Antlers [15 Words or Less Poems] & Live Writing Video

Whee! It’s 2016, and this is the first 15 Words or Less Poems Day of the year! I’m glad you guys are here. Are you ready to wake up your poetry brains with our weekly exercise (guidelines here)?

Photo: Laura P. Salas

I took this picture at the Bell Museum of Natural History on Randy’s birthday a couple of weeks ago. They had these antlers out to touch and pick up. You can see an image of me lifting them earlier this week. They weigh a LOT! This image makes me think of:

  1. icicles
  2. long, curly fingernails people grow
  3. how do moose carry these things around?
  4. my Grandma Foshee scratching my back when I was little

And, here’s my draft.  I did a new version of my video experiment from last week. I recorded myself writing this rough draft. I discovered that it takes a LOT longer to show my process in a video than it does to just write something. This week, I talked through it, explaining my choices and such. That’s weird a couple of different ways, but mostly because when I’m writing in first draft mode, I don’t consciously verbalize (even in my head) most of these decisions. The words just pour out of my fingertips into the keyboard. And they move and change things around from instinct. So. You should know that this is slower than I would write a first draft–although the little pauses where I look into the distance aimlessly (usually out the window into the backyard) are definitely part of my usual process! This video is 8 minutes long! Yowza. That’s long. I definitely won’t be doing this every week. I just thought this would be a good way to experiment. I do want to start recording and sharing bits of different parts of my writing process. So, maybe every month or two here on my blog, I’ll share some bit of that.

And here’s the first draft:



It’s your turn! Have fun and stick to 15 WORDS OR LESS! (Title doesn’t count toward word count:>) If you leave a poem in the comments, and if it’s 15 words or less, I’ll try to respond!

31 Responses

  1. Through tangles and knots
    It runs
    Working out
    A not-so-fine tooth comb

    1. I love how you don’t reveal the topic until the last line, Amelia. That works really well, because the first 4 lines literally match the answer, but they also made me ponder attitudes and actions that create and/or solve trouble.


    Tree full

    Poem by Jessica Bigi
    Laura I love the last two lines of your poem

    1. Laura you could of used I’m draping grandma’s lap ti would still give you griped but takes out the word over so would give your 15 just notiesed and thought Iced mencon it to you

      1. That’s a good idea…though it kind of makes me think that I’m draping Grandma’s lap WITH something else, like a blanket. Instead of myself. So many options, but none said *exactly* what I wanted to say in only 15 words. Well, maybe if I really spent a long time exploring words:>) THanks, Jessica!


    Entrance scary.
    Me- wary.
    What was ahead?
    Joy or dread?

    No turning back-

    1. Yes! How long has it been since you’ve done that? I’m thinking it would make me feel 10 again:>)

  4. Laura, I saw the earlier post with you holding the giant antlers. It’s amazing the different images an up close version brings to mind. I must still be in Christmas goodie mode.

    Decadent Dream

    Dark chocolate
    Bundt cake pan
    caramel glaze
    fills rivulets

    Bzzzzzzzz. Darn the alarm.

    1. You made me hungry! (Dreaming about it is the healthiest way to enjoy sweets.)

    2. Oh, my. That sounds lovely. Luckily, I already tamed my sweet tooth this morning with a 4‑pack of Cinnabon Delights at Taco Bell, so I’m just happy about this poem, not starving now:>) I love the soft sounds of rivulets and glaze…those z/v sounds. So inviting!

  5. Me and my fairy tales! 🙂

    Which Arch?

    Walk into golden rivers
    through one door.
    Walk through the other,
    be seen no more.

    —Kate Coombs

    1. Ooooh. Who can resist looking for golden rivers? I’m thrown back to elementary school and The Lady or the Tiger immediately!

  6. I enjoyed watching your video this morning. I like that you demonstrated how hard it is to reduce your efforts down to 15 words or less. That’s a good exercise to help me clear out unnecessary words. But some poems really need more than 15 words. Your video showed that, even though I like the way your poem came out.

    When I first looked at today’s picture, I immediately thought of a cave. Odd, I guess, but that’s the truth.


    When entering the cave,
    my light pierces darkness
    illuminating sharpness
    of stalactites hanging there.

    1. Thank you Cindy. I did NOT have that dessert during Christmas but I sure enjoyed some fabulous chocolate caramel sea salt bark.

    2. Thanks, Pat! Yeah, I definitely liked the slightly longer (19 words, I think) version. So if I were writing to write a *good* poem, I likely would have stopped there as my first draft, and then taken it out later to re-think. But…since this particular weekly exercise is all about condensing and cutting and seeing what you can fit in to 15 words or less, I kept going. Most weeks, my initial word-dump is in the 20-word range, but there’s usually plenty I can cut. Other weeks, like this week, the cuts hurt a little more:>)

      I can totally see cave entrances in the pic. I like all the hard/sharp sounds in your words, echoing the content of the sharpness of the stalactites themselves.

  7. I really enjoyed watching your videos these past two weeks, Laura. Fun to see you at work, and I imagine this would be a terrific tool for teachers to show before a poetry workshop. You are brave to tape yourself!

    Sixth Grade Boys Behind the Bleachers

    They strut and swagger
    young bucks with new antlers

    then collapse
    in a giggling

    1. Thanks, Buffy. It’s intimidating! I love the contrast between your two stanzas. It nails that age:>)

  8. The Antlers are the First to Go

    You’ve never
    fear, deer-in-headlights

    until a
    your headlights

    -Pamela Ross, who writes from, alas, experience

    1. Oh, no! That’s always one of my fears driving in rural Minnesota (well, really just barely out of the suburbs) — hitting a deer. They come out of nowhere! Glad you survived. Your poem made my stomach clench. And I love “titanic” — the perfect word here!

      PS Hope your daughter’s enjoying Minneapolis :>)

      1. Hi sweet friend: I gave my little one (turning 20 soon, can I cry here?) your phone number, informing her she has a friend in Minneapolis just in case, g‑d forbid, poo poo poo. So far, thank goodness, so great. My daughter and her companion are having a wonderful week. I have the texts and photos to prove their joy. Thank you for opening your arms and heart to me and making me feel as if she is not alone out there in the big bad woods of Minnesota. ;>

        I know they have been to art museums and galleries. They are exploring things they love. Who could ask for anything more?

        They are taking the 8:45 pm Megabus back to Madison tonight. I think they will leave a little piece of their hearts in your fair home state.

        I am grateful you extended your motherly love to my daughter. I’m glad she didn’t have to bother you but it was so comforting knowing you were only a phone call away.

        Thank you for your kind words about the poem above. That 2 AM deer on a late night run across the highway was like a colossal iceberg and we crashed into it without warning. My screams surely woke up the sleeping residents of Ohio. But.Look. It made a poem! All’s well that ends well!

        Speaking of Happy Endings:

        Yes, years ago, I left a mammoth piece of my old Volvo SUV when we struck a mammoth deer driving west bound from NY to Ohio. I swear I saw THOSE ANTLERS and THOSE HUGE EYES staring me down in my front window. G‑d I would be so sad if that was the last thing I saw ever. Not a pretty picture. Sorry, Deer Lovers.

        We swerved off to the side of the highway. Engine busted. Had to be towed on a flatbed truck all the way into Columbus, Ohio. While we waited for AAA, a lovely truck driver pulled over to see if he could be of help and service. He calmed us, he assured us this happened often, and he made us feel less afraid in the dark. When the panic and fright subsided and was about to leave us in the good hands of the tow truck, the caring trucker had one last question:

        “So, er, do you want the meat?”

        We told him it was alllllll his.
        Please. Take the deer.
        With our pleasure.

        End… scene.

        Happy New Year to Laura and her fans!

        -Pamela xoxo

        1. So glad she’s enjoying it here! And happy to be the on-call mom. It’s always comforting to know that your kid has someone to call in an emergency, I feel.

          And I always feel so bad about car-deer collisions. I love deer (to admire, not to hunt or eat)–but the ending of your story made me laugh!

  9. Tentacles of life
    Embracing goodness
    Above Evil
    Inner Beauty
    Over ugliness

    As it should be !

    Anne McKenna

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