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 Rebecca Wanzo, associate professor of women, gender and sexuality studies. In July, she will begin her position as professor and chair of the Department of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Washington University. Her new book, The Content of Our Caricature: African American Comic Art and Political Belonging, was released in April 2020.
Poems submitted for April 20
The last breath of your eyes exhales
devoid of rage;
the tides of fortune close the cycle;
a life's ambition must acquiesce,
dissolve into the recognition
that the light ebbs and you float away
one last time;
all the money in the world is just sand.
— Dan Cuddy
Her final breath undesirably close
Rage transforms from sorrow to heart-aching despair
Loving Estella was good fortune
— Braveheart Gillani
A stroke, a blood clot to the brain, left him in a rage
His fortune helpless as his breath continues
Nothing to be done, he refuses a last attempt to strengthen and nourish
He closes himself from us and says
I cannot sleep with my eyes open.
— Laura Glass
While fortune rages
I compose my self
even to my last breath.
— 2020 04 20 by Lloyd Klinedinst
Those kissed with life's good fortune
rarely rage at the morning sky.
But when breath so close and stagnant lingers
last good-nights become last good-byes.
— Lisa Slater
The breathtaking endurance of our medical heroes
will outlast the strain of these horrible times.
Closetalking abandoned, Zoom as a stand in,
Fortun☺te are we - their courage brightly shines.
— Jim Beirne
I must catch my breath
Maybe do some Mindfulness training
To break through the rage
As I watch my 401K fortune lowering
With the stock market close and with the bell ringing
At the last of this virus I hope and pray to see
Some kind of increase, please God please!
— Maureen Kleekamp
With his last beleaguered, ventilated breath
he threw his spirit out to the world one last time
not rage at close of day
not sigh of lost fortune and bad luck
but a simple and direct offering back
of everything ever received.
Peace. Dropping slow.
— Steve Givens
Close your eyes
take your last breath
let go of rage
accept your death.
A fortune, you’re worth,
Or, perhaps, destitute
the journey is different
but the end resolute.
— Kelley Lingle
My Last Good Friend
What great fortune finds me here
so close to You in life and death
I used to rage against the rules
when nuns controlled our every breath
Now I feel it was a plan
though then I didn’t know
that You and I would be as one
the older that I grow
Many people taking their last breath.
Whatever fortune you have can’t stop the virus.
Rage from many tired of the secluded way of living
We all wish we could close this chapter of our lives.
Patience is the way to fight this pandemic.
— Dave Brendel
Surely it is time for Fortune's damned wheel
Fate's hot breath on my neck,
disaster close on my heels,
I have gulped down rage for years
and tried for grace--
— Jeannette Cooperman
Rage is my fortune
a commodity I collect and spend
with equal measure.
Before I take my last breath
lean in close for that final curse.
— M.E. Hope
A fortune teller leaned in
it’ll be all the rage.
the future always gets
— Patty H
A tearful rage overcame his ambivalence
One last breath drawn in through his nose
His fortune had lost all significance
Those he thought to have loved him were never that close.
Frenzied thoughts exhaled on rancid
breath spew rage at opposition.
Civil liberties trump no one's life.
Unprotected close interaction, your fun and fortune
today may result in someone's last breath tomorrow.
Rally! Parade with protest posters, sans guns and battle
flags. Let's unite. Ditch the you vs. me mentality.
There is no us and them. Corona is the enemy.
— Linda O'Connell
My breath was my fortune.
I kept it close to me, lest the furies
rage and take it away.
I didn't know what I wanted--
oh, at last I was given eloquence.
— Matthew Freeman
I sit and gaze out the window.
The sun hides behind stubborn clouds
and refuses to shine.
I stare at the ceiling and nostalgia
Sets in. I find myself wishing my mother
was here on this bleak day
to spread hope and sunlight to my life.
— Janet Smart
Fortune flits so close
when at last we rage
and fill with the first breath of else.
— Debra Kennard
Finding yourself back where you started
Is all the rage these days
So relax take a breath
The fortune is in your own back yard
So the story goes
But wait – don’t close the book yet
We’re not even close to the end
The last part is still being written
— Carol Haake 4/20/2020
Her breath, not last but first,
could have been embracing life.
But in this unenlightened past,
more like rage
Being close, but not enough,
to the fortune
of being born a male.
— David Bates
Deep sleep is my fortune.
My last breath won't be of rage.
I close my account.
— Laurie J
A short poem that includes each of the following
should not exceed 7 or 8 lines
(anywhere and in any order):
breath, last, rage,
(rhyming not necessary)
— Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, Comparative Literature
Deep sleep, my fortune.
My last breath won't be of rage.
I close my account.
— Laurie J
Each day might be the last breath,
Dylan Thomas' rage into the night.
Our fortune is what we have left
and how we spend today.
— Julia Gordon-Bramer
His was a solitary life
So it was fitting
He took his last breath
With no one close
No one to feel rage
At his leaving
Such was his fortune
To die alone.
— Christine Bugnitz
I had to close the shop
Too much rage
I had already made a
I exhaled an al-truist
Gave away every last
— James Goodman 4.20.20
With my last breath,
I’ll rage again the ravages of hate.
I’ll hold close the promise of goodness
And good fortune.
— Mindy Phillips Lawrence
My father’s rage is always close
―deepening, I fear, until his last breath―
because he has had (he thinks) the bad fortune
to live more years than his body stayed strong.
— Dianna Graveman
Consider the extravagant generosity of words.
Every one of them, used and used and used again,
Picked over, parsed, discarded, strewn.
You'd think by now, they'd be chewed to death
But no, they last!
And each time chosen, they arrive
With fresh-washed faces and brand new breath.
Will's "outrageous fortune" echoes clearly still
Asking us to discern a way we cannot see.
Edna chose "close." "O world, I cannot hold thee close enough..."
She trembles, pleads.
Dylan's "rage" explodes and bellows, "Rage,
rage against the dying of the light...," he storms.
I gather their words and thousands more. I search for mine.
Ragged old pre-used words, made fresh each time.
— January Kiefer
When I was young,
I resonated with Dylan Thomas:
‘Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day.’
Now that I am old,
I would rather not rage,
But hope to remember Mary Oliver
As I draw my last breath,
And speak of beauty, blessings
And the great good fortune of my life.
— Pam Hughes
Made out of dust
To dust we shall return
Breath almost gone
Pulse faintly beats
Rage turns bitter
Last light dying
Fortune changes swiftly
But for now, hold me close
If I could bottle my rage,
If I could clean my hands with it—
To close the synapse on that last thought
I take a deep breath, chart
The expanse of my chest,
The openness, the fortune.
My rage at death caused me to gasp
A deep breath that would forever last
As I saw my fortune just disappear
My relationship with a person so dear
I wanted to close that curtain of grief
But I have never felt a great wave of relief
— Betty Springfield
Now the end is close —
Crows rage against your fortune
with winter’s last breath
Poem for The Tiger King
Hail the king cloaked in pink sequins!
That glittering bleach blonde matador waves,
Inciting beasts to rage from safe distance of sport.
He paces, anticipating flesh to sate hunger.
The daisy-crowned mistress of cruel fortune delivers
An unkept promise clinched close between jaw and palate.
Kingdom sold cheap to thieves and set on fire,
Hear the dethroned scream with force of last breath, “I’LL GET YOU, CAROLE!”
I wonder if it costs a fortune just to stand close enough to smell the rage on every last breath.
— Tila Neguse
gives way to fading orange,
as the waning breath of day
yields to the last rage of sunlight;
will come with a green flash,
and the open expanse
of our good fortune.
My last rage
was my last breath
as I saw the door
close on life and fortune.
— J S Brown
The breath of dragons and spewers of vitriolic hate
Swirl the ill winds of fortune among us
Blinding with a tempest of rage and evil
We must use words, clothes, essences
As last weapons of battle
To carry us to shelter
For a better future to close
— Julie Aubert, KS
We feel our breath
Are we alive?
The last we checked,
We have not died.
Is this a dream?
Will it close soon?
And possibly rage on as fortune
Being positive not doom?
— Jan Newman LA72
The loved ones are close,
Our fortune to engage.
My last breath today
Will not be drawn in rage.
For though life is topsy- turvy
We will turn another page.
— Karen Engelkenjohn 4/20/2020
His last rage on
(Italian, terza rima)
Tant’ero alla fine del mio sospiro
Quando nell’ultimo giorno, giunsi la cima del monte.
Tutto il corpo rinfrescava il dolce zeffiro.
Ma improvvisamente dentro il cuore scoppiò un fonte
Di rabbia e disperazione, e maledissi la fortuna
Che costrinse il mio amore con quell’odioso, detestabile Conte
Sposarsi, chiudendo per sempre la nostra felicità communa.
I was at the very end of my breath
When, on the last day, I reached the top of the mountain.
A gentle zephyr cooled my entire body.
But suddenly inside my heart burst a fountain
Of rage and desperation, and I cursed the fortune
That forced my love to marry that odious, detestable Count,
Closing for always our happiness together.
— Robert Henke
“Rage-Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus’ son Achilles, murderous, doomed, that cost the Achaeans countless losses.”
King Agamemnon held his fortune too close, his pride doubly cursing his great fighters’ their bodies made carrion.
Apollo, son of Zeus and Leto, incensed by the dishonorable treatment of his priest by mortal Agamemnon, swept a fatal plague through the army that spread upon man’s own breath.
Man killing Rage flowed through Achilles’ blade as well,
driving it toward his King but Pallas Athena appeared before him beckoning caution. Wise men fear the Gods and Achilles staid his rage and returned to his men at last.
The morning before I moved back home
I climbed the hill near where I lived, down
the long straight rode leading out of town, past
the billion dollar museum, the patient lonely cows.
Sitting at the crest I allowed myself at last to name
each of its minor deficiencies: my breath made muggy
with dung, the gaudy modern art where we all went to smoke,
the flight path that ran too close above for quiet,
stark glare of sunlight off the flat steel roof below--
my first worst rage against
a fortune I could not fancy
— Gwyneth Henke
Write a poem today. Use these 5 words.
Last, Breath, Close, Rage, Fortune
But it is late. Near the end of my day.
I have no energy. The news has worn me out.
And worn me down. I cannot write a poem tonight.
All I can think of is this virus and the distance. I am sad. I am angry.
The terrible cost. To our lungs, to our livelihood, to our liberty.
Last. Breath. Close. Rage. Fortune
— Kevin Farrell
without the bees,
no buzz in the air
without the bees,
no honey to share
without the bees,
no rainbows flare
on wings like glass,
with bees at rest.
bees in a flurry,
surf on gusts of air.
bees a bit furry,
nestle soft in their
hive of a home,
first a dance to show
where the other bees in the hive should go.
— Bernie Mossotti
The wax fortuneteller in the glass case
Leaned her paisley-scarved head up close:
She looked at me with deep gypsy eyes
Shuffled and spread the deck:
Grasped the last card with red-nailed claws
And turned it up: Death. She looked at me:
“You will meet the object of your erotic rage.”
The golden earring still swayed as she said
“Another quarter and I will tell you more.”
— Jo Schaper
just because there is no last breath
to mark the close of the life of a thing
don't mean things
don't live and die
but do we ever celebrate the life of stuff?
where's the grief and rage and eulogies?
the fortune of the disposable
is a short ride to a mass grave
— Jay Buchanan
I am grateful for every breath.
I am grateful for my son
And that I can still hold him close.
I am grateful for our good fortune.
I am grateful for my last poem,
Where I released my deep-rooted rage
To the written page and let it all go.
I feel better and I am grateful.
— J. Thomas
April 20 2020
From the iPad screen, Grandfather, frail, and alone, breathes his last.
His suffering is at an end, now we must navigate family relationships without him at the helm.
We cry, already missing his presence in our lives.
But our anger turns to rage as we rail against the unfairness of it all.
COVID-19 has taken a fortune from us, even though no money is lost.
— Kim Lehnhoff
Freedom’s fortune is lost, they say!
Liberate! they say, walking close together.
This can’t last, they say, we won’t do it!
We have our rights, our breath is ours,
and breathe in triumph.
a righteous quest,
stirs in their chests
where breath now easy,
may cease to be.
— Bernie Mossotti
with your last breath
say thank you. forget
your rage boiling close
to gentle and ring
fortune's bell for all
— Sabrina Spence