Editors Blog

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 266

If you haven’t seen it, I had a poem published over at Kind Over Matter this past weekend. Click here to read it.

For this week’s prompt, write a poem of industry. Industry sounds like a big term, but it probably carries different connotations for different folks. For instance, some people might immediately think of the music industry (or mortgage industry), others may think of smokestacks, and some may think of industrious people they know or industrial-sized containers of food. Whatever industry means to you, try capturing (or conveying) it in a poem.


Write great fiction!

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Here’s my attempt at an Industry Poem:

“industry vs. inferiority”

bob draws an elephant
& tom draws a zebra

bob draws a lot of praise
& tom draws a critique

bob draws with gray crayons
& tom draws black & white


Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer is the author of Solving the World’s Problems and Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community. His poem today was inspired by the fourth stage of Erik Erikson’s theory of psychological development. Robert is married to the poet Tammy Foster Brewer, who helps him keep track of their five little poets.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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300 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 266

  1. taylor graham


    That girl in hoop-shirt, auburn tresses
    under a bonnet tied with ribbons – how she tosses
    her head, talking to the serious young man
    in moustache and ditto suit. Yellow ribbons
    to set off her auburn hair.

    Here they are at the Exhibition of the Arts
    and Industries. Here’s silk-weaving machinery at work.
    The livelihood of Coventry: ribbons.
    How many generations of women have worked
    at the factory to feed their daughters?

    What does this girl in yellow ribbons care
    for work conditions, fair pay, overseas tariffs?
    Every English lady wants French
    ribbons. But watch this new machine turn out spools
    of ribbon in every color a girl could desire.

    A toss of the head, the bonnet-ties flutter. Coventry
    sharpens its wits, finds new skills
    just to keep up – to make a living profit of ribbons
    for a girl’s hair. Yellow ribbons. How she
    flirts with a world’s heart of trade.

  2. taylor graham


    The [salt]work is necessarily continuous day and night. – Elihu Burritt, Walks in the Black Country

    He wakes from brief sleep at his station
    by the drying pans. Salt needs so much watching,
    as it transforms from sea to table. Things
    can happen when you’re not looking. He’s heard
    stories. Women working beside the men,
    twenty-four hours in a day, all week. No relief
    but salt of the earth. Taste of sweat on glistening
    skin. He’s licked the inside of his arm, and
    thought of Mary at her cooking, just a pinch of
    salt to bring savor to a stew. He wakes from
    dreams of salt kisses.

  3. Marie Therese Knepper

    The Big Con

    The facade,
    standing over time,
    repaired and replenished.

    The masquerade,
    hypnotic dancing
    fuels the masses.

    The Actor,
    always one
    yet many faces.

    The watchers,
    soothed; coddled
    with warm milk.

    The players,
    clucking chaos;
    paid magicians.

    The stage,
    fixed ratings;
    captive viewers.

    The author,
    kneading strings.

    The finale:
    written, rewritten,
    and edited.

    The story,
    many sequels;
    same results.

    1. James Von Hendy

      I love the simple, powerfully repetitive structure of this poem. It seems to me you really catch your theme with “the Actor/always one/yet many faces.” The rest of the poem projects the images of the stage/ movie set well. I’d be tempted to move the stanza about the watchers to the very end, following “The story,/ many sequels,/same results” to keep the focus on the “production” until you reveal its results. At least that’s how I read the poem.

      Nicely done.

      1. Marie Therese Knepper

        Thank you for your compliments and observations.
        My poem could be interpreted as a commentary on the entertainment industry. I had something else in mind. :)

    2. BDP

      I love the actor stanza. Seems as if you could indeed play with stanza order. But no matter what order you choose, each stanza is self contained and tells its own message. And despite the brevity of each stanza, each message made me stop and think. I liked that.

    3. TomNeal

      This text generates a number of interesting possible readings. The title declares it “The Big Con”, and certainly invites the reader to interpret its narrative parts (stanzas) as part of a con, but perhaps the poem itself, and poets and poetry are also being indicted. (I read this poem as a variation on an Elmer Gantry theme).

      Is it significant that the “Actor” is uppercase, but “The author/omnipotent” is lowercase? Actors interpret texts, and then embody or incarnate their interpretations in performance. In this text the Actor seems to have priority over the lowercase “omnipotent” author, but perhaps this is also a con- a perception created by the “hypnotic dancing”.

      On the other hand, the author’s text and its sequels are predestined to yield the same results over and over again. This is at best a strange version of omnipotence. Perhaps the author omnipotent is dead? As T.S. Eliot observed, the poet is not a privileged interpreter of his or her own work, or as Barthes more playfully puts it, the author is dead. Barthes poet is a “scriptor”, not an authority.

      Does the poet’s intention matter? Does the poet’s intention override what is found in the poem/text? Or does the reader/interpreter have the final word? Is performance all there is? These are interesting questions posed by this text, if not by its poet.

          1. Marie Therese Knepper

            I resist the urge to…. :)

            I am enthralled by the many interpretations you’ve come up with in so little time. I wonder if my work is best served by withholding my inspiration, at least for now. Does my intention override the reader’s interpretation? Great questions, all.

            Thank you, Tom.

  4. BDP

    “Industrious Orange Tom”

    Our tiger hedonist commands the yard,
    forgoing pounce for calm, his afternoon
    stretched out and yawning. Scottish broom
    his choice for post-lunch snooze (that tub o’ lard!),
    he schleps to rhodie-grove at half-past three,
    right now he’s languid, high on catnip mint.
    I dare nudge him to weed. He snubs the hint,
    soon grooms again, his cat philosophy,

    and does by this intransigence request
    adoption of the attitude required
    to keep his fur so perfectly licked clean
    for me to have a silky back to pet.
    Sly dog! (Forgive the phrase, O Feline King.)
    So I submit, curl up in pause, unwired.

    –Barb Peters

  5. annell

    Forget for a Little While Through The Industry of Work
    My world like industry
    On holiday
    The wheels and gears
    Ground to a stop
    You took your last breath
    In the silence of your room
    I touched your hair
    For what I knew would be
    The last time

    Had forgotten
    You were on the way
    Picked up the white box at the Post Office
    Marked express
    Surprised it was so heavy
    Looked at the label
    It was you
    Hugged it to my breast
    Home at last

    Now where do we go from here
    It seems in this time of grief
    It is through the painstaking detail
    Of work
    I seek what is beautiful in the world
    To sooth the broken heart
    I forget
    Then I am reminded
    My heart breaks anew

    June 17, 2014

    1. TomNeal

      This is a touching poem.

      Its insight on work brought Conrad to mind:

      “I don’t like work–no man does–but I like what is in the work–the chance to find yourself. Your own reality–for yourself not for others–what no other man can ever know. They can only see the mere show, and never can tell what it really means.”
      ― Joseph Conrad

  6. dhaivid3

    Wrote these last Wednesday but for reasons least known to me I did not submit them. I suppose it’s because I don’t think they are poems but expressions of the reality I face when I see the developments in my field.

    Poem One Title: I am going to write about computers

    One day humans will live side by side
    – and so too will computers
    Living as neighbours on pebbled streets
    Passing each other on the way to work
    Men and computers will meet and greet.

    We will not call our neighbours robots
    For this will be a politically incorrect sentiment
    And insensitive to their feelings.
    They will not be called robots
    But relatives and best friends
    Mutual love and respect between
    Living and non-living things will never end

    Then, after some time..

    One day love would be a gift sought after
    And flesh will be a commodity rare
    One day when mankind has developed
    People will seek the ‘un-developed’ everywhere.
    One day man will seek woman
    Woman will seek man
    And computer-beings will fill the streets.

    But man will indeed seek man
    And seek woman
    Woman will indeed seek woman
    And seek man
    They will all seek human neighbours to greet.

    Then, after a time..

    All mankind will at last learn the lesson of history
    Which repeats itself yet remains a mystery
    The value of a fellow human being
    Lies not in what they own or in any material thing
    But in who they are and what they carry within.

    Poem Two Title: My shiny neighbour

    Cling! Clang! my neighbour goes
    Where he was born everyone knows.
    He passes by my window and bows
    Then he hurries off into the snow.

    I pull the blinds back in place;
    On my brain is the imprint of his face.
    Wait, his ‘face’?
    A ‘contraption’ perhaps, but a face?

    I go back and sit at my kitchen table;
    I’m tired and, increasingly I am less able.
    No work done yet tired I sit at my table.
    I glance down at my empty wooden toy cradle.

    I can hear my servant pottering about
    A tear falls and in my head I hear a shout
    My head is screaming, the words hit the back of my mouth
    But I make not one sound, I don’t let them out.

    My neighbours outside are clanging
    Functioning, they are able, they are doing.

    My ‘living’ neighbours shuffle about our town, our fortress
    Perpetually ‘blessed’ now but with the gift of unhappiness
    Their backs bowed low, souls weighed down with sadness
    Cursed by the fruits of development.

    I pull back the blinds for one more go.
    Here I sit in my beautiful ‘printed’ home
    My robot companions come and they go
    I live with companions yet feel I’m alone.

    I look outside and I long for seagulls
    I sit there and stare as another tear falls.

    The world I see is filled with creators and their mistakes.
    Man is blessed with the gift of living days on end doing nothing.

    I pull the blinds back into place.

    1. TomNeal

      My head is screaming, the words hit the back of my mouth
      But I make not one sound, I don’t let them out.

      The rhymes and the rhythms of this poem perfectly match the its content. Indeed, if I could not make out the words, I think I would still get the message from the rhymes and rhythms.

  7. drnurit

    I recommend an article in yesterday’s (June 14th) NY Times’ Sunday Review / Opinion, by William Logan: “Poetry: Who Needs It?”
    “The way we live now is not poetic. We live prose, we breathe prose, and we drink, alas, prose…” http://nyti.ms/1kUW1AB

      1. drnurit

        Tom, your phone call − from across the big sea, your amazingly wise feedback, and your kind support touch me beyond words… My belief in the potential of cyberspace just increased exponentially. My deepest gratitude…

  8. James Von Hendy

    Fiat Lux

    If not for ants, sunlight would never reach
    The forest floor. Piece by piece they strip
    Away the canopy by a third. They clear
    Paths across the ground, long arteries
    Of clarity through litter and duff,
    The detritus of decay. It makes one think
    All industry is destruction purposed
    For survival, necessity’s narrow view.
    Does the leaf cutter think it serves new growth,
    Or merely the spawn of the larval queen?
    Does the leaf cutter think at all? Do we?

    1. TomNeal

      The detritus of decay. It makes one think
      All industry is destruction purposed

      There is so much going on in this poem that I fear my comments will hardly do it justice. Every word from “Fiat” in the title to the final “we” is working hard: there is no filler– every (verse) foot is moving (like an ant?), and the enjambment and rejet (see the lines cited above) enhances that movement in a way that prose cannot.

      “The detritus of decay” belongs to one sentence, and “It makes one think” to another, and yet unified by the line a new meaning emerges. The “detritus” becomes a type of “memento mori”. ‘It makes one think’. I feel the pull of Montaigne in this line, but the enjambment pulls me on to the rejet in the next line, ‘All industry is destruction purposed’. The movement from Montaigne to Schumpeter (creative destruction) is magnificent. Behind both lurks Adam Smith’s “invisible hand”, and his “butcher”, “brewer” and “baker”.

      Is the reader witnessing intelligence in action? or blind force at work? The poem both as a whole, and also quite directly asks the reader to consider this question. Is intelligence an illusion- a supervenient property of matter? or is matter the product of intelligence? I would suggest that the question sends the reader back to the title and all that it connotes. It might also be fruitful to consider that the poem’s title is “Fiat Lux”, and not the alternative “Lux Sit”. The situation in the poem is “lux sit”, but “Fiat Lux” suggests something more– both in creation and in finance.

      James, you set a high standard for the rest of us to meet. I wish I had more time to explore other points, but unfortunately, I don’t.

      Well done!

        1. James Von Hendy

          Tom, as always your insightful, close and perceptive readings of my and others’ poems, coupled with your huge appreciation and knowledge of poetry and poets humbles me. Thank you.

          Enjambment and rejet allow us to explore multiple levels of meaning, understanding, and wonder (in all its meanings), I believe.

  9. lionetravail

    “Heavily Nuanced Streets”

    I feel like I’m standing on Mount Olympus,
    but really it’s just my office on the thirtieth floor.
    From here, the worker ants far below
    move in patterns, set by Queen they can’t ignore.

    You can watch them, like I do, rain or shine,
    through a perspective of vertiginous thrill
    that leaves you with that hollow-belly feeling
    you can’t conquer through any act of will.

    But at lunch, when I take the elevator down
    and walk outside into their bustling nest,
    it’s clear that they are not ants at all, but instead
    they’re people, going about their days with zest.

    I wander around, through heavily nuanced streets,
    watching the industrious folk live like it’s a gift.
    I’m brightly alert for a calorie opportunity of my own, when
    I glance up, thirty floors, for a vertiginous perspective shift.

      1. James Von Hendy

        Agreed. A lovely shift in perspective. “Heavily nuanced streets” adds a mystery and a weight to this poem. “‘Heavily nuanced,’ with what?” one wants to ask. “Living like it’s a gift” when it’s what, perhaps, instead? Or not. Are the folk on the street just intent on “a calorie opportunity” like the speaker of this poem, or is there really more? A nice tension here.

  10. Patricia A. Hawkenson

    Santa Left You Coal

    Black lungs
    the heartiest
    of diggers
    burrowing deep
    beneath the soil
    you dance on,
    and as the music swells
    to drown out
    your laughter,
    think not about
    the sacrificial gifts
    of bloodied sweat,
    old tears
    and time
    that your father shovels
    so you both can flirt
    with death.

  11. Marie Therese Knepper

    Churn, Churn, Churn

    For everything there is a reason;
    A profit born for every season.
    From dawn to dusk the grand cohesion
    Picks the scab of nature’s lesion.

    Churn, churn, churn.

    Once a lush and beautiful land
    Untouched by the greedy baron hand;
    No matter the time, the shore, the sand,
    Yielded treasures beyond demand.

    Churn, churn, churn.

    An idea birthed by greed, you say?
    A crusty pilgrim’s paid holiday
    Or the wanderlust of, yeah or nay,
    The inner groaning for far and away?

    Listen closely for the sound
    Of second’s hands completing its round.
    Timeless pirates and reapers abound,
    Raping the plunder they “thought” they found.

    Churn, churn, churn.

    As so it was, and so it is
    The prophet dare not be remiss,
    And asks you plainly, answer this:
    What’s the going price for eternal bliss?

    Churn, churn, churn

    1. Augie

      Seriously? How do you do this? The beat, the flow, the abyss in your rhymes! I know that we are just at the surface, what dwells beneath? Incredible!

      1. Marie Therese Knepper

        I don’t know, Aug. I had no intention of writing another poem. I was working on a melody for lyrics I finished. Different songs were running through my head. The Byrds “Turn, Turn, Turn” came to mind, and a few minutes later I was posting this poem.

  12. Augie

    -Oil and Blood-

    Fills the skies
    Covers the seas
    Soils the sand

    Eye of power
    Forever watching
    The foreign land

    Riches and war

    We pump more

    The fulcrum of gold shudders
    Under the viscous shifting weight.

  13. cmariee

    Dependent on Food Industry

    Stuck in an epidemic…

    I’m looking for Low Acid, No Pulp Orange Juice
    But the first store doesn’t have it.
    So, an Iced Latte sounds pretty awesome.
    I’ll rationalize. It’s fine.
    At least I tried and I’ m thinking about it.

    Filled with Prilosec, armed with my tums,
    I’m meeting my friends and pizza’s for lunch.
    And that’s fine too because it’s before 9:00.
    And I took a Probiotic. So, I’m aware of it.
    I’m sure they’ll fix it.

    Endoscopies and IBS and I’m too young for this, I guess.
    It’s probably stress, a self-induced psychosis.
    I’m just fine. I’ll get around it.
    Organic is the way to go and I really have considered it.

    But it’s a busy time with tests and I can’t cook organic.
    The store here doesn’t carry it.
    And I’m a product of convenience.
    I was raised on those preservatives.
    And anyway, it’s not my fault The Food Industry relies on this.

    But I am their experiment.
    Now that I think on it.
    No need for gardens, plants, and fruit trees.
    Plastic bottles, cans, and jars last longer anyways,
    And everybody knows that trees don’t grow online these days.

  14. drnurit

    And in paradise –
    hovering up high
    above the clouds,
    do righteous dwellers
    still hear industrious hums
    of edenic inhabitants
    running nowhere fast?

    And in paradise –
    hanging on a thread
    far above this earth,
    do virtuous occupants
    still diligently seek
    anti-loss anti-eviction
    celestial guarantees?

    And in paradise –
    that elevated dwelling
    subject of sweet dreams,
    do commendable tenants
    still work assiduously
    to resist temptations
    and guard heavenly bliss?

    1. TomNeal

      Even seemingly straightforward poems uncover complexity that is often missed by other forms of investigation. On the surface this poem asks three simple questions, but underneath the surface there more disturbing questions silently posed.

      For example:

      And in paradise –
      hanging on a thread
      far above this earth,
      do virtuous occupants
      still diligently seek
      anti-loss anti-eviction
      celestial guarantees?

      On the surface this is a question about life in paradise, but would a state of eternal insecurity actually be a paradise? or would a state of perpetual (or even occasional) anxiety be more like hell?

      The paradise described hangs by a thread, but again doesn’t this image suggest something other than perpetual peace? One might add, it also raises the question: is paradise a place or state of mind?

      Perhaps we don’t know what we mean when we use a term like paradise, or, at least, we don’t know all that might be meant– especially the contradictions and paradoxes we smuggle in with our words. In this, a poetic investigation differs from a scientific, philosophical, or theological investigation. Poetry uncovers truths that are beyond the reach of reason alone. (The water in my kettle boils because it is at 212 degrees. It also boils because I want a cup of tea.)

      Well done

      1. drnurit

        Dear Tom,
        I am in awe of the wise, thoughtful, insightful, and generous nature of your comments to posts on this site! You read what is underneath the surface so well, and your feedback prompts me to uncover profounder layers (after all, I am a psychologist…) Yes, I am fascinated by the power of seemingly simple words to expose and process existential dilemmas (and I often use poems in my teaching – instead of elaborate essays.) Here, you uncover questions “silently posed” – looking at my words, feeling their pulse, and sending them back to me – familiar yet different – reflecting my own voice back, though a clearer version. I am deeply grateful! I don’t know who you are, but I would choose you as a mentor – if I could, and I would greatly appreciate any links to your work.

  15. TomNeal

    Usury rusts the man and his chisel
    It destroys the craftsman, destroying craft
    (Ezra Pound, from Canto LI)

    Dear Ezra-
    The chisel and plough have been stilled,
    The family owns neither farm nor plant;
    Craft and craftsman have disappeared,
    And all capital belongs to the bank,
    But this you foresaw as a poet foresees
    (A David amongst the Philistines):
    As the white moth consumes cabbage
    Usury consumes all industry.

    Hugh Selwyn Mauberly

      1. TomNeal

        I think you are right: the closing simile, and especially the last line needs more work.

        I also think that the implications of “plant” need to be developed in a second draft. I think the organic meaning is fairly straightforward, but “plant” as factory may need a little help. Ditto the gm food ownership implications.

        Thanks for your help.

    1. James Von Hendy

      Nicely stated. Love the moth consuming cabbage bit for its slang connotations especially. I’m half-tempted to drop the parenthetical biblical reference each time I read through the poem, strangely enough. But I love “usury consumes all industry.” as the close. Wham!

  16. RuthieShev

    The reason I am so late on this one is that I am not sure I understood exactly what and industry poem was so I wrote a half dozen ones and decided on this one as my attempt at an industry poem:

    What Exactly Is Industry

    What exactly do you mean by industry
    Could it be that it’s different for you than me?
    Is it the soldiers who fight for us to be free
    Or people who teach us what we will one day be?

    For some it’s the everyday job they do
    While for others the money they accrue
    Maybe it’s inventing something new
    Or painting something with a colorful hue

    Some find importance in lives they affect
    While others in valuables that they collect
    Some care about the greenhouse effect
    Or keeping animals and children from neglect

    Could industry be the caring physician,
    Or listening to an entertaining musician
    Your car being fixed by an auto technician
    Even a mother teaching her child good nutrition

    Think of the first words that come to mind
    When trying to figure importance to mankind
    I think it’s the love and happiness you find
    From all the occupations on this earth combined

    By Ruth Crowell Shevock

  17. tz2328


    Schools of blunder continuously churn
    fodder for the masses.
    Seeping sloth forms institutions
    of Higher Learning.
    Fools once scorned adorn
    classrooms and courtrooms,
    holding justice’s scales; perpetuating
    error upon error.
    One rises. Another falls.
    Cancerous sores on the underbelly of humanity
    take center stage.
    Gold plummets to
    dross’ rapture.
    We hold these truths to be
    self evident.
    Sex sells.

    1. TomNeal

      Political poetry often (not always) is a rant written in broken lines. It is questionable poetry at best. Fortunately, you have not left the poetry out of your poem. That is no small accomplishment.

      1. tz2328

        One of the joys I find in writing is how often the finished product is completely different from my original idea. I didn’t intend to write a political poem. I had a completely different aspect of industry in mind. The title was an afterthought.
        I really appreciate your critique. I am ignorant of what constitutes good political poetry. I wonder if I should stay ignorant and just keep writing?

        1. TomNeal

          Don’t let any anxiety of influence deter you from your reading of good poets. My list of good political poets would include: Spenser, Milton, Marvell, Shelly, Pound, the early Auden, and Yeats.

          1. TomNeal

            It probably goes without saying, but Shakespeare’s history plays (especially Richard II, Henry IV (1 & 2), Henry V, and Julius Caesar) are all very good political and poetical works.

        2. PressOn

          Given that “politics” comes from polis, I think that most poetry is political anyway; it tends to concern people at some level, even “nature” poetry. Or so it seems to me, anyway. I think of poetry as a combination of sense and sound, and your poem excelled on both counts, in my opinion.

          1. TomNeal

            I would agree to a point, but not all poetry is explicitly political in the way that say Shelly is political. The problem with much explicit political poetry is that the rant replaces the poem. The best explicitly political poets leave us with poetry that lives even after the political question has been settled.

          2. James Von Hendy

            Love this discussion of “political” poetry. I agree with Tom that it’s danged hard to rant and still produce good–and frankly often interesting–poetry. On the other hand, all poetry reveals a point of view that can certainly be understood as a political stance.

        1. Augie

          tz2328, let this be heard as your fingers race across the key board and your characters blood flow through your key strokes. You are a writer! I look forward to seeing your works in the short story forum as well.

  18. Augie

    Sunlight softly shines
    On my buddies bed

    I wake him with joy
    A new day ahead

    We walk to the city
    So much to see

    I only come here
    If my buddy is with me

    Skyscrapers cut the sky
    Thousands walk in pace

    Difficult to navigate
    In such a stressful place

    Later in our home
    My buddy brush’s my hair

    A bond of trust between us
    My harness, his care

    Daylight fades
    In total darkness I lay

    Then I realize
    What my buddy saw today

  19. candy

    The Contest

    There once was an ant and a bee
    Who entered a contest to see
    Which one could work harder
    At filling their larder
    Both were beat by a squirrel in a tree

  20. candy

    In the flower bed
    Next to the
    Daffodils sits an
    Unsuspecting weed
    Supposing it will
    Thrive with other buds
    Rather than be
    Yanked out by busy gardeners

  21. DamonZ

    “A House Concerned”

    She was borne in a better day.
    Built by strong men.
    A symbol of the American way.
    But she’s gotten fixed every now and again.
    Been remodeled and cared for.
    In 61 years she’s only had two masters.
    She’s never had a wolf at the door.
    Never experienced any natural disasters.
    Except like so many now, her mortgage is under water.
    A type of systemic auto-immune disease.
    That turned her neighbors to rotters.
    And left their masters on their knees.

  22. shethra77


    So bright it hurts your eyes
    like the sun—in the building by the river flows
    a river of gold.

    Furnace blasts iron,
    ladles catch clean melt. Squeezed
    sand and clay make each mold.

    Liquid hardens to human design,
    shapes both gross and refined.
    Hot metal grows cold.

    Gray iron foundry— chemical,
    mechanical, electrical pinnacle
    of industry.

      1. shethra77

        Thanks to all of you!
        I love the foundry, but the paradox is that yes, they are one of the worst polluters of air and water. And must be by the water, like the nuke plants–sigh.

  23. Augie


    Hills are parted

    Trees stand few

    Fresh smell of tar follows

    As the road comes through

    Wildlife flees

    To where the road ends

    Unable to survive

    What the road sends

    Smoke bellows from stacks

    Waste pumps to the sea

    Factories rise

    In the land of the free

      1. Augie

        Thanks, why do I feel like whispering here? Im used to the short story prompts. Such a peaceful place to relax with these amazing writers Julieann! Thanks!

  24. candy


    Noisy birds chit chat with
    each other like a big family
    getting ready for work and school
    In the distance is the whoosh
    of cars on their way to distant jobs
    The sounds of a siren calling
    out its warning and the
    beep beep of a dump truck
    in reverse leap over the
    backyard fence
    The morning is a time for
    industrious people
    Even the tiny snail at
    the edge of the porch is slowly
    making its way to some
    particular blade of grass
    But I sit and rock in rhythm
    to the breeze that rustles
    the leaves of the oak trees
    with just my thought to
    keep me busy

  25. Nancy Posey

    Your Progress

    Understand my stance, please,
    and don’t feel offense
    when I get defensive
    at what you propose.
    I am not against progress–
    Lord knows we could use some—
    but before you start digging,
    imploding, exploding,
    before you start fracking,
    please consider what you
    think is progress
    may just be change.
    When the run-off seeps
    into our water,
    polluting our wells,
    when the mountains
    are leveled, our farms
    turned to parking lots,
    we know
    there’s no turning back.
    Those trees that took decades
    to reach through the clouds
    cannot be unchopped.
    You can dig up the graveyards,
    transporting the bones
    of our ancestors
    to some more convenient
    location, but their spirits
    will hover. That’s them
    you feel know, causing the hair
    on your neck to stand up.
    The most basic natural law
    of action and reaction
    is never more vivid
    than when you decide
    to overrule those for whom
    you intend your new industry
    all of your progress to serve.
    Even if you may not change
    you mind, take the time, please,
    to listen.

  26. tz2328

    First, congrats on having your poem published!
    Second, how do I upload a pic to my account?
    Thank you :)



    Empty plates and abandoned lots
    Scar the City Planner’s plots,
    Revealing ghosts to each passerby
    That dreams are sometimes built on the lie
    Of men who rose to considerable wealth
    At the cost of their paid slave’s health.

    Some idols stand while others crumbled.
    Old behemoths never humbled
    Over time; still menacing
    New construction replenishing
    What was once the bragging right
    Of each and all who beheld the sight.

    Churning wheels grind away
    The rusted girth of yesterday.
    Paved glitter. Something new.
    Renewed hope. Is that you?
    Please stay.

      1. tz2328

        Ty. I started taking my writing seriously about 2 months ago. These prompts are so helpful.
        I wrote a lot of poetry as a teenager (34 years ago). It’s never too late for hope :)

        1. Augie

          yes. This is the quiet room for me now. I just started writing again as well. Same scenario with the age group and the hope. I like your writing! Keep it coming. Augie

  27. Augie

    The rotary wheel drives the piston

    Clunk- — Clunk

    The piston stamps the plate


    Ink flows from jets


    The conveyer cycles fate


    Twenty more thousand printed
    Our dept continue to sing….

    Clunk-Cling-Clunk, Clunk-Cling- Cling, Ting

    Cling-Cling –Cling, Clunk-Squish- Squish, Ting

    Clunk-Clunk- Cling, Cling-Squish- Clunk, Ting

    Clunk-Clunk-Cling, Squish-Clunk-Squish-Cling


  28. Tracy Davidson

    The Music Industry

    takes young stars
    sucks them in
    and spits them out

    once normal kids
    turn into truculent teens
    obnoxious adults

    their talent fades
    as their antics grow
    alienating fans

    until all that’s left
    are faint memories
    of what they once were

    and what they might have been
    Mr Bieber and Ms Cyrus
    take note

  29. TomNeal

    Industrial Robotics

    Iron hands and broken minds
    Working on assembly lines
    Near taverns that smell
    Of beer and smoke,
    And sometimes crack or weed
    To numb the mind and keep
    The status of the quo
    For union boss
    and union foe.

  30. jasonlmartin

    Biology Class (the education industry)

    We sit in class giving up all hope
    on anything coherent out of his mouth
    ‘cause the boredom is too loud, and yeah
    there’s those chapters we forgot to read,
    those formaldehydic textbooks gone bad.
    It was all a joke, looking back on it now.
    20 years ago I didn’t realize the idiocy of it.
    I sit in this park, staring at the ground,
    straining to recall anything I learned
    about the unidentifiable bugs, the biology
    of grass, and it pisses me off. These nameless
    trees. And the birds chirping and singing
    might as well be a hundred feathered bullies
    kicking my head in. Yeah, I should have
    paid more attention, but what’s in a book
    that’s better than what’s out in nature?
    They never even brought us out to see
    the biology, smell it, hear it, feel it.

    Even when they brought nature
    to the classroom, it was dead rabbits
    to poke and prod and put in mason jars
    on shelves, showcasing the body parts.
    So, my brain, if dissected, no surprise that there
    is nothing but nothingness where
    knowledge of biology is kept.

  31. Amaria

    You tell me I can eat it
    but I can’t even pronounce
    half of the ingredients.

    You say we can cook it fast
    in our microwave ovens,
    but it doesn’t taste as good
    as your package eludes to.

    Today they say to eat this,
    tomorrow you should eat that.
    Next week it is good for you,
    next month it is bad for you.
    What are we suppose to do?

    No wonder we are all lost,
    tummies unfulfilled so we
    stuff it with more substances,
    empty as a water jug
    tossed in the hot Sahara
    unable to quench of thirst.

  32. Hannah

    Tried this theme with a neat little form from Creative Bloomings called a Puente (Bridge).
    Loved your poem, Robert and thank you for the Wednesday prompt!!
    Smiles and happy writing, poets!

    Industrious Hop-Vine

    They pulse forth on the progress of the past.
    I commend the way of winding vine,
    applaud the surge – patterning their ancestor’s path.
    How they work to curve and climb, to finally arrive;
    peaking the trellis’s top, hearty hop arms reach –
    great leafy faces push up and out into the unknown…

    ~ they take the leap of faith and travel further than their archetypes.

    All the while their tendrils below are constantly supported,
    by the twisted systems of elder root and pithy preceding growth –
    these’re the stronghold of truth that the future relies upon.
    Soon this generation will come to fullness and fruit;
    they will become the next best set –
    forerunner-vines to cling to and aspire toward.

    Copyright © Hannah Gosselin 2014

  33. lgallardo

    Slaves of Illusion

    Opportunity you offered to so many
    Like moths to a flame they came
    Carrying their dreams on fragile wings
    Trusting that a better life was within reach

    Whole families you consumed
    In return for their loyalty and labor
    Even children were sacrificed to appease you
    And still you were not satisfied

    A chosen few you rewarded with wealth
    Built on the backs of the countless and forgotten
    Enslaved by promises and deception
    Slowly, you enticed them into your web

    Wave after wave they came to your doors
    Generation after generation grew up in your shadow
    Inhaling your poison and propaganda
    Of hard work for an honest dollar

    But those who created you knew not of honesty
    Instead they built mansions full of opulence
    While humanity crammed itself into tenement houses
    And became enslaved to consumerism

    Happily they gorged on your offerings
    Oblivious to reality, they vomited waste
    And consumed yet more of your venom
    Yet still could not quench their hunger

    Then, as quickly as you beckoned humanity
    To your bosom with promises of a better life
    You cast humanity out and replaced it with coldness
    And machines incapable of dreaming

    Now houses are full of the illusions you offer
    That serve to entice and ensnared humanity
    Leaving little room or time for true happiness
    Instead slaves in debt you have made of us all

    Laura Gallardo

      1. PressOn

        I like the original better, for what that’s worth. I love this; for me, it recalls the kind of reality that fuelled union movements in the U.S. beginning in the latter 19th century.

  34. taylor graham

    after Rilke

    On this unstaked plain, the only direction
    is a silo on horizon, dark its eastern face,
    sunset-carnelian to its west, a finger
    pointing like the fulcrum of a sermon
    but no guilt’s unease, skyward; an eyeless
    tower filled with daylight’s industries
    of earth asleep. Above will rise mysteries
    of the stars that lace your life in designs
    beyond your own conjecture or your
    dreams. Soon you will be the night’s gift.

  35. Azma


    Industry that injects
    New technologies into
    Students to
    Transform them
    Into machines that are
    Trained to
    Use their honed skills
    To run another
    Industry in order to
    Necessary gains

    -Azma Sheikh

  36. DanielR

    I work in a convoluted web
    of pipes and reactors and towers
    watching steam rise into the sky
    while protesters stand at the fence
    condemning all of industry
    out of ignorance and misunderstanding.

    They disregard facts and science
    unless it serves their own purpose
    instead promoting propaganda and emotion.
    and when early evening settles in,
    along roads made from our asphalt
    they’ll drive home in their cars,
    rolling on tires produced from our rubber,
    resting against consoles made of our plastic
    and running on fuel we refined.

    Tweeting and blogging from cell phones our polymers built
    about how refineries are to blame for the world’s pending demise,
    and while they throw stones and point fingers
    they avoid looking at their own reflection in the rearview
    because that would require them to admit
    they are the consumers of all the things we make.

    Daniel Roessler

    1. lgallardo

      Very good poem. I wrote from the other side of the issue of how we have become enslaved by consumerism. Your choice of words and the way you expose the hypocrisy present in our society is thought-provoking and admirable.

  37. lidywilks

    What is industry?

    To the best
    of my understanding,
    from an economic
    standpoint, industry
    is a collective of a
    particular field
    concerned with
    material for
    public sales.

    But to me
    is the iron wall
    I must repeatedly
    try to blast through
    in order
    to achieve
    the dream of
    reaching you,
    the public.

    ©June 11, 2014

  38. shellcook

    Complex Of Big

    To which industry do i speak?
    Big pharma?
    Big oil?
    Big finance?

    We vaulted into this
    industrial age,
    With little fore knowledge
    of our in and out worlds.

    We stood up for our rights,
    bringing hammer and hoe,
    sharp lathes and long knives,
    barrel, shot and
    seeds to grow,

    with engines we’ve built
    to do intense labor
    to ease our life’s burdens,
    we thought, but dont know.

    We revolutionized our world
    at what costs to our fears.
    We have shortened our useful
    and workable years
    for the benefit of whom
    with our nuts, bolts and gears?

    Yes, we have weathered so much
    to put ease in our toil,
    yet we work ourselves sick
    for new buttons and bows.

    We have so much enjoyed
    such fruits of our labors
    but a sickening hole
    now appears in our lives
    as we say to ourselves,
    we are guiltless.
    We lie.

    We have gone way too far,
    as is mankinds’ want,
    now we are plugging huge holes
    In our fast sinking ship.

    So when it is time
    and the truth blows our minds,
    will the industrial leaders
    just close their eyes?

    I have seen such wonders,
    such miraculous cures,
    to fix just what ails us
    in this big beautiful world.

    I pray that the Complex Of Big,
    far and wide,
    will put on their ears
    and step right up in front.

    No pointing, no shouting,
    no wringing despair,
    no naming nor blaming
    will get us anywhere.

    It doesn’t make any damn difference,
    you can see,
    when you get right down to it.
    This pissing match is over!
    Now give it your best!

    Copyright 2014 @ Anne Michelle Cook

  39. RJ Clarken

    What Works, and Doesn’t Work – and Where – Matters…

    Don’t tell my parents that I work in the pharmaceutical industry. They think I am working in a brothel. ~Gerhard Kocher

    It’s kind of funny, isn’t it –
    what works and what doesn’t work?
    And just about anyone will believe
    whatever you tell them, if you can do it
    with a straight face

    ~’though what I really mean is this:

    the truth isn’t necessarily funny, is it?
    What works and what doesn’t work.
    But you can fool just about anyone
    if you make your point
    with a smile on your face.

    BTW…congratulations, Robert! What excellent news! :D

  40. taylor graham


    The sheep were in a huddle
    in the barnyard. Dawn’s first-light,
    time to let our small flock out to pasture.
    But they were circle-clustered
    like kids around a campfire, waiting
    for the play of flame; watching
    for a sign. Gathered around their wool.
    Yesterday they were shorn. Now
    they huddled around the heap
    of their fleeces, which we’d left there.
    The shearer said, this year
    there was no market for wool. So we
    made phone calls. A school whose pupils
    used to clean, card, spin raw wool
    and knit it into sweaters; we’d
    donate ours for free. But already they
    had more than enough, thank you,
    there being no market in a synthetic age
    for wool. Last night it turned
    unseasonably chilly. Our newly shorn
    sheep cuddled into the pile of coats
    they used to wear. At dawn
    they huddled proximate warmth. First
    ray of sunlight touched the heap,
    sheep around campfire ashes
    recounting the myth of golden fleece.
    The truth of cold, wool’s bottom
    line. We let them be.

  41. Angie5804

    Our Busy

    Your busy and my busy look different
    Your busy is in and out of the car, bargains, sales
    My busy is dreaming though the pages of a magazine
    Your busy is ringing phones and slamming doors
    My busy is a text to say I thought of you
    Your busy is microwaves and fast food
    My busy is bacon and eggs
    Your busy is midnight after three shows and the late news
    My busy is one in the morning with an idea that won’t quit
    Your busy and my busy
    Diverse and humming

  42. Michelle Hed

    Getting Busy With It

    the house is a mess
    every surface has dust
    and dust bunnies move
    as you walk by

    there’s dirt on your toes
    or socks become mops
    and the laundry
    has piled up – yea high

    so crank your tunes
    you’ve some cleaning to do
    bust a move, find a groove
    do it, don’t ask why

  43. Augie

    -Well of Fortune-

    Oil fields ablaze
    Battlefield cries

    A Nation falls
    Of their own demise

    Darkness is vast
    Behind the fiery light

    Industrial war- wasteland
    I’m sent to fight

    Scared an confused
    Why are we here?

    The Sergeant shouts
    “Gather your gear!”

    I-ran into Iraq.

    (Promise I’m done for the day. My memories of the war flooded)

  44. JRSimmang

    Robert, thank you so much for your inspiration and hard work. Your Kind Over Matter poem reminds me of my life out in Hondo (and a little of junior high biology), upon which I look fondly.

    -An Abecedarian

    Able-bodied and
    blushing amid
    concentrated masses of
    desiccated corpses
    emulating the
    flocks of
    golden eagles that wend and whinny through
    haunted houses,
    impotent rage silently
    jousts against the
    kinesthetic sphere.

    Lock-step and
    one seems to notice the
    pressure rising
    quickly against our
    sides. Our
    transition from
    ubiquity to
    violently reviled has been
    welcomed by the
    xenophobic sitters.

    Yet, we have faltered, shrunk, and our
    Zittau has become our zero.

    -JR Simmang

  45. PressOn


    When a bee is depressed, he gets busy,
    attacking the yard in a tizzy
    of trips to the clover
    and wandering all over
    in flights that are whispered and whizzy.

  46. PowerUnit

    Lines on faces echo the toil
    Black palms hide clean mids
    Love for the finest words
    Longing for the sweetest nectar
    Smothered in ash

    The fractured office
    Rats huddled in lost labyrinth nooks
    Among shackled inmates
    Searching for Fidays
    Dreaming they had wings

    Walls of scaffold and plastic hide
    Inner darkness and pain
    The vortex of work
    An absence of love
    All it takes is a sinle kind word to smash down he walls

  47. De Jackson

    Pick Up Lines

    What line of business are you in?
    he croons, and when I tell him
    I’m in the business of lines, and
    lyrics and syllable and song, he
    plays along for a bit, acts like it’s
    legit and you can actually live on
    a steady income of words. I my
    -self have known this to be true
    for some time, but have never
    met another human being who
    knows how to burn them as fuel,
    fool an empty stomach into some
    form of iambic sway. We stay, two
    souls stunned under spilled stars,
    wonder what the market’s like on
    Mars, and allow our stilted selves to
    sigh out loud; make change in the
    commerce of couplets and clouds.


    1. lgallardo

      “We stay, two souls stunned under spilled stars, wonder what the market’s like on Mars, and allow our stilted selves to sigh out loud; make change in commerce of couplets and clouds.” Absolutely wonderful use of imagery with words. Surprising and profound all at the same time.

  48. candy

    Erector Set

    Silver and red metal
    pieces scatter
    across the porch like
    leaves in Autumn
    Perfectly lined
    up holes wait for
    a creator’s touch
    Gears and wheels
    and pulleys are
    ready to come to life
    My brother said not
    to touch his things
    Erector sets are
    just for boys
    Girls should play
    with curly haired dolls
    that cry and have
    pretend tea parties
    So while he plays with
    balls and kicks the can
    at the playground
    I build the future

  49. writinglife16

    What does industry mean?

    I watch the ants work hard.
    Dragging food to their homes.
    It is what they do.

    My cats eat, sleep and play.
    They hunt when a bug appears.
    It is what they do.

    The ants and the cats
    would define industry
    in different ways.

  50. barbara_y

    A Job of Work

    We rolled
    off the post-war line.
    No small-batch squibs
    of homemade powder

    DNA, hell no.
    A boom-baby’s life ago,
    we, atomic blooming fireworks,
    bombed Maternity

    to a new industrial age.
    Look out
    Mortuary Science; the wave
    of yesterday’s future

    will swell your coffins.
    Your turn to work.
    You think
    we’ll bury ourselves, baby?

        1. grcran

          and associated industries: the hospice providers, bereavement specialists, etc. I’m writing a non-fiction piece about how writing poetry can help someone who’s grieving. I really like your poem and I don’t think it grim, just realistic. you worked boom and bloom and bomb so well together, plus “the wave of yesterday’s future”. real good stuff.

    1. Julieann

      This requires multiple readings to fully digest its depth. Well done. As we baby boomers approach the coffins – it gives much rise to thought.

  51. Connie Peters

    Ant Hill
    (a Puente)

    Like little ants scurrying
    here and there
    trying to carry
    more that we can bear,
    we follow sugar trails
    of our own desires
    until our industriousness
    becomes its own burden.

    ~ then we burrow in the ground

    in holes dark and deep,
    following labyrinths,
    feeling part
    of a bustling community,
    until we lose sight
    of the sunny world
    and go to sleep, believing
    there’s something more.

  52. Julieann

    The Rise & Fall of Smokestacks

    It used to be fun to approach a new city
    Watching its skyline appear in the distance
    With its tall buildings, glass reflecting the
    Morning’s sun, and smokestacks belching
    Out their black smoke of welcome

    Back then it was reassuring to see
    These smokestacks working hard to produce
    Their power and provide for a progressive city
    Power plants, factories, mills —
    We hardly noticed the odor and fumes

    They were a sign of the times – a good sign –
    We thought back then, before recognizing
    The devastation their smoke and debris
    Produced in our air and atmosphere
    Reminiscent of London fogs with its blackness

    What is good and grand and in its own way
    Glorious and prosperous and welcomed
    Often falls short when viewed in the past
    Today’s skylines are taller, more glass and steel,
    And sadly – no working smokestack to welcome one in

  53. grcran


    At times we must run crossways to a train
    It’s in the way it stinks it blocks the road
    Those cars they can’t be broken they’re a chain
    The coal they bring to cook electric toad

    A toad who does our bidding harnessed power
    We ride it on tv we cool we heat
    Computing on creation’s comely flower
    And trashing ocean valley air and street

    So crossways parallel we perpendick
    We protest regulate assessing fines
    We plan the planet try to make it stick
    And mourn the workers dead down in the mines

    Our industry does rust and dust and pave
    We’re forced to choose the earth we may not save

    by gpr crane

    1. PressOn

      Wow. Such a powerful sonnet. The contradictions inherent in your words echo the contradictions of modern industrial existence, or so it seems to me. Marvellous.

      1. grcran

        yep, the power is harnessed by industry and so are we. after I wrote this one I decided it’s not easy to read. thank you for taking the time and trouble to do so, and for your kind comments.

  54. break_of_day

    You can’t see all the things I don’t do,
    but they’re there,
    hiding in the folds of my to-do-list-filled brain
    nestled in the comfort of unfulfilled good intentions
    not buried so much by manicures and
    TV shows
    as by innate, insidious laziness and
    well-honed procrastination skills

    I wish I were someone people called
    the sort who grasps the dream
    instead of just pondering it all the time
    but tomorrow is maybe a better day for it anyway,
    when I am better prepared and
    I have time to organize my jumbled mind
    and maybe tomorrow I will not fail
    though we both know
    what will happen

    1. writinglife16

      Exquisite. I recognize myself in all the words but in these particularly, “innate, insidious laziness and
      well-honed procrastination skills.” :)

    2. grcran

      well-done! I’m glad you didn’t put off writing this poem, give yourself some props. I especially enjoy the first line and the well-honed procrastination.

  55. Walt Wojtanik


    He’s in the business to make poetry,
    far and wide he tries to hide behind
    the mild mannered man who stands
    to make use of his wealth
    of words. If you haven’t heard,
    then you haven’t been listening!
    Poems glistening with a shine to blow
    minds. Find a truer doer and
    I’d have to say you’re off the mark.
    Robert Inc. hits it out of the park!
    The sky’s the limit for this industrious poet!