Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 011

Last year I read Ted Kooser’s The Poetry Home Repair Manual (Bison Books) and was struck by how he writes every one of his poems with an audience in mind. For today’s prompt I want you to pick an audience and write a poem to that audience. Put the name of your audience in the title of your poem. Your audience can be dead or alive, real or imagined, general or specific–but you must pick an audience to which you’re writing.

Here’s my attempt:


The paperclips hold nothing
over your metal breath, the way
I can push you down and not
worry my papers will come
undone. Come time to refill
your belly, you may misfire
a staple or two, but once fed
I know where my hands go
to find their attachment. You
kerpepunk into the evening
with the determination of finding
your dreams affixed to a desk.


(Of course, the above audience–in my mind–is addressed to the inanimate object, a stapler, but also to those brave people who staple day in and day out without getting their full stapling due.)

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42 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 011

  1. Iain D. Kemp

    Still playing catch-up after my vacation.

    Candy Jar

    Ah! sweet temptress
    teasing me with your
    rainbow of delights.
    Just beyond arms reach,
    I am forced into conscious
    decision, opening your lid;
    humming and hahing as to
    which fruity treat will soothe
    my desire. All that pass you
    eye you up with the gleam
    and twinkling glance of a
    predator. Oh! How they would
    love to sample your so blatantly
    displayed goodies. Sometimes
    (with a nod of may I?) they plunder
    your depths and so bit by bit you
    empty ‘til I am left with the same
    choice as ever it has been…
    ….shall I finish you off and leave
    you bare or will I succumb to the
    urge and refill you now, still not
    knowing why the last eight candies
    are always the lemon flavoured ones.


  2. Anahbird

    Dear Kaylee

    Dear Kaylee
    Forgive me
    I never intended
    For this to happen
    Petty really
    How I lost my way
    Blinded by revenge
    But I found the path
    I promise you
    And walked straight on
    Straight along with you
    But when the paths
    Crossed again
    I was at a loss
    And did not know
    What to do
    Because truly
    This I swear
    You converted me
    In your care
    And vengeance
    Was lost
    Along the way
    Dear Kaylee
    If you believe
    Nothing else
    Believe this
    I did not intend
    Thing to be
    This way.

  3. Lori

    Sorry this one is a little late but at least i got one in:

    To speakers

    They said you’d never have it.
    Never did and never could.
    Oh, you’d prattle and prance and put up a good show
    let everyone think it was yours,
    in your possession without question.
    But lies, they said, it would all be lies.

    You wouldn’t actually have anything, they said.
    Only air that formed shapes and gathered sound as
    you pushed it through your lips
    like a storm in the night howling past the windows as we
    all pretend it actually has meaning.

    But they’ll recognize it if its there.
    They’ll never be able to deny it present
    and accounted for if it stands up and screams in their faces,
    no matter how much they want to
    put their fingers in their ears.

    If you have it, they will see the world
    bending and changing all around them
    waking up to new possibilities of beauty,
    demanding that they come along and move with this new dance
    as your words guide the world
    as your words are guided—if you have it.

    If you don’t and they are right,
    pack up and go home.
    You better have your inspiration with you
    because the introduction’s done:
    You’re on.

  4. Rodney C. Walmer

    7th Grade Math Class

    Ladies and Gentlemen
    today we will learn about
    well now that is the key
    is it not
    for as we begin
    you tune me out
    and, I am not what you see. . .

    ©Rodney C. Walmer 7/24/08 audience poem. I just imagined my students. There is another part,
    but I left that out intentionally. LOL.

  5. Joe

    ok, maybe the heat’s getting to me…

    A Cold One

    You tempt me
    I’m not easily swayed
    You tease me
    I must not betray
    my better judgement
    The wine goes down easy
    Your jealousy I fear
    I throw caution to the
    warm summer wind
    and press you to my lips
    …an ice-cold beer

  6. Emily Blakely

    Good job Rosemary! Life can sure take a sudden, drastic turn, as you have depicted. I will have to look at the website you gave and see what else you have been doing.

  7. Rosemary Nissen-Wade

    Thanks to all for much enjoyment. Glanda and Emily, you are my very favourites this time!

    Sorry all that I am always so late posting – I am also doing another poem-a-day project at (Well it doesn’t have to be poems but that’s how I’m doing it, and being limited to very few words is HARD!)

    Meanwhile, here below is mine for this prompt.

    Happy birthday Robert and congratulations on the exciting events in your life, and thanks for these prompts!

    My Friend’s Son

    At my house in Beaumaris
    when you were five,
    you ran straight down the passage
    out the back door, jumped
    in the pool and then lay still,
    face down on the bottom.

    Your mother, alerted
    by profound instinct,
    looked up at the right moment,
    in three strides reached the edge
    leaned in and hauled you out.

    Now you’re thirty-eight,
    and the fault entirely
    the other driver’s. Once more
    you lie motionless. You have
    your mind, your speech
    and some use of your hands.

    She is rescuing you again
    in slower, subtler ways.
    This time it takes
    lawyer, carers, bedside visits
    and long-term practical plans.

    When I phoned, your voice
    was strong and glad.
    You sounded just like you.
    And I kept remembering
    you were such a funny
    wriggly little boy.


  8. Michelle H.

    “Audience of One”

    I’m up
    I’m dressed
    I peer into my mirror
    Is that a pimple I see?
    My God, I’m forty-three
    When will the acne let me be!

    I smile
    And floss again
    Quick brush
    I think I’m ready
    Best check the full-length mirror
    My God, is that my rear?

    Quick change my shirt
    Change my jeans
    How’s my appearance now?
    Hmmm, not bad
    I think I’ll do
    Quick wink at me and out the door adieu.

  9. jane

    Ode to Virgil (my cane)

    No one supports me quite
    like you do.
    I’ve never trusted anyone or
    leaned on anyone the way
    I lean on you.
    You’re always there to
    hold me up.

    You never criticize me or play
    mind games. You carry my secrets
    with the promise of silence.
    You’re as constant as
    the sunrise and as strong as
    the northern wind.

    We’ve been together for
    so long – the years blur
    together like fingers behind
    frosted glass. I trust you
    like no other.

    And yet,
    I long to leave you behind –
    to be strong enough to strike
    out on my own – to face life’s
    adventures on my own two feet.

    I’ll dance the notes
    of life’s music. I’ll throw
    my hands to the sky in joy and
    click my heels in the air

    if only in my mind.

  10. Kate F


    Hey bro
    what would you make of this?
    There is no logic to it
    girl stuff, a kind of knitting
    up of everyday threads
    a shifting garment
    that is somewhat
    and definitely not

  11. Maureen Sexton

    Thought I’d have some fun with this one.

    Dear Weight Watchers

    When you pick that biscuit up
    before you start your chewing
    think of all the calories,
    the harm that you’ll be doing.

    When you see that chocolate bar
    think of the fat on your hips
    ‘cos that is where it’s going
    if you let it pass your lips.

    Eat lettuce leaves and apples
    chicken fillets with no skin:
    it’s hard, but you’ll be happy
    when you’re healthy, fit and thin.

    Maureen Sexton

    Happy Birthday Robert!

  12. Terri

    The Letter

    The envelope addressed to me
    in my own hand
    “Did you have to come today,
    when I am already feeling so low?”
    It is relegated to the bottom of the pile,
    I prefer to open bills and
    junk mail full of coupons for
    roast beef sandwiches and car washes.

    “You are every writer’s bane,
    a thorn in our side, spoiled milk
    curdled in our coffee.”

    If this white business sized envelope
    had a tongue I expect my face would
    now be covered with the spittle
    of a raspberry
    and then it would knock itself
    to the floor with its own mocking laughter
    and I could stomp it to. . .

    But it is just an envelope and
    I am being silly
    So sighing I tear off the end and
    pull out a piece of paper folded into thirds
    hoping this time they have at least
    spelled my name correctly
    or maybe written a note

    A green slip flutters out
    It does in fact have my name written
    right after “Pay to the order of”
    and soon I will see it in print
    preceded by the word “by.”

  13. Emily Blakely


    Who is it that tells you
    how to move the clouds
    around or when to send them
    away? Your invisible hand
    brushing my face revives me
    from the sweltering summer
    heat. Your dance makes trees

    I would listen if only you
    would tell me where you are
    going or places you have been,
    though at times you mark a clear
    path ten feet wide and miles
    long. Minute by minute
    your super vacuum leaves
    nothing behind.

    Sara, wonderful message in yours on Contemplation.
    Glanda, sure can relate to Pushy Friends, we have 5!

  14. Jolanta Laurinaitis

    I decided to write a poem to my year 6 class, (we are called the rockstars)about them in the class. So hopefully they will be an attentive audience seeing as tho it is adressed to them!!! HA HA!


    My class my Rock stars
    In each and in all
    You are very interesting characters
    Very different from all

    Tyler and Ryan Cousins
    Provide much comic relief
    But my goodness I will
    Staple you to your seats!

    Zac, Ryan R,
    Luke, Arnie and Shane
    Are always proving
    Yourselves a great pain

    Day in and day out
    Always asking me
    If you can kick a ball
    Or go and do PE!

    But on a field
    With all your friends
    You can kick
    Team 11s rear ends!

    Elise is always
    Eating her mandarins
    Peeling so slowly
    Over the bins

    Paige loving ‘Hairspray’
    And singing along
    Brittany joining in
    With your HSM songs

    Liam’s stories
    Make me jump at night
    Looking around
    In dark rooms in fright

    Hannah and your art
    Of great sheep
    Making me wonder
    Which one I will keep

    Briana Stewart
    Is a true rock chick
    Greenday and others
    She gives them the flick

    Rhys has many
    Great ideas to muse
    And the useful box
    He loves to use

    Flynn with great
    Academic poise
    And Jay with his
    Jar Jar Binks voice

    Keshia and Katie
    Are so helpful in class
    My help expectations
    They surpass

    Jackie works quietly
    On amazing works
    Lucy doing the same
    But you make your voice heard!

    Sam is also
    A funny class clown
    Pulling funny faces
    Up and down

    Brooke and Brianna S
    Are dancing queens
    Jasmine is gallantly
    Keeping the peace

    My Rockstars my class
    Now you see
    How I see you
    And what you be

    Each and all
    You are destined for great things
    Each and all
    Make my heart and hopes sing.

  15. Sara Diane Doyle

    Robert- loved your poem. And yes, I’m still around. Lurking. Things have been rather busy as of late but I’ve been writing–not posting because I’m on a mission to publish more 🙂 Thanks for the weekly prompts, they help keep me motivated to write more poetry!

  16. Monica Martin

    Paper Clips

    You are all over my desk,
    filling styrofoam cups.
    You come through my window
    holding deposits together
    and get left behind.
    Large, small, colored, silver,
    You hold my office together.

  17. Connie

    lol Thanks, guys, for your comments on Glitter. It’s fun to have a good rant once in awhile.

    Amy-Hesitation, cool poem. I particularly like the second verse. Thanks for sharing your experience with glitter. Funny.

    Nancy, Enjoyed Every Wed.

    Salvatore B., your cat poem would make a cute picture book.

    Sara-Very important message

    Iris-You said a lot in a few words in Ocean.

    Jane P Hoover, love your word choices

    Everybody, great poems.

  18. Joe Hesch


    You’re running again.
    Are you afraid of something
    or someone? Don’t know?
    I used to run, too
    but I found it too tiring.
    That’s why I hide now.
    We’ve tons of debris
    behind which we can hunker.
    If not, we’ll build walls.
    Did that, too. Still do.
    Sometimes I use walls of silence.
    They’re all soft and cold.
    Other times it’s noise,
    all hot and sharp. They ward off
    attempts at contact.
    But running’s okay
    if you’ve got the energy –
    the fight or flight thing.

    One thing I found out
    about running is that it’s
    almost never to…
    it’s ‘most always from.
    And the course we take tends
    to begin and end
    in the same damn place,
    like a Mobius loop, where
    we start outside and
    run inside-out ‘til
    we’re back at the start again
    and left wondering
    not so much how we
    got there, as why. That’s when we
    runners slow to a stop.

    It’s why I have to
    ask, as you begin this trip,
    this time. Do you know?
    What are you running from?
    Check the rear-view, babe. That’s right.
    See your face, don’t you?

  19. Glanda Widger

    Pushy Friends

    Do you think that I will not see through your act?
    Be melted by your eyes so sad and brown?
    The plea that comes softly from your throat?
    But I do see, and I harden my heart
    I ignore your request.
    I defy you… I will not falter
    in my determination.
    I will be the victor.
    I will in the end, win out this time.
    For too long you have ruled my life,
    stolen my side of the bed,
    Interrupted my work with your demands.
    I am the master of this house.
    I alone will make decisions.
    I can banish you and your kind.
    I can stop your persistant wasting of my time.
    I can….
    Oh darn,here Max have a cookie.
    Good puppy, mommie is soooo sorry.

    Glanda Widger

  20. jane penland hoover

    Meditation Muse

    I am so over hyped
    the day often begins before
    I’m up

    phones ringing, door chimes sounding
    reminding me it’s well past time
    to delete
    advertisements on the Internet
    posters from the creosoted poles
    cable concentrated extensions high
    designated distances distributing

    now this frosted woman pursuing
    solitude and selfish disassociation
    time for relaxing restoration
    bring it on

  21. LKHarris-Kolp

    The Line To Heaven

    She stood in the line for what seemed like hours,
    the unknown crowd around causing great fear.
    Still in awe about how she got to this place,
    she reflected on her sad life with a tear.

    All at once she looked down and at her side
    was her baby with eyes so blue.
    Overcome with a mother’s never-ending love,
    she picked Crystal up, thinking this couldn’t be true.

    Then on the side that was opposite the first,
    appeared her father, whom she loved so much.
    They smiled at each other; embracing, all three,
    and she felt great comfort from their long-missed touch.

    As the line got shorter, the crowd grew bigger,
    and the angels began singing beautiful songs of delight.
    Mary felt her destructive pain being lifted at last,
    all the horrible years of darkness turning to light.

    When she finally reached God, He filled her with peace,
    and she asked Him why her life had been full of dread;
    why the loss of her loved ones, the struggles and troubles.
    God simply answered, "Because you didn’t do what I said."

  22. Iris Deurmyer


    Are you aware of your scope and power
    And yet the moon controls your destiny
    High tide, low, or waning,
    You can only go so far.

    For centuries man has attempted
    To use you to travel to unknown shores
    Sometimes you cradle him like a babe
    Oft you spew him like dragon’s fire

    Poets forever speak of your beauty
    Sonnets formed just for you
    Romances have blossomed along your sides
    And yet been washed away before dawn

    Perhaps you are like mankind
    Powerful, ruthless, yet beautiful
    Predictable highs and lows
    Unceasingly surprising in its depths.

  23. jane penland hoover

    Repetitious Reunion

    across the room
    waiting for me.
    No more anxiety berates
    than that that makes me take tiny steps


    always deliver
    what I expect
    astonishing soft word attack
    offered to improve my attitude


    convinced your right
    critique vital,
    feel proud to point out what I lack –
    that I could be pretty if I smiled


    alone tonight
    naive of pain
    delivered in the name of help
    imagining that I am grateful


    We are two sides
    Relentless pain

  24. patti williams

    Sometimes it is good
    To step outside of the box,
    Dance an off-beat rhythm,
    Wear something wild …
    And watch the little eyes
    Waiting inside of the box,
    Taking you in,
    Drinking up your style,
    Loving your colors,
    Because my dear lady,
    One day,
    Those little eyes will
    Leave that box
    And choose to wear wild clothes
    All their own
    And they will thank you for that gift,
    With a song a bit out of tune,
    Dancing a rhythm a bit off beat
    Wearing something wildly colorful,
    And it will be strong
    And beautiful!

    That is how I think it will all go down. My little audience will watch, and know, and learn, and grow stronger … cheers.

  25. Sara McNulty

    To Those Contemplating Suicide

    Yeah, yeah, I know you’ve
    heard it all before and yet
    I feel I must implore you
    to think, think, think. Out
    there in your world of black ink
    you see nothing further worth
    living for but I’m here to tell
    you that you can’t know for sure

    Amazed that I have made it this
    far, I am thereby authorized to
    tell you there is a star; that I
    would have missed lips I’ve kissed
    and the warmth of friends who
    did not want me to end.

  26. Salvatore Buttaci

    (To Our Cat)

    Captain Coolie, for now your paws are land-bound.
    How happy you are when you’re sailing the blue!
    But right now you’re bored with nothing to do.
    You’re on a long pass in a Florida town.

    Captain Coolie, is it fun chasing your tail?
    Will you finally catch it? When will that be?
    Oh, we all know your first love’s the sea
    And you’d sell your cat soul if you could just sail.

    Captain Coolie, be patient; all will be well.
    Your Jacksonville leave will come to an end.
    You’ll don your blue cap and your heart will soon mend.
    You’ll ride the blue sea. What stories you’ll tell!

    Captain Coolie, your ship has not been the same
    Since the morning you left for your time away.
    The mariners miss you; they yearn for the day
    When they will salute you and call your good name.


  27. Paige

    First off Connie you have dazzled us with the glitz of your Glitter piece- Well done.

    I have posted mine over at the forum on the Writer’s Digest in the Critique Poetry section (because thats the way I roll) if you want to have a little read drop on by there. Today’s piece is titled

    Ode to a Locksmith.

  28. Nancy

    Jarret—Every Wedneday at Two

    How patient you must be,
    week after week, trying to teach
    old dogs new tricks.
    Is youth a fair exchange
    for patience and self discipline?

    How much easier to pass
    that fleeting half hour
    with a twelve-year-old
    guitar in his lap,
    hoping to move from
    “Yankee Doodle” to “Free Bird”

    than to sit without flinching
    as a fifty-year-old woman
    tries to tease “Amazing Grace”
    from a borrowed mandolin,
    stopping from each time
    to move from C chord to
    that wretched impossible G.

    Nancy Posey

  29. Earl Parsons

    To My Cats

    I’m here when you want to snuggle up
    Climb on my tummy and purr in my face
    But don’t lick me with that nasty tongue
    After you’ve licked your private place
    And don’t knit my shirt to sharpen your claws
    ‘Cause there’s still cat box residue on your paws
    But I love you anyway
    And I love you every day
    You’re my fur ball friends of so many years
    And I thank God every day that you’re here

    So, I’ll feed you every day
    Shine the laser light so you can play
    Make sure your cat box is always fresh
    And when you puke, I’ll clean up the mess
    I’ll let you curl up with me in bed
    I’ll bury you if you wake up dead
    I’ll cry as I cover you up with dirt
    And pray to God to stop the hurt
    Because I love my little fur ball friends
    And I’ll love you until the end

    But, let’s not think about what may occur
    Let’s enjoy every day, my balls of fur
    Let’s love one another; let’s frolic and play
    Let’s snuggle and cuddle and purr every day
    I’ll take care of you; you take care of me
    And you’ll be the happiest cats you can be
    You’ll keep my blood pressure unusually low
    You’re better for me than you’ll ever know
    And that’s why I love you, my fur balls of joy
    I’m sorry, however, that you’re no longer boys
    Oops! I slipped
    I had you snipped
    Was it that bad?
    I hope you’re not mad
    Have some ‘Kitty Delight’
    You’ll forget by tonight
    Meow, meow

  30. Amy Barlow Liberatore

    Robert, being the Family Keeper Of All Things Financial, I loved your poem. Without my stapler, I would be lost! Great work!

    Connie, after a night of partying, I’m not too embarrassed to admit I did find some glitter in my underwear. And some of it fell to the ground when a co-worker was in the next cubicle.
    All I can say is, thank God she was sitting down!! Fun stuff.


  31. Amy Barlow Liberatore


    Creeping, cripping
    You bind my mind with the unsure
    Is it good enough?
    Will is say enough?
    Will someone snicker at my attempts
    to reveal what I perceive as real

    You are at once taker of hostage
    and saver of postage
    The longer you hold my self-esteem
    The longer I put off the moment
    of taking that horrifying trip to the post office
    to drop off my stuff

    In the end, it’s not rejection letterI fear
    as much as freezing in the moment
    of What The Hell
    of So They Didn’t Like It
    of letting go

  32. Sheryl Kay Oder

    It should be obvious my mind is still on parody and poetic pattern. I had forgotten we were to put the audience as part of the title, but I think it is obvious this group is my audience, so I will simply keep the title I have. Considering I rarely break the rules here, I hope I can be forgiven this once.

    The Poetic Meld

    Seek your favorite poet
    and place your foot upon his
    to create a poetic dance.

    The bigger his shoe size
    the lighter will be your own
    weight as you begin to follow.

    The wallflower notices little
    of his graceful gliding,
    so put him on your dance card

    and feel the pattern
    of his steps.
    He will romance you

    with his rhythms.
    Soon you cannot pull away
    no matter how hard you try.

  33. Carla Cherry

    Ode to My Telephone

    I’ve mastered the art
    of not running to you
    each time I hear
    your urgent cry.

    For all those times
    when I don’t hear
    on the other end,
    I’ve trained my voice
    to be a singsong melody
    until I can
    ease you into
    your cradle.

  34. Connie

    To the Inventor of Glitter

    To you, I address thoughts most bitter
    To you, the one who invented glitter.
    You dreamed of art that dazzles all
    Of children creating and having a ball.
    And though those dreams may be most noble
    You didn’t think of the mess gone global.
    You didn’t picture glitter traipsed on stairs
    In closets, drawers, and underwear.
    You didn’t dream of a kid with a nose full of snot
    Oozing glitter in places he ought not.
    Or ground into to the carpet for years on years
    And when you think it’s all gone, it reappears.
    Or dragged around by your cat or beagle
    I really think glitter should be illegal.
    When you arrive on golden streets of eternity
    May you sweep up glitter to year one hundred and three!

  35. Sheryl Kay Oder

    This morning I have been working on a parody. Maybe I will do an audience poem later, but if you want to see my poem, go over to the blog on parodies. Others have written those, too. I’ll see later if I can figure out one for today.

    I love your poem, Robert.