Editors Blog

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 269

Non-poetry announcement: The Brewer family moved into a house this past weekend. After years of cluttering up an apartment, we made the decision in late-April to start searching and–bam!–just like that we found one, made a bid, and here we are. We’re super excited and a little tired (from moving all those books).

For this week’s prompt, write a new surroundings poem. The new digs could be a house, new work environment, the great outdoors, hotel room, etc. It can be exciting, sad, scary, and about any other emotion you can imagine.

And by the way, here’s what our house looks like (with Tammy and a few of the tiny poets on the front porch):

brewer_house******

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*****

Here’s my attempt at a New Surroundings poem:

“porch”

rocking chair knocked over
single window pane broke

door ajar & glass clumped
around the opening

gone for just a moment
& home won’t be the same

*****

Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and the author of Solving the World’s Problems. He’s married to a poet, Tammy Foster Brewer, who helps him keep track of their five little poets (four boys and one princess).

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

*****

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280 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 269

  1. taylor graham

    AT THE CURB

    In front of the brownstone, an RV’s been parked
    for a week. These are distant acquaintances –
    not predators of the family’s wireless connection.
    After all, they’re only passing
    through. The man sits on the step eating a kiwi.
    His wife’s inside their home-away-from-home,
    reorganizing drawers and cabinets.
    Two weeks on the open road, they have yet
    to see something worth mentioning. A small child
    peeks out the brownstone’s window,
    wondering how long will they stay? why are they
    traveling, anyway?

  2. Dorothy's Daughter

    My New Place

    Two visits,
    so far,
    from the police
    and one from a man
    who knocks like he’s the police
    looking for the former tenant
    who apparently,
    writes bad checks.

    I can shake that off
    but the neighbor
    a few doors down
    lets her eighteen month old
    roam the streets
    with his five year old big sister
    as his chaperon.

    Yesterday,
    I stepped outside to grab the mail
    and there was the toddler
    wandering down the sidewalk
    holding his own shitty diaper
    that he had grown tired of wearing.

    I called to his sister to run
    that boy home so his mom
    could change him.
    I hoped that was the right move,
    not being completely sure
    she’s even awake during the day
    or even there…

    When I brought the mail in
    I was not surprised to see
    some correspondence addressed to
    yet another former tenant of this address.
    The letter was from Health and Human services.
    I doubt it was a letter of recommendation.

    I will patiently wait
    for my lease to be up
    so I may vacate
    my unit, aptly labeled ‘No. 2’.

  3. Cynthia Page

    (Okay, here is one that has new surroundings of another kind. It creates a new surrounding of its own.)

    Recipe for Disaster

    When you discover a mystery,
    shout its clues from a mountaintop,
    or write to your local newspaper.
    Wait for spontaneous experts.
    Sprinkle lightly with questions;
    add a dash of nonsense; stir vigorously.
    Your mystery will remain mysterious, but
    you will cook up conspiracy theories,
    which have no known purpose
    except entertainment. Enjoy
    or destroy at will.
    (Warning: Create at risk of sanity.
    Conspiracy theories never, ever die.)

    1. BDP

      I see what you mean: the mystery creates a new surrounding (or several surroundings in the form of several conspiracy theories), and yet the mystery remains a mystery though the clues are shouted from a mountaintop. A puzzle of human nature!

  4. shellcook

    Paradise

    I meet myself around
    every corner of this sacred space.
    Coming or going here I am.
    Every space a memory,
    floating on my river of time.

    I have weighed the pros and cons,
    in this space i call home,
    with gut wrenching certainty
    that my life here soon will be
    part of my past.

    Two and a half decades in this place
    where my heart grew,
    expanded, cried, and fought,
    where I’ve loved and lost and lost again
    only to find that it was the lesson of the losing
    not the loss itself.

    And those love lessons buoyed me up
    year after year after year.
    My home is my heart,
    but that is only because I have been
    well and truly blessed

    with love and laughter
    light and peace,
    and the lessons that those things
    inspire in my soul.

    I am the rootless waif,
    never fearing any destination,
    walking with stars on my soles
    and wanderlust in my brain,
    desirous of learning
    Everything.

    As long as I return to my heart,
    my haven, my home.
    I am torn, wrent, wrecked, and afraid
    of a future of which i am unsure.

    But surely i have it all wrong,
    home is where the heart is
    and that could be anywhere.

    I have vacillated with this new course.
    I know what is here.
    I know what is there.
    And my confused tears cannot help me.
    Not now.
    Not ever.

    My home, the representation
    of my life’s work, my own soul.
    My Eden,
    my Paradise Found,
    and my angels weep for this
    jagged pain I feel,
    yet gently urge me on.

    But i best make up my frayed mind
    For life is moving on without me.

    And saying goodbye is only
    the beginning to a new
    and unfamiliar garden.

    Copyright 2014 @Anne Michele Cook

  5. BDP

    “Relocation”

    We cheered “Out Home!” and meant the house and barn,
    our father’s parents’ farm with gentle slope
    that dipped into a small, fat lake. We swam
    then trolled for fish, dad manning oars, our boat.

    One weekend noon as grownups shot the breeze
    we sneaked to check the shack whose patched up roof
    asked tarp assistance of the white pine trees,
    found squatters there amid their litter loot,

    Coke bottle windows set in boards. So crude.
    We pelted pebbles at their scrawny cat.
    Weeks passed, their boy and girl stole marigolds for food.
    Each chance we got, we shouted, “Scram!” And yet

    we felt displaced, and only understood Out Home
    when Grandma spread the table, bid them welcome.

    –Barb Peters

  6. TomNeal

    The I that sees

    Sunlight
    forming
    a corona
    about
    green
    leaves
    sheltering
    me

    My
    new
    surrounding
    Branch
    and
    twig

    Sleep

    Awake

    Voices
    everywhere

    someone
    hunting

    Sunlight
    warns

    be still

    the Voices
    leave
    the leaves

    I remain

    protected
    by
    green
    and
    yellow
    sunlight

    and

    the sound
    of
    many
    waters

    I
    can
    not
    place
    myself
    a moment
    before
    now

    I wipe
    blood
    away
    and
    evaporate
    into
    Air

    1. PressOn

      For me, the shape of this thoughtful poem connotes a sunbeam illuminating a sliver of transient reality. It invites reflection (no pun intended).

      1. BDP

        I like PressOn’s take on this poem–“a sunbeam illuminating a sliver of transient reality.” I also was surprised how reading one word per line (for the most part) made me stop and think about the poem, namely, how it invites reflection. An interesting response to the prompt.

        1. TomNeal

          William and Barb,

          Thank you! Although I don’t like skinny poems, in this case I did want a beam of light. (There are also allusions to George Berkley, Eliot’s Four Quartets, and the KJV. I won’t interpret/comment beyond that.)

    2. drnurit

      Read it first like a staccato − with each line standing on its own, then saw the wholeness – color, sound, sensation − a beautifully captured moment that truly appeals to me. Just lovely.

  7. tunesmiff

    REIDSVILLE
    G. Smith (BMI)
    —————————————-
    They slammed that door behind me,
    And threw away the key,
    Won’t no-one ever find me,
    I never will go free.

    Like every man who’s in here,
    I didn’t do the crime,
    But I’m paying for my sin here,
    With my freedom and my time.

    A jury of twelve angry men,
    One judge and half a chance,
    Put me underneath this pen,
    And stripes here on my pants.

    There’s barb’d wire out my window,
    And bars upon my door.
    My wife says she’s a widow,
    And won’t visit any more.

    They say the sun comes up
    Over these south Georgia hills,
    But it might as well be midnight
    In this hell they call Reidsville.

    I stayed at the wheel outside;
    They went in with guns;
    Now I’m locked up with nowhere to hide;
    For the dreadful thing they done.

    I turned twenty-one in prison,
    with just myself to blame,
    For being left with nothin’,
    But this number for a name

    And they say the sun comes up,
    Over these south Georgia hills;
    But it might as well be midnight,
    In this hell they call Reidsville.
    It might as well be midnight,
    In this hell they call Reidsville.

    They slammed the door behind me,
    And they threw away the key;
    Ain’t no one gonna find me,
    And I never will go free.

    1. BDP

      This was a fun read! Yes, the subject is not fun (prison never is), but the rhythm and the rhyme brought me into the words, and I enjoyed moving along with the poem.

  8. dhaivid3

    Very many congratulations Robert and family.

    Poem title: The Confusion of Being Loved

    Strange is the feeling, strange as the day
    Strange as the time that I was asked out to play

    Much to remember, much more to do
    Life’s obligations that join me to you

    Arms of a lover, strange do these feel
    I’m trying not to pull away; I’m trying to be real

    This is not normal for strange though I am
    How is it that today I’m loved by this man?

  9. grcran

    Bebe at the Bank

    She went to work within the bank she was not one of them
    Her fine degree was in the arts she rocked attractive hem
    Lefthanded strode she to her station stayed the coursing straight
    They saw she’d work in spite of desk with ornaments ornate
    A couple owls a Van Gogh calendar some coloured pens
    One cowl one cauliflowered ginger kleidoscopic lens
    The oaky wood the pastel walls called blandly to her soul
    The workplace led surprisingly to profit on the whole
    Regarded self in setting novel different for her
    Those other jobs in rearview now receding into blur

    by gpr crane

    1. PressOn

      All the images this poem throws out are visual treats. The gentle turn in the poem led me to wonder if a free soul was being captured. I love this.

  10. TomNeal

    A Summer Romance

    As the surrounding hills bake golden brown,
    And Ukiah’s heat shimmers on its streets,
    And lightening strikes threaten to burn
    A nearby forest down- I beat retreat
    From inland summer to a cold beach
    On the fog shrouded Mendocino coast.

    Here in mystical Albion
    Where the salt air speaks adventure
    And Francis Drake still commands the Golden Hind;
    Here will I build my campfire, drink red wine
    With locals, and listen to the churn
    Of cliches crashing into my slurred rhymes.

    [Yes, I know “chime” rhymes]

    1. PressOn

      I had the feeling this poem was setting me up, and I wasn’t disappointed: the last line indeed hit like a crash. Wonderful. I’ve never been to the places you mention but I have been in the general region, so I could picture it.

    2. drnurit

      Tom, this poem does “speak adventure” to me – moving across continents, weathers, colors, and moods – like Francis Drake’s Golden Hind… The title and the ending – nice surprises which make me read between the lines… Thanks for the richness of this!

    3. TomNeal

      Nurit and William,

      Thank you, and especially thanks for the specificity of your comments.

      William, if you have seen Murder She Wrote, you have seen Mendocino. The opening sequence was filmed in the village of Mendocino. (Mendocino is both a village and a county.)

    4. icandootoo

      This poem itself has the mouthfeel of red wine – as someone who deeply suspects I’m a synesthete, I mean that quite literally.

      great job.

  11. taylor graham

    HOMETOWN REVISITED

    This place she thought she knew.
    But walking an old familiar street, she finds
    what had been a grassy hillside
    is cutbank now, sliced to expose bedrock –
    and ruins of a house. From when?
    Her own childhood? The older she gets,
    the more she’s drawn to ivy over-growing
    cracks and wrinkles in stone that once
    seemed indestructible and smooth.
    Lone chimney and a short flight of stairs –
    nothing more to prove someone
    lived here. Still, the fox passes through,
    and deer where shadow
    touches town. Look how wind spins
    an alley-dance, whirling transparent scraps
    of plastic like a veil. A crow
    chants prayer as periwinkle goes on
    binding wounds of earth to heal.

    1. drnurit

      The older she gets,
      the more she’s drawn to ivy over-growing
      cracks and wrinkles in stone that once
      seemed indestructible and smooth.

      So very true!

      Then:

      as periwinkle goes on
      binding wounds of earth to heal.

      So very beautiful!

  12. icandootoo

    Here’s my second response

    Moving Day

    I found it, in the corner, when the movers were bringing boxes,
    A loose board behind the bedpost, with the far right corner jagged,
    As if some small Someone had chipped it, with a butterknife, perhaps,
    Prying up the iron nail, laying bare the space beneath.
    I couldn’t help it – who could help it? –
    Here was food for rumination! I could see inside my head
    A cigar box, filled with toys. Worth a fortune, now,
    Stored away, and free from rust. Or a 1960 quarter, slightly dusty,
    From a long forgotten birthday, worth it’s honest weight in silver,
    Slightly more if never touched. Or the holy grail of treasure:
    Honus Wagner barely smiling, Mickey Mantle in a picture,
    Superman in bright blue tights. So I pulled back on the corner,
    Had to pry a little harder – many years of dust had settled
    In the iron of the nail. And I reached into the corner,
    Like a modern, old Jack Horner, and pulled out
    A wad of tissue, filled with baby teeth;
    Two bags of well used marbles;
    And six half eaten candy bars.

  13. icandootoo

    We’ve been sheltered
    In the cold cave of winter,
    swaddled in hate,
    for so long that it fits
    like a skin on our skin;
    and the person within
    cannot feel the warm breeze
    of true love as it flits
    past our past, and we pass –
    slither past – everyone,
    like a snake on the grass.
    And then, suddenly,
    in the warm summer season,
    we’re upended and shaken,
    evicted and taken
    to somewhere quite new;
    and we reason the reason
    the world rearranges
    and changes, are changes
    having nothing to do
    with the warmth of the sun
    and our tongues tasting love,
    and the shedding of skin.

      1. icandootoo

        Thank you so much for your kind words. I was having an extremely sad and angry day, and the prompt just took me to places I didn’t expect to go…. and helped me shed a little skin of my own. I am glad you enjoyed it.

    1. drnurit

      Enjoyed following your lead here to see with you how

      “…the world rearranges
      and changes”

      from

      “…the cold cave of winter,
      swaddled in hate”

      to

      “the warm summer season”

      and to

      “love”…

    2. TomNeal

      a skin on our skin;
      and the person within
      cannot feel the warm breeze
      of true love as it flits
      past our past, and we pass –

      This is a remarkable poem. The shedding of the (reptilian/snake?) skin presents a powerful image.

  14. Jolly2

    NEW SURROUNDINGS
    By John Yeo

    The postman just brought something,
    The flap clatters and falls
    I put my teacup on the table
    Then slowly I enter the hall.
    The cat follows, rubbing my leg,
    A picture postcard lies on the mat.
    ~
    I slowly bend to examine,
    The beautiful pictures stand out.
    Palm trees beaches and blue skies
    Green trees and flowery sunshine.
    I turn to the writing over
    A message of love and care.
    ~
    We are having a holiday Granddad,
    We really wish you were here.
    I turn to look at my view
    Concrete flats and factories where.
    With smoking chimneys and traffic,
    The contrast is shockingly clear.
    ~
    I have lived in this flat alone now
    For five and twenty years.
    Sometimes I hear from the family,
    None of them ever come here
    I pick up the postcard again
    My mind flies to new surroundings.
    ~
    I wish I was there.

    Copyright © Written by John Yeo~ All rights reserved.

  15. drnurit

    A TRIBUTE TO AN OLD HOUSE

    By: Dr. Nurit Israeli

    It was not love at first sight
    when I took you to be my house
    forty years ago.
    You were a compromise.

    Yet we have stayed
    together ever since –
    in good times and in bad,
    in sickness and in health.
    I tended to you when
    you broke down.
    You shielded me when
    I needed to take shelter.

    You are not my castle.
    You are my witness.
    You are where I lie at anchor
    and drift between sailings –
    guardian of my comfortable bed
    and my stressless recliner,
    my books and my stories.

    You are the nest where
    the children grew up:
    Birthdays and holidays.
    Grandparents staying over.
    Aromas of cooking.
    Heart-to-heart talks.
    Joyful laughters.
    Echoes of cherished voices
    are kept alive in your rooms.

    You hold on to the toys
    of the children long gone –
    their children now playing
    with the matchbox cars and
    the puppets that kept waiting.
    Right here, the chain continued,
    and the photos adorning your walls
    are constant reminders
    of the fullness of life.

    You grow old with me now:
    We spend more time together.
    You wrap me in comfort,
    and I wrap blankets of
    brightly colored flowers
    around your aging frame –
    softening your weary image
    With cushions and quilts,
    and the sounds of soulful music.

    You are no longer up-to-date,
    my old-fashioned friend.
    You are cranky and taxing
    and often demanding.
    But you are a dear mirror
    reflecting me back.
    You have become home to me –
    and I am grateful. And content.

    1. icandootoo

      THIS IS PERFECT. Often, I read poems with such promise – a phrase aptly worded, an image crystallized to show just the right amount of brilliance — and then they fall flat, with a poorly chosen rhythm or a plot that falls apart when picked at. But this poem delivered what it promised, and I am blessed for having read it. Thank you.

      1. drnurit

        Thank you so very much, icandootoo (I truly wish I knew your name…) I am honored – beyond words – by your generous, supportive, and kind comment.

          1. drnurit

            Nice to meet you, Naomi! (If I knew how to make a smiling face, I would have smiled back…)

  16. De Jackson

    Waking Up on the Other Side

    Paint this landscape jet black
    and hold me to it, ebony as all get
    -out and dark as raven wing. Sing
    me some new song braided from lack
    of sunlight, stirrings, stars. Seize
    this sky and swallow it whole,
    breathe its un
    -familiar territories into swollen
    lung. Are we not smitten with
    this
    new
    fang
    -led
    moon?

    Howl at something bigger,
                        Love.
    We’ll be home soon.

    .

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