Mirror, Mirage (A Poetry Prompt)

The heat is rising in the Midwest, and the pavement is awash in mirage after mirage. I noticed the first summer reflections last week on the road to Fort Smith, the pools of water evaporating just before my reaching them. There they were; then, there they weren’t. Mirages and high-school girlfriends — they share certain properties.

I considered the mirage, its definition and etymology. A mirage, says Merriam-Webster, is an “optical illusion of water in sandy deserts,” and comes from the French word “to be reflected,” as if in a mirror. Mirrors and mirages are reflective opposites, though. One reflects that which is. The other reflects that which is not.

Undoubtedly, there are those who mistake mirages for mirrors and vice versa. Consider, for instance, the cowboy who follows the reflection of water deeper into the desert, the one who mistakes illusion for true reflection. Consider, on the other hand, the one who sees an ever-flawed mirror image, the one who imposes mirage upon true reflection. Deception, see, is not merely found in a mirage’s promise. Perception can impose deceit over reflection, too.

So let’s consider them — mirage versus mirror.

Do you know the difference?

Poetry Prompt: We’ve been writing poetry prompts around the theme “Mirror, Mirror,” this month, and your pieces have been great. This week, though, we’d like to pen poems about different sorts of reflections — mirages. Consider a mirage you’ve followed. Use the mirage as a metaphor, a prop, or a analogy. Discuss reflections — both false and true. As always, we’ll award extra points for creativity (and maybe a bonus point or two for style). Who’s first?

Tweetspeak’s Mirror, Mirror Poetry Prompt:

This month we’re considering the theme “Mirror, Mirror,”  and we’ll be composing poems around the subject. How do you participate in this month’s poetry prompt?

1. Consider a mirror, whether a makeup mirror, a hand held mirror, or your rear-view mirror. Listen to our monthly prompt-themed playlist. What images, emotions, metaphors, or allegories do they conjure?

2. Compose your own poem around the theme.

3. Tweet your poems to us. Add a #TSMirror 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 week produced several great “Mirror, Mirror” poems. Maureen Doallas composed a found poem entitled “Infinite,” using words from my post “Realities Reflected.”  It reads,

We stretched our moment
in that Ozark sun, a mirror
that fluorescent-lit our origin
in light. Reality perhaps was
finite, a time and space
of potential we reflected, each
to the other. But consider:
of hundreds and thousands
of possibilities the forever
that was just you
and I.

I love a good Ozark poem, Maureen. Thanks!

Richard Maxson brought this poetic reflection:

There is no fear, his brow is smooth,
but it is his face
and in its shadow parts, fierceness
hides, a beast from a old dream.

The eyes again: they are kind
and deep with joy and tears.
Before, there was no memory of quiet woods,
the beautiful energy of waves
breaking themselves over rocks into pools,
a larger love learned by loving.

Thanks for sharing your poem with us, Richard.

Thank you for the rest of you who participated last week. It is a privilege to see your work take shape on the screen. Now, let’s get to writing some mirage poetry. Who’s first?

Photo by  55Laney69, 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 June we’re exploring the poetry theme Mirror, Mirror.

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  1. says

    I took my own prompt today and worked out a mirage poem based upon “The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere.”

    The Rhyme of the Ancient Cowboy.

    Step by step, step by step,
    And naught but sand and dirt;
    As hopeless as horseless man
    within a horseless desert.

    Mirage, mirages, everywhere,
    And all all my hopes do shrink;
    Mirage, mirages, everywhere,
    And not a drop to drink.

  2. says

    Reflections on failure–
    acne scars immortalized
    in memory’s florescent light–
    pock a dot-to-dot warning:
    “Do Not Proceed.”
    But might one forward step
    fall through sweet air
    to solid earth and show,
    finally, the devil
    trying to instigate
    a drowning in a mirage?

  3. Richard Maxson says

    Is not our memory one of the biggest mirages of all?

    Fifty Minutes

    You tell me to start with a memory,
    knowing memory must lie for its life.

    What remains of time is the minute hand,
    raised high, ready for the hour to strike.

    He comes to visit in dreams with evenings,
    a shadow, a black bird, a locust tree.

    You ask me to say how it makes me feel—
    look at my fingers holding each other;

    look at my face, trying to make a sound,
    to explain the blackbird fading away,

    to explain how he still seems to call me,
    like the soft H we think we hear from canyons

  4. says

    I combined #TSMirror with Wordcandy Wednesday and here is the result, also found on http://thebrightersideblog.blogspot.com/2013/06/wordcandy-wednesday-love-lines.html

    Gallant knight
    wields his magic pen
    pulled from the heart of
    the deep ruby ore
    and with love lines
    cast on smoothest glass
    bravely frees the dragon
    from its persistent mirage
    shattering to brittle bits
    the prison walls
    as ancient as the mirror
    hidden in grandmother’s attic

    two words
    inscribed upon
    her looking glass-

    so pretty.

  5. Laurie Flanigan says


    My porthole image is lost
    accosted by a wash of

    filmy breath. I’m gauzed in
    its milky-white web

    until I tremble … ebbing
    in the breeze, and I can see

    a peek of what’s beneath.

  6. says

    Beautiful me
    I stand here in front of this mirror
    truly loving what I see
    Loving every flaw and every strength
    Thanking God for creating me
    In his image
    The person standing here
    looking back at me is
    Strong and courageous
    She represents  
    Beautiful me

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