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    2013 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 22

    Categories: November PAD Chapbook Challenge 2013, Poetry Prompts, Robert Lee Brewer's Poetic Asides Blog, What's New.

    For today’s prompt, write a poem using at least three of the following six words:

    • ideogram
    • remora
    • casket
    • eclipse
    • selfie
    • wretch

    Use the words in the title of your poem, in the body of your poem, and feel free to play with them (by which, I mean, make them plural, past tense, etc.).

    Here’s my attempt at a poem using three of six words:

    “Ideograms for the Melancholy”

    Replace the casket with a basket.
    Put flowers in it. Have the wretch
    that you’ve become transform

    to a hammerhead. When remoras
    come to attach themselves, let them
    think you won’t eat them when

    they let go. Turn the flower basket
    into a selfie and eclipse
    the sun, the moon, and them.


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    Robert Lee Brewer

    Robert Lee Brewer

    Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and decided to add selfie to the word list after it was announced as the word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries (read about it on NPR). He’s the author of Solving the World’s Problems, which actually includes a number of selfie poems (or autobiographical poems). He’s married to the poet Tammy Foster Brewer, who helps him keep track of their five kiddos and reminds him to eat every so often (because he really does forget sometimes). Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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    About Robert Lee Brewer

    Senior Content Editor, Writer's Digest Community.

    242 Responses to 2013 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 22

    1. JRSimmang says:


      It has begun,
      we agreed,
      the day the
      language was
      “selfie” to the
      lending it the modern
      day equivalent
      of a crown of jewels,
      poor Webster,
      flipping and flopping
      in his

      -JR Simmang

    2. bjholmes says:

      I poked my head out of my casket
      during a lunar eclipse.
      Feeling rather remora
      just hoping for a glimpse
      of some other poor wretch
      who is in the same situation as me
      stuck in this field with nothing to do
      but stare at some stupid ideogram
      with selfies of I don’t know who!

    3. Glory says:

      Ever Changing -

      I saw a photo of my selfie
      found it in a casket
      was when my hair was ‘mousy’
      but no more- I’m russet
      but want to be, yes want to be
      a wretch – yes, just a brassy blonde.

    4. hohlwein says:


      The remora has figured it out.
      Eat shit. Don’t rock the boat.
      Don’t take too much.
      Swim along, attached, unnoticed.
      Go where the host goes.
      Get places that way. See the world.
      Parasitic, but modest, elegant in its way.
      Become part of the ideogram -
      a flourish, like a tail, or a tale -
      that changes the meaning just slightly.

      Regardless what comes,
      - even as the moon
      blocks out the sun,
      stay there and – gently – take what you can.

      No one will even know you’re there.
      This is one way to make it in this world.

    5. dandelionwine says:


      I keep wanting to say
      it’s a perfect day for

      cloud vaporizing, for
      pouring water droplets

      on cotton candy in clear
      blue while these ashes

      blow past leaving empty
      caskets in the dust of a

      comet and we chase
      our tails up dark stains

      of cave wall ideograms
      eclipsing this dear world

      with what can’t disappear.

    6. Yolee says:

      Closed Casket

      She stands under the big bean in Chicago’s Millennium Park.
      The Cloud Gate sculpture distorts her reflection. She takes
      a selfie. Satisfied with it she heads to her room at The Drake
      Hotel to upload the pic unto various dating sites. After mulling
      over the ideogram, she posts it and then fills in the blanks
      with versions that eclipse wretched parts that
      has her moving every 8 or 9 months to a new town.

    7. seingraham says:


      It is the sound gathering
      them into the rarefied
      space that is her undoing
      Expecting “Ave Maria”,
      or even “Amazing Grace”
      to breach the gap

      between she,
      and the wretch laid out,
      white, wimple-perfect
      in the plainest casket available,
      save the Order’s ideogram
      carved—or is it stamped,
      she cannot decide—on the lid,
      instead it’s Albinoni’s “Adagio”
      that clings to her senses

      invades her every pore
      each note a leech, a remora
      eclipsing her promise to God,
      to herself, to create a calmness
      however difficult
      that might prove to be

      Ah, here come the rest—
      such an obsolete group,
      she cannot help thinking—
      as habit-clad figure after
      habit-glad figure glides
      down the aisles like crows
      or, faces framed white
      with wimples,
      perhaps magpies…
      No, so stern looking,
      ravens surely

      She tries to reel her mind
      back to the matter at hand
      As they perch on the pews
      The music ends,
      the priest intones a prayer
      Beseeches all to consider
      the virtue of the deceased

      She feels light-headed,
      remembers it is her time
      of the month
      Wonders anew
      at God’s cruelty
      Why continue the cycle
      yet insist on celibacy
      It didn’t lessen
      suffering, did it?

      She crosses herself quickly
      Says a quick, sincere Hail Mary
      Tries to forget the choice that
      led to the poor thing
      landing in the box…

      However she cannot keep
      from regarding
      Her Saviour on the cross,
      begging him silently
      “Why this dear Lord?”
      Her child was your child
      as was she, was she not?”
      As always, her answer was
      couched in silence

    8. bjzeimer says:


      I shouldn’t be here watching
      this documentary of the migration
      of swans, cranes, and pelicans,

      the largest birds in the world.
      Like I need to know what a gaggle
      of geese is, what flock of birds is called

      a wedge. The biggest birds
      I ever saw were pheasants lighting in an
      Ohio field of wheat stubble,

      Daddy stalking them with his shotgun.
      We had a pot of pheasant
      and noodles for supper that night.

    9. rosross says:

      Soul work

      Soul in suckled sense reveals,
      remora-like the flesh, within
      the casket of the Self ;
      Spirit long repressed.

      Created in this human form,
      an ideogram for life,
      the wretch reborn eternal;
      eclipse in God’s bright night.

    10. Mywordwall says:


      Time brings all to their knees
      in one way or the other
      like the silvery haired figure
      before her love, silent
      in a casket, whispering
      her last goodbye
      as leaves fall
      into a pool of tears
      rising with the wind
      on an angel’s hands.
      Love goes on
      to forever
      lights up her wretched lot
      and eclipses the darkness
      with living memories

      • seingraham says:

        This is just to say…I don’t know where comments go for Robert and I wanted to tell him/you that I think “Ideogram for the Melancholy” is one of my favourite poems of yours…ever. I’m not sure why…it just is…and I’m in awe that you were able to use all the of the words. Talk about setting the bar high.

    11. BezBawni says:

      When you arch your back and gasp

      scribble your love on the walls
      of my aging heart, put it in fine
      calligraphic ideograms, fold it in scrolls
      to be kept in my fleshly shrine;

      shine your love bright on your lips,
      in your eyes, let its light reach
      out beyond all pain and eclipse
      scars of the past, seven lifetimes each;

      leech me with love, let it bleed
      down my spine and stick to me like a remora;
      make love into a casket of shattered dreams,
      whispering to my longings ‘memento mori…’

    12. Broofee says:

      All this makes me feel like a wretch

      A guy gives a Nazi salute the other day
      Full stadium cheers
      And sings along
      And the first person who says that’s wrong
      Gets branded a traitor by
      Majority of people around us.

      A priest gives an online interview
      Says masturbation is wrong
      Says we should abolish liberal NGOs
      Says he can’t wait
      To be penetrated by god.

      Apparently I’m supposed to
      Accept all of this
      Liberal democracy
      That’s what the media says
      Don’t be upset
      Everyone has a right to their own opinion

      Some opinions are not for
      The good of the mankind
      That’s what I say.
      So you better keep them
      Hidden away
      Or you’ll cause an eclipse
      Or even
      Start another war
      And we’ll all
      End up in caskets
      Like all those millions before us.

    13. Day 22
      Prompt: Write a poem using at least 3 of these 6 words:

      Saved a Wretch Like Me

      The cross serves as my ideogram.
      New creation
      find me,
      my sin unlatched like a scared remora,
      laid in a casket, in God’s view,
      so that all I was is eclipsed by who I am,
      who I will be.
      I take a selfie and view a new

    14. Jezzie says:


      You were always the belle of the ball
      giving your man a very hard time
      but your life on earth finished early
      and last year you left him in his prime.

      As you lie sleeping in your casket
      we are all watching your wretched spouse,
      normally eclipsed by your presence,
      morphing into a man from a mouse.

    15. Lori P says:

      selfie of a wretch

      from his casket he saw
      the sun rise forever and blind
      the watchers swimming through a school
      of remoras

      he stored the image in his mind
      determined to review it one day
      when eternity got boring and forever
      eclipsed the microsecond he had spent
      on earth

    16. Cin5456 says:


      We, the wretched souls,
      lament against the tides
      of humanity, and wrench
      a life from the sucking sands
      of time; mock us for believing.
      This remora will not hold
      us back forever. Caskets
      await us, not only the wretched;
      the grave awaits all.

    17. Missy McEwen says:

      Family Reunion

      You come in your oversized Jackie O sunglasses
      that total eclipse your eyes, face, come with your bright
      red lips that can be seen from a mile away. You stay
      selfie ready in a crop top that shows off your flat belly.
      No one would ever guess you just had a baby a few
      months ago although your Instagram bio mentions you’re
      a mother of two. You come without them. You come ready
      for photo ops with family members whose names you don’t
      remember, who talk about all who died and open casket funerals.

    18. bethwk says:

      Four o’clock in the morning
      and sleep has dwindled away
      like the last drops of late rain

      and that remora of remorse
      attaches itself so tenderly
      to the soft underbelly of the heart

      feeding on you, feeding you,
      leaving morning’s mark on the soul
      like an ideogram for eclipse.

    19. MichelleMcEwen says:

      No Swimming

      A “no swimming”

      snapped and posted
      on Instagram

      is better than a selfie
      any day

      Little crooked wooden sign
      even lovelier in lo-fi sunshine

      eclipsing the
      unlovely real danger

      of Lake Lillinonah.

    20. DWong says:

      Remora’s Message in a Casket

      Old poems,
      old stories,
      old thoughts
      are stored
      simplified for
      the remora
      that hitches
      rides hoping
      that it
      can keep
      its wretched
      away from
      its casket
      realize the
      has left it
      with only
      selfie that no
      one understands
      but the poor
      little remora.

    21. Julieann says:

      Ideogram of the Self

      We all know one,
      You know, that person,
      Somewhere between a
      Wretch and a total selfie
      Everything revolves around
      Them and when they find a
      Companionable person they
      Turn into a remora, sucking the
      Life from the relationship
      Until the final eclipse that
      Blocks what little good that may
      Have resided inside of them
      And life goes on until the day
      We find ourselves filing past
      Their casket only to see
      A mirror where their
      Head should be and our own
      Reflection staring back at us
      As an ideogram of
      What we could become

    22. Ode to the Remora

      I love the idea
      of this ray-finned
      sucking fish,
      its oval dorsal fin
      with slat-like
      to take firm hold
      against the skin
      of larger mammals.

      They attach
      to some poor wretch
      of shark or whale,
      turtle or dugong
      or mantua ray.
      Holding tight,
      they look like
      little silver ripples
      on its hide.

      That is,
      they hitch a ride.
      I guess it’s faster,
      even though
      they swim well
      on their own
      with sinuous
      or curved

      Many but small,
      they travel together,
      feeding on what
      the host drops.
      Some ride
      in the great casket
      of the host’s mouth

      the host
      eats them!
      It’s a life
      lazy but
      prone to

    23. A wretched mist,
      hovers nearby
      Gossamer ghost,
      floating awry
      Skyward casket,
      a soul denied
      Heaven eclipsed,
      the phantom sighs

    24. Tough list to work in. I think I just alluded to casket. The other words, I’m sure, are scrambled in there somewhere.

      • and here’s the poem! Oops.


        She called upon survivors of the dead,
        a veteran of life and loss. Eyeing
        the floral sprays, the roses blanketing
        the casket, she filed away details.
        She’d long ago quit saying how natural
        they looked. It made her children
        cringe. But she made note of how
        she’d like to go. Not for her the fire,
        reducing her to ashes. Fine for others,
        not for her. She had a sense of place,
        of home. She liked to think of burial
        as planting. Using common sense,
        she’d made sure everyone knew–
        No shiny silver casket, silk tucked
        around her, satin pillow under
        her head. Don’t let Sarah do my hair,
        she’d told them. She made them
        promise to hold out for Gene.
        He knows how to hit my wave,
        she said. Insisting on a plain pine
        box , she chose a quilt to line it,
        made by her granny, log cabin, worn
        soft by decades of wash and use.

    25. Subvocalization

      Speed reading’s fine for anyone
      who needs to plow through legal
      documents, dry classroom text,
      but don’t begrudge my pleasure,
      reading syllable by syllable, each
      word sounding inside my head.

      If I’d been born some other place
      communicating with ideograms,
      not alphabet, I might not hang
      on every sound. But I hear words
      like music, taste words like caviar,
      tapioca, habanera, plum. Unaware
      of what they miss, the deaf, poor
      wretches, without the chance
      to rattle off nonsense words—
      remora, selfie, twerk—whatever
      made this year’s new list.

      I’d rather spell out words I know,
      hearing the click, the assonance
      the sibilance of eclipse, every word
      a contestant in my favorite game:
      Which One Does Not Belong?

    26. LeAnneM says:


      On his back
      The Ideogram for wind

      Obscured by the remora
      Of new pain

    27. Siren Bath

      Draw the water hot
      enough to turn your thighs
      red, melt your muscles
      into remora against porcelain
      and transform your very
      body into an ideogram
      of what you are: not
      a parasite, but one
      who feeds on them,
      draws them in by dangling
      a camera phone in the
      air and snapping a selfie
      of the jelly skin around
      your lips.

    28. Up and Coming

      All his hard work,
      eclipsed by that wretched
      new hire, MBA rich kid,
      walk-in arrogant,
      white teeth gleaming
      like a blinding light.
      All he could think about
      was how those teeth
      would look
      after several years
      in a casket.

    29. elishevasmom says:


      In my world,
      talk may be cheap.
      But do I speak
      your language?
      I speak with words,
      expressions, innuendo.

      Your words are threats,
      your expressions come in
      caliber and millimeter.
      And innuendo, I guess
      that’s obsolete.
      Automatic weapons are not
      known for their subtlety.

      You were weened on;
      “If it feels good—you gotta have it.”
      You cut your teeth on:
      “You take it, it’s yours.”—
      “Make it yours – take it yours.”

      In your language,
      life is cheap.
      Your real family
      is the gang
      you hang with.
      They speak your language.

      When life has no value,
      violence can afford
      to be casual.
      You watch that casket
      going down, another
      young life eclipsed at
      a drive-by—just
      collateral damage, the cost of
      doing business.

      You don’t see anti-gun
      ideograms in the ghetto.
      But selifies with Sig-Sauers,
      yeah, those you see.
      Life may be cheap,
      but talk?
      Talk can be real expensive.
      It’s the price you gotta pay
      to belong.

      Ellen Knight 11.12.13
      use at least 3 of “ideogram, remora, casket, eclipse, selfie, wretch”
      PAD 11.13

    30. cholder says:

      Inspired by an article I read about funeral selfies…

      Wretched millennia!
      Narcissistic remoras!
      A selfie is no way to memorialize the deceased
      Tongues protruding from gaping mouths
      Dumbassery on display for the universe to see
      Light a candle in her honor
      Reminisce with family
      Do not disrespect your dear, departed Grandmother
      With another idiotic selfie.

      November PAD Challenge Day 22: Use 3 of these words-ideogram, remora, casket, eclipse, wretch

    31. Wretched Casket

      She slithered in from her room;
      In remoras-like sea-leech form,
      Breeching the inner sanctum of the enemy.

      She knew the drill, but mustered
      enough bravado to ask anyway.
      “Dad, can I go to the party tonight? ”
      Mom tried hopelessly to draw fire….
      but it was much was too late.

      Her question bounced off his chest. All hell broke loose.
      Sirens exploded througout the facility. The entire complex was put on lockdown within minutes.
      Guards erupted at every corner and exit. Helicopters circled above scanning the area.

      Eclipsed by rejection, she bit the bullet, slithered back to her wretched hideout plastered with selfies, ideograms and climbed back into her casket.

    32. Eclipsed

      You eclipsed my view of the stars
      when I put you on that pedestal,

      leeched on like a remora to a
      wretched, self-immolating man

      lost in the sun.

    33. Margie Fuston says:


      Taking one more selfie
      won’t make you feel
      more beautiful.
      Tattooed ideograms
      won’t hide your skin.
      Open up your jeweled casket
      for once and stop
      your eclipse.

    34. In the Blink of an Eye

      I can’t concentrate.

      An eclipse shrouds my mind
      with thoughts of you
      lying in that bed
      –a casket–
      dying for the chance
      to stand tall
      and walk in charge
      around the dining room

      that just last week
      held the formal table
      where we gather
      for Thanksgiving,
      the grandkids
      taking selfies,
      photo bombing
      family portraits

      but now holds you
      lying in that bed,
      dying– I can’t concentrate!–

      and hands that just last year
      joined side by side in prayer
      now reach for yours
      and won’t let go.


      I am somewhat a remora,
      feeding off the living.
      I radiate an aura
      of terror unforgiving.

      An ideogram of crucifix,
      awash in flowing blood,
      I have the power to transfix
      and bury you ‘neath the mud.

      My casket is my daylight place.
      The sun I must not see.
      A mirror can’t reflect my face.
      There’s no selfie of me.

      There is no evil I imbue
      my charms cannot eclipse.
      So fear the wretch before you
      and beware his blood-stained lips.

      © Susan Schoeffield

    36. De Jackson says:


      Etch your secret id
      -eogram into some
      permanent surface
      (basket, casket, tree).

      Remora that wretch
      -ed sucker, eclipse your
      sacred self
      -i.e., the person you
      thought you’d be.


    37. shann says:

      not up to the prompt today (though I’ll keep it in mind and see what comes- here’s my JFK tribute)

      American Housewife Haiku

      Who wakes expecting
      to die before the sun sets?
      I don’t, though I could.

    38. My poem for today uses the words: selfie, eclipsed, wretch–it is titled “Sinful Soul’s Selfie” and is posted on my blog: http://leonaslines.com/2013/11/22/sinful-souls-selfie/

    39. DanielAri says:

      “selfie @ 27”

      A period within an O within an O
      within an O, all red with the penumbra’s light,
      makes Josho and I scootch closer, feeling as though
      we’re in an underground grotto although tonight
      we’re outdoors for this snow-punctuated eclipse

      of the moon. Wet meadow by the lake, a casket-
      shaped stone to freeze our asses as we watch the glow
      stir the puddles into ideograms and roust
      the mythical twelve-headed remoras below
      the surfaces we can barely apprehend, thrown

      by the werewolf light and by the sloe gin fizzes
      we’ve been swilling since early afternoon.
      We watch it go, Josho and I,
      brothers in our lonely
      heroic quests.

      So soon—


    40. RJ Clarken says:

      Tat Typo

      is wretched.
      Your selfie showing that ideogram
      ‘For Peace’ really got lost in translation:
      Your tat says,
      “I’m a


    41. tunesmiff says:

      His casket
      was born by

      His mourners

      were simply
      their sadness

      eclipsed by
      a nation’s
      shared sorrow.

    42. bjzeimer says:


      She takes pictures of the casket
      and every day, thereafter, gets them out,
      spreads them out over the coffee table,

      her jewelry box nearby, hordes of items,
      stacked in every corner
      of the room, memorabilia at hands reach–

      the family crest– and says :
      Come see—pictures of my husband–
      he bought me anything I wanted.

      Using a polaroid camera he gave her, too,
      she puts a ring on every finger,
      takes a selfie holding his photo.

      adds it to the collection,
      as the wretch in me turns a deaf ear, eclipses
      another afternoon of nostalgia.

    43. Domino says:


      A simple soul alone and
      bemoaning his fate,
      the wretched state of his life;
      the electricity is down,
      his phone uncharged,
      a forlorn clown.

      How can he go on, the
      image is dead, the ideogram for
      facebook, unresponsive.
      Head down, he weeps instead.

      His most recent selfie,
      taken on a “whim” at that
      dim new place downtown
      falls as flat as his spirits.
      He stares, grim,
      at the unresponsive screen.

      If he could only post, it would surely
      eclipse his other photos,
      and the real him could come out.
      He knows he is real fun guy,
      and not a remora,
      sucking off the fun of others
      as his ex-girlfriend claims.

      No, he is doomed, his fate sealed.
      He will no doubt be found, a lifeless
      weight in the morning, having pined away
      to that final silent sleep…

      He briefly considers what he should wear
      for when they find his corpse,
      and shudders when he realizes how
      his mother will dress him for his casket.
      He swears.
      This is totally unfair.

      He must survive, somehow.
      He must come through alive.
      He must.

      With a blip-bloop-bleep, power returns.
      He is saved (once more enslaved).
      Head down, face aglow, he
      dives back into

    44. Clae says:

      Another moth flits in to eclipse the blinking fire
      Then falls in ash cremated by its own desire
      No casket or headstone or burial plot
      Why wretched creature could you not
      Identify the danger that drew you so close
      Just like so often I cannot see what I chose
      Can be such a danger the things that I crave
      Could leave me burnt to ash without a grave

    45. Jane Shlensky says:


      I hate to say it, now he’s gone,
      but that man was a waste of a casket,
      already rotten as they come,
      always sucking up to power,
      attaching himself like remora
      to the worst kind of wealth,
      pretending its his, using his pull
      to hurt whoever he liked,
      his big nose and pummeling voice
      bullying everybody here, creating
      more wretches wherever he went.

      I thought he might try to help folks,
      remember where he came from
      with some kindness in his heart,
      shed a little light, a little hope,
      but he just blotted out the sun,
      left us in the dark. It ain’t right
      for me to say so, but I ain’t sorry
      he’s gone, nor how he went.
      Meanness draws meanness to it.
      Wonder who’ll take his place.

      • PressOn says:

        Here’s another one in different voice, though not so removed from your usual styles. I guess this shows how versatile you are. Your piece reminds me of J.P. Morgan,. or caricatures of him, anyway. Well done; you have me hating the guy, and “waste of a casket” is a ringing way to send him off.

    46. Jane Shlensky says:

      South Side

      JoJo the only fearsome one
      he scary fierce sometimes
      won’t quake at no casket
      won’t retch seeing blood
      even his own. Them others
      like remora, sucked onto him
      snapping up crumbs, riding
      the wake of his power, showing
      they gums every time he bare
      his teeth. Heads latched onto
      every idea he give ‘em.
      If not for the little shadows
      they cast, he’d eclipse ‘em
      completely. He the Word to
      they ideograms; he the Chosen,
      the Mover and Shaker ‘round here
      JoJo, King of the Wretches

      • PressOn says:

        Wow. This is a much different voice than I’ve heard from you, but it fits so well. Your “south side” makes me think of Chicago, but this could be a city anywhere in the United States, I think Excellent. Again.

    47. priyajane says:

      If only

      She lives in a casket
      that she decorates
      with re-moralized threads
      She foolishly flashes her selfie
      with fake, bold ideograms
      To make up for her eclipsed dreams.
      If only she could hang on
      thro the wretched darkness
      to see the new moon appear
      round the bend
      If only—-

    48. candict says:

      22 casket eclipse wretch
      in wretched weather
      we the few, the brave
      gather around the casket
      stars and stripes
      eclipsing the dark wood

    49. - a. -

      the name must be shorter than a pastoral. the baby must outlive your father’s car. asking for the possibility of good sex must not be compared to anything. the person father is underneath must be from your past, your mother. the casket must be a rumor, and open. rumor must be definitive, like eclipse, like eye patch. the door must be placed on the back of a military mom and a photograph is preferred. the doorway must become addicted to selfies. dear boy, humiliate the right dog. tether dog. eat so much my girlfriend says dear boy, dear sea, stomach. you can’t hate poetry and the world. Bob is secretly a soccer mom rubbing a lamp in public and is also sometimes Jesus trying to step on a scale.

    50. Hannah says:

      Singing Still

      How I long to capture your song
      carry it in the ornately carved casket-
      the ivory-ribbed basket of my chest.
      I’ll allow your simple message,
      a promise of sweet weather
      to eclipse the deepest days of winter;
      I’ll hold it securely in my soul
      as an ideogram for strength.
      I’m pierced by your persistence
      infected by your melody
      sung despite the ice
      as watch you flit untiringly
      from branch to bough
      faithfully foraging,
      singing still.

      Copyright © Hannah Gosselin 2013

      The black-capped Maine State bird is the Chickadee and its song has a distinct sound.

      Their “feee-beee” song is a harbinger of spring even though it might be heard as early as the last week of January. Some people have thought the “feee-bee” song to sound like “sweet weather” or “spring soon.”

    51. Linda Goin says:


      According to Cambridge Dictionaries Online,
      the word spelled i-d-e-o-g-r-a-m is a written sign
      or symbol that represents an idea or an object,
      like a number or like the red circle with a bar
      that renders the idea of “no,” or “not allowed.”
      That word becomes a problem when used in a poem,
      because two ways exist to pronounce it.

      The British say a four-syllable dactyl,
      pronouncing all letters, including the e,
      with an emphasis on the first part.
      DA-da-da-da. Ideogram.

      Americans say a three-syllable dactyl,
      eclipsing the e, with emphasis on the first part.
      DA-da-da. Idogram.

      How to work with that word in a metered poem?
      It’s not as simple as using the phrase,
      “Can the poor wretch’s corpse tell us anything?”
      It’s more like a child who moves with her family
      from Virginia to Pennsylvania, and she learns
      how to say “five” with the long i,
      rather than “fav” with the soft a,
      and when her mother hears that tongue twist,
      she throws pans across the kitchen, yelling,
      “We’re not going to stay here that long!”

      There it is! That red circle with a bar, stamped
      with metal banging on walls, clanging in ears,
      molded across a mouth and on a voice,
      silencing that one-syllable mistake, that one word
      that took so long to learn, that one time
      added to so many other times that
      versed that daughter on what was allowed
      and not allowed in her mother’s world.

      Forgiveness is an amphibrach in many dialects,
      As for i-d-e-o-g-r-a-m?
      Please pronounce it any way you want.


      When she left so unexpectedly, Aunt Ed
      (she hated Edna) left (she hated to use
      the same word twice) a small casket of not rings
      and jewels but ideograms collected
      all her life, and nothing to tell (now she’s dead)
      what they meant; a key; a selfie (of all things)
      of her wretch of a nephew – why, who would choose
      a suckerfish-remora to dote on? Bled
      and breathless, she lies as if in state, pursed lips.
      The nephew sits shuffling ideograms in
      senseless piles like telling fortunes. Holds one up,
      then another. Flying horse. A filling cup.
      Then runs to the window that lets night begin –
      at noon. Aunt Ed’s gone. Who cares for an eclipse?

    53. Trips Through the Self

      Ideogram memories
      flip through your mind,
      some eclipsing others
      so quickly,
      while some memories act like
      morass remoras
      drawing you back
      over and over again,
      tickling the nuances
      of suspended time.

      While some,
      some are just
      and you turn away
      as if scalded
      and you try to close
      the casket lid
      but it acts like
      an overstuffed suitcase
      that won’t close…
      you finally throw
      some metaphoric dirt
      over the top and
      walk away.

    54. barbara_y says:

      Oh, the dead.
      Look. I loved him like a brother, but
      he was a
      he was a
      Look. If he’d been
      a singing cowboy, he’d
      have played an upright bass.
      And wanted it buried with him.
      Am I lying? He’d have taken it
      everywhere, too. Donkey for it.
      If he had been a pharaoh
      his mummy casket would
      have been done up
      in ideograms of his middle finger.
      Am I right? If he had been Tut?
      If he had been a viking, his pyre
      would have fizzled, soggy,
      and remora-slowed. Dead,
      he’d have blocked the harbor
      for a week. If he’d been Caesar,
      instead of et tu Brutus, we’d
      have selfies of him going down.
      Look. I loved him like a brother.

    55. Dare says:

      A bit of a twist on today’s prompt: :-)

      Memory Salad

      Memories, viewed through the prism
      of ba”re mora”l judgments
      A v”ideo, Gram”ma smiling
      Then, a wido”w retch”es
      In the Garden alone
      Smart-al”ec lips e”ager to kiss
      gather ’round a dam”sel, fie”nds
      circling to devour her,
      An Angel plays her harp
      the strings, through
      musi”c ask et”ernal Questions

    56. Hannah says:

      Too Soon

      Atop mahogany carved casket
      I placed your best selfie,
      (complete with remora fish kiss),
      a wretched attempt
      to eclipse the grim reality within.
      I secretly prayed over your name,
      hoped gravely that it would become
      a widely known ideogram.
      Its direct yet abstract meaning
      would be a reminder
      to look carefully
      at our actions,
      peer deeply
      into the eyes
      of a teen child
      about to choose.
      You left too soon.

      Copyright © Hannah Gosselin 2013

      This is written for a local fourteen year old youth who departed from this earth too early. I pray the peace and comfort of our Creator to cradle her family through this very difficult time. I pray for all parents, that we guard our children from poorly chosen actions and that we are attentive to their emotional stability.

    57. alanasherman says:

      Selfie Eclipsed

      under the
      ideogram for
      remorse a
      casket rests
      the foolish wretch within it
      suitably alone


    58. Awesome! I love “word bank” challenges.

      To a Superstar

      To you, they’re remoras hanging on
      to your hide, along for the ride.
      They’re always requesting your autograph
      on a program or a ball, always asking to take
      a selfie with you. Necessary evil, you think,
      signing without a smile, posing with a forced one.
      You may think your face, your number,
      your signature are ideograms for fame,
      but someday when your records are eclipsed,
      someday when you’re closer to the casket
      than the cradle, someday when you feel like
      a broken-down wretch, you will miss it,
      and appreciate everything they did for you.

    59. PressOn says:


      I spied, atop a mining dam,
      that big black bird, death’s ideogram.

      It perched next to an old rock basket
      that looked, suspiciously, like a casket;

      below it, close as a shark’s remora,
      an oriole foraged in the flora

      but its bright colors could not fetch
      my eyes from fixing on that wretch

      whose beady orbs placed in eclipse
      all thoughts of gay and witty quips.

      Instead I felt a clammy gloom;
      a premonition of dark doom.

      I knew I had to leave that place
      and give myself some breathing space

      but took a selfie before I left
      to show I had left death bereft.

    60. Really Good Books

      A good book
      can be like a remora,
      sucking you in so deep
      you forget…everything.
      Eclipsing daily chores
      and life in general
      until those that know you
      wonder if they should order
      a casket
      because it’s been so long
      since they’ve seen you
      and when you do finally surface
      you feel like a wretch
      for ignoring life
      and causing worry…
      but not really,
      because books that good
      are hard to find.

    61. 11-22-63

      The incident eclipsed all others
      As a wretched self-serving soul
      Hurried our best into a casket
      And the world mourned

    62. writinglife16 says:

      It takes one to know one

      The wretch died on the day of a
      Solar eclipse.
      It figured.
      His evil spirit would try to
      block out the sun.
      I went to his viewing.
      Not many visitors.
      Not surprising.
      I sprinkled salt around his casket.
      Just to make sure no badness
      could linger.
      He used to call me a witch.
      I laughed and asked
      how would he know?

    63. JanetRuth says:

      Beneath Time’s Evening Bell

      Earth, like an umber casket
      Has cradled every bloom
      November mourns, its heavy robe
      Enshrouds each stricken plume
      For nature’s fairer filament
      Has fallen; flow’r and leaf
      Slumbers where wretch and prince preside
      Bound for its steadfast sheaf

      Moment folds over moments
      Ephemeral eclipse
      Of petals, poems and parting
      And then its present slips
      Into the crypt of ‘bygone’
      An unrelenting plot
      Of had and held remembered
      And none exhumes its lot

      The remora of hours
      Does not release its prey
      It drinks a field of flowers
      And turns raven to gray
      November’s stark procession
      Bows where its laughter fell
      Its dirge, a somber silence
      Beneath Time’s evening bell

    64. PKP says:

      Once upon a midnight not quite so dreary
      lied in a satin lined casket a girl so weary
      feeling as though teen life one long wretch-eclipse*
      longng for a cadre of remora attached to her hips
      She called them to her as with a teen Siren song
      Clicked a selfie tweeted – waited – smiling sure all change coming before too long

      * whoops had left out wretch – slipped it in … Happy poeming <3 Fun prompt…

    65. PKP says:

      Teen Ideogram

      Once upon a midnight not quite so dreary
      lied in a satin lined casket a girl so weary
      feeling as though teen life one long eclipse
      longng for a cadre of remora attached to her hips
      She called them to her as with a teen Siren song
      Clicked a selfie tweeted – waited – smiling sure all change coming before too long


      Wretched beings
      sucking the life from those
      unable to resist -
      eclipse the light of kindness
      until nothing is left
      but casket and grave -
      ideogram of selfish love

    67. Funeral Selfie

      The selfie of me
      standing by his casket
      served as an ideogram
      for what a wretch I am,
      practically a remora—
      along for the ride
      and fed by his scraps,
      his life eclipsing mine.
      No more.

    68. Why I cannot say selfie

      This focus on brand
      from cradle to casket
      eclipses humanness.
      Snap another photo
      of yourself and
      make it your avatar.
      This ideogram you
      lacks substance
      and only serves
      to attract remoras
      as they feed
      off the wretchedness
      of this focus on brand.

    69. Eclipsed

      Wretched man that I am
      Eclipsed by grandma’s casket
      A dark day in history
      With no remnant light
      Not even a tight crescent
      Selfies contraindicated

    70. gl86 says:

      Just for fun:


      Part I – The pose

      The pose – an ideogram – on the street,
      at the beach, all made up, while you eat:
      puckered pout, sultry stare
      one arm raised high in the air,
      the other resting on your hip,
      teapotting (a red carpet tip).
      Skip the “cheese!,” just raise your chin,
      and suck whatever you’ve got there in
      before the momentous thumb click
      that confirms your perfect selfie pic.

      Part II – The posting

      Now that you are looking gorgeous,
      where will you post this staged self-portrait?
      With all the social media options avail
      your publish simply cannot fail
      to reach a quota of thumbs ups and likes
      But not before you type a caption: “Yikes!
      Me looking wretched at a party last night”
      is self-deprecating enough to write
      to ensure that friends will disagree
      and instead, lavish praise on your beauty.

    71. bxpoetlover says:

      My Ideogram Looks Like A Light Bulb

      I thought selfies were stupid, until I realized
      we all lie in our caskets alone. If we are lucky
      we will be surrounded by loved ones,
      and the merely curious remora,

      those wretches who attach themselves
      to their subjects of envy, sucking
      details of their lives
      and weaving negatives narratives.

      Eclipse the naysayers–
      Purse lips/bend hips
      Celebrate each weight loss
      birthday and night out.

    72. With the right frame
      a window
      can be anything
      even a casket
      the ideogram of your life
      a sun kissed remora
      of remorse
      hanging from its hide
      selflessness turning eclipsed
      and eclipsing
      by a wretched wrenching
      your self
      in an instant
      lost on the other side

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