Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 273

There are only a few constants in my life: One of them is that I know I’ll share a prompt and poem on Wednesdays. I hope everyone is ready to let loose this week.

For this week’s prompt, write an outside poem. And I encourage people to actually (physically) get outside if at all possible. Now, the poem itself can be about the great outdoors, but it can also be about other iterations of the outside concept. There’s, of course, thinking outside the box, but maybe just getting outside the cubicle or outside the bedroom, hospital room, depression, addiction, and our own heads. So like I said, I hope everyone’s ready to let loose and get outside their comfort zones. Let’s poem!

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Here’s my attempt at an Outside Poem:


everything i do must fit inside a box
whether it’s the pictures i download
words i write including my status updates

& then at the store i know the box
records my every movement to make sure
i’m not taking what i haven’t purchased yet

i feel my house wants to be a box
now that i’ve unpacked so many within
its walls releasing books dvds & paper

my poems don’t work well in a box
i tend to write them in notebooks & scribble
new stanzas line breaks & draw arrows

because it’s hard to move in a box


roberttwitterimageRobert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He loves reading poetry, writing poetry, and studying poetry–but he especially loves sharing poetry and is happy that Poetic Asides is a place that accommodates just that.

Robert thinks Wednesdays, of course, rock, because they help him write at least one poem each week. Everything above and beyond that is gravy, icing, or whatever else floats your boat.

Robert is married to the 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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225 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 273

  1. PKP

    Suddenly outside

    She sat a tall straight girl
    looking not the slightest
    bit uncomfortable though
    she had been presented as
    She sat a tall straight girl in the
    back on the coffee shop
    Waiting as I walked toward
    Her and we ordered
    Coffee and tea and she began
    to strum my heart with
    Words ringing with golden
    Respect crowned her head by the
    time the cups came and clattered
    before a newly forged us
    at that table in the coffee
    shop, where I fell in love
    with her courage, her desire,
    and this brave effort from
    a tall girl who stroked the
    strings in my heart like
    a badly tuned harp – yet
    the music was lyric and lovely
    Until she snapped the strings
    with no desire to repair
    Leaving only two cups of
    Cold tea and coffee
    at an empty table
    set for none
    in silence

  2. pwiddess


    We leave the paddy as the last of the sun
    sloshes round the newly planted shoots.
    We dine on last year’s crop
    light brown, fluffed up and swelling
    from the large serving dish.
    Every mouthful tastes of the outdoors,
    each grain planted and gathered by hand.
    No wonder our host picked clean the cooking pot,
    fastidiously consuming every piece of his hard-won harvest.

  3. Julieann


    Oblivious to the world outside my window
    Unless the rain
    Beats to the disco
    Upon my windowpane

    I see the sun’s rays reflecting
    In the shrinking puddle
    While my brain is dissecting
    Searching through the muddle

    Of busyness all engrossing
    Grabbing for attention
    No longer diagnosing
    No more time for contention

    What’s outside doesn’t matter
    Time no longer of the essence
    Thoughts begin to shatter
    In the sun’s rays luminescence

  4. BDP

    “Animal Kingdoms”

    Now up, now down the street five tweens use sticks
    to fence their feuds. I flip a switch to smote
    their game: my garden fountain flows, fuss shifts,
    they toss rocks, splash the water-feature’s moat,

    shout, “Castle!” Role-play bravery, my yard.
    They move in, kick the ground. “C’mon, we can!
    Let’s smash it!” Near the window, caught off guard,
    but well behind the curtains—a good plan?—

    I’ve one thought: show myself to tyrants, kids
    whose play has crossed the line to grown-up growls.
    Each day’s awash with models for frail ids:
    divorce, news, wars. But to the victor, spoils,

    I step outdoors, and sparrows from the eaves
    could fly no faster. Lesson learned? Maybe.

    –Barb Peters

    1. TomNeal

      Barb: This text really captures real time confusion that often makes it difficult to respond effectively in real time. Indeed, without a principle to guide (show myself to tyrants), effectiveness tends to disappear in fear.

      One question that interests me is whose lesson learned is the text pointing to? The “kids” or the “adult”? The text implies, I think, the “kids”, but isn’t the real lesson for the adult?


      1. BDP

        Hi, TomNeal: Love your thoughts. The question “lesson learned” was a last minute change. I was thinking “the kids” when I wrote it, but when I read the change in the “post” space, I thought, “Hmmm, the narrator? What has she learned?” My answer to myself was that, really, has anyone learned? The kids will perhaps go on to the next high jinx (or delinquency), and the narrator will still hide a bit, and perhaps step forward a bit. Then I hit “send.” The second-choice lines were:

        I step outdoors, and sparrows from the eaves
        could fly away no faster. I am pleased.

        If you come back to this poem, let me know if that ending might work better. Thanks, TomNeal. I appreciate your thoughtfulness.

  5. Amy

    The Sixties Inside Out

    Inside, the mood is festive, the old school bus infused
    With childhood innocence and trust,
    Infectious, filling the adult riders with glee.

    Outside, wheels turn, carrying them further along the road
    Of their Freedom Ride.
    Plowing through darkness, into the hell of hooded figures dressed in sheets,
    Burning crosses, Burning passions, burning beliefs.
    Nothing is civil about this rights march.

    Inside the idiot box, film rolls, grainy footage.
    Colorless blood spatters the first lady who watched him die.
    Cronkite’s monologue is surreal, unfathomable.
    The President is dead.

    Outside, time stops, hands clasped watchers watch.
    Chills travel the spine, goosebumps rise, hearts stutter.
    Tears fall, lament the fallen man.

    Inside, tunes pulse, Motown swings on scratchy vinyl.
    Hendrix rocks, the Rolling Stones get no satisfaction.
    Black, white, brown boundaries blurred
    Music speaks to all…
    C’mon baby jive.

    Outside, a somber knock heralds bad news,
    Worse news, the apocalypse.
    A Uniform, head bowed, hat clasped in trembling hands.
    Music is silenced, the only pulse belongs to mourners now.
    Lips deny what the heart knows to be true.

    Inside, loss.
    Outside, war.

    1. BDP

      I like the way your stanzas alternate inside / outside / inside, etc. The back and forth makes me concentrate on both places all the more. Interesting!

  6. mjsmith

    The Inside Outside School

    I’m the teacher they warn you about:
    Marxist, socialist, union
    all the way to the barricade

    I teach theory, revision, relativism
    to fresh young adults
    ready to vote for the first time
    ready to think about feminism,
    deconstruction, structuralism,
    post-French, neo-Freudian,
    psycholinguistic intricacies
    of subaltern logocentric
    intersectional appropriation

    But don’t worry at all:
    The students can’t hear me;
    inside the classroom
    I am as outside their hearing
    as you are inside their homes.
    We both shout to be heard
    over that hungry voice that
    streams inside their heads
    that shouts back at both of us
    every morning: “Stay out!
    I’m still sleeping.”

  7. De Jackson

    boxes and other borders worth busting

    we breathe
    and bend the trees
    to stir us into
    storied sway.

    doors, we knock
    about, still locked
    inside our own
    unstable fray.

    in, we out
    our fragrant dreams,
    consider ceilings, sweep
    our floors.

    out, we in
    -digo our seams,
    climb, dance
    with clouds
    and beg
    for more.


  8. break_of_day

    a little building displaced
    holding the past in its one room, with
    twenty-two children’s desks
    full of their emptiness
    and the room holding in its quiet,
    breath, never to exhale inside its
    wooden walls and uncovered windows
    that offer a look inside
    at any time
    from anyone,
    a pane of glass separating
    this world from the one inside
    preserved and still and strange in the stillness,
    a world where someone must dust, and
    someone else might pay an electric bill
    but no one ever

    1. BDP

      I like the word “stillness” here for a one-room schoolhouse long past. Most, if not all, of these schoolhouses here in Wisconsin have been demolished or have been converted to homes. This poem brings me back to an era that I didn’t experience, but one that my mother did. Feels nice to look into that part of her life again.


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