Reader Poem — John Reinhart

John Reinhart wrote this poem in response to the September Poetry Prompts:

Not by works of law

Hammurabi hammered laws
sent from Shamash, the sun,
borrowed from Nature’s idea
of cause and effect,
retribution swift and severe.

Moses chiseled beneath the clouds,
delivered a list from his singed beard
and flaming hair, to direct
his wayward people home
to a land of clear borders.

The barons chartered a big bus
to run over King John,
a tourniquet to control his bleeding
power, to keep the citizens
from drowning.

Holed up for days,
a group of men penned pages
of form to water new life
on a dusty empire
to constitute independence.

In the middle of metropolis
the master gave a free concert
on a grand piano in the rain
as lightning bloomed on museum walls
turned inside out and the creation
of beauty of creation transformed
law to truth that sang rivers
to canyons as hawks nested
on piano strings that harmonize
thunder and violets, saplings bent,
not broke, rooted in music
that everyone sings.

Law is the wall that Romulus
built, that Remus defied, to demonstrate
the power of life over pitiful human will –
dams will always crack
while bridges sway gently.


Reader Poem — Adrian Ernesto Cepeda

Adrian Ernesto Cepeda wrote this poem inspired by the September Poetry Prompts:

Slithering on her back

Tongue thirsting her extreme
snake tattoo reaching out
from her spine, calling
seductively, wanting to
bite and swallow my skin—
the tail slinking up towards
her rattling shoulder blade;
as her skin ink spoons from
her naked back, so serpent
like I love rubbing my fingers
over her pulsating rhomboideus
major, feeling the hunger while
she turns around constricting
my breath enwrapping her
arms so eloquently, demanding
my flesh how could I resist?
Readying her prey, I can tell
from the face, her tattoo has
a taste only for me.

Reflections on the Process — Donna Frazier

Donna at the Ritz_poet1962fullGLYNN

I wasn’t a stranger to the disarticulations process. I’ve sometimes played along when prompts have been posted, and I occasionally look at older entries on the blog when I wanted to start a poem from someplace outside myself. But this time was much more intense. We had a theme to honor. And a place, too—Descanso Gardens. I sat with lists of words, staring at them for long stretches and willing some image of my own to come to mind. I felt a start of deep recognition when Terry posted her free writing here, because I have turned each of those words over and over and over, sometimes willing them to be something else, the perfect word I couldn’t have.

I moved Terry’s words around, fruitlessly it seemed, until my mind let go and delivered “bird float” and “tree song,” and then the words were mine. The poem was there in the unclenching, and later in allowing myself to let words and couplets go instead of insisting they stay. This was a difficult, beautiful experience, made all the better by drawing inspiration from the gardens. And the next piece I wrote, with an infinite choice of words, was particularly delicious. I love constraint, and oh how I love releasing myself from it

So grateful to Terry for suggesting that we work on this together!

Reader Poem — Leah Mueller

Leah Mueller wrote this poem in response to the September Poetry prompts:


Cowboy cologne on the range:
bent over gunslingers’ chaps
drip with sweat and horse’s blood.
Their hands grip the lariat even in slumber,
as they toss fitfully
underneath rough blankets
beneath the waxing moon,
without bathing, ever
or brushing their teeth, or flossing
the wedged pieces
of boiled buffalo hide
from between the crevices,
then flicking them into the fire.
Sleeping with boots on, they dream
of death and whiskey,
and curling snake tattoos,
tongues flicking like triggers.
There is no point
in trying to smell better,
The sun will continue to rise,
like a grim enemy from the desert,
that same enemy you shot dead yesterday.

Reader Poem — Jennifer Hernandez

Jennifer Hernandez wrote this poem in response to the September poetry prompts:

Eva does the Cha Cha

Her lithe arms writhe
with extreme snakes.
Tattoos swirl green
& brown like vines,
but serpentine.

In one arm her baby dangles,
screeches, promise unfulfilled,
while the other arm extends,
plucks manzanita
ripe & red.

Tart crunch of knowledge on her lips,
she undulates her snakes & hips.
Garden cha cha lulls her babe,
who suckles on
the juice of sin.

Reader Poem — Eileen Patterson

Eileen Patterson wrote this poem in response to the September poetry prompts:

Redemption Road

What does Redemption Road look like, I wonder.
There has to be a well worn path where sinners
scorch the earth with their feet. Trees up and down
the road swaying out breeze, cooling hellish lives.

Father did you travel this road, feel the cool breeze
of the trees? Did Jesus meet you, embrace you and say,

“Robert all is forgiven, the Father is waiting.”

God’s angels comforting you, shredding
their wings, making a soft bed for you to lie in, your heavy life
now resting on sacrificial wings.


did you look up from below, mouth salivating, as you saw
every dream we reached for snap in half and break like brittle bone,
grateful for the cool spit on your chin.

Reader Poem — Melodic Rose

Melodic Rose wrote this poem in response to our September Poetry Prompts:


Not By Works Of Law
Would you deviate your hand
from the bowel of this contemptible deceit
that you would squander my flesh
with all the parlance
of a martyr at the cusp of his
unintelligible nature.

That you would stare into the face
of your past
and remember not the lie
Remember not the brazen antiquated
observance of men who cast their hands
over the desolation of a woman’s
bare skin, leaving stretch marked
lines of indifference.

But this is where we have fought
and died.
This is where we raise arms
and lower flags
This is where metallic steel toed tongues
and the lucidity of passionate boots
have made declarations
of manifested belligerence

this is where the trite maleficence
of her eyes will reach out into the universe
beckoning the stars into formation

and this is where her history falls,
a towering deity of opportunity
in the midst of the sea

So that not even time could erase it.
Not even the eclipsed stench of
the whip could leave it’s signature across
her back

As if to say my lady
bares her darkness with no fear
and little shame

and she would write her name on the earth
only her words bleed like the nudity
of one whose body has become impaled
by the eyes of the masses

Paraded before all men
to be crucified on the deck
of a ship.

Her story veering off into the horizon
so that she would lay down to sleep
in the bosom of Abraham

and simply

R e m e m b e r.

Reader Poem — Daniel De Culla

Daniel De Culla wrote this Reader Poem based on the September Poetry Prompts:


Receiving letters like receiving books
As Hans Christian Anderson’ “The little mermaid”
Or Giambattista Basile’s “Sleeping Beauty”
Without a hand or eyes
That cannot see the blood of the seaboard towns
In one’s life about the tale
When one re-encounters one’s self alone
With a gentle wind in a boat of sunshine to sail
Into our welcoming heart
Opened by itself and died abruptly.
It is steel as the Sea Witch’ knife
To kill the prince and lets his blood drip
On the mermaid’ feet
The “Daughter of the air” committing suicide
As a passing accident
Which is at the same time
The crux of a destiny
Delineating the future concrete tense.

Reader Poem — Trista Hurley-Waxali

Trista Hurley-Waxali wrote this poem based on the September Poetry Prompts:


Before he’d say,
the nectar was too sweet for him to enjoy.
But that changed after Samantha left.

Seasons came and went as he’d roam,
leaving her to nest in their range of land.
Rumor was that she never got over her first love—
the buck who lost,
that she’d walk the border, hoping to pick-up
his scent.

So when Carl came home that night
and saw his doe was no longer there,
we all knew where she went.

We watch him now, grieving the loss,
unsure of her death,
unsure of her life.
Moving the petals with his cloven hoof
trying to frame the floor-bed
they once shared.

Reader Poem — Michelle Sydney

Michelle Sydney wrote this untitled Reader Poem in response to the prompt: “Not by works of law.”

Not by works of law
Nor might of muscle
Shall my will be bent
Into submission

Not by words or swords
Nor threats of harm
Shall my spirit bow
To your god or mission

Only by fair hearing
Shall my verdict be decided
And only by my pen
Will my misdeeds be confided