Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 274

If you missed it, I released a list of 50 poetic forms on Monday. Find the usual suspects (like the sestina and haiku) sprinkled with the unusual suspects (like the paradelle and shadorma). Click here to check out the full list.

For this week’s prompt, write a disappointment poem. If you’ve never encountered disappointment, I really don’t know what to tell you. Maybe take the week off? Maybe write about how disappointed you are to have never been disappointed? For the rest of us, this prompt should deliver a tsunami of memories, moments, images, etc. Ready or not, here we go.

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Here’s my attempt at a Disappointment Poem:


so many numbers & combinations

yet i never seem to stumble across them

or even remotely challenge to win the prize

but still i purchase the ticket because somebody

has to be the loser to help someone else win


roberttwitterimageRobert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of the poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He edits Poet’s Market, Writer’s Market, and Guide to Self-Publishing, in addition to writing a free weekly newsletter and poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine.

A former Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere, Robert has been a featured poet at events across the country and is married to poet Tammy Foster Brewer, who helps him keep track of their five little poets. He’s written and shared more than 600 original poems on this blog over the years.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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333 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 274

  1. Shennon

    Another shooting star
    Another birthday wish
    Another dandelion puff
    Another penny in a well.

    Now I’m a penny poorer
    The weed just made me sneeze
    The birthday made me older
    The star, it only fell.


    1. BDP

      Shennon: I like how you begin the second stanza with the penny after ending the first stanza with it, and then you work back to the beginning where the narrator is wishing upon a star. A bookends poem! And that star, “it only fell.” A disappointment.

  2. James Von Hendy

    The Old Dog Thinks He’s Still a Pup

    The neighbor’s dog comes bounding down the hill,
    All copper fur and slavering joy, a pine cone
    Clenched between his teeth.
    He wants to play
    His game of keep-away and fetch. His eager eyes
    Are brown and locked on mine. A question clouds
    His gaze. He tilts his head
    and waits a beat
    Before he pushes his wet nose into my hand,
    But it’s no use. Already it’s past dusk. He’s lost
    His distance vision, his hearing’s bad.
    His tail helicopters with hope, his clenched jaw
    Strong, his legs willing, but there’s no game
    Tonight. He’d just chase his tail
    And whine,
    Come back, confused, bewildered, and
    Lift a paw, disappointment clouding his eyes.

    1. James Von Hendy

      OK, let’s try this again.

      Disappointed Dog

      The neighbor’s dog comes bounding down the hill,
      all copper fur and slavering joy, a pine cone
      clenched between his teeth.

      You’d think he was
      A pup until you see his grizzled face. He still wants
      to play his game of keep-away

      and fetch. His eager eyes
      Are brown and locked on mine. A question clouds
      His gaze. He tilts his head

      and waits a beat
      Before he pushes his wet nose into my hand,
      But it’s no use. Already it’s past dusk.

      Cataracts cloud
      His vision, his hearing’s bad. His tail helicopters with hope,
      His clenched jaw strong, his legs
      willing, but when
      I throw a ball he bounds in circles, unsure where to run.
      There’s no game tonight. He chases
      his tail and comes back.
      Confused, bewildered, he whines and lifts a paw,
      Disappointment clouding his big brown eyes.

      1. BDP

        I like this, James–it feels so accurate. I’m there, rooting for the dog. And I also think it says something about humans getting old, all the more so because I spent yesterday with my nearly 90-year-old mother-in-law. There’s still the joy of youth in her, but her body no longer can participate. Thanks for this.

  3. BDP

    “Not You But Me”

    Sometimes the story pricks, infects: just right
    swells up to not-so. Polo-shirted Jack
    in ironed jeans strolls past my porch, Jill’s quite
    starched crisp in A-line skirt and blouse. The black

    perambulator sways and mutt on leash
    keeps time. Such strolling domesticity!
    But me? Well, I adore couch cats. Dog beasts
    (in this case twig legs, smished face, colicky

    squeaks) take up too much space. A knife-edge pressed
    clothes crease cliché, this couple with their tans.
    Is there a baby in that satin nest,
    really? Truth is, I’m disappointed other than

    with them. I sport a bruised, hard grudge, my ring
    gone, hand ballooned, love ending with a sting.

    –Barb Peters

  4. Cynthia Page

    Evil Blessings

    I love getting what I ask for, especially
    when the powers that be know
    what is best better than I.
    I wrote to my state representatives that
    I need time off from work to vote
    on primary and election Tuesdays.
    They solved my problem with
    voting IDs and reduced voting hours.
    Hooray. 🙁 Now I don’t need time off
    because I don’t have the ID,
    or transportation to reach
    the courthouse to buy documents
    that I can’t afford. But you see,
    since they moved voting locations
    to places unreachable by bus,
    I could not get there anyway.
    Problem solved.

    My elected representatives
    solved my problem so easily
    I decided it was time to ask
    for a few more things that
    are within their power to grant.
    I complained that my congressman
    was voting against the interests
    of voters in our district.
    Once again, they obliged by changing
    the boundaries of our district,
    so that all the poor in our state
    have the same congressman.
    Now our congressman votes
    in our interest, though his is
    the only dissenting vote.

    They were batting 1,000, so I went on.
    I told my new congressman the only
    accesses to low cost women’s healthcare
    were in affluent cities in our state,
    which I thought unfair. He took
    my issue to the state senate floor
    and argued for increased funds.
    Lo and behold they fixed it
    and made access more equal
    by closing all but one clinic
    in the state. Now everyone has
    equal access, though the wait
    for appointments is three months.

    If I did not know better
    I would suspect our state Reps
    want to get rid of us rather than
    hearing our voices. It’s so sad
    that there was another young man
    shot by authorities today.
    Apparently he was exercising
    his right to exist by walking
    up the street to his home.
    I guess that must now be illegal,
    punishable by an immediate
    death sentence. I understand now.
    You see, they are saving our tax dollars
    normally spent on convicting
    and incarcerating criminals.
    They are so fiscally conscious
    that we will all die before our time,
    therefore saving the state
    for all costs except a paupers’ grave.

    1. Cynthia Page

      (I have two stanzas to add to this. They go just above the last stanza already posted.)

      I tried to get help for our
      homeless veterans who camp out
      on the river in town. These men
      need housing, food, and our
      Veterans’ Hospital needs doctors.
      Soon the homeless men were gone.
      It’s now illegal to sleep in a tent,
      and our pastor was arrested
      for feeding hungry multitudes.
      Lastly, not to be outdone,
      the hospital took action.
      All those men who are dying
      of cancer from military exposure,
      now have grave markers prepared
      in advance.

      I alerted our governor about
      a humanitarian crisis at our
      sovereign southern border.
      There are children appearing
      out of the desert at borders
      all over the south. Poor things,
      they need sanctuary, food and homes.
      When they heard my plea,
      our governors took charge, sending
      militiamen to give them advice.
      They stand at the border with guns
      and direct babies and toddlers
      toward shelter thousands of miles
      back across three countries full of killers.
      The governors say the young ones
      we don’t house in kennel cages
      know that our doors are closed now.

  5. Marie Therese Knepper

    Low Expectations
    by Marie-Therese Knepper

    I’m not mad at you
    I’m mad
    At you –
    The not knowing you
    The disappointment of

    What did I expect
    A god; a servant clown.
    You made me laugh
    So what?
    I liked myself
    When I laughed

    How much was your life worth –
    More than being
    Silly –
    You fool.
    That’s why I’m mad
    About you.

    I think I’m sad
    Sad for the loss of
    Youth’s innocence –
    Hollywood productions –
    Glittering stars –
    A perfect world.

    Now here I am old.
    Old enough to know
    That wishing doesn’t
    Make it so.
    Silly little ant,
    Times have changed.

  6. Amy


    On the eve of womanhood in tender years past
    On the boardwalk I strolled
    With my love.
    Hand in hand or arm in arm you’d think,
    But he didn’t know, you see,
    That his true love was me.
    We walked instead, with a distance
    that spread to silence.

    The boards were rough beneath my feet
    And from them the day’s heat arose,
    Curling around my ankles and rising higher
    When our hands brushed.
    I looked to see did he feel the same but further away he’d moved,
    Wiping his hand upon his shorts.
    My own hand I curled protectively
    Around the tingle his touch provoked.

    Still, onward we walked, the sea breeze cool
    Upon flushed cheeks,
    As twilight deepened and sunset’s beauty
    Made the sky blush.
    How could he not be moved to see
    That I his true love could be?

    As the surf ebbed and flowed and whitecaps peaked,
    The pier it trembled rhythmically,
    Matching the flutter of my heart within my breast.
    For I hoped, however hopelessly,
    That my love would now embrace me,
    And my lips I readied for his kiss.
    Instead he turned to face the painted sea and closed his eyes,
    Blind to its beauty.

    I turned away from him to ease my heart and gaze about
    And saw worn planks and rusted rails.
    This pier had weathered many storms and would stand through many more to come,
    As must I.
    So from my love I turned away
    In disappointment,
    And walked back toward the shore
    And solid ground,
    Letting the sea breeze cool my ardor
    And erase him from my mind.

  7. drnurit


    By: Nurit Israeli

    When I am pushed onward,
    beyond this beloved earth,
    flowers will still bloom
    summer after summer.

    Other people will dream,
    and try, and fall in love
    as if they’ll live forever,
    when I no longer can.

    An arrow of time, due to
    force me out, is making
    its way from a cusp
    between Here and There.

    But like a skydiver halted
    at the edge, reluctant to leap,
    I keep a tight grip on the rails,
    stalling –

    not rushing to find out
    what happens when I let go.

    1. usedname

      Thanks for sharing this poem. When reading this i thought of the obvious disapointment of death but what struck me more was the fear of death, of disappointment. It sort of reminded me of the tense feeling of waiting for a balloon to pop and the sense of disappointment after.

    2. TomNeal

      flowers will still bloom
      summer after summer.

      Other people will dream,
      and try, and fall in love
      as if they’ll live forever,
      when I no longer can.

      Your opening stanzas brought George Harrison’s wonderful lyric to mind:

      “and life flows ON within you and without you.”

      “‘When I am pushed onward”? Even if I don’t detect it, am I not being pushed onward even now? “The flowers will still bloom,” as they have always bloomed, and will continue to bloom. The enjambment creates a space for the present to be linked with the future. Life is going on without (outside) and will continue to go on without (when the “I” has been pushed beyond). (“The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”)

      And yet . . .

      1. drnurit

        Thank you, Tom, for the interesting feedback that stimulates me to look again at my own words. Yes, I am being “pushed onward” even now, but (thankfully) not yet “beyond this beloved earth”. I love your 2 interpretations of “outside” – though I have much more say about the outside that is outdoors – I am the one planting these flowers that keep on blooming… And yes, there is no new thing under the sun, yet I love so much of what is there – somehow new to me every day – with a passion, in spite…

  8. lionetravail

    I wish my eyes were upland lakes,
    ready to spill waterfalls to be dashed
    onto the sharp escarpments below,
    sending turbulent flow down time-etched courses.

    I wish my lungs were deep gorges,
    nestled between sharp, jutting peaks,
    that wind could shriek through them sharply enough
    to carve stone with its stark loneliness.

    I wish my lips were a parched desert,
    everything sweet and full leached away to harsh bitterness,
    keening an obsequise over the dessicated things
    which have passed through to unremarked death.

    My heart I would not change by a single beat,
    that I never grow accustomed to the raw beauty of desperate loss.

      1. lionetravail

        Many thanks, Robert- I am, from time to time, mindful of the beauty of things or events which break my heart. I was so happy to find a way to articulate that, for me.

  9. MsGenuineLady

    Anxiously anticipating our first kiss,
    Patiently awaiting the touch of your lips,
    Staring deep into your eyes
    I feel my smile start to rise
    My heart is beating harder and faster, I feel so alive,
    Instead of a kiss you say

  10. Marie Therese Knepper


    I’m disappointed
    I’m trapped in a box

    With no locks
    And I’m the key

    To freedom.

    If I could get out of
    My own way –

    I see the light
    But fear no walls

    Perhaps if I start
    With a pen knife
    Carving portholes…

    Marie-Therese Knepper

  11. Benjamin Thomas


    Together let’s stand;
    against the war on our trees,
    lest we siphon nature’s life-breath,
    and seize her breeze.

    Together let’s stand,
    not cutting down our own trees.
    Do we yet misunderstand?
    With all the pomp and high degrees?

    Benjamin Thomas

  12. gloryia

    My Disappointment

    How could you
    Let me down again
    You promised, yes you did
    I believed you, yes I did
    But I’m a fool, and know it
    And you – your my disappointment

  13. Benjamin Thomas


    The Earth is drained
    of delight
    teetering hopes fall
    hard to the earth

    They die
    eaten by the opportunistic
    worms of the day

    Peace has become
    a cracked egg
    eaten alive by
    slipshod vultures

    Violence is let loose
    like a pent up bull
    preying a target
    upon it’s way

    Justice is no longer understood
    conscience is bankrupt of all good
    corruption has become the standard
    and pride flourishes like gangrene

    Benjamin Thomas

  14. Jane Shlensky

    New School Year

    Every time a legislator
    freezes pay for educators
    as he toughens prison terms,
    I’m disappointed.

    As a teacher citizen,
    I well know the mess we’re in,
    when elected leaders scapegoat
    those anointed

    to teach the nation’s young
    skills our leaders long have flung
    into pits where grammar/logic
    goes to fester.

    Why I’m hopeful, I can’t say.
    Every ass will have its day;
    fools can learn (this mantra say)
    through each semester.

  15. Jane Shlensky


    She missed him long before his plane had gone
    and built true love while memories were few—
    imagination, longing, spit, and glue.

    Remembered laughter made him hers alone;
    embracing ghosts of joy, her passion grew.
    She missed him long before his plane had gone
    and built true love while memories were few.

    Reality is seldom halcyon,
    though he was much improved while out of view.
    Men can’t compete with dreams and follow through.
    She missed him long before his plane had gone
    and built true love while memories were few—
    imagination, longing, spit, and glue.

  16. Michele Brenton


    You handle things your way
    loudness, fury, tears,
    nobody can mistake
    exactly how you feel
    because soon they feel
    it too.
    I wonder what makes
    some people
    honest like that,
    able to release
    the tension
    onto others.

    I resent it because
    I am the one it
    lands on
    and my way
    is to smile
    make the best
    or try at least
    to bear my
    and contain its
    within my boundaries.

    And both ways
    harm me
    and I have no idea
    how to make the best
    out of that.

    Michele Brenton 8th August 2014.

  17. gmagrady


    It had to be it!
    Pink crisp paper wrapped around
    the perfect sized box.

    Her chubby fingers
    ripped at the folded creases
    and her joyful eyes

    bounced around, gleeful,
    until the shreds revealed truth—
    not “it”, a knock-off.

    She opened the box
    and lifted the doll gently,
    cradling the babe,

    and saying “thank-you”
    to Mom who tugged at empty
    pockets. “You’re welcome.”

  18. Cameron Steele


    i keep wanting to search through old emails
    and find the right words for the right second
    always used to do that
    still do that
    this looking in this staring down
    the rounded skin
    of my belly this pretending
    that my skin rounds out gently
    so ill have something to pout about
    later something to blame the
    rage on doesnt every woman
    at some point whether she wants
    kids or not wish she were pregnant
    just to feel like her sweat is a glow
    just to be able to bow out early
    and call it gracious
    (blow out early and call it fellatio)
    just so she won’t she won’t have to say no to a third
    cookie or a random fuck
    in the back room of some old
    house people think is romantic enough
    to marry in?

    i keep asking myself
    how do i know i am a human being
    and not a robot how do i know
    i am more real than my dogs
    is it because i have opposable thumbs
    and can text dumb things to my boyfriend
    “where are you” and “I know you think she’s
    prettier than me because you liked her Facebook
    status about Botticelli” and I’ll
    jab it all out in lowercase letters
    with my furious thumbs and end it with a period
    because that’s how
    you communicate anger in love in this week and the next.
    Only you could twist the birth of venus
    into a shriveling thing into a statement
    on the male gaze a statement of the male gaze
    but even i know i will be lying
    because we’ve all been programmed
    me perhaps most of all with my yearning for fertility
    and mulligans and men to cast my old hashtags on.

    i keep wondering what ill find outside of myself
    and how if its really in the neuroses of someone
    else because really the thickening of your neck has been a better
    mirror for my own ugliness and soon enough i and every
    other woman will realize that wrapping yourself around
    a man in a barn filled with iphones and indie tunes
    is hardly a way to escape your own skin and the words
    ballooning against the cobby rafters but never thick enough to burst.

  19. taylor graham

    for Loki

    Shock. Surely the pup was an imposter.
    Four months old, with papers. But no tail-wag –
    she was a pistol, cartridge in the chamber;
    jaws in constant motion. “No teeth on skin!”
    Not even housebroken, the little wench. Barking
    at anything within her range of vision; missing
    nothing. Stronger than three dogs twice her size,
    she’d drag me on leash wherever she meant to go.
    My disappointment immense, my resolve
    weakening. Should I recant and send her back?
    Take her to the shelter, hand her over
    to a stranger? But already she’d learned to
    decipher whole sentences. “I wonder
    what happened to the rawhide bone?” She raced
    down the hall, leaped on the bed, dug her
    treasure from where she buried it, under my
    pillow. That look in her eye: “Take me with you,
    I’ll show you the world!” For Valentine’s Day,
    a biscuit in shape of a bone. She took it gently
    from my hand; then grinned with snappy
    love-bites in the air. The world she shows me –
    not at all the world I thought I knew.

  20. Amaria

    I wanted to avoid your eyes
    knowing that you would see my fear
    After you told me your goodbyes
    I slowly drowned in my own tears

    I could not erase all the lies
    that I told you to keep you near
    When you left by the first daylight
    I slowly drowned in my own tears

  21. Amaria

    we had such high hopes
    but they withered all away
    under the scorching high sun
    though you tried your best
    to hold onto my hand
    the pressure was too great
    we were violently torn apart
    like the trees in hurricanes
    yet I still find myself
    waiting along the shore lines
    in anticipation of seeing your
    again under the blue skies
    but they day always end
    in such disappointment

  22. candy

    Dining Disappointment

    It must be him, incognito.
    I recognize the white hair-
    although it is much shorter
    than in December, but the
    ends curl and wave as I
    The brown plaid shirt is not
    very festive- no fur collar, not
    a speck of red velvet -and shorts,
    But I know those blue eyes with
    laugh crinkles at the corners.
    I see his belly jiggle, just a little,
    when he laughs.
    It must be him but that’s not the
    Missus beside him at the table
    next to ours. She is skinny with brown over-styled locks and
    no sign of a twinkle in her brown eyes hiding behind brown rimmed
    Oh, Santa!

  23. shellcook

    The Needing

    Be there for him,
    the aim to please an instinct
    I cannot shake.

    impossibly waiting for a sign of approval
    from the silent shadow at my door
    I accept this sadness,
    a silent weeping,
    at the bottom of my soul,
    filling up my reservoir
    of strength with need.

    Copyright 2014 @ Anne Michelle Cook


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