Editors Blog

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 275

For this week’s prompt, write an upside down poem. Of course, the poem could be about something (or someone) being physically turned upside down, but it could also be a symbolic reversal of the roles or change in how things are commonly done. Or you can just write a poem, print it out, and yes, turn it upside down. Poem as you will.

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Here’s my attempt at an Upside Down Poem:

“war”

the final shot fired
& everyone raced

to pack their guns
& disarm bombs

before rushing to
the town squares

for the musicians
& poets ready

with their songs
& poems & dance

& grudges fell
away like clothes

so that no one
remembered why

the first shot fired

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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 WritersMarket.com 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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414 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 275

  1. jorc709

    Upside down

    She’d been walking upright

    For quite some time.

    Gravity worked for her

    Kept her grounded, so to speak

    No floating away for her

    Head on straight, she faced each day

    Wearing her completeness

    Like a badge of honor

    No silly tumbling, bumbling

    No head over heels and

    upside down would never do

    One day she floated

    Just around cloud nine

    Wondering how while

    Held upright

    She had managed to fall

    but love had its own

    Universe of rules

    And upside down

    Was simply ok

    After all

    http://Www.emptygarden.wordpress.com

  2. rlhZbdPOET

    Our World

    “Much Madness is divinest Sense—”
    Emily Dickinson

    Our world is insane, but most aren’t aware,
    for it takes a divine madness to see
    through the pleasing façade of sanity.

    Masses ignore all the death and despair
    because they have no bodies to bury.
    Our world is insane, but most aren’t aware,
    for it takes a divine madness to see.

    We glorify shame, and sterilize prayer.
    Old wisdom is heaved among the debris
    as hip shepherds steer us where we should be.
    Our world is insane, but most aren’t aware,
    for it takes a divine madness to see
    through the pleasing façade of sanity.

    RL Hodges

  3. BDP

    “Living Assisted”

    Not upside down exactly, but she knows
    her life’s wrong somehow, presses her cold palms
    around her son’s clasped hands as if she chose
    a prayer for him to warm, a homing psalm

    for her, and every time he comes, he’ll help
    her find the path back, she just has to lay
    one cheek upon his arm. She’s more the whelp:
    thin, learning. He’s wise, hair filigreed gray,

    while hers is newborn white. This much she sees:
    she’s lost, though she exists. Hope’s flaming out,
    but light reflects her from the mirror. She’s
    herself, right? Look—that strange man has no doubt.

    He kisses goodbye-mother, pats her chair,
    leaves. Soon she stands, wanders off, not sure where.

    –Barb Peters

      1. shethra77

        Oh my gosh, I was so drawn in by what was happening that I did not even notice it was a sonnet! And a good one, too. Very moving–his faithfulness although she can’t remember, her wistful try to be herself.

    1. TomNeal

      He’s wise, hair filigreed gray,

      while hers is newborn white.

      Perhaps “Not upside down exactly,” but upside down.

      This is a moving poem. Its pathos is overwhelming.

  4. drnurit

    Check-Up

    By: Nurit Israeli

    It catches her eye, as she
    glances at her calendar
    unwittingly. Yes, there it is −
    that small but ominous cloud
    threatens to obscure the sun.

    Yes, just a check-up then too
    when lightening struck,
    an unexpected flash −
    sharply dividing her life
    into a before and an after.

    Yes, it will be the same blue
    gown. The same cold, over-lit
    room, with sterile chrome
    and the antiseptic air
    of that other world.

    Please, let this cloud pass.
    Yes, let her greet a pure
    vivid horizon once more –
    see the expanse of the sky
    with new clarity.

        1. icandootoo

          Actually, heading into a checkup tomorrow and I was reflecting this afternoon that I couldn’t express my feelings any better than this poem did.

          1. drnurit

            Good luck with your check-up, Naomi. May this cloud pass, and may you greet a pure horizon once more… So glad I succeeded to express feelings relevant to both of us…

    1. TomNeal

      On the surface this poem presents a straightforward narrative, but there is more than surface to this text. The “cloud” in the first stanza introduces one of poetry’s most protean images. In literature one finds “storm clouds gathering”, “cloud computing”, Elijah’s “cloud like a man’s hand”, and Shakespeare’s Prince Hal’s “base contagion clouds”. All of these admittedly faint allusions (offered up by text and tradition, if not the poet) help shape the reader’s perception of the first stanza cloud. However, the most intriguing possible cloud allusion is found in Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides”:

      clouds got in my way.

      I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
      From up and down and still somehow
      It’s cloud’s illusions I recall
      I really don’t know clouds at all

      The cloud found in the first stanza of “Check-Up is allusive, elusive, and illusive. It seems to have the property (at least in potential) of a nocebo- “a harmless substance that creates harmful effects”. The second stanza lightening is real (not just in the head), yet linked to the ethereal, but “ominous” cloud in the first stanza. This reading makes the prayer like petition found in the final stanza even more urgent than it may appear to be at first glance.

      Well done

      1. drnurit

        Thank you very much, Tom. Your willingness to take the time to thoroughly read and offer instructive comments is much appreciated! Thanks for this short journey through the poetic use of clouds. I often think about the power of nocebos, but glad that the power of belief can not only harm, but also heal. I love that reading and writing poetry can be a cathartic experience, that the images produce emotions that can even manifest in physical sensations.

  5. icandootoo

    This prompt got me thinking about the promises of Isaiah 2:3-4 and the realities of the situation in the Middle East. Here is my upside down prompt:

    Gaza
    by Naomi Poe

    They beat our plowshares into swords,

    Then into guns.

    And then to bombs.

    And all the while they promised peace,
    with milky tongues & honeyed words,
    while we had less and less to eat.

  6. Bruce Niedt

    Upside-down

    She loves to tilt her head back over Daddy’s lap
    so her year-old eyes can take in everything
    from a new perspective, a topsy-turvy world

    where faces have mouths on top and eyes on bottom,
    where furniture hangs from the ceiling
    and chandeliers sprout from the floor.

    Not scared or disoriented, she sports a wide, amused smile,
    as though impressed that such a simple position
    could jumble her world into this improbable,
    inverted playground.

  7. Michelle Hed

    The Upside Down Child

    I want to walk on the ceiling
    but this thing…
    called gravity –
    prevented me from doing it.

    I thought about how I could
    walk on the ceiling.
    Turning the house upside down was a good thought
    but I would have to be superman
    and it would make a terrible mess,
    Mom would not be happy.

    Flying would be a good one
    but I only fly in my dreams
    or again, if you are superman,
    which I’m not.

    The whole superman thing
    or having to have powers of some kind
    was really starting to bug me.

    I was dinging around in my room
    and noticed my hand mirror laying on the floor…
    reflecting the ceiling.

    I picked it up
    and with the reflection as my guide…
    proceeded to walk around my entire house
    as if I was walking on the ceiling!

    Stepping over every doorway arch,
    skirting around light fixtures…
    pretending my family and all the furniture
    were actually upside down…not me.

    I was happy.
    I walked on the ceiling several times that winter…
    my only power, my mind.

  8. Cynthia Page

    Chin Up

    I learned the upside
    of being put down:
    There are limits to pride
    but no limits for clowns.
    Some prefer to chide,
    and some hide their frowns
    behind professing to guide.
    But I’ve hit my stride,
    and I’ll ignore any snide
    remarks. I’ll just glide
    on with my downside up.

  9. Marie Therese Knepper

    Ain’t Nobody Can Keep An Up Man Down

    Ain’t nobody can keep an up man down.
    You can try, but you’re just wastin’ your time.
    He’s up on your down stroke; you’re prose, he’s rhyme.

    Taking his life like a verb not a noun,
    He’s seems not to age; he’s always in his prime.
    Ain’t nobody can keep an up man down.
    You can try, but you’re just wastin’ your time.

    Some days you might catch him sporting a frown.
    Got caught in your jet wash – covered in rime.
    He’s soon back on top: Master of his clime.
    Ain’t nobody can keep an up man down.
    You can try, but you’re just wastin’ your time.
    He’s up on your down stroke; you’re prose, he’s rhyme.

    by Marie-Therese Knepper

    1. BDP

      Love this line and its position within the form: “He’s up on your down stroke; you’re prose, he’s rhyme.” Paints poets as an optimistic bunch, even if we might frown now and then.

        1. TomNeal

          It has been said of Boehme that his books are
          like a picnic to which the author brings the words
          and the reader the meaning. The remark may
          have been intended as a sneer at Boehme, but it
          is an exact description of all works of literary art
          without exception. Northrop Frye

  10. James Von Hendy

    Posted this over in Madrigal-land, too.

    Bipolar

    He swings between extremes. One day he’s up,
    The next he’s down. He’ll tell you nothing’s wrong,
    That life’s a prison, hard, and he’s its song.

    It’s true he croons on sunny days. His cup
    Of glee is overwrought and spills headlong.
    He swings between extremes. One day he’s up,
    The next he’s down. He’ll tell you nothing’s wrong,

    The clouds he wears reflect the day’s dark wrap,
    The truth of life behind the bars. He’s strong,
    He says before his tears begin to throng.
    He swings between extremes. One day he’s up,
    The next he’s down. He’ll tell you nothing’s wrong,
    That life’s a prison, hard, and he’s its song.

    1. BDP

      Really nice, James, both in subject matter and use of form. I have a friend who’s bipolar, and this feels like an accurate thumbnail description of how he lives (at least from my outside looking in). He’s aware of the prison, the disease, and yet he sings as much as possible, sometimes overly cheerfully. After knowing him for a year or so (this was 25 years ago), he handed me “Darkness Visible” by William Styron and said, “This is how I feel.”

  11. jhowe

    Color Dreams

    Would it sell?

    To sell it or to hang it is the question.

    It is ready.

    The framers called.

    I sign my name with a flourish.

    …from certain perspectives.

    It looks pretty good…

    Speckles of color create texture.

    It still needs a little something.

    Detail added with damp strokes.

    Wet on wet background images.

    Reds, yellows and blues awash a brilliant sky.

    Saturate the paper with clear water.

    Prepare my materials.

    Can dreams become art?

    Sometimes I dream in watercolors.

  12. Marie Therese Knepper

    Gettin’ Down With My Up Side

    Sittin’ on the park bench
    Me and me get to thinkin’
    How we oughta be more
    Up
    And less down

    See that puddle over there?
    Let’s go stomp in it
    Take a romp in it
    Frolic and fromp in it.

    Here comes the rain – again
    I say to myself.
    My self says to me
    So what. Who cares.
    Let’s go for a run
    It’ll be fun!

    Shoppin’ at the Kroger’s
    Me, myself, and I
    Oh – they’re playin’ oldies!
    My cart’s my prop
    We’re dancin’ in the aisles

    Takin’ the party outside load and
    hip hop into the van
    We’re the man!
    Cr-cr-crank it up
    The road’s our Woodstock.

    Home’s my prison…
    Light’ll do the trick
    Open the windows
    Twerkin’ with the dust bunnies
    Who cares what the neighbors think.

    Itchin’ for a good fight
    Time for Palin and Cleese
    We need that release
    Just like The French Men
    Need a good spankin’

    Yawnin’ at the vanity
    We had a good day
    Didn’t we
    You’re always there for me
    – mwah –

    Marie-Therese Knepper

  13. MsGenuineLady

    “One Night Stand”

    Our bodies collided,
    But it was no accident,
    Even if our alcohol intake was over the limit,
    We never drove anyways,
    But we did move a little too fast
    Hours passed like seconds,
    The white moon transformed into the golden sun,
    And night became morning,
    Lovers united were now strangers divided
    And everything right was left upside down.

  14. grcran

    remaining that way

    if he were to upside down this one
    then you know it’d break his heart
    again
    but since it was broken so severely several times
    recently
    does that even really matter
    no question
    this is comedy
    tragicomedy and yes it doesn’t matter

    hanging by his feet suspended by his own fictional skyhook
    he pleads for assistance
    of course none is forthcoming
    if you discount the hooting of the owl

    blood running to his head, then,
    he consults his horoscope, and
    what does it mean, when you’re upside down
    question
    he remains that way

    by gpr crane

  15. Cynthia Page

    His Upside

    He hung from his bent knees
    wrapped around a limb.
    See, this is how bats live,
    he told me. He was six;
    I was four. He showed
    his sophistication by
    climbing trees and displaying
    his knowledge of the world.
    Then he fell on his head.
    His collar bone broke,
    but he would not cry.
    His stoic whimper
    impressed me more
    than all his knowledge.

  16. Azma

    LITTLE BIG INSPIRATION

    When my chores climb like mountains over clouds
    when time slips like sand from clenched fists
    when tensions circle like vultures over a dying rat
    I think of my son whose tiny hands within minutes
    turns the whole house upside down
    and then
    I bounce back

  17. gmagrady

    The Friendly Lounge

    a corner counter and a stool

    that’s all it took, really, just
    a corner counter and a stool

    and the decadent, local brew—
    that’s all it took, really, just
    a corner counter and a stool

    and no matter the talented barista (my name they always knew)
    or the decadent, local brew—
    that’s all it took, really, just
    a corner counter and a stool

    and the music themed walls, background sounds, books to view
    and no matter the talented barista (my name they always knew)
    or the decadent, local brew—
    that’s all it took, really, just
    a corner counter and a stool

    and the patrons’ charm and chatter over a sip or two
    and the music themed walls, background sounds, books to view,
    and no matter the talented barista (my name they always knew)
    or the decadent, local brew—
    that’s all it took, really, just
    a corner counter and a stool

    What they say about this place is true.
    “You are a stranger here but once,” because of the interesting crew
    and the patrons’ charm and chatter over a sip or two
    and the music themed walls, background sounds, books to view,
    and no matter the talented barista (my name they always knew)
    or the decadent, local brew—
    that’s all it took, really, just
    a corner counter and a stool

    where “You are a stranger here but once”
    at the Friendly Lounge. Cheers to you!

  18. Dennis W

    I Find Myself Home

    I find myself home from a trip to home.
    Seventeen hours there, seventeen back again.
    Stay three days between four alone.

    Highways, restaurants, motels, forever I roam.
    Driving leaves me stiff with some small pain.
    I find myself home from a trip to home.

    I walk to loose stiffness and softly moan.
    Moving yet not moving I sense remains.
    Stay three days between four alone.

    I get pictures of the wedding. Like poems
    They are as clean as a face washed in rain.
    I find myself home from a trip to home.

    I find reason in what I sense as known.
    Simple truth is now just simply plain
    Stay three days between four alone.

    Alone is where poets find a poem.
    Staying is where love and life will remain.
    I find myself home from a trip to home.
    Stay three days between four alone.

    August 15, 2014

    1. Dennis W

      Thank you for your comments. We can have more than one home and in that sense have double meaning for the word. There is also the double sense of the traveler who lives with others in the world, yet is a poet considering Goethe’s notion of isolation as essential in creating poetry. I like the villanelle for content that tends to expand.

  19. RuthieShev

    Upside Down Dolly Silly Poem

    I dropped my little dolly and her head broke off
    My sister sewed it back on for me
    But when I looked her head was upside down
    And I had to stand on my head to see.

    I tried to feed my dolly but she couldn’t eat
    Unless I turned every upside down
    So I fed her standing on my head
    Will the bowl turned completely around.

    I finally got an idea and ran to the fridge
    Got ingredients and started to bake
    A cake so my dolly could it right side up
    Since it was a pineapple upside down cake.

    By Ruth Crowell Shevock

  20. Amaria

    If
    I
    only
    had loved you
    in the summer sun
    I would not cry so in autumn
    but before my eyes the leaves changed
    as you departed
    my flowers
    are now
    past
    bloom

  21. Caren

    All Wrong

    My father sighed as he pushed
    My wheelchair, “It’s not supposed
    To be like this. You should be
    Pushing me.” We both chuckled,
    Still feeling inside that this
    Was all wrong, all upside down.

    Caren E. Salas

      1. RuthieShev

        I really like this. I know people who say that when their children pass before them it is upside down or backwards and this is kind of the same idea. Great job I think.

  22. Sara McNulty

    Italian Restaurant

    Espresso, Italian cheesecake
    baked on the premises, a beginning
    of luscious tastes
    to start our empty canvas.

    Entrées arrive, forks and knives
    click and chime. With background
    of operatic splendor,
    colors sweep our canvas.

    We dine, we sip, our laughter
    echoes and mixes with that
    of other diners.
    A signature is all that remains.

    Sated, elated, we cannot conceive
    of Caesar salad and seeded bread.
    We decline the offer leaving
    an unfinished canvas.

  23. Cameron Steele

    Drop Out

    Are you there, God? Or did
    you leave when I started grad school
    nothing worse than a smart fool

    who thinks she isn’t. I didn’t
    but I’d trade a bible for a poetic rule
    didn’t say prayers, god, didn’t
    even care if you left before grade school.

    Can’t say what changed, got rid
    of a bad heart, a good drink, a little cool,
    really just another girl with a ruler
    to my head and a question for God: Did
    you leave long before the school
    day started or worse: Before the fool got smarter?

    I wrote this and posted it on the Madrigal challenge page today, but thought I’d share here too since this prompt helped inspire it. Hope all of you are well! Start my fully funded position as a masters student in poetry next week and am FREAKING OUT but so excited. thanks to all of you who’ve encouraged me along over the years.

    <3 Cameron

  24. millet

    sand

    she had no choice
    but to brush that dream away
    yet the desire taunted her
    nagging, lingering

    like the sand of summer that
    emerges somehow in December
    a few grains not willing
    to let go

  25. LeeAnne Ellyett

    Upside Down UNFUN

    My world is upside down,
    inside out, all about,
    changes inside, changes outside,
    my eyes wide,

    I turn the page, another day,
    do I go, do I stay,
    I want to fly into the sky,
    spread my wings like a butterfly,

    A world away, a new life to start,
    But, then we would be apart,
    You want things to remain…the same,
    which is making me insane,

    Time to settle my mind,
    Turn things right-side-up,
    fill my Dixie cup,
    toast new beginnings.

  26. LeeAnne Ellyett

    Upside Down FUN

    Out to play,
    it’s a new day,
    summer sun,
    the fun has begun,

    Out with friends,
    like bookends,
    age seven,
    more like eleven,

    Out at the playground,
    silly but sound,
    On the merry-go-
    spinning round and round,

    Out on the swings,
    you give me wings,
    another push,
    swoosh, swoosh,

    Out go my arms,
    Out go my legs,
    Hair in the sand,
    Head upside down,
    Playground Clown.

  27. candy

    Slip Sliding

    I thought I was up but I’m not
    Once again with Ma nature I fought
    Looks like gravity won
    With ice skating I’m done
    You can find me inside till it’s hot

  28. De Jackson

    Laugh, Little Dog, Laugh.

    This upside-down world is fleeting,
    bleeding through its own bright starry

    skin, and we have fiddled around long
    enough. You’re made of stronger stuff

    than change and fleeing spoons and moons
    worth leaping. Such sights you’ll see, as

    you make your way over this diddling dish
    -eveled blip. If you catch me on the flip side,

                                              come say Hey.

    .

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