Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 162

Poetry relies on art as much as (or maybe even more than) craft to communicate. Sometimes, we need to look at the ugly sides of human nature to find the beauty in ourselves. Such is the case with a blog post written by poet Nin Andrews on the MNINB blog this morning: You Look Like Your Mama Mated With a Rhino.

For this week’s prompt, write a poem that deals with cruelty. It can deal with bullying, name-calling, or other types of abuse. There are a million ways to be cruel, and the best way to combat cruelty is to tackle it directly.

Here’s my attempt:

“million ways to be cruel”

the door that snapped shut behind me, the hand
i didn’t hold when it mattered most, hugs
that didn’t wrap themselves around people
who needed them, e-mail messages that
never received a response, too many
jokes not aimed at myself, the sarcastic
remarks of someone trying to deflect
the spotlight off himself, the blame shifting,
the words i wanted to say but did not.


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264 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 162

  1. Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    The Cruelty of Owls
    by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    Most days are Jekyll & Hyde
    from the moment the alarm goes off,
    a triage marriage of convenience.
    Caffeine drip all morning diesels into
    cruelty long after the late night news
    has come and gone.

    To feed the cannibalism within
    she must first unravel the self-loathing.
    A Great Horned Owl at the keyboard
    of indifference, she logs on to
    join the other feathered tribe nations
    for another round at the table of
    blog-apathy roulette.

    She bathes in an opium den of falsehoods
    the heart sleeves of prey still
    wriggling between beak and talon,
    their flesh still pink and raw from
    years of passive aggression.
    Her words rise like welts across
    the electronic page,
    pessimistic yet boastful,
    disrespectful but focused,
    this winged Howard Stern of blogging.
    performing the cruelty of owls.

    © 2012 by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

  2. Jolanta.Stephens

    Eyes creak open
    Test the waters
    Breathe deep
    Brace yourself
    Wrench yourself upwards
    Still nothing
    First few wobbly steps
    Still nothing
    Smile smears
    Thinking you have beaten it
    That you have finally overcome
    Until it suddenly
    Hits you from behind
    Like a wave of bricks
    You crawl back
    Tail between your legs
    As you indulge
    In the cruelty
    Of the delayed

  3. fireflydarkness


    ‘No way those are real,’
    she thought
    as they met.

    ‘What a pretty blouse,’
    she smiled
    as she said.

    ‘Nice to meet you,’
    she lied
    as she left.

  4. Bruce Niedt

    I’ve been MIA the last couple of weeks, mainly because I was gearing up to attend an awesome writer’s conference here in NJ over the holiday weekend. You can read more about it on my blog: Anyway, this week I combined Robert’s prompt with one from the blog The Sunday Whirl (which some of you here also participate in). The “Wordle” prompt for this week was to use the following words in a poem:
    sisters, scatter, instinct, shards, knack, urges, scald, crush, ashen, charm, whispering, story

    The Cruel Sister

    It’s a story as old as the songs that tell them –
    two sisters vie for the love of one man,
    and jealousy becomes the beast that it can be.
    In the old ballad, the older, dark-haired girl
    scatters petals on the river and urges
    the younger one, fair and full of charm,
    to gather them, then with murderous instinct,
    pushes her in and watches her drown.
    A miller finds her body, mistakes it for a “bonny swan”,
    and with his knack for hand-crafting,
    fashions a harp from her bones and hair.
    He gives it to the older girl’s family, and when
    they play this beautiful new instrument,
    it sings its sad story, whispering a tale
    of the fair girl’s murder. The music scalds the ears
    of the dark-haired sister. Her face turns ashen.
    Sadly, it’s not just a song of bygone times.
    Nearly every day we see shards of this story
    in the news, sibling love crushed by petty rivalry,
    a monster that tears them both apart.

  5. taylor graham


    How could he know you’ve seen
    too many lambs silenced?
    The stillborns, the mastitis-babies
    starving, the ones too weak to bleat.

    His choice of movies.
    The theater’s dark – only blessing
    of a blind date. He can’t take
    his eyes off the screen.

    You can’t get past the title
    of this picture. The mind of a killer –
    Mother Nature cruel enough
    without our help.

    It’s a good movie, they
    say. A glimpse into abysses
    one knows too well

    How could you hope
    to tell this man
    a single thing about

  6. Mike Bayles

    Best to be Left Alone

    He jeers after others applaud
    after my poetry reading
    in the coffee shop last night.
    He says he’s the last of the romantic poets
    of the modern age
    and protests the fluff he perceives
    in others’ writing.
    He says he’s confessional,
    and a demon brought to stage
    mocks a woman he once loved,
    and demands the same of me.
    I proclaim the beauty he once knew,
    while he denies past affections.
    Aflicted with disdain
    he says he speaks beauty and truth,
    while I’m betrayed
    by a friend I once knew.

  7. PSC in CT


    Because you’ve borne this child,
    (bearing still, the scars to prove it),
    might give you the means – method,
    manner, mode – but not the right

    birthing this babe, may have made you
    a tool, a mighty weapon, (forged
    in flames of love and pain) equally
    useful for defense or destruction

    best be careful how you slice –
    this blade hews both ways

  8. leatherdykeuk

    Five Girls, on their way to the Shop, skipping Maths

    They follow us through the woods, these girls,
    five of them, each one fourteen going on forty,
    outdoing the others in brashness and volume,
    filling the rain-soaked branches with four-letter words,
    where they hang, hooked to the branches by expletives
    and what passes amongst kids for punctuation,
    until they fall, unbidden, nudged by some faint breeze
    into unsuspecting ears and mine.

    They have a dog with them, unleashed and crapping
    where it may, their gutteral voices calling after it
    Brandy! Branday! Branay!
    The ignore its efforts, its faecal additions to the muddy path,
    and talk instead about boys, teachers,
    the classes they’re skipping.

    At the shop my three are tied and patient
    while I buy milk, bread, eggs and orange squash,
    then my smallest barks as they arrive,
    Brandi (you know the spelling in your bones)
    rushes about taunting my three
    and the shopkeeper winces as the shout after it
    their Chesterfeldian vowels spattering like broken glass
    through the open door of the newsagents.

  9. Callum C Robinson

    My first post so take it easy on me haha, loving all the posts on this blog would encourage any constructive critisium thanks.


    On top of the cold strikened floor or life
    gazing up at the reality of the punisher
    whom may have consideration
    but does not show it as the
    lashing of disopointment become
    deeper and deeper until it strikes
    your heart and you become frozen
    unable to love no more
    as you lie there on the floor.

  10. taylor graham


    Last night I dreamed such strange dreams.
    Shall I believe these
    night visions?

    Beautiful bones are like words.
    Should we gnaw them
    for their marrow?

    Where we leave dry skulls, weeds grow.
    Is this how to paint
    a wasteland?

    An artist lives on man’s fate.
    Does this make him a

    We live to create this art:
    Eat the bones, fledge larks
    from splinters?

    Tonight I’ll dream a new dream.
    What’s born in feathers

    Blue sky without a hint of ash.
    Might morning always
    dawn so clear?

  11. Ber

    Holding Back my Tears

    Sitting here in your company

    Almost feeling like I belong

    But stupid me I couldn’t see

    I couldn’t be more wrong

    Made feel like apart of something

    For your punching bag you see

    You made me feel so low and useless

    You made me not want to be me

    I look at you in shock

    The way I never wanted to do

    I curled myself in a ball

    To protect myself from you

    Kicked when I was down

    Lying on the ground

    No one comes to help me

    No ones hears a sound

    I sit and sob my heart out

    My face is torn and sore

    My heart is more hurt now

    I can’t believe the way I have been treated

    I wish I could ignore

    Standing over me gave you strength

    Humiliating me while you gave me a belt

    A kick or two sure one more will do

    Just to be sure I stay on the floor

    I swear I will fight back

    Someday your time will come

    And so I do that day I met you

    You were sitting on your bum

    I walked up to you and looked you in the eye

    Do you look away no you don’t?

    You’re so brazen your acting the clown

    But one thing I know when I look in your eye

    You will have to live with what you did until the day you die

    So sleep well in your ignorance

    And wish yourself well

    Be happy when you look in the mirror

    Now you’re living your own hell

  12. Michelle Hed


    We all walk with
    the lightness and the darkness
    in our soul
    and sometimes
    the darkness, for whatever reason,
    overshadows the light
    and words are spoken,
    ones you hopefully regret
    but cannot be removed
    and in that moment
    you give thanks for the balance
    and tip toward the light
    as you seek forgiveness
    for the words uttered
    when darkness
    tipped the scales.

  13. DanielAri

    Feeling reluctant to post this, especially after that excellent personal powerhouse by Joseph Harker.
    But I’m grateful not to have to feel shy here 🙂

    “Pack politics”

    The moon rises full. The captain howls for blood.
    Woe to the second who advocates restraint.
    The pack aches to feed. There’s none who sense the good
    in sating hunger but not the appetite
    at the all-you-can-eat buffet neighborhood.

    There’s no cruelty like that for the lieutenant
    as the apocalyptic bacchanal drowns
    the terrified town—and his urging to wait.
    The gorging is brash and loud—and soon the sounds
    of guns counterpoint the screaming in the woods.

    The chaos of fang and firearms surround
    the pack and its reviled tactician. He draws
    all blame: mercy and casualty. The king’s wounds
    are fatal. Cassandra’s words stick in the craw.
    The moon sets. They maul a scapegoat for dessert.

    In the moaning, broken town revealed at dawn
    some grin by the fading dreams of blood-smeared paws.

  14. Joseph Harker

    Busiest day ever at work yesterday, and just as busy today, so hardly even have time to log on here… boo. This one is an oldie (first written here in June ’09, I think), one of my first published poems (in Ganymede) and seemed to fit the topic. Apologies to Nancy for sharing the title!

    Sticks and Stones

    In the beginning was the Word,
    that slipped between chapped lips
    into the world.

    It snaked its head around like
    a consonantal hydra
    beating both its syllables through the air,
    until it landed on my shoulder,
    heavy and hateful.

    I could spit in their faces,
    say, This faggot won’t bow his head,
    This faggot is proud of who he is,
    could brush that string of letters off
    like angular snot,
    an unwelcome collection of sounds
    not worth my time;

    but pimpled sneers and sniggers
    on a city street at night
    suggest a hint of attitude,
    blunt or sharp, or hidden in a pocket,
    that makes one think twice
    about calling bluffs,
    and so I walk on, neck bent and

    skin unbroken, bones brittle but whole,
    with catcall valedictions.
    Look at the faggot walking home,

    and you can see that helplessness,
    steaming his breath in the night:
    he is upright, his insides are bloodied.

      1. De Jackson

        Goodness. Once again, I shall never write again.
        And yet simultaneously want to write until my fingers ache and my heart lies empty, shelled. That, my astonishing friend, is what a poem should do to you. Thank you.

  15. MiskMask

    Too Late for Words

    I guess we’re just supposed to know
    waltzing through life as though
    we should all be psychic,
    assuming this and that like it
    was just understood that you
    loved us. Never a word. Prick
    us and we still bleed tears over you.

  16. Colette D

    ~ How Can You Not See? ~

    How can you not see
    that your hollow, caustic words
    are so hurtful to others?
    How can you not see
    how your hollow, caustic lies
    spread destruction like a plague?
    How can you not see
    that your hollow, caustic opinions
    are rather holocaustic?
    How can you not see?

    {can you see it?
    tell me if you can}

  17. viv

    It goes without saying
    Posted on January 18, 2012 by vivinfrance
    I never dare to tell him off
    the explosion could be fatal.
    So I don’t ask him to stop
    leaving dirty socks on the floor.
    I don’t ask him not to leave tea-bags in the sink –
    at least he makes the tea!
    I just thank him for encouragement
    to do what I want, when I want
    and the praise when I do it well.

    The things I don’t say I don’t write about either. Call me inhibited, I probably am, but there are good reasons
    for not being brutally honest, for biting my tongue on the unkind remark or provocative statement.


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