Books for Poets | Mailing List | Copyrights | About Us


Poets Online Archive


October 2020

An aubade is a morning love poem/song, though it is sometimes about lovers separating at dawn. If you search for aubades online, you will find many using that as a title that do not follow the morning lovers motif. Since there is no fixed meter or rhyme for the form, there is usually no way to identify a poem easily as an aubade.

This month's model poem is one that I found that follows that original definition. What I find interesting in Dore Kiesselbach's "Aubade" is that the loved ones are a mother and child.

I learned recently that the opposite of an aubade is probably a serenade which is intended for performance in the evening. I also found that at one time an even narrower definition of an aubade was that it is a lyric sung, said or addressed to a sleeping lover (back then, a woman) by the departing lover. That may be an idea for your own aubade this month.

Aubade is a French word meaning "dawn serenade" that first appears in English in the 1670s. In English, it came to be used for a song or poem of lovers parting at dawn, and later it came to refer to songs sung in the morning hours. Today, we think of a serenade as a song sung in the evening, so a "morning serenade" is a bit of an oxymoron.

We will be strict with our prompt and ask you to write a poem set in the morning and related to leaving a loved one - "leaving" and "loved one" are open to interpretations.

For more on all our prompts and other things poetic, check out the Poets Online blog.


Here on the mountain, the roads
are slick. An early frost glistens in
the still darkness outside my window,
this late October morning. I wait to

hear those familiar sounds, telling me
you are awake. We have enough time
for two cups of coffee and a quick
breakfast. We both glance at the

large kitchen clock above the sink.
Minutes disappear quickly again
today. I hear the wind chimes sing,
as you leave for work, a few sparrows arise.

Marie A. Mennuto-Rovello


Leaving at first-light for the flatlands
I find a notice on my gatepost:
PG&E’s coming
to orange-flag trees for trimming
along their line – oak trees older than
powerline. They did this last November,
left a dozen Blue and Valley Oaks
lying like corpses of battle-dead.
Dear Land, I’m leaving
this morning, I won’t/can’t see
today’s slaughter in the name of fire-
safety. Love must suffer
tradeoffs, it seems. I’ll be back
to find you, changed
by loss of what roots you. Dear Land,
we’ll mourn your trees together.

Taylor Graham


III and III and III
Then XI peals
Each a caress, a Carmelite stroke
Smoothly wresting sleepy dreams
From canyon dwellers

Hours earlier
The coyotes called
Their own measured sadness
Filled the canyon

Then two owls
Softly rousing one another
Each from their own eucalyptus branch
Reaching beyond the cliff’s edge
We all share

South of 8
East of 5
West of 15

The whoosh of tires
Constant, nearly indiscriminate
Forcing our attention
From the sonorous morning givers

Each morning they reveal me
An incursion
An alien

Rob Friedman


Late at night I feel your presence
Like a warm blanket wrapping around me
A haunting comfort

Dreams about you are like a paradise
Stolen from me at dawn
And gifted to me in the night

When you left
I was robbed of self love, of security
Or maybe I just left it behind

The seasons change faster than I can keep track
Months fly by
But I can’t seem to stop reminiscing

Small memories always inhabit my mind
Ever so slightly reminding me
How everlastingly disappointed I am with you

Waking up every morning
To face another day without you
Feels like the world testing me

Yet I still feel it,
A haunting comfort.

Olivia Delegas


I have often wondered how it all played out
but those who might have told me, no longer can
How it was that chill autumn morning
when you packed up the children
never to return
Did you kiss her good-bye one last time?
Did you watch her put the children to bed the evening before?
Did she bathe them? Sing to them? Was she even there?
I imagine your hands shaking and your heart pounding
as you closed the door on your marriage and your former life
Did you waiver for a moment
or were you resolute from the start?
Did you tell yourself the punishment fit the crimes?
Things difficult for me to believe, to hear
though I am told they are undeniably true
Judge not that ye be not judged …
I am told that you were a good man, a pious man
And I believe it
Still, I wonder how long was until the children stopped asking
for their mother
Only God absolves
We talk of bad things done for good reasons
but the act itself cannot be transformed
even if forgiven
Perhaps you had the best and only reasons
for doing what you did
But you were not around to witness
the wake of lasting damage, the human collateral
Though I think you carried some of that pain with you
Not regret – no, but rather sorrow, guilt, shame and fear
The price for your virtuous crime –
taking what you feared losing, had you stayed
Protecting what was most dear to you
For on that November morning
you sacrificed a part of yourself as well
Like a frightened creature without recourse
freeing itself from a trap
Leaving behind the echo of a never-ending cry
and a trail of bone and blood
Yours, theirs, ours
and hers

Terri J. Guttilla


You left me this morning without a kiss
because now you're a big girl
and you didn't want me to walk to the bus
parked at the end of our front walk.
I waved and you saw me
and lifted a hidden hand
to the rainy window.

You left me this morning with a question
unanswered from last night's bedtime book -
How would you know
if a fish was crying?
I couldn't answer then and I'm still unsure
that we can know.
Maybe the ocean is made from all their tears
and that is why it is salty. How would we know?

Lily Hayashi


Will it happen
at first light
or last?

If it happens
when the sky
begins to pink

You lying next to me
as you have
for sixty-five years

And I, half awake
become aware your soft snore
has disappeared

after I’ve just recalled
your reading to me last night

about Van Gogh’s
obsession with light
coming and going

the light he’d grab
on his dawn-breaking walks
and his evening
treks through green fields
studying a darkening sky

‘till it turned
into a starry night.

You, as usual
repeating how sad
you felt for Vincent
who so craved a loving wife.

It’s been on my mind lately
as you approach your ninetieth
as to who’ll leave first

If it’s you
will I be able to wake up
without your baritone
GOOD morning

or the sight of your
sculptor’s hands
opening the blinds
as soon as you arise

even the brief pre- dinner
quarrels when I’m the first
to apologize
might be missed

Yet how could you leave first
with your stronger foothold
on slippery earth

Who will remind me to watch my step
or take
deep breaths

or listen
to each hum
of daybreak.
like the Mayfly with
only one great day to live.

Beverly Rosenblum


I know why sinners cry:
I know why saints weep.
No matter what they sacrifice
They won’t hold you in your sleep.

Honest men make vows,
I know they’d never keep
If they ever had the chance
To hold you in your sleep.

    Solomon had a thousand wives
    And found in each caress
    Penetrating mysteries,
    But not a night of sweeter rest.

Some men pop their pills,
While others tally sheep.
I count on hugs and kisses,
When I hold you in your sleep.

Some have nightmares of spiders;
Webs cross their faces sweep.
I’m living out my fantasies
When I hold you in your sleep.

    Ulysses bedded both
    A witch and a goddess,
    But never found in all their charms
    A night of sweeter rest.

All the many sad men
Waving from lover’s leap,
Never did they feel the peace
Of holding you in your sleep.

I almost feel young again
When evening shadows creep,
Because I know it won’t be long
Till I hold you in your sleep.

    Lancelot got Guinevere
    And gave up the Grail quest.
    Neither he nor Arthur knew
    A night of sweeter rest.

So I’ll push that rock up the mountain,
No matter how high and steep--
Long as when I reach the top
I hold you in your sleep.

Ron Yazinski


We should have said goodbye at noon
as lovers do, a late aubade
with anxious kisses, vows and long
caresses, dawdling at the door.

We should have parted just at dawn,
pledging timeless troth, endless love,
like Lancelot and Guinevere,
as green waves broke beneath the walls.

We should have had one last embrace
before the anxious world returned
to take us back into its coils,
one final rose to bind our hearts.

But sudden raps ring at the door,
a volley of sharp cannon shots
besiege our ramparts as an ogre
demands quick entry to our bower.

Like a nymph from Morpheus’ depths
you wake to whisper: Go! Go! He
must not find you here. He’ll kill us!
I’ll be undone. All will be lost!

So I pull on clothes, look for keys,
open the window and step out
on the balcony, the ground far
below in the deep black of night.

I turn for one last kiss and then
let go, landing on the walk like
a frog, shoes lost in the depths of
the glinting pool, ankles on fire.

Hobbling off to find my car
I think of lovers of the past
and how they suffered for their love,
Of Tristan, Abelard, and Donne.

Robert Miller

         an Aubade

One minute I am dreaming
The next I am awake
Turn silently to gaze upon
Your pretty sleeping face
Framed by hair, once black
Now silver streaked
Skin, creased by decades spent
In our life's fierce embrace

When we were young
On days like this
I'd wake you with a kiss
Today, instead, I quit your bed
Dress quickly in the hall
Grab a slicker from its peg
Stuff bare feet
Into green rubber boots
Head for the rocky beach

Today, I have a rendezvous
With Dawn
An affair I confessed to you
The day we met
Back then, you willingly agreed
To join this polyamory
A ménage à trios
That's kept us young
Ever constant
Never quite the same

So, sleep well, my love
When I return
I'll make you

Frank Kelly

(for Debbie: R.I.P)

filled, tossed
on a brass & oak
coffin, tears mingled
with early morning mist,
as I walked from the cemetery,
now my sister’s final resting place.

Debbie’s memory hangs
before my face like
turquoise earrings
pulling down
lobes, getting
heavier as

Sterling Warner