2014 Poetry Theme Challenge

#21 Writer's Own Choice

Thank you all who took up the last challenge. I hope this next one provides you some food for the muse. This time the theme is the writer's own choice. Instead of a theme prompt I am going to give a selection of prompts ranging from quotes, words, music and art.


Dolce Far Niente - John William Goodward

Fans - Jeeyoung Lee

Portrait of a Woman Inspired by Lucretia - Lorenzo Lotto


Bright Blue Boots - UGG

Marching - Unknown

No Swimming from US National Archives


Fashions in bigotry come and go. The right thing lasts - Mary Hays

Silence is the mother of truth - Benjamin Disraeli

Earth laughs in flowers - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Poetic Lines

let me paint a thank-you on my palm - Welcome Morning by Anne Sexton

with a few gusts of wind - Ithaca by Ira Sadoff

the light appears to crest in waves - Radiance by Wally Swist

Word Bank:

strayed; psychedelic; reflect; shacked; guacamole

Michigan; loyalty; azure; sketchy; proud

Writer's Own Choice

Terry Clitheroe

Breathe Not
Polish John
A rainbow of red and Black

Divena Collins

Angel of Mercy
Hallows Eve
Instinctive Survival
Nature's Diary
Nature's Imprint

Jez Farmer

After Armageddon
Beyond Fear
Whisper to the Trees

Peter Willowdown

Lazy Grey
Stars over Ithica (The)

Divena and Terry

Soldiers Lad
How Can You

Terry Clitheroe

Breathe Not

Breathe not so deep my love to sound like a sigh
Rather each breath shall be a tribute to passion
Realise that to lose thee, I would much rather die
I want thee complete not in ways that're of fashion.
Taking thee to heights above where angels fly
Each kiss given in pleasure rather than allowed.
Each kiss given to thee willing and unreservedly
With sounds of love uninhibited, hallowed.

Touch not so wary my love, I am all thine
Waiting and wanting that confluence be it of hand
My only desire to make thee completely mine
My lips or more you have only to demand.
Your eyes conquered me wishing souls combine
My heart pounds in tempo like a marching drum.
My heart responds in kind, you became my shrine
Calling me, come to me, come to me, come!


Good Night

It is now that special time of night
There is no time or need to think at all
The muse has me and taken o’er control
The mood is softened by wine and light.

At last a love that makes me whole
It is now that special time of night
One I know too well has touched my soul
There’s no past memory only what is right

She reminds me of the past and loves lost
Knowing thus, gladly will I meet the cost
It is now that special time of night
The music is softer now, in fact just right.

Even more the wine’s softened the mood
Realising finally love’s no cause for fright
Enough of life today we have viewed
It is now that special time of night.



it's been hot all day, -- too bloody hot
it's different now, we had a little rain
and I'm sitting outside, sheltering from it
but also enjoying each cooling drop.
I have my dinner and my glass of port
what could be more perfect
save the absence of my loved one,
but one cannot expect too much perfection
one thing about this town is the silence
even during the day it's pretty quiet
save farmers in their vehicles and truckies
and workers on their way to and from work.
The time now is 7.30 pm,
the sun is setting and the clouds have gone
I sit back now and enjoy another sip of port
Karen Carpenter has "Only Just Begun"
I look at the sky and light clouds suffice
there is a vapour trail from a plane
probably on its way to Adeliade
another very quiet place (For a city).


Polish John

Out in the Simpson Desert
Out by Coober Pedy way
Where the suns so hot
The tarmacs molten
Even snakes refuse to play

There lives an opal miner
By the name of Polish John
He turned up sudden like
No one knows where he's from

His massive size and scars
Show a life of blood and pain
And if any man dared cross him
He never would again.

It's rumoured once in Darwin
He killed a man with just one blow
The man had tried to cheat him
But we'll never really know.

All we know is he turned up one day
With plenty of cash to spare
And a miner with the "ready"
Round these parts is bloody rare.

Staying at first in the Mud Hut Motel
Till he bought his claim for cash
Off a couple of mugs who got nothing
So we though he was pretty rash.

He started drinking in the local
Each day just a couple of beers
Quiet, but friendly with the barmaid
Always saying "Cheers".

He wasn't like the other miners
Cleaned himself before he had a drink
Whilst the other lazy bastards
You couldn't get near them for the stink.

Pretty soon his hard work paid off
Found what he was looking for
A goodly find of decent opal
Every day he'd pull out more.

We all knew hard work had done it
Through hard work he'd earned his quid
So we all thought "Good luck to you matey"
Never resented what he did.

So he went from rags to riches
But he didn't change at all
Cleaned and drank after working
And ignored the siren's call.

There's these Sheilas on the lookout
Looking for a bloke with cash
But Polish John knew the score here
Didn't let them near his stash.

A few blokes had "tried to be smart"
Some bastards had gone for the knife
But Polish John was not a good target
They barely escaped him with their life.

After each encounter he was sorry
Apologetic for what he did.
But we were bloody grateful
For the vermin he helped rid.

It was after one such encounter
John, always true to his honest ways.
Payed a visit to the local hospital
Some bastard had tried to end John's days.

He was a crim no doubt about it
He had tried to do John in
But a broken arm and jawbone
Had ceased his life of sin.

But John made sure he was alright
In spite of every dirty ruse,
John had bested him honestly
Despite what the bastard used

But John "sans froid" and smiling
Entered the hospital room.
And it was in that brief moment
That Polish John, met his doom.

She was only average, just a short stop
When it came to him in size
But what he saw made his heart stop
The minute he saw her eyes.

She looked up at him in anger
Cursing his violent ways.
She broke his manly spirit
And almost ended his living days.

This huge man was cowed and beaten
By the lashing of her tongue
He had loved her since he first saw her
She only saw what he'd done as wrong.

She had fixed the broken bodies
Of the bloody mangy crew
Who had tried to rob and cheat him,
He'd done what he had to do.

But she'd only heard the stories
Told by the thieving sods
Never knowing they were bastards
With whom he'd been at odds.

Back to the pub he retreated
Beaten by her stinging curse
But his choice of places to go
Couldn't have been worse.

Mongrels are never alone
And always hunt in packs
The bastards had stayed behind
Knowing he'd be back.

Yellow is their colour
Never doing what is right
Backstabbing sneaking cowards
Always hiding in the night.

If he'd only had but one drink
Even two would've been OK
But tonight was an exception
Until closing time he stayed.

He never drank more than a few beers
Heavy spirits not his way
And as he left the bar that evening
He had on a heavy sway.

The mongrels were hiding in the dark
The blackness was their friend
Knives and cudgels held ready
John to rob and his life to end.

Legs unsteady from strong spirit
Staggering back to his place
After him hidden by the shadows
The mongrels began to race.

Their blows and stabs laid him low
And would have killed a lesser man
But he survived and fought them
As only heroes can.

They found him in the roadway
Surrounded by the dead
Where he'd collapsed weakened
As his precious fluids fled

The police knew what had happened
But had been up at "The Gate"
Warned by bar staff what would happen
They had got there just too late

As they wheeled him in to ER
The day staff had stood down
And normally by this time
Would have been home in town

But fate tonight was with him
His star was shining very bright
For all the nurses and surgeons
Had stayed behind tonight.

When they were told what had happened
They worked together through the night.
Especially one steel eyed sister
When she had been put right.

And ten days later when he came to
Guess who was sitting by his bed
Holding his hand and praying quietly
Tears pouring from eyes so red.

Now you see them walk together.
Hand in hand they walk through life
She is still a nursing sister
Proud to be Polish Johns wife.


A rainbow of red and black

Everyone sees grey and black...
such silly souls, chasing golden bowls,
when they could simply follow the rain.
The moon shines brightly tonight
in a glowing circle of haze
a spectrum of colours like a rainbow
radiating out from within.
It is hauntingly beautiful
causing me to sit and gaze upon it
long after I should have gone to bed.
Each individual drop like tears
mingling then simply fading away
twirling around in agony, yet smiling
as if smashing puddles was revenge.
Looking suddenly, solemnly upon the grey strokes
on the artists palette of a Monday evening
colour mirroring a heart, if one could be found;
lost and wandering in the rain so far from home
that the mere image cannot be remembered after.

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Divena Collins

Angel of Mercy

I upon destiny may be mother of all
tho' angelic within nature shall be
an angel of mercy for ever upon call
affection for all shall be ever free
for I shall do or die before I may fall
I who have taken an oath of destiny
that took the veil within a great hall
may forever share love and serenity.

I shall not lower my eye lids in shame
there is no shame upon acts of love
nor shall fate place all of the blame
what is written within heaven above
shall not be shown merely as a game
I within this pledge shall forever stay
not a mere woman but angel of fame
nothing special it is just love's way.


Hallows Eve

All hail the ghost of hallows eve
that haunt 'neath a moons light
mystic spells that sceptres weave
shall haunt the souls of the night.

Do not venture into the darkness
all hail the ghost of hallows eve
casting evil they cannot suppress
of a fear they shall ever retrieve.

This the night the devil deceives
influence now and of here after
all hail the ghost of hallows eve
within horrors upon lifes master.

Spells may be cast to one and all
a Satanic web shall ever weave
'it is then spirits may finally call
to hail the ghost of hallows eve.


Instinctive Survival

What good is a fence when birds have wings.
to fly across unprotected meadows of grain
wild of creatures that have the right brain
with ways and means to hypnotise things
that are tamer in what immortality brings
tis only the loser that thinks what he ought
yet his inner voice portrays what he sings
a bird in the bush shall thank thee nought

'Tis the way he shall be within distinction
for he needs to survive so within his right
his featherd plumes may bear not a light
camouflage gives him naught of selection
with a darkened form his final connection
to surrender may not be of a forgiven oath
until then he shall pray for his protection
only mother nature shall pledge his troth.


Nature's Diary

One fine October morn' within the fall
as I sat 'neath boughs of a willow tree
I heard the coo of a wood pidgeons call
that called to his mate so wild and free
as leaves fall silent from boughs so tall
may doves have no need of hibernation
when silence is the merest word of all
It was too late to start a new generation.

Bitter the winds upon an autumns moon
hence a wintry season pathes the way
most of the wild life shall snuggle soon
as the bitter winds be as wild and grey
all may perish within the winters tune
'neath a wood pidgeons feathery wings
when autumn`s winds become immune
to unchangeable predictions of things.

Upon a fine spring morning of utter bliss
I inhaled the blossoms upon the bough
I felt the morning dew drops gently kiss
softly warmth of moisture upon my brow
memories of spring may never go amiss
as wood pidgeons dance unto loves tune
thoughts of cold and frost shall dismiss
'twas all in the past on the month of June.

A brighter season shall very soon follow
summer may dance around the maypole
as shall dove's the sparrow and swallow
all within shall hear of the thunder roll
as milder weather from many a hollow
of woodland glades that may nurture all
meadows of pasture left there to fallow
shall share mother of nature`s final call.

"From an Edwardian Diary"


Nature's Imprints

What if leaves on trees look down on us
if ever they do then what shall they see
shall it be so much of a distraction thus
as images imprinted upon leaves so free
natures pictures of wildlife shall discuss
the imprints of life from a floating sheaf
that broke free from the withered truss
showing signs of wild life on a fallen leaf.

This had caused too much of a mystery
for natural trees have no senses to see
and has proven unknown within history
but this is what mystery is meant to be
if anything may be of wild lifes curiosity
printed forever upon a leaf from a novel
bestown upon natures wild life capacity
for artifacts of still life shall not unravel.

"Leaf Carvings"

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Jez Farmer

After Armageddon

Where footsteps once roamed beside
stark reminders of civilization amongst the wild woodland
the cold clarity of time passing flows
through the autumn kissed trees
only nature remains to recall the past
reflected in dark polluted pools
echoes rejected in the ripples of a raindrop
yet nature remembers all the same
in the golden glow that awakens the morning
the soft breathing that once lingered here.


Beyond Fear

There is a place inside a dream
Where dreams and truth can co-exist
Where existence and living seem
Undone at the seams as love kissed
A kiss that none can dare resist
For resistance can ne'er be free
And love's freedom should not be missed
Or we miss all that we should be.

So oft we hide behind the fear
The dark fear that denies all light
And the light dare not draw us near
Nearer to see beyond the night
For such is the night we feel fright
Frightened of what we cannot see
Yet look and see it is alright
Alright to be as we should be.



Scented bubbles shimmer inviting the senses
as sensual calmness gently embraces the heart
relaxing, the heart pulses intimately with desire
while the hands of desire massage the skin
skin on skin beneath the water line
and the line between love and lust fades
the world of reality fading into nothing
nothing but intense need
the need to love.


Whisper to the Trees

The late autumn sun kissed the forest floor
And glistened between fallen leaves and spore
The vibrant colours of woodland decor
Perfect beauty no man could ask for more.
But in the damp leaves he took to his knees
And whispered his words on pine scented breeze
Arcane words to bring him a sense of ease
Amid the wisdom held by ancient trees.
On his skin moistness of forest rapport
Embracing his prayer as they did before
Mother Nature's love gives all and still more
For she is the power within his core
When in prayer she hears what his heart ignores.
Before winter she sends her beauty here
To hold him closer and dispel his fear

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Peter Willowdown

Lazy grey

Lazy grey the start of the day,
foggy dew my footsteps to you
through the silhouettes of trees
praying on their bended knees,
silent birds singing muffled hymns
to the Invisible Sun:
"We are not the Only Ones
but we have melodious voices."
I croak with old Crow at this
and pick up a half-frozen
pine cone to throw at them,
receiving a disgusted squawk for my trouble.
An owl hoots its approval
but an old lady walking her spaniel
scowls at me as archly as she dares,
wrinkling her nose as if she smells
something rotten in the air.

After an hour or so of walking towards Jerusalem
the fog disperses and I find myself on Derby Lane,
cars and buses honking past like low flying owls,
angry bulls on crack or conger eels on God-knows-what;
on a whim I flag one down and board it,
paying the ferryman the traditional fare
and cleaning the condensation
from my window with a damp mitten
to gaze out luxuriously at the blurred
and chilly world I was formerly a part of.
Two children are squabbling behind me
a shabbily dressed fat man is gobbling a Mars Bar
as if it were the last confectionary bar in the world,
a worried looking young mother is reading her
horrorscope, stale smelling baby on her lap,
the vicar is practicing his Sunday sermon
and Herman Cloud is putting out his
tongue and making faces at him.
Nigel Ponsonby is learning his twelve-times table;
two girls on the back seat look quite fit and able
despite their implanted cellphones
but I think I see a second-hand book shop
out of the already freshly misted window
and hurriedly make my way off the conger eel
to search for Richard S. Prather detective novels
and that elusive Lin Carter:
'Thongor in the House of Optical Illusions'
that I have been on the trail of now for seventeen years.
Naturally I find neither although there is an early
Ace copy of Moorcock's Stormbringer
with a reasonable cover by Jack Gaughan.

Snow is in the air but the coy bugger is playing hard to get
- all the same I can smell it
and feel its presence with the ends of my toes
and melting on the outer surface of my brain
like a liquid electric train coming in from Heaven Central
but I can play the coy game too
and deliberately take off my mittens
and unfastening the top two buttons on my shirt
begin whistling California Girls.
In less than fifteen minutes its snowing
- I pass a happily yapping poodle
and a red-wellingtoned toddler jumping in an oil-slicked puddle.
The world is full of rainbows if only you look for them.


The stars over Ithaca

Clustered worlds like fruit on a tree
- how long will it take for us to explore Infinity,
hopping from nebula to nebula like bees
drunk on perfume, nectar and colourful adventure?
Oh, but space is dark between the stars
and the spaces in man's heart are even darker...
will we ever overcome our own shadow-selves
and be ready to embark on such a journey
or will Humanity's fruit wither on the vine,
leaving only a few survivors to root for
grubs in the ravaged and radioactive earth
like ignorant and devolved swine
such as the sorceress Circe kept
on her sea-girt island in the Middle Sea.
Just so, our own blue-green paradise
might become a prison cell
and we the prisoners of self-willed amnesia,
with no brave Odysseus to guide us.
How distant the stars that brightly burn
above our mythical Ithaca!

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Divena and Terry

The Soldiers Lad

It breaks the heart of a soldiers lad
his father never returned from war
only his horse was all he ever had
far from the thundrous battle roar.

A hero was never meant to survive
it breaks the heart of a soldiers lad
who prayed that he remained alive
but the finality of it all was so sad.

Far between the good and the bad
tho' proud within of a fathers plight
it breaks the heart of a soldiers lad
only in death he gave up the fight.

Memories of past never shall fade
only to miss the father he once had
who shall ever be absent on parade
it breaks the heart of a soldiers lad.


How Can You

How can you talk about war
If you haven't experienced it?
How can you talk about war
If you really have,
Sometimes all you want to do is forget
Sometimes a reason for casting it off
There are events and experiences
Best forgotten, but that's impossible
Even once is one too many
It is a time for Faith
When you pray for help, survival
Or a loss of faith
When a mate falls down alongside you
Or a little schoolgirl dies in your arms.

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