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Ideal Day

July 2021

My friend Laura Boss died this year. She was a poet who taught me many things. One thing that I love about her poetry is that there is often humor interspersed with seriousness. The first time I ever heard her read, I remember laughing. And now, though she has left us, I still hear her voice when I read her poems.
This prompt uses her poem, "Ideal Day,"(from her posthumous collection Family Promises 2021, NYQ Books)) which is a list of a number of possible ideal days for her. They are all-but-one impossibilities. (Had I known, I would have brought her a big box of Kit Kat candy bars and fulfilled that one ideal day.)

Her poem's ideals are serious. Her reality caveats for some of them are parenthetical, as her humor often was indicated either by ( ) or by her voice.

Our prompt this month is a simple one - at least on the surface. What would be your ideal day? Is it a possibility or impossibility?

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


In the Isle of Rites, we breakfast alfresco at 11:00 AM,
discussing politics, critiquing fashion, assessing films,
sharing half-baked plans, safeguarding mischance.

Coffee sweat spreads atop crackle bone glaze
gathering like oil below a busted Exxon tanker hull,
lethargically lubricating everything it touches.

Afternoons find me sleeping on green grass growing
outside an abandoned center for performing arts, where
I dream of entering the stage an unknown, exiting a star.

When twilight dampens light and soft breezes blow,
reality takes root as homeless huddle under CPA archways,
surviving by neither judging nor debating what’s fair or just.

Sterling Warner


The widow’s house is tidy.
The baseball cap collection has been donated.
The too many sock drawers are empty.
She has finally cleaned the carpet under the couch in the den.
The broken appliances in the basement are gone.
No more untidy corners where he sat.
She is finally alone with her space.
Alone in her space.

Ellen Bloom


Ideal day I’ve planned without knowing
all these years. Driving upcountry with my dog –
not my long-ago partner on this mountain,
that dog’s 30 years dead. Destination,
aspen grove – not one inhabited by angels,
that’s too long a hike. A grove just off highway,
an easy walk. I’m looking for carvings
in aspen bark. Back then, I’d never heard
of such carvings, the work of lonely
Basque sheepherders.
Basque. The man I interviewed 50 years ago
and half a state away – both of us
awkward in Spanish – his dog tending 1000 sheep
grazing a vacant lot, as we tried to talk
over roar of city traffic. Band of sheep bound
for Sierra summer pastures. I promised him
a copy of my story; I never sent it.
Could there be Basque carvings in this
aspen grove? Small chance. But look! an owl
sketched high on a tree trunk, black on white bark.
Here, might these be letters? “Tonio”?
Wasn’t that his name? Aspen leaf-quiver as if
released to fly. Sheepherders scratch
names & figures in bark, and move on
with their sheep, never seeing the result.
Over years, aspen scars the scratch-marks
till they’re black as ink on a page of newsprint –
as the wound goes on healing –
as the trip turns out.

Taylor Graham


It hardly seems to be.
As a term in Platonic philosophy,
existing as an archetype,
from late Latin idealis,
and from Latin idea
via Latin from Greek idea
meaning a form or pattern
from the base of idein
"to see"
I don't see
any form,
no pattern
to this day.
Yes, ideal.

Pamela Milne


An all-day family dinner
Set in my childhood kitchen
Only much larger than it ever was
Red and white vinyl floors intact
White cotton tablecloth barely visible
Beneath dishes of food- everyone’s favorites
running its length and width
And around the table
Loved ones - past and present
Some meeting for the first time
All catching up on time lost
Times that never were
No tears, just immense joy
I'd say, "tell me, were you there? Somewhere?
for the good times and the bad?”
I'd point at and introduce grandchildren, 
nieces and nephews unknown
I’d sit next to each and embrace them
Hold their hands and ask if they knew
How much I missed them
The sound of their voices
 the most beautiful music I’d ever heard
Looking around the table I’d make a toast
To each of them and to love’s enduring
Divine force for bringing us together
Then, at the very end of the day
I’d fall asleep right at that table
Without tears, without goodbyes
And then I’d wake up knowing
It wasn’t a dream
No Zuzu’s petals in my pocket
No photos on my mobile
I'd just know
- Simply priceless

Terri J. Guttilla

Dedicated to the spirit of Laura Boss, mentor and friend

My ideal day begins at sunrise uninterrupted by the routine of my cats.
I wake spontaneously, rested, and full of energy.

I start the day with yoga on the front porch or writing for 20 minutes.

A few hummingbirds land on the bright red Bee Balm in my garden
and I watch them slow life for me.

It is always summer. The weather is warm but there is no humidity.
I take a swim in an outdoor pool, the sky my view.

This all before breakfast, but definitely after 2 cups of espresso.
I won’t feel tired, look backwards and only think positively.

Light and shadow filter on the sofa letting me know the time,
like an old sun dial.

I will have time to write a poem, read an entire book, and still have energy
to make a great dinner, perfectly paired with an orange wine.

Today I will have the wisdom that comes with my age,
but the energy of a young woman.

Yes, let me try that again. I will have the wisdom that comes
with my age but the energy of a young woman.

That would be perfect.

Margaret R. Sáraco


We met at 11 a.m. in the lawyer's office.
The papers were spread out on the conference table,
three neat piles.
(but I already had the copy that had been delivered to me)
All very neat. Black and white.
Legal language. Emotionless.
(I was prepared for emotions.)

I met my lawyer in the lobby and rode the elevator with him.
Her lawyer was waiting for us, dressed in a turquoise business suit.
(But she wasn't there.
And she wasn't going to be there.)
Everything is already signed. Sealed.
Now, delivered.

I looked out the tall windows at the city.
Blue sky. Bright sun reflecting off glass windows.
Quite beautiful. No sounds.
(An ideal day.)

Charles Michaels


I would see my mother smiling face,
Feel her hand upon my face,
Hear her laughter just one more day,
Watch her walk with confidence.
Share a meal with her and my brothers again,
Listen to their stories and tales again,
We talk and joke and laugh again,
But they are all dust.
Yet I remain.

Douglas J. Sweeting, Sr.


The day we get rid of all the carnivores
will be an ideal day. Because it will go a long way
toward world peace. Think about it, do we really
need all those birds of prey? Wouldn’t the common
house sparrow, which is known to perform
complex tasks like opening automatic doors
to enter a supermarket, be a more appropriate choice
for the national bird than the bald eagle?
The day we lose the lions and tigers and bears
and the cats and the dogs will be an ideal day,
not to mention the humans who can’t make the switch
to vegetarianism. The world will be a kinder and
kind of sweeter place. But I know what you’re thinking:
a world without dogs is no place you’d want to live.
And yes, though the house sparrow’s diet consists
mainly of seeds and berries, it does eat the occasional
animal: beetles, caterpillars, flies and aphids among
others. OK, I withdraw my nomination of the sparrow
for the national bird, but hear me out: we’d still have
elephants. In fact we’d have way more elephants than
we have now. Not to mention gorillas, rhinos, horses
and cows. And humans who wouldn’t hurt a fly.

Paul Hostovsky


A clear horizon and no clouds, all day all night, even when asleep.
Love is only divisible by one and itself, which is ideal.
Everything here that I love is everything that's missing in heaven.

The right words, in the right order, at the right time, in the right place. Right now.
Two of you coming together effortlessly on a higher plane
It is nice when the syllables just count out right naturally.

Ken Ronkowitz


The sun rose amid drifting clouds
against an orange and blue canvas,
the air on the coast cool and dry,
above the path an Ivory-Billed
Woodpecker perched on a pine branch
posing for a photograph then
lifted its enormous wings to
cross the ditch and fade in the woods.

Joggers were mindful, mooing to
one another so I could slip
past, and the geese shimmered in the
slanting sun, flinging spray above
the spillway underneath the path
that crossed the city lake by the
Midgard Serpent, our guardian,
the road beside bereft of cars.

Back home breakfast and paper were
better than ever before, eggs,
bacon, biscuits, perfectly done,
not one assault or murder to
report, congress in complete accord
on needed bills, the comics laugh-
out-loud, the crossword workable
as clues referred to things I knew.

My daughter called to say she had
received another raise and was
amazed that driving a clean car
made her feel a lot better, and
then an unknown editor called
to say he wanted to publish
a book of my poems having
seen my work on poetsonline.

But then I woke in a dark wood
and Virgil soon arrived to take
me on a journey I had not
prepared for.

Robert Miller