32 Flavors And Then Some (a Phoenix Poetry Prompt)

It’s been an aviary of sorts here at Tweetspeak this month. We’ve been considering the theme “Swans, Swallows, Phoenix,” and on Mondays, I’ve been issuing poetry prompts touching on the topic. The Tweetspeak community has done its part and has let some good works fly (so to speak) as we’ve focused particularly on the swan and the swallow (the purple martin, to be exact). Before we conclude this month’s theme, though, before we watch another calendar page go down in flames, let’s work out our final birding theme.

And this one? It should be good fodder.

We’re all familiar with the Phoenix—that mythological bird which, from time to time, spontaneously combusts, only to rise more beautiful from its own ashes. In the creation of Greek mythology, though the legend of the bird may come from even more ancient origins, it symbolized the cycles of life—the setting and rising sun; the falling and rising of empires; death and resurrection. It is a bird of metamorphosis, of transition, and of ultimate transcendence.

The Phoenix has been a mainstay of popular literature, serving as symbolic material for the likes of William Shakespeare, Sylvia Plath, C.S. Lewis, and J.K. Rowling. It has also made its way into popular music, modern art, and political propaganda. Consider “32 Flavors” by Ani Difranco, for instance.

Note how Difranco personifies the Phoenix, how she uses it in her exploration of personal triumph. Her song captures the spirit of the flaming, regenerating bird—its rising beauty, its confident certainty, its ultimate transformation into the envy of others.

Many of the greats have taken to using the Phoenix in their works, it’s true. And now it’s your turn. What will you do with this grand mythological bird? It’s precisely this question which brings us to this week’s Tweetspeak poetry prompt.


Poetry Prompt: Who doesn’t love a good story of beauty rising from the ash? This week at Tweetspeak, we’re using the Phoenix as our poetic prompt. Personify. Analogize. Use it as a metaphor. Whatever you do, though, be creative! Who’s first?

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

This month we’re writing poems around the theme “Swan’s, Swallows, Phoenix.” 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? Do you have any thoughts regarding the particular poetry prompt of the week?

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.

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.

Now, let’s write some poetry that’s not hard to swallow.

Photo by Rosa y Dani, 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. L. L. Barkat says

    i love the phoenix myth. One of my first poems I ever tried to really, really write was about a phoenix. I learned that the cycle of death/rebirth has something to do with the bird’s father’s 500th birthday. I don’t know that it was such a great poem, and I don’t have it anymore. But I remember the bird’s shadow over the mountains. And a red feather. And I seem to still love mountains and feathers in my work. So… there you have it :)

  2. says

    washed out
    gray sack of feathers
    beating against itself
    refusing not to rise
    pulling up
    groaning ascension
    on limping wings
    no match for
    ablaze with cleansing rain
    wash of color
    freedom dancing
    the sky

    • says

      Oh my oh my. I must have had my eyes in backwards when I put this up! And so here it is, tweaked and words reordered… going in the intended direction(Talk about rewriting with the door open):

      washed out
      gray sack of feathers
      beating against itself
      refusing to not rise
      pulling up
      in groaning ascension
      on limping wings

      ablaze with cleansing rain
      no match

      she emerges
      a wash of color

      freedom dancing

      the sky

  3. says


    Grains of life
    flung high into the air-
    so insubstantial
    that they hover there.

    Born by the sun
    and carried through the day
    in shafts of light
    until marauding swallows
    bring the night.

    • says

      I love it when I can SEE the poem in my mind… this is one of those… especially here:

      Grains of life
      flung high into the air

    • says

      Glynn… I love it! especially this:

      accompanied (or not)
      by a forced push,
      lubricated to enhance
      the possibility of success,

  4. says

    black ash
    in green grass
    the night is warm
    the coals
    within the black they lie
    red and hot
    the sight
    does cause my heart to rise
    the hope
    of one more flame to fly

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