Hour Twelve: The Gathering

Hour Twelve: The Gathering

“Only one rule: Don’t wear black.”
After an absence of eight years
(despite all of the promises, the excuses,
maybe-about-next -years?)
we will gather
this time not to reunion
(a desperate attempt to relive
those younger carefree hopeful days)
but to celebrate a life
now over.
We’ve all gotten older
inched closer to the finish line
and any attempt to ignore that
is lost as we consider our losses.

And so we will fly, train, drive
and gather.
We’ll talk of that wedding
so many years ago –
champagne-fueled hilarity,
dark sunglasses and pastel balloons and streamers.
So much laughter.
So much joy.
So much love.
So much future yet to be lived.

And after we’ve gathered,
and celebrated life,
and grieved,
we’ll part
And return to our lives
once again pretending there’s
still so much time.


Write about gathering with others. The specifics are up to you.

Hour Eleven: Old Tree

Hour Eleven: Old Tree

Limbs tangled, twisting, entwining each other,
like children playing Twister
or the perfect Eagle pose
centuries of wind sweeping across the desert
nudging the winding of supple bark
now hardened into wizened shape.
The tree barely leaves
yet stands even now
bending only to the wind.


Hour Ten: A Hungry Fox

Hour Ten: A Hungry Fox

Tonight I had to duck an empty tin can pitched at my head.
Can you imagine having someone throw things at you
while you tried to get some dinner?

I’m sure you’ve heard all names they call me:
tricky, sneaky, cunning …
“Sly like a fox.”

Well, sure, I’m sneaky.
Because I HAVE TO BE!
Would you announce yourself knowing a tin can will be thrown at you?

Look, I’m just hungry.
I prowl around your neighborhood
because it is surrounded by food!

Your trash cans abound with bits of meat,
uneaten fruit, leftover pie.
and there are veggies growing right next to your house!

Oh, and did you know because of all that grub
your place is surrounded at night
by plump little rodents and garden-nibbling rabbits?

So, honestly, I’m doing you a favor,
tidying up the place,
maintaining a balance.

And most of all,
trying to survive.

I’m not foxy. I’m hungry.


“Personify an animal. Switch its trait. Example: a disinterested lion, a polite gorilla, an aggressive giraffe…” – Contributed by John Dutton

Hour Nine: Soda Bread

Hour Nine: Soda Bread

I keep the recipe tucked into a cookbook
a cookbook I rarely use, of old Irish recipes.
This recipe is written
in ballpoint blue ink, just beginning to fade,
on a 5×7 sheet of unlined paper,
paper I recognize as the pad she always used,
kept stored in the kitchen drawer
where pencils, scissors, thimbles,
other odds and ends were tossed.

A fresh loaf of soda bread was always on the table,
one of our staples.
It was served to guests.
It was a late night snack,
a dessert with milky tea,
a quick breakfast with coffee.

Her recipe is not very precise:
1 ½ cups of buttermilk, or a cup of milk and ½ cup of sour cream,
or a cup of sour cream and some milk, or whatever you have on hand.

As many raisins as you like. Maybe a full box.

Bake for an hour or so.
Be sure to cover with tin foil so the top doesn’t burn.

She scrawled it quickly for me,
when I asked her to write it down.
She’d learned it from her mother,
but I hadn’t quite learned it from her,
and I wanted to make it for a St. Patrick’s Day gathering
at school.

And now she’s no longer there to answer the phone,
to repeat directions, to correct my errors.
But I have her words, inscribed on the page,
and I can hear her soft voice
as I follow her steps,
measuring and mixing and kneading just slightly.
Every slice of that bread,
filled with raisins and
dripping with butter
tastes like a visit back home
and I’m back at the kitchen table
with Mom.


“Look in your cupboards and find a food that brings up a childhood memory, and the memory is your prompt” – contributed by Deborah Dalton

Hour Eight: Small Town Gigan

Hour Eight: Small Town Gigan

Small towns dream of skyscrapers and busy streets
as the coffee perks and the usual crowd gathers for eggs and gossip.

Johnsons’ hound got into Maeve’s hens again and now there’s hell to pay.
And what’s that sky gonna do, d’ya think? Look like rain?
While Main Street runs just two blocks past the only stop sign in town.

Visions of gleaming steel, fast-talking men, fashionable women
Flash in the rearview mirror of the pickup truck as it rolls through town

To a stop at Tractor Supply to pick up some feed, check the price of seed
The local doc snatches a donut down at Murphy’s before starting his rounds

and the undertaker stares out the window, gathering his thoughts.
Small towns dream of skyscrapers and busy streets

Visions of gleaming steel, fast-talking men, fashionable women
Gleam in the wistful eyes of 15-year-old Annie as she gets off the school bus
And in the regrets of her teacher, looking over lesson plans one more time.

And while small towns dream, the big city swelters
And wonders if there’s a place where a green shade cools.

Hour Seven: Shrunken Head

Hour Seven: Shrunken Head

It had belonged to a man, a warrior in the Andes who met his end
among the headhunter tribes who lived there then.
They sewed his eyes shut, closed his mouth with wooden splints,
soaked his head in an herbal concoction
to shrink it to a third in size.
An overnight smoking, a decorating ritual in the morning,
and his evil power would also be reduced.
Bereft of all supernatural strength,
the head could be returned to its tribe.

Now I gaze at it through its glass case
in the museum in San Juan.
I know its closed eyes could not see me
and yet I feel an accusatory stare.
“We were barbaric?
And your leaders,
They are so civilized?”
“Touché,” I murmur
as I move on
to the next display.


Look on your phone and find the 10th non selfie picture and use that as your prompt. – Prompt by Deborah Dalton

Hour Five: Solitude

Solitude (Hour Five)

Evening falls cruelly
as she sits by the window
gazing through a gauzy sheer curtain
at the unkempt garden below,
where a  gangly tangle of sunflowers bend their heads
toward earth as the sky darkens and
shadows fall across the pavement just beyond.
Her knitting lies, abandoned, in her lap;
a small chunk of cheddar cheese and three crackers
languish on an oak table beside her chair,
and the wineglass awaits draining.
It is quiet,
all still.
Only the ticking of a clock on the wall
reminds her of the passing hours.
This night will be too long.


Write a poem using at least 5 of the following 10 words/phrases.

Hour Four: 2122

2122 (Hour Four)


Is it true there once were elephants?
And they roamed … just… freely?
How could it be? Where could they fit?
The book says they were huge –
What could they possibly find to eat?

Is it true there once was honey?
Made by bees, as part of their bee-ing?
What was its taste? It looks sticky,
And rich, and … luscious.
How could bees make such a thing?

Is it true there once was freedom?
And people could choose how to live?
I read it was only fleeting,
A passing moment in time,
A mistake, really, no doubt.

How else could it have been?

Write a poem set a hundred years ago, or a hundred years from now.

Hour Three: Shades

Hour Three: Shades

I saw amber waves of grain
in a dream it must have been
for they stretched for miles, so far,
coast to coast, it seemed,
and overtook all means to stop them.
Fruitful, they were, multiplying by the thousands,
millions even,
standing tall,
waving in the breeze,
effortlessly bending,
And then, as one, a miracle, it seemed,
the amber shifted – not gradually,
as when the season changes
from summer to fall,
but all at once
as when a sudden summer storm breaks
wreaking havoc in the natural order of things –
And those amber fields of grain,
burst into pink!
proud and vibrant and
unabashedly female shades of coral and blush,
salmon and magenta and fuchsia,
the pink of bubble gum and babies’ cheeks,
And flamingos.
Onwards they marched
until all was afire in pink,
a rosy glow settling over the nation
a spark growing into a blaze
of fury.

Image Prompt

Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash