Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 360

For today’s prompt, pick a word–and only one word–you might use to get someone’s attention; make that word the title of your poem; and then, write your poem. Possible titles might include: “Hey,” “Stop,” “Fire,” “Surrender,” “Attention,” “Wait,” and so on. For our house, the word “bacon” often does the trick.

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Revision doesn’t have to be a chore–something that should be done after the excitement of composing the first draft. Rather, it’s an extension of the creation process!

In the 48-minute tutorial video Re-creating Poetry: How to Revise Poems, poets will be inspired with several ways to re-create their poems with the help of seven revision filters that they can turn to again and again.

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Here’s my attempt at an Attention Word poem:

“Boo”

There’s nothing to fear but fear itself,
though I can make you jump
off of the floor to the highest shelf
with a series of thumps:
one on the ceiling, two at the door–
with not a thing in view–
and as you relax, add one thump more
followed up with a, “Boo!”

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Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He doesn’t often watch scary movies at night, but he usually has to watch something light afterward to get to sleep when he does. Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.

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87 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 360

  1. ReathaThomasOakley

    Repent!

    On the back pew of the little white church
    on Leonardi Street I’d sit and listen and
    shiver with dread when at sermon’s end
    the preacher’s voice would promise reprieve
    from the fires of hell, if only I’d repent.

    My sins were small, and so was I,
    but I didn’t want all the world to know
    at judgement day how I’d sassed Mama,
    disobeyed Daddy, was mean to Brother.
    Sunday after Sunday I would repent,
    confess all the bad in me, then go right out,
    after church, and start sinning all over again.

  2. Jane Shlensky

    Psst!

    Sotto voce whisper shout,
    I hiss for your attention.
    Look this way! I’m just about
    to stage an intervention.

    I fancy you are deaf, suspect
    my call to you ignored,
    and I’m annoyed by your neglect—
    frankly, I’m irked and floored.

    I try to help you. Psst! I say,
    my blood surging systolic.
    You’re not my problem, not today;
    I’ll not wax vitriolic.

    I hoped we’d share a short aside,
    but you reject my call out.
    Your fly’s unzipped and gaping wide!
    I think I’ll watch the fallout.

  3. Daniel Paicopulos

    ‘67

    How long does it take,
    I wonder,
    for a war to become
    a tourist attraction?
    What’s the rotation time,
    I ponder,
    for foxholes to fill in.
    The only war that matters
    is the one you fought in.
    All warriors know this.
    So many wars,
    yet only one was the worst.
    It’s the one you fought in.
    Because it happened to you.
    That year I went to war,
    all thrumming energy,
    rising above the cacophony,
    struggling beneath the fear,
    wishing mightily to be invisible,
    knowing I had put myself there,
    the trace elements of ego
    so visible in God’s microscope.
    For a little while,
    I died that day long ago,
    thought I was going home,
    no sadness, no fear,
    no swell of clinging to what’s here.
    Day and night,
    the bombs cast their light,
    yet from tunnel bright
    a chiming bell,
    calling my return to
    the work undone.
    Time enough remained
    for service and, more,
    for pain, guilt, lessons
    still to master, before
    this life’s final peace
    brings an end to war

  4. headintheclouds87

    Oi!

    Many might say ‘Hello’,
    Some may say ‘Hiya!’
    For others, a simple ‘Hey’
    Will generally suffice,
    But for those of us
    With more muck than time
    On their working hands,
    The sharp cry of ‘Oi!’
    Is a bit more to the point,
    And versatile exclamation.

    It can be a friendly greeting
    To ‘them down the pub
    Or a one-syllable objection
    To someone or something
    That has ‘wound you up’
    Just that little bit too far.
    Or even a sudden stop to
    A barney in the local boozer.
    Whatever the inflection,
    Its intention has no doubt.

    So why even piss about
    With a wimpy ‘Sorry but…’
    Or a pathetic ‘Excuse me…’
    Just shout out that one word,
    And save some precious time.

  5. grcran

    Installing

    So? Not prepared for updates?
    Oh? And what percent complete?
    Hourglassing by the minute
    Finding distance with one’s feet
    I am placing all the iambs
    Checking metre stringing pearls
    Finding adjectives for woodwork
    Wrought mahogany knot burls
    Feel so frantic for the restart
    Let new versions be the norm
    Big beginnings antiviral
    Come computer keep me warm
    Three thoughts spin within one braincloud
    It will scan how will it rate
    Change the wor-ld for the better
    Stalled in poesy twist of fate

    gpr crane

  6. qbit

    Stop, Drop and Roll

    You,
    Wreathed in smoke,
    Stepped towards me
    In that first moment, and
    Into the roaring fire
    Of the next three days
    When we barely
    Left my room.

  7. Sarah Metzler

    Okay, this one is a little bit “out there” but I’m posting it anyway.

    Hey you…hey you…hey!
    Hay…ewe…hay…ewe…hay…ewe…hay!
    Driving cross-country

  8. ReathaThomasOakley

    Fire!
    (For Don)

    In spite of rain and late spring snow
    the forty acres of grass were dry,
    brush piles high between trees
    clinging to the canyon walls
    above Inyan Kara Creek.

    Two thousand miles away I waited
    with him for latest word on
    the evolution of the fire, marching
    along the creek, below his place
    perched at the canyon edge,
    the place he’d lovingly built for Carol,
    mother of his sons, sons who removed
    guns, it was Wyoming after all,
    and Carol’s photograph, sons who
    watched the fire snake up the switch-
    backed road, pushing game before its path.

    The fire climbed up and up, black ash and smoke
    and cattle trapped behind fences in its wake.

    Photos tell the story of just how close it came,
    traces of equipment ruts record efforts
    made to save his place.
    It still stands, silhouetted against the remains
    of once tall pines, Carol’s dream still stands.

  9. Madaket

    Help!

    I’m falling,
    I am falling mid-air,
    Limbs flailing,
    Hands grasping for safety,
    Sucked into the vortex,
    Bracing for certain immolation.

    The Earth, no longer rotating
    In its orbit,
    Slipped its axis.

    Without so much as
    A warning,
    While the lilies-of-the valley
    Dared to bloom.

    And, the sun
    In its utter oblivion,
    Dared to rise
    On the precipice of
    Darkness.

    I am in a free-fall,
    Breathless,
    Stomach clenched,
    Hoping against hope
    To awake in the
    Brink of time.

    Who knew all
    That is precious,
    Hinges on one pivotal
    Imaginary point.

    Sharp as Hell.

    1. ppfautsch24

      RELAX
      Relax and chill
      Wind blows through my hair
      Painted-toed feet walking on air,
      Mind going nowhere.
      Stress and worry not a care;
      My hands are clasped in prayer
      Still.
      By Pamelap

  10. MikeGill

    Attention

    Attention
    Most people hear
    The world and think
    One of two things:
    Stiff military posture
    Stand still and be
    A pawn—ready
    To obey
    Eyes front, sit still
    Pay attention because
    You are about to learn

    Then, there are
    People in corrections
    (people like me)
    Attention
    Brings a pucker
    Fear and adrenaline
    Course together through
    Your body
    A tensing
    Of muscles as you
    Ready to run
    Because somewhere
    It has gone wrong
    There is a fight,
    An emergency, a situation
    Where help is needed
    It is a word you learn to hate
    To hear, a call to action
    Not a call
    To stillness

  11. Anthony94

    Today

    Is all about the now, the moment
    that is not the past but present
    like the sky filled with either
    cloud or sun, like the tree
    clothed with leaves or stark
    naked with its bare branches
    embracing an icy rain.

    Today is all that is happening
    gathered into the song of the
    mockingbird stealing the notes
    of every bird it hears, hurling them
    into the air, wheeling across the
    pastures in pursuit of the perfect
    blackberry, the thornless limb.

    Today is the peregrine falcon on
    the only dead branch above the
    Corporate Woods, calling to her
    nestlings, open to what might be,
    It’s four raccoons languid lumber
    across the highway into the field
    corn without any other agenda

    except to fill bellies and curl
    into sated sleep. Melons burst
    open in the heat and grateful
    ants ascend the slickened sides to
    sip. Already the sun edges lower
    and sunset flames out seconds
    sooner but this is today, so look

    out over the fields and count
    monarch butterflies, whistle the
    horses to the fence. Gather in
    the potatoes, the purpled egg
    plant. Watch where the cats
    stretch in the shade and be
    still, surrounded by today.

  12. Nancy Posey

    Again

    she calls as the swing slows
    in its pendulum arc

    she never tires of the game,
    holding the heavy chains
    as I pull her back
    and then release her
    toward the clouds,
    toward the heavens

    knowing that all too soon,
    she will learn the motions
    of pumping arms,
    swinging legs

    and won’t need me at all.

  13. Nancy Posey

    Please

    The word sticks in my throat
    emerges in a squeak,
    as if I lack the breath to plead.

    It must sound like some new language
    to you, this word I withheld
    my pride preceding my fall,
    proving I am vulnerable to natural law.

    I speak it to your back,
    not even sure you could hear,
    so intent to leave, unwilling
    to extend your patience one minute more.

    What a word game it would seem
    at any other time—my pleas, my please—
    my prayer to the God of Second Chances.

      1. Sarah Metzler

        Okay, this one is a little bit “out there” but I’m posting it anyway.

        Hey you…hey you…hey!
        Hay…ewe…hay…ewe…hay…ewe…hay!
        Driving cross-country

  14. carolemt87

    Stop

    Littleton, Colorado,
    population around 41,000
    this picturesque suburb south of the city of Denver
    near the front range of the Rocky Mountains
    created during the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush of 1859
    named after Richard and Angeline Little
    founders of the Rough and Ready Flour Mill

    Stop

    Columbine High School
    in Littleton, Colorado
    founded in 1973
    named after the state flower of Colorado
    their mascot is the rebels and
    the school colors are blue and silver

    Stop

    Eighteen-year- old Eric Harris and
    seventeen year old Dylan Klebold who planted
    propane bombs in Columbine High School
    on April 20, 1999 and
    when they failed to detonate, went on a
    shooting spree, killing 13 students and teachers,
    wounding 20 more before killing themselves.

    Stop

    Blacksburg, Virginia
    population around 43,000
    where my Aunt Anne and Uncle John live
    in the Allegheny Mountains and named after
    Samuel Black and his two sons, John and William
    former owners of the land
    in 2011, Business Week named it
    the best town in which to raise kids.

    Stop

    The campus of Virginia Tech
    formerly named Virginia Polytechnic Institute
    and State University, established in 1872
    this beautiful tree lined campus proudly displays
    school colors of maroon and burnt orange and
    their mascot is the Hokie (or Hokie bird).

    Stop

    Seung-Hui Cho who
    on April 16, 2007, went on a shooting rampage
    at Virginia Tech which killed 32 faculty and students
    and wounded 17 others. Six people were
    injured jumping out of windows.
    Cho also killed himself.

    Stop

    Newton, Conneticut
    population 28,000, founded in 1705
    the town has been the site of furniture,
    tea bags, combs, fire hoses, buttons and hat
    manufacturing, the board game “Scrabble” was invented
    in Newton by James Brunot.

    Stop

    Sandy Hook Elementary School
    built in the 1950’s, which in 2012, had around
    600 students from kindergarten through
    fourth grade, and 40 or so faculty and staff.

    Stop

    Twenty-year-old Adam Lanza who
    on December 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook
    Elementary School killed 20 children
    between the ages of 6 and 7 years old,
    as well as six adult staff members.
    Lanza also shot and killed his mother
    before driving to the school.
    When first responders arrived at the scene,
    Lanza committed suicide by
    shooting himself in the head.

    Stop

    Lake Michigan on the western edge of the
    Lower Peninsula, lined with beautiful sandy beaches,
    boasting spectacular fishing and
    awesome sunset vistas.

    Stop

    Traverse City, Michigan
    in my home state
    population about 15,000
    the largest producer of tart cherries in the United States,
    the town hosts an annual Cherry Festival in the
    first full week of July which attracts about 500,000 visitors,
    down staters flock up north to Traverse City for vacations
    throughout the summer and fall.

    Stop

    Stacey Feeley’s three-year-old daughter
    Stacey snapped a picture of her daughter at her preschool
    because she thought her daughter looked
    especially adorable in this pose
    this blond, barefoot, beautiful little child
    with one hand on her heart
    perched on the toilet seat practicing
    how to hide in the event of a bad person coming
    to her preschool, intent on hurting her.

    Stop Stop Stop Stop
    Enough, this has to stop!
    Enough! of the candlelight vigils, moments of silence
    filibusters, sit-ins, ribbons and bracelets, tiny caskets
    and torrential tears.

    Enough already, of the your personal right to bear arms,
    your automatic weapons, bullets, your smell of gunpowder,
    blood and guts, the stranglehold of
    NRA, the red and the blue, the us versus them.
    I’ve had enough!
    PLEASE
    MAKE
    THIS
    STOP!!

    Carol J Carpenter 2016

      1. carolemt87

        Thanks, Sara. The picture of the little girl really bothers me. I wrote this and another poem titled “I’m sorry, little one” in response to that picture. Without getting too political, I’ve also joined the fight for common sense gun safety. I grew up in Detroit and live near Kansas City.
        When I read this poem last month, I used pictures as well to emphasize the text and I chose to focus only on the schools. There’s a poem on Button Poetry by a Nebraska poet named Matt Mason entitled “A Thing That Happened.” He really brings it home. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N17W0-YEKz8

  15. Daniel Paicopulos

    Hey

    I have to say
    that Lay Lady Lay
    is the one to play
    on Valentine’s Day
    At another time,
    there might be a better rhyme,
    another to be sung,
    like, say, Forever Young.
    But, to my eye,
    since Bob’s a Gemini,
    the one I’ll vote for
    is Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.

  16. Azma

    Shhh!

    Do you hear that?
    It’s coming from the window
    Didn’t sound like a knock
    Also couldn’t be a sparrow
    Something about the sound
    leaves a reminiscent in the brain
    Oh look! The windows open
    It’s the year’s first rain!

  17. mjdills

    DON’T

    There are certain things we shouldn’t touch
    and mother wiggles her finger
    but we rarely mind her much.
    She natters while we linger
    around a danger of vague temptation
    and DON’T she says with tense authority;
    threatening there will be no redemption.
    We sneer. Over her, we are a relative majority.
    More genteel children would obey…
    DON’T do as I do, but do as I say.
    Our litter gives definition to the word
    Of who should be seen and not heard.

    (Mercifully, I decided to submit this, rather than the authoritative VOTE I was working on. Less ruffled feathers, I’m quite sure.)

  18. Sara McNulty

    Sir?

    Been here long, sir?
    No, not on this bench–
    on this planet. Why are you
    trying to cram it full
    of litter? No, I am not
    kidding. Please pick up
    that candy wrapper, and put it
    in the trash can–three feet
    away. Say, look, you do not
    need to get nasty. Would you
    want to stay in a neighborhood
    full of garbage? We all have
    to live on this earth. Why not
    give it a chance to survive,
    especially if you plan
    to be here long, sir.

  19. reeree307

    Fire!

    At the faces before you,
    Fresh and young though they be
    At those seasoned soldiers,
    Though they’ll take it stoically
    At the ones who couldn’t wait to be ready,
    And at those with just one week till they’re free.

    Fire! C’mon, boys,
    Do your sacred duty – fire!

    Only…
    Don’t fire at my son; he stands
    Somewhere amongst you
    Not at my brother – he’s in command of the troops
    Don’t fire at my grandson or his girlfriend, see?

    I’d sooner have you fire at me

  20. PowerUnit

    Sign Here!

    Sign here, says the man in the horned-rimmed glasses
    Skirted women always plead their cases
    I need you to witness this, please sign right here
    I need you to approve this transfer, here
    I need you to authorize full control to the machine, here
    I withdraw five hundred dollars in twenties
    Before my nest egg changes places

    Schools no longer teach cursive
    How can our kids become indebted, if they can’t be administrative
    X’s alone do not make the economy turn
    Even rich Neanderthal football players have added Y’s to their lexicon
    Don’t worry my kids say
    Life’s not that abusive

    Like they care about defaults and leans
    Like they know what overdraft protection really means

  21. SarahLeaSales

    Amen

    The spiritual sister of ditto,
    it lets the pastor know,
    just how far he can go.

    Feedback from the flock—
    a barometer of not just his words,
    (cited from narrators,
    be they reliable or unreliable),
    but also the deliverance of those words,
    and his interpretation of them.

    The secularism of the divine,
    the divination of the secular,
    is becoming omniscient,
    omnipotent,
    and omnipresent,
    in this Age of Technological Trans-Humanism.

    The man of the cloth
    cannot be divorced from politics;
    just as the politician
    cannot help but marry religion,
    for they are two sides of the same coin.
    Heads or tails,
    no one knows,
    which one has more control.

  22. grcran

    From wiki: Captain Marvel, aka Shazam, is the alter ego of Billy Batson, a boy who, by speaking the magic word “Shazam”, can transform himself into a costumed adult with the powers of superhuman strength, speed, flight, and other abilities.

    Shazam

    Don’t fear when you hear the shazam
    Soon followed by Wham! Bam! Slam! Damn!
    You’ll marvel and sigh
    As the lightning bolt guy
    Behooves all the villains to scram

    gpr crane

  23. angieinspired

    Look, Asshole

    I’ve started cleaning again.
    Wiped the mirrors in small
    concentric circles;
    pressed a cloth
    over table tops,
    swept up eddies of
    precious dog hair,
    which I should be
    gaga over (these little
    white clouds of life),
    but I’m not.
    I’ve shook the sleeping bags,
    &crammed them into
    the wash, then snaked their
    slithering bodies into
    the dryer. I can punch Start.
    I know a few things, –

    like I’d rather scrub
    every inch of this house,
    than to tell you I’m sorry.

  24. Cynthia Page

    Relax
    That slow driver in the fast lane
    may have serious problems causing him pain.
    And even if not, rethink your gestures of contempt.
    You anger will ebb when your ire goes unspent.
    Relax
    That shopper who took your parking place
    may be dying for antacids, or to stuff his face.
    And even if not, if you circle again,
    you may find better space, or a new friend.
    Relax
    Hold your ire; wait, and come what may,
    your calm demeanor will save your day
    And if not, karma will save you a fall,
    and his comeuppance delights us all.

  25. taylor graham

    LOOK!

    It’s a treasure hunt, or maybe a wild-
    goose chase for certain inanimate objects –
    at least they stay put, like blackbirds
    baked in a crust, an achievement
    that lives forever in nursery rhyme.
    But these objects, I’m told, are Art, a sort
    of retro avant-garde, praise for the past
    in form of quilt-squares painted on plywood –
    useless as comforters, but a touch of bright
    when hung on old barns. The barns
    still go about their business, housing
    cows or sheep; or rusty antique
    farm equipment – ploughs once hitched
    behind living horses; a blacksmith’s
    anvil. I’m driving country roads, looking
    sharp for what’s around the bend.
    I’ve made half a dozen wrong turns and
    seen a peahen with her pea-chicks
    along the shoulder, a drop-dead beautiful
    view of granite mountains floating
    above a distant oak-crowned ridge. Some-
    times the pleasure of a treasure hunt
    is more in the search than in the finding.

  26. seingraham

    ATTENTION!

    Excuse me? Hello? Wait up! Cease! Stop! Stay right there!
    It all depends on the situation and to whom you are addressing
    the command
    If a toddler is heading into traffic: “STOP! NOW!”, then
    run to him in double-quick time and swoop the kid up
    An argument getting out of hand? Try gentle at first, to
    defuse the situation
    But if things accelerate, have no problem with getting loud, even
    shouting, “Cease and desist! Now! Go to your corners!”
    Trying to get a stranger’s attention? “Excuse me?” or “Hello?”
    ratcheting up the decibels the more you feel you need to.
    Getting someone’s attention is circumstance-dependent, I think.

  27. tripoet

    Ouch

    Some create new spellings for words
    when they don’t pay attention.
    Others use words as branding irons
    to emphasize incomprehension.

    But a family pact in our home
    is our effort to curtail the sting
    as we’ve agreed invoking, “Ouch”,
    ends the conversation in mid-stream.

  28. PressOn

    HALT

    If you tend to place faith in despair
    and are prone to smell hate in the air,
    then you should understand
    that few failings are planned
    and can stop in your traces, right there.

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