Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 103

For this week’s prompt, I want you to take the phrase “Whatever (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 might include: “Whatever you say,” “Whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” “Whatever happened to my three-legged dog,” or whatever else you can devise.

Here’s my attempt:

“Whatever duh”

These new attitudes and stances
learned from school yard bullies and cool
kids. Reese thinks Stacy is “hot,” and
I don’t know whether to smile or
not. When I ask him what he wants
for dinner, he tells me–followed
by the word, “duh.” And when I ask
him to pick up his books, he says,
“Whatever”–also followed by
“duh.” As a parent, there’s a war
of words: those to use and those to
let others use. As a poet,
I understand the need to play
with words and experiment with
expressions, but one more eye roll
and “whatever, duh” will result
in a six-year-old “time out.” Duh.  


Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer


Want more poetic information and advice from a great poet? Then, check out Sage Cohen’s Writing the Life Poetic. Click here to learn more.


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200 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 103

  1. Monica Martin

    Whatever happened to quality
    tv? Sitcoms, game shows, good
    entertainment? Where did all
    of this "reality" come from? It’s
    not even real! It’s all just
    bad writing. Don’t books and
    the outdoors just look
    so much better?

  2. de jackson

    Okay, have finally read all, and would like to respectfully add that in addition to the FACT that Marie’s "Naive" piece was a POEM, not a comment (and should therefore have been treated with the very respect and context that is so eloquently soapboxed about ad nauseum above), the original thoughts here of censorship and the pad "perhaps not being the best place for politics" were brought up by Pearl and Barbara E themselves…which leaves me EXTREMELY confused as to how and where the entire discussion went from there. Goodness. What a mess.

  3. de jackson

    Briefly, just for the record, I just wanted to say that I read Marie’s "Naive" as a prose poem expressing her own heart, NOT a comment post on the poems previous. I believe she was simply poetically expressing an alternate view, while staying on prompt. I cannot, of course, speak for Marie on this, but that’s how I took it. I stick to the poems around here these days, and I read that particular piece as such.

  4. Elizabeth Johnson

    Whatever I Write

    Whatever I write
    Has been written before
    Will be written again

    Whatever I write
    Comes from my heart
    Goes straight on paper
    Messages of my dreams
    Desires and distinctions
    Unique to me only
    Recognized by many
    For people are all
    Not so very different
    Dreams and desires
    Voiced by all
    From our hearts
    Into our writings

    Whatever I write
    Has been written before
    Will be written again

  5. Bruce Niedt

    Very late for the party!
    (Editorial note: I much prefer using italics to quotation marks in my poetry, but that is apparently not an option here.)


    Mr. Maroni says,
    write a poem that starts with “Whatever”,
    so I write it in study hall, ten minutes before the bell,
    something about breaking up with Melissa again,
    and turn it in at the end of his class.

    Wouldn’t you know it, the next day my poem
    is the first one he reads in front of everybody.
    "You have an interesting poem here, John," he says,
    while I’m looking for a hole to crawl into.
    "I like how you try to use metaphors –
    describing her hair as ‘brown spaghetti’
    is – um, well, unique. And your heart
    like ‘a piece of raw sirloin steak’ –
    were you hungry when you wrote this?
    I appreciate your attempts to use color
    here, but you could vary your palette –
    there’s only so much you can do with black.
    And you know, the phrase ‘very soul’
    is, how shall I say it – overused?
    Especially in this poem – you used it five times.
    There’s a good poem lurking in there,
    I know it. You might just have to get down
    on your knees and scoop through the muck
    with your bare hands to find it."

    I hear a few snickers
    as he hands me back the poem,
    decorated with red marks.
    "Yeah, well, whatever," I say.

  6. sheila harris

    backtracking here and dropping THANKS to to pkp and Barbara..
    yes we are freedom fighters.i guess..but choice rules here..freedom of choice should be the rule of the day…and the PAD..
    oh I wish I would,could,should edit ….unfortunately when i write it is full blown in my mind most times and the fingers anxious to get on the "paper" so nothing forgotten..not the best way..but it is how my original wiring was created..reading back I wish, i wish! made better word choices..this site does not allow ‘re-do’ …lol..
    thank you for overlooking my shortcomings in the writing ;you are both generous and forgiving ..

    Barbara..i hope it helps your are now officially a" bad grrrl"..;) so, so taboo!
    will get ya a leather bustier and a dog collar with spikes to wear round your neck..oh ! what poetry will you create in that outfit!!

  7. Beth Rodgers

    Thanks Hannah, Andrew, Walt, Colette, and Pearl for your mention of my poems from last week. Sorry I didn’t get to comment on all of yours, but from what I read from all of you and many others, there was a lot of great "whatever" writing to go around! I’ll do my best to get to this week’s poems to make comments. I guess life just got in the way this past week!

  8. Sara Gwen

    Whatev, My Used-Up Muse

    Thank you, Marie, I do appreciate the sentiment. But as they say, do be careful what you ask for. In my "Whatever’s Left Behind Us," my reference to ‘whatever’ was meant to point to three specific silences that have been ‘left behind.’ First, to the stealthy silences left between the couplets of any ghazal (even an attempt such as I scribbled), voids said to carry the true voice of a ghazal. Then second, to the sad silences left between me and my love, infinite stretches of empty road that have stripped my pen of any will to write anything beyond the tinny echoes I still tap out, out of sheer habit. But then third, to the serene yet savage silences left between me and my muse, vicious vacuums that make severe anorexia look like ravenous appetite and writer’s block look like a child’s toy by comparison.

    Almost the same time you were offering to borrow him off my hands (take my muse, please!), I was commenting elsewhere, "And my muse is the emperor in Curse of the Golden Flower, who having lost all three male heirs in the space of an hour, sits casually eating a dumpling off the end of chopsticks while I the empress submit to drinking the lethal poison prepared by him for me."

    But if my demonic beast of a muse takes you seriously enough to give you a visit, bounce him back to me as soon as his idea of inspiration tastes at all bitter on your tongue. I may complain, but like Westley building up his immunity to iocane, I’m starting to get used to his toxins and’ll give him whatfor, whatev.


  9. Kimiko Martinez

    Busy week. Haven’t had time to read anything yet. But I’m sure there’s fabulous work here, as always.

    This sentiment has probably already been echoed, but here’s my last-minute contribution:

    If it makes you happy,
    who am I
    to argue. It’s your life.

  10. Caren E. Salas

    Whatever, let’s do it.

    Whatever floats your boat
    Whatever brings a smile
    Whatever makes your heart beat
    Let’s do that for awhile.

    Whatever turns you on
    Whatever rings your bell
    Whatever gets you dancing
    Let’s do it – what the…heck!

    Caren E. Salas

  11. Marie Elena

    De Jackson, you continue to give me "wishIwrotethatitis." Always.

    Dennis, your last piece absolutely wowed me.

    And Sara, your "Whatever’s Left" as well. I’ll borrow your used-up muse any day of the week. 😉

  12. Colette ;D

    ~ Whatever, Dear ~

    When he battled from Love-Forty
    and won the tennis game,
    “I’m a fighter, not a ‘Love-er’!”
    he exuded to his dame.

    When she lost at Forty-Love,
    without a single win,
    “I’m a ‘LOVE-er’… not a fighter…”
    she alluded back to him.

    “Whatever, Dear,” he noted,
    “I’m sorry I dropped you.”
    “Whatever,” she connoted,
    “You didn’t catch my clue!”

    {spent the day doing… tennis, can you tell? Hubby and I had a lovely match on a lovely, cool, sunny day, then I took my son later to his lesson, while I got to practice serves. As usual, even while out escaping, my mind couldn’t escape its mad drive to work the prompt. That’s why I only work here, at PA, and why, as in most previous weeks, I won’t check the Wed. prompt for 2-4 days from now, to take a brain vacation from this head trip, however lovely. ;D It’s been a harrowing week here, yet fun and productive. I enjoyed each one of you. CU, CD }

  13. Barbara Ehrentreu

    Sheila I started at your last poem and worked backward to your beautiful mention of me and my poetry.:) Your poem is perfection, because it is so ecumenical and yet opens the door for all to write whatever. My poetry has always come from passion.:) It is the only way I can write. In fact, sometimes, poetry is the only way I can express that thought. I used to have arguments with my husband and make up with a poem.LOL I never thought of myself as a trouble maker, but thank you. I always wanted to be the "bad girl". It sucks when everyone thinks you are the nice one all the time:)

    Pearl your little gems are what keeps this PA street going. Sheila you now walk hand in hand with all who have stood up for freedom of speech here. Amy, you are there too. Sheila your poem was like a revisiting of the American Dream. Outstanding!!!

    Sara Gwen I’m wondering when you will realize that your poems about not writing are better than those of people who think they have ideas.:) Not many people can drag out images like this with writer’s block:

    My pen’s gone dry, goes off to write whatever
    comes along as though mere black on white. Whatever.

    Devon I’ve been on that diet and yes, ice cream is always best after 7.:)

    Pearl is right that a prompt like Whatever has spawned such a discussion.:) Maybe it’s because Whatever is so open ended. Maybe that’s why kids say it back to their parents. You can think any possibilities with Whatever.

  14. Dennis Wright


    Road I look down I see pavement winding
    toward horizons, reaching the end of the
    sky that it can never ever rise to,
    and see people of the city talking.

    One says she likes to hear singing ringing
    atuned octaves, moving as one of two.
    He says he likes octaves also like he.
    Will the people in the city love them?

    One looks to see the blank mirror seeing
    pictures always wanting their life, a bit
    more than it will often appear to be.
    Will the people in the city join them?

    One goes to sit in their waiting seating,
    praying others never hear the words they say,
    to their one their seer, knower, all one.
    Will the people of the city take them?

    Me, I walk this crooked world, with
    my still twisted feet, and with answers for
    none who yearn for love or to join the race.
    Or seek just a simple place to pray.

    Here is my broken heart …
    It will never be my spirit.

  15. Pkp

    Sheila…. Wow! With your words your vivid images you light the page and sparkle a 24k dream that can be realized….Wonderful powerful and poignant….to the flame that lights you from within and brings hope to life.

  16. sheila harris

    Amy BL and Pearl PK your last two are amazing companion pieces and are good temper..
    very very good of you both ..and amazing writes

    Sara Gwen..your "dried foliage" or dead flowers i think was closer to the term.. is light years better than anything I struggle to produce..i am serious! birthing pains here ! lol..
    your muse is with keep that lovely chin up,ya here?
    Thank you to Jacqueline Hallenback ,for your very kind comments ..
    I got a great laugh from your short bewitching that tummy
    and your poem decrying the lack of manners is fabulous! So true!

    Shirley Alexander ..Whatever WAshes Down This Road..ah…3 times I read ! impacting, there is an undertow of sadness ,there is hope there is past and is a rich write..Thank you..

    now i always cry about my time contraints..really must fly.
    thank you all for the truth you write ,the part of yourselves that is shared,your courage to is appreciated..

  17. sheila harris

    whatever whenever wherever whomever

    I am the finest hour
    i am one small step
    I have a dream
    I am suffer little children
    I am let freedom ring
    you will find me anywhere everywhere
    maybe just a small spark
    or a tiny flame
    nourished by hope

    a young Ethiopian woman beseeches
    her prayers silent thoughts
    too parched to speak the words
    the idea
    just a vivid dream in her mind
    eyes so sunken no tears spill
    none would dare
    none to spare
    dying baby suckles breasts long dry

    Polish Jew escapes
    to the land of the free
    home of the brave
    and he is brave
    brave enough to suffer the past
    a life of oppression
    brave enough to nurture and keep
    alive that precious, precious spark of a dream
    dream of freedom

    post WW2 bride ,marries a GI
    she is from a socialist regime nation
    and never lived freedom of self
    freedom of commerce
    she wonders about the streets paved with gold
    she has heard this and taken the idea of opportunity
    as a literal
    a precious metal
    a 24 K dream

    young man denied college entry
    he has the smarts ,the aptitude and
    proven himself to community
    but the wrong color
    a victim of quota

    Afghanistan war arena soldier
    PFC going back for a third
    but try to tell the guy
    it’s all pie in the sky
    he’ll tell you”I am witness to the good we bring”

    Black man holding on
    not much left after the hurricane from Hell
    hold on to his Faith
    holds on to Hope
    his country has forgotten

    a victim of the system
    a victim of neglect
    a victim to the war machine

    a victim is gristle
    to keep the political gears meshing
    all these faces of a nation ,of a world past and present
    the one string running between
    the political machine
    the people want to live their lives
    the people want to raise family
    the people want to pray
    to live and foster in good communities
    the people want honest jobs to raise their families
    the people are made to be pawns
    and thrust against each other

    so many marbles in a dirty ,dusty ring
    if we keep fighting amongst ourselves
    how will we ever see
    the puppeteer pulling our strings
    the power mongers ,the lustful controllers
    wanting to own every part of our lives ,our world

    I am that hope
    I am that light that burns in the mind of the oppressed
    and the same in the lamp lifted beside the golden door
    and when nourished bursts to a flaming pyre
    to burnish hatred and temper the seeds of equality
    the hope in the future to grow straighter ,stronger and compassionate

    I am that last bit found deep down when there is no more
    I am freedom I am I am
    in every woman in every man
    I am

    Thank you to every one here ..we are so fortunate that we are able to express our views ,popular or not ,without threat or peril to ourselves,our family..
    maybe some know of that fear,experienced first hand or heard in the stories from a beloved family member ,once long seems we humans are always striving for is a mournful when some are lost in the is outrage when some are deemed sacrifice for the greater good

    I apologize for my long winded stubborn return to this topic ..To me it is everything..
    May God grant everyone Peace ,Peace of Mind,the quiet that come with security and safety..
    the truth is that chance and opportunities are denied some ,even right here in this Beautiful USA..
    and the political machine(s) is(are) the reason.

  18. Amy Barlow Liberatore

    Sara Gwen, you may think your pen has run out of ink, but here you are posting a poem ABOUT running out of ink. Even in the desert, you mine the sip of water. I’ve had similar roadblocks, but they are always temporary and often weather-related, espec. intense heat. Hang in there.
    Sheila, "defy the ‘You’" often includes defining the you. As in singular or plural. "Whatever They Think," indeed. Brava!
    Daniel Ari, yours was an oasis for me, a blessing.
    Pearl, your "this and that" also food for thought. Great writing.
    Devon, I’m optimistic enough to believe I can have it all!! Thanks for the reminder!
    And Walt, have you ever seen Jon Lovitz as Hanukkah Harry? Barbara, this is for you, too. My daughter, her dad, and I laugh our butts off as Harry subs for Santa and gives out underwear and socks…!

  19. Taylor Graham

    Colette, your Whatever on the Wall is stunning, the repetitions and near-repetitions reinforce how you can’t get it out of your mind. A blessing to be able to make poems out of tragedy.

    Thanks for the very kind words about my book. Yes, Elihu is still in progress. These prompts and PADs help keep him going.

  20. Amy Barlow Liberatore

    Dedicated to all who have offered opinion this prompt, with love

    And now we come to a higher place
    where all can have their say

    Where one may ask a question
    and be treated with respect

    Where one may post a poem
    no matter how bitter the thought

    Where one may grow in poetry
    as well as in mind and spirit

    Where we all come to realize
    that we’re in this together

    Wherever this discussion of
    the past few days leads

    I know we are all united in the task
    of sowing our gardens well
    of tending our muse to its fullest
    of offering our views of the world
    with all its beauty
    and all its flaws
    of showing ourselves to be
    well above a moment of contention

    Whatever’s on your mind
    I’m interested and waiting
    I’m listening

  21. DrPKP aka Pearl Ketover Prilik

    (posted elsewhere as Ending Cross-Talk)

    Put an end to this and that
    Put it on the edge of your hat
    Spin it like a top on high
    Let all tension go and fly
    Let poems be without their writer
    And the air will grow much lighter
    Put an end to this and that
    Put it on the edge of your hat
    Let go all bother, stress and fuss
    And know now why so many are Anonymous

  22. Pkp

    You have a wonderful way of presenting "Sara" as though she herself is an entrancing ephemeral character who beckons and always has me wanting to listen and follow….Lovely poem.

  23. Sara Gwen

    Whatever’s Left Between Us

       My pen’s gone dry, goes off to write whatever
       comes along as though mere black on white. Whatever.

       Oh nothing much, you know, the usual this and that,
       you needn’t care, I only thought you might. Whatever.

       That heart thing of us died off stopping cold
       going through its motions, as if despite whatever.

       Mean what I see? You get to want whatever you do,
       sucks to be me, out of mind out of sight. Whatever.

       I’ll swallow almost any good excuse you feed me.
       when you’re as hungry as I get, you’ll bite whatever.

       It’s my turn to be at fault again? Fine by me.
       Win whatever, lose whatever when you fight whatever.

       That other one, I aimed that one off at someone else,
       like how no moon’s made so full just to light whatever.

       But hey, maybe this won’t happen to be like last time?
       Perhaps things change on their own? Not quite? Whatever.

       So there went Sara memorizing herself all over again,
       on the chance you’d care to hear her recite whatever.

  24. Pkp

    Sheila…thanks for the mention and for taking the time to express your feelings and respond to others
    Amy think my thank you for your wonderful comment about parents in doctor’s office never found it’s way to you
    Colette thanks again for the mentions
    Sara Sara Gwen ….. Your voice always shines….the spark that drove certain pain may be quieting ….. you are not simply an expression of your pain….just re-read Sheila’s comment to you and on my feet in resounding agreement and appreciation for you….

    And now passionate and kind PA street neighbors…. Enjoy the day and look forward to tomorrow’s prompt…. When all is said and done there is a chuckle there in the idea that a prompt such as "whatever" could inspire such passion …..Ultimately what unites this community and keeps it vibrant and kind to one another is the unanimous love for poetry….

  25. Sara Gwen

              "The temple bell stops—
              but the sound keeps coming
              out of the flowers."
                        —Bashō, as translated by Bly

    Colette & Sheila, thank you for tender encouraging words. Just that I’m the darker side of Bashō’s exquisite image: my pen has stopped, the spark that drove it having died out, and all I’ve got left is an echo more weed than flower that just keeps going through the motions of the sounds the pen used to make. But I’m with Walt: I do read. Everything here. And hear it all like that bell never stops ringing.

  26. sheila harris

    Sara Gwen…just posted and there your sweet and sad little gem was waiting..exquisite in the pain and the love that still pulsates, though like a burning ember fades.. you have such a talent for clothing emotion in words..take care and good night,my dear ,amazing poetess..

  27. sheila harris

    Pearl,your "Poet Sees Whatever" is a shining treatise of a poet’s truth and great advice is found :.."When the face is flushed and the heart pounds
    quick blooded and fast – though counterintuitive this
    is the precise time for tact" I love that line…!

    Barbara big fat trouble maker ..LOL..joking! I read your poem "Whatever" and I applaud the gusto of emotion expressed for the truth not found in the anemic rally described as compared to the indomitable MLK..
    keep writing,keep searching,keep saying what is in your heart..we have a responsibility to ourselves,our family our community (this and others in our lives that we participate) to bring the truth that lives in our hearts and minds forward,exposed for all to see and know..I applaud your courage and pray you will identify that unique outspoken quality you possess as that :courage …As you mention your Jewish Heritage,it comes to mind that exceedingly poignant passage "And Then They Came For Me" by Martin Niemöller…We the People must speak up and speak out often ;exercise our freedom of speech muscle so that it does not get flabby and out of shape……we must never forget,we must be vigilant as singular human beings ,as community as a nation lest the past injustices always starts very small ,hardly noticeable,actually ..until one day it is monstrous..I respect your viewpoint and hope that you will continue to bring you,all of you,to these boards.AND Happy Anniversary! wonderful! is a big hug..(*) loving your "whatever I do" ..i hope you don’t change too much..i kinda like you jus’ the way ya are! laughed out loud at the hedonism of Whatever I Want..does Marie Calendar make frozen ice cream dinners,now? my my! and I always learn something here.."hudibrastics’ is that gem tonight..and the hubris in hudibrastics is deliciously devilish and delightful and yet there lies sadness behind the sarcasm..and I get it 100%.
    your account of the cruel murder ..ah! ..shocking..what is to become of society?
    and thank you for your kind comments…
    Amy BL"Whatever Comes"..the title of your powerful poem against injustices ,against the threats to equality in all aspects of society and also a promise that "Whatever Comes " better be ready for all of the Amy Barlow Liberatores of the world ready to stand up ,speak up and raise up (for) those who cannot …
    a stirring rally for truth and justice..
    De!"Whatever it takes" so eloquent..the metaphors are sharp and blinding so clear! so tears could not be
    Whatever is written
    should be written
    from the heart

    and here :
    The pen
    is mightier than the sword
    And sometimes,
    infinitely harder
    to pick up.
    Whatever we do,
    we should be
    building bridges
    not dams.
    A true honor to read this..thank you..

    Devon Brenner: great after 8 ok?
    Daniel Ari "Whatever You Want to Call It" is just gorgeous..I love this the phrases

    ok ladies and germs it is way past my bedtime..
    good night you beautiful poets!

  28. Sara Gwen


           The news tonight’s its usual monotonous bore
           repeated lifelike underneath the breath
           which having died in service says no more
           than as one might expect of senseless death.

           Like two who’d once been lovers drifting off
           from times when every moment sparked rare flash
           to distances now shrugged at, as though coughed
           into dry air, my thoughts of you spit ash.

           Should I still sleep with you my waking thought?
           And must I know each move your hand might make?
           Such silly secrets as our love once brought,
           I thought then to be relevant. My mistake.

           They let me come back home tonight. Who’ll care?
           It’s just as well. You’re on your own somewhere.

  29. sheila harris

    Whatever They Say

    whatever they say
    may not be true
    words hurled like rocks
    defy the" you "
    designed destruction of what you do
    cloud what you believe
    mar original thought
    and rip away what’s closest to your heart

    whatever they say whatever they say
    designed to make the common man pay
    question legitimacy at the end of the day
    erodes the foundation
    of a floundering nation
    weigh wisely words chosen
    ponder and pan the wisdom

    whatever they say whatever they say
    defend your thoughts
    whatever they say
    and never relinquish the right to think
    the right to say the right to pray
    be taken away
    whatever they say

  30. Barbara Ehrentreu

    My mind is swirling from the variety and delightful words here.:) First of all, Pearl, you are such a dear for apologizing for something that is not your fault. I would have written that poem without your inspiration, because the whole day and the rallies that were going on did bring passion for me. I didn’t get to the first MLK rally, because I was too young and in college. But I remember his voice ringing and the speech. I saw part of the Beck rally on TV and it got under my skin. There was only hope in his voice and it bothered me that the Beck rally did not have that feel, though they had advertised it as a rebirth of religion. I got myself into trouble by writing the poem. I take full responsibility for it and appreciate your, Amy’s and Collette’s support. I guess I’m on the side of no tact when it comes to poetry.:)

    Thank you again to all who have wished me Happy Anniversary. The poem was an attempt to remind my husband of being young and how he felt. I gave it to him and he said he liked it. That is rare praise for a non-poet lawyer.:)

    Walt, I never figured out this big night was for Santa, but how cute and full of joy. I am Jewish and totally
    not offended. When I was a little girl I used to hope Santa would visit and he only did one year when I found toys under my bed. Jewish kids have Chanukkah, but it isn’t the same as having that tree and the lights, etc. Until my kids were 18 we had a present every Christmas for them and filled stockings. I used to read The Night Before Christmas every Christmas Eve.:)

    Colete, I loved your series of Whatever poems. I especially liked the one from your kids’ POV and then yours. It reminded me of when my kids were young and did crazy things like jumping "nudie" on the bed. So cute!!

  31. Devon Brenner

    Whatever you do, don’t eat after seven.
    Whatever you do, just be sure you
    fill half the plate with vegetables
    or fruit if you must.
    So long as you don’t eat after seven.
    Whatever you eat, make sure it’s whole grain
    along with mostly vegetables
    and stop eating by seven.
    Whatever you do, get some fish
    every week, and take a multivitamin
    along with your whole grains and veggies
    that you’re done eating by seven.
    Grow old, stay mobile,
    take care of your heart.
    Watever you do, count your calories,
    eat mostly plants, and after seven
    go out for icecream.
    Make it a double dip.

  32. DrPKP aka Pearl Ketover Prilik


    Too often truth is seen as hanging
    on one end of intellect’s vast spectrum
    or another
    Either a matter of relative perspective
    Or a Platonic absolute implying no other
    Perhaps it is impossible for us of mortal
    being to garner what is true
    Because in the looking at anything we are
    a participant too
    When it comes to matters of the heart
    too often it is thought that there is no place
    for facts – that objectivity has no part
    Some might staunchly argue that passion is
    the opposite of fact
    When the face is flushed and the heart pounds
    quick blooded and fast – though counterintuitive this
    is the precise time for tact
    Where the only way differences can be heard
    is in the discussion and meeting of verified and agreed together fact
    Without a baseline agreement of even one teeny tiny Seuss-like "fact"
    There can be only emotion driven passion and a collapse of tact
    The need for such consensus is there in the world in which we live

    Whereas, articulating one’s own truth is what a poet strives to give
    Poets are not by nature ‘tactful’ they are not of this prosaic world view
    Poets deal with impression, with image, emotion and language
    woven from vision spun into a perspective unique and new
    Poets put down plow-shares, sticks, guns and defensive gear
    Poets pick up pens and with flowing ink leave their words and
    vision behind until they, as all, ultimately disappear

    Each poet writes of and through the passion, through the pain, the joy and
    Unburdened by the need for "fact" a poetic truth found in the rapture of the pen.

  33. DrPKP aka Pearl Ketover Prilik

    Amy….a true poet writes poetry and defends her right to write
    Sheila..elegance in a similar plea for open writing without censorship
    Colette..a humorous reaction to a bit of discussion of different opinions
    Marie…for some reason seeing the possiblity of toxicity and hatred in
    opining individual points of view
    Barbara there is a bit of a high school (or younger quality here) I feel as though I need to apologize for "getting you in trouble" which has succeeded in making me feel quite young again
    Walt…a sour Santa.. is absolutely an oxymoron 🙂
    De couldn’t agree with you more about building bridges and how picking up the pen is harder than picking up the sword.

    Given Amy’s reference to Plato (I believe it was Amy and De’s reference to the might of the pen)… I’ve decided to post a poem I wrote first thing this morning. I had written this poem with the thought that it might bring all points of view back to the "fertile oasis" of which Amy spoke…and then decided that there was a little too much hubris in this intention and that enough, more than enough had been said. Yet, I returned this evening, to see the discussion had continued and along with that a sense that I had stepped back away from a moral imperative.

    And so to be clear, I do believe along with others that all topics are open in this forum, but that the personalized warnings or as with a former poet…out-right personal attacks are beyond the pale.

    To paraphrase Marie’s compliment to me…
    "can we not just play nice?" Although most poets enjoy commentary on their poems it is jarring when anyone steps through an artistic boundary and comments on the poet. I think this is the major difference – between an open forum where all can be comfortable in a diverse setting and where one as Amy so eloquently addressed must be ‘careful’ about the "Other."
    Again, as Amy stepped up quickly and directly said "we are ALL (caps mine) in this together" … However on this site dedicated to poetry I would hope that we could keep the commentaries to the poems and not the content or the poet.

    I feel somewhat responsible having posted my poem on MLK day, a day of rallies and many speaking their minds publicly…moreover I think that the passions of that far away time were once again brought to mind. It was certainly not my intention to incite… if that were so…I would hope that I would have written something that was truly powerful and compelling… having said this…I feel that Barbara followed suit and then there was some tension that began to thrum…. I am not going to address this again and after taking up space…best left to "our fearless leader..Our Editor Robert Brewer… I’ll just post the poem I wrote this morning rather than blathering on… I sincerely hope that this poem written quickly but from the heart brings us all back to a place where we can poem and read with joyous abandon…feeling safe in our "oasis."

  34. Daniel Ari

    Whatever you want to call it

    She overtook me, and it changed my mind:
    I molded it around her—river clay—
    as figures are shaped in water and wind.

    Such a foreign, familiar face to find,
    puzzle of prisms to play and replay.
    She overtook me, and it changed my mind,

    and when I guessed the truth, I felt chagrined—
    how easy these lobes are to give away!
    How figures lose shape in water and wind

    surrendering as though time pressed rewind—
    cloisters dismantled, sandcastles decayed.
    She overtook me, and it changed my mind.

    Imagine mounted butterflies unpinned,
    ascending in rhapsodic disarray
    as figures take shape in water and wind.

    Some wonders we witness life can’t rescind.
    Some feelings have edges that never fray.
    She overtakes me. It changes my mind
    as figures get shaped in water and wind.


  35. Amy Barlow Liberatore

    De, love your analogy of the "64 box."
    Colette, "Whatever That Word Is," the concept of mother-in-love is beautiful! And "hubris vs. poetry" is the best revenge…
    Sheila, your "write on" inspired me. Thank you!
    Marie, I know this is a difficult discussion and I applaud you and Walt in going for higher ground. I guess I’m made of different experiences (and have trod lower ground a lot), but that doesn’t mean we can’t all be in the same sandbox and play nicely, right?
    Willy, you’re right about the Santa piece from Walt. Really snuck up on me, the identity of this skulker. And I, a devoted fan of Santa!

  36. Amy Barlow Liberatore


    Whatever you think about me
    I am human
    I have feelings
    Feelings that have been stomped on
    or caressed
    depending on the person and circumstance

    I am an American from Europe
    whose white skin
    and heterosexuality
    and youth in the suburbs
    gave me advantages
    over those who weren’t dealt the same cards
    or even given cards from the same deck

    I am a woman who still doesn’t have
    the same Constitutional rights as males
    but who can vote and speak her mind
    who doesn’t have to wear a burqa
    who doesn’t risk being stoned to death
    because she dared leave the house without her husband

    I am not threatened by TV personalities
    who admit they don’t believe half their hate speech
    (they are just doing what their sponsors tell them)
    who have no degrees in journalism
    (one a college dropout, the other a deejay)
    They don’t speak from their hearts
    but from their wallets
    and they freely admit it
    Sure, it’s mercenary and incites violence
    But it’s a living

    Powers of such as these are limited
    only by the willingness of their listeners
    to be sheep, to blame the least in our society
    for their current woes
    (this time it’s Mexicans and gays; last time it was Jews;
    before that, Armenians, before that…)

    When Jesus was surrounded by "unclean" street urchins
    he told the disciples not to chase them away
    but to let them come closer
    He didn’t want them deported to another town
    He didn’t call them unclean or unworthy
    He didn’t charge copays when healing the poor
    He acted out of love

    He also raised a ruckus
    that resonates to this very day
    for to love one’s enemies is an almost impossible task
    and to love one’s neighbor,
    harder still when he brags he ran them over,
    but they were "just Mexicans"

    Jesus was hung because of words
    and all his words were loving
    If our poetic world was only Whitman, Dickenson, Dickens
    bereft of Ginsburg, Baraka, Gwendolyn Brooks
    how poor this world would be

    Provocation is healthy
    What makes one’s blood coarse faster
    makes one’s mind more nimble
    Sure, I get provoked
    But I stand by my right as an artist
    to call out powerful hatemongers

    Plato banned poets because
    he claimed they drew their inspiration
    from imaginary worlds

    Those of us who draw from the real world
    do so in the name of justice
    of compassion for the Other
    regardless of religion or color
    regardless of the consequences
    whatever comes

  37. Colette D

    I thought about showing Robert’s Whatever, Duh to my son, but he probably would have said, "That’s like SO whatEver!"
    Karen ~ I’m grasping her worth too. She is an awesome woman!
    Sara M ~ They cannot destroy your spirit. Prayers for you.
    Walt ~ a "baddy"? hee hee!
    de jackson ~ I love your What: Ever!
    Jacqueline ~ Whatever Happened to Manners is such a clever, and classy, poem! 😉
    Barbara ~ Happy Anniversary!!!
    Sara V ~ Whatever is Lost: Not only have I been there and done that, I’m still there and doin’ that!!! Fun poem!
    Walt ~ With your assurance that we are all read here, you made a lot of people happy! 🙂
    PKP ~ isn’t it neat, though, how our unconscious does contribute to our art? My Aunt Nancy taught me that it’s still your mind at work. Give yourself more credit, friend! And thank you for your comments to everyone!!!
    Sara Gwen: You ought to give yourself more credit too. I heard someone say once that writer’s block is not so much not being able to write as that we don’t like what we are writing at the time being. WE like what you are writing, so chin up!
    Dennis ~ your Whatever sounds kinda Einsteinian!

  38. Colette D

    Sheila ~ Amen to It Happens Every Day. It happened one day here too. Young "man" across the street ran a stop sign and took out 3/4ths of the family in the other vehicle. He was laughing in his driveway the next day, saying, "They were just Mexicans." Never did jail time either, although a few months later, the visiting prince and princess of Tonga were killed by a young "lady" who was racing in her Mustang on the freeway in San Francisco. Authorities made sure she was brought to justice.

    Ironically, the prince and princess were in the States to attend a Tongan community event in the bay area, to address issues of youth delinquency and low educational achievement.

    Anyway, since our lovely neighbor laughed about killing three people, and continued to speed around the streets here, in a brand new truck (perplexing, since he never works), we haven’t liked to let our kids play outside. Good news though, his mommy is moving soon, and he will have to leave. He might even have to get a job.

  39. Colette D

    Since when does opinion = hate? I may be dim, but I didn’t see hate in any of the writings here. I think each person who participated had valid points.

    Sheila ~ I LOVE your guitar strings metaphor!

  40. Colette D

    ~ Whatever That Word Is ~

    Dear Mother-in-Law,

    You’re so caring and kind,
    but you rarely say That Word;
    when you do, it can barely be heard.

    How did mine (not-in-law)
    act so very unkind,
    but use That Word all the time?

    If you weren’t so squeamish about
    whatever That Word is made of,
    I’d loudly call you “Mother-in-LOVE!”

    Your daughter-in-law

  41. Colette D

    ~ Whatever I Do ~

    Whatever I do,
    I’m gonna change my clothes.

    I’m gonna take the fear out of my shoes
    and put some ants into my pants—
    I’m gonna spring into the world
    and step a brand new dance!

    I’m gonna stop wearing
    my insecurities on my sleeve—
    for fashion and self-doubt,
    no longer will I slave!

    Whatever I do,
    I’m really gonna change!

    { Maybe tomorrow. }

  42. de jackson

    Whatever It Takes

    Whatever is said
    should be said in
    and the knowledge
    that if we
    were crayons,
    we’d be the 64 box.

    Whatever is written
    should be written
    from the heart
    in tears
    as well as ink.

    Whatever else we are
    should flow flawlessly
    into the way the words
    on the page.

    The pen
    is mightier than the sword
    And sometimes,
    infinitely harder
    to pick up.
    Whatever we do,
    we should be
    building bridges
    not dams.


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