Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 280

Before we get into today’s prompt, be sure to check out my first year as a traditionally published poetry author. In the post, I share things that I think I did right, missed opportunities, and what I’m doing now. Click to continue.

For today’s prompt, take the phrase “Hold (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible titles include: “Hold the Mayo,” “Hold That Thought,” or “Hold on a Minute.” Anything you can or wish you could hold is fair game. Go hold something or someone.

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The early bird deadline is October 1 and costs $15 for the first poem, $10 for each additional poem. Enter as often as you’d like.

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Here’s my attempt at a Hold Blank poem:

“Hold Out”

for that next kiss, that sweet
bliss, from my pure missus
me and her, sure that we’re
almost where we need be
……..celestial bodies……..
both of us in orbit.

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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.

He believes in muses, kisses, and bumblebees. While he loves writing about a variety of topics and events, he really enjoys a good love poem, which might be why he’s such a Pablo Neruda fan. Robert is married to the poet Tammy Foster Brewer, who helps him keep track of their five little poets.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

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300 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 280

  1. rlhodges

    Hold Hands

    even when the body is cold
    or the flesh is weak or the
    purpose seems lost in the litter of years hold hands when
    day seems no different than night when the heart can’t
    skip a beat when the news crashes like violent surf against the
    shore of faith hold hands even when the view is as confusing
    as unmerited pain even when there is more past than future
    more dark epiphany than ray of light even then hold hands
    when the one beside you is still beside you though the
    causes are vague and the sentence unsure even then.

  2. Jolly2

    HOLD THE MUTE BUTTON
    by John Yeo

    Many passengers sharing a long-haul flight across the globe.
    Transcontinental,
    A darkened atmosphere.
    Day turned into night.

    An undercurrent of sound.
    A babble,
    A torrent of voices in a vacuum.
    What is under discussion.

    A flood of unidentified thought,
    Mostly inconsequential,
    Minds deprived.
    Stimulus provided by a small screen in front of the eyes.

    To a highly gifted sensitive mind,
    Deprived of sensory stimulus,
    Are these telepathic thoughts, voiced?
    Or are they vocalised undercurrents?

    Sitting in a cramped row of seats
    In front of an illuminated screen,
    Time drags on.
    The sound continues unabated.
    Sound delivered through a headset.

    UNIDENTIFIABLE~~~~~~~

    Copyright (c) Written by John Yeo, All rights reserved.

    1. BDP

      John: You capture the noise of plane travel well! And the sense of time and space accompanying the noise. Your poem makes me think of strategies for flying. There’s no universal mute button, alas, so ear plugs, try not to spread out too much, and count time by how many movies I watch.

  3. victoriahunter

    Preparing to Write A Poem

    At this moment, I have really cold feet
    and stacks of black American poetry by my side,
    It’s poetry that speaks right to me, like my mother do,
    with sharp shooting eyes, and power hitting statements, aiming for my heart.
    It’s the kind that breaks open an old womb, or puts you in another place,
    On the table, is a fresh cup of green tea, smoking from the mouth, and growing impatient.
    I wrap my hands around its hard brown body, as if it’s mine, but when it was younger,
    I breath it in and bring it closer, til I don’t need to anymore,
    I consume it and care for it, til I can’t anymore, not even with more sugar,
    just like I do with love, my first love,
    poetry, poetry, poetry.

    Victoria Hunter
    had trouble trying to figure out how to punctuate the poem:0(

    1. victoriahunter

      (Made it tighter and edited the poem.
      Edited:

      Preparing to Write a Poem.

      At this moment, I have really cold feet
      There are stacks of black American poetry by my side,
      It’s poetry that speaks right to me, like my mother do,
      with sharp shooting eyes, and power hitting statements, aiming for my heart.
      On the table, is a fresh cup of green tea, smoking from the mouth, and growing impatient.
      I wrap my hands around its hard brown body, as if it’s mine, but when it was younger,
      I breath it in and bring it closer, til I don’t need to anymore,
      I consume it and care for it, til I can’t anymore,
      just like I do with love, my first love,
      poetry, poetry, poetry.

      1. BDP

        Victoria: I’m a person who edits and then edits again, so I appreciate you going back over your poem and making it tighter, as you say. But I like the first version, and love the “not even with more sugar” phrase. The “old womb” line is good, too, and I think you should keep it in its entirety. The first version has a verve to it with those edited-out lines still in. One thought: I mistakenly read the third line (in both versions) as “It’s poetry that sneaks right to me, like my mother do.” Sneaks instead of speaks. I’m partial to sneaks because it seems to fit into your poem somehow. Barb

        1. victoriahunter

          thank you so VERY much. I will keep the first write and consider that word “sneak” I can really see how that fits. Thank you so very much and for reading. Keep the critique coming:0).

  4. BDP

    I’ve been trying to shake myself from metrical/rhyming forms and into writing free verse. I like the Wallace Stevens poem called “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” so I used his structure, and the same amount of lines, and even a few of his phrases, but tried to change meaning in each of the stanzas. This was fun, so I guess I’ve accomplished my goal. Look for the Stevens poem at poetryfoundation.org.

    * * *

    “Thirteen Ways of Holding a Crow”

    I.
    Among my day’s poems,
    the only moving things
    are free verse crows.

    II.
    A bird feeder—full.
    Next to a cranberry bush—full.
    But three single-minded crows rake the ground.

    III.
    One crow twirled and wound a spring,
    the others popped into the wind, became a small part of whirling.

    IV.
    I am one.
    My rocking chair, crow-black
    decals on my picture window and I
    are one.

    V.
    I know which I prefer—
    the crow’s declaration, no mistaking it.
    Yet I write innuendo,
    a script’s potential just after
    it’s read.

    VI.
    When winter comes,
    I’ll stare at icicles that with one twist
    stab my glass, my hand’s shadow
    more crow than hummingbird,
    a slow mood rather than
    forming puppets
    of quick wit.

    VII.
    Forget thin—Yahara River Mallards
    laugh opulent and somewhat human,
    ruling as they do the slipstreams across from my house,
    but the king is Crow, strutting around the webs
    of plump jesters out of water.

    VIII.
    I trip on accents,
    am a fool for Scottish rhythms I can’t pronounce,
    so I know, too,
    the crow’s involved in my pratfall,
    so stubborn of one inflection.

    IX.
    Prancing crows claim the bread a girl threw,
    but one picks first, the others mark the edge
    of the grand circle of his small fief.

    X.
    At the clash of crows
    on green grass
    I listen to caw-phonic meters
    and my inner voice counters with spoken music.

    XI.
    She bought herself a black Bug,
    elegant wheels to party
    in snowstorms, such a smart
    equipage, she thought,
    the only tuxedo on the unplowed road
    much like a crow in a blistering sky.

    XII.
    The mallards are paddling,
    the crow’s statue eyes move with them.

    XIII.
    Fear is evening all afternoon,
    thirteen crows of dark snow
    on cedar limbs, the branches
    dense and heavy. Fly!
    Feel light again.

    –Barb Peters

    1. drnurit

      Love the way you so creatively relied on/changed the meaning of Steven’s poem – topic, images, metaphors, allusions! In particular, “I am one…” (instead of his “a man and a woman are one”), “I know which I prefer” (rather than his “I do not know”), “I trip on accents” (rather than “I know noble accents”), “Fear is evening all afternoon” (rather than “it was evening all afternoon”). Truly impressive, Barb.

      1. BDP

        Hi, Nurit: Thanks for commenting. I wasn’t sure about this, so I’m glad the poem spoke to you. I might play with this kind of pairing again, with the starting point being someone else’s poetic style. The Stevens poem easily lent itself for this exercise, which I’m sure has been done before in the poetry world, and I just don’t know it. It’s like using a diving board, it seemed to me after doing this. You springboard off their stuff and into a pool of your own. And that’s fun. Again, thanks! Barb

        1. drnurit

          You are very welcome, Barb! Other poets’ poems seem to me like excellent prompts – an inspiration to create something that would continue a poetic chain. I loved seeing the ways you relied on/deviated from/were inspired by a fellow poet!

  5. drnurit

    Fall Morning in the Park

    By: Nurit Israeli

    On the park swing, the sweetly
    daring little girl clutches the ropes,
    her squeals of joy echoing as
    she soars back and forth.

    Nearby, my feet on the soft,
    forgiving earth, I practice letting go.
    Fall is conquering summer, and I
    fight to grasp the last bit of daylight.

    Meanwhile, the glowing sunlight
    fades over falling leaves that
    once hung from the maple trees,
    but now drift away.

  6. Cynthia Page

    Hold My Hand

    When you need acceptance,
    when you need confidence,
    when you need the strength to persevere,
    when you need sympathy,
    when you are afraid of new things,
    when you need inspiration,
    when you feel shamed,
    when you fear failure,
    when mistakes set you back,
    when cruelty makes life difficult,
    hold my hand, because you are not alone.
    When you succeed, hold my hand
    to help me follow your example.

  7. taylor graham

    HOLD FIRE

    Over the mountains, above the peaks
    storm-clouds rise like weather-castles built
    on nothing. They look like smoke,
    they don’t look like rain.
    It’s fire season in our hills, and one by one
    the mountains are burning. Flames
    ignite a thunderhead that fills with lightning
    flinted of wildfire’s own spark.
    The next green ridgetop and the next.
    The fire-falcon’s flying north and east,
    leaving harrier-trails of flaming
    canyon in the west. The sun-sphere’s red
    through smoke, the day grows dark
    as evening as we watch
    the wind and ask the flames to pass
    us by – our oak trees spared,
    the small green pond. Squirrel and fox,
    deer and cougar. We pray
    for the peace of clear blue sky.

    1. BDP

      Yes, may the fire not arrive, may you keep the clear blue sky. I feel a knot in my stomach when reading this: we once had to flee our Colorado house due to fire climbing the next ridge over. All ended well, and turns out that we didn’t live in that state long, but long enough to somewhat understand the fear of fire in the dry west. Your poem captures the anxiety, the waiting, the watching. Esp. nice: “Flames / ignite a thunderhead that fills with lightning / flinted of wildfire’s own spark.”

  8. Roxanna Watrous

    “Hold on to Victory”

    My arms vault up to hold the sky.
    They form the “V” of victory
    as I fling my head back high.

    Confetti leaves rain down their cheer.
    While nature plays its symphony,
    I hear sparrows singing clear.

    A hard trail fades beneath my feet.
    Now soft rolling emerald carpets
    reward every step they greet.

    Light’s smile is spreading over me.
    My spirit’s soaring free again—
    Let this feeling always be!

    1. BDP

      I like that poem starts with arms in a V, holding on to the sky, or as the title says, victory. There’s nothing tangibly there to hold on to, and yet you bring the joy of victory alive by using nature to help celebrate. You don’t name the victory itself (a game won, for example), though perhaps the poem alludes to nature giving a continual victory. In any case, I like the sense of joy in this.

  9. Roxanna Watrous

    “Hold on to Victory”

    My arms vault up to hold the sky.
    They form the “V” of victory
    as I fling my head back high.

    Confetti leaves rain down their cheer.
    While nature plays its symphony,
    I hear sparrows singing clear.

    A hard trail fades beneath my feet.
    Now soft rolling emerald carpets
    reward every step they greet.

    Light’s smile is spreading over me
    Once beaten down, I’m up again—
    Let this feeling always be!

  10. millet israeli

    To hold on

    The mother sits at his bedside,
    alone, clutching her prayer book.

    It’s quiet other than the rattle of his
    breath and hissing oxygen mask.

    By the window, the wife slouches
    in a chair, crumpled in fitful sleep.

    The bile seeping from his mouth
    soaks the crisp white sheet.

    “I can’t let go. He begged me to.
    But I need to hold on. He’s my son…”

    A grown man, he is still her baby.
    And she is still his mother.

    Singing an old lullaby, she strokes
    his forehead. He seems calmer.

    He dies, soothed by the songs of
    his childhood and his mother’s touch.

    We sit quietly. His wife still asleep,
    unaware. The mother takes my hand.

    “He was just here. I tried so hard to
    hold on, but he slipped away from me.”

    She holds on a bit more tightly. I stay.
    Because, after all, what else can I do?

    1. drnurit

      Though I know the details, this poem touches me deeply. The simple narrative style, describing the four characters at this holding on- letting go juncture, just says it all. Truly amazing, Millet – the images and the philosophy. I love the ending (of the poem, not of life…) Staying is doing…

    2. PKP

      As Nurit commented “staying is doing something” .. this is a starkly written poem which because of its deceptively simple lines allows the full emotion to blossom …. Beautiful – heart-wrenching work.

  11. pwiddess

    Hold onto the world

    Find a part that’s still bare
    Run your fingers through the dust
    Dig deeper as if massaging a flaky scalp
    Push through the dry skin
    And stir your hands through the warm guts within
    Submerge your wrists
    and elbows if necessary
    Until you get a firm grip
    Hold tight
    And let your legs hang down
    As you dangle from the world
    Stare deep into the heavens
    As the slow kaleidoscope
    Of days and nights turns beneath you
    Press you face to the world’s chest
    Breathe in its earthy warmth
    As it turns, jolts and shudders through space
    Hold tight
    You’ll know
    When it’s time to let go.

  12. grcran

    Hold Knot

    Hold not onto memories… Hold onto spirit
    The spirit shines truthfully. You’ll see and hear it
    (if you are prone to) And if you can handle
    The light and the flame Torching out of God’s candle
    And the tune with the chords Striking notes on the drumbeat
    Or off it. This matters. You sit on The hot seat
    So let go the dead ones As you become able
    Their houses their clothing Their food on the table
    Hold on, not to photos, But rather the essence
    Be mindful be careful To palpate the presence
    She’s thriving she’ll show you Select revelations
    Hold only the shadows Imbibe the libations
    Relinquish possessions Cede over belongings
    Let go of the diamonds Forgive all her wrongings
    And as for her mem’ries You won’t need to hold ‘em
    They’ll bless you and save you And glow, ever golden
    To hold without holding To hold and to have
    For trueblue hearts broken There’s sensible salve:
    Time. And fine friendships. Be worthy of these
    You’ll own all the memories Free as they please

    by gpr crane

      1. grcran

        the poem started out with 2 iambs per line but I wanted more… I think the capital letters serve a similar function to the function of line breaks but they make it read slightly differently, I think it works for this poem… as I edit it somewhere on down the line, I may restore some of the line breaks, hafta think on it… and thanks, William, confusing yet compelling is part of what I am after! rusty

        1. BDP

          Rusty: your experimentation with capitalization in the middle of each line contributes to the sense of knot(s), of a continual typing up of ends, with the capitalized word as the knot in the middle. (This idea riffs on your and William’s dialogue.) The entire poem has an intent of turns and twists and repetitions, all heading toward conclusion on a positive note.

          1. grcran

            and the knot which connects me to her, even after she died… this is another reason I love poetry… thank you, Barb! ;~)

  13. LeeAnne Ellyett

    Hold Your Tongue

    Bite your lip,
    to that rip,
    the words to say,
    might betray,

    Hold Your Tongue,

    Before you become,
    undone, tell them some,
    the rants ready,
    stay steady,

    Hold Your Tongue

    “If you can’t say anything nice,
    don’t say nothing at all”. *Thumper*

  14. taylor graham

    HOLD ON
    for a survivor, earthquake, Sept. 19, 1985

    Ebony blue the sky at a certain altitude
    above a gray cloud overlaying the city. The god
    of mountains’ heart – god of earthquake
    and jaguar – has returned to his chambers
    after stretching in his sleep, or sharpening his
    claws. On a sewing-table on the 4th floor
    of this factory, one glass unshattered still holds
    water floating a gray scum of concrete-dust.
    Everything has fallen apart around it.
    A jar in the wilderness, where the voices
    of how-many-seamstresses-per-story-times-15-
    stories have died in their throats. Did they
    trust in platitudes like “solid earth” beneath
    man’s foundations? Even their echoes have left.
    Only the hungry call of pigeons that walk
    a broken parapet; and the breath of a woman
    waiting under how many tons of unreinforced
    faith, the structure of her life, to come back.

  15. Meriadoc

    “Hold Your Peace”

    Hold your Peace as a gift unto the world
    Precious and unfurled
    Sacred and unchurled
    Benign

    You are a Secret Spark of Light
    Shining through the night
    Straight unto the dawn
    Flame on

  16. Dorothy's Daughter

    “Hold the dust pan”

    Hold the dust pan
    while I sweep

    bitter crumbs
    of me,
    debris,
    on the floor

    be useful
    not hurtful
    least you could
    do

    Pour them
    the jar on the shelf
    where I hide myself
    to congeal

      1. Dorothy's Daughter

        Thanks very much. I sort of had a piece of it in my mind the other day and then the writing prompt just tied up the loose ends for me. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  17. cjwpub

    CATAMARAN SUMMER

    The wind blows hard and strong across the bay,
    With September’s late afternoon force.
    Tight on point, we slice through waves into it.
    Our boat tilts sharply to the windward side,
    Lifting us skyward at so steep an angle
    That we cling to the rail and lean back
    Nearly horizontal over the water.
    Two sunburned bodies wrestle gravity
    To keep the second hull from flipping over.
    With hair tossed wild about us, the taste of salt
    On our lips, and always the thrill of sails
    Pulled taut, we tack our dual and common way
    Through this perfectly-winded afternoon.

    Cindy Woods

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