Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 315

Before we jump into this week’s prompt, I just want to take a moment to update people who are interested (quite a few, I know) in the April PAD Challenge results. I still don’t have much to report, so I don’t want to spend a whole blog post on it. However, I do hope to unveil at least some of the results on August 1. Thank you for your patience as we get there.

For today’s prompt, write an alert poem. People can be alert; they can alert others to situations; and, of course, they can put out an alert to whatever. Some alerts come with bells, whistles, and alarms; others are quiet. And alerts are not restricted to people; animals are often alert to the dangers and opportunities around them on a daily basis.


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Here’s my attempt at an Alert Poem:


i’m not always alert
to the possible words
i could have used until
after the moment has
passed but by then they’ve lost
all brilliance & value


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.

That said, Robert is also an introvert, which means he often has to think out what he’s going to say before he says it–so he struggles in small talk situations with strangers. And he’s the author of Solving the World’s Problems.

Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.


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254 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 315

  1. taylor graham


    Upper and lower jaws armed with continuously
    growing incisors – rodents, born to make scraps.

    Granite temples and boulder stairs – walk quiet
    to surprise the marmot feasting on flower scraps.

    In this drawer, a deer-mouse has made her nest
    of your old Levis – soft denim, faded blue scraps.

    A girl is stringing the bow, believing she might
    kill some critter who shreds the garden to scraps.

    Exhaust down their burrows; concentrated poison:
    ground squirrels leave trails of blue-grain scraps.

    Smoke from a burned-out village. No one lives
    here but the rats who thrive on blackened scraps.

    This poet tells the too-familiar tale of human
    against the nature of beast: what’s left is scraps.

  2. Shennon

    And the day came
    when she decided
    not to dust
    any more.

    Dishes piled
    high in the sink,
    dirty clothes strewn
    across the floor.

    flower beds,
    on the glass door.

    He finally noticed
    how much she’d done.
    Had he been more alert
    he’d have noticed before.


  3. grcran

    Bah! Toured by the Bare!

    Universe on alert! Wait… cancelled… but…
    Bothered by the bear, she dreams unsettlingly…
    Cancelling cancer chancellor along the way,
    sew that’s good, seams right, genes fit, still, she’s
    bearly bothered, bought her earring, cranes her neck
    her chief concern, out of hearing, neckerchief
    red bandana, bread band and a lurching guitar solo
    so low and sweet, knoll oh, know lo, pillow
    talk, can naked art show pulchritude and excrement
    Or even extra meant for adults only squirt the birch
    trees never poplars sever ties quash anglicizing
    alert, oh you in verse, blare, blather… blend…
    but not bland

    by gpr crane

  4. Tom Hayes


    Tip-toeing through the pantry
    opening crinkly bags without a rustle.
    Stretching to retrieve the bowls
    from the top shelf, avoiding clatter.
    Softly scooping the gritty granules
    Silence surrounds my stealthy chore.

    That very first canine kernel
    hangs in midair, holding the key.
    It hits the metal bowl
    bouncing rim to rim
    and sounding a clarion call
    like the crack of a starter’s pistol.

    Heads lift, ears perk, the race begins.
    Streaking Irish red and prancing Schnauzer gray
    blend in a whirling, twirling flash mob.
    Questioning eyes ask- Is it ready yet?
    No sleeping in today at our house.
    Morning starts with a dog alarm.

    — by Tom Hayes

  5. Thedeb

    Sorry so late… Working so much these past two weeks 🙁
    Promise to read all your beautiful poems tonight 🙂

    me from my slumber,
    perchance to greet another day.

    the bell rings
    deep within my mind.
    I remember the day to come.

  6. ReathaThomasOakley

    Seasonal alerts

    So, there I was in the mega,
    gargantuan, super store,
    you know, the one you swear you’ll
    never set foot in again until the next
    time you swear, well, you know the one.

    So, there I was trying to find
    this and that, because in a really small
    town this and that can’t be found
    in Wyoming Work Warehouse or
    the Farmers Co- op, so you must set foot…

    But, I digress again
    from the prompt, from the thought I had
    when I set foot inside to find
    this and that and instead found
    row after row after row of supplies
    reminding shoppers who only trust
    their calendars that they must hurry
    because school is about to start.

    How fortunate we are to be able
    to depend on those mega,
    gargantuan, super stores
    to alert us to Halloween in August,
    Thanksgiving in September,
    Christmas in October, and the start of school
    on the hottest day in July.

  7. mapoet

    No Stopping Us

    We are blind to
    the big red signs.
    Some slow down
    to a crawl.
    Some don’t cut
    speed at all,
    just glance both
    ways and keep going.
    Be alert. Two ways
    or four ways. We’re
    all coming through.

  8. trishwrites

    NASA says
    there’s another earth

    catch a falling star
    hold hands
    into the brilliant dance
    of intergalactic
    black and gilded
    indigo blue

    drop in for a
    spot of tea

    we could ask
    can you help


  9. Arash

    Report of an accident

    by Arash

    Father is oriented, alert.
    Mother oriented too, alert.
    The Skylark is wrecked.
    Something was killed.
    Children are dead.
    Grandparents too.
    The flowers unharmed.
    The black hats untorn.
    The letters intact.
    Pastries untouched.
    The sky still big.
    The sun is yellow.
    Trees still sway.
    And roads go on.
    The ground as hard.
    The Earth revolves.
    The creatures evolve.
    The words still mean.
    Facts are recorded.
    Poems are written.
    Memories are formed.
    And memories fade.
    Yet life, not the same.

    1. Thedeb

      One of the hardest things about losing someone, is seeing how life goes on.
      How can it?
      But it does and we slog through the residue of loss.
      Super poem, you captured it fully.

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Just reread this very powerful poem, and had to comment yet again how I was moved by what you wrote, especially lines like, And roads go on.

  10. grcran

    beware the undertow

    A sand castle. The stuff of dreams. Fine fluff
    borne on the wind. Wild roaring wave whipped white
    and topped with curl. Impermanent enough.
    We build it anyway. Mind-made or quite
    for real. Your deal to bluff with fake jab or
    to huff and puff up presentation dirt.
    Tsunami storm hard hurricane before
    those dreams get roots. Before the last alert:

    by gpr crane

  11. SarahLeaSales

    A.L.E.R.T. is Spelled with a C-O-F-F-E-E

    I am alert.
    French roast,
    brewed to perfection—
    is my ultra-sensory experience.
    A splash of cream,
    a dash of sugar,
    frozen coffee cubes,
    topped with a mound of hazelnut whipped cream…
    like an island floating atop a mocha sea.
    The ice in the cup shift like little bergs.
    The first sip is always the best,
    the last, the saddest—
    like the beach after the rain on a gray day.

    Coffee is like Candyland for grown-ups,
    a Fantasia for java fanatics,
    a jubilee for joe aficionados.
    Caffeine and chocolate,
    with a spoonful of sweetness,
    be it sugar or agave—
    is my drug of choice.
    Composed by alchemists called baristas,
    this bewitching brew heightens our senses,
    contributing to that euphoric state
    known as “wakey-wakey”.

    A warm brownie,
    dense and moist,
    is the manna that completes
    my morning sacrament—
    good to the last drop.
    My day begins.
    I am alert.

  12. Doakley

    Light bug Alert

    When the time of the day is just right,
    the cat meows at my chair, of her plight
    She begs for my hand,
    as if I don’t understand,
    she needs the sun on my watch to make light.

  13. summersetsun


    My child stay vigilant.
    Blake’s invisible worm,
    That comes in the springing of life,
    That inflicts this family,
    Will cause you woe.

    My child stay vigilant.
    Now forewarned, forbear.
    It slips past psychic gates,
    To slither and wriggle though the mind’s sanctum,
    To despoil and devour halcyon memories.

    My child stay vigilant
    It will come.
    Stay in the light.
    Stay where it can’t.
    Stay your will.

    Admit I do,
    hyper-vigilance it seems.
    But shields I’ll speak
    From out of love for you
    Oh, child stay vigilant.

    Poetic tropes used: diatyposis, dicaeologia, catachresis

  14. ReathaThomasOakley

    First alert

    In the night
    through the pentagon-shaped window
    at the top of the high east wall
    of our room
    I watch the changing of the sky
    the phases of the moon the stars
    the turning of night to day
    of dark to light.

    When weariness
    or pain
    leads me to our bed
    in day time hours
    I look through that opening to
    clouds to rain to birds
    to sunshine and I am reminded
    of that outside world
    just inches through the glass.

  15. JRSimmang

    Since we’re trending limericks:


    Alert was Seldom’s middle name;
    his head was rarely in the game.
    He looked up to the sky
    when he heard the pop fly,
    and now he goes by a different name.

    -JR Simmang

    1. PressOn

      This is delightful. It reminds me of a story about a shortstop named Wright, who was such a poor fielder that opponents used to say, “When in doubt, hit to Wright.”

  16. Azma

    The man from Perth

    There was once a man from Perth
    who was terribly alert
    He dare not sleep
    in case burglars should creep
    and when outside, he wore lights on his shirt

    -Azma Sheikh

  17. josephdaniel

    Wake-up Call

    When the fog clears,
    and sunlight beams
    a smile my way,
    I snap out of it
    like a branch in a storm,
    jumping to the horn
    of a brand new day.

  18. PressOn


    Mick O’Roarke was aware and alert
    when coquettes would assemble and flirt;
    all it took was a glance
    or a hint of romance
    and he’d surely be shedding his shirt.

  19. josephdaniel

    When I’m Alert

    Goosebumps spread like dominoes
    The hair on the back of my neck stands and salutes
    Eyes flicker happiness in morse code
    and my smile stretches to its potential
    when I’m alert

  20. josephdaniel

    The Earth is Crying

    Sirens are wailing from the depths of our oceans
    to the peaks of snow-melting mountains,
    but we can’t get to them into time to save them.
    Will the next alert be the last?

  21. uvr

    Alert Overdrive

    Lightning bolts
    shoot through my veins
    Autumnal red flush
    blooms in my cheeks
    An angry stallion
    gallops in my heart
    Wild wind’s breath
    catches in my throat
    Summer storm of hope
    rages in my eyes

    Every fibre in me snaps to attention
    each time you invade my thoughts

  22. treefrogkid

    Too Alert

    As I watch News
    of Evacuations and Crumbling Currencies
    Gunshots and Mugshots
    I see I am Fragile
    In a Body of Earth
    Easily changed
    To it’s Native State

  23. strandedmoon

    Date alert

    I trust nobody
    I am alert
    I met the hypocrisy
    So often
    That I really thought
    We rendezvous
    It’s kind of weird
    We see us everywhere
    No hidden place
    Or pier’s hail
    My current date
    I am alert
    Is human’s duplicity

  24. Kaulmer

    Good Grief

    Every neuron fires quick upon receipt of the first squeak,
    But it is the scramble across my feet which alerts me
    To the tiny creature you seek.
    I screech and leap out of my seat as
    The tiny creature flees from me, and squeezes
    Between sheets and bleeds where your teeth
    First embraced this sweet treat.
    My heart skips a beat and we sneak a peek,
    But you do not wish to repeat the same feat and retreat
    Leaving it to me to sweep up your small feast. …Geesh.

  25. James Von Hendy

    Night Watch

    All ears not enough rely on it
    the need to see in pitch the thing that moves
    requires more look not directly but
    aslant because the eyes’ corners capture
    light they do and not shadows as you think
    he whispers look up sideways at the stars
    how bright now see and without sound
    the same for spaces between trees not dark
    as jet the slightest paling only if
    you do not turn to stare but glimpse your life
    depends on it what you love as well.

  26. Sara McNulty

    A Lert

    Strange animal,
    the lert. Coat
    flashes red
    whenever it’s hurt.
    Five cumbersome
    legs make for slow,
    unsteady gait. A lert
    dines on vines,
    and berries. Always
    courteous to others,
    wearing a sweet smile.
    If you meet a lert,
    you will be beguiled.

  27. G.Wood

    Taylor Swift belts out Bad Blood
    in my head
    2 a.m.
    I’m alert again.
    Could be hunger,
    a hunger inside for one that is gone—
    sounds like a Taylor Swift song.
    I miss Gluten.
    Maybe it’s restless leg
    of the torso.
    I’m wiggly, antsy, dancey.
    Waking up the husband now,
    better sneak out and set up
    in the guest room.
    Watch the wolf moon
    through the foyer windows
    as I climb the stairs,
    book light leading the way.
    I’m on the same page as yesterday.
    Can’t stay awake to read it.
    Hit the bed like bacon in a pan
    writhing and popping.
    I miss ham.
    Hold the Kindle.
    Prop the head up on the pillow.
    Lie still.
    Think happy thoughts,
    my daddy used to say
    when I couldn’t sleep
    because of phantom stomach aches.
    Like the sunshine, Daddy?
    No, he said.
    Perplexed, I lay in bed
    and Confusion led me to sleep.
    Tonight I picture the sunshine
    moving slowly towards enlightening me.
    But then Taylor starts up with that rant again.
    I’m going to have to eat.

  28. De Jackson

    eyes and arms and heart wide open
    (the vigilance of stars)


    i think we might just
    have something here, lost
    in all this blue. do you
    remember the way the
    earth swelled when you
    smiled? the wild heart
    abandon of that breeze?
    i’ll ask the trees to stay;
    they may connect the dots
          for us,
    give Orion back his belt
            and a tie to match.

    these aspens have their
    own alarms, some violent
    charms with which to
    sway the eve. Be
    -lieve me when i say
    we’re wide awake and
              for the dream.


    1. G.Wood

      wow. I love the dreamlike quality–the brilliant images, the trees/breeze/eve and alarms/charms. And I like the line structure that slows me down at the end

  29. grcran

    alert level: leaping gnome

    “an overfed, long-haired, leaping gnome should be the star of a Hollywood movie”, written by rock band The Animals, from their song “Spill the Wine”

    yellow green goes red mellow screaming dead
    nine OneOne lurch alert decision silly
    country loss of face hurtful human race
    as scars bo-bump the pace to willy nilly
    tension touches zeal nerve us set to squeal
    attention different matter much more zen-like
    guess that war’s mistake: guest of peace we make
    angelic chimes alerting that we’re kin-like
    bling this planet home no more leaping gnome
    fum-blurt apology all wet and heart-felt
    work together then: end of doubt ‘bout when
    and tackle next big tasking as the poles melt

    by gpr crane

          1. grcran

            thanks to all 4 of you, these comments mean more to me too, considering they came from y’all and that I admire y’all’s writing… this was another fun one for me to write… rusty

  30. ReathaThomasOakley

    The voice of age

    I worry about the
    young ones who
    live lives like a cliche
    of carefree existence,
    floating lazily along
    in a gentle stream.
    I see the rapids ahead.

    Do I alert them to dangers
    of indolent living,
    tell them stories
    of hapless youth
    who trusted summer breezes
    to move them along
    until they drowned
    in the flow?

    No, I’ll leave them alone
    to learn on their own,
    to make mistakes,
    to learn to swim, to survive,
    just in case,
    I’ll keep a life preserver handy.

  31. Jean Kay


    Awake, alert and appreciative—
    a good way to move through life.
    Add enthusiasm and gratitude
    and I’ll overcome daily strife.

    Being alert to my surroundings
    taking time to really see,
    I become more aware of creation
    and all living energy.

    I’m alert to how my spoken word
    can affect people around,
    so I choose words that aren’t hurtful
    even when I’m standing my ground.

    Being aware of others’ feelings
    alerts my reflex reactions.
    Being kind and considerate
    are two of my best attractions.

    I’m also alert to danger
    when someone’s invading my space
    who I don’t care to be with,
    so I move away with grace.

    I’m alert to nighttime noises
    when my grandchildren are here,
    that’s a natural instinct
    protecting those that are dear.

    I’m alert!

  32. taylor graham

    A father sends the shuttlecock flying
    in graceful arc, rising above an invisible net.
    It finds his daughter just so
    at the last moment she sees it, and bats it
    back. They keep count, how many returns
    before it hits the ground.
    Error alert, start over. His girl – last chosen
    for any team at school – sits front row
    of the class and can barely read the teacher’s
    writing on the board. Classmates
    call her “Brain” which means
    she’s strange.
    Sixty back-and-forth strokes this time,
    five dozen short flights of birdie,
    and the girl misses again.
    Mother calls from the porch, it’s time
    for dinner. Afterwards the girl will finish up
    her homework. Then, eyes up-close
    to the field-guide in her hands, she counts
    feathers fine-etched on the photo
    of a swallow. Imagine what it looks like
    on its annual migration – Capistrano
    all the way to Argentina – so far; a perfect
    arc so very high in flight.

  33. G.Wood

    Alert Now
    That’s what they call the
    principal’s recorded message
    that busts through at dinner time
    every Sunday night:
    We’re celebrating several faculty
    birthdays this week!
    Please don’t park on the street!
    We still need volunteers for field day!
    The candy sale is two weeks away!
    Testing begins Monday,
    so let’s all get to bed early
    and eat a good breakfast!
    Go Patriots!

    And the accompanying email
    shoots me the exact same message,
    but now, IN ALL CAPS AND COLORS,
    italicized for the urgency.

    I get a tweet from the teacher
    that says she’s updated her blog.
    She’s made a “signup genius,”
    and she plans on giving us each a call
    each quarter.

    Something’s out of order.
    They keep ringing the alarms.
    They keep calling us to action.
    They keep covering for the shortage
    and working double time
    to defend the fortress
    we send our children to every day.

    But, hey.
    I’m eating dinner. My cell’s on vibrate.
    It’s too late. Just too late. Too late.

  34. PowerUnit

    I have this pen that writes fine lines,
    A joy to use, especially with blues,
    The color of business, the tone of authority,
    A clear message without moody interference,
    Is not a green or any combination thereof.
    Confidence imparted by turquoise ink is shaky at best.
    And reds?
    I don’t let the color of whores near this gold-tipped phallus
    I am not ready to alert the world that my thoughts are not pure.

  35. writinglife16

    The Mists

    She woke up that day.
    The sun was brightly shining.
    She got out of bed.
    She wants to speak, but she can’t.
    She doesn’t remember how

    Bells started ringing.
    Startled, she looked around her.
    She began to cry.
    She wondered when would it stop.
    When would the mists in her clear?

    **Kind of circled around the concept of being alert or awareness.

  36. lsteadly

    Nature Tells

    The blue jays screech
    a shrill warning
    from their perches
    among the maples and the birches

    My cat crouches
    a lesson in silence
    hidden, save for her tail
    twitching and dancing under the hosta

    All birds on high alert
    as the cries ring true
    We see you, we see you
    tiny tiger in the grass

    and the daisies nod
    with knowing in the sun

    1. writinglife16

      Love this! Saw one of our cats when I was a kid surrounded by a flock of robins because the baby fell out of the nest. He beat as hasty of a cautious retreat as he could. 🙂

    2. Thedeb

      This is awesome ,,, from the first line to the last. So many great words and phrases
      Shrill warning
      Tiny tiger
      Save for her tail
      Daisies nod
      Really good!

  37. annell


    when i hear you say it    whether screamed or whispered    i am alert

    to the danger    you are in or fear     whistle, bell or alarm

    all the same     you are in danger     be not afraid

    you are strong    you are brave     i am here for you

    July 22, 2015


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