A daily poetry practice to generate and sustain the Life/Lines among us, for published and novice poets alike
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Write a short poem (rhyming not necessary) that includes each of the following 5 words (anywhere and in any order). Poems should not exceed 7 or 8 lines.
Send us your poem via our Submissions page or post on Twitter or Facebook using the hashtag #lifelines.
Today’s words were contributed by Walter Johnson, the Winthrop Professor of History and professor of African and African American studies at Harvard University. He is author of The Broken Heart of America: St. Louis and the Violent History of the United States and the keynote speaker for today’s Faculty Book Celebration (4 pm) and Panel Discussion (12 pm).
Poems submitted for April 1
Peace is deviltry, tamed with a touch.
Peace is hilarity, a jolting joy of the soul.
Peace is mercy, that begins with a Child,
and the gathering who
followed a star.
no mercy for those
the deviltry of the child
by Lloyd Klinedinst
gathering as they always do,
anticipation, waiting for the start.
one child begins, others follow.
round and round, hilarity ensues,
no deviltry from the teacher , but no mercy either
as she pushes faster and faster.
A child full of mischief and deviltry.
A gathering of friends and hilarity.
Trampling the in the garden flowers.
No mercy from Mom’s loving powers!
What deviltry be this?
A child lecturing a gathering
A toddler intoning
About the quality of mercy?
It strains credulity.
But let hilarity ensue.
It's April first
At the university zoo.
— Rita Winters
Gathering the memories of my children
I pluck the moments of hilarity
and collect the bits of their deviltry
I carefully select the budding calm
and arrange them in a vase of love
I fill in the gaps with tender mercies
and create a bouquet of life
Mary K. Clemens
No one believes in deviltry anymore.
I wonder when the gathering winds come
sinister whom they shall ask for mercy.
Me, I'm just a child looking clearly
at the hilarity of it all.
— Matthew Freeman
Everyone occasionally causes unintended pain
Espièglerie not wickedness
But deviltry nonetheless
Your comment at the gathering seemed like hilarity at first (to you) child
The compassion of mercy for the undeserving is as ubiquitous as the the perceived slight
Remember, meaning hinges on perspective
My Fellow Americans . . .
we are gathering here today
to celebrate the birth of a child
the inevitable bastard that is borne
from the ironic coupling of strange bedfellows
the consummation of marriage between deviltry and mercy
her surname is, of course, Politic
but we will call her Hilarity
an old family name.
I am aware now, all these years later,
that it may have been deviltry,
that late-night, illicit cruise across the river for legal 3.2 Miller ponies
first tastes of freedom, however bitter
no longer a child
music up and windows down
rolling stones gathering speed and praying for mercy.
Today it is our duty
to gift the gathering
with a dash of deviltry
Just one step up
from the child warning
of the big hairy green eyed
spider crawling up your back
Show no mercy
Forced hilarity is the rule of the day.
The child, shy,
peered between the balusters,
startled by the hilarity
of adults she knew as stern.
What deviltry had possessed them, with their
strange bright lipstick and clinking ice cubes, their
abandoned chores and progeny?
Who were they now? And would they still
when the spell broke?
— Jeannette Cooperman
hilarity is mercy
gathering in your throat
like canaries releasing their child
on a deviltry of wings
singing upside down, then swirling around
bounding sound here there
and scaring the time from cuckoos
and their little doors flapping like wings and things
— Dan Cuddy
When I was just a child, while I sweetly smiled
I’d entertain at every family gathering
While my kin would sit spell bound, I’d wave my magic wand
and soon all would commence to blathering
With no Barbarity. Vulgarity. Deviltry or fear, I’d deftly cause my dog to disappear
But the hilarity was brief, for soon I’d realize the truth
Mercy, I’ll need another doggie for next year.
There was a juxtaposition of mercy and deviltry
The nails piercing the wrists and feet of the begotten child
Shriek of the depravity and evil of humankind.
Revealing the depth of our brokenness
Were the soldiers grim in this moment of cosmic hilarity?
Did they think they were removing something from the world?
In this horrific gathering, they actually engaged in creation
Revealing the Realm of God
— Chad Savage
Have mercy oh dear the child in me
Gathering The courage and hilarity
To see the end is near
For Pandemic deviltry?
Her child at play,
daily gathering joy,
tossing mischief and hilarity
into the air like balls.
Should mischief turn to deviltry,
humor become mockery;
she'd have no mercy.
Let me choose
a child’s smile
with mirth and hilarity
over a gathering
full of deviltry
that has no mercy
Everyone's miserable, she whispered, retreating to the kitchen.
Get them drunk. I obliged, filling flutes and flitting about
with my best smile and witty remarks. Quickly
things became less miserable, at least by appearances.
Then the hilarity of the gathering went null. You snuck
into my mind like a streak of deviltry, he whispered,
as I bent to clear a table. Suddenly I felt like a child again, one who knew
none of the rules. I'm no devil, I replied weakly, and he laughed.
No devil, I repeated, this time stronger. I removed the rag from my waist
and snapped it like a whip. No devil, I said a third time, and he backed away,
his hands raised as though begging for mercy,
or some other archaic and undue blessing.
the child had left that empty space
me so empty you so free
you show no mercy
for broken stems
the resulting scattering and mindless gathering
for you it was just deviltry
and space to (fill and time to) watch
with inane hilarity
An Ordinary Day
An ordinary office building, an ordinary day,
Employees gathering round the water cooler,
Making small talk, moments of hilarity.
Then gunfire, out of nowhere, no mercy shown.
One man, two women and a child shot dead.
So commonplace, this deviltry.
An ordinary day.
What's in the details? Deviltry!
How many pounds in a ton?
How many pints in a gallon?
Where did I put my glasses and
how many lives remain for my cat?
A child gathering snippets and facts
and struggling to get the details right
needs mercy, not hilarity.
Mary Ellen Benson
In the biblical sense, the ogre sought to prey
Upon the manchild with sling and deviltry at play
When from the gathering “MERCY!” upon a strident cry
With both hilarity and horror from the philistines nearby
As behemoth scoffed while taunting
He opened wide his one lone eye
With his might and furor flaunting
Declared “let the little devil try”.
(We all know what happened next. For so it says in OT text)
to our gathering as we guffaw
at the child’s deviltry
what a mercy to have
John J. Han
Easter April Sunday
“Wake up,” the spring child commands,
April strives, while hilarity and deviltry
March hand in hand up the mist green hill
Up to no good. Frogs dance in the ditches,
The red buds ready to burst leaves fallen
From the naked oaks, regardless of snow
gathering on the ground; weather come south
Wind shows no mercy to bowing daffodils.
To be honest, I’d describe myself as entirely at your mercy
Gathering and ungathering and gathering again
The child-like wonder, the hilarity
The summer lemonade smell of your hair
What deviltry is this? Perhaps none.
The gathering crowd watches deviltry
incarnate kneel on his brother’s neck.
Pale Cain’s hands are shoved
in blue pockets. His chilled eyes
radiate silent, deadly hilarity.
A child of God breathes his last,
as the crowd begs for mercy
and is ignored.
the gathering brightens
rings around the rosy
it might be deviltry, but just as so it mightn't
as so often happens, they encircle
a child symbolizing some future
& delighting in some opaque hilarity
Again, these patient lungs,
this belly, this rib cage rise and swell, make space
for the gathering of breath, with its comings
and goings: a restless child
up to deviltry, seeking hilarity,
testing the limits of mercy.
Jill H., Duluth, MN
The child of mercy
gathering the cup to their lip
like chrism sparkling in gramercy
smiles and out the mouth more guttural than sip
the spark is lit but hilarity is missed
hope and joy gathering like angels in the air
descending the heights, freeing of bodily sin
back to talk of grown up things, deviltry of men.
It's a mercy I am well
but missing the hilarity of gathering
in person with friends,
and how my daughter's child is doing
both her goodness and deviltry.
Margaret Fourt Goka
Mercy! Hilarity ensued when the deviltry
of my inner child went wild
gathering petunias, pansies, and
primrose to plant around trees.
“Going to be a hard freeze,”
my neighbor screamed. “Better wait.”
I laughed and beamed. “Won’t kill these.
They’re all fake.”
On Lil Nas X’s MONTERO/Call Me By Your Name
Lawd ham’mercy on the gathering throngs!
The hilarity at the response to this one song.
Call Me By Your Name, the child says.
“Deviltry!” Screams the masses. “#God ain’t dead!”
Oh Mercy Me
Oh mercy me, oh mercy me!
A gathering, I declare I see
to love and laugh at the hilarity-
of a tender child’s attempt at deviltry.
It gives us pause, the authenticity
in this world of false celebrity.
Oh mercy me, what revelry!
Their infernal child,
Resolute devotee of deviltry,
Planted a timed stink-bomb that,
For the purpose of his supreme hilarity,
Would detonate in its disgusting glory
At 3pm, before the fifty guests
Invited to their summer, garden gathering.
What are the limits of mercy?
Tonight, thinking about the man
with mercy, I see first the child and
our devilish dawn gatherings. Floored,
I sat cross-legged with him embedded in my lap.
The rising sun and a cool breeze bring laughter, hilarity.
My long, bare arms wrap his small body while we rock,
wondrously, until time advanced.
The lazy warmup toss, a deception of distance
A betrayal of the season stamina, more than 17 games
A gathering in the outfield to determine
The child worthy of a warmup ball
The hilarity of a uniform with belts
Beer Here! Mercy from the hot sun, the doldrums
The deviltry just outside the gates, the sponsors, the payrolls
The fools of April
The deviltry of the god
astonished the child.
He summoned a gathering,
To speak the truth:
God is dead...
He looked at the sky for confirmation.
The hilarity of his act
went unnoticed, he became the new God.
Hilarity rocked through us, seven grands on the ground
lips sticky with popsicle and roasted marshmallow. Granny
called us devils, our sugar zapped mouths tormenting her.
This gathering was her doing, her mercy: hold us together,
hear the stories, learn the ways, watch the ancestors. The great
granduncle, her brother, said "she knows deviltry, she was a child too".
She told him hush, but winked at us just the same.
— M. E. Hope
This child with her deviltry
Her whooping, shouting, running around
Makes this somber gathering smile as one.
This warm spring day delights us
The child’s mischief is a part
Of all our good-natured hilarity
As we celebrate our new beginnings.
Such hilarity, mi laugh.
As I watch de yardie bwoys
Dem a gatherin' dey confidence
Like a lickle child inna him deviltry.
— J. Thomas
The hilarity of the fact that
Our bodies are shown no mercy
In the beginning and the end of life
Could not be mere coincidence. I’m convinced.
A newborn child and an elderly person are entirely opposites.
One is spritely, the other maybe spritely for their age
Which should relegate them to slow, rehearsed movements.
One gathering life faster every next second, the other giving wisdom onto the next generation.
Yet, it is Deviltry that both are anonymous by face.
And so, unable to told apart from the other babies and grandparents,
Heaven thinks it funny that we come and go from this world the same.
- Ellery Saluck
Headline image: Marco Marques via Unsplash