Burning Maple [15 Words or Less]

Hello, and welcome! This is 15 Words or Less Poems, a low-pressure way to wake up your poetry brain (guidelines here), and I’m very glad you’re here. 

Fall Creeps In
Photo: Laura P. Salas

One of the things that surprises me every fall is how maple trees don’t turn color all at once. Instead, one day while walking Jack, I’ll notice a splotch of brilliant orange. And a day or two later, maybe that whole side of the tree is orange. And so on. It’s amazing. Although I filtered the above image because I like filters, this IS really what the color distribution is.

This image makes me think of several things:

  1. my daughters’ various streaks of hair color over the years
  2. fall is trying to sneak up on summer
  3. summer is burning away

And here’s my first draft. This one fell out on my screen and felt right.

Overnight, Orange



It’s your turn! Have fun and stick to 15 WORDS OR LESS! (Title doesn’t count toward word count.)








58 Responses

  1. Good Thursday Morning Laura & Poets. I spent yesterday morning thinking it was Thursday and thought the photo prompt (poem sketch, actually) was extra challenging. Oh, my. My brain is carrying too many marbles this week.
    Like so many writers, I’m fascinated with the personification of trees. Trees hold so many lessons for us, I think. I miss summer so much! I knew the details of the school year would just crash in as they have. But, the only way to another summer is three more seasons.…so, I will sweep up the ashes and stay strong through the winter with an image of your firework, Laura!

    There’s no rhyme for orange.
    Each autumn leaf flares unique
    warding off a frost

    1. I love this, Linda. Comparing wordplay with season Play Feels just right somehow. And how you describe getting through the seasons to get to summer is pretty much just how I feel about fall. Always good to hear from someone with a different point of view. Happy Thursday!

  2. Good morning! I love coming here to start my day with poetry. The orange flash and flare is a beautiful gift of fall. We have little color change here in the south south. There will come a day when I won’t be teaching and I can travel to see some colors.

    Colors dance on leaves
    wispy wind joins in
    Wondrous fall waltz.

    1. Oh, Amelia. This poem feels suspended in time. It also reminds me of one of my favorite poems by Lilian Moore. At least, I think it’s by her. I’m out walking right now, but when I get home later today I’m going to look for it and share it here. Thanks for this moment of beauty.

  3. I had started some poems on just this topic, and snapped a few pictures of trees just starting to burst into flame. It’s a perfect prompt for this week, as the edges and centers of trees are just catching on now… Your poem captures it perfectly! Love those ashes — well, not in real life.

    In Her Shadow

    Spruce stands in awe
    Of Maple’s draw
    And secretly
    Desires to be
    Not fir.

    By Donna JT Smith

    1. Donna, this made me laugh, because I’ve often thought of trees and how they compare to kids. And the maple, my absolute favorite in Fall, would probably be the popular girl, with all the other girls feeling like they are being outshined. Which they are. In general, I’m not a fan of the popular girl, but I will take every single glorious Maple that I can and admire it! PS I don’t know why my voice to text capitalizes certain words.

  4. Good morning. Our leaves are beginning to show off their colors here in western NC. I have a black gum tree that allows one branch of leaves to turn fiery red, beginning in late August, and only when those leaves are completely yellow and ready to fall will we begin to notice a change in the other leaves on that tree. And, it’s the exact same place on the tree year after year. Makes me think of the pace car in racing.

    Ready, Set, Go

    Fall approaches
    nature in place
    begins the race
    red, yellow, then gone
    as Winter encroaches.

    1. Martha, I love that metaphor of that first Branch as the pace car in a race. And it fits so perfectly because Autumn seems to rush by so quickly every year. Probably just because it’s my favorite.

  5. Laura I absolutely love the fall season, the changing leaves, the smells in the air. You’re picture is so beautiful, and your poem captures the sense of how fall alights so quickly, leaving summer in its dust. Fall colors are so passionate and were the inspiration for my poem.


    Change burns inside me,
    spreading from limb to limb.
    Passions explode in fiery, crimson hues.

    1. I love this, Jean. It feels like the manifesto for a civil rights movement or something. I especially love that middle line!

  6. Loved your poem, Laura. This one came quickly for me, too. Flash fire of poetry!


    It starts at the tip,
    a fiery drip.
    Soon will consume.
    Fall is in bloom!

    1. Oops I hit send too soon. I really love that you used bloom in a poem about fall, which is so unexpected!

  7. Your camera filter turns that maple into a dancing flame–making this tree even more magical!


    Green Fairies on Strike
    Red Sprites Rejoice
    Jack Frost Invades
    Sprites Surrender–Had No Choice

  8. I like your poems today and the pic

    poem by Jessica Bigi

    Tissue Paper Art

    Winter wreaths
    Dandelion mails
    Butterfly wings
    Bubbles bumblebees
    orang red
    yellow leaves
    five finger turkeys
    Gobble ‑gobble
    my art just ran away

  9. I like your poems today and the pic

    poem by Jessica Bigi

    Tissue Paper Art

    Winter wreaths
    Dandelion mains
    Butterfly wings
    Bubbles bumblebees
    orang red
    yellow leaves
    five finger turkeys
    Gobble ‑gobble
    my art just ran away

    1. This brings back such lovely memories of tissue paper art and of fingers dyed all the different colors from when the glue got on the tissue paper!

  10. Hi, Laura! Glad I was able to stop by today. When I first saw the photo, I thought of this:

    swirls cool, colorful
    offer just a taste
    autumn’s soft serve

    But then, before I’d even read your poem or anyone else’s, I thought about it some more — and came up with this:

    non-consuming fire
    autumn phenomenon stuns
    burning bush

    I really liked some of these, esp. yours & Amelia’s. Hope you have a great weekend! (Would you mind if I shared your photo & link on tomorrow’s blog?)

    1. I love these, Matt. It does look like soft serve in the image! But then in that second one I love all those un and en and on and om sounds. They seem to echo and build, just like a fire. And, sure, please feel free to share photo and link!

      1. Thanks, Laura! I love alliteration and internal rhyme, so I’m glad you noticed those sounds…I wanted to create a sort of meditative quality to the words. I’ve been so caught up with ‘Flashlight Night,’ I had no idea what I was going to post for Poetry Friday tomorrow — and then I came across your photo!

  11. Laura: Your words this week are as inspiring as the image itself. I think I’m ready to say good bye to summer now. I want to be drenched in a thick orange soup of everything. {}

  12. Pop! Goes the Easel

    Houses are buried,
    sheltered behind swaths of
    chocolate brown bark,
    crisp, crimson leaves,
    honey-gold skies.

    -Pamela Ross

    1. Oh, I love the turn this takes. The first line is a bit ominous, but you relieve the tension right away with “sheltered…” And then those delicious descriptions. Swoon.

  13. What a great picture, Laura! I love a maple in the fall and am happy to HAVE to write something about one!

    in tree ablaze we see
    fiery fall’s finish
    winter’s wait
    spring’s stirring
    summer’s splendor

    1. I love how you have the whole year here, Rebekah. That speaks to me, because a tree often seems to hold all of time inside of it somehow. Love your alliteration, too!

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,523 other subscribers

Are You Looking For?

Poetry Friday posts

Classroom Connections posts

All my poetryactions

Go to my Poetry page for:

  • National Poetry Month projects through the years
  • Small Reads Roundups (poems grouped by topic)
  • Introductions to several favorite poetry forms
#waterpoemproject15 Words or Less Poems20for2030 Painless Classroom Poems50 State Poemsacrosticsactivity pagesactivity sheetALAA Leaf Can Be...Amy Ludwig VanDerwaterA Need to FeedanthologiesanthologyA Rock Can Be...art projectsaudiopoemsawardsbad newsBarbara Juster EsbensenBilly Collinsbiopoemsblog tourbookalikesbook festivalsBookSpeak!book spine poemsbook trailersbop poembyr a thoddaidcafepresscalendar poemsCamp Read-a-LotCan Be... bookscan be... poemsCapstoneCarol Varsalonacascade poemsCatherine FlynnccbcCCRA.W.3CCRA.W.4CCRA.W.5centoschapter bookschoral compositionschristina rossetticinquainsCLAclassified ad poemsclassroom connectionclassroom connectionsClover Kittyconferences and conventionscrown sonnetscybilsdansaDare to DreamDavid Elliottdeeper wisdom poemdefinitosdiamantesdiversitydizaindodoitsuDot DayDouglas Floriandownloadablesdrum corpse.e. cummingsekphrastic poemsepistolary poemsequation poemsessentialethereeseventsexquisite corpseFairy Tale Garage Salefamilyfibonaccifiction picture booksfinding familyfirefightersforeign editionsfound poemsfree author zoomsfree versefrom studentsgeesegeorgia heardghazalGift Taggiveawaygolden shovelgoldilocksgratitudehaikuheart of aheart of a teacherHeidi MordhorstHelen FrostHighlightshow-to poemshow to make a rainbowI Am FromI Am poemsidiomsif you want to knit some mittensIf You Were the MoonILAimagepoemsinterviewin the middle of the nightIRAIrelandIrene LathamJ. Patrick LewisJanet WongJoyce SidmanKendraKerlanKidlit Comboslailaura's board booksLaura's booksLaura's poemsLaura's readingsLaura ShovanLee Bennett HopkinsLilian MoorelimericksLinda Booth SweeneyLine Leads the WayLion of the Skylist poemslittle free librarylive writingLullaby and Kisses Sweetlyricsmadness poetrymargaret simonMarilyn Singermary lee hahnmask poemsMeet My FamilyMelissa StewartMentors for Rentmentor textsmetaphorMichelle Myers LacknerMillbrookMinnesota Book Awardsmoneymoonmy reading lifemy writing processN+7naaninarrative poemsNational Poetry Month 2012 (haiku a day)National Poetry Month 2014 (riddle-ku)National Poetry Month 2015National Poetry Month 2016National Poetry Month 2017 (#wonderbreak)national poetry month 2018 (haiku a day)National Poetry Month 2020National Poetry Month 2021 (#EquationPoem)national poetry month 2022 (sticky-note poems)National Poetry Month 2023 (Digging for Poems)National Poetry Month 2024 (magnipoems)ncteNerdy Book Clubnifty newsnifty stuffNikki Grimesnonfictionnonfiction booksNonfiction Writers Dig Deepnovelsnovels in verseodesOne Minute Till BedtimeoppositifyOskar's VoyagepadletpantoumsparodiesPatreonpeacepersonalpet poemsphotopoetryphrase acrosticspicture booksplagiarismpoempicspoemspoems for two voicespoemsketchpoetic pursuitsPoetry 7poetryactionspoetry activitiesPoetry Blastpoetry booksPoetry FridayPoetry Friday AnthologiesPoetry Princessespoetry promptspoetry sistersPoetry Tips for Teachersprogressive poempublishing processpuddle songPutridquotationsraccontinosRandy Salasread-aloudreadaloudreading poetry in the classroomRebecca Kai Dotlichrecipe poemsrefugeesresearchreview copiesreviewsrevisionrhyming booksrhyming nonfictionrhyming picture booksRhyming Picture Books the Write Wayrhyming poemsRiddle-kuriddle poemsRock Can Be...Rock the Blogrondeau redoublesRudyard Kiplingsalas snippetsSCBWIschool visitsScotlandseasonssecrets of the loonSELsestinasshrinking daysskinnyskypeslice of lifesmall readssnack snooze skedaddlesnowman-coldsonnetsStampede!storm poemstorytimestorywalkstudent poemsstudent workSylvia VardellTanita Davistankatautogramteachableteacher resourcesteen/adult poemsterza rimasthankfulthank yous and referencesthe business sidethings to do iftracy nelson maurertrioletstunie munson-bensonvideosVikram MadanvillanellevillanellesWater Can Be...wealthy elementaryWe BelongWhat's InsideWhy-kuwinterwonderwonderbreakword of the yearwordplaywordsmithswork for hirewritingwriting bookswriting processwriting promptswriting the life poeticyoung authors conferencesYouTubeZapZap Clap Boomzenozentangle
Show More Show Less

Discover more from Laura Purdie Salas

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading

Join Laura's monthly newsletter for eductators

Get three of Laura's favorite poetry activities when you subscribe to "Small Reads."