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Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 220

Categories: Poetry Prompts, Robert Lee Brewer's Poetic Asides Blog, What's New.

Sorry for the late prompt today. Was finishing up some edits on Writer’s Market all morning.

For this week’s prompt, write a late poem. I know, I know–how original! But seriously, write a poem in which someone or something is late. Yeah, there are a LOT of directions to take this prompt, whether you take it there on time or not.

Here’s my late poem:


he slides in under the door
and floats silently beneath
the conference table and up
into his seat (previously
empty and making only
the slightest squeak) so
that no one realizes he
was never even there


Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer


Then, read some other poetry posts:

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About Robert Lee Brewer

Senior Content Editor, Writer's Digest Community.

113 Responses to Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 220

  1. Julieann says:

    Since I am so very late, I have combined two prompts “on the run” and a “late” poem into one. Enjoy, or better yet, I hope it brings a chuckle.

    Backyard Chickens

    Dusk, the mysterious time between
    Daylight and darkness, vision
    Obscured to almost nil

    Chickens squawking, protesting late
    Feeding, nests still sheltering eggs
    And chickens on the loose,

    Over the fence the renegades
    Have flown, but can’t or
    Won’t fly back in

    They squawk and screech
    Flap their wings in fear
    And frustration

    The ones left inside the fence
    Settle down for the night
    While the ones outside

    Run, escaping capture
    And captivity once again
    Into the darkness, it’s too late

  2. Cin5456 says:

    My late entry:

    Too Late

    The late Mr. Robert Ross spent
    two difficult years of his life
    interviewing prisoners rescued
    from Dachau and Auschwitz.
    During every interview,
    he was told
    the allies, though welcome,
    came too late;

    Too late to liberate a mother, a father,
    a baby brother, or that little girl
    who stood by the fence waiting
    each day for her father.
    One sad boy told Bob,
    “She always said he was just late,
    ‘He will be here tomorrow, you’ll see.’”
    But they were too late to save
    the little girl. She died of starvation
    a week before Bob’s unit arrived.

    This story haunted Bob Ross.
    He always regretted his unit arrived
    too late to save them all.
    Now that he is gone,
    who will remember
    the little girl who waited?

  3. Late, Again

    Welcome back to the tightness in the chest, the almost-frantic voice demanding, Hurry, from between clenched teeth. Hurry means wrong again, means miscalculations in the intricate morning mix, ingredients that must be layered in particular order, precisely measured, a cake that never rises, a dance the whole household knows and nobody greets with joy. Hurry means measured wrong again, one shower too long, or shampoo in somebody’s eye, lunch boxes left on yesterday’s bus or we’re out of bread. Again. No one can find a pen for the permission slips that appeared in the night and so they pile up, years of field trips, from zoos to Shakespeare festivals, signed in crayon or eyeliner or not at all. But there are shoes on every single foot and each delivered to its proper place to spend the day. By the time you reach the office, someone should be there to greet you with a medal, a fanfare, at the very least a gold star and a mug of coffee, crowds applauding all you’ve achieved before 8 a.m., followed by space inside a quiet room with a soft chair where time stops sprinting towards the finish line. This room is yours for as long as you need to breathe, to settle your racing heart, a room where absolutely nobody ever says You’re Late.

  4. Lindy says:

    Too Little, Too Late

    Dispirited and turned to stone,
    I walk these hallowed halls alone;
    forsaking of the truths I’ve known
    and weary for the golden tone
    of the voice I used to call my home –
    the voice that has become my own –
    fading in the wind that’s blown.
    It chills me to the very bone,
    now that away her spirit’s flown
    and my tears fall to the ocean’s foam,
    that my love for her had barely shone…
    as such the seeds of guilt are sown.

  5. Nancy Posey says:

    I am later than usual (after three days on the road between North Carolina and New Mexico):

    Little League World Series

    Pulled off the field for thunder storms,
    wary of lightning across the horizon,
    the boys waited out the weather
    in the dugout, while their parents
    and fans from home waited in cars.

    Finishing up close to midnight,
    they checked tomorrow’s game time
    before heading back to hotels
    hoping adrenaline from the win
    didn’t keep them from sleeping.

    Back at the field by nine, ready
    to loosen up, to toss a few balls,
    warming up before the game at ten,
    they met officials asking, “Where
    were you? You missed your game
    at eight. The other team won
    by forfeit. Tough luck, eh?

    The ride back from Arkansas
    to Alabama was quiet and long.

  6. Bruce Niedt says:

    Miss Rich Lace

    passes under the evening
    twirling a white skirt and petticoat.
    She is the reason the sun is here,
    setting fire to the world for her.

    From the grass at dusk,
    fireflies lift and float upward
    en masse, a choir of lights
    singing just for her.

    As she retires to her boudoir,
    old women dressed in black
    paint the late sky with starlight.
    They use the tiniest brushes.

    [This is actually another in my series of “Holy Tango” poems, inspired by Holy Tango of Literature by Francis Heaney, in which he takes the name of a famous poet or playwright, anagrams it into a title, and writes a piece in the style of that author, often with very amusing results. This one is in the style of Charles Simic, more or less, and the title is an anagram of his name. Not as amusing as some of the others I’ve written, but I think it works.}

  7. So Glad I’m Not Late!

    I’m running late,
    playing catch-up,
    chasing my own tail,
    round and round
    and round –
    ever decreasing circles,
    getting nowhere fast,
    getting nothing done,
    the to-do-list grows and grows
    and grows,
    instead of shrinking.
    Shrinking? Yes! That’s me shrinking,
    collapsing under the pressure,
    under the strain,
    and guess what?
    I’m late!

    I’m running late,
    but I’m catching up,
    writing last week’s poems,
    doing last week’s laundry,
    marking last month’s assignments
    and making progress,
    well, one step forwards – two steps back.
    Still, slowly but surely,
    creeping on,
    making up time,
    while there’s time to be made
    and all the while
    thanking my lucky stars
    that I’m not late…

    …as in “The Late Iain Kemp”


  8. tonijoell says:

    Maybe this Time

    She walks out
    of the office
    with the doctor’s words
    ricocheting in her head.
    Just don’t stress, he’d said.
    It all looks good,
    he’d said.
    Follow up in two weeks
    and hope for best.

    She walks away from the receptionist:
    “Maybe this will be your month,”
    she says,
    “Just relax.”
    Who could relax
    when a little blood
    could break your heart?

    It’s a strange world
    when all you want to be
    is late.

  9. hcfbutton says:

    First Date

    watch check, it’s half-past
    some things weren’t meant to last.
    heart stops, is it you?
    check phone, nothing’s new.
    look around, read poster
    emotional roller coaster.
    look at feet, hands at play
    close eyes, whisper, pray.
    peek around, do I see?
    maybe things are meant to be.

    blogged at http://hcfitzpatrick.com/2013/05/23/first-date-poem/

  10. A Great Date in the Haight

    Went for a walk
    to lighten my frown.
    Thought I might take
    a stroll about town.
    Straddling empty park bench,
    I surprised smiling wench,
    might this be to good to turn down?
    She’s a shiverin’ and a shakin’,
    but my tummy was thinkin’ bacon,
    so she shot me a glance
    and asked if by chance
    might I be ready to play ?
    So I said,”why not,hey”
    I’ll buy you a bouquet,
    we’ll spend rest of the day,
    discussing sweet romance!
    So she said, “what the heck”
    but first, cash your paycheck,
    then dinner,drinks,and dance.
    We dined at famous Kelly’s,
    left filled with happy bellies,
    my odds were good to advance.
    Midnight came, it was getting late
    to bed I said, don’t hesitate!
    Then I left that woman smiling,
    her cell number I’ll be filing,
    for another great date in the Haight. (Ashbury of course!)

  11. Michelle Hed says:


    They were getting hand-fasted
    at exactly 12:01am.
    The baby fussed
    and the snow slowed us down
    and you can hear the doorbell ring
    during their vows…
    as we arrived late.

  12. Michelle Hed says:

    Late to the Party

    Our wedding was delayed,
    our nerves, they were frayed.
    The pastor was late,
    he didn’t have a date.
    We got on our knees and prayed.

  13. lately

    they say writing 
                    is like breathing
    but here’s the thing,
                     when you quit writing
                     no one calls for help

  14. pmwanken says:

    (a shadorma)

    Beads of sweat
    across my forehead;
    heart, racing.
    I’m pacing
    as the phone rings in my ear.
    “I’m sorry. I’m late…”

    P. Wanken

  15. JRSimmang says:

    The soccer game ended early
    and now, he stood on the curb,
    with the rain coming down,
    and the only word
    he could think of was

    through and through,
    comes from the lumberjack
    tradition of sending
    logs down the river.
    They’d soak up the water,
    making them useless
    until they dried out.
    They’d weigh too much.
    They wouldn’t burn.
    They’d have to sit out in the sun,
    and sometimes they’d mold over,
    making them brittle and hollow.

    The streets glistened with the newly applied surface,
    the tires of cars-by squealing in lack of control.
    But with each new car that passed him by,
    he continued to be soaked through and through.

    He’d catch his death of cold.
    Wouldn’t that serve him right?

    At least they won the soccer game.
    He laid down on the sidewalk
    and let the rain pelt him and squeak
    through him
    and touch him and know him intimately.
    He could almost feel him being sent down river.

    Soon he would mold.
    Soon he would be hollow
    and the house that would be built from him
    would shake and shatter.

  16. PressOn says:


    resides in hate
    until I consider
    how little it has done for me

  17. Misky says:

    Reflections on a Late Afternoon

    I am drenched in long shadows that stretch
    the minutes of late afternoon. These moments
    richly coloured with fallen petals covering
    the ground, and I breathe in small breezes
    that ruffle my thoughts – this moment made
    for pausing over shallow sips of tea
    as daylight fades into late afternoon.

    ~ Misky (c)

  18. julie e. says:

    Last minute
    Always trying to do just one more
    Thing so it’s already done when I come home
    Every time we try to leave the house I make us


  19. Jane Shlensky says:

    Shadorma after Midnight

    creatures develop
    night vision,
    skin tuned to
    cool darkness, sleeping so late,
    it could be early.

  20. Jane Shlensky says:

    Late Thoughts

    He does not
    understand that late
    for him means
    wait for me,
    time to reconsider if
    my fate is with him.

  21. PKP says:

    late – a haiku

    this morning nothing
    stick in hand minutes tick by
    her future forming

  22. Sara McNulty says:

    Dear Me!

    Oh, how derelict in duty
    to arrive so late.
    Surely they will start without me
    and remove my plate.
    Why does this old watch fob never
    seem to know the date?
    Perhaps I put my spectacles on,
    not quite straight.
    Oh, the tea will be dark and cold,
    cakes in a soggy state.
    The Hatter will be so put out
    with me, at any rate.
    March Hare will be counting up cups
    just to number eight.
    Only the dormouse will not care,
    too soused for a debate.
    Dear me, I have never been this late!

  23. bxpoetlover says:


    Better late
    than never.
    That cliche is
    usually true
    unless the man you love
    is slow
    to show his love for you.


    The field
    is mowed and brittle-dried as hay.
    The sheep are shorn, the lambs
    half-grown. Summer

  25. EfrainThePoetK1n9 says:

    “I told you not to worry, we’re fashionably late.”

    For those who think outside of the prism,
    And smell the flowers, and greet the wind.

    For those who see the world in different light
    Enjoying the night, as day comes in.

    For those who promise here tomorrow,
    And dare not leave it up to fate.

    I would not wait on anybody,
    Instead I’d rather make them wait.

  26. identity says:

    Too Late

    Words flow freely
    Elucidate the history
    Expose the deception
    Resolve the confusion
    Reverberate off the walls
    Of the room where she sits

  27. Sorry I’m Late

    Sorry I’m late. I tried to rush.
    It’s ten past eight. I slid in slush.
    Who would have thought we would see snow in June?
    I’ll blame my fate, this muck and mush.
    I’ll tell you straight, and then I’ll hush.
    Next time it snows in June, I’ll come at noon.

  28. worthj1970 says:

    There was lots of angst.
    But then my son arrived, late,
    but happily met.

  29. De Jackson says:

    White Rabbits

    They’re everywhere
    with their stupid pocket
    -watches and their
    oh dear oh dear
    and I can hear them ticking
    us off, tocking their tales
    and walking these
    warped halls with wails
    of ivory silence.

    Without a doubt,
    they’re running


  30. RJ Clarken says:

    Clever Repartee

    “Repartee is something we think of twenty-four hours too late.” ~Mark Twain

    How often have you heard this moan:
    “I wish I’d said that!” Shoulda known
    that clever repartee’s a trick
    performed by folks whose minds are quick.

    That ‘line’ which hits ferociously
    except when done atrociously …
    since clever repartee’s a trick
    performed by folks whose minds are quick.

    I try to muscle-up my wit
    and speak or pen a clever bit
    of clever repartee: that trick
    performed by folks whose minds are quick.

    Then someone beats me to the punch.
    I’m late with ‘crunch,’ I have a hunch.
    No clever repartee or trick.
    My mind, of late, is not so quick.


  31. ewdupler says:

    It’s Just Time

    It’s called an era
    and an epoch
    and plainly called, it’s time.

    It’s bendable
    and flexible
    and really no big deal.

    It’s in minutes
    and in seconds
    and sometimes even years.

    It’s excusable
    and ignorable
    and just fine when you’re behind.

    It’s … WAIT!
    Oh, my Lord,
    She’s late!

  32. seingraham says:

    Re: the late Mr.Brown

    Dear Mrs.Brown,

    We hate to trouble you at this time
    But already too long has gone by
    Since your late husband has passed on
    That is to say, he’s shuffled on, or off
    I guess is more to the point, without
    Coming right out and calling his demise
    That which is what we try to avoid
    Doing at all costs – but costs being
    The problem as I am sure you’ll agree
    Once you peruse the invoice attached
    There are charges affixed to being seen
    Off in such a fine manner as was your
    Dearly departed and while ’tis true
    He made arrangements for this eventuality
    He neglected to pay in full for the services
    And had the ill-fortune to pass away
    Before making any payments to us
    For same, but I am sure you will agree
    We honoured the contract with good faith
    And now ask you to do the same given
    That the cremation, memorial and reception
    For your late husband were performed well
    But the charge for all is now much over-due
    And in fact is so late, we may soon have to
    Hand the account to our late charges people
    Which we really do not like to do but…
    You must understand, the late Mr. Brown’s
    Invoice for services rendered is now very late

    Yours reluctantly,

    Go in Peace Funerary Services
    Late Accounts Department

  33. PowerUnit says:

    I know there is important stuff going on
    in the world, in my life,
    but lately I just don’t give a damn.
    It all passes by me
    like a river running down hill, below in the gorge,
    as I trudge up the trail, to the barren peak.
    I feel so behind, so lost.
    Will they even look for me?
    Do they know I’m even missing?

  34. Sondie says:


    florescent lights
    sterile air
    hours tick slowly by

    late evening breeze
    setting sun
    sips of red satisfy.

  35. Visiting the Podiatrist

    ‘I know your face,’ she says.
    I recall those times in the waiting room,

    And helping him afterwards
    manoeuvre the wheely-walker
    down the steep steps.

    ‘You used to treat my husband,’
    I tell her. Pause.
    ‘My late husband.’

    ‘Ah,’ she says. ‘When did he…?
    I lost my father
    just a few months ago.’

    She means to indicate
    she knows what it’s like.
    I doubt that.

    As for fixing my crooked toe —
    too complicated, too expensive;
    I’ve left it much too late.

  36. JRSimmang says:

    “No, it’s your fault
    and don’t you dare even try to tell me
    I made my life
    around your little
    sweet nothings
    and now
    they’re bitter,
    and just like your father:

    all talk and all play.

    You want to know
    how I know?
    A woman knows.
    It’s something you
    wouldn’t understand
    until you feel the
    pulsing throb of
    heart and heat
    and your head starts to spin.

    You’ve made me into your slave,
    three weeks ago.
    You and I are forever conjoined.

    Conjoined. You and I.
    And there is nothing in this
    world that will
    sever you from me.

    So drink.
    Drink from this cup
    and eat from this cake
    because it is the last meal
    you will get from me.

    I’m late. And you arrived
    too early.
    I’m late,
    but it seems like
    I’m going to be right on time.”

  37. laurie kolp says:


    On the other side of town,
    a blank disguise —
    hair pulled up,
    baseball cap

    as she strides
    into the pharmacy,
    head held low

    over to the aisle
    for feminine products

    a quick grab,
    under the arm attempt
    to hide the box,
    a scan at the register
    longer than she expected
    cash payment,

    her future
    in a bag.

  38. PressOn says:


    Eugene DePrez was always late:
    he ran on his own time;
    he never cared for others’ fate
    and never gave a dime.

    But now he’s dead, present and prone,
    and now we all can say,
    “Here lies a man who was his own:
    the late Eugene DePrez.”

  39. preacherkeith says:

    I wait while time rushes and I miss her.
    Days have turned to years and I hunger.
    My mind is whirling with excuses and whys,
    Living in despair, awaiting my time to die.

    It has to be me, a loser, who lost again.
    Not again, but still, and I badly want a win.
    Do I have the right plan or even play the right game?
    I age, still wanting love, but I elude her aim.

    Would I know true and pure love if we met?
    What if our paths have crossed but as if yet,
    Lead by my desires, I’m someone chasing a ghost?
    With clouded eyes, have I missed what I whited the most?

    Wait, who is this vision? She’s an image of all that is right to me.
    Real and speaks and cares, looking like I always wanted her to be.
    I never expected this end to that wait of mine,
    So I wonder, is she late or right on time?

  40. foodpoet says:

    Working Late

    Working on the edge for tomorrow
    Only makes you later for yourself
    Reaching for another caffeine shot
    Keeping up with rabbit paperwork
    Inching out the down time
    Nothing keeps pace with rabbits,
    Guess I will be here

    Late oh so late
    Again again more shuffle time
    Taking one more page
    Eroding my writing time

  41. PoM says:

    It’s all gone bye
    The years have sailed by
    The light has dawned
    Way to late
    Within this thick
    marble head
    Is this my fate
    To always miss things
    And be to late
    Now I’m old
    And out of date

  42. PressOn says:


    Action must ensue
    when chance, residue
    of fate,
    comes calling anew;
    else, nil will accrue
    but weight
    when chance, same as you,
    comes sashaying through
    too late.

  43. Never2L8 says:

    overslept, groggy
    hurry, gobble, run
    I’m gonna make it…

  44. JWLaviguer says:

    Never Late

    “If you’re not first, you’re last.” – Ricky Bobby

    Don’t be late
    be early
    don’t you hate
    sitting squirrelly
    waiting on others
    to make an appearance
    why it bothers
    on the off chance
    they might not show
    and you’d be stuck
    should I stay or go
    I don’t really give a

  45. Never2L8 says:


    Rock the Boat

    They said don’t rock the boat.
    I learned this well by rote –
    Never questioned – I complied
    Till one day I rebelled.
    This conviction compelled –
    To swim or sink, but not float,
    No more will I conform
    To be the same, the norm –
    But late… to sow my wild oat.

  46. elishevasmom says:


    When I got sick a few years back,
    and had to give up driving,
    I had to form new principles
    about when I’d be arriving.

    When I was looking at my watch
    and my lateness it opined,
    if it was me behind the wheel
    the minutes I could find.

    But then, when traveling by bus,
    the rule I quickly learned,
    was that for each late departure,
    it was tardiness I earned.

    And if the bus was tardy
    it did no good to bawl.
    I found out that other times
    the bus never came at all!

    So now, even if the bus is late
    I stay calm, as a whole.
    It’s not worth the aggravation
    if it’s out of my control.

    Ellen Knight 5.22.13
    write a “late” poem

  47. priyajane says:

    She waited and waited for him
    But time grew impatient
    And the winds carried her away
    Beyond his silent expressions
    Yet bound to an unnamed longing

    Now with the changing season’s breath
    He floated in on yesterday’s wings
    He was many years too late
    Yesterday’s streets didn’t exist anymore
    But today’s map brought a special fragrance
    As they strolled thro childhood poems
    Releasing tender shadows
    Of nothing into nothing
    Yet, –life seemed brighter than before

  48. PressOn says:


    Such are
    the saddest words
    surrounding sometime love:
    too frightened; too blind; too cocksure;
    too late.

  49. Domino says:


    Can you imagine?
    I hit every light at red,
    or yellow turning red,
    all the way to work.

    I was positive I was doomed,
    fifteen minutes late, and no
    real excuse. Plus, I’d rather
    just say, “Sorry,” than
    come up with something
    that sounds like a lie.

    But when I arrived, so late,
    only one or two other cars
    populated the lot.

    Everyone was running late today.
    So I sit at my desk, looking
    virtuously on, as others slip in,
    breathless and full of reasons
    that end up sounding like lies.

    Diana Terrill Clark

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