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Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 272

I’m a little under the weather today, but that won’t stop me from poeming. In fact, I’ll use it as inspiration for this week’s prompt.

For this week’s prompt, write a tough spot poem. The poem can be about your own situation (past, present, or future), someone else’s, or whatever you can conjure up. Think late bills, shootouts, and tough choices.


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Here’s my attempt at a Tough Spot poem:

“Sick Day”

From my desk,
I can see the cars drive to work,
but I won’t be joining them today.

Even though I don’t drive to work,
my time at the desk is limited
while I battle this fever.

I can see the couch from here
and know that soon
I’ll be on it.

From my desk,
I can see the birds dart and sing,
but I won’t be joining them today.

The couch waits
with its pillows and blanket
to comfort me.

I would struggle for a metaphor,
but I’ll save them for when
I once again feel like the birds.


Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and the author of Solving the World’s Problems.

His collection was recently named an Editor’s Pick by Crab Creek Review, which says the collection is “charming, whimsical and surprisingly romantic. [Brewer's] poems are full of word-play, wit and leaps in logic.”

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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461 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 272

  1. BDP

    Note: When I lived in the Pacific NW, I gardened with a man whose nephew was in the post-9/11 Iraq War. This poem is part of a small series I’m working on.

    * * *

    “And Then Came Hurricane Katrina”

    A sniper wings you. Zero in and take
    him out. Your earbud’s squawking cut and run.
    But no, you pop some aspirin, compress
    your arm with tourniquet, high-power scope
    the militants. Pinpoint bombs save your team.

    Yet, stateside, back home, clad in wetsuit, dropped
    by helicopter for a post-flood search,
    you dive to children floating under eaves,
    caught tangled in the swings, dead though moving.
    You surface, vomit hard, kicked in your faith

    by doubt. Submerge again to twelve lost kids
    and find they fit in four adult-size bags.
    The teachers, supervisors, guardians
    gone…fled? So if the government deployed you, they knew
    what you’d find, but could they know how waterlogged

    betrayal looks when no one’s over ten years old?
    And then one day you’re waiting, the light’s red, you chide
    a lamppost, “Hold my hand, don’t run!”
    Dissolving, draining to the psych ward, Navy SEAL.
    Your madre pleads at bedside, “Save you, Mijo, swim!”

    –Barb Peters

  2. RuthieShev


    Most people think being scared
    pertains just to physical dangers
    But for some of us there’s another fear
    Talking to a group of complete strangers.

    When I was young and had to speak
    In the classroom on a report
    Even though I had prepared very well
    I forgot the words I wanted to import.

    Later on as a teen when I went to a party
    And looked around everyone
    Found a corner and seated myself
    Wishing I could join in the fun.

    I went to work for the government
    And my fears didn’t get any better
    Sometimes my voiced quivered
    Just reading out loud a letter.

    Talking to members of our book club
    Should be a piece of cake
    But every time it is my turn to speak
    My legs begin to shake

    I stand up at the podium and look around
    And get the urge to run away
    But I have learned through many years
    That prayer guides me in what to say.

    By Ruth Crowell Shevock

    (A little late because of family stuff going on but I figure better late than never.)

    1. shethra77

      I used to feel just like this! (Still shake at the podium, but ever since acting class it got better. That, and substitute teaching.) I’m glad you posted.

  3. pwiddess

    Night bus

    Through the window all I see is the surgeon’s hand make the first incision.
    There is less blood than one might expect but too much nonetheless.
    A rock concert is playing in the back row,
    and somewhere down the aisle amassed armies charge into battle.

    I shift my legs back to the position that was giving me cramp a moment ago.
    I close my eyes but the darkness is lighter than the pure black
    outside the window perfectly reflecting the scalpel cutting deeper
    on the laptop screen of my neighbouring passenger.

    1. BDP

      This poem makes me feel as if I’m right there on the night bus–I even hear the engine whining as the bus pulls away from a stop. Let’s see: music and movies (the armies), plus one instructional video on the neighbor’s laptop screen? I like the touch of the window reflecting the scalpel cutting deeper.

  4. LCaramanna

    Parked Parallel in Queens

    Cars lined Ditmars Boulevard parallel,
    east and west, bumper to bumper.
    Circled once,
    only fire hydrants marked empty space.
    Circled twice in traffic
    white knuckled, beaded sweat.
    Trawled a spot three blocks down
    between a silver BMW and a red Mini Cooper.
    Heart beat rapid,
    breathed deep, ignored distraction.
    Signaled intent,
    pulled close alongside,
    steering wheel to steering wheel,
    completed the maneuver.

    Tucked into a tight space,
    success enjoyed,
    strolled past cars bumper to bumper parallel parked
    on Ditmars Boulevard in Queens.

    Lorraine Caramanna

  5. MsGenuineLady

    Could this be real?
    Or just an illusion of what my mind wants to see
    And my heart wants to feel
    Do I step forward into chance?
    Or fall back into doubt?
    I need time to figure it all out
    But I don’t have time all I have is now
    This moment
    To believe or not to believe?
    To love or not to love?
    The question is different but the answer is the same
    I step forward

  6. Brett_MeaninglessExtension

    On the spot solution.

    How? When? Why?
    I’m inclined to look them in the eye
    stare them down
    waiting for them to come around,
    spill the beans.
    I’ll have to cope with what that means.
    This tough spot
    has to be faced ready or not.

  7. TAHempel

    And a soft shower of sand nearby
    I turkey neck about and in an instant
    spy the spiderwebbbed pock-marks on the brick wall beside my head
    my feet move before my mind does
    my first fire-fight and I was hardly there

    Next time the sounds were different
    but no shower
    I get low this time thinking
    “Ah – different brick – different caliber rounds”

    And ever since, strange sounds ’s ’s and even ’s
    I get low
    My companions say I am skittish
    I say I am alive

      1. TAHempel

        thik thik thik thik
        And a soft shower of sand nearby
        Then snap snap snap snap
        I turkey neck about and in an instant
        spy the spiderwebbbed pock-marks on the brick wall beside my head
        my feet move before my mind does
        my first fire-fight and I was hardly there

        Next time the sounds were different
        thuk thuk but no shower
        I get low this time thinking
        “Ah – different brick – different caliber rounds”

        And ever since, strange sounds thik’s thuk’s and even WHUMP’s
        I get low
        My companions say I am skittish
        I say I am alive

        1. BDP

          Even though you write “I was hardly there” for the first fire-fight, you had me right there with you–the sounds, the spiderwebbed pock marks, the “different brick” the next time. This poem will stay with me for a while. I especially like the ending: “I get low / My companions say I am skittish / I say I am alive.”

  8. Cynthia Page

    Jörmungandr & Thor – Enemies Meet

    Loki’s tail-eater stirs sinewy coils;
    his mighty mountains’ fearful tremble.
    Confined-scale-skin slips beneath battering seas.
    In shifting ship-home banished serpent roils –
    waves awaken, shores awash, advancing storm swell.
    Mjölnir’s handler dangles deep his dire ox-head.
    World-shaker spies the fated baited line.
    Rising wave-raiser rides a linear trap.
    Black flat orbs meet sky blue thunder-gaze.
    Fates well set, but not well met. Debate delays agreed.
    Diving sea-snake drags ox head wrenched awry;
    sings a Midgard madrigal of rightful revenge at World’s End –
    promising Snake’s-Bane a venom-death.

      1. Cynthia Page

        Thank you. I want to do something for Loki. I think he was misunderstood. I did my English graduating requirement class on Norse mythology.

      1. Cynthia Page

        Thank you, James. I tried to get creative with kennings instead of using the old ones, and I definitely worked a long time on the alliteration for this. I had fun with combining kennings and alliteration; they don’t play major roles in poetry now as much as they did in ancient times. See my reply to TomNeal for why I enjoy this kind of work.

    1. PressOn

      I’m ignorant of this subject. I did some checking on line, but that hardly constitutes an education. I do enjoy the sounds and cadences in this poem, though.

      1. Cynthia Page

        William and Marie, there’s no need to be familiar with it to enjoy it. This is my take on a well known encounter between Thor and the Midgard Serpent. If you want to know the story, Wikipedia gives the basics, and the original can be found in the Prose Edda, Chapter 48.

    2. Cynthia Page

      Hmmm, I wonder if my mention of a Midgard madrigal had any influence on the next poetic form challenge. Probably not, but it’s a nice coincidence.

  9. Sara McNulty

    ( I thought I had already posted this, but I’m not sure, so bear with me.)

    Impossible Choices

    Decision to make,
    how to spend
    last of funds.
    Choices: food or medicine
    Either way, can’t win.

    Hungry stomach growl,
    food will sate
    but good health
    will not be possible, so
    either way, you starve.

    1. PressOn

      The staccato style feels like hunger and the tension it brings, for me anyway. I think this is a highly effective way to convey “impossible” choices.

  10. De Jackson

    Rocks, and Other Hard Places

    She is in be
    gently bouldered
    Lake, and the quiet
    slake of her own blue

    She is first
    to scatter pebbles
    in her pockets, press sea
    glass between her fingers,
    linger over the smooth,
    cold song of slate.

    She is late
    to the party and first
    to leave, believes more in
    crevices of truth and cobalt
    raspberry sky.

    She’s tied
    to these un
    -tethered places,
    traces of stone and
    bone and bend
    of breeze, fingertip
    sips and hungry,
    gulping drinks.

    Sometimes these
    chiseled corners
    her float; some
    -times she



  11. TomNeal

    Brutus on the Bridge
    (Before the Ides)

    There above the Tiber on Pons Fabricius
    He stood and watched the river flow past Tarquinius
    Island; new water coursing through old channels

    In a city filled with new men acting out old stories
    Of power sought and betrayed- a flood of passion
    And self-deception dressed in honour’s fashion
    Achieving ends that do not matter-
    Whose head is that upon the platter?


    Tarquinius: Tarquin (Seventh king of Rome; a tyrant)
    Tarquinius Island: Tiber Island
    ‘. . . ends that do not matter’: plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

    1. TomNeal

      Brutus on the Bridge
      (Before the Ides)

      There above the Tiber on Pons Fabricius
      He watched the river flow past Tarquinius
      Island; new water coursing through old channels

      In a city filled with new men acting out old stories
      Of power sought and betrayed- a flood of passion
      And self-deception dressed in honour’s fashion
      Achieving ends that do not matter-
      Whose head is that upon the platter?


      Tarquinius: Tarquin (seventh king of Rome; a tyrant)
      Tarquinius Island: Tiber Island
      ‘. . . ends that do not matter’: plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

      1. drnurit

        I love the poem and agree with all the previous comments! For me, the depth of this poem lies in our ability to see it from different (yet interrelated) perspectives: First − a reflection of Brutus’ meditation before the act, second − the narrator’s reflection on the act, and third – the reader’s meditations, deeply affected by the poet’s powerful images. This poem is very much in the spirit of the times: “new men acting out old stories”, “honor” often masking “a flood of passion” and “self- deception” − yes, old and familiar self-deception “achieving ends that do not matter”… And the powerful final question: “Whose head is that…” after all? Very evocative…

    2. Dorothy's Daughter

      I like your subject choice – awesome. The wording is wonderful. “New men acting out old stories” – love that line. Nicely done!

    3. PressOn

      For me, this poem says that, just as the channels and the stories are old, so too is self-deception. Whose head, indeed! This is a superb and thoughtful piece, in my opinion.

      1. TomNeal

        William: I don’t want to claim any authorial interpretive privilege, but I read the text as you do with regard to “self-deception”.

        And, although I can see how the text might be read as Brutus’ meditation, I read it as the meditation of an observer. Brutus is on the bridge; the narrator is not.

        I do want to add, once again, that a poet is not a privileged interpreter. Once a text is released it means what it means (what it will support) regardless of authorial intent.

    4. BDP

      TomNeal: Your poem has generated a lot of interesting discussion, which I’ve enjoyed as much as the poem, only for different reasons. I liked reading this poem, and then thinking about each line, even despite the location and the actors. My favorite line: “And self-deception dressed in honour’s fashion.”

  12. Clae


    When sand is trapped
    in a tough spot
    it becomes a pearl

    When coal is left
    in a rough place
    it becomes diamond

    Am I now stuck
    or transforming
    into a new gem

    1. Marie Therese Knepper

      It takes true grit and great discernment to know whether or not to stay in our present circumstance. Sometimes we have no choice but to stay. I learned from experience that I pushed open doors better left shut.

  13. Marie Therese Knepper

    Sympathy For The Graphiologist
    by Marie-Therese Knepper

    What’s to be done with this –

    Surely it has some value;
    or not.

    I let it there
    on the shelf
    in the memory
    taking space –
    promising to visit


    1. PressOn

      What’s a grahpiologist? I’ve heard of a graphologist, but the extra letter has me stumped. Aside from that, I like the tentativeness of this poem (or so it seems to me); the final line (word) carries for me the hint that the “thing” may not, in fact, be revisited.

      1. Marie Therese Knepper

        From http://www.thefreedictionary.com:

        the art or craft of writing or delineating. — graphiologist, n.
        See also: Writing
        the art or craft of writing or delineating. — graphiologist. n.
        See also: Drawing
        -Ologies & -Isms. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.”

    2. BDP

      Ah, I’ve learned a new word–like doing that. Not sure what the “thing” is, but I’m guessing a pen/pencil. Once I understood what a graphiologist was, I felt I really didn’t have to know the “thing” exactly.

  14. Marie Therese Knepper

    by Marie-Therese Knepper

    A hand pierces the darkness –

    A face penetrates the fog –

    A voice calling my name –

    Should I?

    1. TomNeal

      Should I?


      “Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
      Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?” J. Alfred Prufrock

      Excellent work!

      1. TomNeal

        My comment may be be open to some misunderstanding. I am applauding your work, and comparing it favourably to Eliot’s Prufrock- a condensed Prufrock.

      1. Marie Therese Knepper

        Thank you. Yes, there is lots of tension. Is the person confused or depressed? Is the person contemplating the lesser of two evils? What has put this person in fog and/or darkness?
        Would this be the first time this person has ever accepted a helping hand? Is the question “Should I” asked from naïveté, fear of the unknown, or the bad memory from accepting help from someone who ended up hurting them badly?
        Can and should this person trust?

  15. candy

    Poetic Angst – with a smile

    If a poet I would be
    Must I suffer endlessly
    Descend into a dark despair
    My deepest thoughts with pen declare

    Should I express regrets and loss
    Or how I loath my spouse and boss
    Disclose to all a life of woe
    With symbols make my anguish known

    But if perchance my words should rhyme
    Correct in meter line by line
    And have an optimistic view
    Am I not a poet too

    1. Marie Therese Knepper

      The poem itself is wonderful.
      I usually write poems that reflect aspects of my life; some happy, sad, depressed, manic, etc. I like a wide variety of poetry.
      I also write prose. I’m disappointed to find that the prompt responses which receive the most attaboys/attagirls are the ones about death, murder, carnage, dismemberment, etc.
      I cannot live in dark places for long. I can write about the dark, and then I’ve got to write something light to put me in a good frame of mind again.
      Just my opinion… :)

    2. James Von Hendy

      A fine exposition that highlights a danger of reading comments about poems with subject matter different from what you might choose to write about. The answer to your poem: of course you’re a poet.

      No subject is off-limits to a poet. That said, the challenge of writing optimistic, rhyming verse in particular seems to me to lie in avoiding trite sentimentality more so than in other kinds of verse. Working with rhyme, meter, and form (and other constraints), however, hones us, no matter what our subject matter.

      As Robert might say, “Poem on!”

      1. Marie Therese Knepper

        I know much more about music than I do about writing poetry. My partner and I were working on a song list. I mentioned an old song I really liked. I wanted to do what’s called a cover of the song. He (my partner) wanted to rework the song with what I’d call jazz chords. I found myself hating a song I originally loved.
        There is beauty in simplicity. A work of art ( music, painting, poetry) doesn’t have to be deep to be profound. There’s a place for Beethoven and Beyoncé, Mozart and Herman’s Hermits, etc.
        I’m learning how to write poetry and prose that comes from inside of me, and not what I think or feel other poets/writers want/need to hear.

      2. shethra77

        This happens in workshops, and wherever poets gather, I think. I remember writing a poem to my high school art/lit/poem magazine, where I noted the prevailing misery of the subject matter and asked, “Why so gloomy?” (And that poem had meter and rhyme, too.) Of course you are still a poet!

    3. PressOn

      For me, poetry is about sound and sense, the latter encompassing rational and emotional. I suppose imagery and rhythm are included, but in my mind they are part of sound and sense. That means anything from gloom to joy can be the subject of a poem. Personally, I prefer joyful poets to gloomy ones, but I think every poet deals with both ends of that spectrum.

  16. LeeAnne Ellyett

    When the Dust Settles

    The calm before the storm,
    The stillness of the leaves,
    The quiet in the air,

    And things begin to stir,

    The serenity unfolds,
    The sky’s explode,
    The noise in the air,

    And things begin to quicken,

    The hush and rush,
    The discovery to much,
    The questions come with gust,

    And things begin to sicken,

    The silence of assault,
    The composure lost,
    The answers crush,

    And all things are dust.

  17. Cynthia Page


    you go
    there to see
    you have clouds

    on thumbnails
    tiny webbed toes

    swim through you
    looking for
    the cloud dance

    in your eyes
    dimmed – held
    by event chains

    carried afar
    falcons remember –
    with sharp talons

    like stakes
    piercing your dance

    1. Cynthia Page

      Thank you for your comments. Perhaps I should have named this piece Nostalgia, or Painful Memories. Let me provide some clues to the metaphors I used.

      Clouds wish-dancing on thumbnails = sketchy memory combined with regret (thumbnails as in small pictures)
      Swim through you with tiny webbed feet = visceral reaction to unpleasant memory = shuddering or skin crawling or stomach fluttering from recalling an unpleasant memory
      Cloud dance = happy moments
      Eyes dimmed = aged
      Held by event chains = if only … such and such had/had not…
      Carried afar = memory retained due to traumatic events = a haunting memory
      Falcons remember with sharp talons = stomach clenching reaction to a memory
      Piercing your dance = overabundance of caution

      I don’t know about the protocol for explaining the meanings within a poem. I used to think poets could dig them out of the words by context, or some inner metaphoric sense. I sort of thought some of this would be obvious. I did not understand what I was writing until it was done and I needed a title. After rereading it, the title hit me like a brick.

      1. TomNeal

        Just in case your explanation was provoked by my comment that I found the imagery in “Memory” disorienting know that: disorientation is not a vice, but a virtue in a poem. That is, your poem leads one to see old things with fresh eyes. In the language of literary criticism that is known as defamiliarisation or estrangement.

        I would add that good poetry often carries meanings that go beyond the poet’s original intention.

        1. Cynthia Page

          Thank you, Tom. I was quite concerned that my poem had brought comments by being difficult. When I go literary, the responses make me feel a need to explain. I was not aware of that connotation of disorienting. On the other hand, when I don’t go literary, my poems seem prosaic, and so they don’t hold my attention. I understand about other meanings. I like the way William expresses his impressions. Once again, thank you for explaining.

          1. TomNeal

            I have posted the following before, but think it also applies here:
            ‘”A writer,” Edgar Arlington Robinson once told an interviewer, “should not be his own interpreter.” It is significant that Yeats was quite willing to write, for an anthology, a comment on one of his poems so long as the comment did not appear over his own name. “If an author interprets a poem of his own,” he explained to the editor, “he limits its suggestibility.” The poet is eager to be understood. But where as the comments of a critic may raise the curtain on a reader’s understanding of a poem, the poet’s own comments drop the curtain.’

        2. James Von Hendy

          I echo Tom’s comments wholeheartedly. Reading (hearing, too) is an act of interpretation that invites the reader’s due diligence. We will see things you meant and things you did not think/believe/know you wrote. Such is the marvelous beauty of collaboration between author and reader.

          I’ll argue that when you “go literary” you’re following your heart, your spirit, your intuition, and you’re daring to take risks. Great poetry lies in the land of risks.

        3. Cynthia Page

          Thank you, Tom and James. You’ve given me new confidence. From now on, I’ll call it DifPo (after Sacramento Poetry Center’s group) and leave it at that! No more explaining.

  18. James Von Hendy


    There is such beauty in the hour before dawn,
    The crescent moon riding the ridge of hills
    Still steeped in darkness, the morning star
    Blazing fiercely to the left, a bright eye
    Heralding the sun, the air still and calm,
    Even the otherwise incessant welter
    Of neighbors’ dogs dead to tranquility.
    Ah, beauty’s balm, but alas, it isn’t sleep.

    1. drnurit

      Just beautiful, James. A truly lovely evocation of the beauty of beginnings. I love “the hour before dawn” too: grateful for being fully awake to see the changing of the guards – “the morning star” taking over from “the crescent moon”…

    2. Marie Therese Knepper

      I’m going to label you a poemographer. You are a poet who takes snapshots and embellishes what he captures with words. Beautiful :)

  19. julie e.


    In a land in-between
    she waits
    Not a land far, far away with a sappy ending
    Not a land close, where her humble kitchen
    waits for bread to be placed in her toaster.
    In a land in-between
    she waits
    and there’s blue sky and bright sunlight
    and on other days there’s fog,
    but she still stops
    and smells the flowers
    while she waits.

  20. Jane Shlensky

    A Rough

    He traveled on the edge alone,
    took on adventure like a breath,
    and danger sent him searching on,
    blind to the possibility of death.

    In air on water, every clime
    delighted him with new unknowns.
    Frozen or sunburned, every time
    his cuts and bruises spoke of home.

    But all that lives must one day die,
    biology assures us all;
    even the gods who shift and fly
    are cognizant of lift and fall.

    What brings the toughest man alive
    to heel can be the shortest answer.
    The roughest sun spot he can contrive
    presents itself as cancer.

  21. DMelde

    Covered in wires
    in the ICU bed,
    the machine watches you
    in its cold metal way.

    You’re barely four
    and they can do no more,
    to open your lungs
    so we wait and see.

    We wait for the sign,
    either life or death,
    as your chest heaves strongly
    to catch your next breath.

    You’re weak, so tired now
    as you struggle to breath,
    and I sit at your side
    and I wipe off your brow.

    You go to sleep, then startle awake
    From a fitful dream,
    since you can’t both sleep
    and battle to live.

    So I sit close to you
    so when you awake,
    it’s my face you see,
    it’s my strength you take.

    Lean on me son
    as I’ll always be here,
    right next to your side
    as you face your worst fear.

    You look deep into my eyes
    and grab hold of my arm,
    then cry out in the night
    “Daddy, I don’t want to die!”

    As I look into your eyes
    and I squeeze both your hands.
    What’s a father to say except
    “Then you fight!”

    (He lived:)

    1. Dorothy's Daughter

      Nicely done. I read somewhere recently that we should write about what hurts, what scares us. You did that and it’s a very nice piece. I like the “in it’s cold metal way” – nice word choice.

  22. TPN

    “Study Abroad”

    His stomach burns as mortars hiss and boom,
    He sits as far from windows as he can.
    “Beirut’s on fire!” reporters warn of doom,
    Now’s not the time to be American.

    The dormitory cannot fall asleep,
    Machine guns loudly sing them all awake.
    Semester left for dead by those who flee,
    But his home country won’t evacuate.

    Each day he waits for ceasefire with his friends,
    Inside the gate on Bliss Street palms are wet.
    The bullets stop just as the sun descends,
    They crouch and run to buy some rounds of bread.

    Now six years on he’s safe and sound, although,
    The region coughs and families count their worth.
    The fires, wet palms and mortars on death’s row,
    He hopes are “not too much to pay for birth.”


    1. James Von Hendy

      They crouch and run to buy some rounds of bread. That image in particular paints the grimness of the situation, rounds of bread reminding us of rounds of ammunition and the nearness of those guns barely gone silent.

      1. TPN

        Thank you, James. This poem is in the third person, but I was the study abroad student in Beirut in 2008. Crouching and running across Bliss Street, where there had been a massive gunfight each day, fills me with anxiety even now!

    2. TomNeal

      Now six years on he’s safe and sound, although,
      The region coughs and families count their worth.
      The fires, wet palms and mortars on death’s row,
      He hopes are “not too much to pay for birth.”

      The slightly imperfect rhyming of “worth” and “birth” accentuates the uncertain conclusion that calls on “hope”. Well done.

  23. drnurit


    By: Dr. Nurit Israeli

    Tell me, are the birds afraid
    when rockets and missiles
    assault the innocent sky?
    Do fragments of clouds −
    shattered by falling planes −
    roam peacefully once more
    above a tainted earth?

    The earth is trembling.

    Tell me, when will every man
    on our round-faced planet
    sit under his vine,
    or under his fig tree,
    or just under a clear blue sky −
    free of man-made trespassers
    poisoning the fragile air?

    You cannot find an earth
    as beautiful as this.

    Tell me, what about the promises,
    still unkept, carried across
    generations, from war to war −
    like Olympic torches – in lyrics
    of prayer-like peace songs,
    sung in scores of languages
    in lands tired of bloodshed?

    When will hearts no longer
    race in fear?

    And, tell me, what on earth
    can a grandmother do
    but remember the promise
    that we shall overcome,
    and search the darkening skies
    for the dove with her freshly
    plucked olive branch?

    Are the wings of the dove

    What can a grandmother do
    but object, and protest, and
    imagine a big enough ark
    to spare us all −
    not just two of a kind −
    from the floods threatening
    to swallow up all the beauty?

    What can a grandmother do
    for this blood-tinged pale blue dot
    filled with our everything
    but strive − regardless,
    and hope against hope − in spite,
    and dream on − even though,
    and pray for the offerings of peace?

    1. dhaivid3

      Oh how poignant, every line evokes serious thought. Words weighed down with so much truth. I believe this work demonstrates what poetry is all about. Well written.

      1. drnurit

        Thank you very much, dhaivid. This comment means much to me, as I am very grateful during difficult times for the opportunity to use the language of poetry to ask the questions…

      1. drnurit

        Oh, no Marie. Unfortunately, writing is not effortless for me, but rather painstaking and labor-intensive, and this one took particularly long, as my heart is in it. I am so glad you like the poem!

      1. drnurit

        Thank you very much, Daniel, for sharing your reaction! If you experienced the poem fully — I accomplished my goal of creating a bridge…

    2. Dorothy's Daughter

      I like the structure of your poem it’s nice, like a church hymn, verse, refrain repeat. Nice word choices through out and thought provoking!

    3. Jane Shlensky

      Interesting and often powerful questions that require of us some powerful answers. The last one fairly sums up the powerlessness of the individual against a system and hurts a little. Nice work, Nurit.

      1. drnurit

        Thank you very much, Jane. Trying to follow Rilke’s advice to just live the questions now, and continue to hope that some day I will live along into the answers…

    4. TomNeal

      Reading through the comments it’s easy to see that “Wings of the Dove” speaks to its reader(s) on a spiritual level. Indeed, its spiritual imagery and allusions would be difficult to miss. The “dove” “olive branch” and “big enough ark” point the reader back to Noah, the Noahic Covenant, and “the promise” made to all humankind that “we shall overcome”. (“I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, and with every living creature . . . the birds . . . I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant . . .”)

      It is a universal covenant, but its “promises/still unkept” in a cruel irony are “carried across/generations, from war to war-/like Olympic torches”. This mocks the Olympic ethos, and the mockery prompts the narrator to ask:

      When will hearts no longer/race in fear? [N.B. longer/race]


      What on earth/can a grandmother do/but remember the promise . . . ?

      Behind these question I hear the voice and complaint of Job,“my groans pour out like water./What I always feared has happened to me./what I dreaded has come true.”

      However, in the text’s questions the poem finds its answers: “remember the promise”; “search for the dove”; “object”; “imagine a big enough ark”; “hope”; “dream”; and “pray”. These are markers on the path to healthy mindedness and peace. If one is not on this path, one is on a path that leads to the manifestation of what is feared.

      Although this lament does not offer a facile solution, neither does it leave its reader without hope.

      1. drnurit

        Thank you very much, Tom. You are right, I am painfully aware that history – both personal and collective – includes series of floods, but also narratives of healing and recovery, and so I pray… “We shall overcome” I also associate with Pete Seeger and Joan Baez, who I have frequently sang with since the 60’s. So, yes, I envision Olympic torches carrying on promises of peace and, yes, “deep in my heart, I do believe, We shall overcome someday…”

  24. grcran

    Poor for the Course

    Told my father-in-law I’d play golf
    All day long I thought I’d rolf
    My breakfast out onto the green
    Or the rough. It’d be obscene.
    Hanging over I shoulda bowed out
    But then it woulda left no doubt
    What a wuss I was for his daughter
    So I hit six Titleists into the water.
    Strong they were, wrong from the tee
    It just wasn’t meant to be
    I was definition of duffer
    Not to mention huff and puffer
    So I bragged about his girl
    How she had me in a whirl
    Could not hit another stroke
    I was just about to choke
    He bought into my excuse
    Seventh hole he turned me loose
    I went back and took a nap
    Laid my head in sweetie’s lap
    Just the smell of love so near
    Caused my hangover to clear
    Dad came home, he greeted me
    And I him, he’d yet to see
    Any part of my best self
    Yet he played the kindly elf
    Shared with me the scores and putts
    Did not make me jokes or butts
    Nicest man I ever knew
    Lived to ripe old ninety two
    Ashes spread now in the clover
    Helps me still with hanging over

    by gpr crane

    1. Marie Therese Knepper

      I enjoyed this for many reasons. I loved the rhymes. I was thoroughly entertained. Playing golf with dad brought back memories of my time spent playing golf with my father. :)

      1. grcran

        thanks to all of you for your kind words! I don’t do narrative poems often but they sometimes work for me. This golf round took place shortly after I married Luke’s daughter; she and i were 39 years old. Funny thing, Luke had gone to high school in the tiny town of Pawhuska OK in the 1930s, my dad Gene was born there in 1926, they never knew one another until they played golf together that day in 1992. Then I ended up with two great dads.

  25. annell

    To Go or To Stay
    Should I go now or later
    It was if my foot was nailed to the floor
    And I would go round and round
    I did not know how sick you were
    Tests were being given
    Results speculated on
    Then more tests
    And different speculations
    Which required more tests
    And on and on the week went
    In memory the whole thing
    Seems like a whirlpool
    Or merry-go-round

    Near the end of the week
    The doctors asked to transfer the patient
    To a larger hospital where he would
    Be seen by his regular doctor
    It was time to go
    No more waiting
    No more questions
    What I didn’t know
    Was that my going would be
    The last time

    Later when there is only sorrow
    It is wondered where does it come from…..
    Like the Sweet Texas Crude
    Which is formed deep beneath the earth
    From organic bodies
    Sorrow is formed somewhere
    Deep in the soul
    Or in the DNA of the body
    From old sadness’s
    Maybe sadness’s from other life times
    Ancient sadness’s
    And sorrow can bubble up
    Come forth like a gusher
    Without words only sorrow
    Sorrow that can drown
    The one who grieves

    July 24, 2014

    1. shethra77

      “Like the Sweet Texas Crude
      Which is formed deep beneath the earth
      From organic bodies
      Sorrow is formed somewhere
      Deep in the soul
      Or in the DNA of the body
      From old sadnesses”

      I love this part: the way you don’t simply show the grief, but come to grips with the wellspring, the source.

  26. Connie Peters

    Tough Spots

    Like opponents grant a player
    opportunities to shine.
    Like difficult courses
    showcase a golfer’s skills.
    Like mountains bring out
    strength and endurance of a climber.
    Tough spots
    may manifest the magnificence
    in you.

  27. icandootoo

    Interview in a Foreign Land
    naomi poe

    In the end, there were only two choices:
    One; to fade slowly, softly into black.
    Two: to join as one with angry voices.
    I weighed both options slowly.
    At the back of my mind, I knew
    this couldn’t end well.
    Too many of them, too few of us…
    Alas, too late, to leave, I felt
    the swell, at my back, of fists and stones.
    I discuss this with you, because you seem
    Quite careful in your questioning;
    and news is made for listening;
    and I am trying to get home.

      1. icandootoo

        wow – thanks so much for the response! I was afraid the ending left too many questions unanswered… yet I felt that was only fair if I was trying to elicit the feeling that an American, far from home, has when trapped in a situation like this. Sometimes there are no conclusions… but yet hope.

    1. TomNeal

      and news is made for listening;
      and I am trying to get home.

      I think your lines successfully underscore how much the trip depicted differs from a normal commute home- a commute where one might find oneself listening to a news report about the dangers experienced by expat citizens.

  28. shethra77

    Rocks and Hard Places

    There are thumps
    above my head—
    I know that it is
    not all right.

    So I sprint
    upstairs again.
    Every day she shakes
    at least once.

    Her sister lies
    across her legs.
    We hold her ‘til the
    shaking stops.

    We know well
    current theory—
    holds while seizing are

    But her body’s
    beat to bruises;
    whipping back and forth
    sprains her neck.

    So here we are:
    with great care, we
    do what we shouldn’t
    to stop worse.

    1. Dorothy's Daughter

      Well done – I see it playing out in my head as I read it. This is a great take on a hard spot to be in – indeed a tough decision to make! Great phrasing and pace too!

    2. TomNeal

      So here we are:
      with great care, we
      do what we shouldn’t
      to stop worse.

      So much of life is filled with choices that are not clearly right or wrong, and it takes courage to override received opinion. Your lines open up that tension and anxiety for the reader to see/experience vicariously. Well done.

    3. shethra77

      Everyone, I feel overwhelmed by your responses! No idea it would strike so many of you so profoundly–thanks so much for your kind comments..

    1. Marie Therese Knepper

      My enjoyment of your poem goes far beyond how well written it is. Each time I read it I conjure up new ways to punish the offenders ;)

  29. Amaria

    “In the office”

    She waits patiently in the office
    a thousand thoughts running in her mind
    never did she think she would be here
    but one careless night lead her to this
    she’s surrounded by nameless faces
    who all their own stories to tell
    on how they reached this predicament
    she slowly inhales the sterile air
    waiting for the nurse to call her name

  30. Julieann


    Names show beauty
    Names ring with music

    Names are alive with meaning
    Names often define who we are

    Some names are memorable
    Some names are elusive

    As you politely ask her name
    In front of her friends

    And she replies
    You’ve been my Sunday school teacher all year!

  31. priyajane

    Tough Spots

    Some stains
    lodge in a tough spot
    No matter how hard you
    smudge cleanse, shake,
    stir, boil, shower or brew
    they still cling on, tattooed
    to the insides of your skin
    Learn to wear them
    as part of your blue

  32. Azma


    If I could I would
    get myself a clone
    We’d go different paths
    and then meet and decide
    where the better future lies

    If I could I would
    go back to as long as a year
    and unsay the hurtful things
    that people didn’t want to hear

    If I could I would
    resolve issues without much to think
    and laugh over them while having a drink

  33. shellcook

    Hiding The Bones

    Caught between here and there,
    I dip a toe back into the water
    and know I cannot move
    one way or the other

    Time spins backward
    as illusion rears its niggling head
    looking for the soft spot
    to dig in

    the one I’ve worked
    so hard to hide
    as I slip into the water
    drowning on both sides.

    Emotions are like water~
    you rise, you sink, you swim
    and that causes such surprise
    to others looking in.

    because emotions share with water
    some traits of which you know
    slipping over broken bones,
    it’s here but then it’s gone.

    Copyright 2014 @ Anne Michelle Cook

      1. Dorothy's Daughter

        I like your word choice throughout – it feels very much like water – rising and falling and moving. I especially like the “as illusion rears its niggling head’ line. Nice job!

  34. Hannah

    Chain Reaction

    Toddler –
    thrown stones
    hit hornet’s nest,

    brush pile
    and traffic’s confused.

    exit’s misplaced,
    the colony’s irate.

    angrily they’re
    searching for doors.

    Searching for doors,
    angrily they’re

    The colony’s irate –
    exit’s misplaced.

    and traffic’s confused.
    Brush pile

    hit hornet’s nest.
    Thrown stones –

    Copyright © Hannah Gosselin 2014

    This is a chained hay(na)ku and reversed chained hay(na)ku palindrome poem.

  35. JRSimmang

    Quality of Service

    Left again,
    my weary friend,
    on the side of lonesome road.

    A pistol hand,
    a horsefaced liar,
    a liturgy too old,

    a saw-toothed swan,
    rattlesnake limp,
    and a cup that o’erflowed

    showed me to
    a curbside preacher
    who’d left for Abbey Road.

    And I, a chump,
    a sinner and a man
    looked him square
    and said a prayer
    while my soul condemned

    danced a while
    to a child’s school tune
    all while the half-sun set.
    I laid my bet
    to the brilliant new moon;

    Exeunt actori, stage right!
    into the deadened night!

    For this side of lonesome road
    an echo is your friend, but
    friends they lie and friends they fold.
    Here, you’re better off untold.

    JR Simmang

    1. JRSimmang

      William, I tried putting it to music and the punctuation changed!
      Hannah, Marie, Tom, thanks for the feedback. I’m experimenting more with rhyme. It’s a skill I admire and am jealous of all at once.

  36. lionetravail

    “Of Better Days”

    Wings pinned to cork,
    suffocating behind glass:
    the metamorphosis led to beauty, but not joy.

    She’s no trophy butterfly,
    dessicated and dead-
    she just wishes she were.

    Aridity is not her problem,
    as oceans have fallen from her eyes
    to be dashed on the worn precipices below,

    but she feels the same isolation,
    as though mummified and isolated,
    the husk of her on careless display.

    The pills don’t work,
    talk is empty of meaning,
    and hope is become a Golgotha.

    She has forgotten how to dream better days:
    there is no perchance,
    there is only to weep.

  37. Marie Therese Knepper

    Oops! My poem is about Calamina, not Caramina. Here is the revised version:

    Calamina, Mine
    by Marie-Therese Knepper

    Marie Therese Knepper says:
    July 23, 2014 at 4:06 pm
    Get well soon, Robert.

    Calamina, Mine
    by Marie-Therese Knepper

    Calamina, you
    turn me pink from blue.
    I feel an ocean’s breeze;
    you put my soul at ease.

    Before your skin touched mine
    I prayed for love divine
    to stop the restive itch
    spawned by a creeping witch.

    And now that you are nigh,
    I shout this joyous cry!
    I need you so,
    Calamina, oh!

    1. dhaivid3

      It is oh so rhythmical. Well written. I like it. Somehow, towards the end it starts to feel soothing, like a well-written song. Hmm…the Cal(a)min(g)a Effect, perhaps?

      1. Marie Therese Knepper

        Cal(a)min(g)a Effect – yes!
        Thank you. After a few weeks of writing Golden Shovels, I really needed to rhyme this week (while recuperating from my run in with poison ivy :o.).

    2. Marie Therese Knepper

      Thank you all for your comments.
      Songs play a role in some of the poetry I write. I set out to write a poem about my current tough spot: being plagued with poison ivy. I was jotting down a variety of adjectives describing my plight. I kept hearing the song “Poison Ivy” in my head. I liked the idea of an ‘ocean of Calamine lotion.’ I looked up the word Calamine in an online dictionary, and noticed the Spanish translation Calamina. How musical, I thought. For me, Calamina reminded me of “Cara Mia,” a song from the sixties. Before long I had penned a light-hearted tribute to Calamine lotion, which was a far cry from the deep, dark poem I had originally intended to write.

  38. Marie Therese Knepper

    Get well soon, Robert.

    Caramina, Mine
    by Marie-Therese Knepper

    Caramina, you
    turn me pink from blue.
    I feel an ocean’s breeze;
    you put my soul at ease.

    Before your skin touched mine
    I prayed for love divine
    to stop the restive itch
    spawned by a creeping witch.

    And now that you are nigh,
    I shout this joyous cry!
    I need you so,
    Caramina, oh!

  39. JohnLY


    Craggy rocks and marshy tracts,
    Rivulets and waterfalls sparkling clear,
    Mountain flowers along the way
    Glorious sunshine with fresh clear showers.

    We cross a valley, birds sing,
    Goats and cattle are grazing,
    The rain soaks the muddy grass.
    Suddenly I find myself sinking fast.

    Sinking to my knees and still sinking,
    Helpless to stop the sucking mud.
    Trapped fast in the marshy bog.
    Terror-struck as I am sucked to the waist.

    I scream for my friends, who come running,
    Then they stop, as the danger is clear.
    I sink to my shoulders in the marshy bog
    My arms flailing wildly above the mud.

    My friends push a huge log close to me,
    I manage to grasp it and hold on fast.
    The sucking is arrested, I am firmly trapped
    The mud is clinging, holding, pulling me down.

    Help arrives, summoned by my friends,
    A helicopter hauls me free from the mud.
    Rescued from death, my nerves are shot.
    Life looks very beautiful from a very tough spot.

    Copyright © Written by John Yeo. All rights reserved

  40. Dorothy's Daughter

    Fortunately it’s not my own tough spot I chose to write about. I just thought of this situation I know of when I read today’s prompt…

    At Children’s Hospital

    An uninvited guest,
    my cousin,
    peeked in the door
    of my baby’s room
    at Children’s hospital.

    We had said we didn’t
    want visitors during this time,
    this exhausting, stressful and
    harrowing time.

    But there she was,
    popping by,
    as if she were just
    stopping in for a cup
    of coffee.

    I tried to hide my anger,
    although I am sure
    my words were curt.

    She had been told
    we didn’t want company
    but she stood there
    gazing at my child
    anyway, as if I weren’t even there.

    Later, it all make sense.

    My mother relayed to me
    a family secret about her.

    She has been wrestling with
    a thorn in her heart for
    the last two decades.

    Twenty years ago
    Life had handed her a child
    that would be needing
    the care that my little one does.

    She was not up to the challenge.

    I try not to judge. She was
    juggling med school,
    and a four year old
    at the time. She didn’t feel
    she could stop everything
    to live in a children’s hospital
    for a few months.

    Now I know,
    why she stopped by
    why she had to view my
    little one for herself.

    She had to see,
    what it would’ve been like
    and if she’d made
    the right decision.

  41. dhaivid3

    Hello Robert Lee B. Lots of “Get well soon!” wishes passing through the underwater fiber cables to you.

    Also, I really like your poem submission for today’s prompt. Real nice. Well done.

  42. dhaivid3

    Poem Title: Little Joe

    Little Joe is tough
    Even when he had a rough, rough cough
    When Mama died and everyone else thought surely
    This time
    Enough was enough
    Little Joe was left all alone
    With parche’d skin and flesh being eaten to the bone
    And no family left or someone to hear his nightly moans
    Or warm his bones
    But little Joe hung on
    Hugging his chest as Mama taught him
    to numb the pain of his rough, rough cough
    Till it was morn
    And on one more cold night
    He went to bed alone
    And on that deathbed little Joe smiled – and he shone
    Beaming at the old man leaning over to kiss the dead cheek of Joe
    His old, soft, grey whiskers piercing Joe to the cheekbone
    The old man “from faraway” in Mama’s only photograph at last had come back home
    He straightened up and in his eyes tears of regret shone
    But Little Joe had learned to be tough
    “Don’t worry grandpa” he said
    “In Heaven I know I’ll no longer be alone”.

    Rest In Peace ‘Little Joes’

  43. Susan Schoeffield


    It’s not like there wasn’t a way we could know.
    The big yellow sign clearly said not to go.
    “Take 4-wheel drives only beyond this spot.”
    But you wouldn’t listen (believe it or not).
    There on the dunes, our 2-wheel drive truck
    stopped going forward because it got stuck.
    Late in the day, there were not any rangers.
    We hoped to rely on the kindness of strangers.
    Sure enough, someone came lumbering by,
    a big surfer dude with a gleam in his eye
    from looking at what he assumed to be hicks
    the first day they traveled outside of the sticks.
    In no time at all, we were out of the sand
    gushing out “thank you” and shaking his hand.
    He smiled, said “No problem” and went on his way.
    I guess we assumed that was all he would say.
    But over his shoulder, he loudly decreed,
    “I guess some folks just never learned how to read.”

    © Susan Schoeffield

  44. taylor graham


    Prearranged: Kyle would take
    a shortcut through the industrial park.
    A problem for my dog-in-training:
    follow his scent as it threaded
    across the comings and goings
    of an ordinary workday.

    The sky had other ideas. No summer-
    blue, inactive prop overhead,
    it was charging those high clouds gathering,
    and wind – bitter scrim of cigarette
    smoke from somewhere out of sight. Sun
    blazing down to feed convection
    off concrete to build those clouds as they
    sucked up scent, scattered it over
    the next row of buildings.

    Tougher than I expected.
    How could my young dog compete with
    weather? She caught a whiff
    of Kyle, turned a corner – backtracked,
    tried another way; hide-&-seek
    with a million tiny particles that smelled
    like Kyle. Another corner –

    jump-start, sparkled, turned on speed,
    dragged me behind a pillar,
    tail wagging fierce and proud. Winsome,
    my dog smile-panting, licking Kyle
    in the face, wriggling into his lap. Didn’t
    she just save him?

  45. lionetravail

    The grimace that’s stuck on my face,
    is there ’cause I’m running this race:
    I was speeding to win
    when my ankle turned in,
    caught between rock and hard pace!

  46. Heather

    Haven’t been here in a while, and the poem hints at the reason. Here goes:

    picking up plums

    Curses form inwardly
    as I stare at the plums
    strewn across the floor.

    Do I attempt
    the five-second rule?
    Or do I throw them out?

    I review my irrational options
    ignoring the real reason
    I curse.

    With a widened stance
    l crouch down, slowly, carefully
    reaching over my growing belly.

    In a few weeks my dilemma
    will be whether I leave the fruit
    or set down the baby.

    also published at http://heatherbutton.com/2014/07/23/picking-up-plums-a-poem/

  47. candy

    Miles To Go

    She thought she was grown,
    fully mature, independent

    Away from home and maternal

    She thought she was worldly
    and even a little sophisticated

    Away from that suburban street
    and dull neighbors

    She thought she was daring,
    a true original, a free thinker

    Until he invited her to a frat party
    and she could feel the tug

    of apron strings from eighty
    miles away

  48. writinglife16

    Should have been scared

    You had a bleed.
    I heard the words,
    but I had already known.
    Mom had had one.
    She survived and recovered.
    So, I wasn’t scared.
    She made it, so would I.
    Same circumstances you see.
    I didn’t realize then that
    Mom hadn’t had a bleed.
    And I should have been scared.

    1. Marie Therese Knepper

      I’m assuming this deals with having a miscarriage. If so, you convey in poetic form the shock of loss. If not about miscarriage, I am curious, but still your poem conveys a great depth of feeling in such few words.

  49. DanielR

    Miles from nowhere on a stretch of I-10
    summer steam rises up from the asphalt
    in waves not nearly as inviting as the ocean blue.
    My radio blares out a Willie Nelson song
    above the false wind of a mediocre AC
    and I own freedom for just a little while.
    Until the roar of my engine becomes a funny whine
    and I pull to the side of the road
    as sputtering and coughing diminish to silence.
    With my hands shading my eyes and my hood propped up,
    I stand mourning the death of my beloved car
    and a pocket full of dreams and possibilities.

    Daniel Roessler

    1. Dorothy's Daughter

      I too liked that line “I own freedom for just a little while”. Well done!

      I like the death of the car being the thing that will take the freedom away.

    2. drnurit

      I love the title too – one of you “broke down”, the other is “broke”… Love the “steam rises… in waves not nearly as inviting as the ocean blue”, the progression from “roar” through “whine” to “silence”, and from “freedom” (for just a little while) to “mourning the death…” So well done.

  50. DanielR

    Just a summer time fling
    it wasn’t anything
    serious, until she called crying
    and he thought she was lying,
    telling him she was late
    but it wasn’t up for debate,
    and nine months since
    he will be known hence
    as Dad to a baby boy

    Daniel Roessler

  51. jasonlmartin


    I’m not so gullible
    to blindly eat whatever
    you set on the dinner table,
    and that includes anything you cover
    with cheese or butter to hide the flavor.
    Just count me completely out for all vegetables.

    I am 5.
    I am old enough to decide
    that there’s no reason to be healthy. I see fried
    everything on your plate, yet you are still alive,
    so I figure I’ll be quite alright to be deprived.
    Put down the ladle of greens and let me get wide.

  52. Michelle Hed

    Hurry Up and Wait

    Euphoric relief brings tears.
    No matter if it is minutes, days, or weeks
    the waiting is the worse,
    whether it is for yourself or someone else