Photo poem: The end of the world

with thanks to Margaret Simon who hosted Day Six of #verselove at Ethical ELA, inviting participants to write poems inspired by photos, around the them “A World Trying to Deal.” She included links to commemorative photographs taken during the pandemic shutdown.

I found my inspiration here: 2020 Photos: The Year in the COVID-19 Pandemic (WBUR News). If you scroll, you can find the sidewalk chalk drawing in the play area of an apartment building. Toys lie abandoned beside this chalked message in a child’s handwriting: “the end of the world.”

Here’s my poem, on Day Seven of National Poetry Month.

the end of the world 

blacktop oracle
scrawled in chalk
draped with a lifeless jump rope
attended by an ownerless bike
chalk left lying behind

the end of the world

is how it felt, Children

one year later
let us return
and prophesy
on how we can color it

Photo: Debra Sweet. CC BY

13 thoughts on “Photo poem: The end of the world

  1. Fran, on Ethical ELA that photo of the end of the world haunted me. Yet, the words perfectly captured what children must be feeling. Your words “blacktop oracle, lifeless jump rope, ownerless bike” perfectly capture the haunted feeling I felt. I love how your second stanza changes the mood of the poem making me feel positivity, brilliance, and love . Your words in the second stanza “return, prophesy, and we can color it/new” perfectly capture my feelings of positivity, brilliance, and love. Powerful. Thank you so much for your poem.


  2. Your stanza about the “blacktop oracle” really rang to me with images of time and the world stopped, frozen in time as if all of humanity just simply disappeared between one moment and the next. And, in so many ways, that IS what happened in our world a year ago. Your ending – the blessing of “let us return” – it signaled hope. And…we can only hope.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Go on over thereto Ethical ELA and click on verselove – there’s a daily poetry-writing exercise for April; you can post and respond to 3 others (or more). I love it and feel like my poetry has grown a great deal there – I feel sure you would love it also! Once a month there are poetry open writes for 5 days as well – I don’t always make those but when I do I am intensely glad.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hope is so important…I didn’t post the photo that inspired the poem as it’s copyrighted but it’s in the link – really haunting. By mid-April last year the children wrote what we all dared not wonder…is it, could it be … they chalked “the end of the world” in their play area. Chilling to see, even now, one year later – with the world not fully out of the COVID woods yet, so to speak.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I like that hope is in coloring anew the chalked message. Years ago, Betsy at TWT had a monthly chalkabration where kids would chalk poems on the last day of the month. We should bring this back. Cover the sidewalks in celebration!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Fran, the tipsy-topsy pandemic-stressed world is captured in the photo while your words lifeless, ownerless, emphasize hopelessness felt. Yet, your bright optimistic thoughts at the end lean in to a bright start and a new way of looking at life.

    Liked by 1 person

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