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March 6, 2015

Poetry Friday--15 Words More Or Less

For many years I participated in Laura Salas's "15 Words or Less Poems" weekly photo challenge. This past year it has been taking me longer to get moving in the morning. However, I couldn't leave the house without posting my challenge poem! As a result, I was getting to work later and later on Thursdays!

After much internal conversation I decided to stop posting poems on Laura's blog, but to continue to be challenged to write a Thursday poem from her photo prompt. What this did for me was allow me to get to work fairly close to "on time," take more care in writing a poem, and, it freed me from the 15 words restriction. Most weeks since January 15, it has worked fairly well, although one haiku took me a week and a half to finish!

January 15
After Bathing a Dog

A dog shakes.
Water is flung.
This motion
is explained
by physics
using words
like centripetal
and mass.
This precision
leaves unanswered
the question of
why the dog does
it with such a
look of vengeance.

January 22

The Counter Bell Self-Image Test

"Please ring the bell for service."


for assistance

is preferable

to shattering
the silence.

She'd rather

the floor open
up and swallow

her whole.

January 29
iris in a bucket
its wry smile...
royal symbol reduced
to a cheap commodity

February 5
first grader...
reluctantly he shares
his pinecones

February 12
his eyes--were they
green-brown or brown-green?
...Valentine's Day

February 19
gnarly oak
...the healing hurts more
than the injury

Last week's poem, another tanka, I've made into a haiga. It will be posted on Sunday, so please come back!

I hope to continue with the non-posted weekly challenge poem, and will probably do periodic postings here. I think all the poems can stand alone without the prompt pictures, but if you're curious, click here, then find the date.

The counter bell seen above is one we used for many, many years at the library I work in. It is from a time before we needed two people on the front desk at all times. Despite rumors of public libraries' demise, we're busier than ever. Sadly, though, it's all about the entertainment, not so much about the reading.

The Round-Up for today is found at Robyn Campbell's blog, be sure to stop by.

Photo and poems © Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.


  1. Nicely done, Diane! I especially liked Feb. 5th's poem. I try to share something on Laura's 15-word blog posts when I can - but usually it simply helps me get an idea onto paper, so once it's posted and saved on my computer I can go back and refine it. I've got so many things going on right now I'd forget half of everything if I didn't create these little poetic 'notes' for myself!

    1. Matt, I keep old envelops under my keyboard and scratch notes on them. I used to use post-its, but, with an abundance of junk mail, reusing envelops is cheaper and makes me feel a little less wasteful.

  2. I do Laura's challenge, but lately I've had my first morning group do it on Thursdays. They amaze me with how they have gone from strict description to using metaphor. I remember most of the pictures. I like your conclusion on Feb. 9th that sometimes the healing hurts more than the injury. So true.

    1. Thanks, Margaret! It's nice to know that metaphor isn't something alien to kids!

  3. That old bell could tell some tales! I, too, hate ringing a bell for service, even if most places around our campus use cow bells instead of the kind pictured. Thank you for sharing your process of making this exercise your own. I used to do the challenge during my lunch break, but found, like you and Matt, it didn't give me enough time to be satisfied. Maybe I'll try it again!

  4. Oh, that counter bell poem! Something each of us has likely felt, but I've never read a poem about it. Thanks for sharing all of these; and it's fun to read in the comments how Laura's challenge blooms in different lives and spaces.
    [Also, glad you public librarians are busy - but, yes, sad about less reading. Sigh.]

    1. Wow, Robyn, comment stopped me cold. I hadn't thought about a poem, or any of my writing for that matter, as being something truly unique.

  5. These are brilliant! The counter bell poem is spot on (some days - other days don't you just want to smash your hand down again and again and again?) and I love the dog's "look of vengeance" in the first poem so so much!

    1. A dog's vengeful expression, though, is nothing compared to a cat's!

  6. The counter bell poem was my favorite too -- I like the tension running through and then being surprised by a flash portrait of a woman. And that is some bell -- lots of personality and history.

    1. No one knows where the bell originally came from. I wish I knew its history. The underneath looks primitive and rusty, but, desk bells aren't a very complicated design, so this one could be 100 years old, or from just before I started working there in 1986!

  7. Love your first grader haiku--brought a whole show-and-tell scene to mind. And yes, I've always wondered if anyone is brave enough to ring the bell! Thanks for sharing these.

    1. Thanks, Buffy, that's what a haiku should do--allow the reader to imagine a scene from what isn't in the poem.

  8. I rang one of those bells just yesterday... it took great fortitude to do so. Unlike some children who tend to slam the living daylights out of it! I also love Feb 5's haiku. Which haiku took you a week and a half? BTW, Diane, I hope you'll take part in the DMC challenge this month– tanka!

    1. Actually it was the gnarly oak one. I spent a lot of time googling images of gnarly trees and didn't find what I was looking for. An oak came closest, but, the tree I see in my mind's eye isn't an oak. I'll be damned if I know what it is, though!

  9. Sorry to read your comment about the library "entertainment". I need to ask my librarians if that's true here too. I love the counter bell poem, & that you're working with the prompts "outside". I've had to skip a few weeks because I'm so busy. Maybe I'll take your idea, Diane.

    1. I'd be interested in hearing what your librarians have to say, Linda. I'm only speaking from a public librarian's perspective. I imagine in schools it's business as usual!

  10. Jan. 29th makes me sad. So true. And Feb. 5th -- I'm curious about that kid. I want to know more!

    1. Mary Lee, I agree about Jan. 29. Modern life is a mixed blessing. It's nice to be able to get flowers all year long, but, one misses the anticipation and delight in the reward.