Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 094

For this week’s prompt, take the phrase “The Meaning of (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible titles include: “The Meaning of Life,” “The Meaning of Algebra,” “The Meaning of Meanings,” etc.

Here’s my attempt:

“The Meaning of Death”

Jonah breaks the silence: “People
die in this game.” Once, Reese told me,

“Aphids are hated by many
gardeners.” Not the kind of thing

expected from six-year-old mouths.
“Daddy, I’m dead now,” says Jonah,

who thinks he’s still in the belly.
Ben hits him and yells, “No, you’re not.”

Will squeals. Some ants protect aphids,
so they can use them as livestock;

they eat the honeydew produced
by the aphids. Jonah and Reese

chase each other as Ben follows
Will, who runs between the tombstones

with a watergun. Ben says he
wants to be a soldier. “I will

probably die before you do,”
he tells me. I say, “Over my

dead body.” He smiles and says,
“I knew you’d say that.” Jonah asks,

“Daddy, who’s going to die first?”
I wish I could say nobody.


Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer


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239 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 094

  1. Sara Gwen

    The Meaning of the Words

        When every word means only as meant,
        no more given to it, nothing taken away,
        no change in implication, no alternative inflection,
        and is heard as it is said,
        and is known as it is thought,
        so through and through that it can go silent
        and still be what it was and will be,
        will we miss what it was not
        and make up our own words for it
        for the temptation of creating
        what it was not?

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  3. Monica Martin

    The meaning of freedom
    is different for everyone.
    For some, to say what
    they want without
    fear of execution.
    For othes, to move
    freely througout society.
    For others, to love
    and marry whom they wish.
    For still others, it is
    to go to school and work.
    For me, as a woman,
    it is all of these.

  4. Michelle Hed

    The Memory of Family Reunions

    a genuine welcome
    full of pleasure
    which makes you feel at home.

    the brief touches
    and smiles
    when passing by each other.

    with laughter and tears,
    good food to be shared
    and conversation full of years.

    new faces
    as the family
    waxes and wanes.

    with family
    from far and wide
    sharing stories with love and pride.

  5. Walt Wojtanik

    DrPKP, I was a man of mystery long before Austin Powers (Yeah, Baby!). But i bare it all (poetically, OF COURSE) here on PA Street as you’ve all taken to calling it. (I’m still waiting for the big hairy Muppet to pop-up and teach me about Haiku). I will take all of you on an adventure if you’re up for the ride. I won’t hide, but rhyme with pride with all that’s inside this sorry hide.
    Oops, he’s at it again…

  6. DrPKP aka Pearl Ketover Prilik

    Hi to all…

    Janet ….. I’m not sure that I’ll continue with this every week but so far has been fun to string the comments into I really like that image a necklace of sorts. Interesting for 2 gals who had some concerns about "needing" to comment … we’ve gone comment wild! Perhaps the need for us to "include everybody" was a shared concern.

    Janet, my goodness such praise from someone I so admire as genuine and authentic!
    Marie, thank you so kind… and as they say in clinical terms "OY" with a name like mine inspires high and not always deserved metaphor… gem indeed!
    Kimiko, thank you for your thank you "labor of love" you know I think I agree with you…. that’s just the way it feels really is a pleasure (so far… when it stops I will too!)

    Walt… who are you? I noticed your comments to Jacqueline…. and here I am thinking you’re are this kind introvert (I have a tendency to create and fill voids…) in the country… who had stumbled upon PA street and then continued meandering…. Nice story but obviously not factual! I’m embarrassed! … however my burning face won’t keep me from continuing to read… write on! (Oh my starting a Wedneday with such a pun) PS. Keep on with your love story wherever it takes you there will be many like us to follow along!

    Sara and Fango… Ah mashed potatoes the ultimate comfort food and …okay I can’t resist yours were both delicious and seasoned with your own unique voices!

    I continue to be delighted at this particular community…in both the quality of work.. and how the sense of collectiveness and perhaps also a smidge of healthy competition keeps us coming back and I do believe clarifies all of our individual voices. I adore this site (and I don’t adore much!).

    Anyhow…waiting for the prompt.. and see you all around PA street.
    Enjoy the day!

  7. Sara Gwen

                                                                                              meaning of alex
                                                 my                               papers                               at                                                                            least
                   should                              ’ve                                                                            sought
                                  e               vac                              u                                             a                                                            tion


  8. Sara Gwen

    The Meaning of Another One That Got Away

         I have no one to be present for, now for, here for, normal for.
         I don’t miss it so much now, not since I realized I was done.

         It’s routine, wrapping it back up and putting it back away.
         The rest of it, the other ones, I won’t retaliate for, not yet.

         Held. It doesn’t hurt, not being that, just something else,
         another one that got away, like one I should’ve written first.

         Enthusiasm never worked right for me. Nor have I a mission.
         Only once did I want to be noticed. That one got away. And?

         It has been over for rather a long time already, I do admit.
         It died young, as it was supposed to, and I happened not to.

         I’ll stand over here where I won’t be in the way of traffic.
         Don’t feel obligated to speak up for me, as though I’d asked.

         It works the other way too, silence turning trustworthy on me
         after enough repetitions. Intervals stand still, the rest moves.

         The same could be said of any occupation, save that of the poet,
         for whom what isn’t artificial soon blends into the background.

         Can this even be conducted against anybody other than myself?
         If nothing else, we should study it, to be sure it won’t spread.

         Since you won’t be back, I leave you with this: If you sit by
         the storm, you can get yourself mistaken for having direction.


  9. Janet Rice Carnahan

    My, oh my . . . Pearl! Your Pearl necklace of carefully crafted poetic gems of light and delight were wonderfully woven written wanderings that were spectacular! The time you took had to be substantial and we know the care in which you crafted your chosen written word was outstanding! Thank you for that amazing array of your talent. Thanks for the mentions and yes, we seem to get into similar modes of thinking . . . I agree!

    Sara Gwen – yes, time to comment does take a particular focus. Thank you for the mention.

    Barbara E. – Thank you for your kind comments and enthusiastic contribution too. It is actually a real joy to make and take the time to give each poem time! Each poet really does have so much to express.

    Marie Elena – WOW . . . you will make an awesome Grandmother, indeed! How very exciting for you and thanks for the comments, too, Marie Elena.

    Yoly, Sharon I. and Hannah . . . you are welcome, Ladies!

    Kimiko Martinez – Glad you liked the Zen Poetry! It was a different approach for me and most enjoyable. Thank you!

    Amy B. L. – Glad to see that others also noticed the epidemic regarding teen suicide after being made fun of like that! The more that notice the greater the possibility of change happening.

    To the rest . . . time ran out to read all the poems for this last prompt. Next time I am able to read, comment and post, I will start at the bottom and work my way up. I see the most recent listing was over 200 so there was just no way time wise. Still, I acknowledge and value all your effort, time, energy and creative poetic expression.

    Onward and Up Word to you all!

    With Love!

  10. Jacqueline Hallenbeck

    An acquaintance told me once that he used to throw up before he got up in front of an audience. With me, it’s my hands that won’t stop shaking, and then I get the giggles, and I don’t know where to put my hands after that. I practice in my car on my way to work all the time. If you see a nutty woman driving in Jersey talking to herself, that’s me practicing my poems. My audiences so far have been kind. No tomatoes. I’m still struggling, but I absolutely love to get up there and read. It’s such a rush. ^^

  11. Walt Wojtanik


    Born with my maladies,
    short of fatality, I
    somehow made it this far,
    to star in this comedy short
    which we’ll call my life.

    Didn’t walk until three,
    you see, it wasn’t that
    I was lazy, or had nowhere to go,
    just that my legs were slow
    to develop and strengthen.

    They had to lengthen
    with bracing and support
    so that I didn’t resort
    to going through life on hands and knees.
    It was a breeze after that. Sort of.

    Standing in the middle of six siblings
    I had my misgivings about the benefits,
    but I gave them fits with my wit and wile.
    And this killer smile, which lasted
    until I chipped both front teeth. Clutzy? You bet.

    And let’s not forget the pompadour
    that made me six inches taller,
    which came in handy on amusement rides,
    but it did hide the fact that the
    hair gel hardened into a hair helmet.

    Acne became the bane of my existence,
    with a persistence that made puberty
    interminable, my complexion,
    insufferable. “Pizza with the works”
    they called me. Supportive lot, NOT!

    Shyness. Maybe a worse fate for one
    so pocked and mocked for being the nerd
    they all knew I’d be, for you see
    stereotypes are harsh and hurtful things
    that can mar one for a lifetime.

    My Poindexter glasses and pocket protector
    did nothing to quell that image.
    So I took solace in words. The rest of those birddogs
    were barking up another tree.
    But as for me, poetry.

    Penciled prose or melodic lyric
    became my stock and trade, and I figured
    with the ladies, I’d have it made.
    Never lie to yourself. Only you truly know
    how full of crap you really are.

    So, so far, I’ve learned to love and lose,
    many times over, a lover not a fighter,
    a bit brighter than most with a host of other flaws.
    But the laws of averages have a way of evening the field.
    Life is good, with a good word and a pocket full of rhyme.

    And this time, I’m paying attention.

  12. Sara Gwen

    The Meaning of Mine

                "It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.
                If the–if he–if ‘is’ means is and never has been,
                that is not–that is one thing. If it means there is none,
                that was a completely true statement….
                Now, if someone had asked me on that day,
                are you having any kind of sexual relations
                with Ms. Lewinsky, that is, asked me a question
                in the present tense, I would have said no.
                And it would have been completely true."
                      - Bill Clinton, testimony to grand jury

         Difficult if not improbable to improve
         on the work of so discerning a poet as Bill,
         but if only to read all else as equally true
         it had to be done and as easily forgotten,
         except that I didn’t mean what is is.

         And I’ve flunked out of enough math classes
         to know I’m not the one to be acting up so,
         but if only to demonstrate the idea absurd
         it had to be done and as easily sent back,
         except that I didn’t mean it to be solved.

         And I’m not that political to give a damn
         even though I do but don’t let it matter,
         but if only to note sounds just like Bill
         it had to be done and swept under the rug,
         except that I didn’t mean to make it right.

         And those were just things, nothing more,
         with no particular reason for being kept,
         but if only to take suitable inventory
         it had to be done and stored on a shelf,
         except that I didn’t mean those things.

         And strict form no more restricts voice
         than does a prompt constrain inspiration,
         but if only to argue the point as though
         it had to be done and stapled up tight,
         except that I didn’t mean it to have form.

         And who else was awake all night through
         to be up to catch the partial eclipse,
         but if only to remember the one before
         it had to be done and lost to the west,
         except that I didn’t mean that full moon.

         And there’s not any guy here in tears
         (not counting someone I didn’t mean),
         but if only to question my own intent
         it had to be done and twisted around,
         except that I didn’t mean what I didn’t.
         And when I come back to where it began
         maybe then perhaps I’ll find release,
         but if only to keep trying one more day
         it had to be done and the breath held,
         except that I didn’t mean yours and mine.

         So I’m not into sports any more’n math
         but guys at the bar were screaming foul,
         and if only to say doctors aren’t alone
         it had to be done and get over it, kid,
         except that I didn’t mean the world cup.

         Yes, too well I recall where you and I met,
         that form with its obnoxious repetition,
         and if only to hear its echo fade out
         it had to be done and you’d laugh it off,
         except that I didn’t mean their normal.

         Do we ever have to have us a reason?
         Does it count if we remember it as it was?
         If only to touch that and call it meaning,
         it had to be done and I had to let it,
         except that I didn’t mean it for a kiss.

         All said, I grew up on Bill and his is,
         so tomorrow’s prompt means the very best,
         if only to show us where it comes from
         and it has to be done, so I’ll be back,
         except the meaning of mine won’t be.


  13. Walt Wojtanik

    Thanks Willy and Jacqueline. That one "felt" like the Santa piece when I was writing it, Willy. It is a story that whispered in my ear for a long time. Based on a true "love" story for sure. One for the memoir. I’m glad to have the opportunity to share it on this wonder space. And my shyness is legendary, Jacqueline. But, I overcame a large hurdle when an impersonation I did rather well got me up on stage on numerous occasions. I was horrified the first time I got up there as Ed Sullivan to introduce a Beatles tribute band. That association went on for a few years, even giving me the chance to introduce Peter Best and his band, when our group, Beatlemagic, opened for his show. But I agree, those butterflies can choke the life outta you.

  14. Walt Wojtanik

    Thanks Willy and Jacqueline. That one "felt" like the Santa piece when I was writing it, Willy. It is a story that whispered in my ear for a long time. Based on a true "love" story for sure. One for the memoir. I’m glad to have the opportunity to share it on this wonder space. And my shyness is legendary, Jacqueline. But, I overcame a large hurdle when an impersonation I did rather well got me up on stage on numerous occasions. I was horrified the first time I got up there as Ed Sullivan to introduce a Beatles tribute band. That association went on for a few years, even giving me the chance to introduce Peter Best and his band, when our group, Beatlemagic, opened for his show. But I agree, those butterflies can choke the life outta you.

  15. Jacqueline Hallenbeck

    Barbara, I’m the shyest poet that ever lived, but I want to get good so I keep throwing myself out there. I bombed horribly my first time. I have read 4 more times since then, and though I still get nervous, I am improving. Do it. It’s terrifying and yet so amazing to get up there. ^^

  16. Hannah Gosselin

    A BIG THANK YOU to our gem, Pearl!! So kind of you to include me, I’m inspired by your ambition!

    Thank you Marie, lil’ one’s getting better, unfortunately I had to get on some meds too…:( Not so kean on taking medicine. Oh well better than the alternative.

    I’ve missed soooo much and I can’t believe tomorrow is Wednesday already?! I must admit the daunting process of starting to comment now seems ridiculous! 😉 Better to start fresh next time!


    He looks for answers
    to unanswerable questions
    expecting to snag them
    from thin air.
    He expects to audibly hear
    a voice that will physically
    tell him what is purposed
    to be discerned with wisdom.
    He listens with ears
    that cannot perceive answers
    that are meant to be heard
    with his heart.

  17. Daniel Ari

    Struggled with this all week, and it’s clear as mud 😕

    "The Meaning of Rainbow"

    The ocean is every color—-and hasn’t it always been so?
    A tugboat drifts in slick prisms, and who could say it’s not lovely—-
    the hard work of people interrupted. “Lightly row, lightly row
    over glassy waves…” the schisms between substances that never
    will resolve in a nurturing recipe, the harm of rainbows…

    Chapels to polytheism’s spectrum throng with we the living.
    Let’s call death the uniform light; then we are its stained-glass windows.
    In vibrating mausoleums, every hue of halo shivers
    above us visitors. We paint the crypt walls with saintly frescoes
    depicting the singularity to which we all someday go…

    Belonging is the meaning, but what belongs is more than we know.
    The eye is not the human eye where infrared is a bright stripe,
    and there beyond ultraviolet and every frequency of glow:
    the invisible rainbow high above, the ribbon that will top
    our day, ocular orgasm after thunder, soak and shiver.

    What’s allowed turns to ultraviolet layers of daguerreotype:
    the ultimate digit of pi, curling smoke from Apollo’s pipe…


  18. AC Leming

    Frell, my last post is lost in cyberspace.

    Kimiko, I haven’t seen the musical, but thought I was prescient when I wrote about it years before it hit broadway. Must listen to it/see it now.

    FYI, my google handle is ‘kimik’, so everyone doesn’t mistake us over on RLB’s personal blog. long story.

  19. Willy

    Welcome to PA Street, Joshua!

    Walt – Once More With Meaning is marvelous. Please do consider continuing with the story. I rank it right up there with my other favorite – about Santa – which you wrote last December. I’m sharing this one, too.

  20. Walt Wojtanik

    And too autobiographical, PKP! Thanks Pearl, "With Meaning" is one that I’ve been toying with. You insight is prescient. There is a love story there. I’ll be working on it. Even if it means less poetry.

  21. DrPKP aka Pearl Ketover Prilik

    So happy I stopped by for a peek and got to see the wonderful latest additions… I must say a little something special to Walt… Once More With Meaning had me in warm-hearted tears… there is truly a novel in there sir… write it…. (or not..but know that right there in that poem is the beginning middle and the yet to be written conclusion of a major love story) Thank you for sharing and giving my tears glands an early afternoon workout! Lovely, images and character and plot development in a poem?!

  22. AC Leming


    It was a long time ago and I produced 30+ pages of dreck. Fortunately, i was in a lit/lang program, otherwise I may not have been able to write my senior thesis on a German play for my English undergrad thesis. As my main adviser told me later. I opened my mouth to ask how it was different from writing about Cervantes or Dante, but I decided to not stick my foot in my mouth, again. : )

    FanGo, I sent your mashed potato piece to my sister. I’ll have to look for Kimiko’s now.

  23. Barbara Ehrentreu

    Joshua so glad that you feel that way. Here at PA street there is one thing we all have in common – love of writing poetry and writing from the heart. Oh that’s two things.:)

    Jacqueline, thank you for the mention. You put me right there on stage with you in your poem The Meaning of Open Mic. I have often thought of reading my own work, but it is scary up there.

    Pearl I was only telling the truth.:)

    FangO you and Kimiko did write about the same subject, but yours was more on the dark side. I love the line:"Relationships are kitchens/ where we whip the rawest ingredients toward the taste we imagine for themd

  24. Scooter Cascadia

    the meaning of sunlight
    (written while visiting point reyes after moons in the pacific northwest)

    carefully tending the cloudrounded caesura
    sudden and temporary rays
    here where they come again on and off, a sky camera of long exposures
    (yesterday i stopped counting after 23 minutes of continuous sunshine and skyblue)

    you cannot imagine the terrain where we live
    northern hinterlands to these mild climes
    the camera of sunlight is turned off there 200 days running

    we come to hunger for it, the fabled blue and bright in a world of greyblanketclouds

    here it is wasted, why aren’t they all out rejoicing as the light slants in
    through this one window of five, the curtain alight?

    where are the trumpeters and the scarf dancers over this generous ray of 8:53

    in a cloud cloak world, our world, we ready the parades but the sky emits no light
    brighter than a dim greyed cotton muzzle, even midday

    we come to wonder at the meaning of sunlight, what it means that we are
    at summer’s solstice under rainspatter and dimcold, what havoc to seasons
    will mean for a world forty thousand years of culture of spring, summer, fall,
    and winter? in despair for sunlight, we make new dances
    bouncing arrow sticks painted brightly to placate the earth, remembering sunlight.
    we give up growing vegetables and learn to eat the flowers and strawberry leaves
    that greycloud seems to succor. we wear blue hats outfitted with LEDs that glow, come to be called bluehats, and our children carry on their arms the thin goldenrod piping of sunrays. we turn our despair to creativity, travel south to remember. we light our creative furnaces from the memory of it, the meaning of sunlight.

  25. FangO

    That’s so strange, Kimiko. I have actually been out of town for a while and had not seen your poem before I wrote mine. What are the chances of two people writing about "the meaning of mashed potatoes"? I guess it’s true that great minds think alike, eh, Kimiko?

  26. A.C. Leming

    By no means do i mind, sara. I think it’s a theme I write to, To asuage (sp?) guilt that I haven’t paid for my citizenship as they have.

  27. Kimiko Martinez

    Pearl. Wow! Great comments. What a labor of love.

    Joshua. Welcome!

    Amy. I do, indeed, get you. 😉

    A.C. The same Spring Awakening. You did your thesis on it? I’d love to hear more about it. I loved that musical. That song, in particular, moves me.

    FangO. Another mashed potato poem. Yay!

  28. Joshua Gray

    PKP et al,

    Thanks for the welcome again and the nice words, especially given that I have always found the short-lined poem to be an extremely hard one to write, and don’t believe i write it very well at all; therefore I do not write it very often…

    I only wish I had the time to read everyone else’s like some of you do, and comment on them. But I think I have finally found a nice cyber-community of poets here and I am happy to be a part of it.

  29. Sara Gwen

    The Meaning of a Kiss

        "I kissed a dragon," she says
        buttering an ear of corn
        not looking up to say it’s his

        turn next to speak
        inquiring if this’d stay unique.

        "It didn’t sting," she claims,
        "although I had to learn
        to wash the taste from my dreams."

        He chews a yellow ring,
        says not a thing.

        "Yeah right," she sips her tea,
        "you’d like to think I’m bragging.
        So ok, he didn’t kiss me,
        but I did kiss a dragon."



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