Life/Lines - April 2, 2021

Submitted poems for April 2, 2021

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 guest curator Aaron Coleman, a recipient of a 2021 National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship. He will graduate with his PhD from the Comparative Literature Program’s International Writers Track this spring. For more information on his poetry, research and translations, click here.


Poems submitted for April 2

I hear a footstep outside my doorway
and think: "He's here!" But he's not.
Just a flickering memory, a heartbeat that stopped.
I had to choose to let him go when
the river of his life was running out.
I toast him with a glass of burgundy
and hold his memory close as my own heart.

-- Mary Ellen Benson


The earth in the dim forest was burgundy.
My footstep fell soft beside cloven ones, like arrows leading,
toward an arched doorway of light.
The decision to follow was intuitive, reflexive, born of another time.
Now lumbering shadows breached the bright, to refresh in the river sliding by.
The doe drank, the stag stood vigilant, branched head held high.
Just three years old.
How well I know this place, these two emerged creatures,
How I long have imagined that quiet place within,
framed without by pines and peaks.
So many years in childhood revelries, spent
imagining that hidden path, myself
entering the painting by Larry Perkins,
that hung above our couch.

Bernie Mossotti


Flow, burgundy river,
past my doorway.
Make the decision for womanhood for me.
Invite me to take a footstep into your deep.
--Rita Winters


with my first footstep
i crossed the burgundy doorway.
i had a decision to make
but the river made it for me:
wake up.

— matthew freeman



The mercy of dreams
allows the fun of hopscotch as a child
before the spring of knees had sprung,

the belly-deep hilarity of alumna gatherings
with college friends gone gray and soft,

and the sweet deviltry of loving what to me
does not belong.

Cathleen Callahan


When drinking, sinking into burgundy
you are taking a footstep into a river,
a cafes doorway into sensuousness.
Each sip is a decision, another survey
into a daydream of a mademoiselle;
the breath of her eyes sucks one in.
Her name Michelle itself a delicate swell
of elation that courses a vale of smiles.

— Dan Cuddy


In that moment of decision, reading the five words left for him
standing in the doorway of creation
it would have been so easy to commit murder —
a river of burgundy
a footstep imprinted as evidence.
But as it was
it was just a glass of wine.

Steve Givens


Each footstep marks a decision point.
Do I swim in the purple river of fear or
walk through the burgundy doorway of possibility?
May my heart be open enough to hold all of the colors.

Aimee Wittman


4/1 prompt

At the mercy of the mundane, we see
The ebb of days, our slow selves simmer
As spring lays down her mossy mantle,
The inner child rustles, awakens
Gathering buds beckon a season of earthly nearness
We long to shed our solemn winter skins
Bask in hilarity, the eddies of friends
Settle into the gentle deviltry of warmer days

Maeve Elder


What of the vanished kingdom of Burgundy
The river still flows, but behind every doorway is
A changed experience
To just once take footstep after footstep
Through the mists of time
And confront the decision that put an end
To Burgundy

David Thomas


Abundant, the seeds of the raucous river
flowing between large, steep stones.
Forcing doorways.
Although tainted with the crimson
of mangled footsteps,
the color clears burgundy;
here, no lasting decisions.

Lisette Dennis


Burgundy footsteps a river could not cleanse
Open doorway awaits decision
He stands on the threshold


to make a decision

finishing my burgundy
footstep out the doorway
to make my decision
to cross the river

by Lloyd Klinedinst


Sipping Burgundy on the terrace overlooking
the river we were mellow and peaceful
until we heard a footstep and the doorway
opened to our tranquil and secluded spot
so we made a quick decision to leave
in order to preserve our mood and solitude

Betty Springfield


My dear burgundy river licked at my doorway
the spring rains had swollen my beloved to a monster
unrecognizable as the waterway I loved.
Hurried footsteps signaled my rescue boat was here.
I had a decision to make.



Another Moment of Decision

Two doorways loom
One open to a broad path
made smooth by the footsteps
of generation after generation
of the ancestors
The other to a river wide and deep
shifting patterns of greens
reds blues yellows burgundy
Does it reflect a bright passage
towards a warm peaceful sunset
or is it colored by
the former feasts of the tiger

Carol Haake


You had arrived at the end of the path before I'd even
left the doorway. Each footstep was its own monumental
decision. The burgundy color of your moods frightened me,
and invited me, as only your moods ever could. You were always afraid
of the river, you said softly, and I tried to remember whether
this were true. It didn't sound like me, but then again, what did?
Wait, I called, and when you did not I decided
that my voice must not have carried.

Gwyneth Henke


the decision
to leave our doorway for the river
where burgundy lilies bloom…
robin songs add a spring
to our footsteps

John J. Han



Jo Schaper

Near sunset, the river flows burgundy,
The blood-orange star casting red shadows
Over all that I see. To go or not go?
The decision is a matter of one footstep
Through the nebulous doorway.


You release the door on the burgundy minivan, and I run
to the river and stalk my reflection
oh the beauty! the river is free from decisions
it flows. no one tells it which doorway it must enter
it flows. it cannot be marked
not even with my footstep
it flows. I am not a river. So please, stop expecting me to flow


Every footstep is a decision
Each doorway a new mission
The burgundy- colored river
of blood, of hatred, of fear makes one shiver
Our hope that true justice is delivered.



I stall at your doorway. Hold my coat.
I've already made a decision but you
say I like you in burgundy. Which means
you found our footsteps in the river. I look
at a node in the threshold. I hold my coat.

— kansas


Decision made (again),
I walk toward the river,
picking up stones along the way to weight
the pockets of my too-fancy burgundy coat,
crush the velvet that stood in for hope.
Hope is not home this evening. But
kindness sees me from its doorway and
I count each footstep,
so relieved
to not be alone
after all.

by Jeannette Cooperman


The Onslaught of Claret

Ah! The burgundy river
that pours forth
from bottle to glass
then over my lips,

does weave my footstep
unsteady, past a doorway
where I ponder a decision
bed or floor?

Terrie Jacks


The river made a decision
Her footstep revealed,
on the doorway of civilization.
She decided not to be
part of the Burgundy.
Some called it a color,
Some called it wine,
It was a class.
The river made a decision

Jey Sushil


fading daylight, burgundy, cascades thru the doorway.
filling the room and his soul not only with its color, but of its sound
and smell
and taste.
Ultimate decision awaits
To take the first of his last footsteps towards the river



Mere footsteps from my doorway
The river patiently lies in wait
Rainbow trout beckon us to the cold waters

Dry brown grasses crunch underfoot
As we make our way to the shore

Did we make the right decision
Where to stand in silent pre-dawn

Clear water runs burgundy, as we clean our fish

K.J. Boehler


A Fatal Decision

your hand on the bottle
the bottle, a doorway
a doorway through which pours a burgundy river
a burgundy river that drowns you
you leave me

clawing my way up the bank, every footstep
a burgundy smear

January Kiefer



Drowning in a river
Of burgundy wine,
To make the decision
To move forward,
Even a footstep,
Through the doorway,
Open and beckoning.

Pam Hughes


D’où viennent, étouffés, ces bruits de pas?
Seraient-ce les coureurs des bois?
Le fleuve Mississipi s'écoule dans mon verre
de Bordeaux, ou de La Rochelle ; ce cher
Laclède signifierait la “haie” en Béarnais...
Au seuil de ma conscience, bienvenue vers
la "Porte de l'Ouest". C'est le début de la fin
pour les Amérindiens. Qui a pris la décision
d’identifier St. Louis à cette dérision?

Lionel Cuillé (prof of French/RLL)
(nb: only liberty taken: "Bordeaux" is translated for "Burgundy")


I just want
a burgundy wine
that tastes like your
footsteps coming closer
in a rainy night
Remember? when
we stole some glasses
from a crowded restaurant
We strolled down the street
of our favorite city
(near the river
that isn't exactly a river
more like a basin if we were to be precise)
Precisely that
is what I miss the most
The decision to leave
was never supposed to mean
not drinking wine anymore

Yamile Ferreira (PhD Student in Hispanic Studies)


Devastating Glory

I stand at the edge of this majestic fissure
as sunset spills burgundy hues across the walls
and sparks with garnet light the river miles below,

marvel at the footsteps halted here
of seekers of doorways
to an ‘other,’

and recall the courage it took
to behold both glory and devastating decision.

Cathleen Callahan
April 2, 2021



The crimson-burgundy river pooled at the doorway.
Upstream, a bare footstep’s skidprint and bloodied shard
Painfully ridicule her decision to shun her slippers
As she cleaned up her besotted mess.



When All is Said and Done

Last footstep echoes
louder than first
as we sidestepped one another
in the doorway of our youth.
Our last deliberate moves,
a burgundy stone bruise.
Decision perpetually
roil in river rapids.

Linda O’Connell


             Quickly, a split decision-
The clear river becomes a shade of burgundy
as the mud and debris fills the turbulent waters.

Do I attempt to cross with shaky, unbalanced footsteps,
     holding on tightly to each overhanging branch,
           bringing me closer to the doorway
          of my own personal raging tempest?

— Anonymous


my backyard a river
my wine a burgundy
Songbirds await my footstep
mouths open and ready 
their doorway in the sky
makes my decision easy
full stomachs happy chirps

Sara Burke


out through the doorway, then I'm free
a burgundy coat wrapped around me
down to the river to clear my mind 
one more footstep, then I'll be fine
a big decision looms over my head
but the river rushes away the dread


The river is a doorway, a place where the burgundy-sided 
trout sleep, silently waving in the shadows. Boaters dip 
their oars like footsteps along the liquid trail which glows green
and gold: sunlight, snake grass, yellow headed flowers
that only grow here. This decision wasn’t made
but became the way it is.

Day here, an Egret watches her reflection, still
except for the water’s tell, the vee pulsing around her leg

~~M. E. Hope


Peering at the threshold of a doorway
Through which my ancestors passed
I make the decision to take another path.
Running, quicker and quicker
Footsteps in the opposite direction
Of that River
Murky with mud
And burgundy with blood.

~ J. Thomas


At the Portal

The doorway demands an answer, enter or leave
The peeling door, once the color of fine burgundy wine 
Now looks back in streaks of grey and blue
It isn’t aware, but the decision has already been made

Inside, a river of dust dances in broken shafts of light
Playing at the edges of vision, yet impossible to ignore
My footstep echoes through the long empty house and
Breathing that first bit of stale air, I whisper out, “I’m home.”
--Chad Savage


Good Dresser

One footstep from the River 
Two more through a doorway

And the last decision
Burgundy or


james goodman


One foot is in the doorway, one is out.
Except I’m not sure I’m trying to leave.
I only know that as long as I straddle the doorway, the river of ants 
Carrying my crumbs (their dinner) won’t become a splotchy burgundy stain from a stray footstep of some oblivious visitor. 
They lend themselves graciously as an excuse for my standing there, unmoving.
Too afraid to make the right (or left) decision,
Depending on the foot I chose as my guide.

-Ellery Saluck


I wish my gray façade would turn burgundy
Every time I make a decision.
But instead my soul quivers like a gong
Or worse, snatches me into the riptide, but not of the ocean
Of the river, until I reach an eternal doorway that just takes
One footstep.
That’s what it feels like sometimes.
So I tread the still murky water


One Way Doorway
Dreaming, floating backward on the river of time,
I’m playing hide and seek through a misty doorway
with a little girl in burgundy velvet Christmas finery.
Later that eve, a sooty fake footstep on the Welcome mat,
that long-ago baby doll under the tree an easy decision.

by Rebecca Carron Wood


it's the $2.79 / gal
kind of decision that's already
several footsteps past the too late

drill baby drill
till the river runs 
burgundy calls 

from inside the house
and the fire is beyond the doorway

(Jay Buchanan)


The the burgundy river of wine
An inviting pastime of mine 
Opens the doorway to share 
A decision made with much care
Hear the footstep accepting beware 
Jan Newman LA72


The rain stopped two days ago but the river continues to rise.
A postcard sun sets slowly behind the memory of the mall.
Well-intended footsteps are approaching my doorway. I hide inside;
a cliché of old age - peeled paint, wrinkled skin, drawn curtains and silence.
I read poems by candlelight. Enjoy a glass of burgundy. Smile at Fate.
A decision had been made. And perhaps they are right. They mean well.
They knock. They ring the bell. They call my name. I do not answer.
I believe the river knows its place. And I know that I know mine. 
So, I read my poems and drink my wine. And I smile at Fate 
while the river flows. And the well-intended wait.



The the burgundy river of wine
An inviting pastime of mine
Opens the doorway to share
A decision made with much care
Hear the footstep accepting beware

Jan Newman LA72


Decision (a haiku)

one footstep closer
the river bathes my doorway...
this burgundy sky

Jill H., MN


The old man, still yearning for things he could not name,  
 Shuffled his little footsteps down to his favorite chair by the river,  
 And dreamed of the Saône, where as a young man,  
 That summer after college, he lay with the girl from Burgundy 
 Time after time, and near summer’s end she asked him with her dark eyes 
 If he would stay with her forever.   
Decisions: doorways where we can never return.  

— Robert Henke


Head In The Clouds
Steeply looms the hill outside 
My doorstep, mocking the river’s efforts
To cut into its foot – for how can it
Be so consumed with anything else
Than the clouds, which hide the burgundy
Amber and amethyst hues of sunsets 
Hidden by the elevated
Condensation from we who made the
Decision to remain down below?

By Diana Haemer



Headline image: David Clode via Unsplash