Editors Blog

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:

“box”

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

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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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221 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
    such
    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
    authenticity
    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

    Rice

    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

    Freedom

    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?

      Tom

      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

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

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

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

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

    .

  8. break_of_day

    stillness
    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,
    motionless
    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
    enters

    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.

  9. TomNeal

    Banking on Skid Row

    Inside the pillared building
    Old Harry and Hank
    Sit with bankers
    Sharing what they know
    As they make their plans together to create
    Tomorrow’s version of yesterday’s skid row.

    And on the street the people listen
    To a President they Hope might really care
    As his daughter pretends to think outside
    The banker’s box, but marries a player.

    Oh, let them have their Dimons and their Rubins,
    I’ll settle for a little fresh air,
    And the land outside where Green
    Spans more than money, and parasites are rare.

    Notes
    Old Harry: a jocular name for Satan in the UK, several US senators; and politicians in general.
    Hank: a former Secretary of the Treasury.
    Skid Row: a shabby urban area with plenty of dilapidated hotels.
    Hope: a town in Arkansas.
    Dimons: diminished gemstones.
    Rubins: an great artist degraded.
    Parasites: pretend friends.

        1. TomNeal

          I’ve just learned the Desolation Row was first recorded on 4 August 1965.

          This has nothing to do with what I have posted, but thought it an interesting bit of trivia.

    1. Marie Therese Knepper

      Earlier in the day, I left off reading Paul Zollo’s interview of Bob Dylan as cited in Zollo’s book “Songwriters on Song Writing.” I’m ecstatic that you chose to publish your fine poem here!

      I was particularly touched by this remark from Dylan:
      “There’s enough songs. Unless someone’s gonna come along with a pure heart and has something to say. That’s a different story.”

      Anyone who reads your poem will readily agree you have something to say, and say it quite well.

      1. TomNeal

        Thank you Marie-Therese!

        I appreciate your kind words, and your good review.

        To know that a poem has somehow spoken to another person is a great reward. It’s an even greater reward to learn that it has spoken to a poet whose work I hold in high regard.

        Cheers,

        Tom

    2. PressOn

      I don’t know Dylan’s dong, but I felt a melody as I read your poem. I thought “Tomorrow’s version of yesterday’s skid row” especially poignant (I remember skid rows), and “Green / Spans” especially delicious. Thanks for this.

    3. drnurit

      You make your “outside” so appealing – simple, natural, filled with “fresh air”, and the good type of “Green”, as compared to an “inside” filled with the pragmatics of bankers, politicians, all sorts of “pillars”, and pretense… Despite tomorrow’s version of Skid Row already in the making, there is Hope here (perhaps not in Arkansas, but still…) Thank you!

  10. drnurit

    EMBRACING THE BACK AND FORTH

    By: Dr. Nurit Israeli

    She inhabits her comfort zone – warm and familiar.
    With eyes closed, she ambles along well-worn
    paths of least resistance – wrapped in
    old, threadbare security blankets.

    Yet when she ventures beyond
    and shuts the gate behind her,
    enchanting landscapes emerge,
    places she never knew existed.

    As she tiptoes outside the boundaries –
    she is the woman who could have been,
    meeting people who once lived
    only in her dreams. And she is dazzled.

    It is then, as she counts her blessings,
    as if Pandora just opened the box,
    that she begins to discover
    what her one and only life can be.

    But she fears Pandora’s curses:
    The space beyond is unfamiliar,
    filled with fear, and doubts,
    and voices telling her to go back.

    So as she approaches the edge,
    she recoils to her comfort zone –
    clutching tightly and close to her heart
    the key that opens the gate.

    And yes, she keeps on departing and
    returning – pacing in and out
    between opposites that yearn for each other,
    crafting her own rhythm with uncertain steps.

    Yet though she still searches for balance
    on some inner scale, she finally finds
    harmony among contraries – knowing
    in the end that she does not have to choose.

    1. TomNeal

      There are countless variations of the ballad form (traditional, literary, American, blues, pop, jazz, power, etc), but most ballad forms retain some form of narrative element (adventure, love or discovery expressed in quatrains- also known as the ballad stanza).

      In “Embracing The Back And Forth” the reader finds a narrative of inner adventure and discovery expressed in quatrains. This form encourages the reader to look for the elements previously mentioned, and a close reading finds both personal adventure and discovery in the text. However, as the form is non standard the reader is given at least a hint not to expect typical ballad heroics and/or a typical ballad resolution.

      The protagonist is introduced to the reader in her comfort zone, but she soon “ventures” into “enchanting landscapes” that had previously been unknown to her. Her venture beyond the gate brings an existential leap of faith to mind. There is knowledge that can only be gained after one has taken such a leap.

      Both the text, as indicated above, and its form indicate that such a leap takes place. In terms of form, the first quatrain (in the comfort zone) is cozy, irregular and undisciplined, but once she ventures out of the first stanza, the stanzas become more disciplined. An adventure of discovery in an unknown land evidently differs from behaving as little more than a wandering generality at home in the comfort zone.

      Ballard heroes and heroines typically encounter obstacles and fear on their journey, and this poem offers no exception to that convention. The protagonist experiences fear and doubt, and hears voices that tell her to go back, and she does. She recoils (recoil: to flinch back in fear) to her comfort zone. However, having experienced the enchanted, she no longer lives confined to her comfort zone. She steps in and out of it. (Fearlessness is not identical to courageousness. Sometimes it is prudent to heed one’s fear.) The key is to find balance and “harmony among contraries”, and this she does. This expressed in the text, and by the final line resolving itself in a balladic pentameter.

      Well done!

  11. Cynthia Page

    Saturday Night

    Sirens sever the moonlight
    from shallow street puddles.
    Tires provide harmony
    for the highway’s greatest hits.
    The din of traffic lights defends the city.
    Silence is brass, too cheap to matter.
    Golden gunshots prove expensive
    in a rising market, yet still dearly sought.
    Minted copper screams buy attention
    in small increments.
    Car horns mug passing pedestrians,
    derailing their trains of thought.
    Fledgling ideas, still begging for
    attention, fall from tenuous perches.

    1. BDP

      Agree with William on that opening sentence. What follows is quite nice. And then the ending: “fledgling ideas…fall from tenuous perches.” They do, all the time!

  12. Penny Henderson

    This is not new, but I dropped in to read (thank you, I enjoyed them all) and felt inspired to give this one a new place to live

    OUTSIDER

    Even on this rainy day
    she won’t stay dry, protected,
    but find some necessary
    errand calling her outdoors.
    The dog, of course, must still be
    walked in every weather.
    In summer the garden calls,
    and winter ice must be cleared
    for less sure-footed folks.
    Spring’s swift migratory birds
    must not be missed, but closely
    watched and counted, written down.
    Leaves should be raked, composted,
    finally spread in the beds.
    On foggy days she’s compelled
    to take weird back-lit photos
    of the horses or the cat.
    There’s nothing this side the door
    to call except her bed.
    She’s an outsider.

  13. Clae

    Busy

    I’d like to go outside
    Sometimes at least
    I work come home and sleep
    Once in a while I’d like to see
    if outside’s like it used to be
    I work at work
    Come home and work
    Or fall asleep instead
    Maybe if I
    want to be outside
    I’ll need an outdoor bed

  14. DanielAri

    (DRAFT)

    “You, Yuba”

    I love you, I realize. White and black
    heat radiates from your composite. You
    hold me, your cradleshape, your rock patience.
    You barely pause in your molten doing
    and undoing as I curl in and take

    today’s sun and eons of sun into
    my skinned body. I’m quick as a pine tree,
    significant as the damselflies who
    light here and also love you. The valley
    fills with shade. I love you enough to break

    apart on the truth you’ll never leave me.
    I surrender so your notice doesn’t
    matter. I’m one of your temporary
    lovers, drinking your intense heat. I’m one
    of your temporary forms. You are, too.

    I’ve come to close my eyes and suck the scent
    of stone washed, dried and cut infinite times.

    DA

    1. BDP

      I like this a lot. There are good lines throughout. I can’t pick and choose. But I will say that the ending line is wonderful: “of stone washed, dried and cut infinite times.”

  15. icandootoo

    In this poem, a small town clique ponders the reasons for the unexpected marriage of one of their best and brightest bachelors to someone outside of their sacred circle:

    Scarlett

    She wore red at her wedding. We all tittered as we whispered
    at the rounding of her stomach, at the swelling of the flesh
    huge and squeezed and poured like whiskey in her mother’s white silk dress.
    And we all smirked at her lipstick, cherry red and dime-store bright.
    Had she worn that cherry lipstick when she’d said ‘I do’ that night?
    And we gathered round the table — stole strawberries off the cake —
    and we asked if they’d make it, if he really, truly loved her –
    If he had popped the question, or if it was just his mother,
    and the parson, and her father, and a loaded thirty-seven,
    that had sealed his fate forever, that helped make his decision?
    (Oh, that has to be the answer! He’s such a refined person–
    he’s a higher class of person — and, well… she is just white trash)
    And we sniggered as they drove off. (Why, whatever will they do
    as they stop along route 40? He has gone and bought the dairy,
    bought the cow and bought the cafling and the scarlet letter, too!).
    And we quickly started counting every day until the birth,
    and we brought her berry shortcake and a big bouquet of roses
    and we counted all his fingers and we all looked down our noses
    at this green-eyed, red-haired angel, with his curly little pate,
    who’d earned our eternal anger, being born three months too late.

      1. icandootoo

        Thank you so much – this is one I feel I could write into a story someday – Scarlett (and her story, and the ladies of the Club) still feels so, so real to me. I am glad I was able to communicate clearly for you what I was seeing in my head <3

  16. James Von Hendy

    A little play on my previous poem.

    Seen from the Outside

    A man. A dog. A white clapboard church.
    The hillside cemetery in rain, a wrought
    Iron gate, the bright umbrella unfurled.

    You see it all reflected in plate glass,
    The hardware store closed on Sunday.
    Is he rumpled? The dog mangy?

    Already you make up stories:
    Old, impoverished, homeless, alone.
    The glass bleeds distortion as if

    You need help. Does he let the dog
    Wet the gate? Is he atheist?
    Agnostic? Bitter? Churchgoers

    Pay him no heed. And you? You stare
    At warped reflections. Nothing real
    Hovers before lawnmowers on sale.

    You could turn, look across the street.
    Is he even there, or is it you
    Reflected in the ghostly glass?

    No. You have no umbrella, no dog.

    1. PressOn

      The feel is different here than in your previous poem, in which I thought it significant that he was outside a church. He he (or we) is outside everything, it seems; the questions accentuate the latter for me. This is a thought-encouraging piece. Thanks for it.

    2. BDP

      Love this: “The glass bleeds distortion as if / You need help.” The ending is perfect: “…or is it you / Reflected in the ghostly glass? / No. You have no umbrella, no dog.” Leaves me wondering if the poem’s beginning is a vision of the future, and I like that. I haven’t read the other, previous poem yet (no time to do so until today), but I’m looking forward to it.

  17. Jolly2

    INSIDE OUT

    We get some of the newspapers in here,
    Murders, Rapes, Robbery, Wars everywhere,
    We are sheltered from life and its storms
    We have gardens with flowers and green lawns.

    I have been in here for thirty years
    Many people have come and gone.
    I live by the clock of routine
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner then bed.

    I work in the laundry here,
    We get very little pay for our time,
    On Wednesday we go for a walk
    Supervised, in a very straight line.

    We have been told our asylum is closing,
    We will be free to enjoy life outside.
    I have no idea how to cook or house-clean
    We are thoroughly institutionalised.

    Written by John Yeo ©

    1. PressOn

      The spare, almost monotonous lines, almost all of which could stand alone, seem to me to be very apt for this poem and the images it draws. I think this is an impressive piece.

  18. LeeAnne Ellyett

    Outside/Inside Voices

    In this dark room,
    I lay in doom,
    Sentenced to the gloom,

    The voices start,
    At random times,
    In my mind,

    The constant chatter,
    Of brainful matter,
    Thoughts scattered,

    SILENCE, all of you,
    Enough said,
    Get out of my head,

    With morning light,
    Voices take flight,
    Until the next night.

  19. James Von Hendy

    Outsiders

    The way a man stood outside the church, a small
    Defiance, perhaps, in the face of rain, how he unfurled
    His bright umbrella as if it were a bouquet of flowers
    And let his dog piss on the cemetery gate, that
    Told us nothing about his inner life, the hold
    He had on himself or not. They kept to themselves,
    This rumpled man, his mangy dog, both aloof
    From the churchgoers streaming by, and from
    Who knows what else? Misfortune? Love? The mist
    Of uncertainty. Really, what can we know outside of that?
    We looked away and then he was gone, that is
    Did we seen him at all, or do we see him everywhere?

  20. JRSimmang

    OUTSIDE THE OUTSIDE

    I’ve been to where the sidewalks end,
    and through the paths where tree tops bend.
    All I got was two sore feet,
    a birdsong incomplete,
    a penny-pinched prayer on the wind.

    I guess I might’ve been defeated.
    My open pastures have been concreted.
    So I step into the night,
    disrobe, take flight,
    and smile because death has been cheated.

    Outside the outside, all feels all right.
    No traffic, no noise, only pure delight.
    I saw a falling star
    doesn’t fall very far
    and neither does the sun’s sultry light.

    Outside the outside, I know who we are,
    powder kegs hidden in a swanky boudoir,
    We all pretend.
    With love I send
    a pen, a paper. Please finish my memoir.

    -JR Simmang

    1. PressOn

      Despite the light-hearted feel of these limericks, this strikes me as a poignant and magical poem. The last limerick, or stanza, feels to me like a ballad. I love this work.

  21. Marie Therese Knepper

    a glimpse of joy

    she suddenly appeared
    a green flash in the stark sea

    I wonder…

    what hand led her to this
    jungle oasis
    a rapturous beauty ensconced in reverie

    oh how I want to know her

    Marie-Therese Knepper

  22. Connie Peters

    Outside

    O utdoors, I breathe in fresh air and exhale my cares.
    U nder cottonwoods, my skin delights in shade’s cool caress.
    T o-dos can wait. I need this.
    S ky speaks with plane rumbles and trails enticing me to travel.
    I would like to hike but indoor projects won’t wait that long.
    D ancing and whirling about, I promise I’ll come back soon.
    E ntering my house, I’m refreshed and ready for work cut out for me.

  23. RJ Clarken

    My Garden of Earthly Blights

    Flowers really do intoxicate me. ~Vita Sackville-West

    Flowers intoxicate, but give me weeds.
    Nothin’ like a thistle, crabgrass, pearlmort!
    Purslane? It’s something that I cannot thwart.

    Nor would I want to. Nature scatters seeds
    which then grow, entangle, mangle, cavort.
    Flowers intoxicate, but give me weeds.
    Nothin’ like a thistle, crabgrass, pearlmort

    or dandelion! Castleburr exceeds
    all prospects: makes my home one grand resort:
    Strolling through my garden’s a contact sport.
    Flowers intoxicate, but give me weeds.
    Nothin’ like a thistle, crabgrass, pearlmort!
    Purslane? It’s something that I cannot thwart.

    ###

  24. jasonlmartin

    Pygmachophobia

    There is air, though I cannot breathe.
    There is space, though I cannot move.
    This box, this elevator, is made to contain
    a limit of weight, though it’s not for me to prove.

  25. Sara McNulty

    Breaking Out

    Sometimes a weight descends,
    bending my back, humping
    my shoulders. Weariness,
    and paralyzing inertia drop
    on the tops of my eyelids.
    A square box of black
    attacks and traps me. I need
    to bend the bars into an oval,
    color my way–with lemon
    and lilac–out of the murk.
    It works, if I persevere.
    Maybe a stroll, a sketch,
    or a freshly baked pie
    will bring back clarity,
    and release.

    1. PressOn

      I am struck by “square box of black / attacks and traps,” and how the release is oval, with colors. It all is an apt picture of depression, in my opinion.

  26. candy

    The Prodigal Sun

    The clouds had put on
    their mourning clothes
    and wept for days and days
    until at last the sun returned
    and all of nature partied

  27. Jane Shlensky

    Nature Lovers

    She admires my sun room,
    says she wants one just like mine
    but larger, walls of windows,
    mammoth screens, pleasing
    cross currents breezing.

    She loves the out-of-doors,
    just loves it, but hates ticks, flies,
    chiggers, snakes, weeds, pollen,
    surprises. Nature with paths, she says,
    is the way to go. But sunrooms.

    She can see nature without getting
    bitten, sun-burned, wet, stung,
    or muddy. No turned ankles,
    no cockleburs or beggar’s lice,
    no itch and sweat and weather.

    The seasons out my window invite me
    out: the deer herds, hawks and turkeys,
    the domestic animals grazing. I need
    to smell the wind for snow, greet birds,
    search for wonders beneath my feet.

    Won’t you still wander afield? I ask her.
    Path find? Look for wildflowers in bloom
    out of season? A migrant bird swept in
    by a storm? Won’t you miss honeysuckle
    perfume and good fecund mud?

    She laughs. “Not so much I’d sweat
    my way across woods and fields for it.
    No, I need a big square sunroom with
    a fat armchair and a fine metal roof
    so I can observe nature at her best.”

    1. PressOn

      This reminds me of “campers” who take motor homes into the woods or desert. I love how this poem argues (gently) that nature needs to be taken on its own terms.

  28. candy

    Outsider

    All the girls had matching
    short sets and Keds tennis shoes
    Matching bangs and ponytails
    Matching brownie cameras
    Matching smiles
    Matching suburbanite parents
    Matching late model Chevys
    All but the girl with the sparkly
    blue glasses with the salad bowl
    haircut wearing denim jeans

  29. Marie Therese Knepper

    From The Trenches

    I watch people
    from inside
    on the outside

    how they scheme
    killing dreams
    toasting marshmallows

    teasing fires
    making their own rain
    on their own terms.

    Do they feel?
    Can they feel?
    Is nature a vacuum?

    Please don’t bury me alive
    I need air

    Marie-Therese Knepper

    1. TomNeal

      I watch people
      from inside
      on the outside

      I think this opening stanza is brilliant. It sets up at least two divergent readings, and then hold them together in the unity of the poem itself. Well done.

      1. Marie Therese Knepper

        How interesting…

        William, it took a few readings of Jane’s poem to understand how you drew your comparison. I thank you for commenting here.

        Tom, thank you for commenting. I composed this poem with only one interpretation – my own. I now understand what you mean by two divergent readings.

        This is what I love about poetry!

  30. taylor graham

    WILD OUTSIDE

    One after another; three. They looked
    like corn-mullen on the march, or aliens
    just landed on rimrock of our north
    corner, issuing from high dry grass. Three
    wild young tom turkeys moving stately
    along our fenceline. Plump-firm bodies,
    long red-wattled necks erectly bobbing;
    they eyed the fence that kept them in,
    4-foot stockwire topped with one barbed
    strand. On the far side, nothing but
    higher, pricklier dead grass; and freedom.
    They wandered back and forth along
    the fence as if despairing; paused again
    and again to measure the leap; afraid
    to flounder. Could I see their brains
    pucker, waiting for insight? At last, like
    a slow child afraid to be left behind,
    one dared himself off the ground;
    teetered on the top wire; down
    the other side, disappearing into dead
    weeds. The second turkey followed.
    I watched, it seemed my own mustering
    of gumption, till the last one flew.

  31. bigbluemug

    I don’t understand.

    What happened to the summer breeze
    Caressing my nostrils
    With scent of lavender,
    Stroking my skin
    With breath of butterfly,
    Tickling my ears
    With clinking of wind chime?

    What happened to the warm, warm sun
    Baking my woes away,
    Chasing them into yesterday,
    Begging me to come outside to play,
    Promising to ever stay?

    Can it be winter already?
    Is that why I’m so cold,
    So chilled to the marrow
    Of my silent, silent bone?

    I don’t understand.

    What is that foreign,
    unfriendly,
    antiseptic draft
    Surrounding me,
    Settling over me
    Like a stiff, unforgiving sheet?

    I don’t understand!

    Help me understand…

    Why am I in a morgue?

        1. Marie Therese Knepper

          Wow. I just read your poem. Your comment about being buried alive gave me chills, seeing that I made a similar commentary in a poem I just posted. Eerily similar…

  32. Hannah

    That Familiar Stranger

    Outsider whose suit is of the space ranger
    whose wandering mind is of the shooting stars
    whose hungry heart is of the empty cubicle, home so far away.

    Outsider whose words follow the copy change of a dinosaur boneyard
    whose skeletal shape is of the twenty something black crows mourning
    whose awkwardness is a Goldfinch bright within parallel lines of emerald green.

    Outsider whose emotions are of the free-floating astronaut – detached
    whose tears are of a sphere in this outer ethereal place, never falling – never counted
    whose longing body is of grandfather’s antique hand carved wooden cradle.

    Outsider whose soul is of the ancient Egyptian scarab beetle encrypted with hieroglyphs
    whose ringing ears are of the alien nation – half believed in mythical creatures
    whose eyes are of the wide craters in moon’s surface dark, unknown and unblinking.

    Outsider whose reaching arms are of the satellites – groping for more wisdom
    whose hands are of puddled water in the street – pooled deep and blue
    whose restless fingers are of street signs and tired of so many rules.

    Outsider whose legs hold feet that wander they’re of screaking draw bridges
    whose toes are of the wooden abacus counting on the time they have left
    whose sex is of the origami crane – a secret held in the folds of its making.

    Outsider whose belly is hollow yet hopeful it’s of Jonah’s great fish
    whose chest is of Jesus’s empty tomb proof of the Living
    whose neck is the question mark rising at the end of every sentence?

    Copyright © Hannah Gosselin 2014

    This is written after a form that Margo Roby is featuring right now…the Blazon. :)

    1. shethra77

      There is so much in this poem that is amazing! I love the soul of the scarab beetle, the empty cubicle home, reaching arms of the satellites. Superb imagery.

    1. Hannah

      Ha!! Yes, nice take on that word, William…back in the day we had a saying…”meet you at the salt mines,” and that meant let’s fight after school. There were salt mines right at the edge of the junior high property. Almost forgot that…thank you. :)

  33. shethra77

    Jump Toad

    Jump toad!
    You know you’ve got to
    jump, toad, jump.
    You know you’ve got to
    race from the blade
    chopping into your shade.
    Gotta run—get away
    mower’s coming your way.
    Jump toad. Hop away—
    to the woods, not the road!
    Jump toad.

    Jump girl!
    You know you’ve got to
    jump, girl, jump.
    You know you’ve got to
    leave here and race
    to a healthier place.
    Gotta run—get away
    from what kills you each day.
    Jump girl. Ease away—
    let your petals unfurl.
    Jump girl.

    Girls and toads aren’t much alike,
    but there’re times any critter
    has to take a hike…
    just jump.
    Jump jump,

    get gone.

  34. MsGenuineLady

    Outside of the home we use to share
    Outside of the family we use to be
    Outside of the dreams we use to see
    Outside all alone, only me
    Outside of your arms
    Outside of your touch
    Outside of your love
    It hurts so much

  35. writinglife16

    OUTSIDE IN THE YARD

    He ran out to the back yard.
    Screaming about fire.
    She followed and told her father
    to come back in the house.
    It was okay.
    It was just a bad dream.
    Just a bad dream.
    He patted her arm
    and she dried his tears.
    They were both on a journey.
    Somewhere outside
    their comfort zones.

    1. PressOn

      The kid running outside and the father running inside accentuated the whole notion of “comfort zones,” for me anyway. This poem created vivid images.

  36. Marie Therese Knepper

    Such Is Life

    I want to go out.
    You want me in.

    I want you out.
    You want in.

    The door swings both ways.

    I said I want you out.
    You say you want me in.

    I guard my borders.
    You use guerrilla warfare.

    We both lose good men.

    Why can’t you stay out?
    Why can’t I come in?

    I have the right to come out!
    I have the right to come in!

    Oy vey

    Marie-Therese Knepper

  37. PowerUnit

    There are no borders, out there
    No constraints
    Nobody watches you at your desk, doing your work
    To make the world happy is a job assigned to the captured
    That cannot be achieved
    I want to be free
    From restraint
    From conflict
    From strife
    From oppression
    To love, this world

  38. shellcook

    air piano ~ anyone

    leaves of ocean glass in the sky
    valued by the watching eye

    it’s just a piano, he said,
    not really worth making a fuss
    that you might regret.
    a hollowed tree with strings

    who can say the value of a thing
    which agonizing string to tweak
    when the line is really only tied
    to two hearts on either end

    attached by strings
    armed with cans
    tied directly to my soul
    a phone call from god

    when each string is attached
    to my motherboard
    that is

    it is
    very important to me.

    1. shellcook

      My mother died a few years back. She wanted my daughter to have her baby grand and even paid for her first year of piano lessons. My sister recently claimed it for her son, who is also a musician. My dad just forgot = broken heart. So I took the imagery of it’s original source to tell the story.

  39. gloriajean

    GOING OUTSIDE

    Going outside
    No, not today
    The confines of my mind
    Keep me tucked away

    Fragmented images
    Nothing more remains
    My memory now eclipsed
    Left in a distorted haze

    Going outside
    No, never again
    Consumed by rampant words
    Untrustworthy, unforgiving, unsaid

    Not of sound mind
    Often they would say
    Branding all creativity
    Tangles of scar tissue left for a brain

    Going outside
    Yes, just once more
    Solemnly carried away
    Free as a bird, once again I soar

    07/30/14
    gj

  40. priyajane

    Observation
    Everyday, as I step outside
    the sun shifts just a little
    changing my point of view, just slightly
    stippling things like they are new
    yesterday’s highlights have a phantom veil
    today, they beam a different glaze—

  41. JRSimmang

    WEARING A PAPER HAT

    asymmetrical wrinkles which were supposed to trace the borders of happiness
    a freckle just to the left of the left nipple, perfectly smooth and round
    a grey hair, intermingled and strange like lunchtime in the schoolyard
    nails too pale
    a belly like a martyr

    -JR Simmang

  42. GuruWantsToWrite

    Square One

    His world confined him to his cubicle.
    He had bills to pay.
    And boss to please.

    “Enough is enough!”
    He barked at his boss one fine day.
    And took off like a monkey from a box.
    He breathed a deep sigh of relief.
    “I am free!” He thought.
    Alas, he was in another cubicle.

  43. candy

    Outside My Kitchen Window

    A two-car garage built in the fifties With room for lawn mowers and
    Bicycles
    Envious neighbors had to park
    Outside
    And scrape snow from windshields
    In winter
    Year after year late model cars Nestled in the shelter of its strong Walls and beamed roof
    Children played in the dim coolness
    Men built and rebuilt
    Now it stands empty vulnerable to Wind and rain and sun
    Tar paper roof covering torn and
    Flapping
    Cement block walls crumbling
    Held up by ancient honeysuckle
    Vines
    Even the carpenter bees and
    Swallows that nested there
    Have abandoned it

  44. RJ Clarken

    Christina’s World

    At an impossible angle, she sits
    in sere fields. Horizon is her purview
    and the road before her beats a tattoo.

    Wyeth observes this scene. Then he commits
    to canvas, a woman alone, askew.
    At an impossible angle, she sits
    in sere fields. Horizon is her purview.

    He finds hint of color; she never quits,
    this is what he tries to project with hue
    and brush strokes, so that more than hope comes through.
    At an impossible angle, she sits
    in sere fields. Horizon is her purview
    and the road before her beats a tattoo.

    ###

  45. dhaivid3

    Poem title: Yes!

    Oh Grandpa!
    What’s bothering you today?
    You, always in the corner
    Quiet as a Church mouse
    Till they arrive and suddenly you are aroused
    As though by the scent of cheese
    Why can’t you just control yourself?
    Our visitors, hands to faces, eyes wide as saucers, faces green
    Shock! Shame!! Embarrassment!!!
    Trying to escape as though the knowledge of your feat causes them physical pain
    But alas from your gift they flee in vain
    You can walk Grandpa but no
    You choose to do this every time we have guests
    You make a mess and revel in the ensuing din
    As you sigh and settle in
    While we scatter about, our escape hampered by the doorway so thin
    (For only one man can fit through at a time)
    But determined we try – in vain – two by two to flush out
    While you laugh to yourself and once again today you shout
    “Children, ‘tis better out than in!”

  46. laurie kolp

    Heat Wave

    oh, these days, these summer days
    where heat becomes a summer haze
    much like an oven’s heating waves
    you see, you see the heating rays

    the outside air as thick as soup
    grass turns brown and flowers droop
    the kids stay in, stay in and swoop
    like parasites; the kitchen troop

    while I try hard to stock and save
    stock and save the microwave
    from overheating; oh, this group
    eating, eating through and through

  47. DanielR

    SATURDAY MORNINGS IN SUBURBIA
    He started his mower at 7 a.m.
    and churned through the grass
    like his wife does money
    and I laid in bed cursing him
    wishing the white picket fence between us
    was twenty feet high and made of stone.
    He went in perfect squares and
    straight lines that went nowhere
    and when he was done at 8 a.m.
    I listened to the birds chirp intermission music
    then headed outside, started the engine and
    began mowing in circles and figure eights.

    Daniel Roessler

  48. DanielR

    ON DAYS I HIKE
    Watch the wind
    see it bend
    around the corners and edges
    peering down from limestone ledges
    I feel alive at last!

    See the river’s endless flow
    weaving and winding far below
    while whispering a soft goodbye
    to those who watch from on high
    I feel alive at last!

    Wrap yourself in blankets blue
    let go of worries and melt into
    the clarity of the cloudless sky
    and raise your hands so you can fly
    I feel alive at last!

    Empty yourself upon the dirt
    feeding the burn until you hurt
    dancing as you step and slide
    to the music of outside
    I feel alive at last!

    Daniel Roessler

    1. dandelionwine

      These lines especially:
      “Empty yourself upon the dirt
      feeding the burn until you hurt”

      As a hiker and runner, this is the truth for me- it’s physical and emotional and alive. Never have I heard it expressed this accurately. I have another favorite quote now, thank you.

    2. dhaivid3

      Nice one. Well written.

      “…let go of worries and melt into
      the clarity of the cloudless sky…”

      Such an encouragement to stop making excuses and go outside!

    3. drnurit

      A great guide to feeling alive — I love the wind “bending”, the river “whispering”, the “clarity” of cloudless sky, the “music” of this poem…

  49. annell

    Yesterday
    I was stuck
    It is said we have
    Twenty six thousand thoughts a day
    Unfortunately most of them are the same
    That is what was happening to me
    One memory kept returning
    To visualize in my mind
    Each time tears came to my eyes
    Crystal sparkling tears

    My world was filled with sadness
    This morning things are better
    It is a new day
    I cannot say there won’t be sadness
    In this day but it won’t be the same
    I can even return to that same thought
    And I am not crying
    No crystal sparkling tears

    I cannot say how we get out of our minds
    But I can say
    Sometimes it is better
    To be outside
    Rather than inside

  50. Azma

    PERKED UP DAY

    I rose this morning
    with a thrilling exuberance
    My body felt strong and elated
    I didn’t reach for my phone
    I didn’t turn on my computer
    Their absence didn’t make me outdated
    ‘Coz today was the day
    I’d step outside
    I can hear the birds serenade
    I could go for a walk,
    maybe check out the new park,
    take my bike out of it’s shade
    But things didn’t go the way I planned
    I see neither grass, sun nor sand
    But hey! I did get outside my house!
    Only to get
    inside my parents’

  51. Nancy Posey

    Outside—Where Real Stuff Happens

    No play dates necessary, we roamed the great outdoors,
    peaking from June through August, up close and personal
    with bark and grass and leaves and dirt—dark black dirt
    hiding wriggling red worms, perfect for dangling at the end
    of a small girl’s fishing pole. Our fingernails weren’t clean
    until early September, when our mother held us down
    and scrubbed, working deep with her bristly brush,
    scouring away the evidence of summer, secretly pleased
    we knew how to make our own fun from ingredients
    readily at hand. In winter, we could return to our games,
    puzzles by the fireside, endless rounds of spades and hearts.
    In summer, no one had to urge, “Go outside!” We were there.

    *I saw someone wearing this tee shirt at the Swannanoa Gathering last week. Perfect timing for your prompt, Robert http://teecraze.com/visit-outside-t-shirt/

  52. grcran

    Beyond the Point

    Those machinations beyond ideation
    Of any engineer’s creation
    Are the ones dreamed by poets
    One grows it one knows it
    It’s sprouting out wingthings
    It dances it springflings
    But could it be useful?
    Oh don’t be obtuseful
    It’s art and it’s beauty
    It tattoos the booty
    Without consternation
    A large exclamation
    point

    by gpr crane

  53. grcran

    The Weather Inside Is Frightful

    I’d gotten chilled you let me in
    Our lives together we’d begin
    I went inside where you create
    Your being far more than a crate
    Had diamond studs and ruby gems
    And painted smocks embroidered hems
    Idea-ed me as handsome man
    Ok I’ll be that if I can
    We strode together went to bars
    We traveled in our touring car
    We had great laughs the belly kind
    I loved you body soul and mind
    You got so sick I made a deal
    Your pain and anguish I would feel
    I’d take it on myself instead
    I was out of my crazy head
    And inside yours you can’t do that
    Put on the pain like feathered hat
    I had to leave you went back in
    You die and I begin… again

    by gpr crane aka rusty

    1. TomNeal

      This is a very moving text. Your use of enjambment and couplets is perfect. Your craftsmanship is of the highest standard. Your ear for what works in verse is well tuned.

  54. TomNeal

    A Box Recycled

    If I were a box

    I’d be a useful rectangular box,
    A4 sized; reasonable dimensions,
    Neither shallow, nor too deep, but able
    To hold either receipts or erudite
    Papers- but never both at once. I’d not
    Be promiscuous. No, I’d be plastic,
    Durable, waterproof, built to outlast
    Enduring things: ideas, poetry, art,
    Music, and tax records. And when retired,
    I’d join other boxes at the local [no, not a pub]
    Landfill, and remember my days past
    Into forever- the fifth dimension.
    Then no longer humbled by menial
    Duties, and long after you’ve disappeared,
    Your tired old body turned back into dust,
    I’d erase every trace of your being,
    But for me. No longer undervalued,
    Your only legacy, I’d . . .
    Suppose it’s best that I am not a box.

    1. dhaivid3

      Well done as always.

      “Then no longer humbled by menial
      Duties,…”

      “…But for me. No longer undervalued,
      Your only legacy, I’d . . .”

      Nice all round.

    2. shethra77

      This makes me think of Haubold’s play The Big Black Box. (The Box eats a guy named Arnold.) Your box seems similarly predatory, if far more patient.

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