Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 125

Believe it or not, we’re less than a month from starting the 4th annual April PAD (Poem-a-Day) Challenge. I’m very excited! Here are the guidelines. Please share with anyone you think may be interested in the challenge.


For today’s prompt, take the phrase “Better Off (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write the poem. Possible titles might include “Better Off Dead,” “Better Off Alive,” “Better Off Playing Video Games,” “Better Off Minding My Own Business,” etc. I know I’ll be better off poeming.

Here’s my attempt:

“Better Off Upside Down”

Even in the dark I’m hanging on by a thread
enveloped in my sheets and waiting for sleep
to take me like a cow in a field waits for other
cows to move or the way a bird sits on a branch
and rests long enough to hop to the next one
while keeping an eye (an ever wandering eye)
out for predators or prey or whatever it is
that I should be searching for though maybe
the problem isn’t that I’m waiting but that I’m
searching when I should be more like a bat
hanging from the roof of a cave or attic and
wrapped up in my comfortable sleep devoid
of any stray thoughts or worries or dreams.


Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer


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66 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 125

  1. Justine Hemmestad

    I’m better off believing the show,
    And though I wear no tattoos
    To publically state
    My selfish demise,
    I did carry a ring of hope,
    Lost forever to the ashes of silence
    Now and forever a shadow of the past.
    Because I wear no tattoo to show you,
    I am unarmored against your show,
    Your lecture and your guidance –
    Too rude to be admirable.
    I’m better off believing the show,
    Revealed to be a lie or at
    The very least not heartfelt.
    But the show is all I can see
    You drill it into me indirectly,
    Until the show – not revealed by you
    But by God –
    Becomes my reality.
    Beat that.

  2. Justine Hemmestad

    Would I be better off with no strife,
    No struggle and no plight?
    Would I be better off with
    Crowds and yet be free?
    No, I would be better off with
    The turmoil that more than
    Leads me to the door,
    More than points the way,
    I am better off with the conflict that pursues me in my sleep,
    And wakes me up with a slap of truth,
    But resuscitates with the joy of evergreen.
    I am better off with the pain,
    Never having missed a moment of relief.
    I am better off loving you,
    Than never loving you at all.

  3. Walt Wojtanik


    Secrets were kept,
    swept away with your remains.
    One of the stains on my heart
    started when we were young.
    We had sung that song many times;
    many rhymes under the bridge of reason.
    It seems like treason that one so fair,
    of Auburn hair, could have been so violated.
    But, I am over the pain. And again you have
    invaded my nightly mystic visions. Dreams remain a
    derision of heart and mind, left soulful but lacking.
    I cherished your backing to resurrected my muse.
    But I refuse to blame my ambition for being unaware
    of your condition. These poems became the seeds of you
    that I continue sowing. As far as the extent of your anguish went,
    I can’t believe I was better off not knowing.

  4. Taylor Graham


    I’m ten thousand miles from Tuesday
    and its trembling trees, temple of seasons.
    How I miss the touch of tendrils, teasing
    tramp of trails. This town’s a technologic
    trap of term-limits, triggers, trying to turn
    truth to tabulation. I’m tired of topics
    and turn-arounds, too much traffic
    exhausting throat and lungs; tired of taxis,
    tourists thumbing through slick tour-books,
    traipsing to every trite attraction. To
    each his own, they say. To me, time
    turns thick, a tedium of trickling gutters.
    I’m a trick turtle, trampled to asphalt.
    Tomorrow I’ll take a ticket home.

  5. Taylor Graham

    (a Welsh Englyn Cyrch)

    What cuts deeper, first or last?
    You left us five seasons past –
    August golden in the field,
    rich yield against New Year’s blast.

    I taste for words on wind, I’d
    read them with my lips and hide
    the promises you’d never
    write. If ever you would bide.

    You never once looked behind
    with eye indifferent or kind.
    Fields are gone to stubble, cut.
    Where you went, what did you find?

    We trim, scrimp, hunger. Your smile
    must sunny somewhere awhile,
    then move beyond horizon.
    Our brief sun across scrubbed tile.

  6. MiskMask


    A pillow wedged against my neck and ear
    conjuring dreams of crushed walnuts tossed in fresh
    spring greens and golden honey glistening clear.

    Thought I’d be better off asleep; why’s fasting
    never fast. A tapestry of dreams with amber chipped potatoes,
    bejewelled with salt and dripping molten duck fat down my thumb.

    Tomorrow’s my annual fasting blood cholesterol test.

  7. Walt Wojtanik


    So, a few less dollars grace my pockets,
    and no sky rocket celebrations in the offing.
    And maybe my offspring don’t inherit any more
    than their mother’s good looks
    and their father’s well turned phrases.
    At this phase in my life, my wife and I,
    though preferring a lifestyle upgrade,
    have decided that our pride and upbringing,
    could have us singing in the rain,
    instead of preying on that rainy day pittance.
    Our daughters have learned well, and it tells
    in the way they carry their grace and name,
    and although they are not the same by any stretch
    of my over-active imagination, they know their staion.
    It might seem that we have no ambition to position
    ourselves on the ladder of success, but I guess
    raising these beauties with an eye towards
    bettering themselves and the world around them,
    is worth its weight in a life well lived.
    We’re not well off, but are much better off in the long run.

  8. Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    Better Off This Way
    by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    I am terrified
    of giving in to it,
    afraid that
    if I dare hold hands
    it will step off the ledge
    and simply take me with it,
    a murder-suicide
    despite my objections,
    even if all I wanted
    in the first place was to
    simply save its life.

    This is why
    I can be friends with you
    no longer.

    © 2011 by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

  9. Jolanta Laurinaitis

    Better off Them

    Clouded head parts way
    For rays of clarity
    To bite the edge of my vision
    For it is better now
    To be off them
    Than be someone I am not

  10. PKP aka Pearl Ketover Prilik

    Better Off

    Was walking the boardwalk
    Just out for a stroll
    When approached in the sun
    By a creature uncannily much like a troll
    A dismal troll creature who pulled at my coat
    A bleary eyed gray guy aromatic  of goat
    Right there in the sun 
    at the edge of the sea, with dirt crusted hands that were rather slippery
    That were rather slippery right there out in the sun
    He wheedled on about whether I was coming inside, was my betting begun
    As he wheedled, and groped, his red eyes glittered, above teeth of a yellowish green
    As an emissary of the open mouthed casinos 
    He was quite a turn upside done stomach sight to be seen 
    Never was ever a  bettor never once tempted to play
    And walking the boardwalk, stopped as virginal prey
    The dismal, foul creature, convinced me not at all of the " charms" of his way
    Turning I on my heel letting the sea breeze offer an arm
    Led away from the slippery slope that would lead only harm
    Walked again on the boardwalk again free in the sun and fresh air of the sea
    Better off, not betting, at least for a troll sensitive sort such as me

    ( with apologies and honor for the great "Doctor Seuss")  

  11. S.E.Ingraham

    Better You than Me

    How often have I said these words
    Or even had just the thought flit
    Across my mind

    Some situation has developed quite
    Unexpectedly that could have gone
    Either way

    I could have been the one with the red
    Face, the embarrassing result, the need
    To explain

    But, due to a fluke of timing or nature
    Or any number of serendipitous happenings
    This time, it is you

    This time, I get to see you take the fall
    Eat humble pie, or crow, or whatever it is
    We’re calling it

    This time when someone has to take responsibility
    For that which has not gone as planned
    Has in fact, turned out wrong

    This time, I get to breathe a sigh of relief
    And if not say it aloud, at least think it
    Better you than me

  12. Uma Gowrishankar

    Better Off Unborn

    Never make love at sunset when the gods
    take a ride in the skies, look down at you copulating
    skirt pulled up, the breeze from the jackfruit tree
    cooled the damp sweat, mapped the moist trail
    that her ascetic husband with dreadlocks left on her skin.

    He watched her emerge from the blue depths of desire
    muddied by wisps of sadness. The sky a mottled lilac skirt
    planted the two seeds of curse under, a gash that ached while
    the voyeuristic gods reclining on firm clouds
    sneered at the woman for lusting seeking her man.

    My upbringing is impeccable, never leave behind my comb
    with strands of hair, never let my skirt balloon
    on the clothesline at night time, roll away my mat, sweep the floor.
    Twilight is dangerous my father had warned, open the doors, let
    gods see everything, that I am clean at dusk time between my legs.)

    Her womb swelled like the river in monsoon time,
    rashes of worry spread on the skin, pouches of dread hung under eyes,
    complexion the colour of lily curdled like stale cheese –
    happens in pregnancy the women at the ashram told her. She
    stilled her breath, eclipsed time till it hung like a discarded plastic bag.

    The poison inked her blood a deep purple,
    fetuses kept a hundred years in the womb turned blue;
    the glaciers inched and the earth shifted under her feet,
    her boys moved pushed tugged , stirred love and affection
    while she prayed they drown in the primeval water of creation.

    ( As I wrote and interpreted the story of Diti and Kashyapa from Srimad Bhagavatham, I saw it shape to the prompt of Poetic Asides.

    When the universe was still young during the first Manvantara, Brahma created from parts of his body Prajapatis who would people the universe with their progeny. Daksha was created from Brahma’s thumb and he birthed fifty sons and thirteen daughters, one being Diti and the other Sati the wife of Mahadeva. Marichi the other son of Brahma was one of the Sapta rishis. His son Kashyapa inherited from his father the right of creation. He married Daksha’s daughter Diti. They gave birth to the asuras Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashpu .

    Because there needs to be light and shade, growth and decay, creation and destruction and since the tapestry of the Universe is spun from warps and wefts of curses and penitence, angers and munificence of gods and rishis, since the curse by rishis on Vishnu’s two celestial gatekeepers has to be annulled by their birth on earth, Diti makes love in dusk under the prying eyes of gods and is cursed for her improper act with asuras for sons so that the accursed gatekeepers can have a passage of life through her womb. In this large pattern the mother is forgotten- the mother as she is agonised by guilt, who yearns to hold her sons, also dreads so much the destruction the birth of her sons will unleash that she carries them in her womb for hundred years, is seldom remembered.

    Or, only remembered when I pin my cascading hair up at dusk time. )

  13. Taylor Graham


    A glimpse cut short, ripple effect
    of headlights on rain-
    slick asphalt. A glint of mask –
    ringed tail vanishing –
    raccoon? Endless corridors
    of dark, hunger’s power-play.
    Some small creature’s
    hesitation. Grasp of claws.

  14. Dennis Wright

    Better Off In Limbo
    (Part Two)

    Sometimes I am pretty sure
    I would be much better off
    If I knew less than I do
    And were free from all wrong.

    I would have no scars
    bruises, broken hearts
    fears of failures or
    pockets filled with rain.

    Then I play my folk music
    In a work room with much art
    see how she now takes this theme
    shows me babies and some bees…

  15. Sam Nielson

    Better Off, Says I

    Snow pinks briefly
    As the morning sun glare
    Burns the necessity of day
    Into the bleary brain.

    Squint-shut eyes can
    Only see the objects around
    By their dark shadows cast,
    By their solar footprint,
    Ansel Adams zones of black.

    Then it fades to flat dullness
    Overcast, March meltdown,
    Remnant ice hides under
    The dirty snow.

    Something pricks in brain
    Wresting something less tangible
    From these arthritic wrists,
    From the fat-ache fingers now
    Warming back from the cold.

    Better off, says I
    As long as I remain,
    Long enough that the snow
    Melting reveals a tide-line.

    Better off than ugliness,
    The old-age snow leaves,
    And curly youth wakes
    In the stretching newness
    Of grass green growing.

  16. Caren E. Salas

    Just a little silliness…

    Better Off Asleep

    For a hundred years the princess slept
    In fantasy and bliss,
    Until the day that fate would bring
    A prince’s true love kiss.

    Finally the day arrived
    She woke in his embrace,
    And leapt into his waiting arms
    A smile upon her face.

    They rode away together then
    To his castle far away,
    They swore their love in marriage vows
    Forever, that same day.

    But as years passed the story changed
    The prince grew old and fat,
    The princess had a couple of kids
    Who turned out to be brats.

    She cleaned the castle day and night;
    She woke each day with dread,
    And often thought amidst it all
    "I should have stayed in bed."

    The moral of this story friends,
    Is look before you leap.
    The kiss that woke you just might mean
    You’re better off asleep.

  17. annie mcwilliams

    better off

    enough of the art of losing
    every movie i’ve ever seen
    makes it clear who the bad guys are
    and even now, when every civil courtesy and moral is ignored
    at least you are allowed the ambiguity of imagining that the best guy won

    all is clear inside a volcano, molten red and full of fire;
    spilling rivulets of destruction, last gasps buried under ash.
    in a prison hospital, tucked away from society, from family, the judge
    full of cancer, alone, his wife murdered for hire, grandpa, missing vigil
    of generations he molested, wracked with remorse
    premeditated, murdered for $50, death row beckons a volunteer
    their pain, our pain; blurred storms of delirium

    the sound i make is sympathy
    an endless refrain of rhythmic shushing
    the value of surrounding words, breaking or broken
    covered in dust of dead souls, somewhere unseen, however rationed
    offering a jackpot of love, understanding the incomprehension of pain
    please dear Lord, undo me with an occasional eruption of joy
    the sensation of falling

  18. Tracy Davidson

    Better Off Believing…

    …she’s in a better place,
    no pain, no suffering,
    just peace.

    Better off believing…

    …grief will lessen in time,
    our pain and suffering
    will ease.

    Better off believing…

    …we will see her again,
    some time, in the future,
    one day.

    Better off believing…

    …but I don’t believe,
    and almost envy those
    who do.

  19. Miskmask

    Thank you for the mention, Pearl. Always so kind and generous with your comments.

    So many impressive pieces of work here so far that I can’t mention them all. A few have caught my imagination though…

    Rinkley, I smiled whilst reading Better Off Me. Charming.

    Walter, Much Better Off is gripping, tender and agonising. I’ve read it 4 times, and I find that it’s put a few wrinkles between my eyebrows. And oddly, I don’t know how to read those wrinkles. Slightly saddened, I think, whereas I don’t think that’s your intention.

    Katrelya, BETTER OFF BEING AN ARTIST just knocked me off my chair. Brilliant story telling.

    de, Better Off Without This Ink-stained Heart really touched me.

    Earl, excellent! :)

    Rachel, Better Off Starving — with each line I was growing more hopeful for you. And then the last time came. Oh dear, I sighed.

    Kimiko, a hauntingly vivid poem.

  20. Miskmask


    And so they said,
    you live and learn, but
    I said, I never seem to.
    I repeat and repeat it,
    and live on repeating.
    Plain ol’ stupidity or déjà vu.
    No surprise that
    I’m no better off.

    And so they said,
    ignoring history dooms you
    to repeat it. Not so, I said.
    I love history but still
    I repeat and repeat it.
    Plain ol’ stupidity or déjà vu.
    No surprise that
    I’m no better off.

    And so I said,
    looking in the mirror, my
    left hand holding scissors,
    Is it plain ol’ stupidity
    or déjà vu; why do I think
    I can cut my own hair?
    No surprise that
    I’m no better off.

  21. Sara McNulty

    Better off inside

    your mind, than to grope
    around in mine
    not knowing
    what you might find,
    or not finding
    anything useful
    to take with you.

  22. Taylor Graham


    Before you suggest the shortcut, the scenic route –
    consider weather (is the footpath churned to mud
    by a summer shower?) and pasturage (is the farmer’s
    bull in the barn?). Try to remember this year’s
    rotation of crops in the fields (wheat, then clover…)
    so your guest will know when to turn at which corner
    of the fence, to find the gate that puts him again
    on the high-road. Consider the turning of the year
    and season in the planting-harvest cycle.

    If you don’t, your guest may find
    the field’s been newly plowed, footpath
    and all, and lose your directions
    altogether, and end up
    at lunchtime
    right back where he started
    this morning, at your front door.

  23. Daniel Ari

    "Better off wild / better off quiet"

    There is no beauty greater than me as I sit soundlessly on the ground until the time that I rise.

    I could jump in the lake or run down the woody hill keeping warm on adrenaline and zany abandon.

    In dreams, Dr. Seuss trades drawings with me. Mick Jagger feels I’m a freath of bresh air.

    Using mnemonic devices, I manage to check off items on the to do lists in my dreams.

    A hundred poems a day and usually a novel get lost in the wind between my mind and the writing.

    My blood is so red, empires of bacteria treat it like gold. The violence is not my fault, but it saddens me.

    My body upon waking is the heaviest thing in the house. Elephants could not move me. Prove me wrong.

    Any one of my motes, acting alone, can heat the air in a room, but to cool it all must act in concert.

    The business world from top to bottom (gratefully) grinds to a halt on the days I play hooky.

    The ocean will make me a fine bed where I will be able to roll all night and never fall out.


  24. Bruce Niedt

    Thanks Sara – here’s a 2nd draft – note one of the changes was eliminating the DUI references, as I decided that’s quite different from driving distracted, though unfortunately sometimes with the same end result.

    Better Off the Road

    There should be a special lane
    for the distracted, a car-width off
    the shoulder of the highway,
    but instead of HOV diamonds,
    we’ll paint the asphalt
    with icons of a happy-face
    holding the wheel with one hand,
    looking down or to the side
    at the other hand, which holds
    a cellphone or Blackberry,
    an iPad or iPod, a CD or DVD,
    a road map or GPS,
    makeup, an electric shaver,
    a sandwich, a crying toddler,
    a tiny dog, a horny lover,
    a spilled coffee cup.
    Then when they careen into
    the inevitable crash,
    it will be into each other.

  25. PKP aka Pearl Ketover Prilik

    MiskMask adorable… what a hottie you are… RJ there is that voice that always prompts a smile and MiskMask cute repartee and reference back to your poem. Sara M. wonderful image of the horses careening off the carousel..I’m a huge fan of carousels and Rob thanks for reminding us of the Good Doctor’s birthday…

  26. Sara McNulty

    Walt-Much Better Off was wonderful and brave
    De- Loved it.
    Bruce, Love the idea of a "distraction lane". Very clever. Congratulations on your chapbook!

  27. Bruce Niedt

    Better Off the Road

    There should be a special lane
    for the distracted, a car-width off
    the shoulder of the highway,
    but instead of HOV diamonds,
    it would be emblazoned with painted icons
    of a happy-face holding the wheel with one hand
    and looking down or to the side at the other
    which holds a cellphone, or a video game,
    a CD or a DVD, a road map or a GPS,
    makeup, a sandwich, a tiny dog,
    a crying toddler, a beer, or crack cocaine,
    a horny lover, a spilled coffee cup.
    Then when they careened into
    the inevitable crash,
    it would be into each other.

  28. Andrew Kreider

    Better off than us

    She doesn’t talk about it very much
    But once in a while she lets something slip,
    A brief glimpse into her preteen landscape,
    While we are walking, or making supper,
    Especially after a sleepover.
    “All my friends have so much money,” she says,
    Not enviously, more matter-of-fact.
    I don’t know what to say, so I just nod.

  29. Megan

    Better off?

    Better off?
    Echoes of what was remain
    To taunt
    To tease
    Echoes of what is

    Over and over
    Failing memories and all that is left is recall

  30. Rachel Green

    Better Off Starving

    At the auction, there were paintings under the hammer
    of all ages and abilities, but mostly students
    and graduates hoping for a bit of money for their soul
    of a break from one of the agents or collectors up from London.
    No Goldsmiths or St. Martin’s this, but a quiet
    provincial city where mothers rubbed shoulders
    with the know-what-I-like brigade
    preyed upon by ancient men in white linen jackets
    with a paintbrush like a secret signal in their top pockets.
    <i>Why don’t you come and see what’s on my easel?</i>

    My painting is lot one-seventeen, a six-foot crucifix
    comprised of skulls and warheads flanked by centurions
    in riot gear and rubber bullets. It sells for seventy quid
    to the church of St. Mary Magdalene and I find out later
    that they burned it.

  31. Walt Wojtanik


    We speak in hushed reserved piety,
    of a "Dead Poets Society".
    But, a cause of their noteriety
    stems from them being dead.

    As poets we strive to stake our claim,
    in the formulation of our fame,
    and rest our laurels on that name;
    we’re poets, born and bred.

    My file cabinets overflow,
    in a literary undertow
    and has me treading H-two-oh
    while my work load feels like lead.

    I will serve no rhyme beyond my time,
    and reap the accolades sublime.
    So, you better read me in my prime,
    I’m better read than dead.

  32. Taylor Graham


    What detour seduced me off the freeway?
    Tired of bumper-bumper. Exit
    onto frontage road, winter-gray vineyards,
    fallow fields; one-lane bridge
    over a living river. Windshield blinding
    sunlight. Out of the heavens, color!
    Balloon? Wind-drifting across
    my azimuth a rainbow I could never
    catch, who cares, a rainbow is a rainbow.
    Skydiving angel coming down,
    guiding toward safe landing.
    Each of us, grounding.

  33. Rob Halpin

    Better Off Me
    (celebrating Dr. Seuss’s Birthday)

    Theodor Geisel,
    known more famously
    as Dr. Seuss, wrote
    a wondrous story
    of a boy who dreams
    how it would be
    to be other, more-
    different than he.
    In the end, though,
    he is able to see,
    he’s happiest him-
    I’m better off me.

    **not quite ready for prime time, but it’s late

  34. Sara McNulty

    Better Off Than On

    Chaos reigns on
    crazy carousels,
    where horses grin
    like ghouls as they ride
    up and down. Watching
    them spin from the ground
    is enough to make you ill. Stop
    slow down and live,
    or your horse will careen
    into unseen spaces,
    and it will be too late.

  35. Earl Parsons

    Better Off

    I was recently asked
    By a representative
    Of the government
    Whether or not I was
    Better off today
    Than I was 4 years ago

    I had to ask
    In what way

    He retorted

    Not so good

    Health wise
    He added

    Getting older

    He persisted

    Not so trusting

    He jeered

    Much better off

    This sparked his interest
    So he pried just a little
    And asked
    Why are you better off
    While everything else
    Went downhill

    Quite simple
    I said with a smile
    I’m getting closer to God


    Because the world is
    Heading straight to hell
    And I want to make sure
    I’m not going along
    For the ride

  36. de jackson

    Better Off Without This Ink-stained Heart

    Better off not
    Not loving these words so much
    Or leaving raw pen-shaped pieces of myself
    For the wolves to carry off into the darkness.

    Better off not
    Every long slow syllable of my tongue
    Or the way the graphite and the white become one
    Or when the black clacks merrily along, a song.

    Better off losing them
    Loosing them
    Only to wind and wave
    My torn lost soul
    To save.

  37. Rinkly Rimes

    To be sung to the tune of ‘What a Wonderful World’

    Though I’ve had my day,
    And I’m old and grey,
    I look around and then I say,
    From what I can see
    I’m better off Me.

    There is too much rain
    And too much snow,
    Too much wind when cyclones blow.
    From what I can see
    I’m better off Me.

    See children in the school-yard
    With things to learn each day!
    Then see the poor young parents
    With all those bills to pay!
    See folk over the sea
    Looking grim on TV!
    That’s when I’m glad
    That I am Me!

    Now I’d like to be
    A Sweet Sixteen,
    Be an eternal Dancing Queen,
    But, since that cannot be,
    I’m better off Me.
    From what I can see
    I’m better off Me.

  38. Colette ;D

    ~ Better Off The Deep End ~

    A cannonball
    is a sort of fall,
    but without enough water,
    its usefulness could depend.
    For a cannonball
    to be a great fall,
    consult with Humpty’s daughter—
    you’re better off the deep end!

  39. Nancy Posey


    If you have to ask
    if you should, then
    you shouldn’t.

    If you can keep
    from teaching, then don’t:
    as a favor to yourself,
    to the students
    who need your all.
    You’re better off
    working at the mall.

    If you have to ask
    if you should marry,
    you shouldn’t.
    If you’re basing
    your choices on
    what makes you
    tingle, do everyone
    a favor: you’re better off

    If you’re feeling
    the least bit
    of hesitation,
    wondering if
    you should hang-glide
    or bungee-jump
    or sky dive, then
    don’t. You’re better off

  40. Laurie Kolp


    Better off in jail

    Than imprisoned

    From denial and resentment

    Better off in rehab

    Than surrounded

    By you, yourself and thou

    Better off in asylums

    Than tormented

    With ravaging addiction

    Better off than on…

    Yes, better than dead

  41. Katrelya Angus


    The mountain, the trees, and the river
    Sat on the desk of Jerome Carlton Roberts,
    The master photographer.
    He looked at me and said "Good job.
    Tolkien was an artist, too."

    When I was a damsel, he took my picture
    For Cymballet School of Modeling,
    Over which his lovely wife Cora presided.
    Beneath his wife’s caring watchful eyes,
    He invited me behind the camera,
    Where I beheld weeping willows
    Dangling dreamily into a lazy lagoon.

    He told me I was beautiful in front of the camera,
    But stunning behind it.

    I left him the photograph on my way to the hospital,
    For I was told that medical transcription is a good job.
    During my typing test, my mind wandered back
    To the wilderness of art,
    And when the interview was over,
    I stopped by his desk again –
    Mr. Roberts said "I hope you get a good job."
    And tapped my landscape, handing it back to me,

    Transcription is a good job-
    But the more I typed, the more I knew
    I would be better off being an artist.

    Many ladies – and many gentlemen –
    In many hospitals and clinics thought so;
    "Sorry" was the word I heard the most from them-

    In time, I quit medical transcription.
    I picked up my camera.
    I took pictures – and for the first time
    I knew that I was, indeed
    Doing a very good job.

  42. Joseph Harker

    (for Marie Antoinette)

    She once had
    a husband and son:
    now who knows
    where they’ve gone.
    Now it’s the guillotine blade
    who wants to love her.

    She thinks back.
    How was it that she
    did so wrong?
    Some misstep
    has got her onstage again,
    drawn their attention.

    Here is where
    l’ancien regime dies,
    snapped at its
    bloody crown:
    but really, she is so sick
    of caring–

  43. J. Walraven

    "Better off with a charcoal pencil"

    The Grays still play
    the dominant role,
    ruling over this domain
    with iron fisted strength.
    Scant color attempts
    to bleed through
    but is quickly back under cover
    of clouds
    and snows,
    blacked by exhaust
    have exhausted me.

  44. Sasha. D

    Better off knowing.

    Better off knowing, than nothing to do
    It is our life and all we have to
    Make it all Wright? Get it just Wright?
    Or just keep our hands down off the light?

    Is it now better, when u just know
    Where will you go and where will you flow??
    Is it now better or it is just not?
    Will it get colder or is it still hot?

    Man, it’s too difficult just to realize
    What is going on with our lives?
    Is it just a dream or is it real life,
    When you cut your hair and cut off your wife?

    Is it too easy just to understand?
    Where are we going and who will command
    To stop and lay down, than pass it around
    And then just stand up and keep walking to sound?

    Tell me, my maker, is it it enough?
    Or are we just making you stand up and laugh?
    Is it reality? And if it is real
    So why it’s so hard just to believe?

    To believe in the hope, To believe in the light,
    To believe that i’m doing everything wright!!
    Just to believe that someday we will
    Shine on the light and forget about ILL!!

    And all i’m trying to say
    That knowing isn’t enought for God just to say "Hey"
    That knowing is just knowing and maybe it’s great
    And maybe someday we will cut OFF the the hate!!

  45. Shreya

    Better Off Doing Yoga

    It’s a proven scientific fact that
    standing on your head
    makes you hear frequencies
    usually reserved for dogs.

    Well it’s not really proven.
    Or scientific. Yet.
    But I swear I’ve heard tiny invisible people
    (seemingly people-like)
    asking me
    what it is I’m doing upside down.

  46. Miskmask

    RJ, cute. Just wait until you’re my age. Shaving your beard is something one contemplates on a regular basis. Thank goodness for threading. LOL!

  47. RJ Clarken

    Better Off…

    One time, I wondered
    (please don’t scoff)
    if I would have been
    better off
    if I’d been born a boy.
    How weird,
    ‘cause then I’d have to
    shave a beard
    most every day.
    That sounds so blah.
    I’m better off a girl.

  48. Miskmask


    Heat rises and mine’s rising up
    from my shoulders and up
    my neck to my chin, pearls of
    moisture swimming up and bursting
    like ripe grapes under a heavy foot,
    and in a fevered panic I toss away
    layers of clothing on this cold winter day
    like a lunatic wandering lost
    on the burning Sahara sands.
    These clothes are better off
    than on, I say as a
    shiver cools my skin.

  49. Connie L. Peters

    Better Off with the Lord

    We’re better off with the Lord,
    even if He turned out to be a hoax.
    He has us loving our neighbors,
    being faithful to our spouses,
    being honest and kind and
    not stealing or murdering,
    venturing forth in faith not fear,
    comforted when we’re wounded,
    cheered when we’re down
    and befriended when we’re lonely.
    Even if He’s a figment of our collective imagination,
    we’re better off.

  50. Walt Wojtanik


    A void of the heart was where it started.
    When she departed I was left with three things.
    It rings of despair, but therein lies the rub.
    The first was a feeling of desolation;
    isolation from all that molded me.
    It let me be free, in a way. For on the day
    I found my solitutde I construed a strange
    realization. I wasn’t alone. My thoughts
    were companions. Connections to the senses
    of which I was dealing. Stealing seconds from
    time served, I swirved into a second epiphany.
    The ability to love, above all else was rooted;
    extruded from the heart, mind and soul, doled out
    without recompense; and unconditional condition.
    I was able to give myself permission to express it.
    Even if I compressed it into the fewest words,
    my voice could be heard loudly, clearly.
    Nearly everything I felt found a place on any space
    I could used to rhyme. And in time, the third fact
    became very apparent. It was inherrent to all
    of which I prescribed. I had imbibed a life serum,
    which resulted in these poems coming to the fore.
    No more self-pity or doubt, all out on the table
    for all to read and absorb. In company
    with a poetic hoard. Others may scoff,
    but in my mind, I am much better off.

  51. J. Martin

    Better off Gone

    This is where the alleys turn, turn,
    from room to room and, she, again,
    walks in shadows, embracing walls
    that love her back for what she sells.
    What she sells is ad hoc, as-is love,
    more than she is worth, less than her

    The street calls her out, calls her in,
    like mother’s dinner, and she sighs, sighs,
    like a child, when she sees what’s there.
    What’s there, there, is a man, his palms
    wet like rain, rain, but suddenly not just
    there, when he strips down to bear his sweat.

    When they merge, they bear left, right,
    stop, yield, slow, and at last, accelerate.
    When it is over, it is like tide breaks back
    into the night and even moonlight is gone.
    And then she is gone, been pawned for time,
    reduced to this, equal parts pleasure and pain.

    She walks, shedding a layer of skin each time,
    stares straight into the headlights for one last pain
    before taking a breath on impact to numb the time.

  52. Walt Wojtanik


    In this place, neither here nor there,
    I can see thing I wasn’t meant to see.
    Far be it from me to judge,
    I couldn’t budge a mind with force.
    But, of course, a slight nudge would suffice
    if I didn’t think twice and went with my instincts.
    It’s a unique feeling dealing with my thoughts
    on a personal plane, and never drain my muse.
    For better or worse, this verse is perpetual.
    It is a virtual glimpse at a soul in control.
    In a good place, where I want to be.
    Just me, neither here nor there.