Exquisite Collaboration Poem: The Land of I Don’t Know

(c) Rebecca Flanders; used with permission

THE LAND OF I DON’T KNOW

I used to be in a town called Panic
in Charleston, SC,
floating in a lake of despair wondering, “How many clouds do I swallow to keep my head above water?”
I once was lost, but now am found,
involved,
trapped between layers of ether,
in steamy heat and a cacophony of cicadas surrounding me

I don’t know where I’m going now.
To the land of I don’t know?
Let it go, let it go, that perfect girl is gone,
back to Alaska someday
to trust my inner voice again and walk into the thick mist which seems to wrap its arms around me.
I’m going to create magic, mischief, & mayhem
wherever I choose.

I learned what everyone else learns – adulting can be hard sometimes.
I’m going to continue traveling because I enjoy learning about history
to embrace the chaos in order to organize it.
Together we will seek out and entwine our arms around each other like the roots of the tree and walk onward grounded in our truth,
everything, and nothing at all.
If it makes you happy do it!
You belong among the wild flowers; you belong somewhere you feel free.

*    *    *    *    *    *    *

THE POETS

Justin Rielly
Laurie Borcyk
Penelope Horan
Mindy Wells Hoffbauer
Mickey Cherry
Coriander in the Spice Rack
MNL

PHOTOGRAPHER
(c) 2021 Rebecca Flanders

* * * * * * *

THE POEM

This month’s prompt asked contributors to respond to three questions:

Where did you used to be?
Where are you going?
What’s something you’ve learned along the way?

Originally, each person’s responses were going to stay together to form each stanza, but when I saw the submissions it was clear that if I removed the the sentence intros of “I used to be” or “I am doing”, collectively each person’s responses to each question  organically built on each other.  So in the final poem, the seven answers to “Where did you used to be” make up the first stanza; the seven responses to “Where are you going?” make up the second stanza; same with the last.

I confess that this might be one of my favorite pieces so far.

Thanks to Rebecca Flanders who has been chronicling her up close and personal interactions with cicadas all summer, and was willing to share a photo to go with this poem.

*********************

This Exquisite Collaboration Project is based on the Exquisite Corpse, a technique created by Surrealists in the early 1900s, in which participants add to a work with no one seeing what the other participants contributed. My goal is to encourage non-writers and artists to embrace their creative selves in a safe, supportive, “you can’t fail” environment.  What began as a way to maintain some sort of connection with other people during the early days of the Covid lockdown has continued to unite strangers from around the world in creative collaboration.

Click here to read the series of Exquisite Poems done during the Covid lockdown along with other collaborative projects.

To learn more about my workshops, visit my website.

To be part of future poem projects, follow me on Facebook @joannebrokawwriter for prompts or join my mailing list by filling out the form on my website.

EXQUISITE COLLABORATION POEM: A Day In Our Room

12:59 pm. Building a kitchen, Dansville NY
(photo courtesy Mike Clemons)

Note: This collaborative work was created during National Poetry Month with participants across the US and around the world. At the end, you can see a list of the participants and information about the prompt.

A DAY IN OUR ROOM

A chilly, rainy spring morning
In my Springboro, Ohio, US kitchen
Shiny granite countertops, stained-glass back splash, a blooming white orchid, new leaves emerging from acres of trees, a sleepy ginger tabby tom
My bougie cat’s water fountain, the refrigerator humming, typing fingers click-clacking away in fits and starts, slow deep breaths
A chair warm from sitting too long, the lined texture from my mouse’s scroll wheel, the random whiskers on my chin
The kitchen hand soap’s lingering vanilla scent, freshly ground coffee beans
My cinnamon toothpaste

8a.m.
Bedroom, Rochester, NY
Cat, morning light, curtains, photos, memories
Purring, birds, quiet, hope
Fur, bedsheets, comfort
Candle, morning
Peace

9:30 a.m.
Rochester, NY, 2nd floor home “office”
“I Voted Today” sticker, jar of butterscotch candies, upstairs hallway, calculator, Wi-Fi thingie
Keys on my laptop, Pandora music stream, my breathing, scratchiness of unshaven face
Fingertips on fingertips (spider doing push-ups on a mirror), computer mouse, scissors
Soapy smell of hands, coffee – really, you too?
Triple berry yogurt

9:30 a.m.
Living room, sitting in my rocking chair, looking out the window
Snow, trees, yellow, pillows, hands
Birds, furnace, thoughts, breath
Mug, pen, heart
Heat, citrus
Coffee

9:32 a.m.
At my desk in an international school in Hong Kong
Smelly markers, green grass, masks, lipstick, my lunch
Vowel practice, playground chatter, air con humming, chair squeaks
Curly hair, a new wart, tangled phone cord
New Jo Malone, bleach
Lavender toothpaste

10:25 a.m.
My couch in Texas
Squirrel, creek, tree, sculpture, sky
Airplane, siren, traffic, voices
Laptop, blanket, mug
Fresh air, leftovers
Coffee

11:16 a.m.
My desk
Computer, lamp, mug, scissors, frame
Chirping, snoring, raindrops, train whistle
Paper, printer, phone
Lotion, lemon
Water

11:29 a.m.
My favorite chair in the family room, Vero Beach, Florida, US
Mug, sofa, cat, computer, bookcase
TV, traffic, air conditioner, husband talking
Keyboard, computer mouse, pencil
Remnants of breakfast, coffee
Aftertaste of peach yogurt

11:30 a.m. in the morning
Sitting at the table in my great room looking outside in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA
Birds, butterflies, books, bench, beauty all around me
Music, wind chimes, clock ticking, birds chirping
Mug, table, chair
Coffee, wet plant soil
Coffee

11:58 a.m.
East Rochester, NY, US
My sister, the television, three lamps, a dreary day outside, dog toys
Voices on a TV show, music from the same show, dogs outside talking to each other, birds chastising the squirrels in the food dishes
My iPad screen, my coffee mug, the remote
Coffee, air freshener
Coffee

Morning work hours
A safe place, USA
Roses in a vase, computer screen, credit card, reminder note, rain
Children bustling, husband’s work meeting, food wrapper, rain
Wood desk, smooth keys, cozy sweater
Dust (ha!), rain
Oatmeal

12:25 p.m.
On a couch in my daughter’s home in Lititz, PA, USA
Folded laundry, three lime green pillows, a bag of Reese’s pieces, a pencil with a cow topper, a charging cord
The fire siren, an amber alert on my phone, a ticking clock, clicking of laptop keys
A TV tray, my laptop, my coffee mug
Rotting lilies in a nearby vase, a watermelon candle
My morning coffee

12:55 p.m.
Rochester, NY, USA, my bedroom office
Computer monitor, window, printer, wall, calculator
Rain, computer fan, grandkid singing, cars on wet road
Chair, desk, keyboard
Cat box, the shoes I just took off
Left over pieces of lunch in my teeth

2:00 p.m.
Home office space, in a comfy office chair, green screen behind me, in Bangor, Maine, USA
Zoom screen, cup of coffee, water bottle, cell phone, cat
Zoom meeting, keyboard, can of air, cat
Cat, keyboard, cushion
Coffee, litter box
Coffee

2:45 p.m.
Sitting in my home office
Coffee, cat, dinosaur, cape, sword
Fan, chewing, computer humming, rattling
Lunch, keyboard, phone
Smoke, litterbox
Pineapple

3:10 p.m.
Rochester, NY
Cup, wallet, books, boxes, stars
Car horns, rock music, water dripping, bees buzzing
Alabaster, apples, records
Barbecue, cough medicine
Chocolate

3:43 p.m.
Computer room chair
Daffodils, tulips, bunnies, chicks, dogs
Birds, trains, church bells, rain,
Fur, dirt, skin
Grilling, grass
Mint

3:57 p.m.
My dad’s recliner
Acorn TV, old chairs, a journal, a flat box, an old microwave
Thoughtful dialogue, telemarketing spam, flutes, mom’s remarks
Phone screen, denim jeans, Bic pen
Dad’s recliner, clementines
Pizza

4:36 p.m.
Maine, USA
Citrine, beads, dragon, mug, box
Whirring, creaking, breathing, clunk
Blanket, pillow, mattress
Garlic, yeast
Pumpkin

5:50 p.m.
My Office Chair, Georgia, US
Paper, computer, mug, deck of cards, stapler,
Hum of the computer fan, clicking of the keyboard, my own pulse, notifications
The letters on my keyboard, the linen of my shirt, the plaque on my teeth
Leftover lunch, stale coffee
Fermenting sugar

6:00 p.m.
A Dining Room in Western NY
Chinese Checkers board, Thimk board, Parcheesi board, Chess board, Scrabble board
Neighbor’s ATV, the Thruway, clock ticking, footsteps
Laptop keys, notebook, placemat
Hand soap, coffee
Werthers

8:15 p.m.
My kitchen, Chelsea, Michigan, United States
Houseplants, ceramic piggies, stove, bananas, plates
Pages flipping, refrigerator humming, dog whining, husband talking
Measuring cup, spatula, oven timer
Bacon, peanut butter
Syrup

10:45 p.m.
In bed in Rochester New York
Philip Glass reminds me
The hours that pass by blindly
While it snows in April
I am lost in thought through mines
From borrowed ideas recycled like the cans on these pages

12:30 a.m.
Bedtime in an American suburb
Two black cats, one yellow dog, my 4-year-old daughter, a wall full of art
White noise, crunching, a snoring cat, my own heartbeat
Fur, a warm cheek, a cool window
Vegan cheddar puffs, damp sphagnum moss
Cinnamon

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

THE POETS
(in no particular order) Continue reading “EXQUISITE COLLABORATION POEM: A Day In Our Room”

Exquisite Collaboration Poem: TIME FOR THE CROCUS

Image courtesy of Penny Higgins, PaleoPix

 

TIME FOR THE CROCUS

I broke my ankle
On Saturday before last
And now I just sit

There’s no community
To show me I’m not alone
Where’s the love gone to?

Testing
Testing
Testing

Ones and zeros dash
Across a liquid surface
And pixels conform

Looking like seeing
One you can do with eyes closed
Different result

The air teases warmth
Confusing us with snowflakes
Time for the crocus

Upside down lighthouse
Hermit crabs walking on clouds
Tide pool reflections

Shuffles slowly past
Heavy burden on his hunched back
Tenacious tortoise

Instructions for life:
Explore possibilities,
Surf the waves of change.

*     *     *     *     *     *

THE POETS

Jane S
Justin Rielly
Jackie Dishner
Kay Ross
Catherine Valleroy
Anne Waterman Murphy
Joanne

THE ARTIST

Penny Higgins, PaleoPix photography

*     *     *     *     *     *

THE POEM

Haiku is a form of Japanese poetry comprised of short lines that don’t rhyme but work together to create powerful imagery. For this Exquisite Collaboration, participants were asked to write a haiku following a 5-7-5 syllable structure. The following prompts were offered for inspiration.

– exploration/discovery
– joy/happiness
– fear
– technology
– community

You’ll notice that one of the verses doesn’t follow the haiku format. That’s the test entry I did to make sure the form worked before the prompt went live. I forgot to delete it from the contributions but when I saw it I realized that it still worked as part of the collaboration.

I’m trying these days to embrace mistakes as creative gifts. This was one of those mistakes.

Exquisite Collaboration Poem: AN ODYSSEY OF PHOENIXES

Image by Mystic Art Design from Pixabay

AN ODYSSEY OF PHOENIXES

I used to be in too much of a hurry to notice the little things, but now I am more intentional and focused and thankful for nearly all of it–even the stuff I wouldn’t choose, for it all contains a lesson.

I used to be together, but now I am scattered, lonely, alone.

I used to be the happy, hopeful mother of two living children, but now I am a grieving, sorrowful mother who has lost one of them.
I used to be hopeful but now I am cynical.
I used to be hopeful but now I am resigned.
I used to be a garbage can collecting all the sin, but now I am a refrigerator that has to stay plugged in.
I used to be good looking but now I am old
I used to be a public frog but now I am nobody
I used to be moldy, but now I am cold-y.
I used to be tan, but now I am not.

I used to be troubled but now I am better.

I used to be an empty rain-catch but now I am a reliable well.
I used to be busy doing, but now I focus on being.
I used to be young and ambitious but now I’m older and wiser.
I used to be the guy saying ‘stick it to the man’, but now I am a safe, careful part of the establishment machine.
I used to be a scientist, but now I am an experiment.
I used to be the one who asked the questions, but now I am the one who knows the Answer.
I used to be unsure, but now I am aware that I don’t have to have all the answers.
I used to be opposed to opposition, but now I am content embracing hugs.
I used to be too old for this shit but now, thank heavens, I am a child again.
I used to be young, wild, and free but now I am old, wild, and free.
I used to be a guitar but now I am a trombone.

I used to be timid, but now I am fearless.

I used to be burning, perhaps not the fire, but the wad of documents, flaked edges aglow, the light hypnotic, paper on the verge of becoming ash, a supply of memory, the inked word shrinking into nonsense as they were consumed; but now I am rising, a spark gleaming in the air, the cascade of heat shimmering above the coals, the searing chronicle of the blaze.

*********************

THE CONTRIBUTORS Continue reading “Exquisite Collaboration Poem: AN ODYSSEY OF PHOENIXES”

Exquisite Collaboration Poem: Our Hope For The New Year

Earth sunrise greets astronauts aboard the International Space Station; taken Apr. 8, 2015. Courtesy NASA free images.

a note on the final poem of 2020:

For this final exquisite collaboration project of 2020, almost 40 people from around the world contributed one sentence expressing a hope for the new year. These sentences were then sorted to create the following poem that, despite everyone contributing independently of each other, echoed common themes of peace, health, and the desperate desire to hug again.

I want to thank everyone who participated in these poems this year. Facilitating these gave me a creative purpose during the pandemic lockdown and put into action what has been my writing motto for more than 20 years:

Connect. Inspire. Change the world.

May your 2021 overflow with all things beautiful, and may we have many more opportunities to create magic together.
xo
Joanne

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

our collective hope for the new year Continue reading “Exquisite Collaboration Poem: Our Hope For The New Year”

Exquisite Collaboration Poem: THE POWER OF PEACE

THE POWER OF PEACE

If we all treated each other and the planet with kindness and respect,
Then there would be no need for war,
And the world would be at peace.

If you recall, a hooded stranger ran up to me in the street.
Then I greeted them warmly, and asked them to join me at the community faire.
And the world sang joyously at our arrival.

If the skies burn and the storms rage and the winds rush and the seas churn
Then no human life will have the privilege of comfort and safety
And the world will laugh and dance to celebrate the new life to take our place.

If I could climb to the top of the apple tree
Then I could breathe in fall like the starlings and the last of the butterflies
And the world would hurt a little less.

If they told me to go home and make crafts with my daughters
Then I’ll craft my ambition to show them what’s possible
And the world, doubters and believers alike, will watch me rise.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

THE POETS

Kay Ross
Coriander Rainbeaux
Maur J DeLaney
Carrie the Bat
H.H. Wood

The poets hailed from Hong Kong; Rochester, NY; and Pennsylvania.

THE ARTIST

The video presentation of the poem was created by Crystal Hayduk, who also provided the poem’s title. She hails from Michigan.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

THE POEM

For this poem, each participant wrote three lines that together form one stanza or thought.
Line 1 began with the word “If”
Line 2 began with the word “Then”
Line 3 began with the phrase “And the world”

This Exquisite Collaboration Project is based on the Exquisite Corpse, a technique created by Surrealists in the early 1900s, in which participants add to a work one bit at a time, with no one seeing what the previous participants contributed. The goal is to encourage non-writers and artists to embrace their creative selves in a safe, supportive, “you can’t fail” environment.

Click here to read the series of Exquisite Poems done during the Covid lockdown along with other collaborative projects.

To learn more about my workshops, visit my website.

To be part of future poem projects, follow me on Facebook @joannebrokawwriter for prompts or join my mailing list by filling out the form on my website.

Exquisite Collaboration Poem: STARDUST DREAMS

Photo courtesy Pixabay

I am an imperfect beast
I am here to solve more problems than I create
I came from bigger places
I am going somewhere worse, hand basket free.

I believe hand baskets are for sale, but I can’t afford them.

I am dandelion fluff and dewdrops
I am here to enchant and to vex the minds of small mice
I came from the edge of the meadow where the pine trees nod
I am going to the midsummer fair to buy milkweed and maple sap

I believe in stardust and salamanders.

I am a masterpiece in progress,
Working on my canvas every day.
I came from the earth, the stream, the stars, the wind.
I am all those things now, and will return to their pure forms once again.

I believe we are all connected to each other and our universe.

I am me, soft, old, pliable, feminine me.
I am here to pave the way for the next generation of dreamers to become believers.
I came from the stars and to the stars I will return.
I am going everywhere and nowhere.

I believe we are on the edge of a great discovery that will change the world for the better.

I am different things to different people but to myself I am just me.
I’m here because my parents created me.
I came here from another state.
I don’t know where I’m going as long as I’m going and hopefully it’ll be fun.

I believe that someone, somewhere will eventually answer any and all questions we really need the answers to.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

THE POETS

Lori B. Duff
Carrie the Bat
Mindy Wells Hoffbauer
Jan Heverly. Writer.
Mickey Cherry

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

THE POEM

For this poem, each participant wrote five sentences, one each in response to these questions:

Who am I?
Why am I here?
Where did I come from?
Where am I going?
I believe…

Everyone participating responded to the same prompts without knowing how the others responded and how (or if!) the verses would work together as a whole poem. The goal was for participants to turn off their internal editor and reflect for a moment on their own moment in existence. The end result, posted with almost no editing offers a glimpse into our interconnectedness.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

This Exquisite Collaboration Project is based on the Exquisite Corpse, a technique created by Surrealists in the early 1900s, in which participants add to a work one bit at a time, with no one seeing what the previous participants contributed. The goal is to encourage non-writers and artists to embrace their creative selves in a safe, supportive, “you can’t fail” environment.

Click here to read the series of Exquisite Poems done during the Covid lockdown along with other collaborative projects.

To learn more about my workshops, visit my website.

To be part of future poem projects, follow me on Facebook @joannebrokawwriter for prompts or join my mailing list by filling out the form on my website.

Exquisite Collaboration Poem: Into the Forest

“Gretchen and The Bear” by Carrie Anne Noble is available now from WordCrafts Press.

As part of the online book launch party yesterday for “Gretchen and The Bear”, by my friend, the delightfully talented Carrie Anne Noble, I invited readers to contribute to a collaborative poem.

Ten people participating, providing five random sentences in response to five prompts. I then arranged the sentences according to a pre-set pattern to create the poem you’re about to read. Note that no one saw what anyone else was writing, and that no verse contains more then one sentence from the same person. You can read more about the prompts and how they were arranged at the end of the poem.  Here’s what they created:

Continue reading “Exquisite Collaboration Poem: Into the Forest”

Exquisite Quarantine Poem: THE JOURNEY

Photo by Jesse Sprinkle

THE JOURNEY

I am a genderless perfectly flawed human being.
I am a healer, using sound and the written word to transform the impossible.
I arrived from a time full of fear, anxiety, depression, and suffering.
I am walking into the unknown, with faith, strength and hope.

Alas, I am a wizard.
I have come forth to warn you of magic not yet known.
Stillness has come across the land, but I have not come from a place of stillness.
It is here creativity emerges! With the swirl of time and space together as one!

I am a mother, a ghost-writer and a pianist,
reaching out to relieve my boredom.
Stuck in a city without peace and justice,
longing for a place with true freedom.

I am just another wounded soul, wandering, stumbling, hiking, running, skipping (sometimes, rarely), creeping, crawling, spinning, swirling, swaying, moving, journeying through time.
I am here to live, and then die, which is a good thing in the right season.
I came from a long line of people, starting with Verity Tree-dweller from Central Africa
and going to death

I love to love and I love to laugh.
I am here to abracadabra Magic Makers.
I came from some blip in the twinkling stars some galaxy somewhere.
I will go when my earth job is done to lands who knows.

I am the unicorn, an angel, or a mermaid-
I have come to carry you through a time of dismay.
It was human imagination and folklore that created me to
Stand by your side until you can stand alone.

Now I am an orphan —
Looking for family without the blood connection.
What began so conventional, nuclear,
Moves toward something wholly of my own invention.

I am a mighty river, slowly altering my course.
I am the result of a million tiny decisions.
I come from a sacred place, where thoughts and dreams arise.
I am sailing a course, charted by my wisdom.

* * * * * *

THE POETS
Coriander Rainbeaux can be found IntheSpiceRack.com
Fred Dean says “Writing gets me to the places I’d rather go when I do not know how else to get there.”
Judy Lam is a Hong Kong-born pianist. https://judylam.wordpress.com/
Laura V.N.
Sheryl Hooi, a curious smithy of all sorts.
Kathy Ann Morris Self-proclaimed poet since age 8
Leslie Joan Millenson
Laura Fleming

THE ARTWORK
Jesse Sprinkle – Artist of sight and sound. https://www.patreon.com/jessesprinkle

* * * * * *

THE POEM
Participants were asked to write four lines, with a prompt for each line:
Line 1 – Who am I?
Line 2 – Why am I here?
Line 3 – Where did I come from?
Line 4 – Where am I going?
None of the contributors saw what the others wrote; all four of each contributor’s lines stayed together as one stanza.

Note: this is the last in this poem in this phase of our Exquisite Quarantine Poem project.  I can’t thank the participants enough for their time and effort!

But that doesn’t mean the collaboration is over! As we begin to venture out of The Pause and into our “new normal” lives, I’m simply rebranding these projects as the Exquisite Collaboration Project. The goal is the same: to bring together strangers who will contribute individual parts to make a collective, creative whole.

You can read all of the Exquisite Quarantine Poems here.  And make sure you’re following me on Facebook or on my mailing list to stay updated on the next phase of the Exquisite Collaboration Project!

* * * * * *

Exquisite Quarantine Poem: DISCONNECTED

 

DISCONNECTED

As I sit at home on day whatever of the quarantine,
Contemplating how many days it takes to use a roll of TP,
I have seemingly endless hours to watch my grey roots grow,
And ponder, “Is it just a matter of choice to feel connected?”

One click to see a face long absent,
Glowing screen a beacon in the dark
Miles traversed in seconds
Intangible strands linking voices.

Phone, phonetic, frantic connection.
Hello? Speak to me.
I’m alone, lonely, bored.
Can’t you feel what I’m feeling?

I’m grateful; peaceful. I’m feeling quite blessed.
I have shelter; food, and a furry nice guest.
He comes every morning, eats, then sits in the sun.
He’s the sweetest companion; the very best one.

He’s the one who watched and waited silently as I shed my hair and picked my nose
and ate the last few crumbs of brittle brownies flung with abandon by angry children locked in high chairs when we grew too tired to chase them.
Shaking skittishly, I realize suspicions of the subtle snobbery of surreptitious scarabs savoring tidbits of that which it was he was.
Wresting the last sweet smell of baked cinnamon buns from that brown, embarrassingly frayed cardigan, I turned toward no one as I start to weep.

* * * * * *

THE POETS
Mindy Wells Hoffbauer is a professional explainer, still trying to figure out what she wants to be when/if she grows up.
Robin Murphy
Kay Ross lives in Hong Kong and is the Head Tour Guide in The Playground of Possibilities. https://playgroundofpossibilities.com.
Allia Zobel Nolan writes about God and cats….in that order.. www.AlliaWrites.com
Michele Manting is the Artistic Director, Vintage Improv Festival www.vintageimprov.com

THE ARTWORK
There were some starts and stalls with the artwork for this poem, so in the end I chose “Operator”, by Jim Croce. It just felt right.

THE POEM
Contributors were asked to write four lines of free verse. The first contributor was given the prompt “Disconnected”; each of the other contributors got to see only the last line of the previous verse.

Click here to learn how you can take part in the Exquisite Quarantine Poem project.

*     *     *     *     *     *

Exquisite Quarantine Poem: UNMASKED

“The Three Faces” by Daniela Gitlin

UNMASKED

Why do I have to notice everything?
Because acting aimlessly misses the target
If you take off your mask.
Then yellow became my signature color.
I wish I were an Oscar Meyer wiener.

Why do we close our eyes when we kiss?
Because when you don’t raise kids, you can’t mess up their lives.
If one doesn’t nurture their own personal narrative
Then Humpty Dumpty wouldn’t fall.
I wish I had tried harder.

Why do you always have to say that?
Because she put all her eggs in heaven’s basket, she stopped living in the now.
If they didn’t acknowledge me on Mother’s Day, I wouldn’t notice.
Then I would have taken more solid, pure, possibly different actions.
I wish I was a creative genius.

Why do masks make us feel both safer and more alone?
Because there’s always time to get a DeLorean.
If my dog could talk, I’d know the secret to contentment.
Then I would not be a mother.
I wish I was more aware of my personal narrative earlier in life.

Why else would it matter?
Because of that night, we never made it to Saratoga, or the concert.
If this works, we’re going to be rich.
Then maybe all of this would make better sense.
I wish I never gave birth.

Why would anyone else?
Because the collective is the whole.
If Sheila had given ten percent more effort, she would have earned that scholarship.
Then, you won’t believe it, I just got up and walked away.
I wish I had asked my mother how she felt when my brother died.

* * * * * *

THE POETS
Teri Foltz is a playwright (Teri’s Play Date on YouTube) and a poet (Green and Dying on Amazon)
Sara Moore www.hypnohelpcounselingservices.com
Sam Cardamone is a native of Buffalo, NY now living in Rochester and, as of late, desperately trying his hand at improv.
Jason Rugg Instagram: @deviations_in_the_dust
Jenean Roth is lover of words read, written, spoken, dreamt, and arranged in entertaining ways.
Stephanie Lewis is wondering should we be on lockdown or locked up? Onceuponyourprime.com

THE ARTWORK
“The Three Faces” by Daniela Gitlin
Daniela Gitlin’s first book (note the optimism) is available on Amazon: Practice, Practice, Practice: This Psychiatrist’s Life. It’s amazing how much trouble she gets into and still manages to be helpful. danielagitlin.com

THE POEM
This poem was an experiment in a word collage, similar to RESTRUCTURED. Without knowing anything about what the final product would look like – or seeing a prompt or the line before theirs, as with the other poems – six contributors were each asked to provide five unrelated sentences: Continue reading “Exquisite Quarantine Poem: UNMASKED”

Exquisite Quarantine Poem: UNLOCKED

Photograph by Brett McIntosh

UNLOCKED

Such a beautiful, intricately carved wooden door with a window into the out!
Unlocked, but I find myself unable to leave.
Is it what is out there, or in here, that keeps me from leaving?
I reach for the simple brass door knob to exit, but I hesitate, and my hand once again drops to my side.

Sorrow’s sour milk, forksful of pungle and hiss,
I shore up the rickety side of your soul
I lift my hand to open the door
And out pours milk and honey

The universe provides,
if we only ask as we seek,
and remain open to its wonders,
as one who is part of the whole.

Yet I feel so half-hearted,
drawn and quartered…
if my soul must be so truly divided
as I sing eighth notes, I will now drink a fifth!

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THE POETS
Judy Weatherbee is an improviser, photographer and poet for the joy of it, physical therapist in the real world
Jennifer Walker Frisinger is a writer of short fiction and corporate story teller
Debbie Miller is a Brooklyn, New York writer who writes magazine articles, plays, humor, and monologues.Visit my website at www.DebbieLMiller.com.
Miriam Lerner is a sign language interpreter, currently working from home, trying not to eat and drink too much…with intermittent success.

THE ARTWORK
Brett McIntosh @bmc5100

THE POEM
The contributors were asked to write four lines of free verse. The first contributor was given the prompt “Unlocked”, and the rest of the contributors were given only the last line of the verse before theirs.

Click here to learn how you can take part in the Exquisite Quarantine Poem project.

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Exquisite Quarantine Poem: CRIMSON WONDER

Photograph by Brett McIntosh

CRIMSON WONDER

Murky waters lap the floating acre of bush no one thought to name.
Its gnarly rock in washed up waste dissed by humans, Kudzu, even English Ivy.
Lanky limbs sign to the crimson cries: bind your ails, ills, and loads into a barge,
Come, bring your crowded isolation, eyes spent online, kids ceaselessly wondering why.

Old gnarled branches reach for the clouds, as if to say ‘take us with you’.
The clouds being fickle, don’t want any part of the branches request.
They just sweep on by.
But the crimson streak brings hope as they shoot across the sky.

And yet I wonder if the crimson means hope.
Since crimson is a red, it symbolizes blood.
And as the numbers rise, and loved ones cry,
How deep will their tears be in the flood?

As the branches of our lives
Dip below, to the unseen,
Our last goodbye
Is tainted by wonder.

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THE POETS
Susan Sarver www.susansarver.com
Jan Heverly. Author in waiting.
Justin Rielly is a playwright, theater artist and radio host based in Rochester, New York.
Rick Hughson Oh dear…

THE PHOTOGRAPHER
Brett McIntosh  Find him on Instagram @bmc5100

THE POEM
This poem was the first to use the artwork as the prompt. Each contributor got to see the photo as well as the last line of the contributor before them, and could use either prompt as inspiration for their contribution.

I find it worth noting that only one contributor got to see that the previous person had used the word “crimson”, and yet all four poets included either “crimson” or “wonder”, or both. This is the beautiful thing about this project: total strangers are blindly contributing a piece of themselves, and yet their creating with a group mind.

Click here to learn how you can take part in the Exquisite Quarantine Poem project.

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Exquisite Quarantine Poem: PAUSED

This image is from Pixabay contributor AD_Images.

PAUSED

Never before had his health been so good, but when taking a walk around the neighborhood is the highlight of the day, he was more motivated than ever to stretch his atrophied muscles.
“Look at how slim your face looks!” they’d exclaim.

I’m sure that faces masks help the illusion.
Especially those patterned with vertical stripes.

And the sheen on the edges slapped rainbows across the ceiling,
As June slipped wantonly through the sheers on the windows.

Shepherd, seep past conscious desires into some semblance of impermanent bliss
Grasp the shy strings of essence and guide this spirit home.

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THE POEM
The contributors were asked to write two sentences, but to include the letter sequence “s h e” somewhere in their lines. The letters could be part of the same word (ie: sheep) or part of two words (ie: boys heard or push each), as long as those three letters were in sequence.

THE POETS
Sam Cardamone is a native of Buffalo, NY now living in Rochester and, as of late, desperately trying his hand at improv.
Claudia Kasvin is a poet and teller of tales, both tall and true.
Yvonne DiVita https://www.nurturingbigideas.com/about.html
Michele Manting Artistic Director Vintage Improv Festival www.vintageimprov.com

THE ARTWORK
This image is from Pixabay contributor AD_Images.

Click here to learn how you can take part in the Exquisite Quarantine Poem project.

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Exquisite Quarantine Poem: A TRUTH AND A LIE

 

Photo provided by Katie Rae Hayduk.

A TRUTH AND A LIE

While the masses scream their senseless lies
the truth skulks in shadows
waiting for the perfect time to rise.

In hopes truth will open eyes
But stay closed, the head lies
Until someone, somewhere cries.

I said, “I’ll see you soon.” We laughed,
not at the obvious absence of the truth
but the brazen bravado of the lie.

Let the truth be a haven –
Haven’t we given enough of ourselves?
Shelves of misspoken tokens. Let them lie there.

The truth echoes in empty hallways where great minds once gathered.
Hope washes over us, like waves crashing in our living rooms.
We bought the lie, but a new candor begins.

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THE POEM
The contributors were instructed to write three lines of free verse, but were asked to include the words “truth” and “lie” somewhere in their contribution. Each contributor got to see only the second sentence of the person who wrote before them.

THE POETS
Sue A. Fairchild is determined to “Yes, and” in all things. Find her at sueafairchild.wordpress.com.
Chris Johnston
Donald Hasselman is just your basic square peg in a round hole.
Jason Rugg Instagram: @deviations_in_the_dust
Coriander Rainbeaux can be found IntheSpiceRack.com.

THE ARTWORK
Katie Rae Hayduk is currently a music education student who enjoys petting her dog. You will often find her listening to fiddle tunes and very poorly cooking up a pot of spaghetti.

Click here to learn how you can take part in the Exquisite Quarantine Poem project.

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