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Laughter and Letters ~ Poems From Prompts

John is a poet and short fiction writer who enjoys collaborating on stories with other writers, and partaking in challenges.

Image by Daniel Nebreda from Pixabay

Image by Daniel Nebreda from Pixabay

Introduction and Summary

This article was inspired by fellow poet and writer Brenda Arledge who kindly provides a different word prompt each week. I have combined two of Brenda's word prompts here: 'Laughter' and 'Letter.'

Word Prompts Help Creativity ~ Week 23 (Laughter)

Word Prompts Help Creativity ~ Week 24 (Letter)

I always admire what the other writers come up with in response to these word prompts. but if I am to participate I have to wait for my muse to find a slightly different angle or alternative meaning of the words provided.

The words Brenda chooses usually lend themselves to positive, uplifting and inspirational poems and stories, whereas mine tend to lean towards the darker side of the psyche or life. These two poems, 'The Clown ~ Laughter is Just Skin Deep' and 'The Letter' are no exception.

When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.

— J.M. Barrie ~ Peter Pan

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

The Clown ~ Laughter Is Just Skin Deep

The clown makes everybody laugh,

red nose and painted grin,

but no one knows the suffering

he harbours deep within.

Appearances can oft' deceive,

jokes may disguise despair -

a lonely soul depressed and sad,

who has no one who cares.

So don't fall for the laughter,

a wry smile, or silly tricks.

Search beneath the funny face

to see what makes him tick.

No, don't believe the jester,

the joker, naive, or fool.

Heeding words expressed in jest

leave you drowning in the pool.

The make-up that defines a clown

is often tracked with tears,

that can't be seen by you and I,

but are caused by deep, dark fears.

Laugh at his funny antics,

and applaud his skill and art,

but underneath may be a man

who harbours a broken heart.

It's funny; in this era of email and voice mail and all those things that even I did not grow up with, a plain old paper letter takes on amazing intimacy.

— Elizabeth Kotova

Image by 愚木混株 Cdd20 from Pixabay

Image by 愚木混株 Cdd20 from Pixabay

The Letter

I wrote a letter to My Love.

My mouth couldn't form the words,

to tell her it was over.

Our love had flown like birds.

A text message would not suffice,

an email much too cold.

I tried to tell her face to face

but I was not that bold.

So, a hand-written letter it would be,

something that's rare today.

I tried expressing what I felt -

she'd understand, I pray.

I wrote each single word with care

so my writing would be clear,

and show that I had taken time -

though I knew she'd shed a tear.

And now I wait with bated breath

for My Love's prompt reply.

I know no matter what she writes

it's a 'given' that I'll cry.

I wish love was forever,

but too soon it often ends.

I'd like to salvage what we had

and still go on as friends.

But I must be realistic

and prepare to read the worst -

that she'll erase me from her life,

like a red balloon, now burst.

Pensively I checked the mail

each day for the next week.

Finally, a letter came -

addressed in purple ink.

I'm not revealing what it said,

I do not kiss and tell.

But one thing her letter taught me -

is how to write a "YELL!"

Word Porn

Word Porn

© 2021 John Hansen


John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 18, 2021:

Rinita, yes you have told me that my dark poems are my best, and I can't disagree with you. I feel that I can capture and express those darker, grotesque, or controversial subjects and somehow make them more readable through rhyming poetry. Possibly, get my message or opinion across in a less confronting way than if it was written in prose. I greatly appreciate your opinion and glad you sense a hidden joy despite the subject.

Rinita Sen on August 18, 2021:

Your best John, your best. I've told you this many times before, your best poems are the ones written about misery, dark psyche, or adversaries. And yet, they flow so smoothly as if they are full of some hidden joy. Much like the clown in in your first poem.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 12, 2021:

Haha Chrish, I am not used to so much excitement at seeing my face. Thank you though, I appreciate it :)

I am glad you enjoyed these poems, and thank you for the power hugs and love too. Have a great night.

Chrish Canosa from Manila Philippines on August 12, 2021:

Yaayyyy finally it's Sir John's face!!!!!!!!!

I enjoyed your masterpiece so much Sir John!!!!

The life of the clown is absolutely true we all know that.

So good tto see you again Sir John, sending super power hugs and a bunch of love.... Enjoy the rest of the day wink wink wink.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 11, 2021:

Hello Shauna, I don’t know what is wring with the feeds. The are some articles I get email notifications for that I can just not find on the feed at all…others days later maybe when someone comments. It is annoying, but I am glad you managed to find this eventually and I always appreciate your comments. Purple ink, hey, what a coincidence. I think you may be right about her reply letter.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on August 11, 2021:

John, I love that you always try to find a different perspective to Brenda's prompts. Both of these poems are top-notch.

I, too, thought of Pennywise with reference to creepy clowns. Funny thing is, many kids are afraid of clowns.

Your letter poem had me thinking about the response that taught him to yell (by the way, I write in purple ink). I'm guessing the letter he received was written in all caps and probably told to go shove something where "the sun don't shine". LOL

I don't know what's up with the feeds, but this didn't show up in mine until two days after I'd read your post.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 10, 2021:

Thank you for taking the time to read these poems, Lora. You echo my thoughts in regard to clowns and also hand-written letters. I appreciate your kind comment.

Lora Hollings on August 10, 2021:

I loved your poems, John, about laughter and about a letter. Your poem about the clown was particularly touching. I've always felt clowns probably do hide behind a guise of laughter. I think that it can hide a much more vulnerable side to them and many emotional wounds that they have received throughout their lives. It was admirable that the author of the letter chose to tell his love about his true feelings through a handwritten letter rather than email or text. Handwritten letters can express so much more than so many other ways can. It's just too bad that most people don't want to take the time and there's a world of feeling and sincerity that we are missing out on when we just choose to take the easy way out! You've done a beautiful job with these prompts.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 09, 2021:

Thank you, Linda. Yes, I was thinking Robin Williams as I wrote this too. His comedic roles always shone bright, but it's roles he played in movies like 'One Hour Photo' that seemed so well acted they were disturbing. I am glad you were surprised by the ending of "The Letter." Take care.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on August 09, 2021:

What great additions to the collection from Brenda's prompts. I'm in the "clowns are creepy" category of folks. (Mimes and marionettes are in that same collection for me). However, when I imagine a "sad clown," I will admit that, like others, I think of Robin Williams. He was a manic comic, but there was also a very different side to him. He played some very dark, tortured characters and they seemed more authentic, like a view into the soul of the actual person.

Your poem on letters took me by surprise. What a great ending!

Thanks for writing these John. You never disappoint.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 09, 2021:

Ii am glad you are keeping hand-written letters alive by writing to your granddaughters. Thank you for reading.

Jo Miller from Tennessee on August 09, 2021:

Loved the Letter poem. I still write handwritten letters, mainly to my granddaughters to teach them what handwritten letters look like.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 09, 2021:

Glad I surprised, Flourish. Thanks for reading.

FlourishAnyway from USA on August 09, 2021:

I was pretty sure that the last line was going to end differently. I liked that breakup poem. I wonder how many people still have old love letters? I do.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 08, 2021:

Thank you, Ravi. I will find it.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 08, 2021:

I am so glad that you enjoyed these poems, Nithya. I hoped the clown poem would make an impression on the readers so thank you for acknowledging that. Yes, some letter it was lol.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 08, 2021:

Ravi, I am glad these poems had that affect on you. I read the Wikipedia entry for ‘Mera Naam Joker” and it sounds like an enthralling movie. I will see if I can find it. Thank you for sharing the link.

Ravi Rajan from Mumbai on August 08, 2021:

I believe you can watch it in google play. It is a 1970 movie and is available for download. Even the CDs might be available in amazon

You can know more about the movie here


Nithya Venkat from Dubai on August 08, 2021:

Beautiful poems, I enjoyed reading them as always. The clown poem touched my heart, no one knows what the clown is going through in his life and no one really cares about the clown. Better not to kiss and tell. What a letter that must have been to read!

Rodric Anthony Johnson from Surprise, Arizona on August 08, 2021:

ravirajan01, do you have a link to where the movie is found? I am intrigued. John's article stirred something in me.

Ravi Rajan from Mumbai on August 08, 2021:

Thanks, John for sharing the clown and the letter. You pack so many emotions in each of the poems that it forces me to think and introspect the vagaries of life.

By the way, there is a Bollywood movie named "Mera Naam Joker": It is a classic movie that talks about the life of a clown, his heartbreaks and the sadness behind his colorful face.I recommend if you find a chance please do watch it.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 08, 2021:

Misbah, so good to see you back. Don’t rush it though. I am pleased that you enjoyed these poems. Take care, and may God bless you.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 08, 2021:

Hi Peg, yes, a “Dear John” letter. I don’t know how they got that label but it wasn’t me. Thanks for reading.

Misbah Sheikh from The World of Poets on August 08, 2021:

Hello, John. Both of your poems were enjoyable to read. The joker one was my favorite. Nobody knows the sorrow and pain that lies behind the smiles. Many of us are alive, I believe, because we know how to fake a smile :) This is a very beautiful response to Brenda's Prompts. Thanks for sharing.

Hope everything is going well with you.

Many Blessings to you

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 08, 2021:

Both of your poems were excellent. Your last one was about a "Dear John" letter. I wonder how those types of letters got that label?

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 08, 2021:

Okay, Bill, I won't send any clowns your way. What is the phobia, a fear of clowns called? It seems quite common. Thank you for reading these poems.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 08, 2021:

Hi Chitrangada, I love how everyone expresses their own unique style and understanding of the same word. It really makes interesting reading. I agree with your observations, and am glad you enjoyed these poems. Take care.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 08, 2021:

Keep those damned clowns away from me, thank you very much, but keep the outstanding poetry coming. You never disappoint, my friend!

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on August 08, 2021:

An excellent response to both the word prompts—laughter and letter.

Good of you to respond in a slightly different way, especially with ‘Laughter.’

I agree that it’s very difficult to make people laugh, and the people who make you laugh, have some sadness, in their own heart. That’s the reason, they spread more laughter. Great work.

Letters poem is also beautifully expressed, so close to reality.

Thank you for sharing this wonderful piece of writing.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 08, 2021:

Mel, you are right that more often than not clowns do seem to be more creepy than fun. Pennywise comes to mind.

I haven't written a letter by hand in ages, but do try to keep my cursive writing up to scratch. It is always my job to fill out greeting cards, and I still use a pen and notebook to write the first drafts of most of my work. Glad you enjoy my poems and commentaries. Cheers.

Mel Carriere from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on August 08, 2021:

Yeah, clowns are creepy, let's be honest. John Wayne Gacy proved that. My stepmother had a big painting of a clown in my room, and I used to flip it around at night because I couldn't stomach the way that insidious bastard used to stare down at me. I think she put it there to haunt me.

I haven't written a real letter in decades, but I recently found some old letters from navy friends in a box in the garage. You are right, there is something intimate and eternal about words written by hand, but don't expect me to return to that tedious chore again!

Your poems and your commentaries about them are always entertaining and lively. Hope you are well.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 08, 2021:

Thank you MsDora. I am seriously considering a book of poetry in the not too distant future.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on August 08, 2021:

John, both poems are images of real life. They're fun to read and brimful of deep thought. Wouldn't mind holding a hard copy of these poems in a book.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 08, 2021:

Your comment means a lot manatita. There certainly is something about clowns and circuses that can captivate (and even polarize) people. Way to go with the circus pilgrimage in America. Emeli Sande is incredible and I was happy to find that song and include it here. Thanks again. Peace.

manatita44 from london on August 08, 2021:

That was so beautiful John and your rhyming schemes are even better!

Yes, letter do convey moods and it's sad for the recipient of a dark or disappointing one.

I loved the clown. I did mention that Circus was a part of our spiritual pilgrimage and we did have clowns. It was a must! Actually, it's not past tense, as we have decided to go ahead after two years. Only it's in America and many will still have travel challenges.

Emily Sande is always a bonus. With that amazing voice, who wouldn't be? Peace.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 08, 2021:

Hi Pamela, glad you liked these two poems, and found the ending to the 'Letter' poem funny. It took me a while to come up with an ending I was happy with. Have a good Sunday yourself.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 08, 2021:

Thank you for reading these poems, Rebecca. Glad you enjoyed them.

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on August 08, 2021:

I love these! Rhyming poems are the best. These are so much fun to read!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on August 08, 2021:

Both of your poem were excellent responses to Brenda's prompt, John.

I love the ending to the letter poem. I thought it was so funny! I enjoyed reading them both, however.

Have a lovely Sunday!

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 08, 2021:

Brenda, thank you for your generous comment and your analysis of these poems. I enjoyed writing these. Your prompts always encourage me to think outside the box. Glad you like the videos too.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on August 08, 2021:


In your poem, "The Clown ~ Laughter Is Just Skin Deep" you tell us to look beyond the laughter to see the person hiding behind the scene.

That often times a person is hiding dark secrets about is life within the laughter.

That even though he makes us laugh, he can be harboring a pain so deep.

In your poem, "The Letter" you show us someone who was not brave enough to tell his love that his feelings had changed.

He couldn't say it to her face & an email seemed to cold...so he writes a letter.

He wrote the words with loving care realizing she will shed a few tears.

Now he sits and waits for her reply hoping they can remain friends, but he fears that will no longer be the case.

When a week later a reply is sent, he learns a new technique.. How to Write and YELL.

I love these poems & the videos.

It us so often true that we hide behind laughter.

Letters really can make us yell, especially when one takes a cowards way out.

Great work !

I will post a link in the word prompt article.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 07, 2021:

Thank you for mentioning those wonderful but troubled actors, Vidya. I did write a tribute to Robin Williams following his unfortunate death.

I am glad you loved the poems and appreciate your kind words.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 07, 2021:

Hi Rosina, I am pleased that you enjoyed these poems. Thank you for your interpretation and opinion as well. Much appreciated.

VIDYA D SAGAR on August 07, 2021:

People who make us laugh often hide their own pain and despair. Brings to mind actors like Michael Roof, Robin Williams, Koenig and many others who took their own lives. You have brought out the tragic inner feelings of the joker, while wearing a facade of happiness, so well. The second poem about the break up letter is heart touching. I loved both the poems. A different take from the usual, which we know my now is your genre and your greatest talent. Thanks for sharing this wonderful hub.

Rosina S Khan on August 07, 2021:

Lovely poetry although it may be dark and deep.

True, the clown makes us laugh but deep inside he may be a man with a broken heart.

The letter he wrote to his Love about their love being over may have been the best way to communicate although her reply letter may have taught him how to write a yell. That is really wild to imagine.

Thank you, John, for sharing these beautiful poems based on Brenda's prompts. I really enjoyed them.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on August 07, 2021:

Rodric, Thank you for being the first to read these poems and for leaving such a wonderful comment. I am in awe of what actors, actresses, singers etc go through for their art and to entertain us and make us believe and feel.

I am glad you could relate to that quote about letter writing and that this article (poems, songs etc) made you think and gave you a new appreciation for those artists. Blessings to you.

Rodric Anthony Johnson from Surprise, Arizona on August 07, 2021:

The poems were great, surely crowd pleasers. I'm in the crowd. The song by Beyonce really made me think, she being one of my favorite singers since Dream Girls. The people who entertain us go through emotional things in order to scare us or make us feel safe, make us feel love. They change their bodies, speech patterns, and mental states to evoke emotion in us.

Also, John, letters are art now. I love the small quote you put in from word porn. I enjoyed how I related to it. When I am trying to write neatly, the letters look like that's what I'm doing and so forth...

"how to write a "YELL!" leaves the imagination wide to interpretation. I think she told a secret that snubs or a confession of something odious. It is a great poem. I applaud your talent, brother.

"The make-up that defines a clown

is often tracked with tears,

that can't be seen by you and I,

but are caused by deep, dark fears"

I think of my favorite actors and actresses, the things they put themselves through as I critic their best efforts. Now I just want to go back and appreciate them.

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