Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 164 (Habit Poems)

Good news! I’ve announced which poems will be published in the 2013 Poet’s Market. Check out the selections.

For this week’s poetry prompt, write a poem about a habit. The habit could be one of yours–or that of someone else. The habit could be amusing or annoying. The habit could be, well, whatever you wish it to be. For instance, maybe your habit is writing poems.

Here’s my habit poem:

“In place”

Most times I don’t even realize I’m doing it
until someone says something. Then, I quit
for perhaps a minute or two before starting
up again. Sometimes it’s like I’m parting
ways with myself, the simple movement
of my right leg–like it was never meant
to sit at a desk, to sit at all. And maybe
that’s why I’ve always moved since a baby.

More poem prompts:

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Get your poetry prompts, instruction, and more!
For the most part, I think poetry is best learned through the process of reading and writing poetry. However, there are a few poetry resources I do keep close to my desk at all times. This includes Sage Cohen’s wonderful Writing the Life Poetic, which is equal parts instruction, poem prompts, and inspiration.

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209 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 164 (Habit Poems)

  1. Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    Habit
    by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    She made it a habit
    of taking in strays,
    the clearly unwanted,
    the damaged, the frays.

    Roaming the sharp edge
    of midnight’s skid run,
    nomads that travel
    by shadow from sun.

    On her porch, they do gather
    for kind word, for meal
    for licking their wounds
    for love’s apron conceal,

    the holes, the scuffs,
    the cracks, the breaks
    the fallen, the missing
    the stricken one’s aches.

    In droves they come
    by word of mouth,
    taking a chance when
    all things head south.

    Safe passage, she offered
    for as long as the need,
    a witness to greatness
    out sowing the seed.

    She made it a habit
    of taking in strays,
    the clearly unwanted,
    the damaged, the frays.

    © 2012 by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

  2. Marianv

    Old Habits

    It was her habit, in those days
    To make a wish upon the evening star
    “Star light, star bright” she would chant
    and feel satisfied she had performed
    a duty that would keep her world from harm…

    On days when clouds obscured her view
    She searched the heavens for a break
    Then, finding none, she carried the burden
    Of a quest unfulfilled, a hidden under-
    Current of lurking doom. The dismal
    Grayness drained the color from
    Her thoughts, and a smile bur rarely
    Appeared upon her face.

    The years were not unkind, she had learned
    To appreciate the emptyness of rooms. The silence
    She could break with music or perhaps
    The radio. The TV a disappointment, daily
    News reports stammered from the mahogany
    bulk stationed in the vacant sitting room.
    The house was hers alone, her parents dead
    The upstairs rented, families moving in
    And out. She became a passing stranger
    To their fates.

    When the evening sky was fair, she would repeat
    Her litany to keep all she loved from harm. Whose
    Identity she could not name but yet she felt a
    Kinship among all those who walked alone,
    Who slept in lonely beds and waked to news
    Reports. Whose tragedies were animals she
    Spent her passions on, whose lives were briefer
    Than her own. Sometimes she felt that she
    Would drown as the daily news turned grim
    The neighborhood, the town itself had turned
    A sloppy shade, each person huddled in their cells
    Receiving news of strangers far away. Like them
    She, too began to choose, what she should care
    About and what to throw away.

    who

    Old Habits

    It was her habit, in those days
    To make a wish upon the evening star
    “Star light, star bright” she would chant
    and feel satisfied she had performed
    a duty that would keep her world from harm…

    On days when clouds obscured her view
    She searched the heavens for a break
    Then, finding none, she carried the burden
    Of a quest unfulfilled, a hidden under-
    Current of lurking doom. The dismal
    Grayness drained the color from
    Her thoughts, and a smile bur rarely
    Appeared upon her face.

    The years were not unkind, she had learned
    To appreciate the emptyness of rooms. The silence
    She could break with music or perhaps
    The radio. The TV a disappointment, daily
    News reports stammered from the mahogany
    bulk stationed in the vacant sitting room.
    The house was hers alone, her parents dead
    The upstairs rented, families moving in
    And out. She became a passing stranger
    To their fates.

    When the evening sky was fair, she would repeat
    Her litany to keep all she loved from harm. Whose
    Identity she could not name but yet she felt a
    Kinship among all those who walked alone,
    Who slept in lonely beds and waked to news
    Reports. Whose tragedies were animals she
    Spent her passions on, whose lives were briefer
    Than her own. Sometimes she felt that she
    Would drown as the daily news turned grim
    The neighborhood, the town itself had turned
    A sloppy shade, each person huddled in their cells
    Receiving news of strangers far away. Like them
    She, too began to choose, what she should care
    About and what to throw away.

  3. Ann M

    early rising

    upstairs, they sleep
    and sleep while i worry
    the day into being,
    running water in cold pipes
    that clank and moan,
    unwilling yet destined
    to wake with the first dawn
    and work past midnight,
    the shadow of moon
    and morning merging
    in a gray sky,
    lightening just now.

  4. cstewart

    On Habit

    It has been said that it takes three weeks of repetition to establish a habit.
    I have felt that happen with exercise, diet, writing, and particular art practices.
    I have watched it happen in my students. It is like watching the walls fall down.
    At the first of the year, most attempt to comply. Then, they start to complain, and then they eventually fall unconsciously into a habit of writing.
    They establish a habit of writing through my assignments. I watch them come into the room, look at the board, get out their journal, think and then begin writing their work for the day. This practice proceeds for ten and a half months give or take a few weeks.
    I learn so much about my student’s lives from this writing process. It is frightening what
    they have gone through to get to this habit of reporting out the great pains and adult dilemmas. They think their huge deficits and social situations are typical. Their lives are typical of some, not all. It is a secret some find out too late.

  5. Sara McNulty

    Habits

    Years ago, habit dictated
    nuns wear habits
    of black and white.
    Habit changed.

    Years ago, habit dictated
    marriage vows state,
    wife agrees to obey husband.
    Habit changed.

    For years I’ve had
    the hideous habit
    of nibbling skin around
    my fingernails until they bled.
    Habit remains unchanged.

    Note: Back in a week on my own computer for reading. This one takes 15 minutes to start!

  6. Connie Peters

    Habits

    H ow do you form good habits?
    A nd why do you make bad ones? Were
    B ad ones once good ones gone awry?
    I s it possible to maintain balance?
    T o keep all things in check? I’ll try.
    S o hard to not let good ones slide.

  7. Peggy

    Can’t Do That

    For 30 years I rise at 6, and cook
    the breakfast, feed the kids (who somehow turned
    into a dog!), gather eggs and feed the chicks.
    I feel each plant and water some, then shift
    the crooked books and such to order where
    my home is right and plumb before I sit
    and plan the day.
    And now they say I have
    to switch to decaf? I don’t think I can.

  8. Tracy Davidson

    Stubble Guy

    He had this habit
    of rubbing his stubbled chin
    against my non-stubbled one
    and up across my cheeks.

    I don’t know why
    he thought I’d like it.
    Perhaps he thought
    it was sexy.

    It wasn’t. It felt
    like I was being
    sandpapered
    by an over-zealous carpenter.

    And it brought me out
    in a red rash
    I had to spend hours
    concealing with make-up.

    But it seemed to make
    him happy, so I never
    once complained.
    Until now.

  9. barbara_y

    between finding my purse
    (finding my keys
    inside said purse)
    and ordering raisin, chocolate chip, plain,
    or snickerdoodle
    with my habitual bottled water is the blur
    of repetition.  short-
    hand, emoticon, texted day-in, -out.

    this should be different, cautious, icy.
    but.  listen to the rote, phoned-in result,
    all process and embellishment.
    crumpled paper armature for thought,
    and frankensteampunk words just
    mannequins for brass and woodblock fonts.

  10. PKP

    Good morning /afternoon …enjoy the day to all….ROBERT. My comment about your wonderful tapping leg that “seems to be parting ways with yourself” stayed in my head while reading each and was never written! Whoops….really a good one especially coming from a line right leg movers myself…!

  11. PKP

    I’m just saying
    when I spill
    poem after poem
    on some random
    Wednesday when
    early at home
    taking up space
    with hubris lacking grace
    I stay awake as long as
    it may take
    to stop read and offer a reply
    for the space I’ve taken stopping by
    And so now that I’ve done my self appointed I can sit
    Lie and rest attoned for my multiple poeming habit

    GOODNIGHT TO ALL 🙂

      1. Michael Grove

        I enjoy your comments here almost as much as your trail of poems. I keep getting this popping up – “You are posting comments too quickly. Slow down.” I wonder if you do too,

  12. Hannah

    ~OUT OF HABIT~

    Thump, thump,
    Thump, thump.
    Her heart tells her she’s alive,
    It beats and not out of habit;
    Still it beats,
    Still it beats.
    Not an action its grown accustomed to
    Like a morning coffee, afternoon walk.
    Different than the mechanical ticking
    Electrical or battery powered clock.
    This isn’t a thing her heart had to learn,
    A forceful flutter from the first moment;
    Created and planted in her chest.
    This heart, it holds her life
    Suddenly surging with emotion,
    sadened, sullen, smiling (mostly).
    Yet there’s a space
    In a hidden chamber
    Deep within that knows,
    One day it will cease to beat
    And it will try to pump,
    One time
    Even harder
    Just out of
    habit.

    © Hannah Gosselin and Metaphors and Smiles, 2012.

    1. PKP

      Terrific momentum which matches the content of the poem and a killer ending 🙂 Happy February – do not be sad… collect your stones about you and let your river flow over them… Better still… keep writing them when an image strikes you…or not…that is the beauty of it mindfulness..

      1. Hannah

        Not so sad really, not any more than the next guy I guess! 🙂 I appreciate your encouraging words to rally up the spirit, Pearl! I agree, about the writing, I must continue, it completes me. I was saying earlier to our friend that if I didn’t have writing and you guys to do it with I’d be a fish without an ocean!! 😉

        Happy day to you, Pearl, thank you!!

  13. Dan Collins

    Every Time The Number Nine.

    He had a thing about the meaning of nine.
    In every restaurant he would add up the bill
    to make sure that the planets aligned
    He had this thing about balance and will.

    In every restaurant he would add up the bill
    leave a tip that made sense in his mind.
    He had a thing about balance and will,
    and counting down to the very last dime.

    He’d leave a tip that made sense in his mind –
    that the math was in tune with the spheres.
    Counting down to the very last dime
    would allay his most troublesome fears.

    When the math was in tune with the spheres
    he would smile and his face would relax.
    He’d allayed his most troublesome fear.
    His number theory had applied to the tax.

    He would smile and his face would relax
    when every digit was adding up fine,
    his theory was applied to the tax,
    and the total was a multiple of nine.

    1. Dan Collins

      Better version:

      Every Time Number Nine.

      Disciple to the power of nine,
      at diner he would add up the bill
      to make sure that the planets aligned.
      It was all about balance and will.

      In every restaurant he’d add up the bill,
      leave a tip that made sense in his mind.
      It was all about balance and will,
      counting down to the very last dime.

      The tip would be clear in his mind
      if his math was in tune with the spheres.
      Counting down to the very last dime
      would allay his most troublesome fears.

      In tones echoed back from the spheres,
      he would smile and his face would relax.
      Quashing all of his nightmarish fears,
      number theory was applied to the tax.

      With a smile his face would relax
      when everything added up fine –
      the meshing of tip and sales tax –
      he always paid in multiples of nine.

      1. PKP

        Okay now Dan… I shall never be able to divest myself of this specter of the power of the number nine. Beautifully written and as said an image so keenly articulated that it will, I know, refuse to be forgotten. Wonderful! (And I did enjoy the second version)

  14. Mary Mansfield

    On my Vices

    You ask about bad habits,
    I’d say I have a few,
    Although the ones around me
    Would likely say a slew.

    It seems that I’m a trainwreck
    And gone horribly awry.
    When pressed to make improvements,
    This is my reply:

    “My life is meant for living.
    I don’t want to just exist.
    I won’t waste my time on small stuff
    ‘Cause there’s too much to be missed.

    So I’ll drink my Irish coffee
    And I’ll smoke my cigarettes.
    Life’s too long for obsessing
    And too short for regrets.”

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