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Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 262

I apologize for the tardiness of today’s prompt; I had some unexpected news last night that I’m still trying to process. That said, it did inspire this week’s prompt…

For this week’s prompt, write a poem in which the unexpected happens. Could be a good unexpected–like receiving a gift from an anonymous person; could be a bad unexpected–like having someone break into your house; could be a confusing unexpected–like having a complete stranger propose marriage. Whatever you’re unexpected, have fun poeming!


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Here’s my attempt at an Unexpected Poem:

“universal features”

if something amazing is about to happen
expect your fiance to dabble in science
specifically the science of reanimation
& expect his experiment to go wrong

or if you’re trying to work your way up
by being diligent & being open to travel
expect your foreign client to suck blood
& have a thing for your own fiancee

or say you return to your homeland
because you’re practical & peaceful
& you just want to fall in love well
expect to be attacked by a werewolf

& then to become one yourself


Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems. He loves the old Universal horror films and would check out little books devoted to them from his local library when he was a boy. While Godzilla and King Kong are cool, he was really fascinated by Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolf Man, and The Mummy.

Learn more at www.robertleebrewer.com.


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263 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 262

  1. taylor graham


    Afternoon slippery-clingy as sweat
    in an airtight room. We waited
    like jumpers at the edge.
    At last, at sundown
    came a breeze from the west,
    a hundred miles away
    but it tasted like ocean. It caught
    the brittling oak leaves
    by surprise. They shivered
    with news. And then a flail of white
    clouds like wingbeats
    as the moon lifted her rim over
    the mountain, slowly
    till we could see her entire, cool
    as a silver spoon and,
    for whatever it portended, filled
    with praise.

  2. missdusters

    I am a high school English teacher; my everyday life is full of unexpected surprises at every turn, but my favorite unexpected surprise is the look on a student’s face when the light bulb finally clicks. Here is my teaching-inspired unexpected-surprise-poem:

    Teaching –
    What a challenge!
    Day after day
    Apathetic faces
    Greet me in the doorway.
    Find an awesome
    Story –
    Poem –
    Novel –
    Project Idea –
    Enthusiastically begin the day
    With arms wide open
    Let the flocks of sheep in the door!!!

    “This sucks.”
    “Do we really have to do this?”
    “What time does the bell ring?”
    “UGH Really, Miss?”
    Just knock me down.
    “Yes, you have to do this.”
    Deflate my balloon.
    “If you start out with a bad attitude…”

    Well, I thought it was awesome.
    Wave them out
    Shoo them away
    Why must they (clichés aside)
    rain on my parade?
    Does anything I say or do
    Make an impact?
    Was I just
    Blowing hot air?

    “Miss, this is really awesome.”
    “This is the first time I’ve read a book –
    And enjoyed it.”
    “Do you remember that book
    We read in your class 4 years ago?
    I’ll never forget it.”

    “Miss, do you know why everyone likes you?
    “When someone gives you sass,
    “You sass them back
    “Ten times worse.
    “That’s awesome.”

    What a challenge!
    Maybe those faces
    Aren’t all that
    They greet in the doorway
    Hiding great minds –
    Beautiful thoughts –
    They’re not just sheep.
    They’re my students.

  3. BDP

    “Blue Bolt”

    Expect the unexpected—yes and no.
    That’s fine if you’re a super spy like Bond.
    Most people want stability and go
    about routines each day, same chug-along:

    a young tot’s words remain fresh effortless,
    the rain-sopped cloth wipes clean a musty lane,
    good habits stay the wobble from our course,
    we thank a trust held fast to manage pain.

    And yet, there’s no denying in my ache
    I seek one wish: surprise would happen once
    again, catastrophe held high to smash and break
    carved stone. I’d gather pieces up, renounce

    the extra chromosome—forgive me wrong—
    and seam together you with no Down syndrome.

    –Barb Peters

    1. whatevertheyaint

      I’m trying to think of a list of reasons why I like this but am left speechless. Everyone has a unique writing style and voice; yours is both effortless and poignant at the same time. The last two lines take us on an unexpected turn from the mundane “same chug-along” referred to in the opening stanza. The last line haunts us, sort of lingers on in our heart and mind. Great writing.

  4. Countrygirl_97

    The Call

    It was early morning
    just after breakfast
    the phone rang
    and the name
    gave me a surprise
    It was unexpected
    you only called
    on Sundays

    Then you spoke
    a tried, painful voice
    and I knew
    something was wrong

    ‘There’s been an accident’
    tears flooded my face
    my heart beating fast
    like I’ve just ran a race
    ‘It doesn’t look good’
    I said it would be ok
    but you disagreed

    ‘I won’t make it much longer,
    I wanted to call,
    to say goodbye.’
    you grew short of breath
    as you murmured your last words
    before your death

    ‘I love you’
    ‘I love you too’
    My heart was breaking
    ‘Always and forever?’
    ‘Always and forever.’
    Those were my last words
    to you
    before the line clicked dead.

    Sinking to the ground
    grasping my head,
    something wasn’t said.
    I looked at my rounded belly
    and whispered,
    ‘I’ll name you after him.’

  5. Connie Peters

    Word Boxing

    I met rudeness
    where I thought
    I’d meet kindness.
    Sneers instead of smiles.

    Where communication
    should have thrived,
    our words circled each other
    like boxers in the ring.

    We punched and jabbed
    until no one was on the floor,
    but we touched gloves,
    coming to a draw.

  6. tunesmiff

    George Smith
    He walks in the door like he does every night,
    She’s on the phone or the laptop like she is every night.
    She has to hear his unspoken pleading,
    Though how who can say?

    He feels his heart is bleeding
    As he goes through the nightly rituals:
    Washing dishes, checking laundry, walking the dog for a minute or two;
    It’s the same thing day after day.

    He wonders if this means they’re through,
    Or just in such a rut that ground level
    Is eye level and so what’s to notice.
    How did things work out to be this way?

    Then she looks from what she’s reading
    And simply says, “I love you.”

  7. veronica_gurlie

    I been away writing a poetry chapbook and dealing with family emergencies.
    Here is my poem for this challenge:

    When I Dated Him

    After all those long sweet rides, and all those blue hugs away,
    when I finally kissed him, til he could feel my love,
    he just went pale, as if he couldn’t breath,
    as if my love, felt like death, trying to pull him closer.

      1. veronica_gurlie

        Yes, and that is exactly what it feels to one of the people, when things seem to go perfectly in a relationship and the relationship ends with the other person scared to continue.

        I wrote this poem just now as a reply to your reply to my poem: lol.

        My Response to A Reply to My Unexpected Poem

        I wrote this note,
        “It’s strange, and it doesn’t make sense,
        being afraid, to keep doing something, that makes you happy,
        like being involved in some way, with someone, who is just like you,
        or at least, almost like you, and knowing, it doesn’t deserve, any real apology, ”
        then I sent the note to someone, I don’t know, and waited for a response,
        I nibbled on my longest fingernail, but didn’t bite it off,
        I heard the conversation, of the different birds in my yard, almost come to a pause,
        and then as I looked around my house, at all the fragile, expensive things,
        being nothing, that’s just him, or just me anymore,
        a little thought came to me, one almost spoken in my gut,
        “Oh please, don’t tell me I’m wrong.”

        1. veronica_gurlie

          I’m consideration splitting this up to two different poems like this.
          seems like I got two poems as reply to your reply to my poem.

          POEM 1

          I wrote this note,
          “It’s strange, and it doesn’t make sense,
          being afraid, to keep doing something, that makes you happy,
          like being involved in some way, with someone, who is just like you,
          or at least, almost like you, and knowing, it doesn’t deserve, any real apology, ”
          then I sent the note to someone, I don’t know personally,
          and as I waited for a response, I nibbled on my longest fingernail, (but never bit it off), and listened to the chatter of the different type of birds, involved, in my yard, almost come to a pause.

          POEM 2

          I thought this moments, after I spoke to him about our relationship,
          “Life is mostly about, building a life with someone who you fits you.”
          and then as I looked around our house,
          at all the fragile, expensive things,
          that in 20 years, that have not been really touched.
          being nothing, that’s just him, or just me anymore,
          a little thought came to me, one almost spoken in my gut,
          “Oh please, don’t tell me I’m wrong.”

          1. veronica_gurlie

            POEM 2
            edited:0). during edited, I was interrupted by someone banging on the door. lol. Here is the new edited version.

            I thought this, moments after, I spoke to him about our relationship,
            “Life is mostly about, building a life, with someone who you know, fits you,”
            and then as I went inside, and looked around our house,
            at all the fragile expensive things,
            that in 20 years, have not been really touched.
            being nothing, that’s just him, or just me anymore,
            a little thought came to me, one almost spoken in my gut,
            “Oh please, don’t tell me I’m wrong.”

      2. veronica_gurlie

        both the news poems inspired from my original poem in here, have been edited again and finalized. they are not posted in here but they have been. They will be in my book though:0)

  8. Michele Brenton


    When people are kind
    and the world stays on course
    when I dream something nice
    and sleep through the night
    when I get through a day
    without being afraid
    and the sun shines
    nobody cries, nobody dies
    and pain stays within
    its boundaries
    when you are content
    and my child is fulfilled
    and I see myself in a mirror
    without feeling disgust –
    that’s unexpected.

    Michele Brenton 19th May 2014

  9. Julieann


    The week went all wrong
    There was no mirth or song

    The boss was cross
    We’d all hit the sauce

    People were being let go
    All answers ended in “no”

    I stepped gingerly into the room
    It was my turn to face the doom

    I was waved into the chair
    I knew I didn’t have a prayer

    But instead, she smiled and said
    A charmed life you’ve led

    Do not fear, do not fret
    We are not finished with you yet

    We’ve created a new position
    It is yours along with the recognition

  10. carolecole66

    Four Days of Prayer


    A woodpecker hammers on a metal drain.
    The dog groans in her sleep. The sounds
    that start my day remind me to be awake
    to what is me and not me.


    It’s an unexpected joy to sit quiescent,
    watch the wind play through the palms,
    the sun brighten the red hibiscus. This
    is my hand, but not quite.


    Eighty years pass but my mother is still ten,
    still holding her cat, still living with her dreams
    on a Depression-era farm. Will she recognize
    the child in old photos? My face looks back at her.


    I have walked into these rooms and lived
    and breathed, not freely, not because I chose,
    but only through the momentary grace
    of the god who holds the door.

  11. Rosemary Nissen-Wade

    How I wish for Delete and Edit buttons here! The tilus is more powerful if set out as its inventor (Kelvin S. M.) intended:

    The Unconscious Comes Up

    Half asleep, I recall
    that teacher


    tormented us children
    long ago.


    I drift into a thought
    of murder—

    what! —

    pushing her down a cliff …
    gentle me.


    (Written as a series
    of tilus-

  12. Rosemary Nissen-Wade

    The Unconscious Comes Up

    Half asleep, I recall
    that teacher

    tormented us children
    long ago.

    I drift into a thought
    of murder—
    what! —

    pushing her down a cliff …
    gentle me.

    (Written as a series
    of tilus-

  13. grcran


    the future’s not been seen, or so they say…
    I listen to Al Stewart and I grok
    the crazy nostradamic tocks and ticks,
    clock Heinlein scifi landing in my lap

    we meet this perfect stranger and he knows
    just why we’re on the scene and when she died
    tells me about his partner and invites
    me over to watch Rocky take a nap

    Bullwinkle comes along and leads the way
    He pleads the cause with expertise, it shows
    That no one always stays the here and now
    We dream as we remove the thinking cap.

    Cementing present tense is over-ray-
    ted; best to die then once more decompose.

    by gpr crane
    (the poem came to me unexpectedly during a violent thunderstorm, and it took some unexpected twists for me… perhaps it has some unexpected turns for the reader also)

  14. jean

    Really, It’s Been Like This Since Last Month — a nonet

    Really, it’s been like this since last month
    A doe gave birth in our backyard,
    Two hummingbirds flew inside,
    Three lizards ran through hall,
    We could close doors, gates
    But then, what would
    Fun would that

  15. Misky

    She and I and That Man

    She and I
    set upon narrow
    paths, a crush
    of pine scent
    as step over step we progressed.

    We were shoulder
    to shoulder, we surged
    with a press.
    Stopped. Our sight
    swinging slow from right to left.

    It started —
    a strange suppressed sort
    of murmur,
    a scuffle,
    a struggle in cracked breathy woods.
    The late afternoon

    sunlight, it
    dazzled his yellow-
    beige coat. His
    as our own mother’s shrill voice
    (‘though obviously

    we didn’t
    knew him!) Oh no, not —
    that man who
    wore a hide-
    coloured coat.
    That man with his raincoat
    pulled wide with a flash.

    (When my little sister and I used to walk home from school, this idiot was always hiding in the bushes)

  16. James Von Hendy

    That the World Needs You to Be There

    Bright and amazing. It all gets easier
    After that. Startle us.
    If you’re scared, quote yourself,
    The threnody
    Of respiration enough
    To remind you you’re breathing

    Because the world needs you
    Even if, even because
    You do nothing
    With grace.
    How you make

    Us see the blue veins
    Under skin all
    You sit on the corner
    With your cardboard sign
    And glare.

    1. PressOn

      This poem made me recall what seems like countless men (and some women) on street corners and traffic islands, with their signs, pleading for work or handouts. Invites me to think differently, now. Superb work.

    2. TomNeal

      Even if, even because
      You do nothing
      With grace.

      You are a master at creating lines that carry multiple messages. The above lines are fibre optic. The rejet “With grace” is brilliant.

      1. James Von Hendy

        Thanks, Tom. Your appreciation strikes a deep chord in me. A small poem I jotted in a journal a while back about my own feeling for the importance of lines:


        I do
        each line must carry
        its own
        pick up

  17. PowerUnit

    Oh, what a surprise you are
    You can slide through the crowd like a Ninja
    And nobody sees you
    Baring your soul for no one
    In front of everyone
    And our bikes are still locked to the gate, a relief
    We can stop slithering the streets like spies
    And ride home with dignity on the tree-lined path
    Where nobody can watch us
    Carrying on

  18. TomNeal

    David Unexpectedly Dethrones Malcolm
    (a bit of nonsense)

    The marble block slipped its hoist and began
    To descend from a great height to the earth-
    In some circles this accident is called
    The fall, or even the fortunate fall,
    But Malcolm saw no reason to rejoice
    As he witnessed the block hurtling earthward,
    His main concern was more pedestrian,
    As the marble found its way to the street,
    Malcolm’s own feet also beat the pavement,
    An attempt to escape the consequence
    Of another’s misdeed.

    The block itself
    Crashed with great force, creating a crater
    In the ground, accompanied by smashing
    Sounds and dust, lots of dust and marble shards.
    You might say everything inessential
    Shattered in the pit, but that understates
    It a bit, at least from Malcolm vantage-

    For when the dust had cleared
    Malcolm found himself in the pit
    Facing an angry David with a sling
    And stones galore– his hiding place destroyed,
    He was not amused, and that psalms it up.

      1. TomNeal

        James and William,


        I had images of Michelangelo chipping away the bits of marble “that didn’t belong” when creating/discovering his David; Satan falling in Paradise Lost mixed with Adam and the “fortunate fall”; and that, of course, brought Augustine, Shakespeare and Macbeth to mind. If I could have only figured out how to work all those typing monkey’s in . . . maybe next time.

  19. Walt Wojtanik


    You see her.
    She smiles.
    You return the grin.
    you’re in-
    fatuated, she’s elated.
    Your palms sweat,
    your knees knock.
    She says hello.
    You mumble.
    She says you’re cute.
    You stumble.
    She touches your hand,
    you’re dead where you stand.
    You soiled yourself. Ain’t love grand
    and rather unexpected?

  20. DMelde

    The king at the head of his army
    In the valley an ambush awaits
    His friend had cried wolf to betray him
    Win or lose, roll the dice, tempt the fates
    To be king, to lose all bonds of friendship
    Is the heavy doom of the gold crown
    His friend in his quest of the kingship
    Shuns the light that once shone around them
    He feels none, sees none, the light dim

  21. Amaria

    saw you
    walk into
    the room my heart jumped
    for I never thought I see you
    But now you stand in front of me
    with that smooth smile
    that caught me
    in your

  22. Azma


    He dragged his feet across the swallowing sand
    In the vastness of the golden parched dune
    His tongue felt
    like an arid piece of paper
    craving for a drop
    that might ink out inspiration
    and positive thoughts
    His water supply had long exhausted
    He had no grit left for the last mile
    But he was wrong to give up now
    He was wrong to think so
    For in the distance he saw
    an oasis.

  23. gloryia

    Your Place or Mine?

    Where shall it be
    come for lunch,
    or come for tea?
    Bring just yourself
    all I want is you
    to walk through
    the door, wearing
    that grin and nothing
    more. I’ll be waiting
    and waiting
    so please hurry by,
    your place or mine
    whichever you choose
    will turn out real fine.

  24. RJ Clarken

    Unexpected Notoriety

    “There is nothing that compares to an unexpected round of applause.” ~Lynn Abbey

    It’s not that I am insecure.
    Let’s get that established right now.
    That having been said, yeah, I’d want
    a bit of recognition. So…

    give me a nod, a cheer, a hoot!
    Give accolades! I’ve got allure!
    Standing ovation’s what I want
    (and I’ll provide your quid pro quo.)

    Lest you think I sound like a boor,
    I must add, encouragement’s good.
    I swear I am not immature,
    but honestly, I want to flaunt

    and show off on a big grand tour,
    while staying modest, nonchalant.


    1. PressOn

      I love this. It reminds me of some old vaudevillians who modestly hold up one hand to stop the applause, while using the other hand, lowered, to urge it on.

  25. RuthieShev

    The Unbirthday Gift

    Can hardly drag myself out of bed
    Stayed up too late last night as I reread
    The news that made me openly weep
    So much it caused my restless sleep
    A letter from a town far away
    Concerning a friend from yesterday
    I read it over and over again
    Trying to let it all sink in
    I just can’t seem to comprehend
    That I’ve lost this wonderful long time friend
    My confident, my advisor, my pen pal
    When I was in trouble my go to gal
    Suddenly I heard a quick sharp knock
    Came out of my daze and looked at the clock
    Walked slowly with sadness to the door
    Saw a package laying on the front porch floor
    Picked it up and brought it inside
    When I saw what it was my eyes opened wide
    A picture of a little girl and myself
    In a silver frame to place on my shelf
    “I know your dear friend you will sadly miss
    But happy Unbirthday to you my friend and Sis”
    I smiled as I remembered how my spirits would lift
    Every time I received her surprise unbirthday gifts.

  26. drnurit


    By: Dr. Nurit Israeli

    Like an unexpected sunshine
    despite a bad weather forecast
    which made me prepare
    for the worst –
    the gift of light.

    1. Linda Goin

      That last line threw me for a loop, Nurit — I thought, at first, that the “gift of light” was the “worst.” I had to read the poem over again, and realized the puzzle solved in the title. Lovely!

  27. JohnLY

    For this week’s prompt, write a poem in which the unexpected happens. Could be a good unexpected–like receiving a gift from an anonymous person; could be a bad unexpected–like having someone break into your house; could be a confusing unexpected–like having a complete stranger propose marriage. Whatever you’re unexpected, have fun poeming!
    Just breezing along life’s way,
    Drifting with the patterns of time,
    Day follows day as life flows on
    The minor upsets shrugged away.
    Up with the lark and off to the garden
    Weeding, struggling with Nature’s wiles,
    Wind and rain and sunny smiles.
    Change is gradual, never sudden.

    Until today when I got the post
    A long white envelope in my door
    I must attend a meeting to my advantage
    With a well known attorney at law.
    The meeting is solemn, there is a will
    I am now a wealthy man.
    My fortunes have changed, my life rearranged
    Life will never be quite the same.

    I wonder if the seeds I sowed will survive
    The garden of life goes on.

  28. Jezzie


    My two dogs had done very well
    to live as long as they have done,
    but sadly one dog died last year
    leaving behind the timid one.

    I thought that without her sister
    the timid underdog would pine,
    but instead of that she blossomed
    into the closest friend of mine.

    Since then she never leaves my side.
    She loves to follow me around
    but her ancient legs are failing
    and she has to keep lying down.

    She’s almost lame and very deaf
    and these days she can hardly see
    but each day she is here is an
    unexpected bonus for me.

    1. TomNeal

      She’s almost lame and very deaf
      and these days she can hardly see
      but each day she is here is an
      unexpected bonus for me.

      A beautiful expression of the bond between pet and pet owner.

    2. carolecole66

      I have nearly the same experience, but the one who died bullied the other, so the change was immediate; she was ecstatic to be free which made me feel really bad. Now she hobbles out every night on arthritic legs for our very short walk around the neighborhood. So glad her last years are happy ones.

  29. seingraham


    I said we should go out to the cemetery
    and sit with his mother until an answer
    came to us
    He thought it wasn’t a good idea but he
    had nothing better
    Besides it was her birthday and there was
    that, so it was reason enough

    We took a small music machine and
    some tunes we knew she loved and
    we half liked
    A bottle of wine from his country
    before it broke apart
    (although how he had that, I have no idea)
    A couple of blankets, some fruit and cheese,
    and a baguette
    At the last minute I cut a couple of calla lilies
    from my garden – stately carnelian things
    Something else I knew she’d love; I threw
    in a cut-glass vase that used to be
    my grandmother’s
    Figuring, what the hell, how many
    of those do I need

    By the time we got out there, the
    horizon was softening to pearly pink,
    almost a salmon colour really,
    and it was cooling significantly
    We decided to build a fire
    even though we knew it probably
    wasn’t allowed in the cemetery

    Being so far outside of town
    we figured we wouldn’t be noticed
    and as it happened, we weren’t
    So, we were in no time cozying
    up to a blazing fire right near
    his mother’s flat stone,
    Drinking wine, listening to Josh
    Groban sing, “Just a Breath Away”
    and talking about everything
    under the sun

    I’m not sure who fell asleep first —
    we could have nodded off simultaneously
    I guess
    When I woke up — he was deep asleep
    but someone else was on the
    far side of the dying fire
    I poked at the embers, trying to see who
    Threw more twigs on, and another log

    Whoever it was stood just outside the light,
    shimmering, barely visible
    I thought my eyes were maybe playing
    tricks on me
    I almost woke him, but then she stepped
    nearer and I couldn’t move
    It was his mother

    We didn’t speak, just gazed at each other
    I wasn’t scared, wasn’t hardly even surprised
    She looked so well – not at all the way she had
    when she died
    Her smile was wide and her eyes sparkly; the
    way they used to be when we first met
    She nodded then and I knew exactly what she
    was trying to tell me
    I knew what we had to do
    She stepped back out of the light, and very soon
    had disappeared

    I put still more wood on the fire and wrapped my
    blanket close around me once again
    Darkness enfolded me and he slept on…
    Morning would be soon enough to tell him answers
    that came in the night and the unexpected place
    from where they had arrived.

    1. TomNeal

      We took a small music machine and
      some tunes we knew she loved and
      we half liked
      A bottle of wine from his country

      A deft touch: we half liked

      I wholly like this poem.

      1. seingraham

        Thanks so much – Tom, William, Andrea, James and Sara – I’m sorry it took me so long to get back here and realize how kind you all had been…I do appreciate feedback and such wonderful comments should not go unnoticed. Thank you again.

  30. PKP

    Spilling gold…

    a tip a whirl
    sideways room
    tilt – a shake
    of her head as
    she moves about
    her early retirement
    thinking about planting
    roses and eating grilled
    cheese sandwiches in the
    late afternoon with a glass of
    cold sweet tea – as the sun sets
    golden – in a silent garden of a life-
    time’s sowing – she shakes her head
    to clear the sudden tilt to the side as the
    Universe smacks her hard and she recalls with
    sudden clarity this feeling of life moving ever so
    slightly and surely and surreally transforming her forever

  31. De Jackson

    Embracing the Tides

    She is not a big fan
    of surprises, likes the slow
    and steady shirr of regular days,
    the feel of the sun’s rays on her face
    as she moves forward. She is not a fair
    friend of left turns or crazy plot twists or
    midnight trysts with fate. Her plate’s quite
    full of regular things, and when she sings it’s
    an old familiar tune, born of salt and sea and ink
    and moon. So when the wind comes and the package
    springs open (Surprise!) and the light in her eyes fades
    just a little, don’t fret. She’ll get there. She’s not finished yet.


    1. RuthieShev

      Very nice. I have never responded to this many poems but each one I have read so far today, gives me a special beautiful suprise. I think this is well done.

  32. Linda Goin

    Processing the News

    Buddha ordered me
    to leave the sangha
    to restore the dharma.

    A blunt brick dinged
    a distant belfry hearing
    the news I was such.

    An elemental cog
    in the triple gem
    of cosmic order.

    Deep snow stored in situ
    collapsed from inside,
    brittle from exact sunlight.

    1. TomNeal

      There are a lot of interesting things happening with the metre and rhythm. At first glance, it looks as though it might chant (Buddhist chant), but it doesn’t. There is a form around the formless, or at least a form that resists being pinned down (e.g. A blunt brick dinged- scans?).


        1. Linda Goin

          Tom — first, thanks for reading and for trying to “process” the poem. This piece is another experiment, and I let the poem write itself, since I was so exhausted. Taking off on Robert’s “processing” his news, the poem began orderly, but then was disrupted, falls apart. I’m not sure the third stanza belongs, but I left it in to show a reach for normalcy again before the “collapse,” be it physical, mental, or emotional. No scanning — just abrupt and singular thoughts in a process. I’m so happy you force me to explain myself. hahaha Thanks!

    2. James Von Hendy

      Intriguing and beguiling images build to a powerful sense of uneasiness in this poem.

      “Budhha ordered me” could me a couple of things, both a command, and a setting to order of some kind, new to the “me” of the poem. Both would be unsettling.

  33. Sara McNulty


    Darkened movie theater,
    feet tapping, waiting
    for the five previews
    to end. Then, feature
    music swells, a settling
    of soda cups, and monster
    pop corn containers,
    as the film begins.
    Mid-movie, hero appeals
    to the audience, and volunteers
    step into the movie screen
    to help. Story proceeds;
    volunteers are killed.
    Everyone looks around
    as the end credits roll.
    In the darkened movie theater
    the missing audience members
    never come back.

    1. PressOn

      Oh, boy. This startles on two levels: the volunteers stepping in, and “everyone” looking around at “missing” members. This piece has me thinking.

  34. lionetravail


    She’s sixty two, but looks as though born when fire was new
    She’s crippled by Crohn’s and saddled with stones
    She’s on intimate terms with a multitude of germs
    To say she’s unwell is to understate hell

    She’s just now awaking from tough undertaking
    She’s had her stones treated, procedure completed
    She’s been through the mill because she’s been ill
    But she’s out of the OR, and without a new scar

    She’s got a sister waiting with patience unabating
    She’s not safe at her house, I’m told, because of her spouse
    She’s suffered abuse, which I’m left to deduce
    And her sister’s in tears, speaking her fears

    Just like that, I’m un-okayed, sinister new connections made
    I’m obligated, by news which horrifies, to report: I do, and she denies

    1. lionetravail

      Thank you guys… I felt a little awkward forgoing meter for message in this one, so I appreciate the kind feedback. This episode occurred literally the night before Robert’s prompt, and it offered me the perfect way to express how unsettling and depressing this was for me.

  35. shellcook

    The Unexpected

    I expected the end before I knew the beginning.
    It’s a funny thing, this brilliant life,
    so complicated, and so simple.
    It reaches up when you least expect
    and lands a blow quite hard to take.

    So I was only mildly surprised
    When he told me you had died.
    After all, we did all that fun shit together,
    but, and this is a biggie,
    you were not allowed to die before me.

    So used to being exhausted,
    I used myself up well before my expiration date.
    Do you remember the eighties?
    No? Me neither.
    Damn, I hope it was all worth it.
    I expect the truth is more than simple.

    Thats all i got.
    Thats all i can say.
    I’ll miss you girl,
    but I think I’ll stay
    for a little while,
    just a little while more
    before i meet you at heaven’s door.

    1. writinglife16

      Poignant. What was it about the eighties? One either doesn’t remember them or like me, they do remember them and wish they didn’t. ;)

      1. Andrea Heiberg

        I haven’t been online for so long – due to connection problems but also due to me – who takes the computer and drives for around 2 kilometers to get connected?
        Anyway,one day I heard a bird … and I wanted to write again. So yes, here we go. Thank you.

  36. priyajane

    Unexpected Words

    in the dark of the night
    words tiptoe in
    shimmer like stars
    floating brightly
    dancing around the moon
    in perfect choreography
    of color and rhyme
    silver and gold pearls
    with lacy twines
    and then
    just vanishing silently
    without any footprints
    into the light
    just like that!

      1. James Von Hendy

        Agreed. If only I could decipher my handwriting in the morning.

        This poem well captures the deliciousness of words found in the middle of the night, so perfect, and yet so often only the memory of their deliciousness is what lingers. Lovely.

  37. DanielAri


    The writing prompt from Robert Lee:
    The Unexpected. At the stop
    where casual carpoolers pick
    up riders, a white limousine,

    three car-lengths long, take me. Inside
    it’s all black, curvaceous plastic.
    The bar’s closed. Six passengers sit
    in silence looking at their screens.

    It is way too cold. I unroll
    the window. The idle AV
    emits a low, constant buzzing.
    I see the off switch but refrain.

    The AC stopsl the air grows thick.
    No one paid for the luxury.

  38. Alfonso Kuchinski


    Prying open an empty promise
    educated beyond basic needs
    solidifying contempt for pushers
    of currency computers urging
    quiet evangelists of picture prose.
    occupations unplanned though
    the nameless growing ravenous
    what is owed, capital increasing
    not satisfying small appetites,
    while uncrossable oceans disclose
    degrees of danger that undermine
    already shaky layers in the foundation

  39. Nas

    The Great Motivator

    Death the untimely,
    Death the adversary,
    And Death the trainer
    are one and the same.

    Death the friend
    Who inspires fear
    Or simply inspires,
    A limit
    and motivation—
    a fire under the palm.

    Death is a finish line
    that races to your feet,
    even as you backpedal.
    You’ve never run so fast–
    A new personal best.

  40. theDolphin

    When one is a writer
    Calls oneself a writer
    Spins words into the ether
    For an ear
    Or acclaim.
    One thinks it’s even likely!
    Perhaps likely.
    Maybe likely?

    So quickly.

  41. Hannah

    Talking to Myself and a Small Pool of Spilled Coffee

    I tell myself things and this time it’s this…
    I’ll bet you never thought you’d find the next best design
    pooled in spilled coffee,
    on the surface of the hot glass stove-top.
    Simple really but also deeply profound.
    There, distinctly in the color of raw sienna
    a shape settles and there’s a pause and a wow;
    there’s a familiar form lying in liquid subtlety,
    the clear curve of a whale’s tale has emerged
    and the body is in accordance with that of a great blue
    but then the most bewildering thing has happened…
    Poised where the rounded opening of mouth should be
    there lives the definite profile and portrait of a human face,
    The telling brow, eye socket, nose, lips and chin are displayed surely.
    And as I said before…then there’s the pause and wow of this moment,
    the aha in discovery of the profundity in meaning and the rich calling.
    Watercolors swirl vividly in my mind, ink details and a poem planted
    in the upper left hand corner – something to draw attention:
    Maybe if whales had faces like this one we’d think more about them?

    Copyright © Hannah Gosselin 2014

    So, this will be my next painting…I’m forever grateful for chance, grace and creativity.

    1. Nas

      I like this a lot. You really “paint” a picture, and an idea (inspiration really does come from the most unlikely– even mundane– of things) in the mind. You do a nice job portraying the process/ transition of casual observation to Vision/Muse

    2. writinglife16

      This has such a sense of the unexpected in it. As if the moment that the design you talk about is frozen in time. Does that make sense?

  42. taylor graham


    I walked past the old homestead where a girl
    pined herself to death of loneliness, here
    among the roses and dairy cows, the silkworms
    and tea-plants, song of frogs on the pond.
    I kept walking and of course my dog came too.
    That girl never had one, loneliness being
    incompatible with dogs. We paused
    to watch an egret lift silver from a snag
    and settle on the lake’s farther shore. On this
    side, high May grasses verges to summer-
    platinum and the woods to deeper green, a place
    I’d never ventured. No trails to mark a way.
    My dog stopped abruptly, as something faster
    flashed past us and away. Coyote, shape-
    shifter of this not-quite-settled land; creature
    unburdened by thought of trespass, who
    turned the wild-oat seed-heads silver
    in his light of passing beyond the fences.
    His solitary vision stays.

    1. Hannah

      Your descriptions are so filling, Taylor…I always feel like I’ve had a hearty meal after reading you.

      I love this…so true:

      ” loneliness being
      incompatible with dogs.”

  43. Michelle Murrish

    Purse Poncho

    They watched me as I pulled
    My poncho from my purse
    Disbelieving I didn’t have change to spare
    But had room inside for this.
    When you’re no stranger to hard times
    Or upsets
    Or blue skies that turn black
    You learn to keep a poncho in your purse

  44. dhaivid3

    Poem Title: Stephen’s gone home now.

    Happy shouts as he went home
    We’re feeling better
    He’s gone home
    To rest.

    What’s that now?
    The news bulletins say different now.

    Oh no!
    He’s gone
    Home to rest…forever
    The shock
    The pain
    Oh Stephen
    You’ll be sorely missed
    By the lives and hearts you blessed

    Rest In Peace Stephen: you were a true inspiration to us all

      1. dhaivid3

        Hello all. Thanks, yes, it was written in memory of Stephen Sutton from Burntwood, Staffordshire, UK. I cannot put into words my shock yesterday when I saw the news that he had died. It was like being slapped by someone who started out offering to shake your hand. He had only recently been discharged and I think millions of us the world over literally breathed a sigh of relief. Then we got the news yesterday.

        May he rest in perfect peace. Amen.

  45. foodpoet


    A tumble of fur furled skin
    A scramble across floors
    Skittering around our golden
    Who jumped up on the sofa
    And could not decide if she should
    Or hide under the pillows.
    With broom and patience
    We swept our house clean of
    What is it we asked
    We swept our house clean
    And watched
    The flying squirrel
    Scramble skitter up the tree
    And back to our roof.

    Time to screen the chimney.

  46. barbara_y


    Two Thousand One passed
    without a moon base,
    without the good guys
    showing themselves, but
    to no one’s surprise
    Nineteen Eighty-Four’s
    dystopian gloom
    is yesterday’s news.

  47. Pauline2


    I keep living through
    the unexpected
    Practicing them again
    and again, as if that is all
    I’ll need

    When the unexpected
    throws itself once
    more against that wall
    leaving the stains
    I can’t forget

  48. candy

    Amens and Halleluiahs

    “Do I hear an Amen?” he
    said from behind the pulpit
    And in front of me, beside
    me, across from me “Amen”
    echoed from the faithful
    I sat, hands folded
    eyes unseeing, head
    bowed down and kept silent

    “Do I hear a Halleluiah?” he
    said from the front of
    the sanctuary. The flock
    arose and “Halleluiah”
    floated to the rafters
    I stood, arms still, lips
    sealed, feet planted
    and was an island

  49. DanielR

    Halfway around the world I flew
    with a stranger in the cockpit
    oceans, clouds, and sky were in view
    as I thanked God he landed it

    vacations are celebrations
    of freedom, so I had a drink
    as a guest in foreign nations
    it often makes me stop and think

    how similar yet different
    we all are, then I thought of you
    and how fast our love came and went
    meaning it could not have been true

    in a sea of foreign faces
    I spot one familiar to me
    never dreamed of all the places
    I’d see you again in Sydney

    Lips red, eyes blue, sandy hair straight not curled
    still beautiful, halfway around the world

    Daniel Roessler

  50. creilley


    I saw the Four Horsemen
    The famous apocalypse guys.
    They rode silently past neatly folded laundry,

    They approached me in silence
    Their breathe a rye and meadow wind
    Each of them in turn,

    Gliding ghostlike past where I sat,
    Watching steam on the mirror
    Grow cold.

    War had no use for me,
    Past my prime, bum knee.
    Not even as cannon fodder.

    Famine had little to work with,
    I had known hunger, want, poverty,
    Nothing he had could scare me.

    Pestilence likewise dismissed me out of turn,
    For which I’ll be forever grateful,
    Probably too sedentary to spread the touch.

    And Death, well, we all must dance,
    But today is not the day, now not the hour,
    Death merely bid me good day.

    And then they were gone, their vacancy tangible,
    While I decided to look up embolisms or strokes,
    Trying to close this doorway into myself.

    Until I saw the tracks in the talcum powder,
    Heard the soft whicker of horse,
    And tasted their life on my tongue.

  51. Walt Wojtanik

    right place, write time

    i’ve been mad for f*%##$! years,
    words in arrears and fears they would never
    be read before I’m dead. (Even after, I’m sure).
    file cabinet full and spilling to the floor.

    trolling the world wide waters I found this clever
    invitation, luring my stagnation of words
    into the radiant bright sunshine in rhyme.
    the unexpected under-achiever, and what’s more

    the guy who couldn’t get his words to fly
    no matter how he tried. who’s to say a poem
    a day was the way to have my words read let alone, heard?
    but my word, it brought me to let my words soar.

    did I plan to be a poet? ever?
    If you had asked me then, I’d have said, “absurd!”

  52. break_of_day

    “the night we screamed the screams of teenagers in a horror movie”

    it’s a funny story now,
    the slow awakening in the night
    the indiscernible sounds
    of confused, half-woken fright

    that trickled down the hall
    with you soon to follow
    bedside lamps still turned off,
    our understanding hollow

    your uttered words then came
    as you stepped around the cat,
    there’s a bird in my room, you said,
    then added, maybe a bat

    it made more sense, really
    why would a bird be up so late?
    not that reason mattered when
    it flew, like a horse out the gate,

    down the hall, past us, we screamed
    like slasher movie prey;
    it returned to your room, but you did not
    till the light of the following day

    now we only have photos
    and the dread of sounds in the night
    that are probably nothing, really,
    but may be a bat in flight

  53. PressOn


    Surprise is an understatement;
    Never has there been such a storm;
    Over the river and through the wood,
    We see snow instead of the norm.