Prompt 1: One Way Out Sestina

I stand alone before the open grave

Questions burgeoning–why should I grieve?

Your empty shell has long let free your ghost

Rejoin the molecules of that make the world

Where did you go? And will you yet return?

Have I a prayer of seeing you again?


I fling a fist of dirt below again

Upon the box ensconced inside the grave

But when I leave, I know I won’t return

This field of stone is not a place to grieve

My fate is to remain in this cold world

Haunted by your ever-present ghost


But honestly? I don’t believe in ghosts.

I guess I should aver it once again

“All that’s real and true is of this world,”

I intone, my voice sober, firm, and grave.

“If you feel loss, it’s for yourself you grieve.”

Grief only takes, gives nothing in return.


Shake it off and to your life return

Go through the motions, corporeal ghost!

No one cares to spectate while you grieve

Or hear your wailing, see you cry again

They wonder, is her depression now so grave

That she cannot enjoy that of this world?


But it’s overrated, isn’t it? This world?

You work, you sleep, to work you must return

Laboring from cradle until grave

Reenact the scene, you vengeful ghost

The human rituals, repeat, again

What life is this, the loss of which you grieve?


But still it lingers, self-indulgent grief.

The truth about this vale of tears, the world

Is sin absolved, then acted out again.

I venture forth with hope, only to return

To haunt the wounds, invisible as ghosts.

What cannot die can never have a grave.


I’m of this world but wish not to return.

Forgive again when I can finally ghost.

I’m tired of grief. My peace is in the grave.



Prompt 3: Before Darkness

Before Darkness (a golden shovel poem, with respect to William Carlos Williams)


I can’t say it was a surprise so

Why was there so much

I didn’t know? I guess it depends

On why I did it. The mystery upon

which I’ve based my life– a

a son, born in a gush of red.

Instead of grasping the wheel

I laid down in my barrow

And longed to be dead, eyes glazed,

Only to be forcibly resurrected with

The deluge, dislodged by the rain

Of his tears, that salty, bracing water

That I could not ignore, lying beside

him in my lonely bed, the

little body, writhing, white

No sleep before darkness, day broken by the cries of chickens.


NOTE In case you’re wondering what a “golden shovel poem” is: My inspiration was WC Williams’ famous poem


so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white