Life/Lines - April 21

Submitted poems for April 21, 2020

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 the Kling Undergraduate Honors Fellows in the Class of 2020, based in the Center for the Humanities.


Poems submitted for April 21

the petal plummets
hiding the gleaming opal
lying in the cavernous hallway.

— 2020 04 21                by Lloyd Klinedinst


Opal is my birthstone
A strange gem, it is extremely fragile like a rose petal
Also like a petal it calls out to be touched
The oils in our fingertips are good for it
Keeping it in your jewel box will cause it to weaken and crack
Maybe this is a fitting stone for me
I tend to be somewhat shy, and find that I too when left alone weaken and crack
So with a gleam in my eye and a swish in my step I walk the hallway like a fashion model
and throw open my front door…….October baby comin’ out.

— T.M.Wilson


The Opel, yellow as a jonquil petal,
the swish through the lake-like puddle,
the gleam of sun now, a charisma of color---
on the water, the scud of oil, the sky,
the asphalt beneath claiming now and then
the right angle for the slight depression of its bowl---
it is all opal, a jewel I see
from this hallway before I enter the day malleable.

— Anonymous


Opal petals gleaming in Okeefe museum hallway
Wide swishes of her brush
Its Magic! Training dull canvas to gleam

— Braveheart Gillani


Cutting hallways of high lawn in spring,
with a backward swish, I jammed
my pinky finger between the mower handle and a tree.
The opal petal of my fingernail opened,
gleaming brilliant red after such a dumb move.

My mind had been on you until then.

— Julia Gordon-Bramer


The ray of hope gleamed
on the upala.
Walking in the hallway
trying go back to the root of Opal.
The petals of knowledge ditched me
I swished open my memories
and found
no language inside.
Blank space stared inside me.

— Jey Sushil  (Track for International Writers)


The hallway, ever so clean,
I could swish upon it
(look at that gleam!)
Opal in color, shiny like metal,
I wore my socks, soft as a petal.
I ran, I slid upon the marble floor
if only I could have
swished right out the door.

— Kelley Lingle


amaryllis petals yawn
swish their opal gleam
wide throat a hallway for bees

— Cam Whelr MD


The Ephebe

You might remember when I was just beginning,
walking the high school hallway with an opal
on a leather string around my neck,
giving my hips a swish and a sway, thinking
I was some kind of rock star, a petal
behind my ear, my eyes gleaming.

— Matthew Freeman


Prom is supposed to be a happy occasion
Rose petals, high heeled shoes, sparkly jewelry and a wish
Not far away I could hear the sound of a swish
I peered around the door
In awe I saw the gleam in her eye that I adore
As she gracefully walked down the hallway, I sighed
In her opal dress so beautiful
I couldn’t help myself but I cried

— Maureen Kleekamp


Little Opal longed for baseball
Went to the hallway

Threw one swish after another
The gleam

A petal

— james goodman     4.21.20


The folds or her chiffon dress
Floated like opal petals
As she swished down the hallway
Towards the gleam in her fathers eye

— Dave Bates


On my birthday, I swished
down the hallway with a gleam
in my eye, but all I saw was
a petal fallen
from a flower on the table.

— JS Brown


In wedding photos
the young bride I never knew
sashays down the hallway of the Fairgrounds Hotel
smile wide but tentative
arm in arm with my father
opal earrings gleam
her white dress a swish and sway away from the rest of her life
a petal that would drop all too soon.

— Steve Givens



Through the open window, birdlight and sunsong stream,
colored stones line my window sill, amethyst, tourmaline,
opal, amber, malachite, lapis lazuli gleam,
there are panes of light on the wooden floor,
I think of my mother, and dream,
if she were just down the hallway, I'd call to her, come and see,
the crystals have littered the ceiling with petals of ametrine.

— January Kiefer


My fifth birthday, I think that's why
my mother got me from school
I scampered behind the gleaming creaming ivory dress as she swished long steps down the hallway
The students craned their necks, connecting me to her, dark to light
Her pearls her shoes her fingertips too, pink and opal
Memories that open and close like petals, I scamper on under them
As they float soundlessly down the years, disconnecting me from her.

— Anonymous


the hallway,
away from me,
with a splintering gleam
of vivid light,
and brought a swish
of opal petals.

aroused by the light,
i moved in time
with the

low pitch
of a flute,
now kindling my resolve
to reach the beckoning source
of life force
and the stream
it had rendered.

delving forward,
through a trove of botanicals
s p a c e d in suspension,
and the sweet
of spacetime,
garnered from the ancient
ritual of a vital universe
the illumination
of human presence,

I yielded.




The gleam of things left best unseen;
opal petals unfurling in a dark hallway.
The swish of sound comes in waves of misery
when what can only be honored and given freely
is stolen, left broken, and thrown away.

— Susan Lively


Flowers with petals remain,
but the gleam of the drought has arrived in the opal sky.
I can set a bouquet in the hallway and go outside
to keep the garden green with the swish of the hose.

— Margaret Fourt Goka



Not as when lit, the darkened hallway
surrendered neither glimmer nor gleam.
Soundless but for the swish of her gown,
Opal crept warily as if on a rose petal stream.

— Ted


Gin. Lots of Gin.

Abandoned roses in the hallway
Four days without water or gleam of sun
They fall apart petal by petal
And conjure memories
Young and opal-eyed laughing
He spun me once on a dance floor
But when I regained my footing
I was alone

— Erin


Tattooed on the hallway around its neck,
A bizarre set of instructions: how to make
An opal. First, with the basketball forgotten
In the street, make a swish in the nearest hoop.
Then, let dissolve on your tongue one geranium
Petal. Last, in fine ink, write a short poem
On a sunny rock. As it dries there, watch it gleam.

— John Randall


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


With a gleam in her eye, Opal skipped and twirled
through the hallway, hoping to show off her beautiful new
polka dot skirt. She almost got dizzy, but managed to stay on
her feet and hang onto the yellow rose petal she’d found earlier that day.
Maybe someone would happen to open their door
and see her. She loved the swish and summery look of her skirt,
and also wanted to bring smiles to her elderly neighbors.
It was great being six years old!

— Becky Lewellen Povich


The gleam of cleaned opal
The swish of a broom in a hallway
The cheerful petal of a bloom
Life flourishes

— Julie Aubert



A crash in the hallway
Reveals a vase toppled to the floor
Clematis petals soaked with water
Gleam like brilliant opals
In sunlight streaming through the window
A swish of the mop cleans up the mess

— Betty Springfield


Down the hallway a gleam of color from stained glass windows.
Outside dogwood and magnolia petals softly landing on the grass.
Opal colored morning skies welcome the sun’s distant rays
A bird swish’s overhead landing for a cool sip of water
Springtime a view remember .

— Dave Brendel


Ignore the siren call of highways byways hallways
That swish you can’t quite hear
Is the dance of the virus beckoning partners

Watch how the fire in a motionless opal
Gleams and glistens in the light
Observe how a flower opens its petals to the sun
While staying firmly rooted
You can do this too

— Carol Haake  4/21/20


Deep Cleaning

A bottleneck of whispered reminders clogs
the hallway closet, illuminated by a gleam
as opaque as an opal. I yank a petal off the last
long stem, swish and swallow tarnished truths.

— Linda O'Connell


Her Own Queen of Quarantine

She swishes down the hallway of life,
with a gleam in her eye and light on her feet.
Rose petals adorn her way on the left.
Fire and black opals scatter to her right.
Above her, nimbus clouds drip lemonade rain.
She is her own queen of quarantine.

— Laurie J


In Uncut Gems, Adam Sandler harvests a blood opal
from the belly of a fish splayed open.
It blossoms from within like a flower's petals.
Kobe stuck in the hallway...the gleam in his eyes...
Once he has it? Swish after swish.

— Anonymous


When I roamed hallways
the swish of clothing during hurried strides
people clogging the space
how are you?
familiar faces and off-white walls
sunlight gleaming through the doors
the memory now like a petal falling from a rose
who could have known?
It was all worth more than a thousand opals.

— Anonymous


She was on her way,
In her swish attire
Embellished by her
Designer daisy brooch
With opal petals and a citrine center
That gleaned as she did, in her
Swagger approach down the hallway
Like a runway.
She was on her way.
— J. Thomas


Water lilies open their petals slowly this morning
for a long drink of sunlight, their ovules hidden like opal eggs.
Tadpoles swim past and flick their tails with an almost
imperceptible swish, sending ripples my way, though I hardly notice.

My mind is lost in the long hallway of worry; the hospital’s shadow
chills this park. Its windows gleam innocently in sunbeams
even while sirens blare a constant call.

— Melissa Gurley Bancks


swishing to the ends
of the earth
in a nursing home hallway
opal petals gleam unnoticed

— John J. Han


The wind gives a gentle swish, swish,
magnolia petals, the color of pink opals,
slip n' slide through a window,
across a hallway to a final rest
in a springtime gleam.

— Terrie


when i think hallway, i think high school
slamming lockers, clandestine gum-chewing
and public make-outs, crushed corsage petals
on the floor post-homecoming dance
the starchy swish of that ghastly cheerleading uniform
ONE two THREE four FIVE six SEVEN eight, aGAIN!
the gleam of opal eyes set on boys who proudly
and with glee drew dicks in sharpie on everything then,
but are someone’s dad, now

— GM


She comes down the hallway, her gown swishes with her every step.
More beautiful than I've ever imagined her to be.
The sun hits her face, she's gleaming, and her opal necklace is aflame.
Her wrist corsage, just taken from its plastic shell
fragile orchid with white silk ribbon, loses a petal.
Pandemic Prom 2020 - she glides to the screen door as her tuxedod date stands out on the sidewalk.
His life-size cardboard cutout is in the foyer for photographs for this prom neither one will forget.

— Kim Lehnhoff



Oh yes, there’s a gleam in my eye.
I swish down the hallway in my stunning new dress.
We jump in to his Opal GT and zoom off into the night
As one petal from my hair floats away on the wind.

— Karen Engelkenjohn 4/21/2020


with a swish, the door opens, night quiet gleams
along the hallway that shimmers, in refracted light

galaxies captured
opals set free

along rooms with doors open, a quiet within-
the hush of soft breath, a petal of sound
from the flower of life, fragile and clinging

life briefly captured
life to set free

— Bernie Mossotti


Spring Cleaning

Spring’s green tornado swishes, sweeps
The long dark hallways of winter,
Stirs up the rain, the hail, the water--
Plucks the fragile petals from their stems:
Red bud and dogwood, crabapples
Forsythia, sassafras and serviceberry,
Crabapples and maple helicopters—
Crazed butterflies dipsy-doodling along
Joyous confetti all around, the glitter dust
Of a thousand broken opals gleaming and flung
Like sparkling pollen floating downriver,
Silver boats with golden paddles in the sun.

— Jo Schaper


On the hallway floor
The opal ring gleams
But the white lily petals
Swish, swish away

— Mary Wittry


Planned rendezvous at a swish hotel,
Peony petals casting a spell,
Necklace gleaming, opal iridescent,
A silent moment that would have been fatal

Were it not true, that this amorous pair
Kissing down the hallway to their hotel room,
Twenty years before in the open air
Happily chose to be bride and groom.

— Robert Henke


The Memory Box

She remembers it now. The swish of the waves coming and going at low tide.
Leaving behind the shells, gleaming like opals set in place on the silver beach.
She remembers it now. How she gathered them carefully and placed them, just so,
In a shoebox filled halfway with sand. How she pressed the shells into the sand
Like petals into paper. Her treasure. A box of memories from her first visit to the ocean.
And she remembers now, how soon it was forgotten. Until her father died.
And, the house was emptied of everything. And that’s when they found the box
Hidden away. In the hallway closet beneath the stairs.

— Kevin Farrell



Looking out, she saw a sea of organza,
Covering mannequins and lining the hallway closets.

The fabric gleamed in all its translucent glory,
Delicately swishing back as passerbys rushing from fitting room to counter.

She had driven 30 minutes for this opal-hued top,
Its petaled design beckoned her to travel,
But now she wished she had ordered online.

Holding the organza in her hands, the thrill was gone,
Instead, she felt like everyone else.

— Tanvi Kohli


Fun fact!
The biting solution
for each opal rooted between your lips
originated as that floor polish that
makes the hardwood in the hallway
gleam like a petal wet with dew.

the next time you swish
it’s important not to swallow

— Jay Buchanan


Like a gleaming opal
With iridescent shine,
The sun rises gracefully
Like a petal in the sky
As I swish down the hallway
I do a double take
Another day arrives
I hope it will be great.

— Jan


Opal mining

I have never mined opals before but I imagine it to be
Like oscillating between realms.
Going down an elevator to middle earth,
Small hallways, dirt petals crumbling off of the walls.
Swishing metal cages leading the way into darkness.
Even in the dead of the underworld, the walls gleam
Like the stars of another place.

— Ellery Saluck


in the gleam of nostalgia
          I find you again
gliding down the hallway
the light swish swish
of your long satin dress
caressing silk stockings
the soft petal of one opal
adorning your neck
          I find you again
in the gleam of nostalgia

— Anonymous


i promised her a ring
of petals to crown her
head. princess of few with
her opal eyes. she swishes
down the hallway, her halo

— Sabrina Spence














Headline image: Erol Ahmed on Unsplash