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Repetition Poems

Poems collected from participants in Dave Johnson’s 10*10*10 Video Workshops.

In Memory of Fish
Boat on the Santee river
Boat in the driving rain
Boat with no anchors
Boat full of Bluegills
Boat capsized
Boat living under an oak
Boat Boat Boat Boat ~~ Coat

–Dave Johnson

In Memory of Triumph

for saying no
for saying yes
for finishing first
for hanging back
for giving in
for resisting
for trying something new
for staying the same
for going out
for staying in
for sleeping
for staying awake
for attacking
for withholding
for loving
for staying alone
for making the choice I would not take back
—Kori Cooper

In Memory of Vivaldi

Canals, with acqua alta rising vastly
Canals, churning up mud and slush, spurning fish
Canals, crossed with bridges enchaining tiny islands,
Canals pushing down the dirt and compacting the soil
Canals, rising fog obscuring vision, the calli soggy
Canals, sinking the city
Canals, crossed while awaiting God

–Lenore Rosenberg

In Memory of Vinyl

Records that date to the first time
you heard the name Elvis

Records vintage in iconic covers
on eBay and in basements

Records anthem and aria
Callas and Nat King Cole

Records fairytale and mystery
classic and comedy hour

Records that rock and roll time, hold
the refrains, groove round and round

–Joan Blessing

The Rooster

When the dawn break
Effuse the smell of dream,
Other birds sing the song.

When the dawn break,
You put the same boots,
Yesterdays are gone.

When the dawn break,
A piece of hope,
You let it drop.

-Julio Gomez

Hello, I’m Lenore Rosenberg from Roma. you 10 10 10 is a perfect quarantine poetry month, challenging when Italian skies are blue and we are chained into. As from now, Here’s another plea for a 10 10 10 x 3.

Vision Quest

When the ocean rises, the seashore
disappears, the water never dousing fires
burning on in the beach. The white sands
are charred and black and the pretty little
girl freezes, howls caught in her throat.

When the earth is scorched by fires,
birds flee to other shores and bears
growl out of their caves, limited to
charred, bitter, exoskeletons of food,
their strength impaled, like the girl’s.

When she calls after the storm,
I strain to listen for fragments
of fear, my heart still aching after
all these years to make it better,
and my blind mind’s eye sheds tears

-Lenore Rosenberg

Hello here is my submission for category: repetition

In Memory of Fear and Chances not Taken
When this is over I’m going to fuck.
When this is over I’m going to wear a lot of rings, including a pink one.
When this is over I’ll be done with that job that really doesn’t give a shit about me.
When this is over I’m flying my parents first class from the Philippines.
When this is over I’m going to the South for a holiday dinner in November with my entire family.
When this is over I’m going to show off my body in Mexico.
When this is over my hair will be long with so many stories to tell.
When this is over I’ve already gone back to my roots.
When this is over I’m speaking up.
When this is over I’m going to be stronger.
When this is over you and I will be closer.
When this is over I won’t be so scared to be a friend first.
When this is over intimacy will no longer be an issue.
When this is over I’ll know how to take care of myself.
When this is over I’ll have a whole collection of poetry for you to read.
When this is over being creative is the new responsible.
When this is over to hell with killing myself over systems and structures that are running me down.
When this is over I’m singing everyday.

-Karen Joy Pangantihon

History repeats itself. Came across this poem written in 1869, reprinted during 1919 Pandemic.
This is Timeless….
It was written in 1869 by Kathleen O’Meara:
And people stayed at home
And read books
And listened
And they rested
And did exercises
And made art and played
And learned new ways of being
And stopped and listened
More deeply
Someone meditated, someone prayed
Someone met their shadow
And people began to think differently
And people healed.
And in the absence of people who
Lived in ignorant ways
Dangerous, meaningless and heartless,
The earth also began to heal
And when the danger ended and
People found themselves
They grieved for the dead
And made new choices
And dreamed of new visions
And created new ways of living
And completely healed the earth
Just as they were healed.
Reprinted during Spanish flu
Pandemic, 1919

-From George Warwick

In Memory of Love
(after Kareene Wood’s “In Memory of Shame”)

The kind that makes the stomach somersault
Or cascade in waves
The kind that the mind flashes
Like a burnt bulb or a flower that bursts into bloom.
The kind that smells like fresh linens
Wrapped around a just bathed body.
The kind that lingers past memory.
The kind that sounds like chimes in a March wind
Or the silence of a star stretched sky.
The kind that remembers what it needs to forget
And forgets what begs to be remembered.
The kind that insists in gentle forgiveness and subtle
whispers that it is also kind.

-Deborah Eve Grayson

In Memory of Smog

Gone with giant egos
Gone with muscle cars
Gone with the cruise ships
huffing and puffing along the coast
Gone with overcrowding
Gone with factory farms
Gone with the smokestacks
Gone with the rush-hour
Gone with the morning madness
Gone with asthma
Gone now the lungs are clear
Gone now the skies are blue
Gone because we so desperately
wanted to live

Thanks so much for the free workshops!
Many thanks
–Ceó Ruaírc

In Memory of Mornings

thwack like you mean it
thwack put some muscle behind it
thwack follow through
thwack keep your head down
thwack there you go
thwack straight and long
thwack low and slow
thwack let the club do the work
thwack get a new tee
thwack my hand is starting to hurt
thwack what am i doing wrong
thwack i lost that one
thwack that felt good
thwack it’s time for lunch
thwack one more small bucket
thwack thwack thwack
end on a good one

–Mike Howie

Cheers to sandy hair and small prints on the shore
Cheers to agile legs following a soccer ball
Cheers to brimming smiles with lost teeth
Cheers to the eyes of the world behind thick rimmed glasses

Cheers to days that got harder
Cheers to the day where the glasses broke, the soccer ball punctured
Cheers to the day we were faced with reality
Cheers to when we were told not to hope

Cheers to days when we finally stopped listening
Cheers to poets, artists, doctors, lovers
Cheers to people who grinned that same smile
Cheers to the humanity who never lost their dream

–Bella D.

Hi Poets House!
My name is Bella D. I am a sophomore in high school, and this is my poem on memories with a repeated structure.

It’s an ugly word and becomes even uglier when you apply it to your own mother.
It’s something of a shameful thing for a son to appear so ungrateful, so unloving.
It’s necessary, though, and if you had lived as I had, like some shameful thing that became ore shameful the more I started thinking for myself, then maybe you too would have had to endure and tolerate and “take it.”
It’s not something people talk about, and whenever I do, they shudder within, I can see it in their eyes.
It’s as if I am a living, breathing contagion and they risk contracting indifference and antipathy.
It’s easily seen in their eyes, in how their voice changes, in how they look away, and in how they’re onto something “more pleasant” or are walking off altogether.
It’s something that bothers me because as a child I had had no power, no say, and as a boy even less so because of all the expectations placed upon me I never lived up to.
It’s a thing I disappointed them with again and again and again from teen to adult to full-grown man, but…
It’s something they started and I had to end, this farce called family.
It’s limited to them, though, and I don’t think everyone has to be that way, though I can tell…
It’s nothing any of them want anything to do with—when they discover what I accomplished,
It’s a thing that becomes a black mark discounting me for all time from them wanting anything to do with me.
It’s nothing they ever thought was possible, for how could you surrender your own family like that?
It’s something that took years and years to get just right, though, as I was aware what the ending would look like, but not what it would feel like.
It’s a death I wish on no one.

–Garth Ferrante

Dreams that were young,
Dreams that are old,
Dreams that were growing,
Dreams that are cold.
Dreams I have frittered,
Dreams I have sold,
Dreams yet still living
Dreams I still hold.

–Nayana Hein

In Memory of All My Regrets
I should have learned to garden
I should have learned which vegetables and fruits grew in which season
I should have studied the difference between herbs
I should have bought a first aid kit earlier
I should have saved more money
I should have traveled to all the places I wanted to go
I should have gotten to know more people
I should have made more money
I should have learned to code
I should have learned to make YouTube videos
I should have bought a tripod for my camera
I should have majored in accounting or a more secure career
I should have applied for more jobs
I should have bought real estate
I should have invested in the stock market
I should have stocked up on essential items
I should have learned how to survive an apocalypse
I should have learned how to live in the wild
I should have published my book myself
I should have written more poetry
I should have written the poetry I did write earlier
I should have fought harder for my rights
I should have not sat and watch the world end
I should not blame myself for not seeing the world as I know it ending
I should just learn live with the way the world is now
I should just keep doing my best to live

–Sherese Francis

In Memory of the Kitchen
We dipped spiky leaves into melted butter
We dipped steamed clams, too
We dipped crusty kaiser rolls
filled with well done roast beef into au jus
We dipped cornmealed smelts
into jarred tartar sauce
We dipped and chewed
and laughed and overate
We dipped into each others’ days
at the crossroads of the kitchen table.

–Gina Turner

In Memory of Teaching
Pushing to get out the door on time
Pushing through traffic and long coffee lines
Pushing the morning mandatory greetings and rituals
Pushing too many children through the same door
Pushing curriculum; lessons often unchosen
Pushing achievement, expectations, production, test scores, ingenuity, creativity, work ethic and good grades
Pushing good behavior, morals, manners, conscientiousness, kindness and values,
Pushing through the day, hoping to still be standing,
Pushing, planning, plotting, pulling to propel our future

–Ellen Goldstein

In Memory of Forgetting
Because her elderly mind
is butterfly wing and steel door
is cloud and dark compost
is photograph and black negative
is present and the past
is mother and child
is roses and thorns
is remembering my face and then forgetting it
is is is then isn’t
is family archive and books without pages
is tide going out and a day without rain
is broken record and a record without groves
is my mother
even as she forgets me.

–Mike Cunningham

In Memory of Drinking
after Karenne Wood
Because we were fascinating and artistic minded
Because we were the first ones on the dance floor
Because we were journalists, ad execs, Russian, Irish…
Because we have kids who are driving us crazy
Because we have a long commute home from work
Because we were just going out for one drink
Because if you had our problems you would drink, too
Because were overloud and repeated ourselves
Because we kept losing our keys
Because we kept losing our phones
Because we couldn’t remember that we said that
Because we poured vodka in our coffee mugs
Because we woke up in other people’s beds
Because we woke up in the hospital
Because we woke up in handcuffs
Because we couldn’t bear the sun coming up
Because we kept looking too long at oncoming trains
Because we were not fit for this planet
Because were ash on the inside
Because we were the hungriest hungry ghosts
Because one is too many and a thousand isn’t enough

–Meara Levezow

In Memory of Corn Rows and Black-Eye Peas
She thrust me between her legs and box-braided my hair
She thrust me between her legs and wrapped my hair with shiny black thread
She thrust me between her legs and brushed out kinky balls of hair
She thrust me between her legs and plaited my hair in four ugly bulky braids
She thrust me between her legs and designed my hair in beautiful perfect rows of corn
She thrust me between her legs and freshened up my weekly hairdo but later
She thrust me between her legs and burned my scalp with straightening comb when
She thrust me between her legs and hot curled my hair for Easter Sunday then Monday
She thrust me between her legs whilst dancing to rhythm and blues then
She thrust me between her legs and gave me an old-fashioned butt-whipping
She thrust me between her legs until I spit out the truth and promised I’d lie to her no more
She thrust me between her legs and taught me tough love and then she came along and
She thrust me between her legs too always right after dinnertime and I smelled a foul odor. Yes,
She thrust me between her legs, and I squirmed to be freed but
She thrust me between her legs and made me do it again and again and again.
Pick it ALL up!

–Kiswana Dee

In memory of submission

As he went out hunting
As he came home without the dog
As a call came from the vet, “come get your dog”
As he shot the dog

As I shoveled dog shit
As the dog chewed at the buckshot
As the scabs healed and the coat grew back
As before dawn the guns banged into the pick-up truck.

As the dog did not know what hit her
As the dog shivered with excitement
As he bragged that she deserved it
She didn’t know what hit her but I did

–Devin Dougherty

Into the Now
Hear that?
Now, listen to me…
Instead of checking for cutesy whistle texts, and reminder beeps
Instead of flitting from this thought to that
Instead of grumping, judging, and constantly philosophizing
Expecting you to be me and the other way round
Instead, join those birders ‘cross the way in the park—
see them over there? That bunch of rag-tag folks each looking up
into those trees-some with binoculars.
They don’t even know the other’s name.
They come together like Quakers or hippies
To stand here in silence-no chatting, shmoosing,
Comparing labels and shoes.
Instead, here’s that kestrel, showed up last week—
Right there just above us
See it now?
With sharpened beak, she patiently
Watches our jagged world spin below
She sits invisible, looking for prey
And for all sorts of predators, such as ourselves.

–Claudia Hollander-Lucas

In Memory of Blame
It’s my fault my mother was miserable.
It’s my fault she made no sacrifices.
It’s my fault my parents stayed together.
It’s my fault my parents drifted apart.
It’s my fault my brother isn’t the CEO of a Fortune 500 corporation.
It’s my fault my sister has two children.
It’s my fault the world is a labyrinth.
It’s my fault I don’t know the way.

–Deborah Purdy

solace in its quiet
solace in its peace

solace in its music
solace in its skies

solace in its hills
solace in its grounds

solace in the life
that survives its weathering

solace in the stars,
the sparkling leading ways

solace in the moonrise
moving and peaking gracefully

solace on this earth
unlike any other place

–Jade Fassbinder

In Memory of Horses
Hooves in soft wood chips
Hooves on hard cement
Hooves on springy rubber
Hooves in squishy mud
Hooves over rocky trails
Hooves in sandy rings
Hooves stepping over poles
Hooves trotting and extending across the arena
Hooves cantering, one lead and then the other
Hooves slowing to a gentle rocking walk
Hooves attentive as we halt, together

–Shellie Winkler

But for the snow melt that made the field
unplayable every Spring;
But for the growing hole in the center
of my glove that let the ball slip out;
But for the worn sneakers that slipped
and slid on the outfield grass;
But for the hitch in my swing that
jumped the bat above the ball
causing it to dribble to short;
But for my brother’s taunts that
made me doubt what talent I had;
God damn, I could have been great.

–Gerald Harris

Walking down the street
walking past the post office,
walking walking
walking to meet you.
Walking towards your cheek
walking walking
walking with hands slightly touching
walking to the rhythm of the waves
walking talking
walking by the lighthouse
walking walking
walking away
walking home
walking alone.


In Memory of Solitude
House full of sadness
House clear of feelings
House in the distance
House under dark clouds
House during quarantine
House of my childhood
House of my adolescence
Houses that move and change
House in the shadows
House full of light
House as a haven
House as a hearth
House mired in loneliness
House held, house bound

–Mari Alschuler (Youngstown, OH)

I’m sorry black is here
The depth m invaded
The suffering of my soul
Take my mind to the dark
Life is good for light
To discover its color is to leave
But where am I afraid, am I going?
Thank you, I crossed the line
But where am I black or white?

–Olivier (Cannes, France)

The CO Blues
What is news, death toll today
There is some blues
I fear the news every day
My future lies in the sun
No, in the news.
My gloves, blue, my mask, blue,
Will I live today?
Will I become a prediction of the news?
What are the headlines today?
Stay inside to be alive.
It’s the corona blues that will consume you.
Then spit out your grave
Then the number gets higher
On the news

–Jason Apps

Dear Dave,
you mentioned “Forgiveness.”
Here my contribution to
“In Memory of…”

In memory of forgiveness

Never digest the loss! I already did.
Never meet her again! But in my dreams?
Never cut my toes with a knife! See my painted red nails.
Never tell me you know, who I am! I am an open book.
Never make me feel guilty! You chose to go.
Never make me eat fish! You apologized.
Never tell me I lied. You were anxious to loose him.
Never let me explain and explain. Shhh, little baby, don’t cry!

Never be my mother. But you are forever.


  Memory of Her Divorce

you hated gambling, seeing your brother lose his car and almost his house,
addiction turn late nights on basement computer screens into morning evictions,
went to a casino

you loved Sheryl Crow, seeing her play live, we went to Foxwoods,
your eyes see surprise tickets at the end of dinner,
got to our seats late

you called your daughter during dessert, seeing how her rehearsals went,
if she was going to be back at your house or his this weekend,
didn’t speak to her for weeks

we had so much to say after the concert, seeing the standing clapping crowds,
if this chance to be away from the apartment, the letters, the lawyers would show you what your new days and nights ahead could be
said nothing for the next 90 miles.

–Austin S. Lin

Dog is God Spelled Backwards

In memory of Cara

My fur baby

The child I never had

My DOG which in reverse

Spells GOD

In memory of





Wet kisses

Sweet soul

White curls



Wolf ancestry

Exhilaration upon arrival

Still feel her around me

Do not think I really lost her

Am still engulfed by her love

–Sophie Tucker