Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 180

For this week’s prompt, write a straight line poem (yes, I’m playing off a 180-degree angle for the 180th Wednesday Poetry Prompt). There are several ways to tackle this prompt, including writing a poem about a straight line drive through Indiana or Iowa, drawing a straight line in the sand, or writing a poem that is one line long. Those are just some ideas.

Here’s my attempt:


Had a way of writing lines that stretch around the universe
until they snap back in on themselves and sing themselves
by singing the songs of others and still he felt bigger and
smaller than anything he wrote as if he were any human
being walking the earth and maybe he was and the beauty
of his poetry had as much to do with his honesty and love
for his fellow people as his passion for the written words
tumbling out of him as one long imperfect blade of grass.


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126 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 180

  1. JustinMDanford

    There is no line, once curved in space-time,
    Scarring the world in orbits.
    Though tracks run true,
    and roads directly through,
    there is no line
    but for the lie
    that traces from
    me back to you.

  2. paulatc

    Getting it straight

    The shortest route from “A” to “B”
    Is a straight line. But it seems to me,
    Even should you go on to “C,”
    You might indeed arrive there faster
    But such travel spells disaster.
    Sure, it means you are a master
    Arriving always “there” on time,
    But where’s the joy in metered rhyme
    Or the free verse poem, writ sublime
    By taking roads less straight and narrow?
    The predictable path via bow by arrow
    Can be as boring as Ravel’s “Bolero.”
    For example, this straight-line verse
    Has only gone from bad to worse
    And proves the point, “straight” is a curse!
    At least for me, a crooked poet –
    My curve is best (when I can throw it) –
    I have done my best to show it.
    By quickly drafting this straight poem,
    Pinning the rhymes before I sew ’em,
    Straight ways are easier when you know ’em,
    But crooked, angled, or curvy lines
    Taken when you ignore road signs
    Loose straight words from strict confines.

    ©Paula Tohline Calhoun 2012

  3. taylor graham


    Think of it as a geometrigraphic formula –
    a pedagogically useful
    distortion on the classroom wall.

    No, it’s a subterfuge, a way
    of tricking 5th graders into seeing the earth
    with straight parallels and meridians,

    not curved; seeing the world flat
    not round – a fact they’ve
    never experienced with their wide

    globed eyes, whether daydreaming
    at an open window, or lying
    in the dark after lights-out, rocking

    and rolling to their singular heart-
    beats in the deep
    midnight of dream.

  4. DanielAri

    You may want pen and paper.

    Draw a horizontal line.
    Draw a small circle above the line.
    I woke on the beach, amazing
    the light was already so high.
    The sound of the mixing shore
    soothed me so deeply, I could have
    slept more. Draw a triangle
    on the line so its base rests there.
    I could have slept all day,
    but it got too hot, so I got up,
    drank half the water I had.
    Hard-boiled egg, heel of bread.
    I sat in the shrinking shade
    as the circle you drew
    increased its distance
    from the line.

  5. tunesmiff

    (c) 2012 – G. Smith (BMI)
    (for Sam)
    On a dock in San Francisco,
    Nineteen fifty-three;
    Stood a couple barely speaking,
    He was going across the sea.
    The girl, in time, my mother,
    Shared a simple Irish prayer,
    With the boy who would be my father,
    If he made it back from there…

    Though our pathway parts,
    Though our roads may wind,
    Between our hearts,
    Runs a long, straight line
    We will meet again,
    On some distant shore,
    Where the river bends,
    And we will part no more…

    At a whistle-stop in Kansas
    Nineteen sixty-eight,
    I kept looking down the railroad tracks;
    The train was running late.
    But each minute spent
    Was diamond dear,
    And she shared that prayer,
    Unashamed of tears…

    Though our pathway parts,
    Though our roads may wind,
    Between our hearts,
    Runs a long, straight line
    We will meet again,
    On some distant shore,
    Where the river bends,
    And we will part no more…

    The shortest distance between two points,
    Isn’t always clear;
    Yet I will always feel you next to me,
    Always feel you near…

    So now it seems it’s my turn,
    As I watch you pack your things;
    Excited about tomorrow,
    And the adventure that it brings.
    I pass to you these simple words,
    That have carried us along,
    Brought long ago from across the sea,
    And turned into this song…

    Though our pathway parts,
    Though our roads may wind,
    Between our hearts,
    Runs a long, straight line
    We will meet again,
    On some distant shore,
    Where the river bends,
    And we will part no more…

    The shortest distance between two points,
    Isn’t always clear;
    Yet I will always feel you next to me,
    Always feel you near…
    Yes I will always feel you next to me…
    Always feel you near…

  6. Miss R.

    Straight to Bed (A Loose Interpretation)

    “Straight to bed,”
    My mother says,
    And I quite agree,
    For there I have
    My book and lamp,
    And I might read
    ’Til two or three!

    I read straight through
    Many an hour,
    Safe within my bed.
    Then she peeks in
    And fills my heart
    With a fluttering dread.

    She sighs to see
    That over my book
    My head still is bent,
    And then with quiet,
    Motherly calm, says,
    “That’s not quite
    What I meant.”

  7. Miss R.

    The Straightened Arrow

    Straight as an arrow
    Fletched awry
    I fail to fly
    Down the road so narrow
    And soar instead
    Down a primrose path
    Until I feel its thorny wrath,
    Then turn my head
    To the narrow way.
    I ask that I might remain
    Away from that wider lane
    And have my feathers straighter stay.

  8. Miss R.

    Let’s Get This Straight (a pantoum)

    Let’s get this straight.
    Let’s figure it out.
    Let’s set a date,
    And let’s not beat about.

    Let’s figure it out.
    We can see the bush,
    And let’s not beat about.
    Let’s give things a push.

    We can see the bush;
    Don’t dance around it.
    Let’s give things a push
    And score a direct hit.

    Don’t dance around it
    When the issue arises.
    Let’s score a direct hit
    And win honest prizes.

    When the issue arises,
    Let’s face it head on
    And win honest prizes.
    Please, don’t be a pawn!

    Let’s face it head on.
    Let’s be very brave.
    Please, don’t be a pawn,
    For the truth’s what I crave!

    Let’s be very brave.
    Let’s set a date,
    For the truth’s what I crave.
    Let’s get this straight.

  9. dizzaster3

    Burning Eyelids

    I’m sitting here now in front of pixels dancing
    like dust motes in the rays of sunlight peering
    through my living room window and I can’t quite
    say that the beauty is merely beauty because it
    has a sharp edge to it that’s making my eyes burn
    but of course I’m rambling again and many of you are
    wondering how I jumped from two stories, one of computer
    screen pixels and another of fire captured in beams bending
    around reality, but pay no mind to my giant run on sentence
    its my only solace when my eyes feel as if they are the hearts
    of a volcano.

  10. Mr. Walker

    Make your lines straight
    But slope and
    Trope them with images
    That reveal slowly

    Slant the truth
    If you must
    Or give us just a taste
    Of all the truth

    Circle round the truth
    Follow the tangents
    Because the direct approach
    Is (yawn) and cliche

    Put the truth
    On the periphery
    For the readers’ vision
    To see without looking

  11. Marjory MT

    Of clouds
    On blue horizon,
    Shifting from white to shades of grey,
    As the gathering storm builds its
    Avenging force to
    Disrupt some

  12. Marjory MT

    An obscure nylon
    line pulled taut as my dinner
    takes the bate.

    Line around figure
    to help me to remember
    thoughts that don’t linger

  13. Marjory MT

    A simple answer
    He can’t give to her.
    Always an ‘if’ or ‘maybe’,
    Or ‘Sure – but, let’s wait and see.’
    Lines she can’t believe
    As they curve and weave,
    Dangling ends, broken fancy

  14. Marianv

    Route 44

    Just make it straight, the engineers said. One straight line from sea to shining sea.
    Which was not quite possible with cities, mountains, rivers, but try they did.
    When you crossed the Mississippi by St. Louis, if you were a bird you could see
    The line that ran from the prairies to the mountains to the ocean white with foam.
    Even when all you could see was barren landscape, scattered rocks & sage brush.
    The exit signs pop up with comforting regularity when hunger or a bathroom break
    Is needed and often there is also one of the chain motels and a big parking lot for trucks.
    Some people take turns driving and everyone knows that the Mojave is crossed at night.
    Cities are by-passed with regularity. You know they are near by all the exit signs.
    Which tempt the old-timers in the car to get off this nightmare of the future and find old
    Route sixty six where you can see real towns and real people and get your kicks.

  15. priyajane


    A part of of the whole
    They play a role
    We take what we want
    To make our song
    Some lines can carve our destiny
    It’s in our hands to take command
    The lines we cross, or stay on course
    Will guide our ship to that graded spot
    So be aware, and don’t just stare
    As you decide to go somewhere

    Priya Jane

  16. priyajane

    From A to B

    The way to go 
    Point A to B
    A chartered path for you, not me
    I like to take the scenic route
    With bumps and curves 
    As life unfurls
    You may get there a bit faster than me
    I won’t be far, you wait and see

    Priya Jane

  17. Mr. Walker


    You could draw a triangle,
    any size, any kind

    (go ahead, I’ll wait)

    Cut it out, and then tear
    off the angles

    Put the vertices
    on the same point

    the sides of your angles
    touching each other

    and your three angles
    make a straight line

    Your kids probably did this
    in math class

    The three angles of triangles
    will always add up to 180 degrees

    A straight line may also be
    measured as 180 degrees

    That’s why your angles
    made a straight line

    A straight angle
    classic Euclidean geometry

    But, did you know
    the sum of angles

    of hyperbolic triangles
    are less than a straight angle?

    And did you know
    that an ideal hyperbolic triangle

    has a measure
    of zero degrees?

    Somewhat less
    than a straight line

    Your kids did not
    make one of those in math class

    To be honest
    it doesn’t make sense to me either

  18. Marian O'Brien Paul

    (Whitman touche)

    Whitman’s “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry”

    Held between the first and third knuckles of his middle finger
    by opposing fingertips, Whitman’s pen – perhaps a feather quill,
    its hollow calamus penknife-honed to the sharpness he preferred,
    and dipped just so in his inkwell so as not to drip – began to fill
    the blankness of a page with sturdy words extolling the ferryboat
    that carried passengers, including him, from shore to shore from
    Brooklyn and New Jersey, and while his great mind wrote about
    the people who would take that crossing in the years to come,
    how much they meant to him, his pen was disappearing from
    his hand and his hand was reaching out across a hundred years
    and touching mine and when I read his poem long after he died,
    I felt the palpable touch of his strong hand on mine for when I
    was young I, too, rode the Brooklyn Ferry but it no longer exists.

  19. MiskMask

    To Her Credit

    now on
    she’d draw her
    own lines. She had
    an American
    Express card, and she was
    going to be a credit
    to herself, assuming that no
    one drew a straight line through her credit.
    She was headed straight for the Amazon.

    Poetic Form: Etheree

  20. Mike Bayles

    Iowa Interstate 80

    You can take a straight shot
    from Davenport to Council Bluffs
    without a stop.
    Cornfields and small towns
    pass without knowing,
    and the Scattergood School
    becomes a metal shed
    without a name.
    You don’t know the people
    and their genuine charms
    while noting progress
    with mile markers.
    You believe time of passage
    is linear
    looking at your watch,
    and you think
    how far to
    and how long
    while sights stir memories
    of other times and places.
    You pass Iowa City,
    an exit for The Amana Colonies
    and Newton and a quarry
    near Des Moines,
    and you know
    you’re more than halfway there,
    but even the Interstate
    must curve now and then
    to reveal a new scene.
    Two lane blacktops nearby
    twisting through the landscape
    offer beauty and serenity
    if you slow down
    and take another turn.


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