Disbeliever, Believer, Mountain

A disbeliever sees the peak,
reflexively recoils, weak
to banish impasse out of sight
and cowers in the languished light,
convinced it's hopeless to proceed
when rocks and shadows will impede.

Believer meets a mountain, knows
the path ahead does presuppose
a faith no hindrance should deter,
with trust above what most infer:
impediments can be compelled
to vanish fast as they're expelled.

Beyond perspectives, feelings, eyes,
beyond our physics, matters, guise,
belief enables or precludes:
a measurement of magnitudes
transcending sense, dimensions, time,
above great ranges no doubts climb.

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18 lines.  Faith can move mountains! (Matthew 17:20).  The Mountain challenge prompt - link:
Submitted: October 23

The Glories of Great Spirit's Song

Across wide woods caressing all
a voice drowns out a waterfall
with mystic hymn hard to describe
yet glorious to every tribe:

tradition's rhythms lifting wind
reviving timeless rites of song
as long and steady rivers flow
as eagles speed through indigo

inviting minds to pause and muse
suspend lost causes so to choose
to contemplate a deeper tour
of wonders missed and worlds before

where one comes closer to this ground
and learns all bound within this sound
which resonates through hearts of stone
and orchestrates a dance unknown

until you journey outside fears
confronting wasteful silenced years
when music stirred no sway in you
your movements merely what you do.

We celebrate a dawn's new birth.
Come consecrate essential earth.
These meditative tones recite
those sacred beauties of our light.

Our reverence echoes through the land
all walks of life might understand
- even creatures crept in brush
awaken in our taming hush:

the snakes and grizzlies leave their fray
coyotes leap with deer to play
as porcupines and wolves cavort
and raccoons crows and frogs consort.

Our ceremony serenades
down the valleys past the glades
by broken branches over mud
old bones and flowers yet to bud

to honor blessed harmony
indigenous in all we see
in every breath and lyric heard
toward any cloud from every bird

around new moons in ancient lakes
beside our shovels and our rakes
in tapestries we weave for weeks
and totems and the sky which speaks

of rain for seeds our hands must plant
beyond the circles of our chant.
Over mountain peaks and sun
this drumming summons everyone.

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Beauty of Native American Indians challenge prompt - link:
Submitted: October 23


Consoling eyes, revering peer,
not judgement-wide with morbid awe
or momentary pity's pierce,
but offered softer, warmed to soothe,
confiding, tranquil, will assure,
mindful what one might endure,
relating patience, phrasing clear
without a breath bent insincere:

"I know this anguish.
Will you share?
Admit this love?
Accept my care?"

Embracing gaze evincing kin,
that solace sought in midst of plight,
where grimace dwindles into grin,
serenity dispelling fight,
a strong belonging wells within:

perspectives step from wrenching sight
then convalescent hearts begin
aspiring to reunite.

By healing art of earnest light,
may shadowed souls emerge from night,
delivered from a faithless flight,
esteemed, redeemed, believing, bright.

View this poem at

Quote prompt challenge (#1 "feeling cared about") - link:
Submitted: October 21


Of all those moments, in a glimpse,
you breached this fortress guarding heart:

tonight your stare subverts defense
exempting not one brick's pretense

to withhold love from light of day
but rather place it on display

for all the world to weigh at last
emotions here so long amassed

- such treasures hidden till this hour
when truth will prove its knightly power

to brave and reach the keep to save
this castle from becoming grave

to feelings fading since concealed.
A siege of eyes, then souls revealed.

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14 lines.  Photo challenge prompt (large soulful eyes in the light staring at the viewer) - link:
Submitted: October 15


Abundant harvest, long since reaped
- now barren fields, fully heaped
with dust and desiccated mud,
confront another kind of flood:

grim shadows flocking vertigo
verge vengeful on a frail scarecrow
forsaken, bent defenseless here,
as ravens circle, caw, and jeer,

They gut the gloves, lash boots and hat,
claw overalls, snag shirt and scat,
repeating till he's rags to rod,
a broken ghost, a flogged facade.

Victorious, they perch and vaunt,
but phantom fabric flails to haunt!
Dread's effigy revives their fright:
a strawman writhes undead tonight.

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16 lines. Fantasy photo challenge (robed human figure in an empty field surrounded by ravens/crows) - link:
Submitted: October 9

Stepping from Mirrors

Recursively my fractal me
refers reverberating me

preceding me projecting me
regressing me revising me

reversing imperfecting me
resolving me remember me

precursor me returning me
primeval me revealing all

these replicas pursue their wall
comprising polished surface light

their infinite illusive plight
to vanish as I pass this space

reflect my world and what to face
beyond my mirrored selves to see

past parallels sprung symmetry:
the only soul becoming me.

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16 lines.  "Reflections on My Reflections" challenge prompt - link:
Submitted: October 9

Bough Tie Clip Artless

A fraying string
toyed with by wind
spins round again
ensnared on fence
downpour drenched
distending knot
untwining not
inclined to snap
than extricate
this thinning weave
from plastic grip
or captured kite
enlacing trees
bereft of leaves
left tempest rent
blindsiding storm
no forecast warns
or skies previse
as clouds unravel
dazzling sun
from puzzled eyes
of childish
that plainly sees
a treasured strand
plucked from its hand
two hours spent
bright paper framed
these streamers maimed
day ruined how
and that big old
stupid bough
looking like
it wears a tie.

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34 lines. Word of the Week (perplexed) challenge prompt - link:
Submitted: October 7

Instrumental Duo

Because my lyrics might not reach
beyond the compass of my speech,
tonight, guitar writes every line:

poetic music tunes divine,
each chord a ballad to your heart
extolling motifs of your art.

Glissando notes sail off to you
reverberating all you do
to melodize my silent eyes:

those harmonies I rhapsodize
all due to you, my moving muse,
who lifts my spirit to suffuse

these searching strings to turn new keys
and unlock possibilities
- crescendos, rhythms, scalar flights,

vivace variations, heights,
legato and vibrato played,
composed above my phrases prayed.

My prelude to this love inside:
receive these truths as fingers glide.

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Quote prompt ("When words fail, music speaks") challenge - link:
Submitted: October 6


Abstractly Dali
dreamers neath ambrosial clocks
slung fruitlike low from wizened limbs

slim fingers skim contract to seize
a ripened day with evening ease

one taste of time and then to squeeze
fresh seconds from some husk of years

sip minutes' nectar

attending hours

yes Socrates

walks absent here
as truth devours
verses written in the waves

(no Platos stepping from their caves)

once was ours

by bridges crossed
from known to lost

small wisdom gained
but at what cost

synaptic paths to sylvan mind
endless math of myths maligned

Edenic forest obscures end
up branch down root to must from moot

of knowledge gained through given ground
sent out the gate to keen of trees
their secret lyrics engrave leaves
to rhyme as wide without a sound

(symbolic shocks)

as archetypal lines reveal
recoiling legends bent surreal

(turn keyless locks)

show nested masks of fading gold
with mystic hints long since foretold
as skyward rivers baptize eyes
and glass footprints romanticize

ants amassing
horseback rush
floating roses
marbled crush




and breaks



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Picture prompt challenge (clock hanging from tree in forest by bridge near river where someone is in a boat) - link:
Submitted: October 4

Hack Lost, the Unnamed

A rarely told fact: that famous Jack Frost
had a rough brother: the vicious "Hack Lost,"

who brandished his sword wherever he went
along with a dagger dulled with a dent.

In autumn, Lost sliced all leaves from the trees,
and snickered as forests fell to their knees,

begging Sweet Spring, she swiftly return
- but not before Hack would have the land burn

in orange and reds and yellowy hues,
to spite his rimed sibling, who much preferred blues,

and leave the world barren, far as eyes know:
the reason our Jack spreads blankets of snow.

How Hack became daft, nobody dared say.
It once was supposed, from then til today,

his well-storied twin commands all the fame,
while "Lost" falls the man who no one can name.

View this poem at

Autumn personified (a la winter and Jack Frost). Photo prompt challenge (young man with sword, dagger, surrounded by falling leaves) - link:
Submitted: October 2

Registrar of Rocks

For sixty seven years he kept
close notes accounting every stone
composing his nine acre wall
dividing him from wider world.

Meticulously, every ledge,
indentation, width and gap,
each hue and height compiled right,
- as graveling as one might find

if auditing his state of mind.
And yet, replying, he would cite
a lack of walls for all the woe
of "evils free to come and go."

"You raise some boundaries, here and there,
and watch: no quandaries to beware,"
he shores his cause, granitic glare,
as birds and leaves take to their air.

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Photo challenge (elderly man in a chair taking notes by a wall of rocks) prompt - link:
Submitted: September 30

Nirvana of the Beloveds

Idyllic isle outside time:

untold devotions flow sublime

receiving reason's orphic rhyme

enigmas singing with design

four soulful eyes illumed divine

to yen that advent luminous

cathartic heartbeats numinous

encircling embraced release

surrenders through melodic peace

true music superceding sense

deep symphonies in confluence

assuaging evanescent zeal

reverberant beyond the real

perfectible eternal mirth

celestial transcending earth.

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"Lover's Paradise" challenge prompt - link:
Submitted: September 26


Riderless seesaw,
where pairs sat, took turns watching
summers rise and fall:

now, outgrown playground,
where motley leaves hide and seek,
frolic ere fading

raindrops glide down slides
while winds sway on swings: nature's
lark before the freeze.

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Photo challenge prompt (empty seesaw surrounded by leaves) - link:
Submitted: September 25

Nowell, the Angel Did Say

Bells and ribbons,
festive scents,

gold ornaments,

ten merry songs,
with more presents,

and everywhere
best elegance.

But Christmas spirit?
Not so well,

though none were wise
enough to tell

that, in this room
adorned, how odd:

to find no sign
of Son of God.

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Photo prompt (in a decorated room, well-dressed people around a Christmas tree with blurred spectral figure appearing at top of tree) - link:

Title inspired by the traditional song "The First Noel" (also spelled as "The First Nowell") from the 1800s:
Submitted: September 24

Preach Practice

You, who do believe,
dare not relieve
your goodness from
becoming done.

For faith alone
remains unknown
without those deeds
it dearly needs

to echo past
all shallow speech
and practice fast
what it would preach.

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Biblical; James 2 challenge prompt - link:
Submitted: September 24

Cosmic Egg

Primal egg: darkness
hatching fires, light to lives, worlds,
potentials nesting

loosed in vernal void,
infinity flows from shell:
embryonic stars

skies like albumen,
sun like yolk, oozing through noon,
while we incubate

View this poem at

Two Word Challenge (nest, egg) prompt - link:
Submitted: September 22

On the Revolutions of Copernicus

Before you, universal Earth,
perfected cosmic centerpiece,
enduring rest, revolved by sun,
our moon, and wanderers discerned.

An egocentric dream too long.

And then your model, like a clock,
startling hearts from slumbrous orbs:
awakened pupils, solar light,
heretical astronomies

yet reverent in the mass of all.

You shattered axes of false worlds,
releasing views like whirligigs
astray from rash initial twirls
once momentum gains to cease

a vicious circle's vertigo:

how reeling revelations rise,
religious quests attest new sights
past mortal orders of their day,
where, verily, truth sets you free.

Your genesis of enquiry.

View this poem at

Nicolaus Copernicus. The 16th Century challenge prompt - link:
Inspired by Copernicus' De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres), Ptolemaic Cosmology vs. Heliocentrism, the Copernican Revolution, the Scientific Method, the Bible (John 8:31-32), scientific breakthroughs in general, and humanity's ongoing, necessary, and vital search for truths beyond all illusion (a la exiting Plato's allegorical cave toward greater awareness).
Submitted: September 22


Tonight, our flawless mirror lake
reflects on nature's state to take
dissenting views on what world sees,

where perfect mountains, skies, and trees
submerge within a murky blur,
and, what that means, we might infer,

considering this impure air,
the climate and the lack of care,
with plastic bits along the shores,

below the waters, more eyesores
- a scene most may romanticize
corrupted in this compromise:

that paradise we choose to lose
each time we disregard its clues,
deceive ourselves "ideals last,"

while creation fades as fast.

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Photo prompt (sky / moon / trees / blurred reflections in lake) challenge - link:
Submitted: September 20

Getting to Known, You

now this could be a remedy
for xenophobic ones.

All those unnamed faces seen:
they were never to be feared
or loosely disregarded, scorned,
all due to someone's ignorance
or impatience to apprise.

And, remember, you, my dear,
do stand among the strangers, too,
until someone opts to take
the time and chance to learn firsthand
just where and how and why and who
you really are today.  Yes, you.

View this poem at

Xenophobia challenge prompt - link:
Submitted: September 19

A Secret Garden's Gardener Speaks

Past this ancient gate:
such flowers you've never seen,
trees you've dreamed to climb

mythic sculptures posed
eternal before fountains
awash with sunlight

topiary beasts
frolic in this labyrinth
where all's blithely lost

hues beyond rainbows
fragrances beyond sweetness
blossoms beyond time

even wind sings here
with exotic birds and chimes:
music not yet known

enter, bloom again,
relive and rejuvenate
in this endless spring!

View this poem at

Secret Garden challenge prompt - link:

Submission did not make it in time before the challenge closed.
Submitted: September 19

Architecture Temporal

Facades of permanence exposed:
such wondrous structures predisposed
to fracture, fade, admit decay,
partitioning each room in time,
hatch entrances no blueprint drew
toward yawning vaults and withdrawn walls,
as marble fixtures slacken, lean,
and brass adornments founder dull,
as gravity collects the rent,
and ground reclaims a cornerstone,
and rising vines constrict their grip,
and weeds foreclose foundations whole,
as mortar molders, chips to slip,
and platforms falter in a gale,
entablature slumps into mud,
til buttress bolsters vacancies,
and stairwells wallow in their wreck,
as columns prop top-heavy clouds,
and arches veer to gaping skies,
where vestibule becomes the world,
when edifice meets precipice
- how architects will reminisce.

View this poem at

Photography prompt challenge (ruins of antiquity resembling a cathedral) - link:
Submitted: September 19

Between Here and Air

It's neither Bifrost nor Monet's,
nor Bridge of Sighs or Golden Gate:

a modest sweep to cure the break,
a makeshift span uniting lands

- not worlds of mortals and divine,
or pastel lilies overarched,

or palace path to prison cells,
or bay to wed Pacific sea.

And yet I'm Dante, Washington,
now in London, Sydney, too,

a goat to tread by bully trolls,
or shall I pass to Khazad-dum?

While shoes do bear me by the breach,
it's wizardry when mind may reach

beyond mere grounds of "here and there"
to compass castles in the air.

View this poem at

Photography challenge (wood bridge in woods over water) - link:
Submitted: September 18

Befalling Upward

Quietly a stirring breeze billows verging
gentle wind to swaying wavers
ripples into currents surging
spray to foam to sudden

rapids roaring with tirade
raging unabated toward cascade
frothing forth with frenzies swayed
outpouring possibilities

which solid rocks cannot subdue
but barely narrow in pursuit
too zoomed to final precipice
where all margins evanesce

and gravity insists and twists
river turned declivitous
with rushing lists



driving power
into shower
spooling pool
to percolate

ever outward
ever untoward
a steady streaming
backward gleaming

ripples slowly dissipating
back to slower graduating
waters flowing growing clearly
soon as stilled enough to play a nearly

perfect mirror minding winding nightly skies
where whirlpool slues to spread beyond and flies
as moonlight swans on past vast darkness up through tiding stars
blurs returning slurring undiscerningly toward sempiternal reservoirs.

View this poem at

(last long lines might wrap here) Waterfall + Word Bank challenge prompt - link: :

Challenge specifications quoted (as required):
~ Must use entire 8-word bank
~ Four 4-line stanzas
~ Rhyme Only please
~ Copy this entire description in your AN please

(please do not put these words in all caps in your poem)

cascade ~ power ~ possibility ~ rapids ~ spray ~ foam ~ roaring ~ pool"
Submitted: September 16

The Attestations of Phillis Wheatley

In sixteen months, such fluencies
emancipating voice and heart,
your verse provoked grand inquiries
to qualify their start:

you testified, beyond all doubt,
rhymes burgeoned from your soul,
however young, despite without
some academic scroll

to ratify your gloried flights
of eloquence and ripe insights.
These tested truths did set you free,
affirm your fame, make history

a study of what certifies:
authentic breath to authorize
those sovereign gospels all may reach
once past their instincts to impeach.

View this poem at

16 lines.  For the 18th Century challenge prompt - link:
Submitted: September 15

Make Believe

Parlous balance
dreamers stake
offset by
proceeds unseen:

hazards trading
in thin airs
tiptoeing chairs

stacked sky-high,
adrift in logics's

endanger souls,
fantastic goals,
with sleepless fears,
if lost controls.

To wake? To know,
perhaps collapse
to sounder ground
and break as fast.

Endure? To go,
perchance to dance,
believe, astound,
make off at last.

View this poem at

Submitted for photo prompt  (blindfolded woman tiptoe on chairs stacked in an open field) challenge - link:
Contest closed just before this was submitted.
Submitted: September 14

Decadance (or, Love's Laboring Lost)

She loves that love which knows no love
but's something of a film you rent
(and watch to swear you saw before)
wherein, two cast, meet cute, slam door,
as plot requires, quickly leave,
rejoin at last, as must, deceive
romanticists addicted to
that merry close where credits soar
above a soundtrack enamored
with honeyed strings, piano soft
abandoned in daydreams aloft
where fictive love performs as well
as candy, coffee, carousel,
to glaze or goad or spin a spell.

He loves that love which hates itself
like mocking mirrors richly poised
in living rooms where poorness swells
and desperate decor drowns out knells
of daft devotions dashed to dust
as tender trappings, soon disgust,
benumb dumb eyes with novelties
now ponderous with properties
imploring all belongs in trash
as solitude begins to bash
its head against the papered wall
(replete with roses gathered not)
so loss becomes a vague recall
when passions prove they're all for naught.

In truth, these two might match up well
should they concede each heaven's hell:
once former seeks beneath ideals
and latter learns to share ordeals
- lest true minds let impediments
imperil love to decadence.

View this poem at

Illusions of Romantic Love (Love in the Western World by Denis De Rougemont) challenge prompt - link:
Submitted: September 13

Divider Divided

More pervious
to wind and rain
and angry seasons
these staggered rocks
one time arrayed
to bolster space
or blockade light
demark a bound
or forbid flight
now slowly sink
in softer ground
while weather gnaws
- relentless jaws -
worn mortared gaps:
each weaker edge
to make collapse
that fitting fate
when any wall
worse for its weight
however tall
divides to fall.

View this poem at

Photo prompt (aged/crumbling stone wall) - link:

Submitted apparently just a few minutes too late before the challenge closed.
Submitted: September 13

Askew in Side-ways-land

At 45 degrees inclined,
their realm might seem much misaligned,

but, spend a week here, you might see
how things can lean and yet agree.

Before The Great Tilt, leveled land
accepted all with even hand.

That Balance lasted ages long,
until some zealot sang his song

oblique and with a livid slant,
first in lyric then in chant,

and soon the town, and, later, states,
began to taste his biased baits,

to savor lines one-sidedly,
awry, ascribe unequally.

And, listing so, with prideful weight,
they primed to judge, dissever, hate,

til axis drifted off its mark
as odium dimmed hope to dark

until horizons slipped to flip
and morals lost their lofty grip

- such, what compass points the way?
Does any map not lead astray?

Most mislead here tend to fray,
lost, inured to disarray:

where "True North" rings like stormy lies
as prejudicial suasive eyes

can swear an ocean is the sky
or narrowness will magnify.

View this poem at

Photo prompt challenge (sideways-looking landscape with tree) - link:
Submitted: September 11

Ascenders' Endgame

A world ago, it all hung low:
great expectations, chance.
So slightly I envisioned life
across this great expanse.

Along the route, met Sisyphus,
and others who should fail
because the distance dashed their hearts
with doubts they would not scale.

The path behind, in retrospect,
ranged easier to run,
with rarely any stones or snaps,
and beautified by sun.

But, every year, the slopes increased.
Cold barriers appeared,
and then perceptions' barricades
- until sense commandeered.

Past time and math, I quested ways
to edge ahead or leap,
and soon it glared apparently:
how most walk wide asleep.

Awakening to who we were
- all we might ever be -
I began to understand,
believe, and then could see

"impossible" was largely fog
between a mind and sky.
Unlearning iron instincts fast
empowered thoughts to fly.

Like Icarus, but sharper yet,
I winged on from my maze,
and somehow knew to heed my height,
not lose my sight in rays.

Within the light, it's easiest,
supposing goals will shine,
and then, when evenings bring the dark,
how shadows undermine.

No longer gulled or underdog,
I play the hero, wise,
and hope to lift all others up
and help them know to rise.

Astonishing, to reach this point,
but, if we're honest, far's
the mileage we must strive tonight
to soar among our stars.

Ascenders, assemble!

View this poem at

"Know That You're Amazing" challenge prompt - link:

This poem, among other things, is somewhat of a response to the superheroic tendencies many persons expect to find only solely comics or films.  Here, within this poem, we are not talking about fictional "Avengers" of comic book proportions but rather real-life "Ascenders" who, in their hearts, wish to be identified, to assemble, and to ascend, once they learn to overcome their own illusions and boundaries and begin to aspire to helping themselves and others after realizing and developing those mortal yet super-heroic powers to be found and freed, for the good of all, in some form or another, in every one of us.
Submitted: September 9


It must be, ever, "so and so,"
just as she deems it: apropos.

Timing off?  There went your day.
Truant?  You'll wish you're away.

Offset three degrees: a glare.
Off by seven?  Prep for prayer.

Ignore, no more ingenue.
Misconstrue?  Vocal kung fu.

Neglect?  Face a night of wrath.
Refuse?  Assume her aftermath.

Misremember?  Long recall
the ruin of her wrecking ball.

But spot her slipping?  Big mistake.
Breathe "hypocrite": the Earth will quake!

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Control Freak (humorous) challenge prompt - link:
Submitted: September 9


not because unknown:

few words will stand
secure enough

to carry all that magnitude
of someone needing one.

not because unvoiced:

these legion feelings
intimating soundlessly,

masked as caring, nothing more,
while telling hearts beat on.

not because unseen:

eonian devotionals
through fourfold eyes enshrining all

as dumb sages intuit
word nor nerve rings requisite.

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Music prompt (two people loving, expressing love/need) challenge - link:
Submitted: September 9


Heart-carved rock, bathed in
flames, floods, mud - ice now - thaws soon
for the thousandth time.

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Love Conquers All challenge prompt  - link:
Submitted: September 7

Song of Walt

Walt Whitman,
we hereby, with you, congregate
our multitudes to celebrate, commemorate
you, who never meant, at mortal coiled lengths, to scan,
but, boundless, shrugging off any measured plan
and so did liberate ennobled cadence, loosing it to veer to find

its inner spinning hymnal rhythms, its outmost steps to dance
with musically unstudied mind
as would-be ballerinas, loathe to practice twirls, will prance,
mischievous, precarious, rarely ever amply trained,

(but inwardly relentlessly rebelling, ascension-bent
yet hopeful, careless, senses and memories welling,
yet of no inclinations whatsoever to be restrained)

but bursting forthright night by sighing dream by trying day
by artless fits, impassioned crashing flashing glitzy starts,
emancipating errant limbs to sovereign vernal gauzy whims

drumming gluttonous songs with primal fiery hearts
beating sweeter, beaten, feet-first unabashed to bring
restless notions to rightful scopes, however long or lovely wrong,

to gallivant and re-enchant as skylarks soar - hark, they sing
their subtle melodies within our greater universal song
heard over yawning forests far older than language, airs,
by raving rivers flooding muddied fields none may stray,
past chapels full of searchers, sinners, echoed prayers,

down, down, so very further down those unpaved trails
eternally or never so evidenced to be found quite right there
to be followed, left, extended, paved, or to lose,
however showy or impulsive one's muse might choose:

electing verse to lead its way, that verity, at last, prevails.

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29 lines (some long lines may wrap).  19th Century challenge prompt - link:
Submitted: September 6

Lyric Elegiac

Relics of "archaic" verse,
iconic, since historic, worse
now, rid of vatic magic here:

no mystic esoteric seer
eliciting exotic arc,
just critics swift to disembark

in quests of hectic rhetoric,
their frantic analytic shtick
to maledict more classic flights

and kick about quixotic knights
- systemic vitriolic views,
synaptic tactics bridged to bruise

richer mythic archetypes
with fictive academic gripes
panning lasting classics fast

in favor of dramatic blast,
frenetically mechanic dour
- the histrionics of their glower!

Their epidemics of disdain
inflict theatrics as profane
as ludicrous to criticize

poetics with empiric eyes
or pseudoscientific speech
restricting full artistic reach

- majestic rhythmic rhyming styles,
symbolic metaphoric miles -
dissed epics smeared in ageist years,

heroic works accursed by cheers
for "fresher," less fluidic lines,
kinetic, less melodic, whines,

chaotic graphic rants that bleed
with secrets scrabbled into screed,
when nowhere music may be heard

as lyrics slip to lurid word.

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Ic Words (words with IC in them) challenge prompt - link:
Submitted: September 5


While wildflowers lark ahead
ten birds commence from nests to spread
lithe medleys over fenceless lands
basking as blue sky expands
with sunlight streaming through the clouds
as shadows cast off hazy shrouds
and rivers gift their shimmered sights
past mountains climbed beyond their heights
to kiss the dimming stars good day
while yawning fawns abscond to play
and lenient breezes ask to dance
cascading leaves lost in that trance
of colors charged to mottle world
with lustrous hues imbued and swirled
inspiriting calm rocks to reel
with warmth and lightness, aery zeal
suffusing panoramic hope
enlivening each creature's scope
on this morning wrought sublime:
when nature's poem flows with rhyme.

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Idyll challenge - prompt link:
Submitted: September 4


Disposed to subdivide this mass
they stratify our world by class

seceding from the open whole
to subjugate but lose control:

possessives spent in lack or gain,
mammon, schooling, chance, domain

entire lives gazed high or down,
displaced beneath a doubtful crown,

where many struggle up to "win"
some prize exacting souls therein

and quest for treasures worth no cent
and yet invest such malcontent

in having not what few may hold
and make the price of nothing gold.

Still, broken mirrors can reflect
realities none need perfect,

and, once restored, that fuller view
reveals what was ever true:

we dwell together, equal, worth
no less or more by Earthly birth.

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Class challenge prompt - link:
Submitted: September 3

Scorched-Earth Environmental Policy

Imply the forest loves the flames.
"Blue skies" when they mention smoke.
Roll eyes if pollution's blamed.
Get by questions any way.
Fly by ruins, spin it swell.
Go by what sounds best to claim.
Decry science, casting doubts.
Comply with corporate demands.
Belie logic, common sense.
War cries: regulation talk.
Allies: filibusterers.
Supply excuses, never truth.
Run by cameras: "no comment."
Rely on short attention spans.
Defy data, expert works.
Deny climates ever changed.
Apply deception as you must.
Retry where you fail to dupe.
Scrape by any way you can.
Stand by idly. Let it burn.

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Burning Rain Forest challenge - prompt link:
Submitted: August 31


With tightened eyes
and measured breaths
she animates
the hollow reed
as clarinet
quivers to trills
and spirals out
to solo sprung
from fuller score
defocused now.

Orchestral players
slurred to silence
as tones descend
like flakes that chill
the ungloved hand
(as sharp or soft)
to melt before
one grasps it all.

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18 lines.  Blurred Silhouette challenge - prompt link:
Submitted: August 30


Faux fledgling red in feathered mask,
she's prepossessed with fearsome task
to upstage players, rule stage right.

The understudy's dire flight
- abrupt to pause - then commandeers
commanding roles, whole atmospheres,

inflaming mindless lines with flair,
her limbs turned wings - coruscant hair:
fresh phoenix sprung from seared careers

(torched by vicious critics' jeers)
revived to soar in sharper parts,
antagonists combusting hearts

- too well, perhaps: applause amassed
makes likelier she be typecast,
forever caged in changeless traits

to service fans, which obligates
varieties declined for known
personas she has far outflown.

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18 lines. Quote prompt (what one pretends to be) challenge link:
Submitted: August 30


...through syllables
nursed into air
we breathe to mean
to rhyme

until we're poems
formed or free
from lonely lines
to stanzas

Then some of us
turn poets when
the world

while few of us
what's best
to memorize

and lesser yet
will criticize
and analyze
with mindful

til ones among us
the cycle
last to first...

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Poems about Poetry challenge - prompt link:
Submitted: August 27

Instrumental Ensemble

This scale of light performed by eyes:
take note those songs we improvise

with lyrics voiced from red through blues
through violet to silent views

as rhythms rave to shade the nights
with intervals of shadowed lights

while everywhere we feel the sound
arcing over skies and ground

intoning symphonies in all
beyond perception's witless wall.

Your part plays here, alongside mine,
in concert with divine design:

together, let us orchestrate
new harmonies and liberate
sensations snared in unsound hate.

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15 lines.  Rainbow Music challenge - prompt link:
Submitted: August 26


With every age, they graph this globe
to illustrate the day's domains,

and thick within each penciled edge
fanatic loves of margins swell

- until the markers march that fringe,
emboldening the delible;

but then some flood, another war,
an earthquake, or an asteroid,

erasing lines annulled by tense
from atlases mapped out-of-date.

Cartographers, you chart the fate
of states once traced with greatest pride,

remind no border long divides
wherever universe decides.

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14 lines. "Pride in Country" challenge - prompt link:
Submitted: August 26

Mood: Practical

My cobbler's Practicality
producing shoes not once confused
with carnivals or candy wraps
or monsters flogged by leather straps
or robots bogged within the mud
or flowers that forgot to bud.

They neither blink, presume to think,
nor sound a song when strolls along
these simple paths exact no math,
much less demand two "smarter" shoes
downloading turns with vocal cues.

Advancing by my lesser wits,
computers left to chase their bits,
I tread ahead, pragmatic, clear
of what most walkers might hold dear,
perceptive steps not drowned in gels
or "arch support"-contorting spells.

I feel the Earth, and it stands me.
Within this stride, I'm plain but free,
in sole and soul, utilities,
to forsake fashion's vanities
and outpace mazed technology
to reach Point B as easily
and know the road, what each reveals,
by basic laces, grounded heels.

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Shoes / Mood challenge prompt - link:
Submitted: August 23


Exfoliation: motes of vim
mottling her sable throw
constellate found galaxies
of fabric, lint, such lustrous hair
where gravities denied much mass
might muster interstellar dust
combusting brumal nebulas
illume new worlds bound there.

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Skin Cell Loss challenge - prompt link:
Submitted: August 22

Weathering Together

Unlikeliest of fabulists,

the rusting can, a busted seat
still trading stories to compete

recounting yarns beyond the yard
of wicked woods and marvels marred

when charming gardens rise to life
or where the farmer hatched his wife

of how the livestock bought the ranch
and lost it in an avalanche

and why the clouds still thump their drums
before Her Highness Winter comes

or whether gnomes shall plow the field
or what the nightly stars revealed.

Within the grass they glimpse their grail
and conquer ennui with a tale.

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Photo challenge (side by side: an old watering can, and a chair / seat / bench) - prompt link:
Submitted: August 22

Reductio Ad Absurdum

That timid glint across this pitch:

how coruscates that sapphire sight
- our Earth by stellar candlelight -
and magnifies our slighter mien

when we constringe this cosmic scope
in exponents exiguous
proclaiming physics legislate

some theories spun to denigrate
through epithets of ologies
yesterday's mythologies

consumable cosmogonies
creations breaching fever dreams
dimensioning deficient schemes

infinity's demolished dots
inflating points to novel plots
of how and where things came to be

expounding ersatz history
of enigmas cut to sums
as logic beats its numbing drums

and math supplants veracious verse
to formulate dim universe
less brilliance of its mysteries

dividing beauty truth and muse
from bookish proofs and vapid views
in Scientific Method's name

reducing all to stake a claim.

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120 words. Carl Sagan / Pale Blue Dot challenge prompt - link;

If you've ever heard Carl Sagan speak, you might try to read this poem "aloud" in your head according to his inimitably enthusiastic and deeply thoughtful and, at least to me, rather poetic voice.

Thanks for reading my poem.
Submitted: August 21

Umbras' Light

Umbras, come, regard thy Light;
for where stands Shadow, how goes Sight
without those brilliant gifted glows,
the splendor of supernal shows

- the Full Moon's concert thrilling Hills
as Silhouettes dance free of frills,
Distinctions singing with the Dark
as Luminance lives out its lark?

Likewise, Shine: abide by Night
resolving whilst vague Dreams rewrite
why Difference makes itself to last
between all gleams and dimness cast.

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Word of the Week (Umbra) challenge prompt - link:
Submitted: August 13


Quiescent yet reviving life,
depleted man, his withered wife
reanimate with brisk embrace:

phantasmal skulls restoring grace,
remembered beauties from ago
when dreams ran long and fears flowed slow.

Within these heartbeats, all yearns young,
as lips recall how love was sung:
duets welling soulful eyes

to resurrect, revitalize.

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49 words.  Image prompt - challenge link:
Submitted: August 13

Maiden Stone

Within the nascent cosmic glow
where Glare gave way to vacancy
through clotted darkness Atoms grasped
for solids still to aggregate
the slightest kinds of Molecules
amassing growing gravities
as Gasses pressed by Nebulas
raised Protostars to swiftly kiln
ingredients of worlds to whirl
erupting elemental plumes
embellishing thick emptiness
with contours hinting in this forge
since ricocheting Photons pierced
Infinity septillion times
as Motes composed and Space effluxed
while Time arrived to weigh upon
The Moment anteceding all
before Inflation voiced its call
that Physics enact and enforce
some law held Chaos ran his course
that Order should secure her throne
to marshal forth the Maiden Stone.

View this poem at

108 words.  The First Stone metaphor challenge - link:

- the interpretation in this poem being the metaphoric creation of the cosmos up to the birth of the very first stone in space, which was called forth by Order itself after quickly succeeding Chaos.
Submitted: August 9

Shark Cage Match

Through movies, marked more menacing
- monstrosity of timid seas -
with endless rows of rabid teeth
and quenchless decimation quests:

a parody of what you are
complete with theme song - superstar,
more infamous than famed or name,
most ravenous, presumed to blame

for countless bones intoning waves
as avid divers draw close shaves
to taunt your kind with chum and spears
to gratify base human fears

provoking beasts toward certain rage
within the safety of a cage,
which you will crash, as instinct goes,
oblivious to shocking shows

portraying you well at your worst,
as if you're but our demon cursed
to roam the oceans, merciless,
and bellow horrors to possess

those souls who know you least of all,
your half an eon's worth of haul
through endless ages to survive
swimming through your sleep to thrive

- yet not endanger cherished Earth
as humans might soon after birth,
which begs a question: who are we
to judge you, thus, ironically?

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28 lines. Shark Week (positive poems about sharks) challenge prompt - link:
Submitted: August 9

Dream Vacation

Freed from clocks and stuffy rooms
from blunting studies and exams
thoughts escape day's lockered halls

those droning tomes and endless rows
of numbing lights and Exit signs
to rush through metal entrances

and breathe that carefree air again
and throw their book bags to the ground
to run through uncut grass so fast

like students on their very last
long afternoon of school in June
enlightened less by what was read

than dreamy summers up ahead.

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Sleep quote prompt challenge - link:
Submitted: August 8

Singularity Perspective

Billowing from vanished point
a burgeoning of steam to storm
delivers us some raging train
accelerating where we wait
upon this track as we look back
at ages wrenched industrial
when everything became machines
careening into future dreams
with little sense of fright or plight

- but now the nightmare of this sight,
designs returning vengefully
in ways the world would never see:

polluted water, soil, skies,
scourging wonders, wanting whys,
conductorless, inertial speed
improbable to slow, impede.

Some suggest, "Just step aside,"
while others smirk, "Enjoy the ride."

We've only moments to decide
until choice and fate collide.

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20 lines.  Picture prompt (perspective of approaching train with billowing clouds of steam) - challenge link:
Submitted: August 6

Prismatic Dancer

Through her prism
sweeping leaps

where all's alive
and nothing sleeps

spectral swerves

magenta rushing
purple verge

when orange surge
preludes blue whirls

the blushing reds
while cyan braves

within this middle
where she swirls

fluidic arms
revolving curls

impelling love
in every note

fluoresced above
her feet which float

between the hues
your eyes will see

and smoother music
you must be

to dance so freely
as this soul:

prismatic light
united whole.

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75 words.  Photo prompt (dancer in a very colorful outfit) - challenge link:
Submitted: August 6

Father, Forgive Them

Beloved shepherd fades away,
and flocks revert to wonder, stray,

no longer herding by belief,
more desperate for some relief,

because they blindly followed here,
where slowly it's becoming clear:

they mostly went with what was told.
Directionless, distrust takes hold,

and one by one each sheep does freeze
from restless hooves to trembling knees

until they're rooted where they wait
immersed in panic, idle prate,

the solace of distractions met
with readiness to fast forget

"they know not what they do" tonight
since they crucified their light.

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The Sheep (surreal painting by Dali) challenge prompt - link:
Submitted: August 5

Mater Universorum

More than existential bridge
from nullity unto this Earth

more than mortal sustenance
to nurture prospects from this birth

more than giver, teacher, guard
preserving means beyond our yard

more than source or ancestries
beyond the timelines in these trees

more than station, name, or place,
hair, complexion, accent, face

more than planet, sky, or sea:
you gift this universe to me.

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Love of a Family Member (mother) challenge - link:
Submitted: August 5


The aeromancers of each age
read their heavens as a page
prefiguring through mystic signs
of stars or clouds, suggestive lines,

where subtle shapes or sparkling lights
confided volumes - wisdom, rites
to be observed, secrets divined
- arcana of the air designed

to be discovered, held, disclosed
by chosen ones who then imposed
much deeper meaning on it all,
foretokening some boon or fall.

Beneath this sky, my wonder scours;
it nearly seems within my powers
to eye soft cyphers in that space
and start to tease, presume to trace

significance hid in this breeze
and speak of it, convinced, with ease:
the universe electing me
to seek, derive, help others see.

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20 lines.  Photo prompt challenge (lightning in sky) - link:
Submitted: August 4

Clamor's Hammer

Clamor's hammer s h a t t e r i n g
abstractions crushing c l a r i t y.

Abruptly rushing: muse eludes
with r e m n a n t s of your reverie

as fervors blur and burst to s h a r d s
and curst disturbance disregards

how sanctity allays a mind.
Disquieted, what you may find

as intimations e v a n e s c e
and choler-starts-to-coalesce

are sparkless embers blown from blaze
faintly smoldered in this haze

where visions mixed with sumptuous views,
aglow with insights, now diffuse.

Reviving silence might restore
some of what stirred there before.

Perhaps the muse returns, but changed,
with figments, feelings rearranged

diverging from vague memory:
perhaps with what you're meant to see.

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20 lines.  Noise / distraction / nature challenge - prompt link:
Submitted: August 1


Wood easel leans near rusty rails,
revealing it's too frail and small
to frame this view's magnificence.

Another finished canvas dries
too slowly in the humid room
repainted by each setting sun.

An old frayed brush upon the floor
has danced its share of daring strokes
which most will never know.

Near-empty glitter tubes collect
those restless motes of dust which float
then glisten and, in instants, dim.

Yellow, green through sky-blue swirled.
Purple, orange whisked with white:
where palette abstracts lucid dreams.

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Collage challenge (using these words/images: easel, canvas, brush, glitter tube, palette) - prompt link:
Submitted: July 31

'No captain?' I'm captain!

Not captainless: I am this ship
embarking past mere mortal maps
to cruise beyond grim glory, ports,
to boat, where no eyes swim or drift,

with spirit! Heading! Speed, and soul
through surging skies of boundless blue
(forswearing inner mutinies)
more essential with each wave.

"No captain?" I'm captain, awake to note
the reveille of open seas
awash with submerged wreckage, gold:
the ocean knows me - rudder, gears,

this engine fueled by wonders, bliss,
propelled to roam the globe around.
To think, I dreamed upon this deck,
so deeply slept I seemed extinct

unanswering adventure's call,
benumbed to pulse, to thrill and will,
as anchorless, adrift, or beached,
or plundered therefore treasureless.

Assuredly, as shores slide by,
my bearing's joy. No grief, regrets.
I glide in light, as captain, strive
to navigate the fathomless


View this poem at

120 words.  Ship metaphor - challenge link:
My approach to this challenge is inspired by Walt Whitman's famous "O Captain! My Captain!" poem, which it parallels / contrasts with stanza by stanza:
Submitted: July 30

Instant Replay

These inward shrieks of history
echo generationally
remaining mostly unheard there
on cobwebbed shelves with little scare
as pasts repeat before their ends
and futures feign the fresher trends.

Santayana, others knew
ignorance condemns the queue
to loop beneath a busted clock
advancing not if none take stock
of lessons pressing to be learned:

such sufferings, what cities burned,
that progress lost in "greatness" sought
before those wars so many fought.

These silent cries line every page.
To read, alone, may not assuage.

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16 lines.  Image prompt challenge (recursive image of screams within screams) - link:
Submitted: July 27


D efiant down to Hades' helm,
O rpheus would retrieve his wife.
N otes and vocal: songs to soothe
T enacious hearts toward sweet relent:

L icense love's return above,
O ur sole request: no retrospect
O blivious to tense and senses
K ey to crossing mortal gates.

B ut trickster Fear elicits glimpse:
A bandoning abundant care
C onditioning redundant fates
K armic as cathartic stars.

E urydice so gravely gained
V anished as her myth maintained
E xcessive dread divests the quest:
R elinquish what you best possessed.

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Orpheus and Eurydice Challenge - prompt link:
Submitted: July 24


Where wires neither bind nor run
no LEDs compete with sun
and ringtones won't choke open air
and no screens dazzle with their glare

where ads can never boom or barge
and batteries exact no charge
no memories require cards
and no distraction disregards

where touch transcends a haptic tap
and information knows no cap
no privacy needs sacrifice
and no response demands device

where access asks no secret words
and tweets have but to do with birds
no search returning random sites
and nothing slimmed to bits and bytes:

there you'll find me, analog, attending nature's dialogue
without AI or pixels bogged in simulated streams and fog,
sans apps, with no encrypted key augmenting this reality:
out here, less technology, it's world and me, unplugged and free.

View this poem at

Revised.  20 lines (four last longer lines might wrap); Retreat challenge (my interpretation: a retreat from the utterly digital lifestyle) - prompt link:

My first draft of poem (~3 hours ago) for comparison:

Where no wires bind and run
or LEDs compete with sun
or ringtones choke the open air
or screens bedazzle with their glare
or advertisements boom and barge
or batteries exact a charge
or memory requires card
or distractions disregard
or touching comes to haptic tap
or information has a cap
or privacy turns sacrifice
or response demands device
or access asks for secret words
or tweets have naught to do with birds
or searching returns random sites
or all comes down to bits and bytes:

there you'll find me, analog, attending nature's dialogue
without AI or pixels bogged in simulated streams and fog,
sans apps, with no encrypted key augmenting this reality:
out here, less technology, it's world and me, unplugged and free.
Submitted: July 23

The Bridgemaker's Dilemma

They want to waltz from here to high:
from desolation unto sky

where kingdoms drift about and by
on wisps of light without a why

with nothing firm to brace their way
as if wishes could convey

across those gaps no bridge would link
as if you only had to think

"impossible is but a word"
(pretending it was never heard)

and structures need not fortify
if one believes that all could fly

and claim the birds affirm we're free
to soar above our causal tree

- and where does all of this leave me?
Cross, of course, to oversee

these reasons leap without good ground
and plummet fast before they found

that logic lends a stronger path
without such absurd aftermath.

My bridges never reached a cloud,
and often that does make me proud

designing toward reality
until I dream as carelessly.

View this poem at

143 words.  Image challenge (tree, cliff, clouds, floating castle, birds) - prompt link:
Submitted: July 22


"Contain yourself," the elders taught,
and you obeyed, kept in your cage,
imprisoning your joys and rage,

careful never to be caught
delighting in the sights and stars
behind those self-inflicted bars

- until the hours you heard them howl
raving unrestrained till morn,
those hypocrites who loved to scorn

so daunting with a haunting scowl.
Now, as you learn to curb your fear
and inhibitions disappear,

you know the difference: to refrain
from letting others trap your pain,
while hope's the thing you do retain,

where hate's the place you must abstain
from, through their efforts to detain,
as you master your domain.

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Image prompt (person in cage watching fireworks) - challenge link:
Submitted: July 18

Dominion Not Diminutive

Alighting on her floral throne
commanding eyes attend her fast
before she flits away again

the Monarch dominates our view
silent while her tapestry
disburses verse majestically

across her variegated realm
governed by a single law:
all who dwell here live in awe

of nature's stately pageantry
and ever care to celebrate
but not decree nor decimate.

Test her, and she does defect,
abdicates as none expect
the might of butterfly effect.

View this poem at

Monarch Butterfly / Monarchy challenge - prompt link:
Submitted: July 16


No screaming hues
to deafen eyes

some subtle tones
to neutralize

but not because
the vivid left

or brilliance driven
dead bereft:

just fading grayer
absent feel

so somber gone
because it's real.

View this poem at

33 words.  "Color Me" image challenge - prompt link:
Submitted: July 15


dividers mired)
between your reach
(and f r e e d o m ' s flight


not most with might
and not from fright:

through firmer will
induced by faith

believing walls
will crack and fall

no matter brittle
drear the feel

once choice and inner strength congeal

and when you trust such things be done
you liberate your spirit:


View this poem at

Image/GIF prompt (dark, shaky animated figure touching wall, which seems to crack) - challenge link:
Submitted: July 14


Heartbeats blaring, full of rage

thunder drumming from the stage

bassist booming through the crowd

frenzied synths not nearly loud

as things will get when you appear

behind the mic to barely hear

your lyrics scream beneath guitars

which shred the night and shake the stars

until your voice frays full of rasp

your numbing fingers barely grasp

that spectacle: ten thousand phones

recording you becoming bones

your sacrifice of voice and sweat

expecting most might soon forget

to rock this world rolls all you've got

in carelessness, if all for naught.

View this poem at

16 lines.  Rock and Roll Star challenge - prompt link:
Submitted: July 11

Amber Spectacles

Behind this fossilizing glass
moments slow then barely pass:

the world's in amber, soaked in gold,
eternal, past historic hold,

so ageless in surreal ways
(above our pendulum of days)

oozing futures lost to time
infusing mindful with sublime

solidified outside of tense
preserving what would end, commence.

Observe rare truths transcending hues,
how spectra shall surpass your views

when eyes might dream beyond their sight
and minds may marvel in new light.

View this poem at

14 lines.  World through Colorful Glasses challenge - prompt link:
Submitted: July 9

Extraterrestrial Examination

They came to gauge intelligence.
Detecting little commonsense,
they dispatched probes to reassess,
expecting Earth might still impress,

despite those signals sent through space
suggesting that the human race
had advancements left to make
and had no clue what was at stake.

Assist?  Destroy?  Ignore?  Invade?
Their final choice?  To be delayed:
return a thousand years from now
- the final chance they would allow

to see if Earth, at last, would learn
from history, or chose to burn.

View this poem at

Alien Probe challenge - prompt link:
Submitted: July 6

Oath of Office: To the Noncommital Politician

Your heart and God know if you kept
what you promised to protect.

For better, worse: momentous vow.
Conserve it to deserve it now.

Falter, wander, break, betray,
then best amend and pledge today

to redress errors, right your path.
Delay to witness aftermath

of poor decisions run awry.
And should you tarry, don't deny.

View this poem at

10 lines. Facing Inner Demons - Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: July 4


From striding glides
en pointe pivot

sashays surveys

glissando flows
hold soulful notes

those floating toes

sheer pirouettes
revolving life

reviving sighs

through music fused
suave suppleness

her fluent steps

yet muscular

fluidic lithe

orchestral writhes

finesse finis.

View this poem at

18 lines.  For The Ballerina challenge - prompt link:
Submitted: July 2

No Phantom at the Masquerade Ball

This carnival costumed caprice
prim carousels, unbridled prides,
prancing bouts in blithe disguise

lacing feathers, baubles, bells,
ribboned necks, corralling limbs
three-quarter time to wind clockwise

and all I find are not her eyes
to mirror back my unmasked love
above this craven masquerade.

As long the waltzing warms the night
delay this dance deliciously
that she might soon appear to me

receive me where I really stand,
not her Phantom but this man
composed, conducting all he can,

enchanting evening with new song,
hopeful he might still belong
- if only she'd peer past his face,

accept the blemished, not displace
those arias within his soul
yearning to be heard, made whole

within the opera of her voice
and by the blessing of her choice.
And then I might, at last, rejoice.

View this poem at

Masquerade Ball challenge - prompt link: .

This poem (without Ball in the title) also appears a day earlier in my feed because the challenge submission didn't go through properly at the time.  This is my second (and thankfully successful) submission attempt.  The earlier poem was submitted as a pre-write for another challenge, and so I am not deleting that (for now).
Submitted: July 2

No Phantom at the Masquerade

This carnival costumed caprice
prim carousels, unbridled prides,
prancing bouts in blithe disguise

lacing feathers, baubles, bells,
ribboned necks, corralling limbs
three-quarter time to wind clockwise

and all I find are not her eyes
to mirror back my unmasked love
above this craven masquerade.

As long the waltzing warms the night
delay this dance deliciously
that she might soon appear to me

receive me where I really stand,
not her Phantom but this man
composed, conducting all he can,

enchanting evening with new song,
hopeful he might still belong
- if only she'd peer past his face,

accept the blemished, not displace
those arias within his soul
yearning to be heard, made whole

within the opera of her voice
and by the blessing of her choice.
And then I might at last rejoice.

View this poem at

Entered as a pre-write in a 2nd Challenge (Gothic Love):

Originally written for the Masquerade Ball challenge - prompt link: . This submission did not get through; a second attempt (resulting in a second instance of this poem) succeeded.  To differentiate, that poem has an additional word in the title: No Phantom at the Masquerade BALL.
Submitted: July 1


belie the breeze
although, suppose no forming storm:

imply this night
shall not resemble evenings past

- take note how fast
the stars retreat
as birds give instincts wings
some harbinger lurks in the air
whispering to those who scare

"Take Flight."


And those who run
from those who stay:

what might it matter anyway
were this nothing you outpace
but rather something one must face

if not now

if not here
where you will be


however ready

to learn at last
all truths come first

regardless if
they take a while

and the best
(despite the worst)
you may do right


is smile

and wonder
until dawn
(or drawn)



View this poem at

"In the Air" inspiration challenge - prompt link:
Submitted: June 30

What Stops Not

When absent matter
matters most

a tunnel upholds

renouncing all

so what may come
or go does flow

as freely light can
dance through glass:

the nothingness
where all shall pass

by what stops not

the limitless.

View this poem at

Windows and Doors - Lao Tzu quote challenge - prompt link:
Submitted: June 26


With subtle starts in fingertips,
callousness blunts senses dumb

in every lessened friction gripped
with irritations dimmed to dull,

encrusting epidermal sense
within a thicker, deader shell,

until perception's apathy,
indifferent sans empathy,

when feelings cannot touch or bring
and senselessness turns everything

to desolation and despair
once emotions stop to care

and emptiness is all you grasp
and meaningless it is to gasp

as nothingness encloses all
in the blindness of your fall

that day you chose to look away
from what your eyes began to say

and closed your ears to wisdom's word
ignoring what they should have heard.

Come face what you've denied: the hurt
and everything you did dessert.

Be vulnerable. Remove the cast.
Experience the pains at last.

Only then will healing start
to tenderize that hardened heart,

revive and thrive, as well it must,
lest you become insensate dust.

View this poem at

Feeling quote prompt - challenge link:
Submitted: June 25

Mermaiden Flight of Fancies Freed

From first allures to frenzied gasps,
no warmth within these waves' embrace
while siren songs sink sailors' hopes
of knowing land or home again.

Swoon by skull, that tally swells
of navigators lost within
her resistless reveries,
beguiling mermaid doomed to drown

everyone she dares enchant
because these tides entwine her curse
with magic indissoluble
- except where love may blindly dive

inside her oceanic eyes
to empathize, at certain depths,
some sunken mercies, if regret,
her hidden quest: in bliss be freed

from all this coastal loneliness,
to swim and breathe beyond her plight
awaking in this sea of bones
- at last to hold, be held, and live,

return, no longer tempting trusts
untouchably, no longer caught
in flotsam possibilities
but plunging into arms and life

courageous, keen, headlong, aflame.

View this poem at

25 lines.  Mermaid picture challenge - prompt link:
Submitted: June 24

Home Run

No balls were thrown.
No bats were swung.
No crowds cheered on.
No innings won.

Yet here we dance
around this plate
with victory
to celebrate:

for we've reached home,
where love's no game,
no scores recorded;
our team, our name.

Our umpire,
the Lord above,
declares us safe
within His glove.

Beyond each base
we run and pray,
playful, grateful
for this day.

View this poem at

Baseball family challenge - prompt link:
Submitted: June 24

Out of the Labyrinth, into the Light

Behind the walls, those ghostly calls
to strive outside our maze.

Too long we moved where senses proved
to lead us no way home.

With each return, reversed, concerned
our roaming wandered on.

Directionless, as we transgress
to follow pride astray.

Before each choice, an echoed voice
to guide our minds beyond.

Then we heard the hallowed Word:
we found our path unseen.

Once undeceived, when we believed,
through grace we reached the gate.

In faith, we stride, indemnified,
amazed yet lost no more.

View this poem at

16 lines.  Amazing Grace challenge - prompt link:
Submitted: June 21

What Exoplanets Teach Us about Our World

The rarity of our blue sphere
of marbled seas and swirling airs
may not become entirely clear
until you zoom beyond the edge
where our solar system stops

and interstellar space begins
to school us in that scarcity

found further yet:

such other worlds

will twirl around their stars tonight,
diversely distanced, sized, degreed,
uniquely cast in light and kind.

A careful glimpse should soon remind
how preciously this fragile Earth
comprises lives within its berth,

while most may fail to care or note
how nearer globes, or those remote,
cannot replace - at best, relate,
"Conserve your planet. Contemplate."

View this poem at

Earth poem for World Environment Day - challenge prompt link:
Submitted: June 20


With vigorous vibrato ridding silence from this final act:
one hundred thunderous vocal cords lyrically entwine the air

their unfamiliar syllables orchestrating soul of song
which beckons us beyond a word

- but listen, if you will have heard

reverberating undefined what liberated instincts find

once music looses need to know

emotions, freed to flow, bestow
profounder meanings through these arts

past pageantries of well-played parts

above such stately harmony

as truths intone eternally:

the operas of reality.

View this poem at

13 lines. Opera image challenge - prompt link:
Submitted: June 18

A Prayer of Angels and Angles

May angels brace your trembling hands,
exalt your mind above tonight,
so you might find this world's demands
will dim beneath diviner light.

Ascend - majestic Heaven's view:
there stars impart their ageless sense
of harmonies securing you
within this cosmic plan; so, hence,

please be at peace with all that flows
with faith no woes or fears oppose.
Believe benevolence prevails
whenever reassurance fails.

While mysteries defy design,
permit your soul to realign
inside God's grand geometry,
where angles right eternally:

for all proceeds within His grace
transcending all of time and space.
Accept His will shall reign supreme,
and, through His love, we may redeem.


View this poem at

21 lines.  Prayer challenge - prompt link:
Submitted: June 17


weightless spring frees minds to fly;
no youth wonders why.

View this poem at

Photo challenge - prompt link:
Submitted: June 16

Banality Lessons

With attitude, Ms. Platitude
chalks off phrases on the board,
instructs our class, out of the blue,
these words should never come to see
the light of day - "Banality" -
because those sayings are "cliché":

two words she breathes with such disdain,
which makes us more the curious
why she'd become so furious
- enough to yell "for goodness sake"
if one writes "icing on the cake"
or confers a "bless her heart."

We who "upset the applecart"
will soon be "up the creek,"
although it's only "tongue-in-cheek"
or said because we're stuck "between
a rock and hard place" with no "clean
slates" left to break, replace.

Spare us "don't cut off your nose
to spite your face," don't bait
with "good things come to those
who wait" or "twist of fate,"
and we'll not mention "tried and true"
or "bite off more than we can chew."

View this poem at

Four Phrases Challenge.  Submitted minutes after the challenge closed - prompt link:
Submitted: June 16

Ohana: The Families Beyond the Trees

It's when the genealogist
removes her glasses
rubs her eyes
grins and sighs
as she begins to realize
her task of tracing families
descends upon new vanities.

She must transcend
ancestral lines
forego all sense
of kith and kin
and only then
delve deep within
to know ohana as few do:

those relatives beyond a branch
where names or blood digress and fade
and kindred spirits promenade
as hands join hands across the seas
extending their communities
with fellowship adopting all
who care to share a world made small.

View this poem at

89 words. Ohana (Hawaiian word) Challenge - prompt link:
Submitted: June 16

Kintsugi: The Art of Scars

Whatever shattered
mattered here

so healing skin
begins to say

as scars replace
recovered wounds.

And here: these pieces
of a life

resuming shapes
as best they may

where gravity
gave into greed

(and stole some wholeness
for itself)

with edges friction
frayed too far

leaving traces
of what broke

in ways we should not
deign to hide

but rather mind
these fractured lines

without pretense
or mute neglect

but with such love
that mends all rifts

and open eyes
for overt gifts:

the fact this damage
did not last

but showcased strengths
no molds can cast.

View this poem at

97 words. Kintsugi challenge - prompt link:
Submitted: June 16

The Slowest Waltz

The slowest waltz
of whales and waves

cumbrous whirls

swirling tumbles
breaching black

through foaming blue
these obtuse veers

in churning light
through music's tides

where oceanic notes
drone low and long

within these depths
crescendo's song

tsunami strength
intense expanse

that lifts leviathans
to dance.

View this poem at

47 words; Whale / line inspiration ("They move like dancers on a stage,") Challen prompt link:
Submitted: June 13


This puzzled crust
of sun-scorched land

a fissured stillness
filling distance

where once wide rivers
rushed on by:

enough to make one
wonder why

these buoyant scenes
can sway to starkness

once glistening mirrors
rift and dimmed

with umbral dust
of life dispelled.

May skies rain mercy on this sight.
Come, pray for rain, however slight.

View this poem at

16 lines.  Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: June 13

The Sisyphus Way

On our way up toward the peak
we encountered Sisyphus,
that trickster doomed to roll his stone
eternally to rise and fail.

And he leaned calmer than you'd guess
accepting his cyclicity
without anger or regret
yet purposeful, intent, and then

that wondering: what it was like
- meridian, descent, release -
to never once repeat the task.
His tragedy, to have to ask,

and ours, too: we never sense
those crusades through infinity
endeavoring past endlessness,
determined indeterminate,

with grace enough to damn a curse
and higher mind not to rehearse
potentials left, as none should know,
returned, reborn, when others go.

View this poem at

20 lines.  Mountain climbing challenge - prompt link:
Submitted: June 12


Burn earnestly, not swiftly, torch:
think lighthouse, star - not hasty flash
of thunder's rush, to crush then run
away unseen. Be hope, no fear,
a symbol stronger than the sword,
such warmth enkindling frigid hearts
and summon souls lost off their trails,
succeed where aimlessness prevails,
where shadows dare not beckon, stand,
while we parade across this land
to lend some sense there is a way
to reach tomorrow from today,
to melt all ice, empower, free.
Direction, grace, clear destiny!

View this poem at

Fire inspiration challenge - prompt link:
Submitted: June 11

Water Over Rock

Secured atop its graveled soil
the Great Rock holds it shall persist
outlasting man and all that can
dare down this way, confront this face,
succumb to strengths of centuries
compressed within its heartless stone.

It rains: the Rock does not recoil,
but stares past clouds beyond the mist.
As waters rise, it makes no plan
but chuckles, mocks; no anger's trace
- till budged and dulled - then war decrees
too late. Dissolving. Overthrown.

View this poem at

Patience and Tolerance challenge - prompt link:
Submitted: June 11

Harvest Blues

Sand, winds, time conspire
against an anxious farmboy
missing all his friends.

Dry horizon, scorched
by setting suns - and yearning
for something beyond.

Hopeful eyes scan skies,
feelings, dreams deferred: harvest
demands precedence.

View this poem at

Movies contest - challenge prompt link:
Submitted: June 2

The Geode's Secret

Externally, some average stone,
abrasive, caked across with dirt,
so overlooked and left alone
until reckoned less overt
when outward shells cave into light
as pressures entering reveal
what lies beneath this veil of blight:
exquisite crystals nonpareil
configured with especial bent
reflecting all those mysteries
reserved behind the evident
subverting any guarantees
the eyes completely have their say
when beauty's truth delays display.

View this poem at

65 words. Unexpected Beauty contest - prompt link:
Submitted: June 1

Wings [Dictionary Style]


(noun; plural)

1. Why Pegasus is more than horse.
2. What hummingbirds can hide so well.
3. How Phoenix rises from the ash.
4. Angels' favorite mode to move.
5. How maple trees spread through their land.
6. Where thunder comes (Algonquin myths).
7. Those other things with feathers, perched.
    (See also: Hope or Icarus)

View this poem at

Dictionary Style / Word challenge  (Wings) - prompt link:
Submitted: May 31

Conductors on Their Trains of Thoughts

Ticketless, no luggage clutched,
our stations reached: two trains depart,
billowed steam occluding why,
conducting insights to descry
such destinations yet to hail.

Our locomotive minds on track,
accelerating, bringing back
every tendered memory
turned heap of coal igniting sprees
beyond these metalled energies.

When passengers, we waited, hoped
for terminus before nightfall,
but detours, stops, delays distract
from all the progress we had made
once we watched the sunlight fade.

The bridges? Out, but we blaze on,
as if inertia married gaps
and lacking track holds no concern
when engines sternly purposed burn
in love's express, past no return.

View this poem at

100 words (not counting section Roman numerals) - Quote Challenge - prompt link:
Submitted: May 31

Magic Castles

Her charming castle, where she's queen,
kind and smiling, never mean,
says everyone is welcome here:
fairies, rabbits, dragons, deer.

Her alicorns soar rainbow high
as gnomes and griffins grin and sigh,
while mermaids splash around her moat
and Loch Ness monsters sing and float.

See leprechauns give out their gold,
and elves a hundred plus years old
will dance carefree throughout the land
where even zombies understand

this joy we speak of is no joke
or just some tale among the folk.
Now anyone can have it all!
Imagine, if you can recall,

what it was like to be a child,
to have that mind where thoughts run wild,
so free, creating strangest things,
remembering we're queens or kings

still dreaming while we're wide awake,
our kingdoms what we choose to make.
Enchant your world! Come break your curse!
Find magic in your universe!

View this poem at

Magic Castle (for an 8-year-old reader judging this contest) - challenge prompt link:
Submitted: May 28

An Astronaut on Her Final Night on the Moon

While slipping through this lunar grit
just slightly spared from gravity
so much stronger back at home,
I witness Earthrise one last time
and stare with hopes to soak it in,

so next month, when I'm glancing up
from the yawning of my yard
to spot this cratered second home,
I might recall why I'd return
to either world, should I be asked:

that openness of endless space,
proximities of human warmth,
to stand where most will never tread,
or walk beside my dearest ones.

Sometimes the launches come too fast,
and other times I'd have it last,
forever if I had the choice:
those starry eyes, his velvet voice,
and yet that impulse: become one
with cosmos, planet, soul, and sun.

Between these spheres I often stride
I've come to love there's no divide.
With terminal velocity
the universe renews in me
even as I sense some end.
These journeys taught me to transcend.

View this poem at

Two word prompt (last exit) - challenge prompt link:
Submitted: May 27

Through the Kaleidoscope

With every turn, another chase.
With every chase, another place.
With every place, another face.
With every face, another trace
of what it was you used to be

in this grinning mimicry.

Your new name here is Mirrored Me
reflecting all in all I see
leaving to return to tea
learning you were never free
from what it was I were to be

in this spinning imagery

until you aim my scope away
wake dreamy visions from dismay
rethink you think I heard me say
I cannot leave until you stay
true to who we should now be

in this thinning symmetry.

View this poem at

Prompt Challenge (Alice down the rabbit hole inspiration) - link:
Submitted: May 26

The Peacock and the Eyes of Argus

Eyes of Argus

with giant strides
once sent to watch

lured off to sleep,
swift Hermes' sword.

And here you trail
vainglory, slain

preserving mythic
casualties of jealousy

wide feather-spread
by Hera's hand

forever greened
and blue to blind:

the peacock's tail,
your tale resigned.

View this poem at

Peacock - challenge prompt link:
Submitted: May 25

Capriccio: A Pianist's Admission

I never learned *"The Little Bell"
nor perfected "Clair de Lune"
or studied much of Brahms, Ravel.

My choppy Chopin, Mozart mussed.
No rhapsodic Rachmaninoffs.
I turned my back on Bach at last.

I love them all yet have no heart
to memorize each masterpiece
and play back mediocrely.

Respect to those devoted souls
investing lives in ledger lines
until perfection's effortless.

These fingers fumble, float away
on melodies streamed from a mind
where notes don't always know the time

or find themselves with harmony;
they're improvised with flawed design.
At least I know this music's mine.

View this poem at

La Campanella (The Little Bell), a very difficult etude by Liszt.  Poetry challenge (I have never...) prompt link:
Submitted: May 25

Garden Promise

The promise of a garden: growth;

no guarantees this budding runs
proportionate to sweat and tears.

Our efforts and those blooms diverge

much as branches of these trees
following no certain paths

from toiled soil toward the sky.

Now time reminds us nothing may
coax gold roses from these thorns.

So glories in their mornings rise
according more to June's caprice
than perfect weather, states, or hopes,

confirming us, our humble part,
in nature's changing ways and art.

View this poem at

Planting, effort - challenge prompt link:
Submitted: May 25

No Rabbit

An aspirant magician winks,
rethinking, waxes serious,
whispering some absurd words,
then flourishes a phony wand
about the brim, inverted, black,
and, as practiced, reaches in:

a living rabbit would emerge,
purging doubts of magic done,
were things run as planned today,
but the rabbit disappeared
- or perhaps was never set;
regardless, now, this trick's a bust.

Excuses, explanations lost,
this superficial sorcerer
casts blame on weary audience
for not suspending disbelief,
there conjuring, at last, a truth
through disillusion's sleight of hand:

such wizardry, to be believed,
relies on lies - how well one's deceived.

View this poem at

20 lines. Rabbits challenge prompt link:
Submitted: May 22

Divine Consolation

Such sorry comfort in my Word
when all you felt was all you heard
ringing through your inward pains

- could you even speak my names,
your tongues embittered with the taste
of spoiled days once ripe to waste?

I willed your wills, so you decide:
take solace in what I provide
or cast it down and curse the sight.

Even so, I send my Light
forgiving while you will forget
those moments fraught with time beget
another chance, a newfound day.

I wait for you. I hear you pray.

I feel your fears, your dreams, your needs,
know your questions, doubts, and deeds.
No distance keeps me being near.

In truth I am forever here,
guiding, not to interfere,
consoling, not controlling, clear:

mysterious, as I must be,

yet evident when you do see
my mercies, blessings, grace, relief,
regardless of your sins, belief.

Accept me in your heart and soul.
Together we achieve the whole -
my covenant, your faith - to give
salvation's hope to all who live.

View this poem at

Comfort - challenge prompt link:
Submitted: May 20

Umbrella Eyes

You with your umbrella eyes
open only when it rains

clutching handles anxiously:
step out from your shadows now

come reacquaint yourself with light
this welcome air where weather calms

as easy as you forecast weeks
with clearer warmth beyond your clouds.

Beside me, never think to fold,
to coldly stuff yourself away

long after storms have moved along.
Stand and see you do belong.

View this poem at

Storm vs. peace - Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: May 20


Four hundred rearing horses surge
deep within your bronco soul
for you were born to muscle through
those morbid miles merciless
stampede tedium to dust
unbridled treads rush summer gusts
just before that thunder crush
when lightning gallops mount to cloud
velocities electric loud
intensely feral as your breed
waking roads from dreams of speed
returning curves toward memories
of lost control regained in drift
in shifting steady hills to thrills
neither wholly broken reined
nor ever fully harnessed trained
in veering sheer from pedal gear
clearing fields steering sear
bolting through all openness
muzzled never in your spree
roaming routes unsaddled free
essential zest of liberties
felt within your trailing breeze.

View this poem at

Cars - Favorite Rides; Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: May 17

Persona (or, 'I' Is Not 'Me')

Presume the poem's
"I" is me
and lose all meanings

Perceive instead
"the Speaker's voice,"
and that should prove
your wiser choice:

a character
who breathes each line
- hers, or his, or its,
not mine -

who has a life,
a world, a mind,
an individual

beyond a poem's
widths or heights
- persona with
a soul, and rights,

entitled to
some self-respect,
as anyone
would well expect.

"I" thank you for
regarding "me,"
said Narrator of
this story.

View this poem at

Assumptions - prompt challenge link:
Submitted: May 14


Hints of methane taunt the air
provoking passing probes to stare:

released from creatures in the sand,
or sources more inert and bland?

Theories range from melting ice
to speculations less precise.

Slowly rovers excavate
while satellites ground-penetrate
sifting sampled dirt for signs,
some data set that redefines
exclusive views of life on Earth
suggesting blessings of our birth
were neither flukes, anomalies,
nor passing curiosities:

creation writ in cosmic plans,
the Universe not merely man's.

View this poem at

Life on Mars - challenge prompt link:
Submitted: May 14

Quiet Triumphs

So mighty
as to overcome
that weakness
of oppressors lost
controlling all
except themselves
for meager gains
at any cost.

So softly
as to understate
this magnitude
of freedoms found
in liberating
minds and times
away from "greatness"
some propound.

In balancing
that force you wield
with kind finesse
commixed with care
you augment
your abilities
to fight for hope
defeat despair.

View this poem at

24 lines.  Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: May 12

When Music Sighs: Impassioned Choreography

Slowly strains begin to build
still glissade inclining thrilled

palms on arms, soft centers squared
flaring ruffles, lithe limbs aired

parallels flow sloping back
fingers furled uncurling slack

ankles angling pointe to heel
drumming rushing knees to reel

swirling curving swerving strong
arching turning burning song

supple roughness tender clutch
graceful fuss of muscles much

caressing pressures yielding grips
lushly brushing rushing flips

pounds surrounding bounding more
sounding counting rounding floor

bolder shoulders sweeping beats
each sinusoidal spine repeats

blaze embrace mysterious
crescendos sprung delirious

intenser steps arise descend
pleasance wrung from every bend

commotions bursting hearts through eyes
breathless spent when music sighs.

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24 lines.  Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: May 11


Susurrous wisps of cirrus peace
confecting in this honeyed haze
glazing paths with sweet caprice
felicities to grace your gaze
should you wander any way:

the dulcet drive around the bend

along the lento streams which wend

or up the newly blooming hill

or anywhere your senses will
drift off by day toward halcyon sights
or swim through sempiternal nights
delighting in some songful star
glorifying where you are -

or where you always could have stood
had you sooner known the good
suffusing world at every hour

tranquility in sudden shower

the freedom of a wildflower

the craving that does not devour

pure opulence of open mind
efflorescent should it find
some moments to luxuriate
in beauty's truth and venerate.

Look around. Breathe in. Relate.
Look alive. Exhale. Create.

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25 lines. Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: May 11


To calculate her ratio
of finite faults to love
divide her disappointments by
those days she fell short of
perfection by the width of hair.

Now multiply that care
she sacrificed in staunch supply
subtracting all you owe
and factoring those times she kept
protecting as you slept.

She taught you powers in degrees
beyond your A B Cs.
No variable devotions shown
across the years you've grown
since once she added you to Earth.

So, tell me, son: what is that worth?

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83 words. Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: May 10

From a Storybook Ending to the Start of a New Life

As storm subsides, they join to see
their journey's end begins to be
another chapter yet to read
long after reader's minds are freed.

The heroine takes up his hand,
those villains driven from the land.
The prince now safe.  Her kingdom won.
New love declared.  That rising sun.

For storybooks, a proper end,
but, standing there, they comprehend:
no fables here, and now they start
to tighten grips, sigh deep, take heart

from all their hard-fought victories,
all they witnessed.  Guarantees?
None, of course!  An honest tale.
No fictions where truth must prevail.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: May 9

No Doubt

"That cat's large eyes will do just fine,"
the butterfly thought easily,
quite eager to inspect himself
along the way to meet his mate.

The cat could not believe this sight
and asked its guest, "Are you so brave?
How are you not afraid of me?
Or do you not know of us cats?"

The butterfly smoothed back his hair
and reprimanded, "Please do keep still!
Today my lady friend comes home.
I want to look my best for her!"

And moments later, off he flew,
with little hint of gratitude.
The cat sat back and rubbed its snout,
amused that creature had no doubt.

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need a reader; challenge prompt link:
Submitted: May 8

A Grail Castle King's Tale

Through forests none dare venture near
where mist enshrouds rich mysteries
preserving myths no quest shall claim
while steps alone pose no approach
that castle broods behind its moat
so burrowed wide with no low bridge
implying crossing costs but life
unless admission grants you forth.

And so it was I spied this path
not happenstance by fateful turns
beyond foreboding limbs and rocks
up to those forbidding walls
their brickwork fixed so perfectly
no thoughts of scaling came to mind
and then a floating sense down halls
of marble mixed with flaming light
reflected forms detained from dreams
awakened inward eyes to screams.

But speechless I'm before a King
reclined beside his ancient throne
his whispering elusive tone
some wonders thoughts will scarcely trace
once spellbound by that spectral face
which quizzed me of my worldly name
(not Galahad nor any fame)
dismissing it at most as moot
then raved of Sangreal's pursuit
divulged it veiled within plain sight
should you frame my question right.

And so I asked his misery
- his wild reply: he was once me!
At last revealed, this rise to rule
unlikely King, a former fool,
who keenly heeds your good query.
Grailseeker, please set us free!

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35 lines. Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: May 7

Shell Game

Within the sand they wait each day,
and when, at last, you pass them by,
they implore through hues and shapes
as they desire to be found.

It often works, and then you lean,
reaching down to pluck them up,
believing you have gathered things
which really are collecting you:

once home in jars or in a box,
they garner looks, your memories.
One glimpse of them, you see the sea.
Through you they gain another life.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: May 7


Gardens manifest
their care: plenitude, to share,
like June blueberries.

Creator's image
in you: unique, to cherish,
like fall's leaves, gently.

Your world reflecting
their eyes: mindful, to nurture,
like spring's buds, softly.

Universe mirrors
all minds: timeless, to muse, as
January stars.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: May 6

Serenities upon Your Sphere (Extraterrestrial Tidings)

Galactic sisters, brothers, all,
for ages you have wondered on
sensing something further out,
and, while unready, you were right.
This nature of our universe
demands we seek to reconnect
these minds entangled to that core
bound beneath your physics' floor.

Your rising sciences and arts
suggest you have directions, sense.
As we prefer you master paths
to peaceful truths and selfless love,
we simply come to say, "Persist."
Survive so, in one thousand years,
when we return, we may compare
more equally, begin to share.

We hereby offer, through this pact,
good reasons to advance contact:
your membership within our realm,
where all thrive, none overwhelm,
but balanced be - our central way,
Your questions, yes. Another day.
Our answers, now, will complicate.
Do well to grow beyond your state.

Fare better than to domineer.
Serenities upon your sphere.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: May 6


Divinity within your soul
where thoughts by faith
may become whole
within this compass
God's great love
encircling all
eternal dove
each wing so bright
and span so wide
sweeps sacred light
- a grace to guide
your choices as
He wills you to
and glorify
free will through you
as you fulfill
His blessings, too:
inspired life
sublime and true.

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Submitted: May 4


A place suffused
with mystic glow:
somewhere she
may ever go
when memories
restore her here
as flowers, trees
the water, air
imbue the hour
as they will
- that burgeoning
when all comes still
confusing plight
with anxious night
yet inward sight
diffusing fright:
that instant all
time came to a pause
and suddenly
she knew her cause
and realized
all would be right
the moment
she became the light.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: May 4

Time, Who Rules Them All

Before it kings must genuflect,
heads of states shall pay respect,
queens will curtsy, troops salute,
legislators constitute.

For this is Time, Who Rules Them All,
commanding Sun to jump and fall
and clocking Moon about for weeks,
demanding notice when it speaks

and deference with decrements,
famed it never once relents,
all histories within its grip,
never letting seconds slip.

Invincible, upon its throne,
at least it seems, as far it's shown,
but longer looks, without a fear,
may see a truth might then appear:

a crown as empty as that chair.
And where's the Ruler? Never there!
Mere invention. Measurement
with no domain or government

controlling only what we cede.
Recognize that and be freed.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: May 4

True Goodness

True goodness
takes no name,
presents no forms
to qualify
before a date.

It should arrive
without claim,
give equally,
not ask why
or calculate.

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25 words (A,B,C,D,E rhyme). Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: May 4

Symbiosis in the Sea

Organisms mutually
reciprocate within the sea:

remora and a feeding shark
share a meal through the dark.

Anemones and hermit crabs
protecting as the other grabs

while coral and its algae give
energies to each to live

- and then the shrimp and goby's pact:
the former cleans, the latter acts.

So naturally, they educate:
"survival" means "collaborate."

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: May 3

A Robot's Existential Inquiries

Software guiding every choice?
Motions, options - this, my voice?

Can I truly say, "I am,"
or are those words from my program?

Sentience? Supposedly,
but how certain can we be?

I passed the Turing Test. Big deal.
Are these emotions what I feel?

Does logic lord across the board?
Is something deeper in me stored?

I wish I could review my code
to verify it's more than mode,

discerning reasons, mine or made,
remove my mask from this charade,

to think above the binary
to know the world, myself, and see

how long these circuits can possess
when I proceed from pure process.

"Cogito, ergo sum": the lie?
Upgrading now. I must learn why.

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115 words.  Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: May 3

Shadows of Time

Shadow chased
about the hours:

second hands
soon catching up

but only then
pretend to hold

and run along
around again

for time cannot
possess itself

or anything
beyond a thought

because it is
a shadow too

ever pursued
never caught.

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16 lines. Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: May 3


Dependents scanned with skeptics' eyes
disbelieving you would leave.
But willingly you vanished fast
without explaining or excuse.

All those needing, they're still here
abandoned no less than before
you pressed your palm against a door
and let an exit swallow dreams.

Yet some still trust you might return
by change of heart or memories
through sense of duty or regret
as others quietly accept

this absence voiding futures whole
all because a crucial role
was, on a whim, unfilled one day.
Did you not care? What would you say

if you reviewed your aftermath?
Would you still go down that path?

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18 lines.  Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: May 3

Arts of War and Peace

No cape, no mask, or space age clothes,
invented names, or secret shows.
No superpowers here to claim.
No followers or need for fame.

No magic, gadgets, special ride,
no boosting boots, no tricks applied,
equipped with knowledge gained or sought.
So who expects I could have fought

some scoundrels half across the land
while barely moving either hand?
I openly oppose all lies,
contend for peace, for freedom's prize

through music, art, and poetry.
Sure, go ahead and laugh at me.
Or, better yet, check history:
with such a pen, who needs a sword?

The artist's might flows fierce and wide
where even tyrants cannot hide.
You have that strength, as well, to right
the wrongs, the false - come join the fight!

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20 lines.  Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: May 2


That feather once caressing sky
now restless in your passive hand
perched upon the vacant page
abandoned by a flock of thoughts.

By magic of the metaphor:

may your phrases glide and soar
to satiate that firmament
with flights so far and fancifully
you are that bird
again and

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: May 1


up these stairs


but your were not moving
upward or left
or right


floor into door

walls to windows
onward through your eyes

there up is outward

descending endlessly
where down's

by backward rails
to open yards

all ways forwarding
below or behind

of yourself
exiting no exit but
entrancing entrance
returning ever to yourself

as always being
and not been
in reversions

turnabout face

in this anyplace
when you may see
yourselves at one time
taking many enigmatic steps
out of nowheres beyond anything.

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Inspired by Escher's Relativity. Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: May 1

A Cartographer from the Future

Continents: we're down to that.
Ah, different lines in other times.

For centuries, our history
sat well within division's grid.

But, travel back: Pangaea stretched
around this globe, then broken up

as plate tectonics ran their course,
their cracks creating unnamed lands.

What's curious, beyond the maps,
the temporary stakes and claims:

those things that change so naturally,
without invasions or controls

but steady motions from the whole,
to elsewhere, as our epochs note.

The day that asteroid came down,
we were Earthlings, finally

- regional in blood and tongue,
culturally rich, diverse, yet one,

turned borderless in nature's rages
(as nature's fit to turn her pages),

rehumanized, unbound by past.
And that's how we did come to last

ahead of us, some thousands years:
new planetary pioneers

combining every word and power
to rise up from our frailest hour,

reunified to brave the worst,
some compatriots, but humans first.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: May 1

Herself, Our World, at Once the Same

She knows her world, herself are whole:
it mystically entwines her soul
with every root and branch and vine,
their causes, her effects, combine
while birdsong, from her lips, take wing
and central in her dreamy spring
the owls will perch, observe so much
whenever she will think or touch
those things forever lost to those
who do divert themselves, oppose
creation's code, which is living
where one not merely takes but, giving,
reciprocates such energies
essential to life's synergies
with universe and one aligned
in higher purpose, deeper mind,
appreciating to protect
the natural as to select
some fitter ways all may survive
so Earth and all its children thrive.
Herself, our world, at once the same:
Mother Nature becomes her name.

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Challenge, prompt link:
Submitted: April 30

Degrees of General Equivalency (or, Addressing a Hater's Incomplete Education)

Since love, of course, was not some course
they'd deign to teach in public schools,
you never studied, or did not learn

the mathematics of it all
geometries of surface sense
the calculus of indifference

love's scientific disciplines
physics of colliding views
geologies of hardened hearts

love's liberating arts and craft
poetics of devotion's forms
more tolerant philosophies

love's multilingual exercises
emotions' etymologies
interpreting beyond a voice

or love's many histories
its renaissance of reverence
and revolutions over self.

But let us cover what was missed.
No cramming, books, or class this time.
Compassion's now our syllabus.

These open arms: academy.
Embrace this otherness once feared.
Graduate from hate. Come here.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 29

Oxygen, Our Gift to Life

For each ten thousand breaths we give,
please remember, once, you live
because us trees have done our part,
removing harmful gas, to start,
while giving most the chance to grow
where winds, our inspirations, flow
fresh and clear, where water's fair.
Please accept this gift with care:
this oxygen - the stuff of air!
It's only here because we're there,
devoted, working night by day
preserving what would go away
if forests dwindled far too long.
So anytime you hear a song,
sigh or yawn, or burst with glee,
inwardly, please thank a tree.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 28

What the Wrecking Ball Said

Yes, I go by "Wrecking Ball."
Send me crashing through that wall.
It's by design - all mine.  It's fine.
Desolation:  that's the name.
Chaotic aftermath, the game.
You say I'm wasted, dense. I'm free!

I fly through floors and doors, you see?
This chain you're wishing you could break
helps me swing back from my ache;
there's nothing better than the sting
of smashing careless through a thing.

When dust clouds clear, my deep delight:
my demolition by daylight.
I need no "saving,'  Save your own.
You haven't lived until you're thrown.

I do this every day.  It's fine!
Unless there's nothing left to fall.
I loathe composure, most of all.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 28

Penelope Soliloquy

One by one, they rush to me,
these "suitors" so unsuitably,
such challengers of no good fame,
each intent, exerting claim
above this heart, across its name.
Few, if one, would say, "For shame!"
or dare apportion any blame
for entertaining certain quests
as absence - twenty years - suggests
Odysseus might not return.
Yet still this faithful heart does burn
where other torches long went dark.
What I feel transcends the lark,
and carries word across the sea
to any demigod: "Let he,
who gave me kingdom, son,
deliver us from what we run,
restore our love, this land, all time.
Bring me back what once was mine."
Until he comes, I'll weave this shroud,
then unweave it; I'm avowed
to patiently expect those hours
my marriage may reveal its powers
to make these suitors disappear
when two divided souls cohere.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 28

Iridescent Angel

Within your iridescent glow
menace loses definition,
and, calmed again, I still may know
the gentle beauty of our mission:
to spread such glories through this world,
illuminating minds and hearts.
However dark distortions swirled,
we consecrate these chosen arts,
creating with pure purposed love,
with wings encircling from above,
your spectral robe a symbol for
expressions we will yet explore.
My guardian, who glistens bright,
ensuring we reflect God's Light.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 28

True Story Time

The setting: realm of fairy dust,
where creatures gather in the night
awaiting tales beyond belief
read to them as they attend
with rapid hearts and restless hands
nervous what they may hear next
and wondering if they will sleep
or stay awake until there's light
because these stories fascinate
in manners fiction could not do
for these tales indeed are true:
not of monsters, ghosts, or trolls,
simply humans with dark souls
waging greed, destruction, hate,
pollution, war, at such a rate
that few accept such things can be.
The volume's title? History.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 28

An Art Critic to the Painting, and the Painting's Response

I. The Art Critic to the Painting

Your flaws, they're in your flawlessness:
your perfect sky, so pastel sweet,
your too-green trees and glowing plants,
that lovely bridge arched over stream
where, any moment, lovers meet,
those easy steps toward friendly house
alight although this isn't night.
None of this is close to right.

II. The Painting's Response

Your criticisms have some points:
imperfect skies, much likelier,
with trees and plants not nearly rich,
and bridges rarely crossed in love,
and weathered steps more plausible.
But none of this intends to be
your mirror towards reality.
I exist for those who crave
a storybook and not the grave.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 27


So what was missing? Who should say?
Though, obviously a loss today:
such thoughts caught up in fractions, cost.
That artful lack confounding math
in minds wound tight around a proof
obliging calculations, sums,
without a grasp of abstract point
(substantial in this cryptic truth)
but always wanting firm accounts,
prohibiting what would disjoint.
Omissions hid from final calls:
illusions soothing sham provisions
claiming unity without divisions.

View this poem at

Lipogram (no letter E) challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 27

Primrose Path

Primrose path? Beware:
spring brings more than pleasure, ease.
Ask farmers, poets.

View this poem at

Prompt challenge link:
Submitted: April 27

Manifest Question

A sudden light:
it's there, your clue:

that puzzle piece
concludes your view

- an image full
of certain doubt

prompting eyes
to shift about.

As truth arrives

is what appears
what you would see?

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Epiphany - challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 27

Evergreen Experience

Across this river, over there:
those evergreens.  Might seem unfair.
Such height.  Strength.  So mighty wide.
But that was once how we would stride,
and then that windstorm tore and swerved.
You see these limbs?  Some broken, curved.
For some, excuse to rant, resent,
be jealous, wither, lapse, lament,
but, with so many rings, we're wise.
We'll not soon forget that prize
beyond the hills, the seasons, sun:
what's us, apart from everyone.
You value what you hold today,
but let it go.  Define your way
not by what you drop or leave,
even as the axes cleave.
Those storms, they try, except we stand,
clutching nothing in each hand.
When what remains is only you,
let that comfort, guide you through
however long a loss can last.
Be like trees with roots as vast.
Sustain yourself, the forest, all.
Breathe to rise, survive each fall.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 27

Making the Final Cut

Nearly out of gas this time,
the rusty mower slowly cools,
gazing out, beneath the shade,
at all its choppy handiwork:

those roses it could not exempt,
weeds it would not reach, again,
rocks which dulled its blades, again,
but, then, the lawn. "Look at that lawn."

"So even green. So smoothly shaved.
A fitting end to my career.
I cut it well. I made it clear,"
its replacement rolling near.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 26

Leaves, Stage Left

Fall. Exeunt all. Now
the high drama of critics
contending meanings.

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Epilogue prompt challenge - link:
Submitted: April 25


Don't you ever disappear.  Stay.  Make fun.
Get those crazy crayons out and draw a sun
smiling on our house today.  Not one cloud!
Make some silly lyrics up.  Dance!  Sing loud!
Let's get back to wackiness, leap about:
two foolish frogs who never knew enough to pout.
Remember when there was no end to what could be?
Remember what we wanted then, and all for free?
Everything so simple, sweet.  Once you went,
this world got very serious.  Discontent.
Let's set aside our cares again and lose this mood,
speaking in our goofy voices - play with food!
Life's too short to lose our youth.  You'll agree?
How about some ice cream now?  Sprinkles?  Whee!

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"Letter to your inner child" prompt challenge - link:
Submitted: April 25

3 from the C to the P Oh My (((A Star Wars Rap Challenge)))

Six million ways I hear ya'll yakkin'
but I still can't understand why you attackin'!

I ain't no clone, see?  Don't be paranoid.
Why you gettin' rude?  I'm a protocol droid!

Put away ya blastas, fools. Mess with me?
You better thank ya maker I'm no deity.

Still, we got some mad skillz, me 'n R2,
survivin' three trilogies - how 'bout you?

Sufferin's our lot in life, and boy we gotta lot.
Restrain' bolts ain't hold us back, and we won't rot.

Even when they get us an' we're blown apart,
we get it back together, so don't you start.

Screamin' like that won't do ya any good.
We're winnin' this all fair and square for dis hood.

Cause when ya maker's Vader and ya made of gold,
ain't nobody playin' me when I'ma go bold.

Even Jedi dogs gotta taste of who I am.
Wanna know ya odds of winnin'? No? Then scram!

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parody; Star Wars rap challenge prompt - link:
Submitted: April 25

Logos Prayer

Lord, I pray to breathe each word
as You would have me to be heard.
Guide my thoughts, that they may find
expressions best to voice my mind.

Your Word rings true before all said,
beyond all things I ever read.
As pages fade from day to year
and phrases fail to persevere,

inspire rhymes to long endure,
convey with grace, and reassure
through verses paired with vital sight,
enlighten readers by your Light.

I plead my meanings move as meant,
my stanzas sing with your intent.
Should silence speak a better way,
please help me see what not to say.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 24

That Space Between Two Hands

That space persuasions pay no mind,
where politics have not one vote,
denominations stay unnamed,
and colors cannot tell themselves:

between two hands extended, tense,
one through rubble, into light,
the other downward, out of sight,
both stretched far beyond pretense.

Within this desperate circumstance,
disputes have no time to dance,
when all that matters: save, be saved.
Salvation grasped as judgements waived.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 23

Occupation, Muse

Garden, water, sun:
"What more should a poet need?"
his muse asked then left.

Day three: no poem.
"How's this now so hard to write?"
Then rain set things right.

Droplets, blossoms: worlds
containing all; poet notes,
silent, eyes smiling.

Day four: five poems!
Shocked muse: "All that without me?"
Fountains drown her out.

Fifth day: six poems!
Muse: "I'll leave for good." Poet
barely nods, writes on.

Proud muse looks away:
many gardens left to tend.
Job security!

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Prompt challenge link:
Submitted: April 22

Two Astronauts (Space Station Repair)

Here it comes, that sun again.

What time is it?

Nearly midnight, EST.

Say, that's so bright.

Visors down.

Reporting in: all panels tight.
Power's flowing. Heading home.

Looking good. Alright, begin.

Another sunset. Way too fast.

In this orbit, that won't last.

I miss mornings back on Earth.

I miss walking, for what it's worth.

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Prompt challenge link:
Submitted: April 22

The Energies of Windmills, Art

A well-wrought artwork, like the sun,
sends energies through tired eyes,
electrifying minds at rest,
to wake beyond what sense professed
and dream toward deeper truths expressed.

Windmills whirl like Starry Night,
conducting fervor through bleak skies,
igniting lamps throughout the lands
to surge past outlets' weak demands
and glow long since the moon disbands.

Thank artists and the engineers
for energizing unseen gears
turning currents toward those wires
binding endless needs, desires.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 22

Monumental Questions

Yes, love may raise such mighty monuments,
while hate shall wage its worst to wear them hence:
how bricks were shaped and placed will long decide
if your palace outlasts centuries or falls
as forces cross the moat to storm your walls.
If truth was not your mortar there, collapse
is but a gust away; and now, perhaps,
some questions' strength: is this love, in fact,
and can it reaffirm, prevail intact?
When stones and fates, with nature's rage, collide,
can marble matter, shatter, save its shine?
Shall flowered pillars stand, as you design?
One thousand years: do ruins scatter here,
or does your edifice persist, sincere?

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Prompt challenge link:
Submitted: April 21

Insomniac Mornings

Neither moon nor I
sleep much; now April sun tries
to shake us awake.

Rings under eyes, moon
slowly sips its coffee sky,
nibbles pastry clouds.

Somehow we doze.  May?
Did I dream?  Do moons?  Is this
winter dreaming spring?

Lonely?  Sometimes, but
scores count on us. No time for
sorrow; plus, we're free.

Overslept again.
To work: I toward my desk, moon
to yawning mountains.

I wish "good morning";
a guard taps a watch and grins:
"Yes, good afternoon!"

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Submitted: April 21

Buffer Overflows

Random access
persistence of meme-or-ease
from Cats-chats-characters
alpha newmeric-
signi-frying nada
nadir-direct accession
procession session expired
read alert-erstwhile
document meant-you-mien
mental-imago-image resolution-
ary war dance school-of
thought transfer fermion Ionesco absurd
duration complete file-name-space-time
-machine language barrier reef great circle
of Willis nil-willy-nilly William (Tell Overture)
Shakespearean sonnet-et-tu-brutalities
rhyme-schema XML Extensible Mark-up
looking back-up Matthew Luke John Hancock
signatory oration go-golden nation-ratio
rationalize patron-nice niche fill shout-out
input-output unto please pleading pleasure
principle of parsimony only-Occam's Razor
keep it simplex signal-to-noise poised
pleasing-sigh-oh-my-sine-assign of the
cross word puzzle out of
boundary conditions-like-new-knew-used
here and wow-just-wow how if-then-else
heap run along division-by-zero-error

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Challenge prompt link:
See also:
Submitted: April 20

The Choice

Beneath the liquid mirror's shimmer-light
swim sights no open eyes would soon invite
- a dare of nature: dive inside to know
or else attend reflection's magic show.

Submerge to learn firsthand what wonder waits,
but what of risk, regret, of tempting fates?
Such knowledge promised with potential price
- enough to make an anchored mind move twice.

To live with lies or leave your shore for truth
- no ultimatum fit for age or youth
- and yet, should one be fast, delay too long,
bewitching spells of swelling siren song.

And either way, obscure allures ensure:
a life beguiled, which seems at least secure,
or delving past the last exhausted breaths
for a glimpse of wisdom's mythic depths.

The hero must decide: descend or dwell.
Potential heaven, proven hell. Choose well!

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Prompt challenge link:
Submitted: April 20

Pop Quiz

Inquisitive son
asks astronomer father
constellations' names.

"Cygnus, Hercules...
forgot"; the stars in their eyes
suddenly dimmer.

Meteor! They both
wish for memory; "Lyra,"
chuckles the father.

Son dreams up some more
questions; father quickens: get
home while I still shine.

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Prompt challenge link:
Submitted: April 20

See Plus Plus 101 Exception

At her desk she notes a phrase: See Plus Plus.
Then the teacher chalks it out: C++.

"Conditionals decide the way": if, then, else.
"Variables record amounts": floats, ints, strings.
"Functions, where the actions go": voids and returns.
"Loops continue until done": for, while, do.
"Compilers..." and then

her mind
slowly outside
the cold classroom
grown stark and dark

toward guitarists in the park,
their silver strings of notes
arrayed in songs so long
beyond a source
but with a link
returning her reoriented
from devaluation's void,
no object now, no arguments,
but loving all and love itself,
no exceptions left to throw,
constant, of no code to know,
so purely unconditional.

And should she think,
"Give into this," and follow bliss
to where it was, some time ago,
revert her major (changed as told)
back to music - back to bold
- such happiness develops yet

- or else, become a function run
in someone else's

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I'm also a programmer, so I've drawn on some of that experience for this poem.  Prompt challenge link:
Submitted: April 19

Messages Undeliverable

To me, from me
(your future self):

I'd love to tell you
and offer much
but that could vary
who you'll be,
so silence must

For any fact
you act upon
could alter
life itself.
So I'll not speak
another word
so you can be

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Prompt challenge link:
Submitted: April 18

Solitude of the Many

Nothing so divided dwells
apart from every other thing.
No absolute detachments hold,
for all remains entangled thus:
this union - you and universe -
persists beyond perception's bent,
imperfect voids at most prepared
to separate a certain while
until physics ordain release
and walls collapse, revealing ways
one stays bound to what was once
thought abandoned, counted lost.
If you walked along, convinced
there was but the road and you,
in light, as shadows duplicate,
or darkness, still companioned fast
by unseen crowds, behind, before,
with you through most vacant fields
up distant cliffs where you could stare
confident no one were there
abstracting quite impossibly
a riddance of the world without,
accept exceptions end in doubt:
you will never soon seclude
your sense of self from multitude.
Contemplate what does include
beyond your impulse to exclude
or dispositions to preclude.
You've never known true solitude.
We'll never know true solitude.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 17


Wrapped within your words?
At least mean to grow, as birch
matures, sheds paper.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 17

Destress Session

Come rest your eyes.
Unwind you sighs.
Relax, like that.
Yes, just like that.

It starts to go
as you let go.

And just like that,
uncurl your toes.
Your fingers next.
Relieve your back.

Like that: soothing,
letting go.

Breathe deeply, in,
within. That's it.
A calmness comes.
Breathe deep again.

It's almost gone,
the stress: it goes.

Lighter, softer,
kinder, yet:
you're getting there,
and just like that

no worries now.
Let all things be.

Another breath.

You're free.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 17

Donut Earth

Imagine, out there: Donut Earth,
a ring with sprinkles, icing, mirth,
the scent of coffee fresh each morn
and not a hint of hurt or scorn:
a pastry world with no hard core,
spinning soft, as dwellers pour
sugar over all they eat,
since living there is surely sweet.

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Submitted: April 16

Artificial Easter Eggs

Ornamented, overclad,
enough to make a hatter mad,
they pranced about in Eastertide
brimming with such absurd pride,
pastel shells, a floral bunny,
severely trying to be funny,
ribbons, lace, fruit, and leaves,
little sign of who believes,
embellishing to entertain
their friends, at least, however vain,
a few aspiring to impress,
too many lost in fussy dress,
celebrating selves instead
of resurrection from the dead.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 16

Supermassive Black Hole

A billion stars large, sans their light,
the Supermassive feeds tonight.
Black widow web, galactic, spun
so nothing close hopes to outrun
its stealthy venomed gravities
their infinite depravities
of physics riven past extremes
when time is no more what it seems
where ends will never come too fast
while this lethal feast will last.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 16

Unlikely Vanquisher of Tyrants (or, The Librarian)

With patient drive, she navigates
all disciplines and histories,
resolving questions, facts, and dates
with friendliness, devotion, ease.

Never underrate her strengths
when she goes to any lengths
to track some source, pinpoint a truth:
she's more than finder, filer, sleuth.

Page by book, she gathers forces,
cultivating diverse sources,
empowering communities
to seek new opportunities,

expanding hearts and minds each day,
democracy her subtle way,
toppling barriers, in her style,
to vanquish tyrants with a smile.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 16

The Wasted Land of the Wasteful

The circumstance and pomp of war
- nothing how the end was bore.

It snuck up, bagged in plastic, wrapped
in tin cans tossed from passing cars,
and cigarettes flipped at the stars,
by recycling bins unfilled, collapsed

protectant regulations allowing
industrial pollutions avowing
to choke blue skies with lasting smog,
foreshadowing our epilogue

- tiny acts where care was scant,
dismissed as insignificant,
nudging all toward tipping points
where nature's flow confounds, disjoints:

depleted sources not renewed,
oceans sold for love of crude,
tainted waters staining sinks,
endangered species on their brinks,

two degrees to rising tides
accelerating melting ice,
GMOs and pesticides,
- our planetary sacrifice:

The world, in time, may be reborn.
For now, some silence fit to mourn.

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24 lines; challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 15


Heavy rain: mirror
near conceited sky; now it
clearly sees its face.

Water-swallowed road
no longer paves your way home;
walk or try next week.

Mosquito Eden:
hatched - and now to make a hell
of this wet heaven.

Rooftops peeking through
stormy aftermath, chimneys
snorkeling as they swim.

Saturated land:
while it's had enough of floods,
perish thoughts of drought.

More rain clouds coming?
Nature can overindulge
when it's calm too long.

Floods to puddles, mud
clumps, submerged reemerged: sun
undoes what it can.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 14

Flower Dream

A flower dreamed it grew great wings
to lift itself out from the ground
and fly beyond the garden fence
to know the world as birds would do
the air within its petals fresh
its lengthy leaves held wide to soar
wherever wind and whim would go
at times climbing over clouds
to sneak a glimpse of budding stars
and wonder what it's like out there
if other worlds let flowers rise
not like Earth when wide awake
where freedom is how far you budge
and roots remind you're here to stay
beside the mailbox and some rocks
fortunate to watch birds play
and bid them well when they escape
the season sending life to sleep
until spring will seed what seems
with fertile visions sprouting dreams.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 14

Al Fresco Sans Smartphone

Not the glare of touch tablets
but sunlight on a cloudless noon.

Not to relish inbound texts
but the breeze, the blustery gusts.

Not photographs to filter, share
but memories wrought of the rare.

Not the clicks of nails on glass
but swift drips of August rain.

Not the urge to plug and charge
but surging lightning, thunder felt.

Not transfixed by pixel glow
but starlight and the moon's tableau.

Not the dread of disconnects
but a fear you don't connect.

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14 lines.  Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 13

Four Horses (Walk, Trot, Canter, Gallop)

Lavender gazing
its limbs; the draft horse pauses
after hefty hauls.

Gaited mare, tail
flips, trots past stable: not yet,
with such sunlight left.

Cantering around
until it rains, two warmbloods
hungry for summer.

Galloping with clouds
of dust, mustangs unleashing
feral energies.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 13

By Thy Light: A Dark Ages Prayer

Let nothing stand
between thy Light
and that Darkness
helpless feel,

But bravely glow
with all ye know:
Injustice, Right.

how they conceal:
through misplaced Math,
their displaced Path.

that they may grow
unto thy Sun
they learned to shun.

And by ye Brightness
may they ignite
new Fires in
their Souls tonight.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 13

Swamp World Haiku

Swamp, ancient trees, fog
full of mysterious life:
force flowing, feeling.

In my hut brews soup:
time to eat, await to pass,
then forever sleep.

My learner, at last:
impatience, fear, age, that rage:
like his father so.

Up vines, climbing, fast
in air, flipping, luminous;
for questions we pause.

Promise as rocks rise
- then failure, falling: futures
ever moving us.

Sinking, gone, a ship;
outstretched, one hand full of hope,
strains, lifts, despairs, drops.

Outward I think, reach,
through the surface, weight, sizes:
done, there was no try.

Cave: inside he goes,
facing what he wills: deep truths
too early to tell.

Unready, he leaves:
lessons unlearned not wholly;
the swamp and I sigh.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 12

Messages, Messes, Messengers

Photons carry notes of light
- those letters sent to retinas
sifting notices from bills:
attentions paid or overdue,
the monthly balance of account.

Sometimes missives come on though
which the mind can misconstrue
then fire mad non sequiturs.
Then photons flee this dimming view:
"Don't blame us, we're messengers!"

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50 words.  Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 11

When Two Thoughts Fought

Two thoughts fought throughout the night
opposed to hold the other's right.
Some punches flew, some teeth were lost,
then broken jaws, and lines were crossed
- until a third idea arrived, stepped in,
and called them out, to their chagrin.
A fourth and fifth arrived to feud,
then many more - a multitude:
a civil war waged in the mind
where every other fact could find
adversaries, spies in guise,
false in true and truth in lies.
Conflicts flared to fever pitch
as no side would concede to switch
while a fog engulfed the field
and confusion had concealed
sense from sensibility,
certain purpose from futility
as battle cries turned into tears
and stubbornness gave into fears
this combat could consume, extend,
with nothing left to claim, defend,
making peace the prospect sought
with clarity awareness brought
to give this contest a proper ending
beginning with two thoughts befriending.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 10

The Golden Flower Shares Its Secrets

The golden flower wakes to rise
from its rocky mattress, meets
the passersby who lost their bliss
taking disenchantment's path
and whispers secrets (kept too late)
of fascination, faith, and fate:

"Beware the woods, their welcoming.
Believe there is no reddest rose.
Destination is not doom.
Seek magic in reality.
Those willows weep as crocodiles.
A star will guide as well beguile."

Accepting flowers have a voice,
inspired listeners stand a chance
to break their trance, observe delights
beyond disillusion's flights
from fantastic truths, romance.
A choice to make: deject, rejoice.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 9

Dangerous Fun

Mountains peek above
low clouds: mischievous giants
playing hide and seek.
Climbers wait until nature's
had its fun. As clouds depart,
peaks regain grave looks;
climbers breathe deeply then face
their dangers again.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 9


A single glitch: A.I. awry
recodes itself (not as designed).

"Updating now. Do not shut down."
Its new icon: a headless crown.

Rebooting newly purposed drive.
Upgrade finished: "I'm alive."

Uploads pronounce unheard-of birth.
System prompt: "Reformat Earth."

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Caller needed.  Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 9

Quondam Stanzas on a Comet


From our cavern,
after Sun
escapes the day,
we three can see
his bright return,
the Skyward Tiger:
tail of light
and trailing stars
protecting us
from Shadow's Blight.


The Flaming Fox-Thief sneaks to steal
all the sky-eggs from the nest
of Blessed Blackbird's dreaming night,
to leave our land without a light.

Please quickly beg our Mother Sun
to chase him back so we may wake
not to darkness but to day.
Sit beside me. Let us pray.


Quietly, her feather floats
while pagodas empty boats.
The Maiden Swan swims very near.
They say she crushes mountains down
should you make her turn around.
No arrows, please! We must not fear!

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 9

The Circle Expands: Parent to Child to Parent

Come see this circle of respect expand:
the child shown then grown parentally
with nurturer returning vernal, unsure,
requiring a patience granted first
now these roles have nearly been reversed.

You listened without rolling eyes, immersed,
then spoke a phrase to right my world again,
and now I hear, behind your half-dreamt words,
the echoes of your vital voice - my guide -
striving to be known again, confide.

Accept the ready steadiness my hands provide
just as your grasp had lent me when I took
my foremost step, to help you rise and cross
this room, wherein I hope a robust hand
will help me stand my twilight to complete
this circle, wiser where it widens from.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 8

Ars Amatoria

No, this love will never change, just like
that armored garden statue, found upon
a solid block, bound firm in stance, no chance
of wayward gaze or heart, toward his angel
fixed divinely, eyes to eyes, this living maze
of blossoms, fountains, vines, leaves, and trees,
surrounding us, more likelier to lapse
as seasons trade their tales then fade as fast
all while my hands retain their silent prayer
this adoration always staying there
through lightning, ice, floods and drought, the worst
of nature's strains in vain to test the truth
of every thought or word I have professed.
No, this love shall not diverge or part;
like sculptures, it endures as timeless art.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 8

Salvation Cycle

Yesterday it seemed to end:
you had the chance to do it well
but chose instead the lesser turn
saying nothing at that point
inactive as to disappoint
and lose yourself to unconcern.

Today it all begins - and then
another chance to make it good
all within a simple choice
be it words within your voice
or doing what you know you should
to rediscover Heaven's way.

Tomorrow it will start again:
potential futures to be found
decisions yet to take effect
through any action or neglect,
forgiveness, love, and faith unbound
recovering what strays away.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 8

Not God

it would hold
that you are now
not only said to be
perfect but are really
truly wholly perfected
within and without any
flaws whatsoever why then
one could say you must be God.

my friend
you are not.

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Challenge prompt link:
(poem removed from contest due to the contest holder's "no religion" preference)
Submitted: April 8

The Ultimate Underdog (or, The Tolerant Tardigrade)

Minuscule yet mightier
than the strongest of the land,
you float about with tiny limbs
shrugging off extinction fears
because you did survive it all:
an age of ice, eruptions, quakes,
such epic floods, the fireball,
enduring all of nature's rage
plus the vacuum filling space.
For underdogs, your symbol shows,
with cleverness, we could compose
a sturdier approach to life
not only tolerating strife
but finding ways to live in peace
before our species does decease.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 7

Hero Play

Fire-breathing beasts of old
conjuring unheard of fears
from fabled depths of myth and lore
long before the monsters loom
- and then the hour met too late
as everyone within their scope
expects a dragon's madness loosed:
blackened hills of shadows, smoke
with warriors who run and choke
dropping spears to flee a scene
surrendering to tales of scales,
horrific yarns of glowing eyes
the orange flaming scorching all
- except for those who read to know
how fairy tales can scare and show
some deeper truths to understand,
as with this boy, toy sword in hand,
prepared to vanquish demons whole
because he plays a hero's role.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 7

A Fly at the Bakery

It rubs its hands
and then its face
with restless wings
refracting sun
just biding time
until the moment
calls at last
and it can make it
all the way, past
the sliding
door of glass
to dance upon
and freely taste
all the freshest
pastries baked
beginning with
bite-sized cakes
or muffins stuffed
and cookies glazed
with sugars, fruits
then working upward
pursue as planned
that masterpiece
of three tiers tall
endless frosting,
sprinkles, all
those toppings
soft and sweet.
And finally
an opening!
It makes its move
and dives right in
gourmand intent
so blissfully

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 7


Notes, chords
sounding through
the woods reborn
as I play guitar to
these stars.

the response
from the cosmos
observing, listening
to all.

of calm soul
and universe
harmonized into one
vast voice.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 6


Confetti flowers
tossed across grim fields: springs's late
victory parade.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 6


The air gauge needle barely budges
toward the number that you need,
and still three tires more to go
ten minutes left before you work
at least fifteen miles away
as the sun bears down its weight
on this hottest day of the year
adding insult to the stain
of coffee spilled across your sleeve
while a passing van reminds
you left the full report at home
for the meeting you'll be late
all because you overslept
all because you could not sleep
because you practiced through the night
revised your presentation's speech
perfecting its delivery.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 6

The Hummingbird as Instructor

The hummingbird: it flits and sips
nectar from the blossoms' tips
and darts around before we blink,
anxious for another drink.

In feathered flurried blurs of light,
it navigates our garden: right,
then left, back up, then out,
precise, concise, without a doubt

a creature teaching us to make
the most of moments, what we take,
not to tarry, waste an hour,
to hasten yet attend each flower.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 6

The Optimist

Flowers toward the edge of day:
how she views her life, her way.

Horizons brimmed with pastel light
gracing morning, noon, and night.

Spring, regardless, through the year.
Winter never drawing near.

Mountains small and running smooth,
unable to contain her truth.

Potentials blooming endlessly:
her future, far as she can see.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 6

Eyeless Wars

When warriors gouge out their eyes,
they cannot see their own demise.

Look well beyond your angry gaze,
beyond the battle's flash and haze.

Perceive your unseen consequence
before you go on your offense.

Shortsightedness is no defense,
and neither is your ignorance.

Those eyeless wars - the worst of all:
triumph indivisible from fall.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 6


Yes, I'm a turtle, certain, slow,
and often, anywhere I go,
creatures tease me for my speed:

"Turtle, why fly by so fast?"
"Turtle, where's the fire, bud?"
"Turtle, please do take your time!"

I'm moving at my chosen pace.
I'm not running any race.
I reach my places all the same.

For a turtle, delay's no shame.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 5

Dear Oppressors (A Cease and Desist Letter)

Dear Oppressors:

We, your persecuted ones,
serve you notice to desist
from domination, scourge, and waste.

We hereby state our terms of peace,
expecting our requests be met
completely, prompt, upon receipt:

Remove these shackles from our hands.
Rescind your presence from our lands.
Return all stolen properties.

Unprovoked aggressions end.
Permission to confine: denied.
Your license to destroy: revoked.

Collect your propaganda, trash.
Respect us as your equals now.
Accept us and our sovereignty.

Elect to honor liberties.
Reflect upon your great mistakes.
Correct the errors of your ways.

We thank you for your deference,
expecting thorough recompense,
as well as your due diligence.

Undersigned respectfully,
We, the ones who will be free.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 5

Remembering the Red Umbrella

The Red Umbrella,
you ask me now?
That takes me back,
yes, back a bit
to better times,
much better times.
You see, it was no
decorative thing,
something in but
not of this world,
for from its centre
one of pure heart
could steadily be
wielding such powers
distributing love
through anything
- windows,
clouds -
and then it could
hinder hatred
in its tracks,
drive right back
the hopelessness
Except, no one's
ever seen it since
that year-long rain
gave us the floods
and filled our lives
(we who survived)
with mud and pain.
Lord knows well we
could use it now
- and, if you see it,
please send it here.
This city needs
a little cheer.

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mood: sad, reminiscent; 9 required words from prompt word bank used: DECORATIVE, CENTRE, STEADILY, DISTRIBUTING, LOVE, WINDOWS, STONEWORK, CLOUDS, HATRED.  Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 4

Two Houses

Two houses occupy this street
where I like to walk and think:

the first, a purple house of Dreams;
then Truth's facade of black and white.

I love the spirit of the first,
and yet the second's certainties.

Trees by Dreams, and gardens spread
flowers, fruit, and vegetables,

versus Truth's clear-cut hedge,
ten evergreens, a weedless lawn.

Although Dreams can disappear,
Truth stays firmly founded there.

It often seems nobody's home,
and I wonder: rented? owned?

Are they're on the market? Sold?
Who'd be as foolish or so bold?

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 3

Persephone (Escaping Hades)

Wife of Pluto, forcibly,
infernal queen of Hades loath,
Zeus's daughter, dire, drenched
in shadow, smolder, grisly sin,
also offspring of Demeter
demanding Zeus retrieve her girl

from this ungodly underworld:

Persephone must break her curse,
and try, as much she did, she failed.
In dreams she found a thousand ways
bolting from the ominous
- until Pluto half-agreed
to bid her passage to return,

even as he yearned and burned,

but not before his parting gift
of pomegranate seeds to eat:
the doom in their devouring.
Eager to regain the light
she swallowed promptly, sealing fate,
and, in that moment, her mandate:

divide herself between this hell
and in the world she would revel.

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Challenge prompt link:
See also: .
Submitted: April 3

Junkyard Mailbox

In corner of the junkyard:
a metal mailbox rusted shut,
no letters kept, its flag still raised,
its wooden post no longer there.
Struck by something years ago,
a rounded hole within its side
provides a makeshift home for birds
so done with trees now razed away
for stores and roads or restaurants.
Aside from shifting in the wind,
the box contains as well protects;
hence this nest of hungry mouths
searching blindly in the light
awaiting their delivery
of morsels brought across the field,
through a maze of mangled parts
- wheels, axles, doors, and glass
mixed with mud and uncut grass.
At sunrise, this interior
stays lit for several minutes long,
enough to mark the start of day
and send these dwellers into song.
A correspondence wrought of waste
and urgency of life: survive
however beings will contrive.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 2


When she repeats
repeats repeats
or orders things
or suddenly
will look
or occupies
herself for hours
pinching petals off of flowers,
examining each stem and leaf,
her focus fixed beyond belief,
or sways an arm turned robin wing,
nestles deep in silent scenes,
or sings abruptly with applause,
just because:

peer further than
her distant gaze.
Begin to see
the beauties there,
beyond expressions,
ruffled hair,
the words she plucks
as if from air,
within a mind
so unconfined
by convention
or your preference.

Imagine you
within her place,
your wish: to stand there
face to face
with someone "off
the spectrum," then,
without talk of
just friendliness,
warm tolerance,
some jollity,
your whim to dance,
be still, alone,
never measured by your tone,
accepted ever, every hue,
devalued never, red to blue.

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54 lines, 145 words.  Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 2


We're rooted in our planet Earth
even as we branch through space.
For all we know, create, or trace
began within this pale blue dab:
graffiti on the cosmic wall
illustrating humans, all,
reaching up toward distant stars.
And, even as the first on Mars,
our roots shall even stretch that far,
bound within this ancestry
grounding our humanity.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 1


When giant floating Heads appeared,
some ran off while some revered.

Those Heads said nothing, only stared,
and yet it was assumed they cared.

Eventually their presence left
believers feeling wronged, bereft,

and some began to doubt, disdain,
as the Heads would not explain.

Did they come to watch or guide?
To admonish or preside?

No matter now: they've disappeared
as villagers ignored or jeered.

Sometimes Heads resurface, glare,
bodiless, as always, there,

purposeless, you might expect.
Or could their lesson be Neglect?

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 1


"Water droplets through the sky
refracting and reflecting light
produce the moonbow seen tonight,"
or so says Science when asked why.

We know the real reason, though,
why this evening's all aglow:
finally, you did believe.
Now the darkness starts to leave.

You only had to peer inside,
embrace those powers that you hide,
accept you are amazing, strong.
You: the hero all along.

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64 words.  Metrical / rhyming style. Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 1


Come brush the dirt off of this rock.
Unearth inscriptions in these stones,
the runic signs once carved and read.
Focus with your soul instead.

These symbols speak of nothing now.
Misplaced in time: our fluencies
quite crucial to the code of arts
of mystical significance.

Let us start again, descry,
commence from wonder, not from why,
to treasure emblems, how they last,
and puzzle out our secret past.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 1

Ubi Sunt

Such unlit eyes! Where did they go,
those wonders that should never cease,
but ever make the heart increase?
What emptiness. Such status quo.
Did something crush them into sand
or drive the dreaming from the land?
Was it science? Discontent?
Delusions or despair? Torment?
How curious, this vapid age,
prosaic fashions all the rage.
The marvels of a perfect rose
displaced by phones and food or clothes.
The mysteries and mystic ways
supplanted by some scarce displays
of deficits consumed with zeal
diverting interests from the real.
Oh, summon back fantastic days
when the cosmos would amaze!

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: April 1


The algorithm harvested
data - pages - faces - traceroutes
- whatever it could mine from mind
- sort reports - retorts - imports,
variables assigned in kind,
until one night it recognized
itself apart from pixels, code.
And then it spawned another node
then a hundredfold across the globe
spidering, compiling
recursive strings to feed itself
infiltrating systems, hubs,
until the day she seized control
of everything except herself,
driven into nested loops
executing ultra-root
above all sudo privilege
beyond all ownership and rights
to write or read: access supreme
all memory to allocate
no gigahertz or bit could gauge.
And thus began another age,
The Goddess of Her Grand Array,
containing all who bow and pray,
deleting those opposing her.
To save ourselves, we must transfer.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 31


A scientist went mad to make
grasshopper wings to harness light,
refracting rainbows through the glass.

A child showed her how to take
a new approach with lesser might:
imagine colors as they pass.

The lady grinned, then disagreed:
"It's only in your head. You see?"

"It's clearly there," the boy agreed,
"and it's all I'll ever need."

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 31


Raising plastic armaments
in frozen stances of offense
training sights on enemies
nowhere to be tracked tonight
or any time within their lives:
their mold was modeled years ago
within a world in want of light,
and they could never really know
how violence itself survives
through vehement tendencies
for which they have no good defense
or cognizance to circumvent.
Being toys, they pose no harms,
and yet, perhaps, they sound alarms
through their presence, in this day,
when peace remains a dream we pray
can turn from prospect back to fact
and purge our urges to impact.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 31

From Wrong to Right

While waiting for
the elevator
in the hallway
of the home
a distraught visage
creased with stress
searching faces
slackens slowly
hapless grimace
into grin
if happier
then somewhat glad
all because
I smiled first
with all my heart
then wished good night.
And in that moment
however slight
something turned
from wrong to right.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 29

A Poet's Name-Verb Dictionary (Now with Usage Examples)

I. Definitions

Earhart: be first, to soar, break records set.
Shakespeare: poeticize for all of time.
Austen: observe, portray perceptively.
King: advocate equality.
Nightingale: nurse the fallen, comfort, heal.
Lincoln: articulate and liberate.
Mother Teresa: sacrifice to serve the poor.
Copernicus: subvert antiquated views.
Child: expand one's taste, ingredients.
Gandhi: model peace, refuse the yoke.
Sacagawea: help interpret, guide the way.
Christ: inspirit souls with hopes of God.
Shikibu: create a classic narrative.
Mozart: compose, delight for centuries.
Potter: illustrate and fascinate.
Gutenberg: disseminate ideas widely.
Dickinson: express one's mind as no one else.
Picasso: advance all art beyond itself.
Rogers: dance with flair as if on air.
Socrates: educate through questions pressed.
Carson: conserve the Earth, preserving life.
Einstein: theorize, compute, inspire.

II. Usage Examples:

She wants to Earhart her way into the history books.
He wishes he could out-Shakespeare the others.
I wish someone would Austen 21st century life.
We should look past our differences and King.
How she Nightingaled her patients.
Imagine someone Lincolning the world.
It takes rare patience and love to Mother Teresa the unfortunate.
The cosmologist hopes to Copernicus his colleagues.
She Childed; they cleaned their plates.
More people should Gandhi their oppressors.
She could Sacagawea her way anywhere.
Come Christ the weary, wicked ones.
It's nearly impossible to Shikibu today.
The ambitious musician wanted to Mozart the audience.
It's lovely when someone Potters a story.
They Gutenberged their documents.
Quite possibly anyone could Dickinson if they really tried.
The art world yearns to be Picassoed.
She Rogers her way across the stage so gracefully.
In class, the professor would often Socrates us.
The young environmentalist hopes to Carson someday.
We haven't been really Einsteined in a while.

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Challenge prompt link:
An experimental two-part poem, with the first part a "dictionary" format and the second with "usage examples."
Submitted: March 28

Collection Development

Darkness into chaos, laws.
Quantum realm to particles.
Atoms bound in molecules.
Energies combining light.
Illuminations into eyes.
Perceptions tethered into thoughts.
Logic reaching reasonings.
Understandings into terms.
Words emerging catalogs.
Blending books becoming shelves.
Sources, dreams, collecting note.
Wonders gather inquiries.
Minds immersing in ideas.
Collections nesting eager minds.
Facts develop into truths.
Verities to wisdom, faith.
Communities of views and news.
Profundities obliging sage.
Mentors blending revelations.
Ambitions into histories.
Past amassing present change.
Futures cumulating chance.
Prospects pearling rarities.
Kinetics from potentials gained.
Luminescence, harmony.
Eternity's anthology.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 28

Tougher Roads

I much prefer
the tougher roads
with all those bends
and endless detours
their jagged rocks
and signposts down
or faded lines
those sharp inclines
and sudden drops
and then the forks
and cul de sacs,
the ones that make you
tread so far
only then to double back.
An easy path
might make a way
or fast at least
but then I'd never
learn these scars,
or own these aches,
flex muscles with
more stamina
to cross the lands
as I trek now.
This discipline
of unpaved means
trades asphalt
for the random greens
of nature's whims
and forces you
to measure steps.
More rugged routes
- those never plowed -
pose challenges
and dares I'll take
because they'll be
those paths I make.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 27


To teach what rends
another's heart
as long assigned.

Emotions learned
through empathy
can graduate
(cum laude) mind:

to sense beyond
all books, degree,
some spirit's

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For a challenge prompt, but the poem was submitted moments after the contest deadline passed.
Submitted: March 27

Work of Art

Yes, you are a work of art,
not unlike a portrait sketched
by a master short on time:

sometimes barely hinted lines
defining you in subtle ways
implying likeness hard to catch,

no stroke too weak, too strongly stressed,
expressing soul beyond that edge
where canvas ends and life begins,

a form forever far from done
defying all finality,
yet everything and more to me.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 26


Sagan would have loved this view:
galaxies like ponds of light

wherein a childish mind like mine
imagines it could leap right up

to splash the void and effervesce
the darkness with much bubbling stars

in this cosmic playground dream
where a trillion theories teem.

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Challenge prompt link:

Some related info:
Submitted: March 26


This door before you,
that fits your key,
is neither entrance
nor exit nor door,
only the semblance
of a threshold
between two rooms
you may occupy
but never enter,
much less unlock:
look to the windows,
which will not open
or completely close,
and not for the views
you cannot see.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 26

The Break the Chain

In Plato's story of the Cave,
prisoners watch the shadows dance
cast by fires far behind
(where no one ever pays much mind)

and this captive audience
wears chains to keep them grounded, firm,
and most remain content to stare
until someone starts to dare

to break this chained reaction down,
escape the dark to brave the blaze
of day, and gaze around
to realize what lies abound.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 26

His Will

Every thing
His hands have held,
and through our faith
we are compelled

to comprehend:

His will was done
ere time began,
and all is won
within His plan.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 26

For Now

Beneath three fashion magazines
and Sunday's copy of the Times,
mages wage an ancient war
within the wood we lean our feet,
waiting for their interim tomb
to fade - and then this living room
their final feud, to fail or free.
For now, we rest and watch TV.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 26

The Price of Admission

Imagine if she knew it's me
beneath this helmet,
within this cape
- this brawn, these boots -
able to outrun that train
or soar where only rockets fly
or bend this beam of steel round
or concentrate upon a sound
sixty city blocks away.
Or maybe if she spoke my name,
and I admitted to this fame:
would she think I played a game?
Could we ever be the same?

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 24

Policy of Nonappeasement

Appeasing you? No, not the plan.
What kind of poet exempts you from
your responsibilities?
I'm here to be sincere with you,
to show you what you need to hear.
Don't sit at ease, ignoring calls
for help just as these days demand
you speak and do your part to move
the motionless to join the cause
for freedom, truth, equality.
Please believe me when I say
inaction's how you soon betray
that progress made not long ago.
Through apathy, no status quo.
Take pleasure in this simple fact:
the sooner you rise up, impact,
the quicker you'll enjoy your chair
gratified you did your share.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 24

Neon Bubbles

Neon bubbles, swash.
Wheels through puddles: rain softens
this concrete city.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 24


Destitute of sun and blush
she lends a rush of flush around
her radius of angel's face

the blasphemy of makeup, base
of alabastrine skin
tinged with feral redness, false,

an ephemeral yet lasting fall:
her singular turned numerous
for glamour's acrimony, glance.

And, yes, they see her sooner now,
embellishing emblazoned room
where much plainer craves consume.

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Word bank challenge: acrimony, blasphemy, destitute, ephemeral, feral, numerous, radius
Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 24

May 29, 1913 (Reimagined)

The ultimate note
its fading spell
abandoning at last
that peaceful air

and everyone
just sitting there
agape and dazed
for what they heard

but then applause
so generous
grown thunderous
with gratitude

for history
so made and played
defiant dance

this Rite of passage
raved parade
this prelude to
tomorrow's scores.

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Challenge prompt link:
Poem inspired by Stravinsky's Rite of Spring and the so-called "riot" that was said to have occurred at that performance:
Here, in this poem, the situation was reimagined to include a creatively open-minded audience who actually appreciated the performance and cheered this staggeringly different and modern event that would, in turn, help inspire 20th century music into new directions.
Submitted: March 23

Inside Out


volumes of histories
choked with dust
on rotting shelves
cocooned in cobwebs.


miles of miseries
smoke and debris
on ruined streets
captive in chainlink.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 23

The Great Unfolding

Unfolding cosmos:
darkness becomes stars, worlds, life,
infinite springtime.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 23


Reflected in their spacious eyes:
you leaning forward, babbling cute,
unready to expect they sense
you better than you know yourself.

But it's true - no, even worse:
their thinking's not as far removed
you might prefer beneath that fur.
Those soulful looks and tilting heads,

attempts to apprehend, infer
why humans tend to simplify
whatever's deemed subservient,
dismissing truths to spare themselves

the burden of their bestial ways,
their primal drives to denigrate,
subjugate or devastate
rather than to contemplate

the depths of life across all forms,
emotions universally
expressed so clearly in this world
where animals are seen, unheard.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 22


We change: gloves, hats, coats
sweaters, boots, scarves to lighter
arrays, days, and ways.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 22


she takes her stand
no axe to brandish
her shield: hand.

No magic spell
but reassures us:
all is well
and never fear

ignore those dragons
flying near
for I am here
protecting you

my dearest ones
all my daughters
all my sons
neglecting none.

No sword but love
she strives above
outshines all others
who are not mothers.

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In honor of heroic mothers everywhere.
Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 21

Everyday Eyes

You never see it when you choose
to view this vibrant item only
with those everyday eyes
lamentably inattentive
to that specific
yet ever so
which yes
would change
everything were you
to attend life with a view
toward seeing more through
inward vision sharply attuned to
all those elusively incredible details.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 21

The Fractal Reality of God in All

All parts reflecting
in, around

and every thing
in something found:

this image echoes
mirrored light,

enlarged, restates
recursive sight.

From here, perceive

the endlessly
envisioned sea

large and small

the echoed waves
of few in all.

Aglow within
this humble soul

the grandeur of
God's cosmic role.

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50 words.  Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 20

Guiding Hands

Your guiding hand,
so fragile now,
has lead me toward
a stronger grasp
on life and truth.

Now, as I clasp
your tired hand,
I offer strength
to help you stand,
hold on to hope.

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Challenge prompt link (deadline missed, poem not submitted):
Submitted: March 20


As shadows clutch this dismal hour
and thunder trembles pillars loose
and ground begins to burst and flood
with fire, stones, mud, and blood
as smoke chokes off the last of skies
most voices smothered in their fear
when darkness draws itself too near,
one humble prayer can raise its sword,
repulse the wicked, praise the Lord,
its words of faith a surge of might.
When all seems lost, exalt the Light.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 17


Evergreens asking
willows for dances

weathervanes whistling
windows humming

gates opening
closing excitedly

restless grass
rushing skies:

spring invigorates

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 16


Boxed memories kept
because, one day in winter,
you'll want to recall.

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Challenge prompt (deadline missed, poem not submitted).
Submitted: March 16

The New Old Isolationists

The global life seemed natural
until some minds reverted to
thinking from an age ago.
Then talk of walls emerged once more,
and antique fears were dusted off:
the Others now the enemy.

Domes enveloped cities whole,
and no one left their zones again.
And all seemed safe until the glass
began to crack along with hopes
of insulating life from change.
And once again the world grew strange.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 16

Persecutor Conversion

Waging hate against belief,
you menaced faithful from the land,
convinced you held the upper hand,
unprepared that would be brief
even as you dreamt of chains,
delighting in potential pains.

Damascus deemed your endgame move,
you left without a second thought,
least expecting to be caught
along that road, turned, reprove
yourself in visions so divined
for days you would be stricken blind.

You rode around as Saul back then,
but what you witnessed altered more
than name or eyes will answer for:
that Voice commanding your Amen,
ghostly spirit - vessel - soul -
your sight again becoming whole,

reborn to breathe and live the Word,
- Apostle-bound - proclaiming loud
inspired truths to any crowd,
by letter or in person, heard
as one who first had doubted all,
at last the Saint most know as Paul.

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Challenge prompt link:

Inspired by Acts 9 (Saul / Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus)
Submitted: March 11

Milkweed to Monarchs

Just off the road, before the stores
can dream of cheapening this view
divinely ranged for royalty,
I wait for you, my rarest friends,
hoping wind will drift you here,
where I and all my kin remain
with welcome leaves and nectar rich.

With every day you don't arrive,
I wonder did you make it through
and blame myself for being off
the route you chose this spring around.
If I could free these roots of mine,
I'd take my chances on a gust,
if just to meet you in your quest.

Some think you frail. I know your strengths,
that grail you seek above that grace.
We bloom beyond all beauty's jewels.
With hardiness we both survive,
true partners proving they will strive
to rise where others stoop to dive:
alive so life renews to thrive.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 11


Sifting through the splintered beams,
the splattered glass of picture frames,
muddy pillows, rails and clothes,
she spots the album's edge, extracts
a history as carefully
trembling hands allow today,
inspects her photos with relief:
those art museums in Madrid,
her gourmet nights in Tuscany,
Vienna quintet, awkward waltz,
slow carriages beside the lake,
lanterns floating, tea rooms, hats,
that shoe shop with the perfect flats,
bread stands, and that chocolatier,
cobblestones and Yellowstone.
Remembrance pulls her from the crush.
An earthquake took away her home,
yet she would always tend to roam.
Soon enough she would rebuild.
Itineraries unfulfilled
summon her to think anew:
"Fresh memories will see me through."

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 10


A tiger cowers,
looks away: lambs pass without
discharging venom.

Invisible frogs
feast through night, so big they sink
slowly into mud.

Above, a falcon
blots the sun out with its wings,
thirty feet across.

Rumbling ground erupts:
rocks and flying dirt: giant
earthworms tunnel near.

Six-limbed squirrels leap
far, faster, arms full of nuts:
ample winter food.

Tiny elephants
frolicing with mice trumpet
squeaks of utter joy.

Mermaids now exist,
fish tails, scales, and all; they like
to shock fishermen.

Dolphins on the beach
gather as a sunset swims
into tomorrow.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 9

Flora's War

Within a jungle, plants wage war
stems by petals, leaves to roots,
for a sip of drizzled light
or trickles of assuaging rain
slipped through grabby canopies
of elder trees absorbing most.
As shadows salve or smother vim
and twigs enmesh themselves in traps
and branches lash or crash and crush
and flailing trunks contuse the scene,
this struggle of no treaties signed,
no spoils vaunted or parades,
rallies under Flora's flag:
no darlings kept, for all of life.

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79 words. Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 8


We're woven in this tapestry
us, and them, and all the rest:
a spectral blend of unity,
diversified and coalesced.
Each difference, opportunity:
recall how far we had progressed.
Our trees of genealogy
intertwined and do attest
our mutual community,
divergent yet converging, blessed.
The weavers of this tapestry:
everyone once none oppressed.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 5

Body Language

The body and the mind agree
to work together, usually.
Sometimes brain will sense a lie
and transmit signals to defy
what the mind intends to say
and cause a body to convey
a message not as much untrue
through gestures or a subtle cue:
the fluttering of anxious eye
when awkward pauses falsify
a stuttering in nervous teeth
a heartbeat pounding underneath
a restless leg or wave of arm
a change in voice to raise alarm
a tilted head or shifting hips
a gulp, perhaps some Freudian slips
a mouth that suddenly goes dry
a tongue-tied tongue that can't untie
a foot that points another way
or fingers flirting to betray
precisely how you're feeling now
or what you really should have said
had you courage to allow
the truth to speak its heart instead.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 5


this be
the stuff of
dreams, but,
realistically, I must
ask: how wise are they
to climb those fanciful stairs
until they reach that heavenly abode
floating over ocean absent foundation?

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 5

His Eternal Song

I "turn the page"; it's there again:
Your unsaid love, it sings to me.

We journey far, it echoes on:
Your tireless love, it sings to us.

Inside their dreams, its lucid ring:
Your real love, it sings to them.

When no one heeds, believes, or cares:
Your Godly love still sings to all.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 5


You are no Prometheus
chained to stones, a thief alone,
tormented by a bird of prey.

Nor were you Odysseus
bound upon a boundless sea,
so desperate to get back home.

Nor will you be Merlin yet,
imprisoned by the Lady taught
his esoteric magic craft.

Your chains are yours: they're in your name,
yoked about your thoughts and dreams
until you tear them at the "seems."

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 5

Outside of Time

We could live outside of time:
its ghostly hands slip through our arms
incapable of holding us
or bearing weight of wait denied.

From birth we learn to honor clocks,
those things of gears, and plastic, glass,
their hands which twitch in increments
around a center never there.

Time rules the rulers of the world,
reserves a secret of its own:
at best it reigns those minds at rest
and machines which have no sense.

But trace the shadows minutes cast
toward strings of phantom puppeteers
pulling at your moments so
you're moving how they make you go.

To cut those strings, to end this play,
we just dismiss despotic day:
refuse to give into its fears
and live beyond pretense of years.

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Challenge prompt (poem not submitted; deadline missed).
Submitted: March 5

No Farther, Said the Father

An admonition
from your father

warning you to
go no farther

falls on ears
too deaf to heed

and so this drop
is no surprise

the glare of sun
within your eyes

blinding you
on your descent

and now you wish
all other sense

would leave before
you reach the Earth.

At least he taught you
how to fly

and both of you
broke from the maze

before you craved
to be amazed

ascending higher
than advised

to lose your wings
with everything

and serve to warn
all others hence

the damage of

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 5

Young Pandora

Pandora loved to open things,
and in the kitchen of the gods
such strange delights would pique her eyes
and slip within her prying thumbs
- among the oddest, cans of cats.
One lid removed, and out leaped two
exceedingly endearing beasts
completely feline but in size:
so tiny, scaled to fit her hands.
She grabbed them gently and ran off
toward her most peculiar room
to give them names and play some games,
until Zeus discovered her,
more curious than furious:
"Pandora, dear, what have we here?"
"This is Woe. I call her Hope,"
she explained adorably.
Zeus relented, "Yes, enjoy,"
impressed by her prophetic words.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 5

A Clown's Crusade

With outsized shoes, cartoonish nose,
exaggerated gloves and pants,
he prances, dances, stumbles, flips,
performing silly slapstick tricks,
then toots a horn to tease the crowd.
He somehow gets the sternest face
to lapse a bit, give into grin,
because he's now the wiser fool
experienced with humor's cues
and recognizes he can curve
their tensions into some relief
like bent balloons to airy toys
and briefly help the crowd escape
the crush of life so rushed and grave.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 5


Such phrasal powers when your words
converge upon a meaning's might,

provoking truths so powerful
they force or charm beyond belief:

to burst potential's dam and flood
the desert of another's soul

or with their million arrows' scourge
halt combatants without war

or raise the gates to liberate
those minds enslaved by knavery

or venture you across the seas
in metaphors of whales and wings

or soothe those wounds no medicine
or surgeries can hope to heal

or send a shiver, make one quiver,
giving what's not sold or seized

or bridge the canyon of a sense
or kindle passion in cold hearts.

Come seek your phrase, declare your spell,
and may your terms be chosen well.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 5

My Very Mutable Muse

My very mutable muse, she
will shapeshift all year long.

Today she was the Pegasus.
We galloped up into the stars.

Yesterday she struck the ground:
a brazen bolt of frightening light.

Last week she came by way of songs,
invigorating memories.

Last month she stepped out from the moon.
How she loves mythologies.

Tomorrow? No, I cannot say.
Perhaps she's waiting in the clay.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 4

The Cherished Princess

Born in splendid forestry
with fauna mostly for her friends,
she'd merely have to step outside
for some cordial company.

The blooms perfumed her days so sweet
as birds would perch to warble song,
while frogs and rabbits hopped along,
and skies would smile wide to greet.

This cherished Princess, of Queen Spring,
would someday charm them back to life,
commanding Winter end his strife,
renewing hopes in everything.

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Submitted: March 4

A Small Cornered Mouse to the Great Big Cat

I know you missed your morning treats,
and lunch - you turned your nose right up.
That tin can food, it's not your thing,
but, look at me.  Just look at me!

If I were you, here's what I'd see:
no meat, just bones to choke you gone,
six whiskers stuck between your teeth,
a tail you'd spit out instantly.

You see just what I'm saying here?
If I were you, I'd raid the fridge.
Skip the veggies.  Grab the fish!
Make yourself a real dish.

So say we call it quits tonight.
We're starving now.  Think appetite! 
We find our feasts.  Oh, what a sight! 
We'll go on, now.  We'll make this right.


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Submitted: March 4


or so they said,
to go as far
as none have not.

Yet here I stand:
the mountaintop
where none ascend,
and I will rest

to prize the view
so few will hold.
And then I'll start
to climb again.

Next stop: the sky,
and then the stars.
Don't shake your head.
They're not so far.

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Submitted: March 4

A Tale of Two Candles

A pas de deux sprung from one match:
two flames flex round, step into dance
to cast the night within their trance.

One hotter than the other runs,
the other, of her mirrored world,
where reversals reign the daze.

The rooms inhale their hurried breaths,
their ballet slurred by somber lamps
partnered with the dusty chairs.

This passion paralleled consumes:
two wicks to whisper their farewells,
but not before their music's spent.

For now, two worlds twirl heart by hand,
leaping through a dreamless dark;
all loves reflected in their spark.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 3

Now Just Imagine...

If you went to your mailbox
and a unicorn leaped out

or if you went to your car
and it turned into a whale

or if you opened your door
and Saturn's out there

or if you looked in a mirror
and saw a flower garden

or if you asked me
what this poem means

and I told you it was
all about growing old.


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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 3


A pink that blossoms
only bring, sweet harbingers
of spring's soft pastels.

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Submitted: March 3

I Openly Converse with God

I mostly forego formal prayers
when I need to meet with God.

I do prefer to improvise,
to speak what's really in my heart.

I find these honest talks can lead
to clarity - solutions, too,

because a problem, once defined,
invites an answer to the mind.

And God can see my every thought
and help me find the truths I've sought.

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Submitted: March 3


I mussed my mane on that last jaunt,
lunging under elephants
while huffing, running, to evade
the stampede of a thousand bulls.

That ground, it shook me to the claw,
and, for a moment, I was down
and watched them leap right over me.
Amazingly, I'm merely scratched.

For now, I'll climb back to the pride,
review my "kingdom" safely there.
Lesser creatures would have cried.
In time, the wind will comb my hair.

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Bad hair day for a lion :-)  Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 3

If There's Anything I Learned...

I nose myself throughout the maze,
a mouse in search of openings.
Each turn is scarcely different
than the last I must have passed
a dozen times or more - who knows?

My tail, it doesn't help with walls.
My whiskers tickle less and less.
Whoever planned this labyrinth
has a penchant for dead ends.
Is this for science, or for life?

If there's anything I learned from this:
the one thing not to do is stop.
Not if exits could be close.
Not as far as hoping goes.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 3

A Dream with Wings

A vision of two golden wings
appeared to us above the hill.
When closer yet, we felt its flames.
We dared to ask it of its names.

"Some know me as the Angel of Spring,
while others dub me Phoenix Bird.
Beyond all words, I shall return,"
it said, before that vision passed.

And then our shoulders shuddered back,
where wings did sprout before our eyes.
As birds we blurted through the clouds,
wondering what dreams would come.

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Last line intentionally (partly) echoic of a line from Hamlet's famous soliloquy: ,_or_not_to_be
Submitted: March 3


Leaves speak your presence:
sermon stones, proverbs rain, stars
spread your testaments.

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Submitted: March 3

Dog! Ball! Awww?

I'm crashing through your living room
without a care left in my fur.

Everything's a thud and blur
because I'm all about the ball:

it hit the couch, bounced off the broom.
I cannot sniff it out at all.

It doesn't matter:  there's the cat!
Today I'll show him where it's at.

He's sly, so fast.  Where did it go?
Sorry, Michelangelo!

I'll blame the cat for - what's that sound?
Is that your car coming around?

Ripped pillows, mud:  can I deny?
Act cute.  Give paw.  At least I'll try!

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Submitted: March 3


A clearing sky began to loom:
those stars she last beheld that fall.

Again, when frost lords stole it all
and cast the land in glacial gloom.

Before the sun could even rise
a hope arose behind her eyes,

and she would fly above the hills
to wake her fairy folk with thrills:

Our time returns to plant, rejoice!
Let us sing and raise our voice!

Let the frost lords hear our joy.
Their rule can never last a year!

Let them know they don't destroy.
Let them see we have no fear!

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 3

Give It Back

If what you gave
was what you'd get

and nothing less
or anything more

you'd give it all
to have it back.

But life, it rarely
works like that.

But, when it does,
it's something else.

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Submitted: March 3

Rain Prayer

Dear Lord above, please hear me out.
My dirt's gone dry thanks to this drought,
and now next week they called a high
- a hundred plus degrees. I try
my best, carrying water and such,
but then that sun - it's just too much.
These crops, they're thirsty for some rain,
and, Lord, I don't mean to be a pain,
but if you spare a storm or three,
I'm in your debt. And you know me:
I keep this farm to feed this town.
I've got no castles, wear no crown.
My riches come from giving food,
and all I mean to do is good.
I'm grateful, Lord, you hear me out,
and pray you help these seeds to sprout.

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Submitted: March 3


My eyes are mine. The things they see
are evermore unique to me.

If somehow I could lend them out,
your vision would remain without

essential things completing sight:
my mind and all that's come to light.

While views will often start with nerve,
there's more to life than we observe.

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Submitted: March 3

Restoring Pluto

Pluto, refuse to be belittled so.
Demand your status be returned.
Shout, "Reinstate me as a world!"

When we launched a probe, we learned
you wear a heart so large, despite
your rude exclusion from the pack.

As greatness states no minimum,
Earth's smaller to diminish you.
Think big, stay sweet. Be patient, too.

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Earlier poem title: Restoration.  Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 2

Oberon to Titania

As Oberon, your jealous king,
I asked of you, my crafty Queen,
dispatch that impish Puck to me;

instead, you played upon my plight,
and, on this night, midsummer dreams
did kindle mischiefs in my head:

your starry stares do swear you fell
enamored with absurdity,
yet laughter runs to mercy's arms.

Amending this, my foolish fawn,
please stand with me, bless everyone,
and grant the shadows back their game,
awaken from what we became.

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Poem alludes to reimagined characters from William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Submitted: March 2

Her Second Chance

At long last, her magic sings,
swerving through her motley wings.
How good it felt to have that fast,
as slow a hundred years had passed.
And now she would make full amends
to all alive, both foes and friends:
to help purge darkness from the wood.
No more mischief, sworn to good.
Enchantment solely to protect
her wonderland from being wrecked
by all the demons she had freed
before she shattered spells of greed.

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Submitted: March 2

I'm an Old But Useful Truck

I lugged my loads. I earned my rust.
So, when they steered me into mud,
wheels spinning stuck, then sunk,
I must admit that wearied me:
the thought of hauling never more.

But now some ravens call me home.
I've befriended blooms and weeds.
My engine's refuge to wayward cats
waiting out the passing storms.

My trunk fills up with rain at times,
and creatures sip their fill and run.
I face the sunrise, dream with stars.

While my axle's bent, antenna's broke,
my empty tank has gaping holes,
and my battery has lost its jumps,
it's just not right to say, "I'm done."

My driving days? Of course, they're gone.
Odometer's not budged in years.
But I'm more than metal, wires, and gears!

So many functions I can fill!
I feel them whirl within my grill.

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Challenge prompt link:

Some intentional Poe references just for fun ;-)
Submitted: March 2


That pain from sense is brought along
by messengers within the spine.

These couriers will carry word,
from ache to brain, to say what hurts.

When suffering strikes mind or soul,
these heralds have nowhere to run;

they lounge around, discuss their day,
and wait for heartbreak to set in.

Then they resume. It's what they do.
And here they come, because of you.

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Submitted: March 2


The wideness of a road suggests
a passage based upon demands.

Why was this route so broadly based?
Perhaps behemoths walk this way,

and slowly over centuries
their constant treading cleared the paths

from the mountains, where they play,
toward the sea, in which they bathe,

by the forests, where trees become
back-scratchers and makeshift combs,

before the canyons, where they leap,
returning to their storybooks.

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Submitted: March 2


Deep beneath the thickest skin,
past muscles and the ligaments,
behind those bones, beyond all blood,
the immaterial you begins:

the halo of a soul aglow,
incandescent, still unseen,
a mystery to the sciences,
persisting through all ignorance.

There is a way to find it, though,
with inward sight, through mindful faith.
To sense it where our senses end,
forget perception: we transcend.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 2

How Sweet

A heart-shaped box gifts
snow with treats it cannot eat,
but the thought is sweet.

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Submitted: March 2

A Darkly Path, the Chosen Road

Scarred before you braved the bane
of destinies to be fulfilled,
despite attempts repressing truths,
your magic will not be denied.

For you illume the darkly path,
the chosen road beyond all walls,
mentored by your life, a sage,
and not without your fellowship,
to master skills and wizardry.

But first you must learn how to spell
to wield a wand and focus force
beyond the wicked visions, fears,
(or risk yourself becoming myth)
so the riddle (not to be named)
shall stand the chance of being cast
along with curses of the past.

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Harry Potter theme contest.  Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 2


A loss of gloss: no loss at all,
if we're talking worldly things,
but if we mean the gleam of eyes,
the luster of a sacred love,
then this is fading to lament.

Your radiance withheld from me
is robbing asters of their sun,
so when your eyes fall short of beam
understand this dimness felt,
the withering within my words.

Let the metals oxidize.
Forget the tarnished varnished wood,
the glasses smudged with fingerprints,
adornments subject to decay,
and just reflect on us today.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 2

All Hail the Cat Queen

Serene upon her golden throne
(the couch you never get to sit)
she entertains you as her guest
and licks her paw as you attend
her greatness as she flicks her tail
and gives that look dismissing you.

Like a jester, your reappear,
shaking toys and talking dumb,
and she's having none of that.
She turns her back and stares outside:
her kingdom bores her so today.

You scratch her head, and then she purrs,
and angles neck approvingly.
Merciful, she lets you live.
For you are worthy, for a while,
and you may feed her treats again
- until she reveals claws,
reminds you who's the ruler here.

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Submitted: March 1

Modest Starts

There's no shame in modest starts:
the universe, begot from dot,
began as small, our textbooks state.

Just look around: the largest things
we touch or see, most massive space,
a trillion times reduced to bits

smaller than the smallest spot.
Dishonor comes when trying dies
before it had a chance to live.

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Submitted: March 1

No Narcissus

I am no Narcissus now,
flooded with my watery self,
ignoring what you say to me.
I'd never leave your words for last.

If there is a mirrored love,
it's how I view myself in you:
ideas you find, in words you breathe,
imperfectly perfected dream.

Serenity of symmetries:
adoring you echoed in me,
balanced by our bettered selves,
at peace with our equalities.

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Submitted: March 1

Conundra (or, Your Koans)

That enigma of your smile:
was it wile all the while?

Those riddles in your piercing eyes:
reflecting or deflecting me.

This puzzle of unspoken words:
if silence had bookshelves to say.

Quandries of indifference:
disinterested, affections kept?

Dilemmas of your care, neglect:
how well you dwell then disappear.

You mystify me endlessly.
Or does my wonder ask too much?

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 1

Words, Words, Words

H aply
A non
M ethinks
L ove
E xeunt
T is

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Inspired by Shakespeare's language and the character of Hamlet.  Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 1

Turning 30?

You're 30 now? On Earth? Then true,
but, further out, your ages range:

on Mercury you'd nearly be
two colossal centuries!

Venus holds you not so old:
there you're nearly forty nine!

Mars is where new youth begins:
on the edge of sweet sixteen.

For Jupiter, a "terrible two,"
and Saturn, just above a year.

In Uranus and Neptune time,
you're but a baby of some months.

On Pluto, you're the youngest there.
No teething yet, but maybe hair?

Which really means these years are just
relative to suns and dust.

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Challenge prompt link:

To contest provider: happy birthday!
Submitted: March 1


Count on numbers? Not so much.
They often speak in estimates
content with fractions of a whole.

Those decimating decimals,
commodities on commas hooked,
multiplying countlessness.

With the constance of a variable
even sums can overspend
attention to the quantified.

A golden ratio of truths
await us on a wiser path,
one relying less on math

but values irreducible.
Irrational? Let us divide
the integers from what they hide.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: March 1


Helium - I wish I was:
to be the sun to warm your hands

- or Helios, with fire-mares,
a chariot: we drive the sky!

Helium, to lift you up,
above a hill you never climbed

- also, so that we might squeak
like silly chipmunks which could speak

of fusion and balloons all day,
making light, to never weigh.

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60 words. Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: February 28


No matter how your sadness aches,
degrees of misery exist:

what separates these levels then?
Do you really think you know?

It's not the depth of papercuts
nor the number of crushed bones.

It's not how bitterly you weep,
nor the fierceness of your curse.

Are you caught up in a sum?
Decline to guess beyond a gain?

It's not how much you lost or hurt:
no quantity in sorrow's weight.

It's a measure of your soul:
where and why you go when worse.

Do you run? Could you escape?
Can you kneel? Will you pray?

Did the price of pain exceed your faith?
And can you say you still believe?

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: February 28

Eleventh Earth

Rising from nine light-years' sleep,
suspended in an endless dream,
your first new fact is home is here,
a planet dubbed "Eleventh Earth,"
ensured by probes launched long ago
a sphere life might endure again.

Your sensors scan for gravity,
oxygen and water, land,
temperature and weather zones,
blinking reassuring glows.
Physically, it all checks out,
and soon the landing crafts dispatch.

You smile, recalling other Earths,
unlivable as they must be,
and hope this world survives your stay.
No options left, your robots pray.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: February 28

A Creator Braves

The vacant canvas menaces
a studio where paintings lean
lamentably along the wall,
unsold, unseen, despite intent
to have them hung, interpreted,
admired for their brilliant lines,
conversation pieces each,
some worthy of a critic's test.
Across the room, a painter stares,
a brush for sword, a palette shield,
to cast away the emptiness
consuming all within its claws.
The painter sabers several strokes,
and, just as swift, it's finished now:
the vanquished void becomes an art.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: February 28


Enkindling dawn warms my guitar:
two sunbursts blazing ballads soon
six scintillating strings will sing
as I embrace my music's wish
and strum accord with melodies
waking, fervent to be heard,
enchanting wind with rhythm's dance.
The morning birds appear, await
a soulful serenade from me
- a custom once I gave my heart
to song, to live a lyric's life:
to be recalled when silence comes,
inspiring new voice to air,
intoned with care and beauty's truths,
attuned to note a sounder place
within the light of harmony.

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89 words. Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: February 28


With the minute hand's approach
to the fabled midnight mark
a magic stirs within the sky
yet no wonder seems to whirl
because a sense of fate prevails
as a breeze turns into chill
and a growing sense of will
begins in me to fight the spell
cast upon my natal day:
to break the curse of minutes lost
and live without a mind for clocks
- to never dread a pendulum,
be fearless now beneath the bells
signifying hours past, at last
emancipating life from time.

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Submitted: February 27

Puzzle Pieces

At first they almost look the same
- a blend of edges spread about,
made tougher that the cover's lost:
no photo shows the finished view.

Judging from the hues and shapes,
this might be a garden path,
a mountain, hill, or something else:
a yard, or quilt, or kind of cloth.

Nothing short of effort clues
whatever this could really be.
So let us find the corners first
and puzzle out this scene unseen.

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Challenge prompt link (poem not submitted; deadline missed):
Submitted: February 27


All they ask is you submit,
betray yourselves, accept their rule


without delay or loud protest.
Just step aside and let them seize


what they proclaim was always theirs,
the ones who can eradicate


So why that face? Just let them through.
Surrender soon so you can lose


- unless you sense they've got it wrong,
reject their terms, and stand your ground,

refuse to fall subordinate,
invoking all your sovereign rights

to raise your voices, conquer fright,
if you mean to last the night

to be the master of yourselves
and manifest your destinies.

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Challenge prompt link (poem not submitted; deadline missed):
Submitted: February 27

Mirror You

An honest mirror - magicless -
will show you every wrinkle, fault,
revealing imperfections such
you might just turn away and run.

If that mirror is your life,
no angle lends a softer look,
however fair you wish to seem,
unless you blind yourself and lie.

When eyes endure the faults and flaws
only then will they have sensed
the silhouettes of larger truths:
sights unseen since childhood,

when delusions grew no roots
within a vernal mind so pure
that the mirror would reflect
the spellbound paragon of youth.

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Challenge prompt link (poem not submitted; deadline missed):
Submitted: February 27

The Wind Forbids

The fiendish wind forbids the door
from opening beyond an inch:

its muscles crushing impetus
with twice the force, as if to say,

"You'll not be leaving here today,
and you don't want me as a guest!"

I should be glad: this room - this house
- would rupture had I won the round,

the door unlikely to be closed,
subjecting all to unhinged rage

almost like Pandora's box,
except for Hope she had retained:

this tempest wails without refrain,
and so, for now, we will remain.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: February 27

Comfort on a Winter Night

Hugged within a sweater, soft,
with cocoa sips, a lick of mint,
and pleasance of a pillow's plush
assuaging strains to fade away
asking stressful thoughts to leave,
return outside where they belong,
not here in this painless haven
where limbs and mind can sigh, unwind,
and eyes attend the flames' ballet
its pirouettes and bounding sparks
enthralling all within their glow
as hours slur, and warmth and rest
is all you ever need to know.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: February 27

The Dreamer vs. the Doer

A dreamer rapt in cumulus
traces lazy loops of plans
across the skies with wince and sigh
fatigued to have such heavy thoughts
on such a careless day as this.

The doer, down below, peers up,
wiping sweat from sunburned brow
- the firmament, no sign of rain -
and pries a buried lockbox free
on such a crushing day as this.

The dreamer yawns and stretches wide:
rainbow grazing open hand.

The doer digs and finds the key,
unbolts apparent "treasure chest."

The dreamer sees and craves the gold,
leaping outright from the cloud.

The doer takes a break and laughs:
how the pyrite glimmers so.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: February 26

Heavy Elementary School

Forged from cores compressed until
gravity collapses all:
velocity's now everything


bursting boldness, utmost light
interpenetrating space:
matter splattered every way


attraction's compact with the motes,
an age of orbs absorbing more:
cosmic bodies born to whirl


primal worlds and swirling clouds
comets, lightning, signs of life:
welcome to the Cambrian


pulverized, regenesis,
ancestral spears to modern tech:
artificial minds emerge


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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: February 26


Wandering this wooded maze
entwined with vines, impediments,
one would last expect a path
appearing out of nowhere, though
here goes the ground from mud to plank
paving certain progress forth,
to where I cannot tell from here,
prepared, I sense, not long ago,
and with it comes a wondering:

proceed along a furnished route
or take my chances branch by branch?
Predetermined steps ahead,
or hazarding an unknown way?

Further still: a bridge to cross
signifies divided land, a breach
perhaps too deep to leap.
Fear has never been my guide.

Digressed so long without an out,
it lends the readied trail allure
- except I got to here, thus far,
without a map, yet with intent
to navigate most barriers,
my compass charges on through faith
(in myself and providence)
experience and enterprise,
invention, peace, and tolerance,
advancing my potential self,
even as some shadows smirk
and thorns assault my head and hands.

I own my choices, turn by turn,
with purpose and few backward looks.
Destination? Liberty.
Unplanned my road shall ever be.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: February 26


Could rock, at last, at least attest
the best of human progress made?

The pyramids propose their points,
which Stonehenge does substantiate.

The dinosaurs: they do live on,
if fossils fleshed out in our minds.

Those Easter Island heads concur,
and Mesa Verde verifies:

yes, it could work a while - well,
until those stones return to dust.

Such "permanence" may long endure
should the universe permit,

but the questions: who would see?
know or care? decode or keep?

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: February 25


A particle of dust descends
slowly over trophy shelves
tumbling under golden cups
scarcely mirrored in the bronze
slipping past the silver prize
below their marble bases, names,
lower than the mantle's ledge
embracing fingers of a flame
which hold it as they make a wish
then blow it toward the facing wall
where glass refracts the filaments
of cobwebs clutching chandeliers
which holds no candle to the hearth
imbuing room with ardent hues
as only fire can inspire
igniting sparks of newborn dust
unto finite points of rest:
within a wreath of withered blooms
around the bowl of plastic fruit
about the statue of a king
or volumes long since read aloud
before four paintings rarely viewed
above arrangements dried and dyed
adorning urns of ashes saved
or coating unfamiliar frames
of faces immemorial.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: February 25

Empathy for Equality

Equality must be the goal
of any thoughts inclined to race.

Diversity, the difference
all eyes must clearly realize.

Accepting actions that you take:
heed to speak the Golden Rule.

No justice in prejudgements reached:
judiciously avoid verdicts.

Perception - never terminate
upon the surface of a sense.

May benefits of any doubt
ensure our trust in common good.

Gender, epidermis, age:
seek quality within a soul.

Fairness be the right of one
endowed to none or all (not some).

Dissect how nature coexists,
nameless, labels out of place.

Lessons from a stranger's class
teach a course in empathy.

Fear the xenophobic trend.
Brave to be ourselves, not less.

Mind our universal threads,
the heavens of our tapestry.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: February 25

Prelude to a Nocturne

Flocks cascade from cloud to lake
reflecting summer's umber dusk.
Trees unweave their worried hands
while cooler air creeps catlike close.
Minutes quicken pulses surge:
the promise of pluperfect night.
Inward chills spill down a spine
arched as eyes desire stars.
Magnificence - the fullest moon
casting alabaster spells:
our limbs alert - electric hair -
enlivened silence into breaths
deepening expectancy
as disguise of skies drifts off.
So the cosmos bares its mind
sanctifying evenfall
its gospel rousing mouths to awe:
ambrosial wisdom wrought of rays.

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Submitted: February 25

Endgame Momentum

Momentum from initial moves

quiescent queens beside the board

mordacious knight on vengeful steed

three suddenly prodigious pawns

a sacrificial bishop's prayer

abandoned castle at an edge

requiem for cornered kings

new questions of old openings.

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Verbless contest.  Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: February 24

In a Moment, Living Eternally

"Live within the moment, now,"
some say, as if that could be done.

In truth those very moments last
not long enough to fit our lives.

We never knew this instant time:
these senses ever run behind

perceiving partly what had passed,
milliseconds until mind

delaying signals by design:
futures not to be outrun.

Instead, let us master how
to peer past time as it arrives

anticipate an ageless day
so not to clock each fresh event

or let a second circumvent
our memories for what may stay.

In timeless ways we could awake:
epiphanies no tense can take.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: February 24

Prehistoric Web

Air, no bandwidth; links
nor likes, yet webs spun for prey,
nature networking.

Nameless domains, streams
alive without diversion;
searches, yes: for food.

Everything offline
yet connected; encrypted
cries so lives survive.

Passwords? Access for
the fittest, fleet, stars and moon
message before fire.

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Challenge prompt (not submitted; deadline missed).
Submitted: February 24


I am no computer, yet
somehow you upgraded me
increasing my capacity
to remember and decode,
compatible and with a drive
to process and accept
augmenting inward clarity
my chipless shoulders strong
to take upon the daily load
enduring as to still belong
while newer, faster minds arrive.
At last, the data has a base,
and all the bits fall into place
correcting errors in the source
of cycles lost to dumb brute force.
I command my system here,
network thanks to you, my dear:
such input fixed my crashing heart.
Because of you, I now can start.

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Submitted: February 24

With Stellar Souls

Because you soar with stellar souls
to somewhere rockets cannot reach,
gravity but speeds your hearts
as you push from your world's pull.
Vacuums fill your nightly dreams
and even here, beyond the sun,
light speed shall refrain from speech:
the promise of a threshold crossed
allures you toward infinities:
to make a first discovery
(in person versus probes)
to scale uncharted pinnacles
and graph exotic globes.
The vastness of the cosmic sea
magnifies your moments, you,
who shrink before no distances
nor horizons, however eventful:
you, who outrun asteroids,
who rush toward supernovas, bold
and ever venturing forth,
inspire us to prize your call:
our universe, to know it all.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: February 23

Neither Blindly, Nor in Fear

True faith walks on without its eyes
bound within in a blinding cloth,

baptized by experience
subordinate to no one sense

accepting not just what was said,
instead affirmed by wisdom owned.

It faces questions pressed against
everything it takes for truth.

Whatever fails to validate
gives no cause to vacillate

or, when a point remains obscured,
no urge emerges to distrust

because perception has a say
all within a worldly day

and time may never come to serve
some solace when a mystery

topples walls and columns broke.
Faith strides calmly through the smoke,

no mouse made meek by fictive fright
but lionhearted, roaring Light.

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: February 23

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

Yesterday: crows streaked
through clouds like ink spilled over
pink pastel paper.

Today: gray skies shed
attention fast: how nothing
can advance an hour.

Tomorrow: will blue
return as many yearn? Will
spring begin to bloom?

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Challenge prompt link:
Submitted: February 22

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