On the banks of a quiet creek (poetry as prompt)

On the first of this month, I dashed off a frustrated “help” to a group of friends who I knew would be inclined to offer a lifeline. You see, I’ve been in a bit of a writing slump and needed some nudges from like-minded souls to get me going. I proposed a collaborative writing “round-robin,” Becka Choat jumped in with a hearty “yee haw,” and we were off and running.

OK, she didn’t say “yee haw,” but her beautiful virtual postcard-poem from Bear Butte, South Dakota was enough to get a bunch of us piling on with line after line over the course of nine days. What follows is the output of the collaboration from the participating poets (with their permission and my gratitude) in the order received:

Rebekah Choat
June 1 at 5:11 PM

Bear Butte, South Dakota
Snowmelt rushes down the mountain
Prayer flags flutter in the breeze
Tall grass waves
Birds and insects rejoice
I breathe in time out of time.


Kelly Belmonte
June 1 at 8:22 PM

Breathe in time out of time.
Just this side of too late,
a middle-aged dad –
his two boys tussling again –
sighs, “I’ve been tired for ten years.”
Pass him a cup of warmed over coffee
and nod. And smile. Life
imperfect – sometimes
feels like a poem.


Roslynn Pryor
June 2 at 3:06 AM

I’m breathing in time
though I’m out of time
(crap, gonna be late),
but the grace of the phone-buzz alarm
gives me place to pause and
in time
out of time
(and usually I’m on time
despite the untimely break).


Kelly Belmonte
June 2 at 6:45 PM

Place to pause,
look, listen,
notice how rain
sounds like applause.
And by place,
I really mean now,
and by now, I mean
not time but
the space


Roslynn Pryor
June 2 at 8:20 PM

The space between breaths,
between organ notes,
drumbeats, heartbeats,
the in-between
where we dwell—
not quite heaven,
not quite hell—
the in-between where
we float
read, write
draw air…
if we neglect the
we miss half of


Kelly Belmonte
Between organ notes
dust motes hang heavy
over empty pews


Doug Jackson
June 2 at 11:39 PM

Mark Twain quipped
That the difference
Between the right word
And almost the right word,
Is the difference
Between the lightning
And the lightning bug.
But lightning is only the right word
If you want to describe a storm,
And sometimes life is a soft night
On the bank of a quiet creek.


Kelly Belmonte
June 3 at 8:33 PM

On the bank of a quiet creek
listening for distant thunder
while fireflies disco –

It’s all so fresh
and Tom Sawyeresque
on the bank of a quiet creek


Roslyn Pryor
June 4 at 1:57 AM

On the bank of Mariposa Creek—
in some seasons quiet,
in others raucous—
grow blackberry bushes,
thick and stickery,
sunwarm and sweet;
each August
(a quiet season)
blood was shed and
scars were earned,
and no one minded the pain,
for the pre-pail thefts and
the weekend fried pies
were their own wages, rich and rare.


Glynn  Young
June 4 at 9:02 AM

I’m looking at this fence,
and all the planks and posts,
and I’m looking at this bucket
of whitewash,
and I’m having myself a pondering
of trying to make it look easy,
make it look fun, like
chasing chickens or
pulling pigtails,
so I start whistling,
and I start singing,
and sure enough
if it looks like entertainment
they will come. They all
click “like” and add an emoji,
grab a brush and start slopping
that whitewash on, while I head
down to the quiet creek with Huck
to catch me some fish,
smoke some tobacco,
tell some stories,
and rest my eyes.


Kelly Belmonte
June 5 at 4:14 PM

If it looks like entertainment
they will come. If it looks
like an accident, with blood
and broken glass, and police blues
spinning, they will slow down,
snap a pic, tweet it. If it looks
meme-worthy, they’ll pull up a chair
and stay for a spell. If it looks
into eternity, like a wild-eyed man
in rough sandals and a penchant
for ticking off the entitled,
maybe a kid with five fishes
will show up. But that’s about
all I can imagine.


Tom Darin
June 5 at 5:36 PM

Momma used to say
That when Jesus turned the
Loaves and fish
Into a picnic
For those hungry folks
In the wilderness
The God blessed victuals
Tasted like mouth watering
Mississippi catfish
Deep fried in the best store bought meal
Served with a healthy side helping
Of iron skillet cornbread—
Bread so fine that
No one asked for butter or honey
And nary a crumb hit the ground.
She grew up an orphan
In the Great Depression
Where low cotton prices,
And bad weather
Killed farms and families—
Times, she remembered, so hard
That sometimes even dinner
Was a miracle
And prayers offered
At the evening meal
Wafted in the air
Thick as coal oil smoke
In the fragrance of gratefulness.


Kelly Belmonte
June 6 at 8:58 PM

At Lansing’s Farm a
bushel of beans got a buck –
my first job lasted two hours
in the blazing summer sun.
Next day we skipped the pay
and picked wild strawberries
behind the pocket park,
happy yet hardly filling a baggie
with our wild haul.


Roslynn Pryor
June 7 at 3:45 AM

Mom texted this week
that she’s picked about a quart now
of ollaliberries from her resurrected vine,
a quart she’s now frozen for my
annual July birthday pie.
Tonight, after the viewing
for a dear friend’s dear mom
dead too soon,
we reminisced about
fresh-picked Turlock peaches,
hoarded in such volume that we
peeled and boiled and froze for days,
suffered unjust peach fuzz rashes,
and ate bags of frozen peaches for years.
Beyond the obvious,
how do these connect?
A mom, ripe sweetness,
provision, the love—
a thoughtful magic.


Kelly Belmonte
June 9 at 4:53 PM

A thoughtful magic –
the only true kind – the rest:
thin trickery, all smoke
and mirrors and wavy lines
over summer hot top


Rebekah Choat
June 9 at 8:16 PM

Here is the purest
magic, hiding right before
your eyes: clouds like smoke
on the mountain, trees mirrored
on the lake’s polished surface.



Photo by Robson Hatsukami Morgan on Unsplash


5 Replies to “On the banks of a quiet creek (poetry as prompt)”

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