Our Guest Host is as prolific as he is talented. Spanning a wide range of topics, forms and styles, I’ve looked forward to his joining me for this week. You see him post as poetryshack, you know him as Benjamin Thomas. Welcome Benjamin!




Benjamin Thomas was born and raised in the great state of Ohio, Buckeye country, as they say.  He currently resides in Dayton, OH (Go Flyers!) where he has spent the last 18 years going to school and working in the field of physical therapy.  He is happily married to the love of his life and has two little bustling, bumbling, tumbling whippersnappers that he chases when he is not at work.   He first began writing poetry in 1995, then took a long hiatus until Fall 2010 when he mysteriously discovered Writer’s digest’s Poetic Asides poem-a-day (PAD) challenge and met poets from all  places including our own Walt Wojtanik and Marie E. Good.  



Consider this: The government has declared that upon the first of May, you must change everything about yourself. You can retain only one feature, characteristic or character trait. Poem about that one constant. Prove that some things never change.



They took my time,
they took my rhyme.
They took my money,
they took my soul.
They too my heart.
they took control.
They took my dignity.
They took my resolve.
They left me with my smile.

(C) Copyright Walter J Wojtanik – 2014




Change me, change me not.
Gut the interior,
but I’ll keep one spot.
Skin me silly,
extract all muscle strap.
Pluck each nerve, and remove the thinking cap.
But I’ll keep my funny bones please.
And yes, they’re all funny.
Just ask mister humerus.
Who’s contagiously hilarious
and always very humorous.
Procrastination, slowness
they can all take it back.
The warranty still valid
“defective”, there’s been a crack.
How slow is slow?
Like slow-freezing molasses,
with the speed of a centipede
wading through the grasses.
I’m laughin’ til’ the cows come home,
when I’m splittin’ grins in my sleep.
And these funny bones are chucklin’ hard,
still rumbling six feet deep.
So change me, change me not,
gut the interior,
but I’ll keep
that spot.

(C) Copyright Benjamin Thomas – 2014


  1. Unbreakable, Unchangeable

    I can be broken, I admit,
    I can be twisted, changed, possessed,
    I can be beat, made to forget:
    Just apply direct force and press.

    Like most people, I’ll break in time,
    If pushed, I’ll no longer be me;
    They can take my hope, joy, rhyme,
    They can take everything from me…

    Except for these words: “I love you”,
    They can’t change the fact that my heart
    Belongs to you and only you:
    They can’t change or break love apart.

    © Copyright Erin Kay Hope – 2014

  2. Soooo funny, Walt and Benjamin.
    Here’s mine:

    Resistance to Change

    I’d change my age for a kick-off:
    fifty was a good age for me,
    and probably keep the white hair
    It’s easy to manage and suits me.

    I might be happier if I were
    less obstinate, more phlegmatic,
    had long slim legs and less embonpoint.
    But those things don’t really matter.

    What I wouldn’t change for a fortune
    is the creativity with which I’ve been blessed:
    cooking, quilting and crafting,
    music, painting, poeming and such.
    They’ve given me too much pleasure
    to want to change that.

  3. Getcha ‘ands orf me Barnet!

    Take my nose: it only sniffs and blows;
    I’ll say farewell, it can go to hell!
    Take my baby blues, those I can lose
    for they always cry (I wonder why?)
    and my sad mouth that ever points south
    can also be gone, adieu! So long!
    Take my ears from one who too often hears
    all the sniggered sneers and spiteful jeers.
    The hair on my head? Touch that and you’re dead!
    Once wished black to deter the attack
    of bullies and cads and all the young lads,
    it is a badge of pride – my soul worn outside.
    A millennium of kin, both Celt and Viking
    wore this bright red from womb till dead.
    Though slowly greying and receding awaying
    and bleached quite fair, still I love my hair.
    So as Cockney folk say down East London way
    the rest you can net, but getcha ‘ands orf me Barnet!

    (Note: for those not in the know, Barnet Fair is cockney rhyming slang for hair)


  4. Faith

    If all was taken from my life
    Except my faith in Jesus Christ
    I’d still have hope, love, joy and peace
    I’d still rely on promises

    My purpose would remain the same
    If I still held His precious name
    And if I didn’t own a thing
    I’d still be richer than a king

    If all was taken, even sight
    I’d live my life by His bright light
    If hearing loss was in the deal
    I yet would hear His voice so still

    No legs to stand, no feet to walk
    No tongue to sing, no mouth to talk
    No hands to grasp, no arms to raise
    I’d still have cause to give Him praise

    At the last sound of trumpet ring
    I’d find I hadn’t lost a thing


    wooden mallet held high above his head,
    the white-garbed butcher, deep in his resolve,
    hardly sees me stretched out like a side of beef
    on the wooden block, intent on hammering
    and trimming away the fat, the excesses,
    “the old me,” he says, as if I am supposed
    to delight in this cutting transformation.

    “I like the old me,” I say as the mallet
    descends like a splintering wooden sky.
    “A little good, a little bad. I like me,”
    but the butcher’s not listening at all.
    The head chef gave him a job to do:
    hammer away, slice through sinew, muscle,
    bone until I am flat, short of flat line,

    thin as sirloin, thin as Plastic Man
    who could slide beneath the crack of closed doors,
    thin as the air I’ll relearn to breathe again,
    thin as fine filigree, a poet’s journal page,
    thin as thin ice, wearing thin through thick and thin.
    “When it’s all over,” says the butcher,
    “You’ll be good as new. You’ll hardly miss
    The man you were,” but by now I’m crying,

    A ploy to distract him while I conceal
    in my hand a bit of old me, that tap
    from which laughter gushes out, that spigot
    bursting to break loose despite the mallet,
    this slicing madness of the butcher’s knife.
    I hide it within whatever pipes
    are left of me, clamped shut for now, silent
    through this ordeal, this whittling down of me.

    Spread thin, I pretend it’s all about sorrow,
    all about losing self to a world
    bent on form and fashion, so when I slither
    from the butcher’s block, flat-faced, teary-eyed,
    I head for the door jamb, underneath of which
    I slide home-free, heart pounding with joy.

    When I reach the open fields under a cloak
    of darkness, I remember only
    the spared laughter still a part of me.
    Like the night creatures, I howl at the moon.


    • Wow Sal, this is quite a unique take on the prompt. So hats off for that! I was quite drawn in from the title, “The New Me” considering the prompt. Very vivid in it’s detail and content. Just the thought of a butcher hammering away at the old self in efforts to making a “new me” is very striking in my opinion.
      Excellent as always.

    • This is an amazing poem, Sal. Absolutely amazing. I like it. It reads like those of the old masters. An experience to hold onto. Kudos.

    • so when I slither from the butcher’s block, flat-faced, teary-eyed, I head for the door jamb, underneath of which I slide home-free, heart pounding with joy… I remember only the spared laughter still a part of me. Like the night creatures, I howl at the moon.

  6. Pingback: Left Behind | echoes from the silence


    Nothing left
    of the original.
    Sparkling blue eyes,
    Dimpled smile,
    Silky strands
    of browns and blondes,
    also gone.
    If you look closer,
    you will see
    the remnants of
    what can never be taken.
    You will see through
    the non-blue eyes
    and past the smile that’s
    not the same,
    and you will find
    what’s left behind:
    the soul of the one
    who has gone

    P. Wanken

  8. Welcome Benjamin!! How lovely to meet you at last! 🙂 Loved your poem, love that spot! 🙂

    You Can Change Me but My Eyes are Connected to My Soul

    I won’t forget
    what I’ve seen
    with my own eyes;
    I’ll remember what you looked like
    and how we looked together.
    I’ll remember everything I’ve done,
    every journey I’ve taken,
    and every thought I’ve ever envisioned.
    I will remember everything
    because everything I’ve seen,
    done, or felt has made my soul…

    and when you look into my eyes
    you will still see right into my soul
    and you will know it’s me.

  9. They Can Have It

    They can have my height
    four eleven ain’t so great
    (and even then that’s a stretch)
    more like ten, I’ll not kvetch.

    They can take the color from my eyes
    an iffy bluish grey
    Liz Taylor got the violet pair
    so take it, I don’t care.

    They can have my crooked finger-
    I caught a wonky football
    but it works fine
    and I’ll still have nine.

    They can even have my brain
    it’s barely been used
    got plenty of Ram
    just erase the spam.

    So many things I can do without,
    I guess, if I have to.
    They can take it. I’ll say adieu
    just as long as they leave me you

  10. Great to see you here, Benjamin!


    Rebelliousness can be quelled,
    hair color changed, and cut,
    but I am not easily adaptable.
    One constant in my life
    during times of strife, illness,
    death of loved ones, is an ability
    to use humor–sarcastic, dark,
    or fantasy light–for wit is crucial
    to my sanity. Vanity may be
    sacrificed, but not laughter.
    You might not recognize me
    at first, but when I burst free
    in belly laughs, you will know
    who I am.

  11. So good to see you as our intrepid leader this week, Ben. What a great smile you have! Great poems from you and Walt. Even though I’m more an all or none girl, I reckon I’ll try this. I kept thinking of that old song (see title), but always laughed through that tune as well, for like the some-assembly-needed things of life, there are always leftover parts at the end. Cheers, all!

    Why Not Take All of Me?

    Take my mouth, my legs, my eyes;
    take all my fat (reduce my size);
    take intellect and teeth and hair,
    but leave me joy and I’ll declare
    I’m still as happy as can be
    although I cannot walk or see.

    An attitude is what I choose
    about the way I win or lose
    and in the folds of joyful thought
    are grace and thanks more than I sought.
    Tucked into joy is love that stays
    and fun that’s found in simple ways.

    No matter what life takes from me,
    the only way to buoy is joy.

  12. Hurray! Benjamin’s in the hot seat. Terrific to have you there, Ben. Good choice, Walt.

    I’m getting a late start today–again. I had to really think about this one, to roll it around in my head, and start chalking off possible answers to the question. This was my reply. Enjoy.

    Final Plea

    Light’s dimmer now,
    as time moves on
    and images swim in
    obscurity, lack of clarity,
    in a sea of colors muted.

    Joints stiffened with time
    creak and call forth
    ooo’s and ahh’s,
    while mean-spirited
    nerves twinge and surge
    on needles soaked in flame.

    Ears sensitive to sounds
    enormous and subtle
    bring the world closer,
    still sheathed in volume
    though distracted by volume
    of sources great and small.

    Time has loosed anchors
    in life’s sensational sea,
    pulling away ease and comfort,
    leaving behind concern and
    unwilling cooperation from me.

    Lo, as words are my life,
    take not the links between them
    and their images in mind’s eye.

  13. Replaced

    By David De Jong

    17. Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18. yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk 3:17-18 NIV

    My bones cried in misery,
    My eyes ached, wretched with fear.
    My heart felt the distinctly
    Sharp, plunging tip of the spear.

    My lungs wheezed in agony,
    Each gasp seemed a useless waste.
    Blood spilled out in symphony,
    With a cold, salty-sweat taste.

    Flames charred deep, burning each breath.
    Daylight left and shunned my face.
    You took them, sparing my death,
    Erased it all, by Your grace.

    When I find myself empty;
    Restless, unable to cope:
    I will rest my soul in Thee;
    My Savior, Eternal Hope.

  14. All But You

    They can take it all
    And one day I feel they might
    But they can’t take You

    For You are my rock
    My Salvation and My Hope
    In You I’ll abide

    All that I possess
    Were only mine by Your grace
    Temporary stuff

    Earthly possessions
    All left behind in the end
    Can’t take them along

    Some things never change
    The grace of God is constant
    All else will soon pass

    © 2014 Earl Parsons


    May laughter
    what you will find.

    copyright 2014, William Preston

  16. 4-14-2014 Interesting, thought provoking prompt.
    I had 250 mile drive to Kelowna, BC in which to “pick”. 🙂

    one I
    want to keep;
    an attribute,
    one part of me to save.
    Joy… can I live without tears?
    Music… if beat’s too loud or fast?

    Longevity… can ‘long’ be too long
    when all around me is turned up-side-down
    producing new ideas left and right?
    As right and left is turned about

    and use-to-be is gone from sight,
    no one as I remember them.
    What is art without sight,
    sound without hearing?
    Love that’s undone?
    All else fails,
    I choose

  17. Since I seem to have an awful lot on my plate this month (and continue to pile it on, like a fool; it’s Edmonton’s Poetry Festival next week, and the gearing up is getting fierce)…I decided I would combine today’s Poetic Asides prompt with this one (thank heavens, not the sestina! It ended up being long enough)..


    I would be angry that so much of me is gone
    This is not hyperbole, not exaggeration
    These are just the facts

    Let’s see – which came first, the chicken or the…
    No, that’s not how this goes…not at all
    First went the usual – tonsils, appendix –
    the useless things and who really cares about those?

    But then, I lost all my teeth…every last one sheared off
    You’re reading this correctly, due to illness that required
    long-term, ongoing various medications,
    all my teeth gave up the ghost…
    Not before requiring much attention: painful stuff such as
    root canals and the like, but I’m not bitter
    If I were the grudge-holding type…
    But I’m not, and store-boughts are very natural-looking
    and have some handy features to commend them nowadays…
    I’ll never have another toothache…

    At about the same time my teeth deserted my face,
    my bones also tried to melt out of my body
    Fortunately, mega-doses of calcium, some weight-bearing exercises,
    and much self-denial, seem to have at least halted this inevitability
    Thank the arthroscopic gods for things like artificial knees…
    I know those replacements are a necessary part of my future

    I had forgotten that long before the teeth abandonment,
    I had given up on my finger nails…
    I’d always chalked up my soft, easily splitting digital messes
    to poor eating habits or something genetic…
    Turns out it’s likely a combination of what I suspected,
    combined with the old ‘medication vital but will kill
    parts of you’, theory
    My manicure is always lovely, but the nails? Artificial ones.

    Moving right along – in the realm of what else could I possibly
    have to lose? Probably not much, right? Wrong…
    Somewhere along the way, my doctors—shrink, GP,
    and OBY-GYN—conferred and decided, with my
    input as well, admittedly
    That maybe, just maybe, my moods, my whole mental
    health status could be improved…
    Plus, halting possibly the longest case of osteopenia on record,
    according to the OBY guy (and not to get too graphic but let’s just say,
    I could have opened my own blood-donor clinic…yuck)
    It was agreed that all of this just might be righted if I had
    a total hysterectomy…in my early 40’s…
    So, not that I intended to have more children, I didn’t
    But the ability to conceive, along with my ovaries, fallopian tubes,
    and cervix got excised…
    A minor detail perhaps, but instead of helping with my moods,
    it plunged me into a mini-depression
    If I were a grudge-holding type, this might have been the time
    But even in my darkest days, the only person I hated, was me.

    Shortly after that fun time, I realized my hair was thinning
    – all my hair
    Of course my crowning glory was the most noticeable
    and the most upsetting.
    At first…
    But, earlier in my life I’d had a career where wig-wearing
    was not only acceptable, it was a necessary practice
    I knew I could probably get back to wearing one fairly easily
    I was right
    Not thrilled that it would be a lifetime commitment,
    but at least it was an answer, and do-able

    Other hair though – well, I have to say I was delighted
    when the hair on my legs stopped growing
    But when my eyelashes, and especially my eyebrows,
    took off for good; that was a sad day, a day of reckoning
    If ever you want to see how you’ll look when you’re really old –
    try looking in the mirror, imagining yourself, sans hair, teeth,
    and eyebrows
    You will be shocked to see one of your great-grandparents
    staring back at you

    Luckily I am something of an amateur artist, and the earlier
    mentioned career necessitated a sure hand when applying
    make-up as well
    So I learned quickly to draw on eyebrows everyday, and the hunt
    for the perfect, water-proof eyebrow pencil continues un-abated;
    Ditto that for eye-liner, as it makes the need for eyelashes less necessary
    However, as I age, and the arthritis in my hands becomes more severe,
    it also becomes more challenging by the day to do this fine dexterous work
    I am considering having both brows and liner tattooed on…
    Me, who has never had ink put anywhere on this body

    So, if I were a grudge-holding type, I guess I would be
    wondering what next?
    Getting up in the morning would be a scary prospect
    But you know what?
    You can take my hair, my teeth, my eyebrows, my nails…
    For a long while, I even thought you could take
    my sanity…
    But, not to jinx anything (at least I sure hope not)
    I’ve been living on the outside for over eight years
    (for the uninitiated, that would be the outside
    of the bin, the loony bin, the Ha Ha Hilton, the
    psychiatric ward…all and any of these)
    You can take many things, but not my mind and
    not my poetry,
    Not my ability to love and be loved, nor my refusal
    to be a grudge-holding type…
    Not while I’m on this side of the sod


  18. Pingback: What Won’t Go | Metaphors and Smiles

  19. Yay!! Benjamin!! It’s so nice to get a even more of a glimpse into your personal world!! Thank you for sharing with us and for co-hosting this week. Love your poem…humor goes a long way in happiness.

    :)’s Walt…yes, keep those smiles.

    Happy almost half-way to everyone!!!

    And now this:

    What Won’t Go

    They’ll not extract from me my joy,
    playing Legos with my seven year old,
    shading Yoda in the latest coloring book.

    No, they won’t peel from my skin this smile –
    lips upturned edges in the presence of kids,
    eyes that light up with the coo of a new baby.

    They cannot remove from my belly the rising – welling
    this happiness that resides inside simply because I’m alive;
    the gratitude that I hold in the growing – knowing of Good.

    They will not steal from me my gift from the sea
    or the treasure I discover in just being in the woods,
    yes, the design on my heart of the meadow found flower’s mine to keep.

    This breath is here to stay,
    pure emotions ebb and flow –
    glee sown seed will endure.

    They can take all they want from me
    but not my delight in all simple things,
    and surely my wings of joy will never go.

    Copyright © Hannah Gosselin 2014

  20. “I will keep the scars”

    It is what we have recovered from
    which defines who we are,
    so I find myself tracing
    the Caesarean line
    below my wife’s
    transverse plane
    and noting,
    there is nothing
    as beautiful
    as scar tissue.

    • Beautiful Jerry. Scar tissue speaks for itself. It speaks of past wounds and healing. Although it is not the original tissue, it is the body’s way of healing itself.

  21. Benjamin, I’m struggling with this prompt, but I did want to thank you for all the time and effort that you put into it. Perhaps my muse will strike me across the head with something inspired today … although I sort of doubt it. 😦 I think April with all of its challenges is burning my wick at both ends.

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