[15 Words or Less Poems] Sea Serpent

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Photo: Laura Purdie Salas

Wake up your poetry brains with 15 Words or Less (guidelines here)!

We walked around The Atlantis resort in the Bahamas recently, and I loved all the fantastic ocean details. This is a sculptural element on a handrail. Here’s what it makes me think of:

1)?Medusa
2) Smaug (saw The Hobbit recently, too:>)
3) Those “Hang in there!” posters from the 80s with the cute kitten gripping a rope for dear life.

And here’s my poem first draft:

Under Currents
Sleek fangs send poison
rolling like tide,
flowing in
and out.
Shore
Sea
Shore

–Laura Purdie Salas, all rights reserved

What do you think of when you look at this picture? Take any quick idea and jot down a 15 Words or Less poem. It doesn’t have to rhyme or describe this picture. It’s just about whatever you think of when you look at it.

184 Responses

  1. Someone come find me!
    I’m alone and free
    But I want to stop being
    so lonely

    Sorry- one word over! But I couldn’t cut it up. I love your imagery, Ms. Salas! Great description and feeling! And the pic is great!

    1. I thought the snake looked lonely too, Amelia. I had no time to comment last week, but wanted to say that I really enjoyed your poem, the first line especially. Loved your choice of teensy.

    2. I really like “I’m alone and free” and then rhyming it with “lonely”. Sometimes it’s good to be alone… and sometimes it’s not.

  2. Someone come find me!
    I’m alone and free
    But I want to stop being
    so lonely

    Sorry- one word over! But I couldn’t cut it up. I love your imagery, Ms. Salas! Great description and feeling! And the pic is great!

    1. I thought the snake looked lonely too, Amelia. I had no time to comment last week, but wanted to say that I really enjoyed your poem, the first line especially. Loved your choice of teensy.

    2. I really like “I’m alone and free” and then rhyming it with “lonely”. Sometimes it’s good to be alone… and sometimes it’s not.

  3. Love the repetition at the end of yours, Laura. Here’s mine:

    Frightfully fearsome fangs
    Carelessly caught in a cord.
    Here I hang,
    Humiliated.

    1. Thanks, ellie–love the voice here. Poor snake. Trying to be fierce but hanging there. Like a macho jock whose mom makes him wear a fluffy sweater from Aunt Penelope.

  4. Love the repetition at the end of yours, Laura. Here’s mine:

    Frightfully fearsome fangs
    Carelessly caught in a cord.
    Here I hang,
    Humiliated.

    1. Thanks, ellie–love the voice here. Poor snake. Trying to be fierce but hanging there. Like a macho jock whose mom makes him wear a fluffy sweater from Aunt Penelope.

  5. Laura, the last three words of your poem remind me of the sound of waves. Nicely done.

    Frontispiece

    Early artists cast
    serpent bodies
    in brass
    solidifying,
    yet rendering
    harmless the
    ever-present fear.

    © Diane Mayr

    1. Thanks, Diane~ Love this take on war art. We just got home 10 minutes ago from seeing the terra cotta warriors exhibit from the Qin tomb. Such cool stuff. And there was lots of ancient Chinese art–lots more dragons and serpents than I expected!

        1. There’s a batch on exhibit in Minneapolis right now, at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Along with a whole exhibit of Chinese artifacts from that time period. Very cool stuff.

  6. Laura, the last three words of your poem remind me of the sound of waves. Nicely done.

    Frontispiece

    Early artists cast
    serpent bodies
    in brass
    solidifying,
    yet rendering
    harmless the
    ever-present fear.

    © Diane Mayr

    1. Thanks, Diane~ Love this take on war art. We just got home 10 minutes ago from seeing the terra cotta warriors exhibit from the Qin tomb. Such cool stuff. And there was lots of ancient Chinese art–lots more dragons and serpents than I expected!

        1. There’s a batch on exhibit in Minneapolis right now, at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Along with a whole exhibit of Chinese artifacts from that time period. Very cool stuff.

  7. It must have been very beautiful there, Laura. I love the ocean, and your ‘rolling like tide’. I caught into the ‘lonely’ a bit too, but turned it a different way.

    Cold-blooded serpent,
    even colder
    trapped in metal,
    waiting
    waiting
    for warm hands to awaken.

    Thanks for ‘every week’!

  8. It must have been very beautiful there, Laura. I love the ocean, and your ‘rolling like tide’. I caught into the ‘lonely’ a bit too, but turned it a different way.

    Cold-blooded serpent,
    even colder
    trapped in metal,
    waiting
    waiting
    for warm hands to awaken.

    Thanks for ‘every week’!

  9. My tummy’s so twisted,
    a simple move stings.
    Now I know better-
    no swallowing springs.

  10. My tummy’s so twisted,
    a simple move stings.
    Now I know better-
    no swallowing springs.

  11. These are so fun! Here’s mine:

    Layers of scale
    From nose to tail,
    Protecting you like a reptilian veil.

  12. These are so fun! Here’s mine:

    Layers of scale
    From nose to tail,
    Protecting you like a reptilian veil.

  13. Got called in to sub at 8 am, mid word…thus a very first draft. I went where my mind kept taking me.…..

    Bronzed and Anchored

    Alive, but supple no more,
    golden-scaled memories,
    time-frozen,
    faded,
    now gleam
    without luster
    without pain.

  14. Got called in to sub at 8 am, mid word…thus a very first draft. I went where my mind kept taking me.…..

    Bronzed and Anchored

    Alive, but supple no more,
    golden-scaled memories,
    time-frozen,
    faded,
    now gleam
    without luster
    without pain.

    1. JoAnn,
      You wrote the poem I was trying to write. Kept thinking about Cleopatra’s necklace (well Liz Taylor’s actually). Love the giant’s bracelet!

    1. JoAnn,
      You wrote the poem I was trying to write. Kept thinking about Cleopatra’s necklace (well Liz Taylor’s actually). Love the giant’s bracelet!

  15. Great poem, Laura! I especially like the first two lines.

    I came up with two different poems by changing my ending:

    slippery scales
    slither
    and slide
    across
    the sidewalk,
    a sinuous
    stride.

    or

    slippery scales
    slither
    and slide
    across
    the interstate:
    snake suicide

    ~Janelle (Blue Sky, Big Dreams)

    1. Love both poems- the first is more thought-provoking, and the second is very funny. Thanks for the laugh!

    2. Ha! What a powerful demo of how changing just a few words totally changes a poem. I like the first one slightly better because I love sinuous…

  16. Great poem, Laura! I especially like the first two lines.

    I came up with two different poems by changing my ending:

    slippery scales
    slither
    and slide
    across
    the sidewalk,
    a sinuous
    stride.

    or

    slippery scales
    slither
    and slide
    across
    the interstate:
    snake suicide

    ~Janelle (Blue Sky, Big Dreams)

    1. Love both poems- the first is more thought-provoking, and the second is very funny. Thanks for the laugh!

    2. Ha! What a powerful demo of how changing just a few words totally changes a poem. I like the first one slightly better because I love sinuous…

    1. I like how you’ve used “waver” and “falters”, as if there could be a summoning of bravery and ultimately success.

    1. I like how you’ve used “waver” and “falters”, as if there could be a summoning of bravery and ultimately success.

  17. I thought of the the symbol of the medical profession.

    Whining for My Twining Twin

    Solitude is not a crime?
    We needed alone time?
    Alas, a mess!
    An untwined Caduceus!

    ~Penny Klostermann

    1. What an imagination — to see in the picture something that’s missing! Wonderful poem.

  18. I thought of the the symbol of the medical profession.

    Whining for My Twining Twin

    Solitude is not a crime?
    We needed alone time?
    Alas, a mess!
    An untwined Caduceus!

    ~Penny Klostermann

    1. What an imagination — to see in the picture something that’s missing! Wonderful poem.

  19. Laura,
    I just want to say again how much I enjoy Thursdays at your blog! I don’t get my commenting done on each poem each week…but I do read them all. I admire your talent and the talent of the poets that join in and amaze me with 15 words or less!

    1. Thank you, Penny. That is so nice to hear. And I don’t expect anybody to comment on every poem! It’s wonderful if people are able to comment on 2–3–and it’s absolutely fine if they’re not. Time is short, and I’m perennially behind on my blog reading and commenting, too. These brief poems are fun to read, aren’t they? I think the variety of ideas/approaches is my favorite part. It’s like seeing the inner workings of everyone’s brains–and it’s so fun how people come up with stuff that never would have occurred to me in a million years. Little by little, it’s stretching my brain and making me more creative, too. Always happy to see you here!

      1. Yes, Laura,
        Thank you for s‑s-s-stretching all of our brains and making us all more creative.
        Wishing you JOY today.

  20. Laura,
    I just want to say again how much I enjoy Thursdays at your blog! I don’t get my commenting done on each poem each week…but I do read them all. I admire your talent and the talent of the poets that join in and amaze me with 15 words or less!

    1. Thank you, Penny. That is so nice to hear. And I don’t expect anybody to comment on every poem! It’s wonderful if people are able to comment on 2–3–and it’s absolutely fine if they’re not. Time is short, and I’m perennially behind on my blog reading and commenting, too. These brief poems are fun to read, aren’t they? I think the variety of ideas/approaches is my favorite part. It’s like seeing the inner workings of everyone’s brains–and it’s so fun how people come up with stuff that never would have occurred to me in a million years. Little by little, it’s stretching my brain and making me more creative, too. Always happy to see you here!

      1. Yes, Laura,
        Thank you for s‑s-s-stretching all of our brains and making us all more creative.
        Wishing you JOY today.

  21. This is a snippet from a concrete poem I wrote a while back…

    Metaphor

    He
    snakes
    a bit
    like
    candlelight
    through
    cresting
    meringue
    seas?a
    bucket
    with
    a
    jagged
    hole

    1. I love your poem, Julie. How perfectly it seems to match the photo! Love snakes like candlelight through cresting meringue seas.

  22. This is a snippet from a concrete poem I wrote a while back…

    Metaphor

    He
    snakes
    a bit
    like
    candlelight
    through
    cresting
    meringue
    seas?a
    bucket
    with
    a
    jagged
    hole

    1. I love your poem, Julie. How perfectly it seems to match the photo! Love snakes like candlelight through cresting meringue seas.

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