Loss (And Thinking of Whitman Maybe) 55 x 3


Here is what some might find an interesting exercise, and others, not so much.  (Sorry.)  I post below three versions of a 55 word poem.    Please feel free to read one or all (or none!) 

They seem different lengths because in one I am using the title to get to 55 words and in the other two I am excluding the title.   I am posting this for the 55 word poem prompt by the wonderful Kerry O’ Connor at Real Toads.  (And, of course, in honor of the much missed G-Man, Galen Haynes.)


Loss (Thinking of Whitman Maybe)

Loss is planted
It is sown
with our bare feet;
it is sown with our
boxed feet;
it is sown by the foot that extends
over the pyre, the last
to come to ash.
It grows at first
as grass; we don’t realize, walking,
how it tiptoes below.




Thinking of Whitman Maybe

Loss is planted
It is sown
with our bare feet;
sown with our
boxed feet;
sown by the foot that extends
beyond the pyre, last
to come to ash.

It grows at first
as grass;
we don’t realize, walking,
how it tiptoes below,
parrying the blows of breeze,
bursts of sun, clouds’ knees.




Loss (and Thinking of Whitman, Maybe)

Loss is planted
sown by bare foot
sown by boxed
sown by that foot that’s coaxed last
to ash, that stretches beyond
the pyre.

It aspires
to be grass, the greens and blues
and greys of new mown
days; as we walk it carries below
blown breezes on tiptoe,
with clouds’ knees, snow.



Thanks to those who got to the end!  And apologies for any sense of  burden.  Thoughts welcome. 

PS photo is mine. 





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25 Comments on “Loss (And Thinking of Whitman Maybe) 55 x 3”

  1. Oloriel Says:

    The first and the last are my favourites, great writes all three and a lovely homage.

  2. Candy Says:

    loved all three. they share a melancholy feeling – in a good way

  3. Jim Says:

    My favorites are 2,3,1 ~~ All are nice, I like the second two because even though there is loss, we build on it and go on.
    Like the old saying, ‘making lemonade out of the lemons’
    BTW, my favorite ‘Whitman’ comes in a yellow box full of chocolate candies. I said that but he is sort of okay. At one time I memorized quite a bit of his work.

  4. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    I loved the first version as I read it. The metaphor is well-wrought within the number of words. Then I noted the slightly longer ending of the second, but still preferred the tiptoe phrase of the first. However, the final version is the perfect blend of both. This exercise really drives home how forcing oneself to rewrite can produce the desired result. I am too often guilty of sticking to my first craft.
    Thanks, Karin.

  5. I really liked how you have worked all three versions. The tiptoe in the first version is a perfect feeling and works to me both concrete or as a metaphor. I think of battlefields and bones in soil…

  6. Polly Says:

    I like all of them, but especially the second one. I keep reading them – what an interesting exercise 🙂

  7. Brendan Says:

    My Amen pins to the first. I think of giant steps into which our meters somehow fit, and the grass that keeps growing when we’re gone, retaining only the outlines of what were our steps. (While we step happily or durably below.)

  8. hedgewitch Says:

    I have to agree with Kerry that your metaphor seems most fully realized in the last, but I’m not too sure that one doesn’t not just savor, but need all three–my particular favorite was, oddly, the middle child, that seems hand in hand with two more well-groomed sisters. She is plainer, perhaps, but all the more forceful. Still, this is a progression, and your very last lines seem to me the most compelling. Thanks for posting all three—and I can see it would be really hard to pick just one–glad you didn’t.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks. The first was honestly a big more like the middle, but when I thought of posting all three I made it/her a little simpler, dropping a last line. It was interesting to me as each time I revise something I am quite convinced (at the moment) of the merits of the changes, but never so sure the next moment–thanks again. k.

      • hedgewitch Says:

        Ha! No kidding! This is why I leave my poems so long as variously cocooned and semi-metamorphosed scribbles–but here revision has really served you well–I think it is what forces us to get to the real meat of what we want to say, though letting go of the sauce can be hard. ;_)

  9. Well, I love the first version. It’s stunning, beautiful, and thank you for it. The second version is great too, but you don’t need the last two lines. That tiptoeing is part of the success of the first. The third version is too much of a tongue-twister for me. I love the simplicity of version one.

  10. I like them all but the first is my favorite!

  11. Zoe Says:

    “it is sown with our
    boxed feet” … What a powerful image. I feel trapped in dirt, down to my toes after reading that.

    I love this: “last / to come to ash”

    You are such a heavy-handed poet; your punches hurt and heal at the same time.

  12. Marian Says:

    Oh! Thank you for this. I think the first, as the last loses “boxed feet.” Wonderful to observe your process, and boy are you brave Karin to put it out there for our deliberation and voting!

  13. Rommy Says:

    It’s amazing the way small changes add such nuance to written work. I think the second one is my favorite overall. Thanks for sharing your experiment with us!

  14. I love all of them, but if I had to choose it would be the first one. So creative!

  15. I like them all, but prefer the structure, and the feeling evoked by the last one…

  16. M Says:

    I like all 3, for the same reason that I like trees: similar, but unique in subtle ways ~

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