Swans, Swallows, and the Phoenix (A Poetry Prompt)

Each month, we compile a musical playlist that corresponds with our monthly writing-prompt theme. It’s our hope that you find a little inspiration in the lyrical turns, the rhythms, the musical nuance.

This month’s poetic-prompt theme is “Swans, Swallows, Phoenix.” Using the prompt, I’ve assembled some of my favorite artists. R.E.M., Nat King Cole, Willie Nelson, George Jones, and Yo-Yo Ma–they’re all here. Some of my favorite lesser known folks are here, too. Welcome Andrew Bird, The Wailing Jennys, and A Fine Frenzy. And what phoenix themed playlist would be complete without a little Tenacious D?

It’s a more laid-back playlist this month at Tweetspeak, one that’s not hard to swallow. (Pun intended.) What do you think? Have we missed any of your favorites?

Poetry Prompt: Plug in your headphones, listen to the Tweetpseak playlist, and write. What do the rhythms and lyrics conjure? What words come? Pen your Swan, Swallow, Phoenix poem and share it with us in the comments below.


Tweetspeak’s May Swans, Swallows, Phoenix Poetry Prompt:

This month we’re considering Swan’s, Swallows, Phoenix,  and we’ll be composing poems around the theme. How do you participate?

1. Consider a swan, swallow, or Phoenix (the bird or Arizona; we’re open to all interpretations). Listen to our monthly prompt-themed playlist. What images, emotions, metaphors, or allegories do they conjure? Do the birds (or does the city) stir any memories?

2.  Compose your own poem around the theme.

3. Tweet your poems to us. Add a #TSSwan hashtag so we can find it and maybe share it with the world.

4. If you aren’t a Twitter user, or if you’d rather, leave your poem here in the comment box.

5. At the end of the month, we’ll choose a poem to feature in one of our upcoming Weekly Top 10 Poetic Picks.

Last month’s theme, Dragons and Creatures, produced some good works. Our favorite was this piece of light verse by Tammy, titled “Sandman.” In it, she writes, in part:

What bedtime tale
would any good parent speak
to strike fear
so a child would sleep?
Oh, I ain’t a-sleepin’
‘though my covers quake
I’m holding out
’til there’s no sand to shake.
Move right along
and don’t stop here
bringing your “f” that ends in “ear”.

Do you want to have your work highlighted here at Tweetspeak? Join us this month as we explore the theme “Swans, Swallows, Phoenix,” and maybe we’ll highlight your poem in the coming months.

Photo by  ashraful kadir, Creative Commons via Flickr. Post by Seth Haines


Buy a year of Every Day Poems, just $5.99 — Read a poem a day, become a better poet. In May we’re exploring the poetry theme Swan, Swallow, Phoenix.

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  1. Lynn Morrissey says

    Thanks for all the swan pieces. Of course, there is the brilliant piece by Camille Saint Saens, “Le Cygne” (or The Swan). Here is a swan poem from me, since you said it is fine to post in the message box…

    The Swan

    for Mieko in memory of her father-in-law

    by Lynn D. Morrissey

    Porcelain-skinned and perfectly postured—the elegance of a swan—
    she sits erect, palms down-turned,
    cupped over ribboned ebony and ivory,
    as if bestowing blessing—a laying on of hands.
    Fingers glide effortlessly across the polished surface like water.

    Then … suddenly … comes an irrepressible stirring,
    an arising,
    a rush,
    a flourish of wings …
    Fingers, now impossible to constrain, whir breathlessly over keys
    like a ruffling zephyr tinkling wind chimes.
    Keys, once staid and dormant, spring lively
    at the touch of her artist’s hands.
    Silken sounds arise
    and freely fly.


    On a not-so-distant morn, will come great trumpeting blasts—
    at last,
    an irrepressible stirring,
    a flourish of angelic hosts,
    the rush of mighty wings.
    Bestowing blessing, God will lay His Artist’s hands on
    ivory bones and ebony ashes, long since dormant.
    Now impossible for the grave to constrain,
    the dead in Christ
    will arise
    and freely fly.

    • says

      Stunning and powerful… and brimming with the Truth all will confess… Beautiful, Lynn. You’re writing never ceases to amaze me…

  2. says

    Prelude to Demise

    What divine spark
    makes the phoenix

    burn to rebuild its aerie
    from ash, start again

    for the hundredth time
    a heart first stopped

    with death’s dark gaze
    and the handiwork

    of swallows putting
    down feathered markers

    to abandon abode.
    The echo of a swan song

    pings like shiny copper
    coins against the dulling

    dun clay of a Greek vase,
    etched seven-string lyre

    playing a false story hidden
    in the prelude to demise.


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