Editors Blog

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.

roberttwitterimage*****

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

    Scared

    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,
    exhaled,
    completed the maneuver.
    Smiled.

    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
    Then
    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
    -tween
    gently bouldered
    Lake, and the quiet
    slake of her own blue
    thirst.

    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
          help
    her float; some
    -times she

                  sinks.

    .

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