Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 137

Wow! It has been a busy week since last Wednesday. Things are only now starting to slow back down a bit. Baby Hannah Marie was born on Thursday at 9:44 a.m. If you haven’t seen her yet, check out this blog post over at MNINB.


For this week’s prompt, I want you to do two things:

  1. Remember a person you haven’t seen in at least 3 months.
  2. Remember a specific moment with that person.

Once you’ve done these, write a poem based off that moment with that person. You can change specifics to protect identities, or you can decide to stick as close to the truth as you possibly can. Your decision.

Here’s my attempt:

“We drive out to his house again”

And once again, he is covered in blood,
though at least this time it’s not completely
self-inflicted. He has me touch the goose
egg hidden under his shaggy brown hair
as he tells me, “Those two Mexicans walked
around the place like thought they were all that,
but I told them, ‘You ain’t shit,’ so the small
one swung behind me and broke a bottle
over my head while the other one threw
punches. I think they thought I was going
to give up after the broken bottle,
but I like the pain.” Just last month, we were
outside his place as he ran around with
a knife claiming he was going to kill
himself if anyone came inside, but
that just ended with him cutting himself.
As he talks, his wife rushes in and out
of the room with wet cloths, yelling, “You need
to quit this. We got kids now.” And he gets
crying, saying, “I know, I know. You’re right.
I don’t deserve to live.” At which point, she
slaps him and says, “You start trying to kill
yourself again, and I’m gone with the kids.”


Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer


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28 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 137

  1. Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    Room 123
    by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    Your love is oppressive
    your words, napalm
    that melts flesh to bone when you speak,
    blisters spirit and umbilical cords
    until nearly unrecognizable under
    the thin veil of sooty indifference.

    You bathe your vents
    with bitterness and blame,
    then let tv turn us into complete strangers.
    I want to reach through the zoo bars
    this time and touch your face,
    your silver mane, but dare not
    lest the consequences of
    sticking fingers inside dark crates.

    This beautiful child that once
    delighted and pleased you
    is nearly gone,
    her opacity growing weaker
    and weaker each time she comes
    to visit your declining years
    in room 123.

    © 2011 by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

  2. Jane Shlensky

    Lost and Found
    (for Charles)

    “Found dead” the Key West police report said,
    a phrase that sits in my head,
    spinning details and questions.
    Who found you? Why and when?
    Foe or friend? Natural or lost causes?
    Were you in love with cocaine again
    or just alone and stricken,
    your poor tired heart done
    with earthly confusion?
    Were you working again,
    making beautiful pictures
    of sunsets and birds in flight,
    beach pools and thundering waves,
    blues of horizons meeting seas?
    Did you see the people
    who love you despite everything,
    their faces rising like fog in the swamps
    calling to you, holding you, laughing with you,
    needing your chortle and crow?
    I think of a costume party when
    I was Muffet and you were a shark
    I mistook for a sperm, missing
    the dorsal fin, and how mauled me
    and laughed that singular laugh.
    I try without success to recall
    our last words to one another,
    but I know they were
    see you later, hang in there,
    remember who you are words
    that bear frequent repeating.
    I would have said I love you
    and you would have said, me too,
    for that was our ritual,
    but would you have known
    that I meant it, that I always
    found such good in you?
    I know you sought meaning
    and purpose in life, to somehow
    reclaim your children’s esteem
    and the joie de vivre of your youth.
    Did you find peace
    before you were found

  3. Ivanius

    Mr. RLB: Mixed feelings on this one. The images flow, the form is great. Yet it leaves me with a glimmer of hope instead of despair.
    On other note, a big warm welcome to Hannah Marie and congratulations to all her family!

    Dr. Pearl: "Mother": Two beautiful cascades in one. And you keep poeming. Wow. Many thanks for the smile.

    Walt: Amazing, as always. "my muse is tired / and you no longer have a say". Brings back some (good) memories about long (ha!) hours of writing.

    Barbara: A bittersweet one that brings a smile.

    de jackson: Pride can hurt and make you strong at the same time. Great piece.

    Buddah Moskowitz: Two strong ones; the first sets up a mirror, and the second shatters it.

    Lee Ann Harrison: Pygmalion at ER… or a nursery. Loved it, so many ideas.

    Joseph Harker: Just like a tale of those that are told under moonlight in front of a fire. This one I must re-read a few times.

    I’ll try to be back later. Read you soon!

  4. RJ Clarken

    35 Years…and a New Generation

    Last Fall. We giggled and told the stories
    that had never ceased lingering at all
    in our collective memories. Recall-
    ing joyful times: the small inventories
    of past which bring us to present. Last Fall.
    This Spring. Our seats rocked at a concert hall.

    This is a Wyatt Sestet. Just a quick l’il poem about a childhood friend of mine whom I saw last Fall at our reunion – and about her now-grown son whom I just saw recently.

  5. mike Maher.

    Here is my attempt at the prompt. Something just doesn’t feel right about this one. Not enough coffee or something.

    The Lowercase t Intersection

    What I don’t miss is too much,
    you slowly toeing away the line of disaster
    and hiding the rest behind your laughter.
    Chalk clouds. Collapsable canary cages.
    That isn’t shade, it’s serenity.
    This is not a lecture,
    is not a farewell or even a sayonara.
    It’s just a poem, stupid.
    A postcard from the other side.
    That’s my face where Pluto’s should be.
    Pluto! After all those years of thinking I was a tiger
    drowning in a puddle
    and only roaring when I was drunk enough.

    Sometime after the first shot of Blackhaus
    but before the explosion is when it started to go wrong.
    The plowed road before the unplowed one,
    crawling out of my basement that morning.
    It happened in Winter but it’s the Summer I despise.
    Something about the paradox of hopelessness.
    Are you lost too?
    I have found a way that has no wrong way
    except backward and forward.
    They even have chairs
    and there is one for you.
    Raymond Carver made his way to a waterfall
    and never came back.

  6. Salvatore Buttaci


    like fickle March
    each time we met
    you wore a different face
    I never really knew you
    or could be certain
    you’d remain the same
    from one encounter to the next

    like fickle March
    whose winds or sun
    or unexpected rains
    keep us dreaming of April
    you sometimes said hello
    sometimes ignored me
    As you passed me on the street

    like fickle March
    the roaring lion
    The bleating lamb
    you were unpredictable
    and the stories you told
    of your famous film producer son
    your brave daughter in Afghanistan

    who could believe you
    when their names changed
    or the films or the danger zone
    or why your husband left you
    a different reason every time
    then like fickle March
    one Friday you moved away


  7. Domino

    Summer in Arizona

    Ah Summer
    You’ve been gone so long
    and yet
    how well I remember
    the sweltering car
    with molten steering-wheel,
    the tarry pavement
    scorching the thin soles
    of my sandals
    the ever-present buzz of the cicadas,
    the swimming pool, as warm as a bath,
    and the scent of sunscreen.

  8. Domino

    Darling Sister

    Why don’t you want me
    to help?
    I haven’t seen you in so long
    and news of your
    has me saddened and stunned.

    I want to be there for you
    to talk with you
    hug you
    tell you it will all be

    I want to hold you
    when you cry
    and make you laugh
    the pain away.

    But you want to be strong
    so you just keep doing
    your day-to-day stuff.
    Your kids lives are paramount
    to you.
    But they won’t be around forever.
    They will be off,
    leading their own lives
    sooner than you think.

    And I will always be your sister
    wanting to spend time with you
    and love you.

    Let me in.

  9. Joseph Harker


    I think you were bullshitting me with that one,
    your "native name" that had you rejoicing into the world.
    You lived up to it: you could never keep them still,
    always twirling phosphorescence between your fingers,
    revolving in the cavernous dance-halls. Even
    parking-lots, even the underbellies of bridges.
    So small, and with just as much life as the rest of us.

    You told me (before all that life ran down the drain
    twirling in a mad waterspout of a pirouette) when
    we watched the young sun peek over the buildings
    about the secret dreams of the earth.
    How your parentage pierced from one side to the other
    like an earthquake. We sucked on lollipops
    dripping their syrup in the clutches of July, and it was
    the two of us against the world, with all its geology.
    We fended it off with drum rhythms and ecstasy,
    tore our sleeves off to let the sweat flow
    and wore holes in our shoes with all the dancing.

    And (before you carved the stars from your eyes)
    the morning was pregnant with Understanding.

    Out of the brick and wirework wasteland we rose,
    a pair of laser-lit phoenixes. Across the empty streets
    we moved from one chapel to another, crying
    holy holy is the bloodborne dancing through the night.
    After all that we’d been through (but still before
    static crackled your long-distance calls begging me
    for money from the other sides of places
    I didn’t know, before the crashing and the burning,
    before the silence) we twisted our lights together.

    They stretched like a cat and made one long,
    torturous journey. It seemed to last epochs and eons,
    though the sun hardly moved, and sometimes
    it seemed we might be taking our stands against
    a night that would go on forever.

  10. Lee Ann Harrison

    Clay’s Master, The Potter

    Clay slams onto the wheel head
    water of life spins out greeting the maker



    beat He molds the groggy clay with his hands,
    one thumb and beat only one finger on his right hand,
    (just to be born his mother took the medicine)
    and a full set on his beat left – artist’s balance.
    Pressing into the hum, beat he centers into a yoga balance,
    clay breathes in, beat breathes out, beat
    He opens quickly, dragging discreetly into a right beat angle, he is so quick that I almost missed it, beat
    he is shy with his impairment, demo-ing for all, but self-conscious beat
    with his compensating prowess.
    He lifts clay, pulling it up beat into a perfect cylinder, spaced with fingertips
    striping beat the passages around the clock,
    beat And I hold my breath,
    pulse. pause.
    to feel his synchronicity of creating, holding beat onto his visual explanation,
    –art is always visual, words, almost meaningless–
    beat “Watch the hand, not the clay, watch the hands,” he instructs.
    I copy his hands beat in the air trying to feel the sign language of a potter.
    He reaches beat within the recess of the feminine form, slows the wheel down,
    and feels beat for a moment,


    He pulls, stretches, beat seduces, and shapes her compliant body
    into shoulders, belly, hips.
    one more reach within (the feeling is familiar), beat, beat, beat,

    And he gives her air.
    pulse. pause.

    Life is born.

    She breathes.

  11. Buddah Moskowitz

    Jeff (Some Version of the Truth)

    You were so little
    when Aunt Nancy brought you by
    the first time,
    and I loved to watch you dance
    as I huffed and puffed
    on the harmonica.

    Years later,
    when going through photo albums
    someone asked of you
    “Who’s the Black kid?”

    At first, I didn’t see the color,
    but eventually
    I pieced
    some version of the truth together
    as I’m sure you must have.

    As far as I know,
    you’ve never been told
    who fathered you,
    and maybe your mom
    doesn’t know,

    and maybe your dad
    never knew that
    he had a son.

    I doubt
    knowing the truth
    would help now

    as you sit in the penitentiary
    with your admission of guilt
    and life sentence
    without chance for parole

    for killing your girlfriend’s mother
    because you believed
    the allegations of her abuse.

    I’m sorry you thought
    your girlfriend
    was telling you the truth

  12. Buddah Moskowitz


    Where are you,
    crazy lady?

    I miss you,
    because I never had a baby sister
    to look up to me
    and you’re the closest I got to that.

    Don’t think that
    just because you’re always the one
    making desperate decisions,
    uncertain of which way
    tomorrow is pointed,
    doesn’t mean
    I don’t need you as well.

    You’re one of the few people
    who knows what’s
    under this skin,
    the weaknesses
    of our shared DNA.

    we are more than kindred spirits,
    we are familia,

    and I recognize
    the self-deprecating humor,
    the desire to please,
    and that kernel of doubt
    at the deepest part
    of the soul

    just as I recognize
    my own face in the mirror,

    you’re prettier.

    Call me.

  13. de jackson

    Brother John

    Are you sleeping?

    In some foxhole somewhere?
    I can know in my head
    that your job is more
    sophisticated than that,
    but heart still plays scenes
    from Full Metal Jacket
    and Platoon.
    You say watch The Unit every once
    in awhile,
    and maybe we’ll get it
    (because if you tell us yourself
    you’ll have to kill us).
    We don’t
    and we don’t
    because we don’t
    want to know.

    It’s been almost 20 years, but I can still
    clearly see the stranger
    who stepped off that airplane
    straight from boot camp,
    my wayward baby brother all grown up
    tall and straight
    something changed about the eyes,
    striding our way, all impeccable uniform
    and pointed cap
    same “Hey” greeting
    offered with new voice.

    The years since have somehow
    transformed you
    from sibling and friend
    to husband,
    And we all hold our breaths
    nervously tie our yellow ribbons
    to hold ourselves together
    hearts stained red
    melancholy blue
    and wait for you
    to come

  14. barbara

    you live across town,
    and it’s not really such a large city as all that
    when I was twelve I learned to angel balance 
    someone on my feet in gym, and the three-
    year-old you flew around between my ceiling
    light and the bed, laughing until you fell off.
    now I can hardly hold my clabbered legs straight, 
    and you, bro, and I don’t even see each other once
    in a quarter.  

  15. Walt Wojtanik


    Three months
    and three years.
    Too many tears to recount;
    they mount up quickly
    as I sickly recall your battle.
    A struggle for life
    fought too many times
    to eventually lose.
    If I could chose your fate
    (although it’s much too late)
    it would be for you to be here
    with a need to read the beauty
    of my words you had inspired.
    But, my muse is tired
    and you no longer have a say.
    That’s okay. To this day I remain
    insanely full of love
    for a moment in time long gone.
    An anguished languish held in memory.
    Life is good now,
    and I never had the chance to say
    thanks for steering my heart
    towards a welcoming shore. Home.
    It is where my heart belongs.
    But my songs still call your name.
    And it just isn’t the same.


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