The above photographs were taken and submitted by New York City poet Joe Tessitore. We invite readers to pick one of the images (or both) and write a poem. Post your poem in the comments section below.

 

 


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30 Responses

  1. Joe Tessitore

    Who is it that
    does not despise
    the one who preys
    on butterflies?

    ————

    A young man on the sidewalk sleeps
    beneath the prayer of yoga peeps.
    His chosen spot – a strange tableau –
    for reasons only he would know.

    Reply
  2. D Robin

    The hold-up scaffold and the full-veined wing,
    The rule of Nature and the rule of rod.
    We pass off hardship as we pray or sing,
    Through grace and gruesome on the swings of God.

    Reply
    • D Robin

      In case it is pointed out that I have words between a Cap and a full stop without a verb:

      The hold-up scaffold and the full-veined wing;
      The rule of Nature and the rule of rod;
      We pass off hardship as we pray or sing
      Through grace and gruesome on the swings of God.

      Reply
  3. D Robin

    Joe – without your poem I would not have understood the righthand image.
    I thought the man lying down was imitating a supine Buddha.
    And that the scaffold was a photographically imposed grid.
    As though the picture was a comment on active and passive contemplation with the X in front of the yoga-ists indicating a negative attitude to wards them.
    And the V in the top right being something about versus, one against the other.
    Your poem is a very handy caption. Thanks.

    Reply
  4. Joseph S. Salemi

    Too much yoga wrecks your head,
    And leaves you lying drunk or dead.

    The world is filled with jaws and claws:
    A fact which ought to give you pause.

    Reply
    • Sally Cook

      Thanks, Joe Nice summation ! I have this posted below:
      Posting it here in case you missed it.

      Two Contemporary Photos

      There is a thing quite ominous about
      These images, just waiting to get out.
      Two people — what are they? Their inner screams;
      May hold the stuff of all our darkest dreams.

      One youthful figure, angled to the pair,
      Retains an enigmatic secret there.
      Foreboding and confusion cloud the blue,
      A dance of ambiguity drifts through,
      Propelling them through grey, impartial skies.
      They will dismiss the hapless monarch’s cries.

      Reply
    • Monty

      A few months late: but better than never . . . I finally got round to replying to your comment under the poem by Damien Robin: Forgetting the Tiananmen Square Massacre for 30 years.

      Of course you’re under no obligation to read it . . but we both know you will.

      Reply
      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Yeah, I’ve read it. Typical blather in your inimitable style.

  5. Linda W. Owen

    Proximity

    Like a mantis on the butterfly
    devours the beautiful for a boost.
    You gorge on grace, engulf the lovely,
    like an all-consuming Zeus.

    Survival of the swift and fittest,
    kill or be killed, it’s true.
    In this world of praising power,
    beware the one who’s nearest you.

    Reply
  6. Carole Mertz

    Hi Joe,

    This Monarch can no longer reign;
    it’s life will soon be ended
    I hope my eye can long retain
    the beauty of its wings extended.

    The attacker thus has staked its claim—
    no butterfly befriended.
    Crushed within, the one that’s slain—
    in nature, no friendship pretended.

    Reply
  7. T.M.

    The tragedy of beauty as we know
    it is, it can not last. Age wears it down.
    Death stalks it. Things more beautiful appear.
    Brave academics doubt that it exists,
    or relegate it to some private sphere,
    where careful thought dissolves in mushy mists
    of sentiment. Yet beauty all around
    persists. Be careful not to miss the show.

    Reply
  8. Anna J. Arredondo

    “Oh, look! A butterfly,” my daughter said,
    And ran to fetch her little insect book.
    From page to page her eager fingers sped,
    Until she gasped, upon a closer look,
    “Oh no! I’ll have to classify it ‘dead’.”

    Reply
    • James A. Tweedie

      Is the Praying Mantis praying?
      Saying grace before a meal?
      Or perhaps it’s simply preying
      With its mandibles of steel.

      Either way she’s got her dinner
      And the fight was not a draw,
      For the mantis was the winner
      In the realm of tooth and claw.

      Reply
    • James A. Tweedie

      Anna, I love this! I raised three girls and, when they were little, your poem would have fit them perfectly!

      Reply
    • James A. Tweedie

      Anna, I love this! I raised three girls and, when they were little, your poem would have fit them perfectly! (Repeat post that should have been here)

      Reply
      • Anna J. Arredondo

        Thank you! I liked your use of praying/preying, reminiscent of the homophonic poetry challenge. And you managed to come up with a clever poem for each photo, too. I enjoyed both. I personally am a much bigger fan of caffeine than yoga!

  9. James A. Tweedie

    Many people find practicing Yoga serene,
    Others think that it’s spiritually deep.
    But for those who prefer to be stoked on caffeine,
    It’s so boring it puts them to sleep.

    Reply
    • Joe Tessitore

      Another that has me laughing out loud!

      Some years ago I saw a tiny little snake (a baby?) in the grip of a mantis.
      The reversal was a marvel – an insect eating a reptile!

      Reply
  10. Sally Cook

    Two Contemporary Photos

    There is a thing quite ominous about
    These images, just waiting to get out.
    Two people — what are they? Their inner screams;
    May hold the stuff of all our darkest dreams.

    One youthful figure, angled to the pair,
    Retains an enigmatic secret there.
    Foreboding and confusion cloud the blue,
    A dance of ambiguity drifts through,
    Propelling them through grey, impartial skies.
    They will dismiss the hapless monarch’s cries.

    Reply
  11. James A. Tweedie

    Joe, Nice photos, by the way. Also, you are probably aware that the poetry site Rattle has a monthly photo/poem inspired contest which they call an “Ekphrastic Challenge.” I’ve entered it several times and have enjoyed doing it—just as I did here.

    Reply
  12. Mark F. Stone

    [Sapphic meter]

    State-Run Agriculture

    Venezuela. Food in a daily ration.
    Mere survival. That is the daily passion.
    Protein sources found in a novel fashion.
    Butterfly brisket.

    Reply
  13. David Watt

    There once was a swami:
    Bone-idle and barmy,
    Whose favorite pose was supine.

    When asked why he did it
    He said “There’s no limit
    To goodness it does for my spine!”

    Reply
  14. Sukarma Rani Thareja

    Yoga Teachers

    Two yoga teachers folding hands,
    Praying to mold life of A young man ,
    Sleeping on road side,
    When sun is on his head.

    Early to bed early to rise,
    Make “Surya Namskar” possible,
    For every young man wise,
    It is sure to give him healthy and respectful life.

    Get up young man! and perform yoga exercise,
    To your emotional , Spiritual mental and physical health,
    Yoga will act as catalyst best,
    And will shift your life equilibrium from good to best.

    Reply
  15. Sukarma Rani Thareja

    Grasshopper-Butterfly

    Grasshopper green in colour,
    Butterfly is multicoloured,
    Green color is riding on multicolours,
    Symbolising though today mother Earth is multicolour,
    Let us make mother Earth dominate in green colour.

    Sukarma Rani Thareja
    Alumnus IITK
    UP,INDIA

    Reply
  16. Samuel Spector

    Young man! there’s no need to be down!
    Young man! get yourself off the ground!
    Young man if you got 800 bucks
    You can come and do some yoga!

    Go it’s fun to sing it boy
    Y-O-G-A!
    It’s tax deductibay!
    Y-O-G-A!
    All the boomers say:
    Y-O-G-A
    Come in an purchase the illusion
    So-phis-ti-ca-tion…

    Reply
  17. Mia Panayi

    I remember bedtime
    When my grandparents
    Would kneel and pray
    Hands together
    At the foot of my bed,
    And I would say Amen
    And snuggle close,
    And ask for another story
    But they would say, tomorrow,
    Now Hush-a-bye baby,
    Go to sleep
    But I would cry
    And beg them to stay,
    Secure in their giant shadow
    And their prayers
    That somehow meant
    That I was safe
    In my cocoon,
    Till darkness left
    And light returned

    Reply
  18. Mia Panayi

    They say a picture is worth a thousand words
    But surely that makes the lies more difficult to spot,
    For an image can say what it likes
    Unlike words that need to be precise
    Take for example
    Two praying mantises
    Came upon a cocoon
    Where the butterfly lay sleeping
    As they swooped
    In perfect synchronicity for the kill.

    Reply
    • Mia Panayi

      I think I should have revised before I posted.
      Have learnt my lesson.
      Apologies to Joe and James and all poets here.

      They say a picture is worth a thousand words
      And surely that is no lie,
      For an image can speak its truth,
      Unlike words that need to be precise.
      Take for example
      Two praying mantises,
      Observing a cocoon
      Where the butterfly lay sleeping
      As they hovered
      In perfect synchronicity for the kill.

      Reply
  19. Vrinda Nair

    For the longest time
    I wore a mask of veneer
    Just to fool other
    But in reality
    I was a mooncalf
    Who escaped…
    From intervention
    I became a bughouse
    Only because of brooding over past
    I ought
    Things to fall over again
    For me to revolve
    I want to start afresh

    —Butterfly -Grasshopper

    Reply

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