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 Ray Hartmann, founder of The Riverfront Times (and columnist), co-founder and panelist for 33 years on KETC’s Donnybrook and host of the KTRS show St. Louis in the Know with Ray Hartmann.
Poems submitted for April 16
Awaiting word as muddled nostalgia reigned.
Splashing tears puddling below
Cast crystalline sunlight upon ceiling stained,
Unnoticed in mother’s bleak turn.
In these bleak days of death
I cannot bring myself
To think of my Medea mother
Sunlight may touch my ceiling
But cannot provoke nostalgia
As I stare at the ceiling doing my crunches
My mind pushes past what the covid-19 virus made bleak
Onto the beauty the sunlight displays
Onto the nostalgia my memory replays
Envisioning the future hugs of my Mother
Shortly after the peak we can better love each other
— Maureen Kleekamp
The silent truth lives in sometimes
Dedication is not always rewarded
Owl devours baby bird
You still need oxygen to breathe
— Jay Buchanan
Mother, should I trust the government?
Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak November
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the sunlight gloated o’er.
Mother, should I run for President?
No nostalgia, but the feeling we´re all now dancing on the ceiling.
Mother, should I build the wall?
— Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, Comparative Literature
Warm bread by my mother
Perfectly circular rotis i didnt care for
The nostalgia of oblong bread
Bleak premonitions of long lost times
Popcorn paint ceiling spreads more light they say
But tainted windows banish the sunlight
Time to create new imperfect bread together!
— Braveheart Gillani
A ceiling on
— james goodman 4.16.20
Helter-Skelter vs. Shelter-in-Place
In the sunlight, as if under their mother's eyes,
fat men, AK-47s strapped over shoulder, belly,
walk their wacky-shack protest in Lansing, Michigan,
a nostalgia of protest, Adam Hale, Patrick Henry,
on the floor of individualism, no ceiling accepted;
the creak of lead feet of the hirsute, mature, little fat boys,
defying the teacher's community rules with big-boom toys,
tell the whole school, a country, the future's deathly bleak.
— Dan Cuddy
16th April 2020
I wrote to my mother.
I hated her for a while (for no reason).
Was it nostalgia or the bleak
future that prompted me.
I refuse to go in the sunlight.
I stare at the ceiling all day long,
thinking about mother and the
hatred I felt towards everyone.
— Jey Sushil (Track for International Writers)
At any moment, dahlings,
you can put your mother on the ceiling,
join her there for a tea-party,
pour sunlight and nostalgia into tiny
toss the contents wildly about,
shout, "Bleak, be banished!
Let's invite the neighbors;
there's plenty to go around.
— January Kiefer
Stars go black before they shine.
I watch them on my ceiling
while mother cooks breakfast eggs.
Outside, sunlight cries out for naked shoulders.
For muddy creeks to ignite.
For baby tortoises to warm.
Inside, the black skillet bubbles with yolks.
Nothing is bleak, is it?
Or is that the sting of nostalgia?
I’ve wearied of nostalgia.
Faces etched on the ceiling
cracks in the paint: the old
woman, the bleak clown,
the mother of water spots
that lead me to cover my head.
Morning sunlight erased
the eyes and mouths; the unease
returns these days.
— M.E. Hope
Sunlight, the mother of all joy, slants across the potted ferns,
hoping to cheer patients
whose patience has sunk into gray nostalgia — the past
so infinitely preferable,
the present so bleak.
— Jeannette Cooperman
Sunlight pours through my window
and my cats roll around joyfully
as succulent shadows are painted on the walls.
My little orange one climbs until she can get no closer to the ceiling.
On days like today I have no need for nostalgia
nor the self-pitying looks at a bleak history.
On days like today I imagine becoming a mother
who can share this perfect slice of an imperfect world.
— Britt DeVore
Early morning sunlight shone through the stained glass.
Shards of shattered light move across the sanctuary ceiling and walls.
Blue from the Blessed Mother. Red from the blood of Christ.
Green from the hills of Jerusalem and the cloak of St. John.
I come here alone. A pilgrim. Seeking solace in theses bleak times.
Is this the first step in a journey of faith renewed?
Or simply nostalgia for the certainty of my youth?
Oh bless me, Father, for I have sinned.
— Kevin Farrrell
When the sunlight came in I
could feel my nose touching
the ceiling. And at the bar
I was so filled with bleak nostalgia that
I saw my mother in the mirror.
It was an average day in Dogtown.
— Matthew Freeman
Despite ongoing isolation,
cherry blossoms in sunlight
indemnify my bleak mood.
Infatuated as a new mother,
happiness shimmers on the ceiling
of nostalgia, and I weep with joy.
— Linda O'Connell
Lockdown in a Nursing Home
There she sits staring at the ceiling,
Not moving, not awake, yet not asleep,
The day seems bleak as hour by hour,
It passes away,
TV’s blaring from every room,
Looking back at times she could wander freely,
The nostalgia of days past make today
Bitter sweet for my Mother.
The sunlight of the desert no longer blazes, having turned to the bleak soaking of the monsoon.
All you can do is lay there, face to the ceiling, as the dings and groans of machines and tubes attend to you like a mother.
There is no nostalgia in dying.
— Stacey Barton, MSW, LCSW
through the prism of ancient glass
shedding a cascading, tender spectrum of love
crosswise on the ceiling.
stand accepting in the corner,
draped in vintage black and white,
soaking in what mother has brought,
to render away,
the bleak nostalgia of days gone by,
and bear the
of an ascending age.
Dust motes tremble in the wake of a ceiling fan
while Mother, during her bleak last hours,
fades in the dolorous sunlight of winter
to a footnote in the nostalgia of an era long past.
— Dianna Graveman
Piercing sunlight, squinting eyes
No ceiling to the sky today.
Defying a bleak tomorrow.
Happiness from yesterdays
Mother used to braid my hair.
— Alexandra Steszewski
The passageway is bleak,
the ceiling low—far
“Follow it down,
’twill lead you to the Mothers.”
delight in what exists no more
and yet waits to be.
— James B. Moog
She lay sleeping, my mother,
her face towards the ceiling.
My memories, nostalgia
bring forth the feeling
of sunlight and laughter,
not bleak skies and rain.
She does not deserve
to feel this much pain.
— Kelley Lingle
In bleak mid-pandemic spring
sunlight cuts a path across the kitchen ceiling
as if it had nothing better to do
bouncing off the sink
giving way to memory and long-lost senses
much more than nostalgia
my mother at the stove, a pie in her hand.
I can smell it.
— Steve Givens
“Put Your Mother on the Ceiling”
Remember that old game?
Dress her in a red tutu,
make her dance,
on the back of an elephant.
Random ray of sunlight
on a bleak and cloudy day
— Carol Haake 4/16/2020
Looking up from my screen
I see ceiling, wall, window
outside sunlight bathing mother nature
invisibly bleak with her deadly virus
newly recently birthed from her womb
— 2020 04 16 by Lloyd Klinedinst
You are calling out to me!
Dear grandmother, in your bleakest moments
When nothing seems closer than
The sunlight fanning your crooked ceiling
and the stench of endless sky turned grey.
It is not nostalgia that summons me from your bedside
You are just so very far away.
— Nicci Mowszowski
Love in the Last Hour
Sunlight glances off the peeling ceiling paint and warms the window
where he sits and waits for her, the bleak winter scape beyond
blinding with light caught in snowdrifts and the ice-tapered pond.
He’d made the tea and biscuits his mother had loved,
the scent of peppermint and melted butter rising like nostalgia,
a friendly ghost in the room. The crunch of tires
and rumble of the old pickup’s engine, and his heart shivers.
— Melissa Gurley Bancks
With sunlight as my ceiling
I recline in nostalgia
outside on my deck
after this bleak mother of winters
— Julia Gordon-Bramer
(no I never, ever called her that)
needs a place to manage bleak paperwork
and bright conversations
so in the room where I used to stay
she papers over sunlight windows
installs her spreadsheets and contact reports
and ignores the ceiling creaking
— Jay Buchanan
Mother mother can you hear me?
How I miss your sunlight eyes.
Bleak and lonely, crack the ceiling
Nostalgia taunts in sunrise skies.
— Lisa Slater
Like a mother nurturing her child
I try to give sustenance to my moods these days
Whether it’s a bleak low ceiling or dazzling sunlight
I can wallow in the sadness or bask in the delight
But nostalgia for days past that I yearn to repeat
Is what gets me by in this period of bitter and sweet
— Betty Springfield
Late in the morning,
A mother bird cranes her neck outside the window
Trying to complete her second nest with a white plastic sliver
Like a piece of a casing to something
Which might have been in my house at one point.
Sunlight makes rainbows on the ceiling--
Funny science because it is a little bleak out there now.
And I am lying on my side watching her try time and again.
It feels like de ja vú or nostalgia, something of the like.
But it is the first time I have seen her.
I pick my stuffed animal from the bedroom floor to me and draw my covers
As I fall asleep watching her play Tetris.
— Ellery Saluck
Mother love, unconditional
-brings sunlight to a dark room.
Her intentions meander now;
nostalgia brings a smile.
Not forever bleak, only this moment in time.
Though pained, she pushes through.
Mother love keeps her strong.
I will put a ceiling on my thoughts for now.
— Laurie J
Remember When We Could Go to the Park and Play on Swings? That was fun.
The warmth I feel in sunlight brings her back to me
With an air of nostalgia when the future seems bleak.
Mother always rocked the porch swing too high—
So high the chain almost unlinked from the ceiling.
It never did, and we never fell.
We’d just laugh and laugh.
Feeling nostalgic, reconnecting with a high school friend
Recounting my Mother’s death.
After the call, arriving home from work.
My heart bleak.
Sunlight reflecting off the porch ceiling
Onto the concrete railing,
Where sits a candle in a jar, flickering
How? Who? Unknown to this day.
— David Bates
i don’t want to be anyone's mother
i like sleeping in, sex, and silence too much
a stepmother, host mother, godmother, father—sure,
those roles seem far less bleak
yet i keep waiting to see if perhaps I’ll wake up one day
to sunlight on my face and a clamor in my womb
as maternal instinct rushes in, disheveled, sweaty, late,
asking what she missed, as I stare at the ceiling in awe.
now, when I see a baby, I feel nothing
but faint nostalgia for being held
— Gabriella Martin
Nostalgia, today, for that time when I was eight,
And staring at the ceiling thought how interesting
It would be to live in that clean, open space,
In sunlight, nothing bleak or cluttered. You’d
Have to jump over the tops of the door frames
to get around, though, my mother pointed out.
I said that would not be a problem for me!
— Carol Niederlander
I would tell my mother
If she were here —
I resent the sunlight, the way it taunts with playful beckoning
Seeding a restive nostalgia for a normal not to be.
Bleak dreary days
Void of light, of reasons to rise
So that I can watch in gray morning stillness
How the ceiling edges closer.
the sunlight can't hurt me
when I'm upside down
on the ceiling
nostalgia too will pass
like mother, like father
the outlook is bleak, but
now there is time
— Tobias Feldmann (International Writers Track)
I was a young mother once.
Nostalgia alters history to make those years less bleak.
There were pleasant days with sunshine and childish laughter,
handsful of dandelions and sweet, sticky kisses.
In the house, my dissatisfaction with the level of consideration darkened the corners.
There were too many sleepless nights when I counted the tiles on the ceiling
or made mental grocery and to-do lists while my husband slept.
— Kim Lehnhoff
When Nostalgia is Lonely
My mother played guitar clean
through marriages and divorces, Sounds of Silence,
Puff the Magic Dragon, when -lives- become -lived-
and everyone split in bleak autumn mist,
collars turned against the cold. Sometimes I forget
how much joy nests in other hands,
how sweet shared sunlight is beyond any ceiling.
— Casey Hampton
Today’s blue sky invokes a sense of nostalgia
For a distant time and place.
We traveled to a holy place - Earth’s ceiling-
My mother and I.
The sunlight making all the colors intense,
In air so thin it was hard to breathe.
Nothing about the Tibetan land seemed bleak to us.
The experience- a thrill.
— Karen Engelkenjohn 4/16/2020
While I, stupefied, pondered the ceiling
At the bleak prospect of my mother’s visit,
Sunlight suddenly streamed through the window,
And I became nostalgic for the times when I was little,
Willing to submit to her control,
And I gave her puppet shows in our basement.
— Robert Henke
The phone pointed toward the ceiling,
She struggles to hear in her bleak room.
Tells of visits home, one room schoolhouse.
Rose-petal jewelry made by Mother.
Nostalgia quivers in a murmur.
As the sunlight fades, she yearns to dream.
— Eric Reiss
When the sunlight has slipped away,
And the dark night seems bleak,
I lie on my bed and stare at the ceiling.
I long for my mother, now deceased, to comfort me.
In that moment of nostalgia, she appears and softly whispers,
“Life is short. Be happy.”
— Pam Hughes
From that bleak starlight ceiling
Streaked a fireball sphere, stinkng
Of new-fired brick and burning metal.
Through the dark eons of deep time
Mother Gaia came, streaming tears, her
Comet comrades sizzling to a melting stop;
Shed Indigo salt tears to fill the oceans
Steaming to quench the universal fire
With nostalgia for an idyllic Eden
That never was, nor will come again.
— Jo Schaper
Sunlight creeps in shadows
Nostalgia takes a turn
Photographs to negatives with
each rotation of the ceiling fan
Dark. Light. Black. White. Black.
Is that me screaming?
Am I awake or dead?
— Donna Eisenbath
The Little Rebel
When given the “five words for the day”
One always goes astray. Why is that?
I write them down. But reading back
“Sunlight” becomes ‘starlight”
Yesterday I missed the word “Gift.”
I stare at the ceiling and channel
Roethke, in those moments of
Bleak nostalgia for junior college
When my mother was still alive
When violets were earthbound butterflies
And the entire world still seemed possible.
— Jo Schaper
In old photos mother
smiles softly on fibers.
Crowds gather in sunlight
Pressed so close and unmasked.
In bleak moments now she
turns her naked face to
the walls, ceilings, corners
hiding dire nostalgia.
Shone brightly through
In my mother's roof,
Letting in rays of hope,
Filling her bleak room
From floor to ceiling.
— J. Thomas
Sunlight filtered through my mother’s lace curtains.
And casting rainbows to the ceiling,
ricochet beams bounce off prisms of glass
cut into her vase, holding a bounty of lilacs,
holding a cascade of nostalgia, fragrance galore.
Leftover grace, from a time once bleak.
— Bernie Mossotti 4.16.2020
i stood at the window and prayed to
the sunlight. floor-to-ceiling idols gifting
bleak nostalgia in the image of my mother.
— Sabrina Spence
Headline photo: Raul Cacho Oses via Unsplash