Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 123

For this week’s prompt, write an isolation poem. This could be a poem about isolation that is forced upon someone or that people impose on themselves. Or it could be an isolation that does not involve people.

Here is my attempt:

“Ourselves as monsters”

We hide inside our houses now,
inside our apartment buildings.
We quit looking ourselves in our eyes,
afraid we’ll find something there.
Our phones ring and we let them,
because no one calls us anymore.
We know no one calls us anymore,
because we carry our phones
like concealed weapons, but that’s not
the worst of it, not even close.
We call ourselves, and we don’t answer,
because we’re afraid of ourselves,
the shadows we cast and noises
we make outside like foxes
searching for something flesh
to consume at night
when the world should
be asleep
dreaming
of…

*****

Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer

*****

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93 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 123

  1. Taylor Graham

    EARTHQUAKE

    The old dog is a broken wagon,
    a faded quilt. I run my fingers through
    her dust and worn-out dog-hair.

    On the TV news, percussion,
    buildings fracturing across the ocean.
    The needle shakes along

    the graph, a vibraphone. Smell of
    burnt toast from the kitchen.

    If the hind legs fail, the front must
    go forward on their own. Remember
    how she chewed out of her crate

    in cargo, trying to find you –
    she’d claw her way up through
    the cabin floor. She could

    crawl from the tightest trap-
    space, searching for life. Last night

    in the dark she sailed around
    the house. Asleep now, falling into
    the void, and beyond

    the breakup of the world.

  2. Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    taking the veil
    by juanita lewison-snyder

    after countless stories
    of misery from friends
    of ingrate relatives
    and significant others,
    she rejoices in
    being an only child
    with barren womb,
    accountable only
    unto herself
    (unless the dog counts),
    among the lucky few
    still living
    on a secluded
    stretch of beach
    just south of where
    the wild ponies roam
    free of human
    interference.
    corking open
    a bottle of wine,
    she pours herself
    a celebratory glass
    while the dog
    heads off in search
    of his own amusement.
    it wasn’t that she
    did not have time
    to dote on others,
    she rationalized,
    it’s just she never
    felt the need to
    pair up with another
    nor procreate.
    why should one
    when love is so
    overrated, and
    solitude, a highly
    sought after commodity?
    still, touching the
    wine glass to pink lips
    she ponders how
    such a holy grail
    could hone such
    a razor’s edge.

    © 2011 by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

  3. Jolanta Laurinaitis

    I recognise
    And acknowledge
    This feeling
    Of inadequacy
    Retribution
    And isolation
    I recognise
    And acknowledge
    That I may
    One day
    Overcome it

  4. Dennis Wright

    The Red River Valley

    “I’m gonna follow that ol’ Red River down,
    ‘til I see the lights of town…”
    Guy Clark/Rodney Crowell – Baton Rouge

    A blind man stood on the road and cried.
    The old song said he got lost and died.
    I heard he cried in pain, "show me the way".
    I wondered what made him blind, ‘til today.

    For an old grey man stood on his last legs.
    Said he’d tell me the tale if he could beg,
    A meal at some diner that he liked to eat.
    It weren’t too bad, had plenty open seats.

    So we sat right down, ordered us a meal.
    He had coffee and toast. I had oatmeal.
    It was half into the third cup he began,
    Said he knew the pain of the ol’ blind man.

    “Well, what pain was that?” I asked of him.
    He just ran a finger over his coffee cup rim.
    Then he looked out the window at the street,
    And he spoke right out in a steady ¾ beat.

    “Someone told him the one and only truth.
    Then he had to pull out his last eye tooth,
    When he found the truth was not the truth.
    For he got to Texas and no one said adieu.”

    You can believe what you want to believe.
    You can buy alligator shoes to help you grieve.
    You can stand alone there on your last legs.
    Just to tell a tale to find a meal to beg.

    But if someone sells you the only truth,
    Hold on fast to your one last eye tooth.
    For truth may be just some waiting dream,
    That seeks fewer tales with more steam.

    And who cares if the Red River found,
    Was so way up north, and not Baton Town.
    It’s only details we find around the rim,
    Of a larger day out there for you to win.

  5. AC Leming

    Dammed

    I’ve dammed myself.
    Cut off the flow
    Of words necessary
    To live with you,
    Wild & open.
    Words stopped
    Behind the mortar
    Of teeth, swallowed
    By the marsh of tongue.
    Words cut deep into the 
    Banks of my mouth.
    Erode my esophagus
    With Pent up acid rain.
    Eventually, my dammed words
    With break through,
    Spew forth destruction.
    Wipe out everything,
    Everyone in it’s path.
    Then where will we be,
    Creativity?

  6. Dennis Wright

    Well, here it is again Wednesday night. I got work to do,but don’t have to be in until noon. Not quite with eyes half closed, yet.

    The haiku about isolation leads to incarseration. Incarseration leads to being too close to many one would not normally say hello to if they saw them on the street. Anywho, a haiku that leads to incarseration is one powerful poem.

    The Holy Grail speaks to God’s Grace, so they say. The ship "Owner" has sailed many a sea and taken much human and otherwise cargo to various places around the globe. Some good, some not so good. The good ship "Dan" has yet to sail. There is a grace in sports witness the Packers and Jets. The Giants, who ain’t won the Series since 1954, dominated a stronger team. Grace indeed.

    I agree. Sam writes good stuff!

  7. Walt Wojtanik

    ICE ELATION

    The Buffalo Sabres of the NHL have a new direction.
    The Blue and Gold, now brave and bold, the cause for this infection.
    The Owner Ship had run aground but seems to have been righted,
    and as they sail towards hockey grail, this life-long fan’s excited.

    And this time, I’m not alone!

  8. Walt Wojtanik

    HERE ALL ALONE

    Here all alone,
    writing; inciting.
    Loudly, expressively, proudly,
    with verses and rhymes to hone.
    The only one to know what my heart is thinking,
    dispatching those thoughts without me even blinking.
    I revel in the silence; my sanctuary,
    comforting and not scary.
    Projected, protected.
    Defined, refined.
    Writing; inciting
    loudly. Expressively, proudly
    with verses and rhymes to hone,
    here all alone.

  9. Uma Gowrishankar

    Bhishma, the Terrible

    Lying on the bed of arrows
    his unseeing eyes scan the blue sky
    clouds puncture when pain erupts
    rainbow explosions inside the retina
    as the skin tears into the sharp metal.
    Move the mind from the metal. But
    you are not Bhishma the Terrible.
    You are just the patriarch of my family,
    mentor of dreams that struggle to fly
    like kites that nose dive into sand.
    You trundled across miles of waste land
    as she waited for you, for your aching body:
    skin on skin, the metallic coldness of her body
    many years ago as if in someone else’s lifetime.
    Here on this prickly bed, building on every breath
    the hair in your nostrils gently stir, settle limp
    for the last time as the fins of a dead fish.

  10. Gloria

    Forsaken

    Alone in her truth,
    separated by secrets,
    sequestered in pain,
    cloistered by memories chains.
    Heartache secured by taboo.

    Family secret
    alienates from the world.
    Forsaken child grieves,
    is unable to connect
    forlorn, never knowing love.

    G.K.Bostic – 2/21/11

  11. stu pidasso

    Receding Heir Line
    By stu pidasso
    21Feb2011

    As the eighth of nine children, with ten grandkids in the mix
    I’m not sure how I got this way or how I’m going to fix
    The undeniable sense of loss and separation from the fold
    This unnerving feeling has got me locked in quite a hold

    The oldest and the youngest are removed by half the land
    The second, third and fourth are not the kind that I can stand
    Even though the fifth, sixth and seventh are those that I like best
    dealing with them on occasion puts my patience to the test

    I love all my nieces and nephews, and I see them frequently;
    They say that these dreaded feelings may be bred from familiarity
    Don’t get me wrong, I love them all and I’d be there in a blink
    But day to day, week to week, avoiding them keeps me in sync

    Something about the road I’ve walked, that one carefree and wild
    taught me how to be independent as if I were an only child.

  12. Walt Wojtanik

    SAIL

    Unfurled, my canvas tightens,
    taut and rigid in the strength
    of a gale force wind. Beginning
    and ending with the gusts
    prevailing, sailing into the waters,
    uncharted and unsure. It is purely
    the epitome of self-sufficiency;
    this proficiency so star-guided
    provides me with the direction I crave.
    In it, I am saved, a navigator of
    life’s currents. Wave after wave,
    I am coaxed toward shore, for sure
    more open waters await me.
    My sole journey continues undeterred.

  13. Sam Nielson

    PKP and Barbara Young,
    I went to post another little scrap and saw your comments. Thank you for the encouraging words about my poem. I worried about jamming two such disparate things together.

    Thank you.

  14. Sam Nielson

    Unread

    There it sits unread.
    A few lines on a page
    Well fingered and dog-eared.

    You know you live too close
    When each letter encloses a house,
    With thrown open windows, begging,
    Each word, connected storefronts,
    In bright or sometimes clashing colors,
    Each row a street address wanting mail,
    Each stanza a grey neighborhood
    Without singing, laughing children.

    Even a small breeze,
    Would ruffle it somewhere,
    A half breath to animate it.
    There it sits unread.

  15. Marian O'Brien Paul

    Late Winter, Chicago – 2011

    Apartment blocs emit intermittent puffs
    venting heating units or automatic dryers.
    Chimneys ply the atmosphere with pale
    smoky squiggles like squirted squid ink
    camouflaging rooftops. Sky lowers its

    ceiling, dropping tendrils down to meet
    the rising lake-fog, blotting out geometric
    angles constructed with stone, anchored
    deep beneath earth’s surface with steel
    pylons men embedded to raise the city.

    Sleek-backed South Shore train slides
    past: metallic snake on rails mimicking
    an owl hooting. Mist muffles the air
    spitting at human faces hunkered into
    coat collars, eye lashes lowered, wary

    of puddled pavement underfoot where
    mud once ruled this season before tall
    grasses spread their coarse cloth across
    the Midwestern prairie, spawning bees
    and toads and herds of buffalo coursing

    like rivers, living estuaries obedient to
    inner tides. Rivers plied by the original
    men and women who made homes here
    of buffalo hide and grass mats and mud
    before Europe invaded, importing cities.

    City temporarily erased: gawking spires
    above the waffle-weave of pavements
    clogged with hustling people all bent on
    riches or survival, all briefly obliterated,
    swathed in mist, in smoke, in fog, in rain.

  16. Taylor Graham

    MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS

    Loch Leven, mirror serene –
    if water keeps no history of what is past,
    whose reflection is unseen
    on its face? A castled queen.
    If water keeps no history of what is past,

    do the island’s fortress-stones
    encircle her prisoned spirit, her brief reign?
    What recompense for lost thrones?
    World enough to bury bones,
    encircle her prisoned spirit, her brief reign.

  17. Meg

    Isolation

    Don’t ask me how I feel
    Or what you can do to help.
    That’s just one more thing
    One more person needs from me.
    A response required at another’s request
    Reminding me of my responsibility
    to everyone else. It’s overwhelming.
    I don’t want to be right now
    What you need or want me to be.
    I just want to be.
    And I want to be alone.

  18. Debra Cochran

    "The Artist"

    You’re standing there alone
    in your head–your mind
    separated from theirs

    a pocket of thought different
    and unaccepted–

    This wall of differentness–
    a force you hadn’t sought
    but which seems to
    consume your world.

    You want to relate to them,
    but the valley of space
    you see and sense,
    you cannot control

    Nerves telling consciousness
    you are different–
    You are strange

    But this strangeness is God’s design–
    for you must create in solitude
    even if you never leave
    their presence.

  19. PKP aka Pearl Ketover Prilik

    Dear Dennis, Sometimes the best things happen with our eyes half open.
    Thanks for sharing the cabin anecdote. Several times we went to cabins in Moosehead Lake Maine, where when dark fell you could not see your own hand in front of your face!

    Walt..Okay you know this one is coming…ready? Funny you don’t look Poeish… Going off to hang head in the punny hall of shame. Lol.

  20. Patti Williams

    Keeping myself
    Away from the darkness
    Even though he tries to come
    Over each and every day and don’t

    Remember the last time we
    Had a conversation
    But yet he is always close
    Dressed in his preacher clothes.

    Between you and me, I’m going
    To start calling him “Preacherboy”
    And since he is so messed up
    He probably won’t even mind.

    Over at my place, I don’t put up
    With that holier than thou shit
    Especially from Preacherboy so
    He needs to go on back to his rental

    Outstide the city limits because
    His kind ain’t welcome here.
    He can worship himself isolated
    From the rest of us good hearted people.

    Amen.

  21. Dennis Wright

    Pearl,

    There are those cabins, Out There. I remember such a cabin on one of the lakes in the Land O’ Lakes chain. Off a long dirt logging road and miles from the small Wisconsin town of the same name, it was the only cabin on that section of the lake. The local story was one could put in at one lake and follow the chain to Canada. We never got close to Canada, but made it through four lakes without seeing another boat or cabin. Pretty remote.

  22. Dennis Wright

    Pearl,

    The first version was written late at night with my eyes half open. I knew I wanted to improve the last line, but didn’t have the energy to work with it. I saw it dwarfed by the line before it and so wanted to make a change. I’m thinking the title needs work, but want to stay with the poem some time before deciding.

    Thanks for the encouraging words!

  23. Bruce Niedt

    Sorry – a couple of minor edits:

    Liminal
    (for Jane Hirshfield)

    For each door you open
    there is also a threshold.

    When you pass through
    you lose something of yourself.

    Old clothes fall away and
    you wipe the mud from your shoes.

    You are on the edge,
    netherworld between two rooms

    and the people in either one
    have turned their backs to you.

    This is where they tell you to go
    in an earthquake –

    the lintel and sill hold you inside
    a charmed rectangle.

    But you are the one
    who will do the shaking –

    and in that lonely doorway
    you will understand

    how isolation opens the heart.
    Shunned by the world,

    you will feel love for it,
    as a cloistered nun,

    an Amish boy returning
    after his year of "wild time",

    or the old poet Komachi
    who lost her beauty and status

    but who still had more wisdom
    that any priest.

    Confident, with papers in hand,
    you will step into the next room,

    where bright afternoon sun streams
    through tall dining room windows.

    The guests will turn around
    and as they listen to you read

    they will smile in recognition
    because you will remind them

    that everyone, even the medieval monk,
    likes to write in the margins.

  24. Bruce Niedt

    Liminal
    (for Jane Hirshfield)

    For each door you open
    there is also a threshold.

    When you pass through
    you lose something of yourself.

    Old clothes fall away and
    you wipe the mud from your shoes.

    You are on the edge,
    netherworld between two rooms

    and the people in either one
    have turned their backs to you.

    This is where they tell you to go
    in an earthquake –

    the lintel and sill hold you inside
    a charmed rectangle.

    But you are the one
    who will do the shaking –

    and in that lonely doorway
    you will understand

    how isolation opens the heart.
    Shunned by the world,

    you will feel love for it,
    as a cloistered nun,

    an Amish boy returning
    after his year of "wild time",

    or the old poet Komachi,
    who lost her beauty and status

    but who still had more wisdom
    that any priest.

    Confident, with papers in hand,
    you will step into the next room,

    where bright afternoon sun streams
    through tall dining room windows.

    The guests will turn around
    and as they listen to you read

    they will laugh and wipe tears
    because you will remind them

    that everyone, even the medieval monk,
    has liked to write in the margins.

  25. Dennis Wright

    Here are a few rewrites…

    Isolation

    I put on my baggy pants to paint yet,
    when I stroke to cover, I open bold.
    Big as life I find I am wide open,
    Rich color, rich texture, painted gold.

    But youth that’s gold will turn to rust,
    Age that’s gold will turn to winter.
    Big as life I find a walking poem,
    now plain, now so vivid, it splinters.

    Oh damn these baggy pants and paint,
    And that stroke that leaves me open.
    Life is like a sea: love is but an ocean.
    I walk once more an empty poem.

  26. PKP aka Pearl Ketover Prilik

    Walt, very much enjoyed 2:37 am…rhythm was wonderful…Who knew you were Poe- ish…lol
    Madman Across the Water, delightful… again rhyme and images that simply sing!

    Dennis…Ah " walking with just this poem" here on this " street" you are never alone, lovely poem.

    Sam… " Extremes" capturing of a huge felt image of a certain time and sensibility, the more read the more this poem shines! Submit this somewhere if you haven t already done so…

    Back for more later!
    Wonderful poems, reading from bottom up….Obviously isolation is a promote that resonates!

  27. Walt Wojtanik

    MADMAN ACROSS THE WATER

    Just a crazy old guy,
    collecting poems as if they were cats.
    Stumbling, sometimes mumbling to himself.
    "Moon, June, bafoon…", this lyrical loon
    searches for the right word. The way
    he plays with nomenclature, they’re all right.
    Off to his outpost, with a host of other
    rhyming things, he sings words to a song
    he had once written, smitten with a lovely.
    Above him a placard bearing quotations,
    and random notations; nuggets to ponder.
    Yonder is a file box, stocked with pages:
    rants and rages, laments and upstages.
    A poetic pariah, lost in a world
    in which every street leads to the
    center of his worded thunder.
    It’s no wonder others of his ilk
    seek distance, with some resistance
    to be sure. Purely speaking, they are seeking
    his persistence and reticence. He pens in perfect
    solitude, an attitude he’s acquired
    to be all he’s desired; full throttle ahead.
    Damn the torpedoes. Across the lake
    he takes his stand. Just a crazy old guy.

  28. Justine Hemmestad

    Who am I without you but a grain of shifting sand,
    A flutter of your heart,
    An eagle without a nest.
    I am the angel’s arrow,
    With nowhere to strike,
    Upon a desert it falls.
    Or I am a barren road,
    With no car to speed upon it
    And stir up the dirt.
    My sands shift on a lonely beach,
    The waves crash onto my bare skin.
    My soul awaits your tranquility.
    But do you come?
    No.

  29. Walt Wojtanik

    2:37 A.M.

    The rattling of the window is apmlified,
    it will need caulking to be rectified.
    The wind reflects my random mood,
    at 2 A.M, this is not good.

    Poised to pen the "next big thing",
    with all the angst that this will bring.
    But thoughts are fleeting, quite escapist,
    like some dignity stealing, idea rapist.

    I rattle off a terse Haiku
    for it seemed to be the thing to do,
    a sestina sits, a silent rant,
    I’d work on another, but I can’t.

    The house is still; the girls asleep,
    in the clatter of my keys I keep
    working on my pompous play,
    it’s sure sap the hours away.

    Yes, I need slumber, so what of it?
    Not arrogant enough to think I am above it,
    but somnambula feeds this writing frenzy.
    Insomnia is my sad defense, see?

    Half past two, my eye lids a-flutter,
    can’t see the forest ‘fore this clutter.
    This seems the time my muse takes flight,
    in the middle of this wind-blown night.

    But now I’m nodding, nearly napping
    and the tree branch at my window tapping,
    beats this rhythm so intriguing,
    a rhumba for my poor fatigue.

    At last, it comes, no more to baffle,
    the impression on my face, a waffle
    where my noggin came to rest;
    against my keyboard it was pressed.

    In the early morning light,
    it seemed I stayed up half the night,
    with nothing on my screen to show,
    but yhu02835-w7butovbvyq34;59uzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz……..

  30. Hugh Collins

    Payback
    by Hugh V. Collins

    With unpredicted expression,
    Gravity’s glue held me in place
    As I stood there and helplessly stared at her face

    What happened?

    Brought before justice from lies told in disguise
    Cold were her actions and the beginning of her demise
    But, payback, isn’t it a bitch?

    Cho man, beg yuh a money nuh?

    Homeless, filthy and drugged,
    Shameless and nameless in the streets,
    Her fashion sense became the wear and tear rags

    Left behind in garbage piles,
    Her sustenance became the air we shared
    While she begged her meal for the day

    I gave her a twenty.

    Her English was still perfect,
    And her manners hadn’t diminished
    But her smile though similar,

    Was tainted with traces of weeks old food stains
    I barely found words to utter.
    A teardrop reminded me how much I liked her,

    And how our past was forced through
    The turmoil of an imperfect crush

    If this is all you can give me, you can take it back.

    I imagined how
    If our encounter were through a phone line
    I would have craved the sight of her,

    But disappointment would be inevitably gained.
    I would have taken flight from her

    I gave her a hundred.

    I thought back to the times I stood next to her,
    Taking ass whoopings for the classroom fights
    Silly me,

    I thought her moms next words
    Would break and imprison me

    You’re gonna be a rapist!

    I cringed at the ease in which she let the words
    Leave her puffed, wart-filled cheeks
    But the memory of those words,

    Tormented my spirit for more than a few weeks,
    Caned for my indiscretions
    And witnesses were more than few

    Left with a bruised ego,
    I swallowed the dying frog in my throat
    Took my stripes, wiped my eyes

    To prevent the tears from rolling
    My future seemed grim,
    But I knew my worth,
    My strength and I had more than dignity

    But payback, isn’t it a bitch?

  31. Dennis Wright

    Isolation

    I put on my baggy pants to paint yet,
    When I stroke to cover, I open bold.
    Big as life I find I am wide open,
    Rich color, rich texture, painted gold.

    But youth that’s gold will turn to rust,
    Age that’s gold will turn to winter.
    Big as life I find a walking poem,
    Now plain. Now vivid. Oh! It splinters.

    Oh damn these baggy pants and paint,
    And that stroke that leaves me open.
    Life is like a sea: love is but an ocean.
    I walk once more with just this poem.

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