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The Photograph in the Hall ~ a Response to a Word Prompt

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

Photo album

Photo album

It is a cruel, ironical art, photography. The dragging of captured moments into the future; moments that should have been allowed to be evaporate into the past; should exist only in memories, glimpsed through the fog of events that came after. Photographs force us to see people before their future weighed them down....

— Kate Morton ~ The House at Riverton

The Importance of Photos

Our memories are precious and even when life changes, we relocate, or family members and friends leave or pass away, those people and places still remain with us forever as long as our memory remains intact. But an even better way to ensure those memories are never lost is through photos.

Some of our most valued family photos are hanging in frames on the walls, others in albums, and many more still in the original photo packets they came in from developing. We have boxes of photos stuffed in cupboards to shoved under beds.

We have photos passed down from parents, grandparents, and other relatives, some of people we don't even recognise or know but we keep them all the same. There are photos of special occasions like weddings, Christenings, birthdays, and of the holidays we have from places we may never visit again.

Nowadays taking photos is a breeze with our smartphones, tablets and the like, and we can upload them to albums and even print them ourselves without the need of paying and waiting for them to be developed. But whatever else changes, and technology develops, one thing is certain. We will still embrace our memories and want to hold onto them through photos in one form or another.

Thank you once again, Brenda Arledge, for this wonderful prompt and opportunity to write something creative about the word "photograph." (Word Prompts Help Creativity ~ Week 33)

Vintage Portrait

Vintage Portrait

The Photograph In the Hall

Oh, I stare up at the photo that is hanging in the hall

And wonder who the people are, there are few I can recall.

All were gone before my birth, though ancestors one and all.

My parents spoke about them when I was very small.

Well, that photograph is eerie, for the eyes from within stare

At anyone who passes by or stops to scale the stairs.

My grandparents owned this old house and lived here until they died.

Then my parents tried to sell it but it seems no one would buy.

So, now I’m living here alone, just the photograph and I.

To say it doesn’t freak me out would be more than a lie.

If friends happen to visit me, the cause I can’t deny,

That photo in the hallway makes their little children cry.

The photo’s housed within a frame, gilded but scuffed by time.

The faded faces all look stern, as though smiling was a crime.

I’d like to sell the photograph, well at least the fancy frame,

But I am sure if I did that the family would complain.

I’ve read all the history books, and checked my family tree,

But, for now, the dead aren’t talking, at least they aren’t to me.

I tried to take the photo down but I couldn’t make it budge.

I climbed up on the ladder, but I felt a sudden nudge.

The ladder fell down with a crash, and I went tumbling too.

The photograph’s still on the wall and I swear my take is true.

Perhaps the picture’s haunted, or you think I’m going mad,

But the photo has new faces - my grandmother and granddad!

Grandparents: Image by William Cain from Pixabay

Grandparents: Image by William Cain from Pixabay

When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in Black and white, you photograph their souls!

— Ted Grant

Photograph ~ an Acrostic Poem

Please try to remember

How we used to play together

Other children often joined us

Taking lots of chances

Oblivious to dangers

Getting into trouble

Racing to be home by dark

Avoiding parents anger

Photographs we took don’t lie

Holding secrets we kept hidden

Children playing

Children playing

Camera vs Gun ~ a Haiku

Shooting a photo

Captures without destroying

Camera not gun

Camera vs Gun

Camera vs Gun

© 2021 John Hansen


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

Thank you for taking the time to read these poems, Marlene. I am glad you enjoyed them.

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

Thank you, Mary. Your kind comments are always much appreciated.

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

Hello Nithya, glad you enjoyed these poems, and could relate to them. Thank you for your kind comment. Yes, the Ted Grant quote is a good one.

Marlene Bertrand from USA on October 12, 2021:

Your poems are always lively. I enjoyed each of them.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on October 12, 2021:

Another beautiful poem, one that is lovely to read. Your poems never fail to put a smile on my lips

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on October 12, 2021:

I enjoyed reading your poems. Photos are precious and you have brought that out so well in your poems. We have so many photos and yes as you say I cannot recognize many faces in the photos. I love the quote by Ted Grant.

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

Hi Ginger, i never thought about poor dental care as a reason for the subjects in old photos not to smile. I will look at them differently in future.

Creepy photos do have a certain charm though. Thank you for readng.

Ginger Burke from Illinois on October 11, 2021:

Oh my goodness that was a fun poem! I'm pretty sure the creepiest photos have a permanent sticking charm on them :) I do love looking at old photos, but it would be more fun if the subjects smiled. I heard someone say once that in those really old days they didn't have the best dental care so they were careful not to show their teeth in photos. Who knows?

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

Hi Juliet, yes black and white photos always seem to have a little intrigue about them. Thank you for reading my poems, I am glad you enjoyed.

Juliet Acedera from Valenzuela City on October 09, 2021:

I love photographs especially the black and white ones. Seeing those photos stir my emotions from within. I enjoy reading your poems John, and I really like those old photos, really fascinating ones. Thank you for sharing it John.

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

Hi Farah, I am glad you enjoyed the poem and my humour. Maybe no photographers had thought of the phrase “Say Cheese,” back then. Perhaps that would have made them smile back then.

Farah N Huq from Dhaka, Bangladesh on October 09, 2021:

Haha..."as though smiling was a crime"...I noticed this too! Maybe back then it was considered more elegant not to smile or maybe smiling made them move which probably made the photos blurry. Anyway, loved the poem and the humour added to it!

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

Hello Devika, yes I agree with you on the importance of photos. Thank you for your generous comment.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on October 09, 2021:

Hi Jodah photos are precious. I have many albums and filled with the lovely memories. I love the idea of having photos it makes me see ourselves in the past and in the present. Your idea of the this hub is incredible!

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

Yes, Shauna, I agree that it isn’t too far fetched. The eyes do often seem to follow you. As for Kate Morton’s quote, i think I have to agree with you there as well. We need to remember people by taking photographs no matter what may happen later in their lives. Memories alone often get too fogged without photos to help. Have a great weekend my friend.

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

Yes, it certainly is, Kenna :)

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

Hello Janis, what a wonderful and encouraging comment. I am so pleased that you enjoyed this piece in its entirety. “Photograph” was an inspiring prompt.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on October 08, 2021:

John, your poem tells a story and one that's not at all far-fetched. Sometimes those eyes do seem to follow you no matter where you go in a room. It's almost as if a soul is trapped behind the glass.

I don't agree with Kate Martin's quote at all. Although the last sentence can be a saving grace for those who may have gone on to less than virtuous lives. Capturing the moment before "their future weighed them down" could be a way of remembering someone before hardship and bad choices took their toll.

Excellent article and poem, my friend. I really, really enjoyed this.

Kenna McHugh from Northern California on October 08, 2021:

Jan, That is such an encouraging comment. Wow!

Janis Leslie Evans from Washington, DC on October 08, 2021:

John, I am in awe of this masterpiece. No, really, it's that good. Your poem article builds and builds until you present that juicy cherry on top - the haiku. I loved every bit of this. You've gifted us with a thorough presentation of the word "photograph," and tied it to our life experiences. Thank you for this offering.

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

Thank you Bill. I can totally relate to your old photo collection needing to be sorted. Black and white ones have a special place.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on October 08, 2021:

Having a lifetime of photos, most of which are sitting in boxes can be overwhelming. For years we have planned to go through them but it just hasn’t happened yet. I do love and cherish the old family photographs so I will never get rid of them. There’s just something about an old black and white family photo that stirs the imagination. Great job with the word prompt, John.

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

Thank you for your generous comment, Rosina. I really appreciate you reading and adoring this article.

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

I am glad you could relate to my article, both poetry and narration, Chitrangada. I agree we can be guided and influenced by our ancestors through photos.

Rosina S Khan on October 08, 2021:

Beautiful poetry, John. An excellent response to Brenda's word prompt, "Photograph." The first poem gave me a chuckle at the end. The acrostic poem and the haiku, I think, were superb. Lovely photos, images, and quotes too. All in all, I really adore your article, both prose and poetry.

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

Hello John!

A soulful response to the word prompt, photograph. I can relate to your narration and your poems. I have so many of those precious photographs in my albums, and also a few on the wall. I believe, their presence, although in photographs, guides us, inspires us, and blesses us.

A heartfelt post, and you have excelled as always.

Thank you for sharing!

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

Hi Zeenat, your comment is appreciated. Thanks.

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

Thank you, Sankhajit.

Zeenat on October 08, 2021:

So well-written poems. I enjoyed them all. Thank you!

Sankhajit Bhattacharjee from MILWAUKEE on October 07, 2021:

colorful writing

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

Bill, You commented first, and I thought I replied but must not have saved it. I have a few photos so old they are faded, cracked or torn, but just can’t get rid of them. They are all part of our heritage and how we came to be who we are today in some way. Thanks for reading as always.

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

Hi Peg, yess the first had a bit of a Halloween feel to it I agree. Yes, I still have a few pieces of furniture passed down from grandparents etc, and photos from My father’s service in WWII and before. We need to treasure them even though we often don’t know the people in them.

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

Hello Flourish, thank you for the idea of expanding the first poem into a short story. I agree it does suit Halloween, and I have done that with a couple of my poems before.

Being “keeper of the photos” you must have an amazing collection, and of Government memorabilia as well. It certainly would make you feel part of something larger. We all seem to have a mean branch of the family too, or at least a few black sheep.

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

Thank you as always for a generous and thoughtful comment, Misbah. I am pleased that you enjoyed all of these poems, and yes Kate Morton’s quote is excellent. Stay blessed.

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

Hello Rozlin. Thank you for reading and commenting. I am glad these poems held you until the end, and you found the haiku meaningful. Blessings.

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

Thank you for reading and providing your views on these poems, Brenda. We all seem to possess one creepy photo, don’t we? I wonder where yours is hiding? The funny thing is that I am sure grandma and grandpa weren’t in that photo before.

Thank you for sharing the link. Have a great day.

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

Thank you Srushti. I am happy that you enjoyed reading these poems and quotes.

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

Thank you, Pamela. Your comment is greatly appreciated as always.

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

Thank you MsDora. Never fear, I can never bare to part with any old photos. That is why we have so many. Blessings.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on October 07, 2021:

That first one you wrote about that photograph in the hall is perfect timing for the upcoming Halloween. I have lots of old photos going back generations. I have lots of other pieces of furniture, etc., also going back that long from now deceased family members.

FlourishAnyway from USA on October 07, 2021:

Thoroughly superb! I loved the mystery of the first one but also enjoyed your other contributions. You should consider a short story for Halloween based on that first one.

I have old photos on my wall (my great great grandmother's three sisters -- we don't don't where the one of my own great great grandmother is but that's okay because her meanness is legendary.) I love old photos and am the family keeper of them because nobody else cares about the old stuff or has the space or money to properly care for them. I also have old family bakeware, several beautiful old pieces of furniture, photos and government memorabilia from when my husband's uncle flew several US Presidents and VPs around the world as a pilot, etc. Even if I don't know the people in the photos (i.e., my great great grandmother's sisters), it makes me feel like I'm part of something larger (and not the the mean branch of the family).

Misbah Sheikh from The World of Rebels. on October 07, 2021:

Wow! This was such a delightful read. I loved it. I especially liked the first poem, where you tell about how the old photographs hanging on the stairway freaks you and make the children cry. I really liked how you mentioned feeling a sudden nudge while trying to get those old pics down. So cute, lovely and sweet!

I liked the haiku as well. I enjoyed the way you compared cameras with guns. I enjoyed everything you have written. The acrostic poem is also very excellent. So smart, lovely, and a quick response to Brenda's prompt. I truly loved your take on photographs. :) By the way, the opening quote by Kate Morton is so good.

Thank you for sharing, my friend. Take care and have a great day.

Blessings to you and your family!

Rozlin from UAE on October 07, 2021:

Lovely poem, John. Wonderful response to Brenda's word prompt, photograph. I enjoyed reading till the end. The haiku is also meaningful. Thank you for sharing.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on October 07, 2021:


You remind us how much we value photographs.

We keep them hidden away in every nook and cranny.

Oftentimes we don't even recognize the faces in them.

Yet, we keep them.

Your poem, "The Photograph In the Hall" reminds me of a photo my family used to have hanging on the wall.

I'm sure it's still around, but I think it's hidden behind a dresser now.

It always gave me the creeps.

And yet...no one ever tosses it away.

I remember those stern faces too.

I love how your poem depicts someone living alone with a photograph on the wall that seems to run the house.

The faces in the photo are watching his every move & make little children cry.

In the end...all those faces seem to have two familiar ones...Grandma & Grandpa.

In "Photograph ~ an Acrostic Poem" tells us that those childhood photos hold clues to those secrets we kept while we were playing as children.

Your Haiku "Camera vs Gun" shows us how a camera can capture an image when it shoots, unlike a gun.


These are all excellent, but my favorite is the photograph in the hall.

I will post a link in the word prompt article.

Srushti Gamit on October 07, 2021:

Such a beautiful poetry John!!

I literally love the way you rhymed the words.

The quotes are amazing as well.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on October 07, 2021:

Your poems and you quotes are all excellent, John. I like your take on the old photographs. This is a good response for Brenda's prompt, as usual.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on October 07, 2021:

Your poetry and the quotes you included are beautiful and soulful. Whatever you do, please don't destroy that photograph in the hallway!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 07, 2021:

We pass them down, from generation to generation, fading in color, now, but still treasured memories....well done, my friend! Well done indeed!

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