What we did on our summer vacations: one-line poems

Line at the Restroom

They canoe across the lake to take a leak.

*

Seasick

He lies flat on the pitching deck among the humpbacks.

*

Unemployed Railfan

An appreciative grunt for the SD40-2s hauling Chinese shipping containers up the mountain.

*

State Forest

We drive through a small rainstorm that seems lost, too.

*

Outhouse Race

The occupant’s role is to sit still & look urgent.

*

In the Heel of Italy

Too hot to sleep, they call a friend in the U.S. & listen to him drink a cold beer.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave's writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the "share alike" provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

43 Comments


  1. You always give these such breadth. It’s as if you set an alarm and compose each one-line poem an hour or two or three after the last previous one. So spacious, taken together.

    My favorite is “Seasick.” It’s almost Eliot (whom I love).

    My second favorites: “Line at the Restroom.” I love saying, “the lake to take a leak.” (And lovely iambic meter, all the way through!) “State Forest” ties for second.

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    1. Thanks for the generous evaluations, Peter. “Seasick” was the first one I wrote, posted to Identica and Twitter on Friday as a three-line haiku. I think the challenge with this sort of poem is to keep the conception as simple as possible. “Unemployed Railfan” for example tries to say too much, I think, and ends up feeling labored. I must’ve played with alternate wordings there for half an hour or more. “State Forest,” by contrast, came out fully formed after just a couple minutes’ thought.

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  2. I love ‘State Forest’.

    I’ll have a go:

    The Forever Beach

    We lay on all the white sand, pinned flat like starfish between two vanishing points.

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    1. Nice. I am picturing a beach covered with the pale bodies of sun-starved British folk.

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  3. Canal walk

    In the rain-dimpled surface, we saw reflections of past and future.

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  4. Forty eight summers ago, on our maiden dance, I knew I had only one left foot, but almost died to discover I had two.

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  5. Armed with magnifiers, they trace the forms of thousand-year-old letters.

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  6. Loch Ness

    We so want to believe in a lone swan at dusk on dusky water.

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    1. This says something about belief in general I really like, especially since one can take it in two different ways.

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  7. Long Days Before Me

    Long days before me, a kingdom of green in the trees, children’s games, each time I refresh my browser.

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  8. Short let

    In a house that isn’t ours, we squeeze a different life into a week.

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  9. How We Rock Friday Nights

    End table, coffees, manga, poetry, geekery; the bookstore staff knows us almost by name.

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  10. Grandma’s House

    Swept the sand of a distant beach spilled from children’s shoes under the fretwork of my doormat.

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  11. Convalescence

    Too unwell to travel, we take chairs down to the river, sit and count the geese.

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  12. BAGUIO SUMMER ON MY MIND

    Skating, sailing at Burnham Park, I stole my first kiss, and carved her name on a pine tree’s lustrous bark.

    SUMMER SUNDOWNS

    Now we watch summer sunsets on porches while we play our waiting game, wondering if her name is still among the branches.

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  13. Mediterranean Noon

    Back home, my body felt.

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  14. Breakfast with my Mother

    I dreamed I would die in January or February, she said.

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  15. SINGAPORE

    Muggy days and evening showers – a regular pulse throbbing yearlong. What seasons?

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  16. Long nightly dog walks in the humid, fragrant air.

    I don’t have to return the way I came.

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  17. Hotel California

    Driving out into the unknown along an unpaved, dusty, desert highway cursing those who sent us and returning along that same road mocking those that didn’t follow.

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