An Empty Sky

This weeks entry to Thursday Poet’s Rally Week 49 is another poem with a summertime flair to it. I wrote the first clumsy version of it in late June of 1996, and I’m hoping this new attempt is an improvement. I hope y’all enjoy it.

An Empty Sky


Unannounced they appeared

Between the tall trees

A turtle at first I saw

Went slowly past

And then it was gone

A rabbit did follow behind


One ear was missing

Or maybe just hidden from view

Big feet seemed to roll and glide

Its head slowly turning my way

The rabbit then gone

‘hind the same tree

The turtle had vanished beyond


Then came the old man

All weathered and gray

Bulbous nose and forehead so slanted

From my vantage point it almost appeared

The old fellow was blowing away


His long mane of hair

White as fresh winter snow

Trailed out all wispy behind him

As he proudly moved on

past the towering trees

Then nothing but blue remained


Parade at its end

I marveled at the race

I’d seen from my bed on the grass

Gazing up at the sky

I pondered a bit


what could it all mean


The tortoise had won

Or so it did seem

The hare had placed second that day

The old man was last

A lesson perhaps

An empty sky

Was all I could see


Copyright © 2011 C. Mashburn


  1. This held me to the end as you brought each character on stage.
    I was puzzled by there being a rabbit and a hare in the story – perhaps where you live they are the same creature?

    Thanks for the affirmation you posted on ‘Sleights Moor’. It cheered my day.

    • Thanks, Harry! I appreciate the comments. The rabbit/hare thing could be an error on my part. I have always considered them one and the same, although the rabbit is considered to be member of the hare family according to Webster. Maybe they should not be used the way I have used them in the poem.
      I appreciate the read! I’m heading over to start reading and commenting now!

  2. always loved the imagination that cloud watching could draw out

    • It’s something I’ve always enjoyed; finding something in the clouds.
      Thanks for the visit and comment!

  3. sherry mashburn said

    Great poem. I love cloud watching.

  4. Heaven said

    very imaginative and creative ~

  5. This a Lewis Carroll feel. I see myself as Alice asleep under the tree watching clouds. Nice.

    Thank you also for visiting my blog and poem. And thank you for your compliments.

    • Hey! That’s a great comment/compliment, and you are right. I hadn’t thought of it like that.
      You are so welcome, and thanks for the visit here, as well!

  6. luna15 said

    You have a great ole time feel to your work that I truly enjoy.
    i do apologize for not commenting often. I will try to stop by more often.
    your a fantastic poet.


    • Wow! Thanks Luna! I confess, I do lean toward the nostalgic, and it comes through loudly in my writing. It’s my “voice” I reckon, and I like it! I’m glad you like it too! Stop by any time you have time. I know how precious that commodity is these days!

  7. thingy said

    I like people who take the time to look at clouds and imagine. I loved your write. : )

    • Thank you so much. I try to take time to enjoy everything around me. What is life if we can’t enjoy the beauty and the imagination all around us?
      Please stop by again when you have time!

  8. Pat Cegan said

    How charming your poem is! How could I not love a guy who can lay under a tree watching figures in clouds and then write poems about it? Better yet, you share this delightful activity with your wife! I used to know a woman who would focus her mind on a dense cloud and bore a hole through it…she was darn good at it, too. Course I don’t know if you could write a poem about it afterwards, but feel free to give it a try. lol

    Thanks for your visit to my site and always encouraging comments. Hugs, pat

    • OH BLUSH! You must have hit the wrong key and this was meant for someone else!
      Ha! You are too nice to me, Pat.
      And, you are so welcome. I enjoy your poems!

  9. I love the first line, it grabbed my attention and I agree that this poem has a Lewis Carroll feel to it. Wonderful imagery, nicely crafted 🙂

    • Okay! Thank you so much. Your visit and comments are wonderful and much aprreciated!

  10. Andy said

    This is a marvelous poem on cloud watching. It’s amazing where the imagination can take us if we let it.

    Thank you also for your kind comment at my blog. Laughing…if love was the worst thing in the universe, I could probably make something out of that too!

    • Thanks, Andy. I really appreciate your comments. My imagination is just a tad bit on the active side.
      Your certainly welcome for my visit and comments, too.

  11. Kay Salady said

    To lie upon the green and cast eyes upward to the fluffy white billows that softly roll across the heavens is certainly a delight. You’ve taken it so much farther with your brilliant imagination! Thank you, Charles, for such a lovely poem.

    • Thank you, Kay. I have to tell you, I am always amazed to hear what people have to say about my poems. I actually thought twice (maybe three or four) times about posting this one. I didn’t see that it was very good. Your comments and others like them, cause me to look around and say, “Are you talking to me?” If y’all keep this up, I may start writing more poetry again!
      Please! Stop by any time!

  12. Jingle said

    deep, thoughtful, wonderful views in your summer piece.
    what a sunshine to the rally.

    have fun!

  13. Charles, this is a very creative piece of work. There is so much color in every line, it completely carries the reader away! Really nice!! Goes to show us that standard rhyming is not always necessary….just our own creative originality!

    • Thank you for those comments, Cindy! I am pretty much a rhyming kind of guy, but once in a while, something just feels right and it comes out without the rhyming. I really have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to poetry. I just write what I feel and sometimes it turns out pretty good. The comments of folks like you and others on this site really encourage me to continue posting and I might even start writing more poetry. My poetry writing has taken a back seat to my encouragements and stories for the last several years. So! Don’t encourage me unless you mean it!
      Uh oh… I’m rambling again. Thank you so much for a wonderful visit!

      • Oh, I meant it all right. Follow your intuition and keep being. Just since I began reading your work, it is expanding. Don’t doubt yourself! Cindy

      • Well, thank you again! I really appreciate your encourgement!

  14. Bodhirose said

    I love this fun cloud-watching story–very well done and so entertaining.

    • It was fun to write–both times–cloud watching can be a very fun thing!
      Thanks so much for the visit and comments!

  15. I can see it, and I like it. I think it works. I love taking a fable or a nursery rhyme and interpreting it in a new way, and you apparently enjoyed playing with this one, Charles. I also find that re-working an old poem of can be successful for me, too, as you said you were doing here.

    • Thanks, Elaine. It was inspired by an actual sighting of clouds that resembled the three characters. I can’t recall their order, and, of course, there’s a bit of storytelling involved, but that’s what it’s about, right?
      I really appreciate your visit and comments!

  16. Oh, how delightful … a story unfolding in the clouds … I have recently returned to this favorite activity of mine … cloud watching. I use to love to … then got too busy and forgot … now I make a conscious effort to enjoy once more. In the past couple of months, I’ve been known to pull my car off the highway in order to catch my image on “film” for more imagination later if I don’t have the opportunity to take full advantage of it at that moment … thank you for sharing! 😀

    • That’s a great idea–catching it on film (they still make film?). I just told Sherry yesterday that I need to learn how to use my cell phone camera. I see many interesting things that, as you say, could be stored and used for ideas later. I gotta work on that!
      Thank you very much for the visit and the great comments! Love it!

  17. jsendslove said

    Thought provoking piece (:

  18. M.A.S said

    It’s like a sweet, poetic mystery. I really like it.

    • Mystery–as in, what the heck is he trying to say? C’mon fella, tell us what ya mean! Like that?
      Just kidding with you. Thanks a bunch for the read and comments!

  19. Chimnese said

    This was a great poem, i like looking at teh sky esp wondering whats up there and what it might feel like….

    • What it might feel like… now there’s a poem to write.. “I Touched the Sky.” You want it? I guess we could both write one! Call it a poetic write off. Kind of like a tax deduction for the soul. Hush.
      I do get to babbling now and then…
      Thanks for the visit and wonderful comments!

  20. Alcina said

    How i wish i could also see all this in the sky..very bright and refreshing piece of work..


    • Me too! No clouds around here for a loooong time!
      Thanks for the visit and wonderful comments!

  21. dsnake1 said

    cloud-watching, sometimes i do that too. but you managed to write a great poem on that. i like the characters and images you created. 🙂

  22. D said

    It reminded me of Alice in Wonderland with a twist. It’s pretty and playful, I like it! 🙂

    • Someone else was reminded of Alice in Wonderland. There is also an old nursery rhyme–maybe a fairy tale?– about the race between the tortoise and the hare. That’s kind of where I went with this. But poetry is open to the imagination of ther reader, is it not?
      Thanks so much for the visit and wonderful comments!

  23. mm said

    An interesting parable– love the last 2 lines, evading mysteriously a pat conclusion.

    • That’s what we do sometimes. Leave the conclusion to the imagination. It’s what I do, anyway.
      Thans for the visit and comment! Very much appreciated!

  24. What a grand time with the Supreme One who laid the story right before your eyes. I had my own moments with the clouds — real awesome. I enjoyed this wonderful poem story — I’ll look for the rabbit’s ear 😉

    • Yes it is always a grand time to gaze into the heavens and see the stories as they unfold. The rabbit would probably aprreciate your finding his ear!
      Thanks you so much for the visit and nice comments. Very much appreciated!

  25. clariice said

    Hi, I could see the imagery in my mind but I don’t seem to be able to see the empty sky. Can you share your source of inspiration?

    • I’m not sure I follow you. If I said empty “blue” sky would it help settle things for you?
      In any case, I appreciate the visit and comments!

      • clariice said

        Does the blue have any significance on the race?
        Or is that all just a passing blue?

      • To me, it’s simply the blue sky, but the wonderful thing about poetry, is the reader can paint the picture any way they want it to be.
        Thanks for the visit and comments!

  26. Oh, Charles! This is wonderul. It feels carefully structured, yet also free. I love the thought behind it; the sense of wonder at all of creation, and how little we know or understand of what we see with our eyes, but how much we can infer in our minds and hearts.

    • That’s what I’m talking about, Paula! The world IS full of wonder and awesome things, and as I say often, we must slow down–at times, stop–and take it in. What a sad thing that many live their lives and never see what beauty and wonder surround them. Well… as I climb down off the ol’ soapbox. Oh… wait, Yes! We should, if able, share those wonderful things with others in any way we can. My grandpa “Bunk” was a great storyteller, and kept folks entertained for hours with jokes and tales of things he’d seen and heard. I try to do the same with my written words.
      Thank you for the wonderful, stirring comments!

    • Forgot: “Carefully structured?” She don’t me vewy well, do she? I’m afraid I don’t do a lot in the way of structuring most of what I write. I basically just let ‘er rip. I like to say it’s part of my charm. hahaha… ahem…

      • But don’t you see? You were not the one who structured! You allowed it to be. Some poems we write, others we just write down, but both have a sense of structure. Some structures feel more forced than others – and those are often the ones we just write. I have given up (almost) on writing, per se, my poetry. I generally wait for a line or thought that comes to mind, and when it does, I can feel it going a certain way, and I try to follow.

        Sometimes patterns emerge that I did not expect. That’s always fun. That is not to say, however, that I don’t have to work at all of my poems – I spend some time in editing, and I often change them around many days after I first write them! You may notice sometimes, that after I post the poems they will subtly change over several days – I will be dissatisfied with something after I post it, and then do more work on it. It’s funny, but so far, no one has told me that they’ve noticed. But I do. . .

      • That’s what I’m talkin’ bout! I wouldn’t know structure if it bit me in the big ol’ bee-hind! I just sit here at this keyboard and yell, “SIC ‘EM!”
        When I write poetry, it is almost always spontaneous; something will set me off, and It’s like riding an old trail horse that’s headin’ for the barn. Hold on to yer hat partner, cause there ain’t no slowin him down.
        When I write fiction, it’s like watching a movie in my head and writing down what I see. I seldom know what’s going to happen next.
        True (imbellished a bit, usually) short stories: I just write like I talk. Sometimes I put on an accent, or get into a different character, too. A mood thing.
        What else? Jeesh! I do get to ramblin on, don’t I?
        I usually don’t read anyone’s poem more than once. I actually try to read them all. I’m amazed at some of the talent that’s out there.

  27. Ravenblack said

    I love watching the clouds too. 🙂 It’s fun for the imaginative mind sometimes. Love how you shared your cloud watch and what you saw in them in the form of a tale. 🙂

  28. J Sirrah said

    A heartfelt wonderful tale.Thank you for sharing this view of life 🙂

    • It is my pleasure to share these things I write with all who wish to read them, Sirrah.
      Thank you for visiting my blog and reading my poem. I appreciate it very much!

  29. jennifaye said

    I can totally relate. Cloud-watching was one of favorite pasttimes as a child. Come to think of it, it still is. Haha. I’m a child forever.

    • That’s why poems like this are so much fun; they bring out the kid in us!
      Thanks for the visit and wonderful comments!

  30. Hahaha, this bought back old memories, and some not so old. Love the reference to the tortoise and the hare, as well as the method of showing it as pictures in the clouds, there’s many a fond memory for me of journies passed looking at pictures in the clouds. Bought a smile to my eye.
    The Lonely Recluse.

    • If I caused you to recall fond memories and smile, I consider my efforts a success. To make others smile, laugh and recall good times brings a smile to my face, as well.
      Thanks for the visit and thoughtful comments. You are very much appreciated!

  31. Cherlyn said

    A cloud watching, I haven’t done taht in years. It’s always a marvel to see what your mind creates with the bulbous puffs of gaseous air – are the clouds the one telling you the story or your own mind? A great poem indeed!

    • Yes! Cloud watching is exercise for the peotic/creative mind. English lit teachers should take their student outdoors on days when big cumulus clouds are roaming the sky.
      I’ve always loved to search for shapes in the clouds!
      Thank you for the visit and really great comments! Stop by again sometime!

  32. You have a beautiful imagination! Loved this poem. Have you seen my tortoise and hare story?

    • Just read your tortoise and hare story. Love it! You did an awesome job describing the festival. Sounds very San Franny.
      Thanks for the visit and compliment! Don’t be a stranger!

  33. magher1 said

    Such a pleasant story! The world can look so fascinating when you position yourself as an observer…

    • The world IS fascinating, and I LOVE being an observer (and somewhat of a reporter) of it!
      Thanks for visiting and commenting!

  34. Riveting Charles I could vividly picture every moment

  35. Raivenne said

    Ah, so nicely done. At first I took this for a tortoise -hare-Father Time analogy and thought perhaps I missed the point. Then I read it a second time and it dawned on me that you were cloud watching. That’s when it all just fell into place beautifully.

    • I’m so glad you took the time to go over it again! I have to do that sometimes, too!
      I’m glad in came into focus for you and really appreciate the visit and comments!

  36. I adore this. I love the underlying meaning behind the tortoise and the hare…as to remind us to remember to take life slow and enjoy those moments like watching the sky and making use of imagination. Nice!

    • Very perceptive, Kellie. There is so much in this poem, and it can even go different directions. I didn’t really plan it all out that way, but after it was on paper, it seemed to grow. I love all the responses I’ve recieved on it. It amazing to see what the readers see and what the different things mean to them. Jeesh. Would ya look at me just babbling like a brook when the snow melts!
      Thanks so much for reading my stuff and offering these great comments. Makes my day!

  37. This was so fun!!! I was an onlooker. Great job!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it. That’s what I hope to do when I write–entertain the reader!
      I appreciate your visit and comments very much!

  38. Elakkiya said

    I love the summertime, and could watching is one my favorite activities. I totally enjoyed your poem. Loved it 🙂

    • Me too! It’s been a hot and dry one here this year, so the cloud watching hasn’t been too good. Maybe this fall!
      I glad you enjoyed the poem, and I appreciate the visit and nice comments!

  39. Adam said

    A great poem with fabulous imagery. If only there was a job available as a cloud gazer, I would be the first to apply!

    Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting on my poetry, I really appreciate your kind words 🙂

    • You are quite welcome for the visit and comment, Adam. And I thank you, as well.
      I’m glad you enjoyed the poem, and yes, that would be a great job. I even bet there IS such a job. Surely somebody out there has recieved a grant to study cloud shapes. There’s a study for everything else, it seems!

  40. A.B. Thomas said

    A very cool piece! I have to admit though that when I came upon the stanza with the old man I was half expecting a Grimm-eque ending with you and the old man sitting eating rabbit and turtle stew!

    • You never know with me, A.B.! That could very well have been the case. My mind has a mind of its own… uh… never mind
      Thanks for the visit and great comments. Much appreciated!

  41. I enjoy cloud watching. I spent a whole day in a hospital side room anxiously awaiting results, ignoring the magazines and took solace in the ever changing shapes. The news wasn’t good, but I took it a lot calmer than expected.

    • Sorry the news wasn’t better, but so glad you found a calming influence to help you accept it. I also hope it’s not something you’re still dealing with.
      Thanks so much for the visit and comments. COme by and visit again; I usually have some soothing, encouraging things to read. Some to make you smile and laugh, too.

  42. Ah, I do it all the time. Trying to find what figure the cloud look like. Sometimes if you stare long enough you can see the same cloud re-shape … Lovely!

    • Yes! Sometimes when the big fluffy ones are boiling in the sky, they seem to flow from one shape to the other then sometimes back to what they were. I’ve even see twins rolling along together.
      Thanks for the visits and comments. So glad you came by!

  43. Baishali said

    hey you have an amazing story telling ability … awesome imagination … wonderful characterisation … simply loved it.

    • And I love your comments! It is wonderful to recieve such kind and inspiring words from my fellow writers!
      Thank you so much for the visit. Please stop by again when you have time!

  44. I liked the way the speaker’s voice is very measured. That, and it reminds me of being young and watching clouds go by for hours on end.

  45. TheMsLvh said

    Charles, Thank you for leaving this link for me to follow. I guess I am not the only one that looks for shapes in the cloulds.

    Have a grand day!

    • I love to watch clouds. You can see some awesome things in them.
      You have a great day, too!

  46. Charles
    You have rekindled my youth with cloud watching was necessary for a kid to survive. I would say the old, white bearded man was the deciding factor on the race as his magical, mystical presence blurred the outcome to your partiality.
    Thank you for a wonderful, enjoyable read.

  47. Kalyan said

    lovely words…beautifully crafted lines!

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

Please leave a comment! We love hearing from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: