Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 153

In case you haven’t seen it yet, I recently released the 2011 November PAD Chapbook Challenge guidelines. We’re just a little more than two weeks away from poemania! Click here to read the guidelines.


For today’s prompt, write a poem that plays with the idea of disguises. There are physical disguises, of course, but also emotional and psychological disguises that most people wear to some extent every day.

Here’s my attempt:

“Hit the road, Jack”

The beginning is where the end
should be, she tells me, so maybe
we should just call it a day, but
then again, there are the children
to worry over and the bills
aren’t going to just pay themselves.

In a panic, I wave my hands
in the air and say, What are you
trying to tell me? Are you not
happy? Do you need a little
space? I’m sure we can work this out.

Oh sugar, she says, I just meant
we have a lot of work to do
before we can hit the beach and
let the waves take us away.


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118 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 153

  1. Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    sharing an old piece that likewise fits the prompt….

    Family Man
    by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    Family Man
    Salt of the Earth
    Pillar of the Community,
    a heart the size of Texas
    a serpent in the Garden of Eden
    stalking Liliths and Eves
    under a bruised moon
    with teeth sharp to
    rid the world of
    against men,

    © 2011 by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

  2. Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    apology interrupted
    by juanita lewison-snyder

    “i’m sorry you took it that way,”
    he says, disguising his apology
    when a plain “i’m sorry” would have sufficed.

    “i’m sorry you feel that way,”
    he responds, in place of a
    “i’ll never do that again.”

    “yeah, whatever,”
    he offers with passive aggression
    instead of just “sorry, didn’t realize.”

    and he wonders just when it was
    that his apologies quit mattering.

    © 2011 by juanita lewison-snyder

  3. taylor graham


    Tonight the membrane
    between living and dead is so thin
    and porous – between fantasy
    and footstep – I see you

    swimming with Orca among
    Greek islands, becoming myth.
    Under blue waves, ghosts of sailors
    with a whale’s siren-song

    twining their ears
    as monkey-flower bursts
    in Aphrodite-bloom from bare rock.
    This disconnect of dream.

    Now you’re sitting in olive shade,
    hair dripping sea-pearls,
    eating the dessert of gods – wild figs.
    A picture so sweet and perfectly

    impossible. Except on this night
    of masks, of passing
    through earth’s crust, casting off
    the complexion of bone.

  4. sojourningwithjoy

    She pulls her cashmere on,
    smooths it over a bra filled with cotton,
    pulls on her wig,
    her hat,
    her scarf,
    whichever she chose for the day,
    pastes on her smile that says “all is well.”
    Takes a deep breath.
    And wonders if the cancer is really gone.

    She teaches school,
    runs errands,
    laughs with friends,
    and wonders if the cancer is really gone.

    She drives home in impatient traffic,
    Funny how chemo teaches you,
    it’s only three minutes at a red light.
    Two minutes for the jaywalker to get across,
    one minute to let someone else go first.
    and she wonders if the cancer is really gone.

    She feeds her children,
    tells her husband she had a good day,
    Laughs at their favorite sitcom.
    And wonders if the cancer is really gone.

    She paid with her breasts,
    her hair, her toned muscles,
    her stomach lining,
    she paid with months of sickness,
    finally a little strength comes back.
    And she wonders if the cancer is really gone.

    Everyone says, you are doing so well,
    we are so glad for you,
    God is good,
    and she is thankful. But deep inside,
    a fear she has never felt before,
    because she knows now,
    and she wonders if the cancer is really gone.

  5. AC Leming

    Lost a day traveling yesterday…

    You pour on your mask
    Slosh the alcohol into glass,
    Into mouth, glaze eyes,
    Loosen libido

    I don’t want alcohol laced kisses
    Alcohol induced sex
    Alcohol numbness 

    I just want you
    No haze of vodka
    Clouding judgement
    Hiding you 
    From life
    From me
    From what could be

  6. taylor graham


    Tonight, nothing is as it seems.
    A princess in pink sequins and tiara,
    how do we separate her
    from the awkward girl next door?
    Our own black tomcat glides
    under streetlights like a panther.
    That figure wrapped in a sheet
    from someone’s clothesline – is it
    a terrorist or a trick-or-treating ghost?
    And what of the burly man
    sniffing a rose across the fence?
    It could take a detective to know if
    he’s a country-gentleman
    or a burglar in disguise. Tonight
    we abandon our daily masks,
    we become our wishes
    and our fears. The dark night
    knows us.

  7. DanielAri

    “Never did find that Allen wrench”

    Shouldn’t we guffaw continuously
    at our pretense of being civilized
    units and not weird-wired colonies
    who have so underdeveloped our eyes
    we can’t detect what we ourselves comprise?

    Finding cracks in our masks is as easy
    as eating your lunch while driving your car,
    Fresh Air playing, cold drink between your thighs
    and the taste of onions—no metaphor—
    though the one who thinks “onion” is disguised

    as one who thinks, drinks, changes lanes and hears
    dissonance of siren and FM talk.
    Tongue swallows. Heart pumps. Foot flexes. Hands steer.
    Villi stir. Stirrup, hammer, anvil click.
    Protein sheaths retract. Hormones galvanize

    this semblance of one body politic
    to turn quick, tap dance and stomp on the brake.

  8. Walt Wojtanik


    Please don’t look for me. I will not be there.
    If my spirit lingers, it’s out of fear
    of leaving this place unattended.
    My worn and ravaged heart has been mended,
    but the scars are much to much to bear.

    In the shadows I stay, lurking here where
    I remain covered and concealed there.
    My heart torn actions have been defended.
    Please don’t look for me…

    You fail to see me, and you do not care
    that I had given all I had. But dare
    I ask for its return it would end
    terribly. You can see nothing, my friend;
    there’s blankness in your eyes, that distant stare —
    Please don’t look for me…

  9. Candice

    It’s Just Me

    When the first strands fell,
    I felt no pain
    as they swiftly slithered
    down the drain,

    until the whirlpool
    no longer spun
    when my showering time
    was done.

    Then I bought
    some Liquid Plumber,
    but that was then,
    when I was dumber.

    What happened next
    caught me unaware
    when “several strands”
    became a hank of hair

    and, I realized that
    soon I’d be,
    as bald as that cueball —
    proverbially —

    Mirror, mirror on the wall,
    it came a-calling,
    and showed me that
    my hair was falling

    here and there,
    without a doubt,
    revealing parts of
    my pink scalp.

    So, off to Beautyland
    I went —
    ’twas the best ten bucks
    I ever spent

    to have it shaved
    all silky smooth.
    And now my baldness
    is my groove.

    So, one bright day
    if you should see
    a cute, bald chick,
    well, it’s just me.

    This chemo stuff
    is quite perverse,
    but all in all
    it could be worse.

    If the toxins chase
    my cancer away,
    then I’ll stay bald
    for a thousand days!

  10. Mike Bayles

    Dress in Tattered Jeans, and on the Phone

    Well-coached words deceive,
    and while I sit in a cubicle
    safely out of the caller’s vision,
    I wear tattered jeans.

    I force myself to sound professional,
    to say “Yes,” instead of “Yeah,”
    and avoid cussing or complaints,
    even when off the phone,
    to avoid the risk
    that the next caller might hear.

    I force myself to talk
    when flipping through screens,
    even when I don’t feel like talking,
    to fill the void
    between the caller and me.

    I act like an expert
    when advising
    on things I barely know
    and speak with conviction,
    relieved the caller believes.

    The caller talks about sunny weather
    and visions of another world,
    as if I can see
    through the walls
    surrounding me.

  11. pmwanken


    dressed in their Sunday best
    they sit on the right
    three rows from the front

    an architect, he is senior partner
    an elder
    little league coach

    a mom, a wife
    volunteer of the year at the auxiliary
    nursery worker

    a lovely home
    even lovelier children
    regular attendees here

    they are admired
    envied even
    by all who see them

    God must be

    P. Wanken

    “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at the way he looks on the outside or how tall he is, because I have not chosen him. For the Lord does not look at the things man looks at. A man looks at the outside of a person, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7 ~ New Life Version)

  12. Cameron Steele

    Playing Dumb

    The girl stands on the pier and later
    will crawl when the waiting feels slippery
    Flubby tummy in and down and around
    the plastic owl on the wooden rod with lightning eyes.

    I am not a pretty lady but I will take you out for tea.

    What thoughts ramble around inside these long, steel minutes
    as she is bundling up herself for another long cold something or other?
    She watches him watch her from a distance watchpoint.

    The father is a shaking man and an angry one and he is stomping clomp
    Down the pier to the girl.
    She grins at him all of the waiting training splayed out on her face like hands on a watch-face.

    Ready? He is asking her this but he is not wanting an answer so she keeps
    the flubby tummy tucked in
    (I am not a pretty lady, but take me out for tea?)
    Quiet some more until she knows when the time is no longer right
    for the silence of fish.

  13. Bruce Niedt

    A little grisly, perhaps, but after all, Halloween is just around the corner – mwoo-hahahahaaa…..


    That smile, all smarm
    and pasted sincerity –
    let’s peel it away,
    strip the lips,
    leaving just the teeth,
    a manufactured leer.
    Pull the skin away from the face
    like a dieter does with a chicken leg,
    leaving variegated tendons
    and muscles gleaming red
    from work and blood.
    Next, snap them all off
    from the joints like bungee cords,
    clean the face of meat and gristle,
    veins and fat, leaving
    a slick staring skull,
    eyes like bubblegum balls,
    jaw clicking like porcelain.
    Finally, cut a circumference
    around the crown,
    smell the burnt bone,
    and lift off this new dome
    like a cookie-jar lid.
    Peer into the brain pan,
    so we can see
    what you’re really thinking
    if indeed
    there’s anything inside.

  14. Marianv

    Who was that masked man?

    Who didn’t know
    If you listened to the radio
    Imagining a wild prairie scene
    Horses galloping through their dreams
    A place where buffalo still roamed
    Every night the wild wolves moaned
    The bad guys trying to break the law
    The good guys perfect, without a flaw
    Did evil win – not ever, no!
    Because the Lone Ranger made it so
    That justice triumphed in the end
    The masked man and Tonto, his red man friend,
    In that glorious landscape, wild and free
    Imagination triumphs over history.

  15. Shannon Lockard

    Disguises Lies with Truth

    He disguises
    lies with truth,
    twisting words,
    aiming where
    she’s insecure.

    His boldness
    His confidence

    Turning it
    It’s not him
    it’s her.

    Her truth
    must be lies
    formed inside
    her damaged mind.

    Her past makes
    her paranoid
    he claims.

    Is she crazy?
    She frets.

    But soon lies
    spill out.
    Illuminating the
    truth in her

    His disguise
    slips down.

  16. Walt Wojtanik


    Maybe it’s just my nature.
    My charade has made me one of the ones
    who looks at every curse as a gift.
    And I can always tell which ones are good;
    it doesn’t take a detective to solve that mystery.
    Failure would turn my face a vivid crimson;

    the redder, the better. The fact is, I look good in crimson.
    You can’t find this shade anywhere else in nature.
    This veiled mystery
    is a puzzle I can’t keep to myself. But, it’s not one
    that even pure-hearts deemed as good
    would receive as an unexpected gift.

    For no matter what it is I give,
    those worthy would want nothing more from this crimson
    clad lad smelling of holly and living the good
    life. I came from the same place as Mother Nature
    and the furry Easter thing. Sorry to boast, but I am loved by the little ones.
    My identity remains a poorly kept mystery.

    I bask in the glow of Borealis; another beautiful mystery.
    Seeing this phenomenon daily is a blessing; a gift
    never returned or re-gifted. Truly one
    to share with all from the bottom of my crimson
    heart. I’m a list maker by nature
    and I constantly check to make it twice as good.

    I can deal with bad, and I can appreciate how hard it is to be good.
    I have a well-known history; it’s more myth than mystery.
    These are the facts as they’ve always been. I love nature.
    An excited smile is the best gift
    that was ever given to this Crimson
    Crusader! I’ve saved every one.

    Each new year has the potential to be one of the best ones.
    It is a real joy to do this much for the sake of good.
    From the snow-capped forest green, to this tunic most crimson,
    my disguise does not lend itself to mystery.
    If you truly trust me, maybe I’ll leave a special gift.
    As I’ve stated, it is in my nature.

    These are my rules: Human kindness is the best human nature. That is number one.
    Two: Every gift from the heart is especially good.
    Three is really no mystery. I am Santa Clause. Believe in the man in crimson

  17. taylor graham


    At the end of a familiar street,
    inside a forest of orange-trees, hid
    the peeling white Victorian.
    Who lived there in the dark?

    One flashlit Halloween,
    we knocked. A laced hand
    opened. Bright eyes, instead
    of nose, a lacy filigree.

    We had no word for cancer.
    We clutched our grocery bags
    sagging with small sweet bribes.
    The old lady watched us

    behind her noseless mask
    as if she always wore it,
    then opened thin, laced hands
    and filled our sacks

    with a bounty of candy, more
    than we’d find at any other
    door. She thanked us for our
    disguise. We never went back.

  18. barbara_y

    The Art of Disguise

    Saturday morning
    I was sitting in bed writing,
    and your love arrived in a demi-mask
    of coffee and a warm scone.
    I grinned.  It wasn’t really hiding.
    At other times,
    it may wear the suit, tights and all,
    of Emptying-the-Dishwasher.  Or
    the magnificently costumed,
    I pretend not to recognize it making tea:
    Yours isn’t the only love with secret identities.

  19. MiskMask

    The Philosopher of Nightlife

    He was a philosopher of nightlife
    and we surrounded him like a school
    of fish seeking safety
    from the percussion of life’s
    shocks. A school of fools,
    convinced of his fancy ways
    as we hung over an abyss
    clutching at his words
    and promises. A philosopher
    of nightlife, poorly disguised,
    he was every deadly sin.

  20. RJ Clarken

    No Camouflage

    What I am looking for is a blessing not in disguise. ~Jerome K. Jerome

    I wish I didn’t have to wait
    for luck to show up at my gate
    and dressed unrecognizable.
    I wish for joy that’s flagrant, bold
    without agenda, hidden, cold.
    I know that wish is sizable.
    My world view is simplistic but
    I’d rather get it straight, uncut.
    Naïve ‘though realizable.



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