Collaborative Poetry Throwdown 10/31

On October 31, I offered a Collaborative Poetry Throwdown challenge on Facebook. First, I shared this poem:

Toward the Solstice
by Mark Perlberg

We burned our leaves on the bluest October day,
the sun still warm on our backs,
frost just a ghost in the shrubbery.
We raked the leaves into shifting piles on the lawn,
scooped them into deep round baskets
and spilled them in the street against the curb.
The vein of fire, unseen at first in diamond light,
whispered through oak leaves brown as butcher paper,
and maple still flushed with color like maps
torn from The Book of Knowledge.
We were letting go of October, relinquishing color,
readying ourselves for streets lacquered with ice,
the town closed like a walnut, locked inside the cold.

. . . . . .

I then invited readers to craft their own 13-line poem called "Toward the Solstice." Here are the entries I received:

Toward the Solstice
by Tina Berger

Did I completely miss the loom of this dark
years past? This hard pinch in the corners
this narrowing of the field
this heave and slant of my steps
this cleaving rend of my breath

Did I turn myself upside down shaking
throw it over my shoulder like so much salt?
Or did I kneel hacking out the hole
bury it elaborately deep droning
the dormition and rush finger-eared to the feast?

This year again, bolt upright and blinking
I gasp hard into that missed, that most gaping night,
“How much longer?"

. . . . . .

Toward the Solstice
by Denise VanBriggle

I am running away
from security and status quo
a roof, warm bed, three squares;
from knowing what to expect
every single
       solitary
             sunrise.
A convict of conviction,
I run toward the shortest day,
carving desire lines through
open wildflower meadows,
certain my soul can survive
the darkest night.

. . . . . .

Toward the Solstice
by Diane M. Laboda

Michigan meandered into fall, back and forth between
summer-sunny days and cool near-frost mornings,
mixed with equal parts of thundering rain
and the slightest hint of snowflakes.
Trees up and down the lane signal the approaching solstice
by flaming out—maples into red-orange, poplars into golden gems
a-twinkle in the gentlest breeze. Bushes burn as if heralding
commandments. Daisies reverently bow their purple and white heads.
Mums pop into sun-yellow and burgundy-wine puffs,
while dogwood berries plump orange as pumpkin cousins.
Autumn joy hold back modestly until it’s clear we allow
that even shortening days cradle reasons to be joyful—
a living palette that colors our memories with gratitude.