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Prompt 204 Measured loss

March 12, 2014

Today we’ll continue to think about a subject that is close to our hearts.

Loss is one of the most potent subjects of poetry. It is, I suspect, what truly moves us in a poem. As the true marker of our humanity, it snucks up on us at various moments. What it summons up when it does, it summons up wherever we are, wedged on the kitchen floor, as in Therese Broderick’s poem, “Their Moving Van Drives Off”, or looking at a christening gown, in Grace Harriman’s “Fort Andros Flea Market: Christening Dress: Circa 1895”. It is so true that time past is contained in time present.

As a kind of blue light. Purest flame.

Then there’s language, where we poets find ourselves, find our truest habitation. It forms a firmament for grounding our experiences. It is what art does. To measure loss. To take it in again. Deeper this time. Let it become rhythm, second breath. The bird having flown. So as it is, “the bird lies still while the light goes on flying” (W S Merwin, “Unknown Age”).

So write a poem about measured loss. It doesn’t necessarily have to be about grief. It could just be making notes about the day passing. I find it best to write about the present. And then somehow, allow the past to wedge itself into your present.

Again, and if you get lucky, your poem gets to be featured in Red Wolf Journal. Let this also be a repeated call for submission. Don’t be an easy bystander. Go through your drawer of poems. If you’ve submitted before, submit again. The Spring 2014 issue will only officially close on 30 April 2014. If we run out of submissions, the real door will close even before. Without the language of your poems, we—reader, poet–find ourselves bereft. Or elsewhere.

  1. March 13, 2014 8:51 am

    My My poem “Lost, lost, lost” is at

    • March 13, 2014 4:50 pm

      The final repetition has such a percolating effect.

  2. March 13, 2014 9:34 am

    I think poets are always rising out of ashes…

  3. Laurie Kolp permalink
    March 13, 2014 11:03 am

    At the Gravesite
    by Laurie Kolp

    Reaching out to you, my arms shake.
    Once upon a time your embrace
    made everything okay.
    I ran into your outstretched arms,
    a daughter to her mother

    as a child, with skinned knees, hurt feelings
    as an adult, with failed relationships, advice
    always, you enwrapped me in undying love

    but now your arms are limp
    your lifeless body lies within a coffin
    an arm’s length away. I reach out for you
    and touch cold steel. I feel nothing
    but a shiver in my bones.

    • March 14, 2014 10:48 am

      This is so beautiful! I read your words and they make so much sense to me. The loss you mention here is poignant and so heart breaking. Losing the ones we love really is tragic. 😦

  4. Laurie Kolp permalink
    March 13, 2014 3:13 pm

    Here’s a different version…

    • March 17, 2014 3:28 am

      The first is really good, Laurie, but this second really gets to the guts of emotion, at least for me.

  5. March 14, 2014 6:23 am

    I don’t think I directly touch upon the concept of loss in this but I do feel that it’s evocative of the tone of loss.

    Thank you for the prompt, Irene. 🙂

  6. March 14, 2014 10:39 am

    Once again, written in persona…but not Aanteekwa.


  7. Priti permalink
    March 14, 2014 1:13 pm

    It slowly descended from the folded clouds
    swallowing light along the way
    leaping through his veins and neurons
    taking charge of his bouquet
    Now he struggles not to lose
    the sparkle of his gamma ray
    lifting fog with pen and paper
    shining, what the heart displays –

    • March 14, 2014 2:14 pm

      Priti, Cancer is the BigOne, along with HIV/AIDS. I’m old enough to remember when people whispered the word “cancer” as though saying it aloud make it contagious.

      The idea that cancer descends upon one, enveloping and “fogging,” is inventive and heartbreaking. Thank you for a strong poem. Amy

    • March 17, 2014 3:42 am

      I can only echo Amy. This is a weighty poem.

  8. March 14, 2014 1:28 pm

    I thought long and hard about this prompt…and I didn’t know where to start. Just like Sylvia Plath said, It’s often the subjects that are really close to us, that are hardest to write about.

    But then I read some poems by Elizabeth Bishop, like “One Art” which really focuses on loss, and it inspired me to write in a totally different style. 🙂

    So here’s my poem:

  9. March 14, 2014 2:07 pm

    Ironically, I lost my mother 22 years today… but this poem is outside the box:

    Haven’t been here in a long time. Looking forward to reading others! Thanks so much, Amy

  10. March 14, 2014 6:32 pm

    Just wrote mine up here

  11. March 16, 2014 5:15 pm

    Been out of town – sorry I’m late with this.

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