Tennis [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. 

Tennis downtown 15WOL
Photo: Laura P. Salas

I was downtown in Minneapolis a few weeks ago having a food truck lunch with Randy, and the annual tennis tourney was going–in front of a skyscraper, at the intersection of two busy downtown streets. I don’t love tennis. I was forced to take lessons and watch endless hours of people playing when I was little. But it’s always cool to see this sanctioned tennis tournament happening in an unexpected place. You can here the grunts and see the sweat fly off the players–that’s how close you sit. This image makes me think of several things:

  1. playing volleyball from one balcony to another–cool (but scary)
  2. the splash zone at Sea World
  3. the half of my childhood spent at the tennis courts at Azalea Lane–ugh

Here’s my first draft. It’s a list poem that’s really just a list. Nothing to elevate it. But…it’s a first draft.



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









42 Responses


    All I’m saying,
    we were just playing.
    The ball was smacked
    and the window cracked!

    1. Cindy, I love this. This did truly happen. I still remember my boys trying to explain how the neighbor’s window got cracked. Great idea to make a poem of it. Funny!

  2. With a dad who was recruited for the Red Sox farm team — but got interrupted by a war — we were always “playing ball” in our backyard out in the country. 4 kids, Mom and Dad would play football, basketball or baseball depending on the season. We hardly ever had any conventional equipment, and rules were based upon wants, whims and needs.

    Backyard Ball

    Knotted sock,
    Broken handle;
    Swing until you hit,
    Run like the wind
    To the tree!

    1. I love this little trip back in time. This would make a great subject for a picture book, sock-er ball.

      1. I couldn’t fit my sister’s assignment of plum tree position into this… another story…
        I think you are right, I might be able to picture book this! Or even “first chapter book” it… I broke my foot in one of the games!

    2. Donna, it sounds as if you had a great childhood with your siblings and all that game playing. Sometimes I think the best poems a person can write come from their experiences. I can just see that knotted sock getting knocked around. How creative all of you were.

    3. This really captures the moment, the energy of making do with what you’ve got and loving every minute.

  3. Laura, love “food truck’s BBQ perfume.” Your comments made me laugh. How well I remember resisting tennis lessons.

    Regional Sports

    We moved
    north to south -
    forced to try tennis.
    South to north?
    Might try hockey.

    1. Lauren, hockey is a wee bit rough.:) But so is tennis, if you don’t like it. My husband loves it. He played up north — indoors in the winter. But he was in seventh heaven when we moved down here. The tennis groups play outside year round. Not my thing. But to each, his own.

    2. Glad I wasn’t the only one! At least hockey isn’t 100 degrees. I’d have been more willing to try that:)

  4. How interesting to have a tennis tournament downtown in a busy city.
    When we lived in Berlin WI I decided to take some tennis lessons in the summer while I wasn’t teaching.
    The class had to end with a tournament. I still remember that hot Sunday afternoon when I got slaughtered by the girl who went on to win the tournament. Ugh!

    Beginner’s Tournament

    Whack! Smack!
    The ball came back.
    It came spinning.
    I wasn’t winning.
    Opponent was grinning.

    1. Oh, dear. What fun rhymes. Was hinking the ending might have even more oomph if the “I wasn’t winning” line was last. Just a thought. This one made me cringe and smile simultaneously!

    1. I know people who sail through life, untouched but causing chaos in their wake. Love this comparison.

  5. Tennis made me think of the resort hotel I worked at in college, now being developed into condos after years of being closed.

    Tennis, Anyone?

    Once pristine clay courts
    Lie weedy, rutted
    Once playground for wealthy
    Awaits developer’s wrecking ball

  6. Good morning Laura and all. I’m a bit late joining the group. Out of town and having computer issues. I did not even know that a venue such as this exists. Not too old to learn, that’s for sure.

    Reality Tennis

    Audience is small
    down on the mall
    the hundreds up high
    as opponents vie.

    1. Better late than never! Sorry for your computer woes. This is not really a “venue,” as such. It’s just the entrance to an office building that gets co-opted once a year. Would be cool if they did this more often, though! Tennis was definitely more dramatic (like reality tv) close-up. Thanks for playing (poetry, not tennis)!

  7. very interesting pic love you poem Laura

    poem By Jessica Bigi

    Two Billion years
    into the further
    moon ball
    dollar ticket

    1. Nice! Interesting that the narrator is only steady and the opponent is ready. Makes me wonder what’s coming next.

  8. What fun to stumble upon this tennis tournament in such an unusual place! For some reason I was struck by the name of the building…

    Hardly pacific,

    the intensity
of fraught battle
    awaiting the first

    1. Oh, this is wonderful. Makes me think of the way they describe the Pacific Theatre in WWII, and I always think the Pacific wasn’t very pacific. Love this! And hate the reality of it.

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