Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 003

Today’s prompt is to write a family connection poem–emphasizing the relationship between two or more family members. This can be between you and your parent(s), you and your children, you and your adopted third cousin, twice removed (whatever that means). Preferably, this is a poem between you and another family member or members; but if you must write about the relationship between your two cousins, then you gotta do whatcha gotta do.

Here’s my poem for the day (a typical conversation between me and my two boys):

“Jonah asks if there are only peach-skin and brown-skin people”

So I say, “Well, there is peach and brown, of course,
but also yellow, pink, white and black.” “Is there blue,”
he asks. “No,” says Ben, “that’s only when people are
choking. Or dying. Or dead.” “Is there orange,” asks
Jonah. “Yes,” I say, thinking of tanning booth debutantes.
“There is also copper and red. When some people get mad
they turn red–and some people get so mad they’re always
red-faced. Or they have sunburn.” “Yep,” says Ben. “But
really colors shouldn’t matter, because people are people,”
I explain, “and everyone is different.”

                                                   Jonah stares out
the car window as we pass another cornfield, his young
mind trying to process the entire universe at once.

“Daddy, can the Flash run through walls?”


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70 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 003

  1. Taylor Graham


    “Urgent business,” but your old man
    sits with his secret like a mermaid’s smile.
    More likely, a siren’s grin,
    (I always thought he was a half-
    bit screwy, living in this hall cloaked
    as an ancient abbey). Dark Old Masters
    trail us with their cold, appraising eyes
    as we climb the stair. (How much
    is he worth, I asked you, again.)
    And there sits Dad-in-law like a king
    with nothing but boredom, time, and money.
    "By this still hearth, among these
    barren crags" he’s restless. A cold wind
    whistles down the chimney –
    or is it that Velasquez Spanish dwarf
    whispering from the skewed corner
    of a frown? As in a frame, the old man
    unravels his tale, dream of a solo
    cruise-crusade, his odyssey. It’ll cost
    a fortune. You try to ask him, but
    his voice goes drifting like a shipwreck
    out to sea, as wind blows the walls
    of inheritance away.

  2. Rodney C. Walmer

    Posted the wrong poem for this prompt. Here is the correct one.
    Morning’s with Dora

    She’s there in the morning with a smile on her face
    she follows me all over the place
    happy with just a pat on the head
    a scratch behind the ear
    waiting to be fed
    she knows breakfast time is near
    then on to her walk
    some say she can’t
    but, I know she can talk
    just in another way
    but, I understand every word she has to say
    I know when she’s hungry
    when she wants out
    I can tell if she’s angry
    or if she wants to pout
    her sad eyes just stare
    with an unhappy glare
    as I start to leave
    she is smart enough,
    not to be deceived
    I give her a hug and a kiss
    and out the door I go
    before I get through the gate
    she’ll be upstairs watching through the window
    hoping I won’t get home late. . .

    ©Rodney C. Walmer Poetry prompt #3, a poem about a family member. I hope she qualifies.

  3. Rodney C. Walmer

     I’ve heard it said

    Wasn’t it Mick who said
    It’s a gas gas gas
    Certainly now, he’s shaking his head
    just thinking about the price of gas

    It would seem the fuel cost
    has infected the price of well
    everything and so much more
    So much lost,
    It’s hard to tell
    what it will take to even the score

    Every week, we see prices increase
    one cannot even go to the local store
    you might ask,
    when will the insanity cease?
    What’s it all for?

    Can it truly be
    that there is so much greed
    or is it that we just don’t see
    that the dollar
    is worth so much less
    While those who are in need
    try their best,
    just to get by
    with so much less then the rest

    It’s been said
    the trucking industry move’s America
    well, the trucks are soon to be dead
    so it would seem
    right along side the American dream. . .

    ©Rodney C. Walmer 6/21/08 inspired by prompt number #4 a poem about commerce.

  4. Monica

    It’s always nice when others can identify. I have two girlfriends who have problems with their mothers, and we like that we can have someone to vent to who understands.

  5. Monica

    My mother and I
    Are no Gilmore Girls
    But we’re all we have.

    She has done some things
    That almost ruined me,
    Yet she’s always been there.

  6. Susan Bell

    (Better late than never I reckon.)

    Outside Looking In

    I stand to the side
    listening to my brothers
    talk about old times.

    We didn’t grow up together.

    I wasn’t around
    for the gold bicycle incident,
    the dog in the freezer
    or the sugar cookies without sugar
    baked by my sister and a friend.

    I was too young to remember
    boxing matches with my dad,
    late night trips out the window
    or the sweet smelling smoke
    coming from their rooms.

    I still stand on the outside

    looking in.

  7. S.E. Ingraham

    And of course the first line should read,
    "So many things about him bothered me in ways at which I refused to look" (still awkward and not how I want it ultimately but at least not completely incorrect!)

  8. S.E. Ingraham

    In keeping with the pads, I’m late with this as well – ah sigh

    Billy Boy

    So many things about him bothered me in ways in at which I refused to look
    Guessing, I suppose, in my naïveté and youth
    That to peer directly at such a wounded soul
    Could only serve to spread such poison, infecting me as well.

    Still, sad recurrent secrets, accidentally overheard in the fissures of the night
    When he’d so often wake screaming, wild and terrified
    And Mom would rock him and ssh him and sing nonsense lullabies to try and soothe him back to sleep
    Must have over-flown the banks of his reality

    Those dark, purple bruises of his psyche likely seeped into mine
    Or perhaps, because we were so very close, I absorbed his private hell by osmosis
    I know only, my own deepest self bears ugly wicked scars belonging more to him than me
    And after all my paltry efforts, there was no escaping for either of us.


  9. Lori

    Phone Calls
    I can’t remember the last time that I said my name
    while on the phone with my brother
    When he answers I usually just say hi, what you doing
    never my name. I always assume he knows who I am
    he does usually.
    Not like the people that work with me and think they know me
    he isn’t surprised when I quote a random movie or song
    or just say “mork” for no reason.
    Who else but your brother could answer the question
    why do I have a headache? Why did you make me have a headache?
    “because we were out of mash potatoes.”
    he gets me somehow.
    Which is weird.

  10. Jay Sizemore

    Being Raised

    So many parts of me
    are pieces of you,
    I’m like an experiment
    made from photographs
    and bobby pins
    from your junk drawer,
    memories left like scents
    in the folds of yellowed
    envelopes with letters
    of tear stained inks
    smeared blue and black
    with words like “love” and “never”
    that lose their luster
    after so many years
    like glass gathering dust
    in a picture frame
    staining time yellow.

    Beneath my blue eyes
    beneath my brown hair
    beneath my pale skin
    there’s a collage
    of imprints, of thought
    fragments stuck to the poster
    board layer of my psyche
    with rubber cement,
    you’re still washing
    your hands to free
    the crusted clusters
    dried into the pink webs
    between your fingers.

    Moments I remember,
    captured like still shots
    from a camera
    with a dying battery:
    sleeping on the cool carpet
    beneath my sister’s crib,
    listening to the reverb voices
    of the TV in the next room
    playing The Price Is Right
    while you rinsed the dishes,
    sitting on the hard wooden pew
    my feet swinging free
    of the multi-colored floor,
    staring at the faces soaking
    in the sounds of damnation,
    staring out the window
    at the wasps crawling,
    building their nests in the screen,
    your leather paddle hands
    bruising my buttocks
    for crossing the street
    without permission,
    sneaking out of bed
    to peek through the door
    at the blue light and sounds
    of the future nightmare
    I wasn’t allowed to see,
    the uncomfortable quiet
    sounds of weeping
    juxtaposed with the shuffle
    and rustle of Kleenex
    pressed to noses,
    peering down into the casket
    at the paper-thin-lipped face
    of my great-grandfather
    who was not sleeping,
    wondering when
    you would ever come home.

    You took me to watch
    E.T. die and come back
    to life, you took me
    to the place where the sky
    opened into another world
    where creatures hatched
    from green cocoons
    and tried to ruin Christmas,
    I watched through
    my small, jail bar shadow hands,
    waiting for the music and words
    to signal the return
    to safety from teeth
    and claws.

    No wonder I love the movies.

  11. Liza

    Father and Daughter

    Why didn’t you fight for me?
    I heard you didn’t believe I was yours,
    eventhough I’m told I look just like you.
    I’m told this by others though.

    Who’s to say what the truth really is?
    Did you really fight for me,
    but my young mind can’t recall?
    Should I try finding you instead?

    You’re my father,
    but I don’t know you.
    I wanted to talk to you,
    but you don’t seem to care.

    I should give up,
    at least that’s my mind says.
    My heart feels like I should try.
    I feel so very torn.

    I have a dad,
    but I don’t have a father really.
    Should I try eventhough
    I might suffer rejection?

  12. Connie

    Thanks, Patti, I’ve been enjoying your poems as well. I’ve been trying to comment when I see ones I really like, but I don’t alwasys take the time. So good job everyone. I’ve never read so many poems by other poets and I’ve been really enjoying it and learning from you all.

  13. Lorraine Hart

    Brilliant Cohen quote…the Great Canadian Velvet Growl! I agree with you Corrine, Iain…and, yes, I still watch my back Patti. I grew up in a family that put the FUN in dysfunctional…the F. U. in fun…but…as it goes in the family, so it goes in the world…and I believe we dance in spirals through life…going back to process again and again from our differing, aging experiences. We all go to the mountain top alone and there are many paths to the Creator…all valid when we do our own work…when we know our space ends at another’s…and when we accept each other’s imperfect striving and support…even if we don’t agree on method. I would rather own all the jangled edges and messy bits than not feel…and with aging comes my own, loving inner parent. Namaste…Lox

    I Saw My Father

    I always looked to the sky for
    like a god
    from the sky you came and I,
    miniature goddess,
    would fly on your shoulders
    in the land of the lotus
    and the hidden night tiger.
    Daddy, wait for me and
    I’ll marry you
    when I grow up,
    blinded by your fire
    in the land of searing sun
    and sobbing monsoons
    that consumed
    the shadowy visitors
    who were my family.

    Childhood stayed in the tropic sun
    but I was gone
    to a land so cold I cried,
    we flew a last time
    you and I,
    over the land of sweet maple
    and the wolf’s silent shadow,
    there was no innocence, no
    love to return to,
    only you,
    the predator in the house,
    my mother, brother, sisters
    your prey,
    and me, the only witness
    to the fall of Icarus
    in the land of northern lights
    and the majestic mountains
    I put between us.

    I remember when it happened
    (though I don’t know why)
    in the middle of a multiplex mall
    and a crowd of coloured humanity
    came the moment of
    release from passion.
    I did not see
    I did not see
    Aged in your lonliness,
    lines of life’s mad dance
    deep in your face
    I saw my father,
    a man,
    frail as any loved
    in the place of grace,
    outside of time.

    Haiku for my sisters…

    I saw my sisters
    in colours like wild flowers
    against winter’s grey

  14. Maureen

    A little bit late I’m afraid.

    My Daughter and I

    My daughter is unable to speak
    yet I hear her whispering to me
    and singing in the sweetest voice I’ve ever heard.

    My daughter is unable to walk unaided
    yet she dances around the room
    as light and fast as a hummingbird.

    Her wheelchair is just an illusion
    and her stomach tube is not really there.

    All I see are her eyes
    and they show me the real story.

    In her eyes, I see
    love, laughter, music, water, trees –
    a reflection of what we give each other.

    It’s a pity you can’t see.

    Maureen Sexton

  15. Joe

    A Crying Shame

    Nineteen Thirty-two
    A child born in fear
    A Catholic girl, A Protestant boy
    Not knowing what to do
    A home for unwed mothers
    The Hall of Catholic Shame
    A label more appropriate
    God knows for how many others

    Two sisters made a pact
    One to last for life
    One would adopt the other’s blood
    But would never share this fact
    They grew up side by side
    My father would never know
    But held tight to suspicions
    I wonder if he cried

    My father would always say
    “She’s like a mother to me”
    She was the one with whom
    we’d spend every Sunday
    Nineteen Ninety-Six
    A lifetime away
    My father came to visit
    Was my mind playing tricks?

    His story came as quite a shock
    To everyone but him
    A few months earlier Maggie called
    To say she had to talk
    With my father at her side
    Maggie told her secret
    The weight now off her soul
    Just weeks before she died

    People said “you must be sad”
    To find out oh so late
    But an only child had a different spin
    His thoughts were truly glad
    A brand new sister and a brother
    My father found his peace
    She left this world at eighty-nine
    My father loved his mother

  16. Jane Penland Hoover


    I never asked my Dad how
    it was to grow up with a
    father blinded at ten
    a mother blinded at birth.

    I didn’t ask
    he never said

    Years later Dad told me stories
    he had heard, while his brother
    Buford wrote them down.

    “Your Granddad, he was an idea man.
    Old timers said it was a Saturday
    Shooting Creek’s General Store’s
    front porch where he sat rocking
    working out his plan.”

    Granddad said, “You farmers need
    that new fangled phone to know
    what’s going on, your wives too.
    Those city guys won’t build cause
    there’s no profit, us spread so
    far apart. We’ll just do it.”

    My dad two and Buford not yet born,
    Granddad Penland schemed until
    The Clay County Telephone Company
    buzzed out its first order for some
    brackets, four miles of wire
    insulator glasses, and a switchboard
    fitted with bells jingling pitches
    distinct enough for grandmother to detect.
    The holes were dug, poles planted
    and wire strung from farm to farm.

    Grandmother Iola took her seat
    answered the first ring, pulled the cord
    plugged the jack connecting
    said, “Hello.”
    All seven of their children
    Had a part for forty years till
    It was time for them to go.

    I never asked my Dad what it was like
    living with parents without eyesight.
    Stories, work and school and family
    Gatherings pasted the years

    And last week in Hayesville’s small museum
    my girls reached out to touch
    those plugs and cords
    their old switchboard
    displayed with Buford’s penned account
    of the telephone man and his large clan.

    May 23, 2008

  17. Connie

    Hallmark Eat Your Heart Out

    My son set up my computer desktop with
    my favorite scene from the TV show 24,
    from when computer analyst Chloe
    was ordered to go out in “the field” against
    murderous terrorists. In the picture, she’s
    aiming an automatic weapon with my son’s
    caption, “Happy Mother’s Day…or else!”

    How wonderful it is when someone does
    something just right which shows they
    have been listening and know what you like
    and understand your quirky preferences.
    No one else who knows me would
    ever think that I would appreciate
    that picture as a mother’s day greeting.

    When I saw it I laughed.
    It made my day.
    So this year I didn’t go
    to Mother’s Day service
    feeling sorry for myself.
    I went knowing that my son knows me,
    loves me and maybe even appreciates me.

  18. Anahbird


    She follows me
    Like a shadow
    On my errands
    In the store
    She helps
    Carry the bags
    She doesn’t
    Ask for more
    She is the presence
    In the other room
    She pushes back
    The silence
    And it’s
    Lonely doom
    She is
    There for me
    Far more
    And better
    Than he.


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