Coast Guard Monument [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. 

Coast Guard Monument
Photo: Laura P. Salas

While in DC, Randy and I admired these gorgeous bas relief (maybe?) sculptures for the various branches of the military. They featured fabulous dramatic scenes, including this Coast Guard rescue at sea.

This image makes me think of several things:

  1. Grand Canyon helicopter rides, which look thrilling and scary
  2. when my sister was shot and was taken by helicopter to the hospital
  3. my dream of riding in a 1,000-footer across Lake Superior

And here’s my first draft.


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







21 Responses

  1. um…that time your sister got shot? Yikes! Those words got me.

    That time
    my sister got shot
    when wavesof fear


    He never did say
    what happened
    after the charges
    at the mouth
    of the cave
    were set

    storms and winds
    to punish or to save
    cannot defeat
    our coastguard
    from sailing
    strong and brave

    1. What a powerful trio of poems! I really like the words running together in overwhelm in that first one. And that second one feels like the start of a novel. And the third, it’s like a jingle for the brave folks of the coast guard. Very cool!

  2. Oh no, Laura, you stopped me with your comment about your sister. There’s a larger story there that I am curious about. Your poem has my heart beating a little stronger this morning, or maybe it’s the coffee.

    When my oldest daughter, now 34, was 4 months old, we were helicoptered to New Orleans for what they thought was a heart condition. Turned out, she had pneumonia. Any sight of a helicopter takes me back.

    First Flight

    Steady drumming beat
    of my heart against hers
    matching the rhythm
    to helicopter rotors-

    1. Yes, it was a horrible time in our family’s life. And I was in Minnesota, and she was in Florida, so I wasn’t there for the helicopter or anything. But just knowing it and imagining it means a helicopter brings that back to me too. There is nothing more terrifying than a very ill infant. We had a horrible horrible scare at Chuck-E-Cheese one year during one of our daughter’s birthday party, when our nephew stopped breathing in his infant carrier. All turned out fine, and he starts college this fall. But that night is etched on my heart. Love is vulnerability, isn’t it? Thanks for your beautiful poem.

  3. Laura, how scary for your sister and family! Ditto on the Grand Canyon comment, not something I have ever wanted to do.

    Springtime 2019

    Epic flooding
    ‘cross mid-plains
    water rescues
    and still it rains.

    Bas relief,
    Life’s relief.

    1. Martha, I love how your poem actually is about the sculpture itself, or actually references it. I have loved our snowy snowy winter, but the devastating flooding that is happening is just horrible. Epic is just the right word for it.

  4. Laura, you used few words but they painted the picture!

    Storm at Sea

    The sea is raging,
    causing fear.
    Vessels dip
    and reappear,
    but rescuers
    will persevere.

    1. Wonderful rhyme, as usual. I love dip and reappear — gives me the scope of “raging.”

  5. Suspended

    a tug
    a pull
    a churning wheel
    my limbs
    I feel

    1. I love the first three lines, Suzanne–very physical. I wondered what the narrator is feeling at the end…

  6. The picture and today’s tragic stories inspired my poem:

    countless rescues
    countless lives
    saved by its inventor

  7. Um, still wondering how your sister came to be shot, Laura. Wow! I tend to associate helicopters with the police (especially in L.A., where I used to live), and the news.


    Metal waves flowing,
    cold lava wrapping
    around metal ships
    in a clanging storm.

    —Kate Coombs

  8. I true story
    sory it had to be moor word to tall the story

    When my Friends Son Served

    cold shark infested waters hadn’t stopped vigor’s from swing to ships with trousers for food
    three glass eggs sitting on my friend table a sons gift once treaded for food

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