Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 277

How appropriate that today’s post took a while to get on the site. I had already planned on providing an update on the 2014 April PAD Challenge results. They’re coming, and I hope to have a final list in the next 10-14 days. Fingers crossed.

For today’s prompt, write a malfunction poem. Yes, I changed today’s originally planned prompt to fit today’s circumstances. Sometimes you just gotta have that kind of flexibility. However, not everyone handles malfunction the same: some roll with the punches, some throw punches, some throw fits, some quit, some try again, and so on. Plus, there’s any number of malfunctions out there: wardrobe malfunctions, mechanical malfunctions, and heck, I think many of my poems suffer a malfunction or three. Let’s get at it.


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Here’s my attempt at a Malfunction Poem:

“My Robot Brain”

“It’s not fair,” he says as he tosses
one more toy away. “None of them work.”

And I can’t help but quip, “Toys don’t work;
they play,” to which he merely tosses

an angry look my way. He tosses
another down and frowns, “Make it work.”

So I pick it up, say, “I can’t work;
I play.” My robot brain, he tosses.


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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269 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 277

  1. mjsmith

    Ford for Now

    After a winter in California rain
    the 54 Ford truck, given up for dead,
    has returned to life, or something.
    Transmigrated from metal to mammal,
    it lives in a field of rising grasses
    grazing perhaps, on foxtail and
    mustard flowers, its toothy grill deep
    in the green spring salad.
    Or maybe she’s a mama to mice
    that slip like grey shadows
    through cottony cushion spillage.
    The step-side bed, rusty but sound
    holds a rainwater pool, stringy
    with moss, speckled with mosquito wrigglers
    and croaking with frogs at night.
    Rod thrown, block cracked, a Detroit derelict,
    another junked jack on the metal mountain,
    its dragging days are over.
    But something else has begun
    and the journey, if uncertain, is alive.

  2. taylor graham


    In front of the vacant storefront all day
    with a one-handed guitar he glides
    from one vintage song to another.
    What’s wrong with his other hand?
    Does he implore the passing tribute
    of a sigh from shoppers between dollar
    store and ATM? Their conscience
    is in their pockets. That one studies
    fine-print with a magnifying glass.
    I saw a crippled gosling gone astray
    on sidewalk, but it never sang so sad.

  3. BDP

    “Malfunctions: Señor One Hand”

    The nickname of his choosing helps his brood.
    They roughhouse, balance on his forearm stub,
    he pushes up, a dad-made altitude,
    they bounce back to the bed. But here’s the rub:

    the more they play, the more he sees the hub
    of war, he’s in the blast end-zone, his left
    hand spinning as he watches. Finger nubs,
    palm open, bid him follow. Motion etched,

    the rest of him unharmed. A tourniquet—
    bandana, use the other wrist. He’s trained,
    so freezes there until his eyes have swept
    for further IEDs. The rock terrain

    blurs into severed fists, they move about.
    He jumps: kids incoming, bombs screeching, shouts.

    –Barb Peters

    1. TomNeal

      “Small Knots of Global News”
      “Malfunctions: Señor One Hand”

      Ezra Pound is known for his counsel to “make it new, and your contemporary sonnets (over the past several weeks) do just that. Your use of parallel narratives and multiple voltas discover a deep unity beneath a surface fragmentation.

      I look forward to reading an extended sonnet sequence.

        1. BDP

          TomNeal, thanks so much for your comments. These days, my mind seems to think in sonnets, so I ask myself, why not keep writing and honing them? That you look forward to reading more of them gives me encouragement, and I appreciate that.

  4. tunesmiff

    Preventative Maintenance
    G. Smith
    Despite my efforts,
    the wheels come off. It’s always
    something we don’t see.


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