Catacombs [15 Words or Less Poems]

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. 

Photo: Laura P. Salas

The Paris Catacombs are…overwhelming. So many bones. So many emotions: sadness, horror, reverence, acceptance, melancholy. We had gone to a bone chapel in Austria a few years ago, but that was tiny. The Catacombs feel endless. Besides being part of the interesting history of Paris, they are definitely a place that inspires thoughtfulness about our own mortality. This image makes me think of several things:

  1. buried pirate treasure
  2. cemeteries and why they feel so peaceful
  3. trees (I’m not sure why)

And here’s my first draft. I did not want to stay with the actual Catacombs for my poem. I wrote about an imaginary tree and focused on those lonely long O sounds.

exposed-catacombs 15wol


It’s your turn! See what pops into YOUR mind, and stick to 15 WORDS OR LESS! (Title doesn’t count toward word count.)






34 Responses

  1. I love trees when they show their bones…so vulnerable and brave. Beautiful image of a skeleton, Laura.

    I went literal.…now if I could only figure out how to do the correct accents in word it would be just right. Mais alors! I cannot so quickly this morning.

    Des Anciens

    A million words
    in stillness rest
    J’ai ete
    Tu as ete
    nous avon ete

    © Mme. Mitchell

    1. Not being French savvy I had to go to translator. Your poem captures the enormity of as well as the individuals in the catacombs.

    2. Oh that contrast of stillness and then screaming. I don’t know what the French means. I will have to look that up, but I’m guessing it’s either something like I am here you are here we are here or maybe I hear you you hear me we hear each other. It’s kind of fun to try to decipher it from context–now I’ll have to look up what it actually means.

  2. Wind whistling through teeth
    Sighs through old ears
    Hums through lost eyes
    Musical stares

    1. I love the sounds and how you’ve tied this into music, which just feel so loving.


    My mom said not to watch it.
    I’d be awake all night.

    She was right.

    1. What a fun ending, Cindy. Love how you break the expected meter and it works perfectly.

    2. Lol this morning
      Still lol after school
      Darn! Mom is always right

  4. Perenial Bad Boy

    The story goes
    He left a $1,000 tip
    For his pizza.

    Show me a skull and I can’t help but think of Johnny Depp in a Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Several of the movies have been filmed on my island of Kauai. The story of Depp buying everyone in the restaurant pizza and then leaving a big tip is still told on our coconut communication system and by tour bus drivers.

    1. That is too fun, Joy. I did not know the backstory here, so I’m glad you filled it in. I love the conversational tone you used.

  5. Good morning! Running a bit late this morning. I’m digging deep (no pun intended) inside self to come up with something. I love the variety of posts this morning.


    Conception, life, then eternity
    Chambers where
    Ossurarys entomb
    Memories of

    1. Isn’t that such a great word? Ossurary. I’ve seen small ones in Greece. They aren’t creepy to me. Of course, I’ve only seen them in full sunshine! Reminds me of the book, Eleni.

  6. I couldn’t get past the words bone chapel…

    Married together in the bone chapel,
    your spirit and mine,
    for eternity.

  7. Love the image of oak bones/sky skeletons!

    Hidden Treasure

    water smooths
    wind wears
    rubble buries

    curiosity guides
    hands unearth
    imagination sparks
    story reborn

    1. Oh, what a beautiful metaphor this is! Literal and figurative collide in a grand explosion here!

  8. By Franklin- age 11

    Golden Glory-
    Golden glory awaits those who look
    Hidden Writing in the book

    By Franklin- age 11

    Ancient Times-
    The ancient King lies in the tomb
    His ancient car goes Vroom Vroom Vroom

    By Franklin- age 11

    Mysterious Caves-
    Into the caves, Scary Horror
    It makes me feel a little.….Very Unsure

    1. Love the sense of mystery in that first one. I was feeling all ancient Egypt in the second one until I got to Vroom–haha! I also really enjoyed the bare honesty of that last line in poem 3. Thanks for playing!

  9. By Phillip- age 7

    Grave Cave-

    Dark cave
    Golden grave

    By Phillip- age 7

    In the dark cave
    skeletons are alive
    acting very scary
    Run! & HIDE!

    1. Such great contrasts in that first one! And I will take Phillip’s advice in second, for sure!

  10. By Emma- age 13


    Bones are strong
    They can be broken
    Can heal
    a structure
    so real

    1. I love how Emma’s poem looks at how both strong AND fragile bones are. Lovely!

  11. Poem By Jessica Bigi

    Book Mistry’s

    writing ore dreams
    on skeletons of trees
    ivory pages
    socked with inky tears
    reveling life’s story

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