Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 302

April alert: Prompts are set for all 30 days, and I’m starting to pair up guest judges with prompts. Speaking of guest judges, a few more have been added since last week; check them out here.

For this week’s prompt, we’re going to write an ekphrastic poem using one of the images below.

Image #1: “Apple of My Eye,” by Andrea Kowch

Apple of My Eye, by Andrea Kowch

“Apple of My Eye,” by Andrea Kowch

 

Image #2: La Spezia, Italy

La Spezia, Italy

La Spezia, Italy

 

Image #3: Mt. Hermon Fire

Mount Hermon Fire

Mount Hermon Fire

 

Image #4: “The Amazing Race 3,” by Leah Sauhnier The Painting Maniac

"The Amazing Race 3," by Leah Sauhnier The Painting Maniac

“The Amazing Race 3,” by Leah Sauhnier The Painting Maniac

*****

Creating_Poetry_Self_PromptsLearn how to self-prompt your poetry!

Avoid running into writer’s block by figuring out how to continually self-prompt poems on your own. Whether it’s digging into personal memories or playing with poetic forms, there are so many ways poets can continually prompt themselves to write even when it seems there’s nothing new to write.

Click to continue.

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Here’s my attempt at an Ekphrastic Poem:

“these senseless acts of conquest”
-after “The Amazing Race 3,” by Leah Sauhnier The Painting Maniac

we knew there was danger
but we carried our fruit to you

through the sky we flew
as if we were floating

& then you took it
asking for more

*****

roberttwitterimageRobert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community, which means he maintains this blog, edits a couple Market Books (Poet’s Market and Writer’s Market), writes a poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine, leads online education, speaks around the country on publishing and poetry, and a lot of other fun writing-related stuff.

He’s a big fan of painting and photography. He’s also the author of Solving the World’s Problems.

Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.

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244 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 302

  1. Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    (Image #1: “Apple of My Eye,” by Andrea Kowch)

    A Pic is Worth a Thousand Pixels
    by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

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  2. Xairos

    On Seeing an Old News Photo Online

    “Spectators watch both the annual Mt. Hermon-Deerfield Academy football game and the science building fire at Mount Hermon School in Massachusette; the school lost both.” –New York Journal American

    1

    Hey! That’s my history!
    I was there — or was I? Near-by, at least.

    The Internet spreads the news even if it is old news,
    even when they change the story.

    Saturday before Thanksgiving, the big game:
    dates from Northfield, townies, faculty families,
    parents, alums, all here for Deerfield week-end,
    for Hermon’s two-year win streak.

    Old Silliman Hall, ancient science building,
    starts oozing smoke from the roof
    as players chase each other on the football field,
    a telephoto-lens distance away.

    Like a quarter-back scramble,
    firefighters arrive, check inside the building.
    Fire trucks, hoses,
    need room to overtake the flames,
    no sightseers underfoot or squirting between trucks.
    Tell the curious
    and tell any professors worried about class notes,
    model skeletons, lab books to grade:
    keep your distance — if you aren’t trained,
    stay the hell out of the way.

    A few Deerfield fans, in the fire-side bleachers
    though not so close as it looks,
    turn their backs on the game,
    eyeing the fire, maybe even a little glad
    of a warm breeze on a raw day.
    Across the playing field, Hermon fans
    spread across the hillside
    watch football game and fire
    like a split-scene TV.

    2

    We were the girls’ school
    at the game with dates
    or just because it was a big-deal game.
    Or home across the river
    shampooing, ironing a dress,
    wishing we had a date
    or not.

    We had no football at our school,
    not American football,
    only boys played that.
    We played soccer, field hockey, lacrosse.
    but no downs, no first and inches.
    Maybe some book designated football
    as not safe for a girl’s body,
    even though any sport that is not
    safe enough for girls is not
    safe enough for anyone

    When we were younger
    my neighbors and I ignored the foolishness,
    played football in a friend’s yard.
    A tall boy chipped his tooth when I tackled him.
    (Or did some ego chip in my personal memory slot
    add that part?)

    Another day, another season, playing in the same yard,
    I really did break my neighbors’ upstairs window —
    a storm-window pane and the regular pane behind it.
    The ball landed in the bedroom.
    Only problem was it was foul,
    so we couldn’t score on it.
    Plus my friend told me her father
    would kill me
    when he came home and found out.
    So I ran down their long lane
    and down the road between the pasture and the corn field,
    and in our drive and down into the cellar.
    And I stayed there in the dark
    at the bottom of the stairs
    until the phone rang and my mother answered it
    and then she told me I had to take it.
    I fessed up — I said I’d pay for it,
    I’d help fix it, just don’t kill me.
    He tried to act mad, but I guess he was surprised
    I was strong enough to put that much on the ball,
    even if it did go sideways
    instead of beyond the outfield.
    (I think he liked strong women
    when he wasn’t fighting with them).
    I don’t remember what we agreed to,
    or if I did it.
    But I’ll bet he and his daughter and I
    all tell a different story about it —
    that is, if they even remember it.

    3
    Memory is so strange:
    was I at the game that day —
    or wasn’t I?
    It’s been 50 years.

    Jane would know if I was there
    if I could remember her email
    and didn’t owe her a few years of letters.
    Maybe she would.

    The reporter remembered he was
    in the middle of the fighting
    but everyone else says he was only on the edge:
    everyone tells you about it,
    you look at all the footage,
    you feel emotions rising off combatants
    like steam soaking into your pores.

    Does my brain know if I was really at that game?
    Did it ever catch a difference between
    the seeing hearing whistles sirens,
    the touching, the smelling of charred science,
    the feel of my legs moving along the hill
    talking with folks on that particular day
    apart from other fires I have seen, started
    in the fire circle, the trash burner,
    the sense of sitting on the planks set along the hill,
    of rising as we realized it was not steam
    lifting from Silliman?

    Or did it create sensations as I listened
    to dorm-mates who had been there?
    Did their words transfer to my eyes
    the other games I’d watched,
    did the images leap forward in memory,
    fasten themselves to that one day
    when the action changed?
    Along with all the pictures for the Hermonite
    and the yearbook, mixed with
    the accounts of everyone coming back from the game?

    When my mother and my sisters remember our stories,
    theirs seem to come from different books than mine.

    4

    Funny how some memories
    you can’t quite remember
    if they started as your own
    or someone else’s,
    but others you know.

    The game’s all faded,
    a blur of loss and defeat and unreality,
    Silliman ruined and Cutler,
    the building that replaced it,
    has been replaced
    but 1 memory
    has stayed clear:
    there were no newspaper pictures
    no blogs telling the story wrong
    just a few of us to remember
    where we went
    on another fall day two years later,
    the Deerfield Weekend still a couple months off.

    I was one of the girls slipping out
    of our teacher’s station wagon
    that first morning of our new class
    under the eyes of every Hermonite who had
    or could borrow or share a window
    looking towards Cutler:
    the first girls taking a science class
    with the boys,
    part of studying to join the two schools.
    Trying to ignore the peering faces
    but hoping we looked good —
    we knew we were smart enough —
    we walked into the new science building,
    the new school year.

    Maybe we
    were the point of no return.

        1. Xairos

          Thanks, PressOn and Doakley for your responses.

          The older I get, the more I find memory less reliable than I once thought it was. And the Internet, like all media, has lots of misinformation. Some of it is just part of being finite creatures, I suppose. I’m also becoming aware that my memories sometimes seem to get “automatic updates” — they are revised to fit today’s world. Which means sometimes I catch anachronisms in them.

  3. Shennon

    (Image #2 – La Spezia, Italy)

    From the neighboring cliffs
    Gazing on La Spezia
    I contemplate the historic city
    Wondering what you were
    thinking about
    The last time you were here.

    Would you have changed
    your mind
    Had you known I was watching?
    My third story window facing south
    Lent perfect view to your figure
    Standing forlornly on the
    craggy mountainside
    With apparently more on
    your mind
    than the “pittoresque” view.

    I reached up my hand,
    as if to caress your face
    from a distance, then
    my jaw dropped in a silent
    scream as your body pitched
    forward and downward.

    –ShennonDoah

    1. Xairos

      You have me reading & rereading, wondering if the relationship between the 2 is anything more than viewer & viewed — the lines “Would you …watching?” and “I reached…distance” make me think maybe there was something more, but maybe the “I” was just responding to the forlorn quality. I don’t need to know, though. It suggests to me links that are made between people, even when they don’t know each other, how we may affect others or be affected.

      1. Shennon

        In my mind there was something between them, but I like your thoughts on how 2 people could be linked by an action, and actually not know each other.

  4. ReathaThomasOakley

    La Spezia questions

    How did they,
    the women and men,
    before time was counted,
    come to this place
    where the rock
    springs from the sea?

    How did they,
    the women and men,
    know the perfect colors
    to paint the houses they built
    on the rock
    that springs from the sea?

    How did they,
    the women and men,
    teach their children to run
    straight on streets that twist
    over the rock
    that springs from the sea?

    I have no answers,
    only three questions
    as I consider
    the town I’ll never see,
    that springs from the rock
    that springs from the sea.

    1. Xairos

      Somehow this reminds me of change ringing — repeating a pattern with small variations which make it pleasing & interesting rather than monotonous, & convey a kind of timelessness. I especially like “How… that twist.”

  5. tunesmiff

    ESPNFD
    (A haiku after “Mt. Hermon Fire”)
    G. Smith
    :-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:
    What rages hotter?
    The flames of the burning house,
    or the losing coach?

  6. tunesmiff

    APPLE PI
    G. Smith
    ———-
    She worked all
    day
    without pause just
    to
    make your just desserts.

    (A ” pi-tanks – 5 lines of 3/1/4/1/5 syllavles; after“Apple of My Eye,” by Andrea Kowch)

  7. Ann M

    On the Boat

    If you look down
    at the boat in the harbor
    you will see me.
    I am leaving and won’t be back.
    No more aching ankles
    and gasping breath
    just to get from point A
    to point B on cliff-side
    streets of slippery stone.
    No more soupy fogs
    and blistering August suns.
    No more seeing my face
    on the faces of every cousin,
    niece, and great-aunt
    (those are the worst
    for they tell me what I will become).
    No more of this place,
    with views so wide that
    once when I was a child
    I saw the coast of Africa
    as clearly as my own hands;
    with winds so strong
    they whistle deep inside my heart.
    This is a place that teeters
    on the edge of sky and sea,
    balanced so precariously
    on salt-whipped rock
    it is only waiting to fall
    and to bring me crashing with it.
    I am leaving and won’t be back.
    I’m on the boat in the harbor.
    You will see me if you look down.

    1. PressOn

      For me, the last line makes this poem. The thrust of the image invites looking up toward something monumental and perhaps unattainable, whilst this poem and its finish suggest there’s more to living than that. Mervellous.

  8. Amaria

    “Apple of My Eye”

    It was the smell
    of granny smith apples
    that lured them to the window
    where she placed her trophy –
    a luscious pie – its aroma
    teasing their mouths

  9. Amaria

    She slaved over apples, flour
    and rolling pins, to make
    a special treat for her love
    as she waited the hours passed,
    and yet he did not come home
    she pondered her life
    and her love for a man
    who seemed to care more
    about other things, than her
    apple pie
    She waited for him
    to come through the door
    to give him a piece of her mind

    1. tunesmiff

      If I may, a haiku (that also feels a bit like one of Solomon’s proverbial Proverbs), inspired by your poem…

      A piece of pie or
      a piece of her mind; one’s sweet,
      the other is bitter.

      1. tunesmiff

        Actually I should’ve contracted “other is” as “other’s” as much for syllabics as parallelism…

        Maybe too much madness in my March…

  10. RebekahJ

    I sometimes get more inspired if there are more constraints. So I decided to do this one as a tanka (five lines of syllable count 5/7/5/7/7) and a lipogram (a poem that avoids a letter or letters) without the letter “e” (which is the most common in English). Here is the result.

    Mama’s Italia

    A coast I long for
    Brilliant in my night-visions
    Of pink clay, cliffs, foam;
    But no stamp marks my passport
    With four kids, I cannot roam

  11. Bruce Niedt

    Mount Hermon Football Fire, 1965

    The game went on despite the conflagration
    behind the bleachers. While Mt. Hermon tried
    to hold back visitor Deerfield with a straight,
    hard wall of players at the line of scrimmage,
    the firemen tried to hold back the blaze
    licking through the roof of Silliman Hall
    with long arcs of water. Still, most of the fans
    in the stands watched the progress of the game,
    while a few turned their backs from time to time
    to note the progress of the fire. Perhaps there was
    a fringe benefit in the warmth of the blaze
    on that chilly November afternoon. In the end,
    Mount Hermon lost both the building and the game.
    But it was a rare opportunity to be able to watch
    either of two spectacles simply by turning around
    one hundred and eighty degrees.

  12. taylor graham

    A DREAM?

    Look! Choppers flying in formation
    over the desert floor, through sawtooth gaps
    between black cinder cones. Even in this season,
    just after dawn, the sun is lethal.
    One chopper to our left at 10 o’clock, one
    to our right at 2, more coming from the north,
    staggered like birds in flight, a dance
    with high-desert clouds. From each uniform-
    drab chopper, a cable’s hooked to a beautiful fruit
    gold as paradise, each chopper a bird of pray-
    for-peace, rescue under sky of clouds and flocks,
    the hazards of weather over bare desert
    on a spinning globe, sun and wind
    moving toward their imagined horizons.

  13. LeeAnne Ellyett

    Apple of my eye,
    blackbirds fly,
    Medusa hair,

    Le Spezia, Italy,
    peace and tranquility,
    stacked on a cliff,

    Final football game,
    Science building in flames,
    Mt. Hermon fire,

    To drop apples from the sky,
    a painting maniac, to fly,
    the Amazing Race #3.

  14. PeanuttyO

    In response to Apple of My Eye

    The Glass

    It is quiet now, only the sounds of startled breath
    The glass lies quietly upon the grass

    Shining in the sunlight
    An impression of diamonds from rain
    It is dark inside
    You cannot see the tears or the pain

    Urgently she gathers her children
    Whispering quiety in their ears
    It is okay my darlings
    Mother is here

    She tucks them in bed
    With a light kiss and a prayer
    Hoping they won’t hear
    The words on the stairs

    Days pass and the galss is replaced
    Only its shards left piercing hearts
    Grief and sorrow fill its space

    Years pass and the glass is replaced again
    For the hearts that broke it
    Bring the sadness to an end

    Forgiveness and grief, mourning years gone by
    Gratitude and relief for the love yet to try

    This glass has no lines or ripples or cracks
    This glass is now whole, the children in tact

    It’s true my darlings
    Mother was near
    As an angel she whispers into our ear

    Glass cannot break you my dears
    Look closely upon it
    And through it you will see
    You are whole again
    This special family, all three

    My love goes with you
    Put your hands upon the glass
    My love goes with you
    Let go of the past

  15. Jane Shlensky

    Scratch

    She cannot care how hard he works;
    he’s in a suit, inside and cool.
    His coffee steams and warms his hands.
    He’s working up an appetite.

    But she can’t care how hard he works
    since she’s adrift in apple day,
    picking the apples, ripe and lush,
    until her back aches in a throb.

    She hefts the baskets, takes them home.
    She doesn’t stop to brush her hair.
    No time for lunch. She will prepare
    some extra pies for school and church

    and one for him, to make him smile.
    Her peelings hang like curly ropes
    from apple gold; the cores and peels
    she gives to cows and watches crows

    descend and carry them away.
    She makes a kind of game of work
    to take her mind off newer pains,
    then slices fruit and starts the crusts,

    her pans lined up assembly style,
    sugar and butter, cinnamon
    are fragrant as a melody,
    a love song made of apple pie.

    She hardly knows the day has passed;
    she’s sweaty, fingers apple stained,
    the pies are baking, window cooled
    when in he walks, sniffing the air,

    and balks seeing her thunder hair.
    He wonders why she’s so undone
    when there’s no dinner, none at all.
    It takes all day to make dessert?

    She wears a look of don’t-you-dare
    he recognizes right away.
    He better focus on the pie
    for him, the apple of her eye.

    (after Apple of My Eye, Andrea Kowch)

    1. PressOn

      For me, this mixes superb storytelling with commentary on the relationship involved between the two. I especially love “a love song made of apple pie.”

  16. PeanuttyO

    I decided to edit mine, more came to me 🙂 For: La Spezia picture

    Sapphire blue turns to white
    As waves greet rocks of black
    Bella notte, the waves promise, a beautiful night
    While the road rises to meet me, and welcome me back

    Boats rock gently upon your sea
    The clouds turning pink now
    Lazily floating above me
    Homes of orange and yellow and red
    Stones of black and white and grey
    Are perched upon the hillside
    As smartly as the hat upon my head

    I gaze upon your wonder and inhale the air of the sea
    I start of the path, breathing calmly as my mind begins to ease
    For I am already wrapped in your warmth and charm
    You have already embraced me as tightly as the hillside embraces thee

    Ciao La Spezia!
    Your beauty and charm I have missed
    Bella note La Spezia!
    A beautiful night upon my eyes you have kissed.

  17. PeanuttyO

    I decided to edit mine, more came to me 🙂 For: La Spezia picture

    Sapphire blue turns to white
    As waves greet rocks of black
    Bella notte, the waves promise, a beautiful night
    While the road rises to meet me, and welcome me back

    Boats rock gently upon your sea
    The clouds turning pink now
    Lazily floating above me
    Homes of orange and yellow and red
    Stones of black and white and grey
    Are perched upon the hillside
    As smartly as the hat upon my head

    I gaze upon your wonder and inhale the air of the sea
    I start of the path, breathing calmly as my mind begins to ease
    For I am already wrapped in your warmth and charm
    You have already embraced me as tightly as the hillside embraces thee

    Ciao La Spezia!
    Your beauty and charm I have missed
    Bella note La Spezia!

  18. taylor graham

    WILD FIRE

    Summer is open season on smokes
    here – lightning strikes in the mountains,
    plumes building to pyrocumulus.
    On the plains wasted by drought, burned
    crisp by sun, summer’s a pattern of clouds
    passing over to no purpose but taunting
    us with shadows passing across, horizon
    to horizon, like a wish for rain.
    But we never thought to see that great
    old house go up so brilliantly in flames –
    house that stood watch over travelers
    in the old stage-stop days – eyes
    peering out from behind heirloom-lace
    curtains. Abandoned long ago, façade
    crumbling – who could keep the homeless
    from sheltering there? warming
    hands over a stick-fire; smoke chimneying
    up through holes in the falling roof.
    When it caught, it amazed the night sky.

  19. PowerUnit

    Dragonflies, love my pies
    Green apple is their favorite.
    Incoming waves on tidal breezes
    It’s a fair trade, a beneficial agreement.
    A pie a day is not too much to ask
    For the destruction of mosquitoes
    A pie a day is payment enough, dessert
    To reward removal of loneliness.

    Crows do not like my pies
    But crows do not eat mosquitoes.
    Crows like to chase my dragonfly, friends
    Bobbing and hopping, creating chaos
    In my eyes and in my pies.
    If they would stay out of my hair, my pies
    Would have a chance to rise
    I throw the bad apples at the crows.

    *missed Wed. due to both excessive snow and visiting with local writer in residence, poet Jaremy Dodds. A good week 😉

    1. seingraham

      I just noticed your comment below your poem (which is excellent incidentally) and wanted to say how much I enjoy Jeramy’s work…he was a featured guest at the Edmonton Poetry festival several years ago and I remember meeting him and Matthew Tierney and them telling me about travelling across Canada by train … I think both of them are superb poets. Would you mind me asking where you live? I’ve kind of last track of Jeramy and don’t know where he’s writer-in-residence now (I’m just curious)…I know he’s from Orono, but don’t know if he’s stayed in that area or not.

  20. Caitix

    Blue Skies

    Fruit flies flying overhead
    She’ll be apples above the ground
    With cherry bombs
    And words best
    Unsaid
    Exploding all around
    Blue high skies
    And fragrant sounds
    Swirling though the air
    The pilots dream
    No others know
    Fly free
    Without a care

  21. seingraham

    OF GAMES AND FIRES

    It wasn’t until afterwards, looking at the newspaper photos
    that anyone realized that what had gone on
    Most of them only recalled the excitement of the game
    — the cheering on the sidelines, all the people

    Even the firemen had been distracted, not noticed the child,
    the little girl standing against the window
    She must’ve crept up to the attic in all the confusion —
    When everyone thought the building was empty as it was burning
    to the ground…

    But there she was clear as ice in scotch – a toddler – pressed
    against the dormer window in the attic
    On the front page of the Monday morning edition of the paper
    At first no-one noticed even then, but once someone did…

    SIGNS OF BIRDS

    And she could tell herself all was well
    as long as she kept up
    Made the beds, swept the floors,
    even as she did the baking
    and making an apple pie was her specialty

    But when the birds came, she knew it was over
    Black birds were always a bad sign
    No matter how hard she tried to ignore them,
    pretend she didn’t see them, she knew
    the longer she let it go,
    the worst things would get… the larger the flock
    would become.

    She remembered the carnage from last time
    when they started to fling themselves
    at the window
    She knew she wouldn’t be able to stand that again,
    wiped her hands on her apron,
    prepared to go out to greet them, the birds.

    OH WHAT A DAY IT WAS…

    Incoming! Incoming! And instead of diving for cover
    the children run outside with hands reaching to the sky
    Mothers hold their aprons spread wide hoping
    to catch some of the bounty wondering
    if an apple a day might keep the bombers away.

    LA SPEZIA, ITALY

    A little-known piece of heaven – one of the Cinqueterra towns in Italy,
    one that has been spared the recent mudslides
    Its houses perch above the sea like a crowd of exotic birds bleaching
    and basking in the sun
    There’s only one road in and out…and few hotels…it’s magical.

  22. Doakley

    The Apple of my Evil Eye

    The onyx black crows premeditating
    a murder before they attack,
    an opened hornets’ nest spawning
    deadly winged warriors of yellow and black,
    curtains flapping wildly into the room
    when they should have been slack,
    her hair all snarly and awry, like she
    swiveled her head around to the back,
    a kitchen knife on the table,
    with which to hack,
    a heavy wooden rolling pin,
    a bludgeon, if she has the knack,
    a wasp on her arm, no bother at all,
    blood oozing from a green apple, left from a snack,
    “Granny Smith meets the Exorcist”
    may be written on this picture’s back.

  23. Walt Wojtanik

    The Orchard Air Corp does its part through patriotic duty,
    Fruity fantasy suspended, magic apples right on schedule
    to be delivered to the enchanted and the wicked ones.

    Silo for Image #4: “The Amazing Race 3,” by Leah Sauhnier The Painting Maniac

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