Red Light, Green Light! [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. 


Photo: Laura P. Salas

We arrived in London very late at night, took the tube, and then walked to our flat in Canary Wharf. When I saw this jumble of red and green lights in the dark in the distance, I thought, “How the heck are we going to get across that street?” Got closer and discovered it was a sculpture, so I made sure to get a photo in the daylight!

This image makes me think of several things:

  1. Snow White in London
  2. stoplights made from actual trees–wouldn’t that be less stressful?
  3. how being somewhere new is always an adventure, even when you’re lugging luggage around in the dark and you’re really tired

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.)







20 Responses

  1. How fun! I immediately thought of paper fortune tellers and Magic 8 Ball. But, Snow White is so fun and smart. Love that “ite” sound…so sharp.

    Should‑I Tree

    Free answers
    for should‑I’s
    red for no
    yellow, cautious yes
    green a granted wish

    1. I especially love the last two lines, Linda–both the alliteration and consonance. And the word choices–nice!

    2. Reminds me of that Magic 8 Ball that would give you random advice. Love the yellow, cautious yes line. My summer is all about the cautious yes.

  2. A forest of answers
    Directions, paths
    Pick one and wait
    For the light
    To change

    1. This really captures that moment of making a choice and then that time before you know how that choice will affect things!

    2. Some days feel like a forest of answers. Which path will you take? I like that the decision can be changed with the light.

  3. I LOVE this sculpture. It reminds me of the intersection up the street where once drivers waved each other through a four-way stop. As the intersection gains lanes, aggressive driving is tamed only by an increasing array of traffic lights.

    My 4 way stop,
    now 4 lanes each direction.
    No more friendly waves
    in passing.

    1. So much about growth, progress, crowding, anonymity crowded into these short lines. Love the double meaning of passing–wonderful!

  4. STOP OR GO?

    Tree of indecision
    blooming under stress.
    Gives me no direction.
    I’ll just have to guess.

    1. Oh, I love this. I have a daughter who used to really struggle with indecision! Sometimes (most times) guessing is all you can really do :>)

  5. Doesn’t it look like the leafless tree is reaching out to touch the other?
    Puts me in mind of Irene’s book.…


    Maple whispered,
    “May I touch your hair?”
    Pine beamed,
    with ever-red flair.

    1. Hahaha–best use ever of nondeciduously! Love the awe in Maple’s voice. So sweet!

  6. Love the action in the medical myth! Sweet and funny. It looks as if the signal pole is overloaded with all of the leaves from the adjacent tree, rendering it useless. Time for the drivers to go to 4‑way stop mode.

    My Worst Nightmare

    Late for salon
    this must be a dream
    all lights are red
    I need green!

    1. Yes–like a leaf transplant has happened! Didn’t even notice this before. And I’m so glad I work at home. Driving stresses me out–I can relate to your poem.

  7. Game of Life

    Red light, green light
    Mother, may I?
    Row, row, row your boat.
    Life is mine!

  8. Love everyone’s interpretations—and wish I were in London! Summer’s here, with beautiful days but rising heat. So your pic made me think of the opposite.

    red fruit shining
    bare trees
    stop to look
    winter harvest

    —Kate Coombs

  9. I saw spider eyes in this cool sculpture.. Sorry for the gory details!

    Fly’s Final Buzz

    Eight shiny eyes
    track your movement
    suck you dry.

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