Extreme Swing and Day 5: The pause at the top

Teachers & poetry lovers will be chatting on Twitter–please join us!

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. 

Here’s a photo from last summer:

Valleyfair Extreme Swing -- nope
Photo: Laura P. Salas

I like roller coasters, but not things like this. So I wrote poems while Randy and Maddie rode the Extreme Swing. This image makes me think of several things:

  1. stomach dropping
  2. underdogs
  3. cotton candy (and that raccoon/cotton candy video–so sad!)

And here’s my first draft. This looks different because it’s also my daily haiku for National Poetry Month!

The pause at the top

And shoot–I just realized it’s 16 words! I didn’t even count, because who could go over 15 words in a haiku? Me, apparently!

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







53 Responses

  1. LOL. I think your 16 words are perfect. If you really want to get it below 15 words you could get rid of “hop in” because we readers know what those scared frogs are doing!

    I’m having fun in National Poetry Month. What a grand thing that your book came out last month and you can spend THIS month letting it soar. I’d hate to have to compete with National Poetry Month and a book launch!

    I’m completely overstimulated with all the prompts to respond to this morning. So, my poem is simple!

    It’s a brave thing
    to endure this extreme swing
    up, up, up, up, up,

    1. A brave thing indeed to get on some rides. Your last two lines are wonderful.

    2. Isn’t that the truth! Next year I will have 3 poetry books coming out, 1 in Feb, 1 in Mar, 1 in Apr. I will be a mess. I really like the contrast between your last two lines. Captures the exhilaration of up and then the endless fall of down. Nice!

  2. Love your haiku/shape poem, Laura.
    I cut several words, but I’m still a bit over on word count. Anyway, here’s what came to me:

    Yes I can
    Try, try!
    Reach cotton clouds
    Fly, fly!
    Touch blanket blue
    Sky Sky!
    I fall back
    Sigh. Bye.

    1. I love the whole story worked in here…and especially the metaphors of cotton and blanket. How wonderful that you got those in even in such a short poem!

  3. I love amusement park rides, especially roller coasters. Isn’t it too bad that the really fun rides aren’t fun for everyone?

    Spin, twirl
    Coaster zip,
    loop, flip.
    Swing high!
    Laugh, cry,
    stomach lurch
    … blurch

    1. Forgot to say, I like the visual of your poem, Laura, and share your enthusiasm for roller coasters.

    2. Ha! Love the enthusiasm in your poem…and the unfortunate ending. I also really enjoyed your poem on Your Daily Poem the other day! Fun to find your voice in my inbox!

      1. Thank you, Laura. That little poem was a fun one. It is so nice to have YDP active again, at least for April.

    3. Amusement parks make for amusement in verse. Visuals seem real Lauren.

  4. Good morning Laura. I borrowed one of your lines, hoping that is okay. I first saw “upside down red table umbrellas.” I’m with you, I can be a bit daring but one has to draw the line, especially after being stranded in a sky bucket at Six Flags Over Georgia due to a power outage. Thankfully all ended safely, but never again!

    Whoopsie Daisy

    Pause at the top,
    red umbrellas
    en pointe from the swing,
    brace for the drop.

    1. Martha, I love this poem. My daughter and I rode in a sky bucket over our state fair last summer. The ride was full of starts and stops, and I will never ride in one again either.

  5. I went with the feeling I got by looking at the photo an your explanation, Laura: the excitement, the fear, the relief of the return to earth and this memory popped in my heard. A true story. The backstory is pretty funny. After I finished my audition the head of the community theater group came and said that he thought I did a fantastic job and wanted me to get the part, but since I was a newbie and for marital peace, he hoped it would go to his wife as expected. Not a surprise as she was also a leader in the group and perfect for the part. I really had auditioned on a whim and didn’t want the part, but I forced myself to do something I knew would be hard. I wasn’t prepared for the feeling of thinking I might actually have a heart attack though! I didn’t try again. I stuck to the comfortable fun stuff after that. But it is a good memory.

    First Audition Jitters

    Walk to the stage,
    heart pounding,
    grab the script,
    Wait. Get in character.
    Nail it!

    1. oops: editing needed. “an” should be and, heard should be head.

    2. Love this, Janet, and how you used the emotional gut reaction to build your poem on a completely different topic!

  6. Laura I just got back from Universal Orlando spring break with my kids, and I’m all too familiar with scary rides. I don’t usually do any of them (they make me sick, except for the Harry Potter rides), but my kids tricked me into going on the Mummy ride, an indoor, high speed, roller coaster. They told me it was as easy as Harry Potter…it wasn’t! I screamed like a crazy person on a runaway train…all in good fun. I’d say a biblical amount of frogs were hopping in my chest! I have been enjoying your haiku series, you definitely captured the feeling of the swing.

    The Ride of My Life

    Stomach tight,
    chest pounding,
    eyes squeezed tight,
    Face Green!

      1. I think I like the way it formatted. To me, it was like I was going over a hill of the roller coaster with you and heading straight down. Love this!

    1. Sorry your formatting didn’t work Jean, but that did not take away from the motion in the poem. Good job.

      1. My mother is afraid of rides. We were sure if we got her on one, a tame one, she would see how fun it is. I feel for you, because like her, it still was not fun for you to ride. Hopefully you did not stay green long.

    2. Oh, dear! I’m glad you came through it ok. “Biblical amount of frogs”–heehee:>)

  7. My parent’s had a Grandfather’s Clock in the front hall of the house where I grew up. My insomnia memories start there…

    Midnight Noises

    Tick, tock, tick, tock
    pendulum swings
    on grandfather’s clock
    marching hoofbeats
    of sheep-counting flock.

    1. Another take on the swing. I love this Buffy, sitting at my computer with my great-grandfather’s clock ticking away in the background.

    2. Fantastic job emphasizing that monotonous drone that is synonymous with insomnia to me. Ugh. I only have it very rarely, and I’m thankful!

    1. You speak my language Leslie. And, at my age I don’t have to explain myself because I can ride with my great-grandchildren and be perfectly legitimate! Thanks for the smile and the Goodman name flows through my ancestry.

    2. I’m happy you’re here warming up with us! Those 3 lines of rhyme pound home the fear here:>)


    Should be Spring-
    temperature swing.
    Rains and snows,
    flooding that froze.
    Anything goes!

    1. Hahaha. Love that you took a swing and made it the swing between the seasons! We’ll have freezing temps here this weekend.

  9. This kind of ride is right up there with root canals for me. The only roller coasters I like are the ones with lots of curves, not steep hills. Disneyland has one like that called Space Mountain.

    Thor’s hammer lost
    in carnival town—
    thunder up,
    lightning down.

    —Kate Coombs

    1. Oooh. I love the different direction you went with this, Kate. Very clever! I grew up in Orlando w/Disney World, and I know Space Mountain well. I’m OK with most roller coasters–but the swings where you feel like you’re falling out…nope. Or the scrambler rides that take you several different directions at once…nope!

  10. poem By Jessica Bigi

    are fun bumpy rids
    this last year
    Fells like the
    spinning from threads

    1. Sometimes it DOES feel like the whole world is spinning from tiny threads that can’t hold it. Like the whole world is on some kind of thrill ride (that we could do without)…

  11. I’m a go-cart kinda gal, that’s my kinda speed. I definitely would feel “frogs hop in my chest,” too Laura!


    Call me
    Mean Monster–
    My mechanical

    Michelle Kogan

  12. I’m getting all chunder‑y just looking at that picture. It’s not just a frog hop in my chest, it’s the belly flop in my gut that’s the problem…!

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