Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 165 (Dead End Poems)

For this week’s poetry prompt, write a dead end poem. By dead end, I just mean hitting a wall or road block in a physical or metaphorical sense. And to make things even more interesting, you can write what’s going to happen (or not happen) after hitting that dead end.

Here’s my dead end poem:

“Sparking Ideas”

I start,
but then,
I stop
and rethink
my choice
of words
or how
I break
my lines
as if
I’m building
a house
or cooking
something extravagant,
though really
I’m just
stuck wanting
to say
something incredible
or amazing
while all
that comes
is this
fire consuming
the house
of cards
I left
too close
to your
lit matches.

More poem prompts:


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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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219 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 165 (Dead End Poems)

  1. cstewart

    Heart, Heart, Heart

    How many times could I –
    Hit my head against you,
    Your locked doors,
    Unopened windows,
    Heart with no companion.

    How many times could I –
    Outwit your evasions,
    Trump your sadness,
    Climb over your walls,
    Heart with no companion.

    How many times could I –
    Transit your miles of arguments,
    Flip through your excuses,
    Drop tears on your goodbyes,
    Heart with no companion.

    The times were all times,
    The answers were all there,
    The conclusions always evident,
    The counting interminable,
    I remember my
    Heart with no companion.

  2. Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    cul de sac
    by juanita lewison-snyder

    she spoke
    but no one listened

    she raised her hand
    but was ignored

    she swung legs over the railing
    but no one noticed

    not even after the splash
    and bubbles that followed

    but even the river refused her
    washing the battered body

    onto a cul de sac of
    sand and brambles

    awaiting permission
    to decompose.

    © 2012 by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

  3. MiskMask

    She and Her Shovel

    She carried around one of those
    collapsible, fold-up-into-itself
    shiny, silver shovels for digging
    herself out of dead-ends.
    She and her shovel simply
    didn’t see things the way
    you and I might.

  4. Mike Bayles

    To the Edge of the Cemetery

    The well-worn path taken
    is littered with memories,
    while headstones in sunlight
    cast shadows over graves.
    The spirit of silence sings to me
    while I take a walk on a spring day.
    Chirps of a bird unseen
    punctuate the morning’s silence,
    while I ponder the lyrics
    and poems yet to be written.
    Past the memorial pond
    and monuments
    where the path ends,
    I allow a moment of reflection
    and recollection,
    in reverence,
    before I go home again.

  5. kenaipi

    What’s It All Worth?

    I self-sacrifice sweets,
    over-indulge in fruits,
    in vegetables,
    in whole grains–
    as opposed to what? Half grains?
    I eliminate colas, limit juices,
    work thy body to
    sweat and over-stressed muscles.
    My reward: lost weight, lost wants
    hyper weight-focus, lost freedoms, looser clothes.
    I indulge.
    One day of cheats,
    back to the starting point
    of miserable self-sacrifice.

  6. DanielAri

    “The bendin’ end”

    I can’t think of one end that’s dead,
    not one that isn’t invited onward past itself
    by juxtaposition, association or otherness.

    Where the cul-de-sac ends, the wooded path begins.
    Where the coral ends, the mineral ocean roils.
    Where Earth’s air stops, that dizzying outerness
    expands lightspeed endlessly.
    Where dreams are cauterized, a new expression
    shakily ventures green tendrils.

    And so I am believing that my heart’s spasms end
    where olive trees grow, where octopi open sunken wine bottles,
    where geological paint pots tint the stars,
    where my great granddaughter falls in love,
    where her God grandson falls in the sea.

    Where description ends, the synapse ballet
    of a rainy afternoon eats clouds and arrives
    at a full, new confidence that not one end is dead,
    not one isn’t drawn to push past its own crystal terminus
    by the very mystery of what might be next.

  7. Caren

    The End.

    No moving forward
    No going back, or U-turns
    No changing my mind
    No right or left, up or down
    No help in sight, just the dark.

    Nothing but silence
    No spark of inspiration
    No questions allowed
    No dreams still within my reach.
    No more options, a dead end.

    Caren E. Salas

  8. David Greenwell

    A New Day

    I watch the sun rise in your eyes.
    Your love shedding light,
    Where only a sigh ago darkness loomed.
    A rivulet of joy cascades down your cheek,
    Falling in drops upon my chest.
    Like a soothing rain,
    Nurturing the freshly harrowed fields of my heart.
    I draw you all the closer,
    Never wanting it to end.

    While the morning flees into day,
    As if it were late for a bus.

    We shield ourselves against it,
    Heads under blankets,
    Thick with the musk of our love.
    Basking in the warmth of your touch,
    Intoxicated by the very breath in you,
    I pull you ever closer,
    That we might be as one.
    Only to be stopped short,
    By the clanging of the alarm.

  9. leatherdykeuk

    Barefoot down Bear Hill

    She runs from the bullies, along Meadow Bank
    and barefoot down Bear Hill,
    her long legs eating up the distance,
    extending the gap between her
    and the square-headed Michael Kemp,
    his two friends Bazzer and Culled
    falling further behind as their diet
    of soda and cigarettes take their toll.

    At the bottom of the hill she darts right
    into the Gaunts and over the stream into the gennel.
    Her heart hammering and the pull of stitch in her side
    forcing her to duck into the bus shelter at the back of the Red Lion
    and hope for the best.

    Kemps outline makes her heart stop
    or so it feels when he grabs her braid
    and forces a kiss on her protesting cheek.
    He doesn’t understand why she doesn’t want to kiss him back.
    He’s the best looking boy in the school.
    Isn’t he?

  10. MiskMask

    This was written for Poetic Bloomings but I reckon this woman thinks things are at a deadend for her.

    Three Strokes and You’re Out

    That’s not me in the mirror,
    she thinks – that old woman
    wearing my clothes, limp
    hand, limp leg, her face
    a Picasso’s stroke of the brush,
    genius interpretation she admits,

    her mouth sliding off her face
    snagged and bedraggled
    by a fisherman’s hook,
    a toothy grimace tugged and yanked,
    a stroke of bad luck it seems
    for this little old fishy-wishy.

    Artistic impressionism, cubism perhaps,
    she studies the mirror and laughs
    but her expression’s unchanged.
    Still stunned, still stiff, still hooked
    by that fisherman’s line. The sound
    of her laugh bouncing in her head

    like an old bean in a baby’s rattle.
    She peals another hysterical laugh,
    expressionless, deadpan, bizarre,
    she decides, as spittle follows a fold in her lip.
    Her hand won’t move. It’s not her hand;
    she has no control over it; must belong

    to someone else. The stroke of midnight,
    she thinks, and I’ll awake from this
    nightmare. And she ponders it all
    in her clamouring, thought-rattling,
    overcrowded and noisy head where
    her every thought collides. It’s stroke

    this, stroke that, stroke of bad luck,
    stroke of good luck, stroke of fortune.
    Stroke, stroked, strike.
    Three strokes and you’re out.
    And she empties another peal of giggles
    into the depths of her swirling thoughts.

    1. Mystical-Poet

      ” In The End ” we all submit. I live my life above the horizon, doing the daily work, saving myself. Your poem captures a certain simple elegance, Thank You for sharing !

  11. carolyninjoy

    San Saba one summer

    My memory creeps backward over
    shards of time & brittle memories
    to a time when I was so very young.
    We leaned into each others bodies
    with the discovery of new feelings.
    Our lips clung as my friend’s mother
    flashed the porch light overhead letting us
    know that it was half past, and time way
    beyond overdue to come inside.
    I had a tentative flutter below my belt
    & felt deep within my girlish body.
    My knees trembled with puzzled passion.
    I was just beginning to speak
    the language of the flesh.
    It confused the hell out of me.
    And you too, I suppose, only you seemed
    to know more than I, what you wanted.
    Now I’m an aging woman wrapped
    in memories of a faded past when
    flesh was firm and fresh.
    I remember your name.
    Sometimes I wonder where you are now.

  12. Kevin DeRossett

    Well, I’ve been out of town until today. Hope I’m not too late for the fun. Here’s my rambling dead-end poem attempt. (But if you ask me, this poem was more a fork in the road than a dead end.)

    No Outlet

    Nothing but driveways for miles.
    Nothing but 87 pines
    43 alderberries
    17 mailboxes
    and a dead end.
    Don’t look back now,
    the last house is past.
    ½ mile of dirt road—
    ½ hour alone.
    I place a 6 pack
    On the hood of my car.
    I walk to the river
    And drink its water,
    Haven’t known that taste
    It’s warm
    for February. My toes
    in the creek sand
    numbing. My worries
    The gas bill
    My marriage
    I sit on a stone
    which wets my crotch.
    And much like this poem
    This isn’t where I thought I was going.
    Who knew there was
    no outlet here.

  13. RJ Clarken


    “I like talking to a brick wall- it’s the only thing in the world that never contradicts me!”
    ― Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan

    Talking to brick walls,
    although a bit one-sided
    brooks no argument.


  14. Willy


    Yellow-chartreuse air becomes increasingly
    difficult to breathe. How many times can
    one foot slog after the other through thickening
    muck of unsolvable quandaries, problems that
    when dislodged from their lair levitate slowly to
    just overhead then suddenly free-fall onto
    the bent back of a semi-conscious being beneath
    it? Progress, painfully, reaches a cease-to-function
    state. The bog turns to quicksand, sucks itself
    clear, shimmers, simmers, transmogrifies, steams
    impatiently for the next sequence to begin.

  15. Earl Parsons

    Directly Challenged

    I came to a fork in the road
    He said to go right
    I went left
    Dead end

    I came to an intersection
    He said to straight
    I went right
    Dead end

    I came to a crisis in my life
    He said He would help
    I turned Him down
    Dead end

    I came to a major decision
    He said He would guide me
    I guided myself
    Dead end

    It came time to get married
    He chose me a perfect mate
    I married the other girl
    Dead end

    It came to a career choice
    He had the best for me
    I chose the money
    Dead end

    How would I raise my children
    His path would have been best
    I chose the worldly path
    Dead end

    I chose to control my life
    His way was not for me
    I chose a series of
    Dead ends

    Now on my death bed
    He reaches out once more
    This time I take His hand
    And the dead end
    Becomes a life eternal
    With no more
    Dead ends

  16. Earl Parsons


    The wall stood tall before me
    To the left and right brick and mortar
    On the 180 the same
    Fresh wet mortar hardening in place
    Solidly hardening
    Trapping me in my own box
    No forward
    No back
    No left
    No right
    Trapped in my own box
    A trap of my own doing
    My fault


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