Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 367

For today’s prompt, write a struggle poem. Many people struggle with many things–work, finances, addiction, relationships, and even finding the time to write poems. But there are also cultural struggles, animal struggles, and even plant struggles (Ever watch a documentary on the struggle between vines and trees? Fascinating stuff). Pick a struggle and write a poem today.

By the way, I’ve been alerted to the fact that at least a few folks have been struggling to post to the Poetic Asides blog. If you are one of these people (or if you run into problems in the future), please send me an e-mail at, and I can connect you to the online editor who will work to help resolve the situation.


Recreating_Poetry_Revise_PoemsRe-create Your Poetry!

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.

Click to continue.


Here’s my attempt at a Struggle poem:

“The Second Law”

The second law of thermodynamics
explains why water only runs downhill,
why time travel’s impossible, and why
it’s easier to lose money than make
money. The second law also explains
why it’s easier to get into bed
than out, why structures continually
push toward disintegration, and why
the godfather of soul is and always
will be James Brown. If I were funky, then
the second law explains why that funk would
eventually dissipate like cosmic
dust into the boombox of time, and I
could struggle all I want against the beat,
but a new generation will come that
will outshine anything I’ve ever done.


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 likes to think, whether it’s true or false, that he was born with a bit of funk in his soul.

Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.


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107 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 367

  1. artifiswords


    How do you know
    When it’s a lost cause?
    Nobody loves a quitter…
    But when you’ve
    Worked to the bone
    And it never improved
    Does it make any sense
    To continue…do
    More of the same?
    Honestly…it seems
    A waste of time…
    What do you get but
    Frustration and pain
    And likely just washing
    Your life down the drain?

    © 2016 Robert Mihaly

    Posted also to:

  2. LaKenya Stone

    Ancient Poison

    Bow before me, I want your time and life
    Keeping loving me, I love your loyalty
    I’m all you need, just me
    I’m your comfort, your sedative, we’re husband and wife

    I’m that cylindrical deceiver lifted to god status
    I adore all my blind worshippers without question
    Engineered to be matchless
    Balanced between lips like a gymnastic apparatus

    My per-FUMES are my own signature blend
    We can be together for a long time
    or a short spell, an ancient relic, you decide
    Just as long as we have a deliciously perilous end

    Black is my color, I love it, goes with anything
    Slimming and effective, from health to coffins
    Cancer, I love the coughing, ah yes
    Again, now bow, hail your King

  3. Jane Shlensky

    After the Game

    At first it’s a thump and tickle match—
    ribs, ears, neck, underarms—
    leading to a roll and tussle,
    pokes and jabs, laughing
    turning ragged, no longer funny.

    Then shoving comes hot
    and sudden. One boy
    says, enough already, and
    the other gets in another punch,
    waiting to say I win for the hell of it.

    Win what? What was the game?
    Leave your hands to yourself
    before I punch your lights out
    and loud enough for everyone
    to notice. Then it’s bare knuckles

    and bloody noses, veins popping,
    faces red and sweaty, eyes
    blurry and bulging, curses flying,
    kill or be killed, all on a quiet
    sunny day after baseball.

    Why must some boys struggle so
    just to be friends?

  4. Kirkybee

    Hello guys.. Help me perfect my poem below.
    A thumbs up is accepted.. ‘A hell no!’..’a try next time’..
    Any additional input ..corrections.. All accepted.

    She’s my best loyal true buddy!
    She’s always truthful
    She never lies to me
    She doesn’t hide secrets from me
    She doesn’t stub me in the back
    She doesn’t scold me
    She doesn’t get mad at me when I wrong her
    …she always listens to me a million + times
    she never gets weary when I stare at her..she always gat my back.
    She gives a faithful representation of me
    When I’m smartly dressed she’ll be like..”aww Bee you look so fly in that dress..or short..or pants”.
    When I do it wrong she’ll be honest with me..”uh-oh Bee..not that one..I hate’s a Lil bit won’t fit you on the waist”,
    “Try another outfit”
    When my eyes are sore she’ll tell me
    When a pimple pops out on my face she’ll alert me.
    When I’m sad and I need a friend to talk to she always listens to me..
    She never laughs at me when I’m trynna sing or dance
    She knows better..we do dance a lot..trynna sing too …just me and her.
    She being my judge gauging my me a thumbs up and telling me I rocked it.
    I could write more about this anonymous friend of mine..I’m so sorry we couldn’t get to share my don’t get a chance to feel the warmth in my duvet..we don’t have the chance to share a meal together.. Go shopping for groceries and other house goodies..I know you would really love it if you gat the chance to accompany me to class.. Just anywhere. .I wish I could be able to replace you with my shadow but you know that’s impossible.. Huh!
    I can’t restrain myself from visiting her over and over again..every morning,in the afternoon, at night. Every moment..she has become a “part of me”.
    You’re the best!!I owe you one buddy;
    Her name..**mirror**..⇨my wall mirror⇦.♣.

  5. Shennon

    I struggle and fight
    To find a rhyme
    But nothing sounds right
    I don’t have the time

    This weekly prompt
    Will have to wait
    I am so swamped
    And now I’m late

    While in a rush to get out the door
    I ponder free verse, haikus, and more
    Before weeks end, I have an epiphany
    A poem’s produced for Mr. Robert Lee.


  6. G.Wood

    All night long the moon shone full on my skin,
    and now a new day begins
    with a fortune-telling weigh-in.
    Only the scale can reveal
    whether the day will prove good or ill.
    I do the perpetual tap dance,
    a bathroom step class,
    watch the spinning of the wheel,
    the rolling of the spools into place,
    giving me a read out to know my place in the world,
    allowing me permission for gloating or cursing.
    I know what you’re thinking—
    But you’re so thin!
    But I’m an American. An American girl.
    And nothing you say can deny me the right
    to my self-annihilation, to my fixation on the numbers
    on the scale or the tag or the back of the cereal box.
    I’ll tell you what I did, in case you still think I don’t belong:
    I stepped on every scale in Bed Bath and Beyond,
    finding none that answered back at me with the number I wanted,
    so I moved to another store and bought the Weight Watchers brand
    a way to scold myself with the familiar, to attach myself to a band
    of sisters over several generations,
    all counting their calories, all keeping records, all out to shave off
    some self,
    and raving to each other about progress,
    about becoming a better you.
    I know just how to fixate, too. I’ve considered piping
    fat from my back to my face
    so my smile will seem less sallow, less gray,
    and I’ve thought about a timeline for when
    I will have to follow Madonna’s lead
    and have a ribbon put in my chin
    to hold my neck up.
    I promise I’m in,
    I’m an American Girl,
    down with the democracy of self hatred,
    discovering every flaw of my naked,
    under the microscope, the fluorescent lights,
    the glare in my examining room,
    refusing to acknowledge the shimmer of my skin
    and fullness of my body
    under the light of the moon.

  7. RJ Clarken


    “Hell is empty and all the devils are here.” ~William Shakespeare

    I would not want, for all the world,
    to jinx myself; the gods have hurled
    their rotten lightning bolts at me. Deluxe
    big sucks! I need Chablis.

    Or something which might numb me out.
    Today’s the pits. I have no doubt
    tomorrow will be just as gross. Abys-
    mal is why I’m morose.

    I kvetch and whine and bellyache.
    Today, my day’s one big mistake.
    And all the devils straight from hell are here…

    Sincerely, ‘Ne’er-Do-Well.’


  8. grcran

    (these two are so similar that I post them both together…)

    My cat with a rat had a struggle
    Priorities they had to juggle
    That rat, this feline
    Knew love so divine
    They thought not to kill but to snuggle

    (and the other one…

    My cat had a sort of a struggle
    With a rat she’d decided to snuggle
    But fearing the jeers
    They hid from their peers
    Caresses they both had to smuggle

  9. DMK

    fighting to touch my hands
    put them in my mouth
    wobbling grab the couch
    fighting to stand and walk about
    pushed slapped hit
    fighting to not be pushed or drowned
    semi truck was struck
    fighting to live shamed when it hit the news
    fighting to get my honor back
    college at the university called in to see the dean
    fighting at another school took my scholarship from me
    the other thought i’d caused a riot even though I did not
    job in another state teaching children
    fighting in another district they tarnished my reputation
    grabbed a back pack before it hit a kid
    as he threw and caught making a flip
    fighting to walk and work as it hurt my spine
    lost one job went to school to start another career
    would not write a report putting a man in jail
    lost the job, car, sixty pounds never did recover
    endless effort all of life never getting beyond strife
    now I am back where I started hiding my boy shorts
    wobbling grab the wall trying not to fall
    fighting to stay erect not hit life eject
    before it takes me down heading for up
    life’s an endless struggle from beginning to end
    just to go on to wherever and do it again

  10. G.Wood

    Poetry Expert
    for Mom
    The last time you were here,
    you pulled a poetry book from the shelf in the kitchen
    and read one of those poems where the speaker
    renounces his love
    “Heh. Yeah, right,” you said,
    returning the book to the shelf
    with the same self-satisfied laugh
    I remember from my childhood,
    the laugh that blew back at me like a slap
    after I swore I hated you,
    after I said you were the worst,
    after I told you to go to hell,
    after the cursing and the slamming doors,
    after the fight.
    Heh. Yeah, right.

  11. qbit

    Sisyphus and Zeus in Cabo

    Sisyphus and Zeus in Cabo
    Watching the sun set over the Pacific —
    The horizon rich
    With the sediments of ancient red wines,
    Demigod blues and purples,
    And Thanatos as always
    Stealing down the golden light
    To his hoard on the dark side of the world.

    Sisyphus squints at Zeus across the top
    Of his Cerveza with lime.
    Its like this:
    The two of them have had a few thousand years
    To work out their differences.
    Became travel companions,
    Then lovers and partners.
    All was forgiven.
    Although Sisyphus a little rheumatoid
    From pushing that rock uphill for so long,
    And Zeus
    Doesn’t really keep himself up these days.

    To what end, our struggles?
    Will even those who command our myths
    Eventually soften?
    We spend the afternoon watching the crabs
    Push balls of sand
    Up the slight dunes.

  12. Shennon

    The struggle’s real
    My students say
    Daily homework
    Get good grades

    So much pressure
    To graduate
    High school drama
    Gossip for days

    Try and focus
    See through the haze
    Set your sights on
    Crossing that stage.


  13. dawn11476

    A Dirge

    Booties unworn
    lullabies unsung
    on the table, a bottle
    a baby’s lips never touched.

    Soft words unspoken
    a small swing unswung
    in the corner, a blanket
    no child’s hand has held.

    The pacifier will not pacify
    and no cradle can bring peace.
    Empty crib echoes empty hearts
    expectation gone but not betrayed.

    Disassembling hope.
    Dismantling dreams.

    1. G.Wood

      I can see the speaker pulling down the crib, putting away the hope. so easy to relate to. there aren’t many poems I know on this topic–you capture it so well

  14. tripoet


    We used to count her laps
    as she swam up and down the
    lane and into fame. Her beautiful
    stroke the envy of all the team.
    She was our role model.
    Now we count the blinks of her eyes
    that beat like butterflies’
    wings. ALS has reduced her
    movement and we are grieving
    though she is not done living,
    counts each day a blessing
    and takes seriously her role as model.

    1. Julieann

      ALS, MS, MD, the litnay of alphabet soup abbreviations for neurological or other debilitating diseases is mind boggling. You have handled this well and caught the emotion totally.

  15. ReathaThomasOakley

    For Ann

    Ann died two nights ago,
    five bald words, the end
    of a struggle that spanned
    decades lived with humor,
    courage, and grace,
    that ended in choked
    airways, in the dark, alone.
    Fifty years of memories I hold,
    but she is gone in a moment,
    in a heartbeat, in a sigh,
    Ann died two nights ago.

    1. G.Wood

      I can appreciate and relate to the repetition, like trying to convince yourself of the words. I have felt that agony a lot lately as Mom died unexpectedly 5 wks ago. Still can’t believe it.

  16. G.Wood

    Maybe the drought caused the lantana blooms to wilt last night,
    all the orange crowns curled into black knots this morning.
    Looking at them ignites a trigger point behind my right eye,
    the kind that feels better and worse when I push on it–
    nothing is barking or whirring,
    nothing is speaking in the ground zero of my mind.
    I close my eye and press harder,
    knowing that now the butterflies
    are going to leave here for a place
    with more to offer.

  17. headintheclouds87

    Versus Yourself

    When your appetite for life is waning
    And simple pleasures seem so far away
    Inside your head it’s raining,
    But outside it’s a sunny day.

    The safe haven of sleep
    Slips through your shaking hands
    As you struggle so much to keep
    Your head from sinking into the sand.

    When you’re lost and restless
    And your tired bones won’t sit still
    You tell yourself it’s hopeless
    Reaching for them ‘happy pills’.

    But they can’t save you from yourself
    And the demons raging inside,
    You make your own mental health
    By living the life you decide.

    When you get yourself right
    And put your own dreams first,
    You’ll start to see the light
    And lift yourself over the worst.

    To step back from the edge
    Before you’re lost to the dark below
    Is to finally make that pledge
    That you will still live for tomorrow.

    1. DMK

      murder and lies

      experience naively speaks
      walk’n walk’n
      walk’n cross the floor
      hours fly
      too many lies
      what was I lookin for?
      reaper takes the meek
      sad eyes
      no goodbyes
      no sound
      just found
      not a saint
      suns up
      can’t breathe
      walk’n walk’n
      walk’n across the floor
      what was I looking for?

      dmk (revised) 9/15/2016

  18. seingraham


    My struggle these past two years has been the same
    Trying to figure out why our eldest has abandoned us
    —her parents and sister— without word one as to reason
    Just – poof – gone as if dead or kidnapped,
    But, no longer in our lives – she and her boys – our grandsons

    No matter how hard I tried to discover the why and how of it,
    the worse it got; legalities occurred, making it impossible
    for me to pursue even an explanation. It was as if she, and they,
    had never existed and the advice – both legal and familial was,
    and is – let it go. You must forget them. You have no choice.

    To say I am perplexed is a mild understatement. On good days,
    that might begin to cover it. On most days, it doesn’t come close.
    I mostly feel a little bit insane, as if I’m grieving, but don’t know why.
    Are they dead? No, I don’t think so. I struggle to understand how
    this void where my daughter and my grandsons used to be
    is howling wildly in the dark.

    I called her mother-in-law the other day, figuring I’d appeal to her—
    one mother to another. How foolish.
    This formerly warm-to-me woman talked to me with a voice dripping
    ice and unfriendliness, so alien, I was sure I had a wrong number
    And all she would say, and repeatedly was, “It’s between you and them.”

    No matter that I told her they haven’t spoken to us in two years
    That our daughter has filed a cease and desist letter against me
    That I wondered what they were telling people – were we dead?
    Had we moved away? I wondered what they’d told the boys, our
    young grandsons – how traumatised they might be if we run into
    them sometime …

    I got nothing from this woman which leads me
    to think she’s been told something pretty heinous about us;
    that would normally be upsetting all on its own, but it’s just
    part of the whole unbelievable situation
    I struggled to understand, to keep my temper, to not burst into
    tears before I got off the phone.
    It’s a tired story and a tired struggle, but it doesn’t seem to be
    getting any easier.

  19. Sara McNulty

    To Bed Or Not To Bed

    I know I should get out of bed,
    although I am stressed out and blue.
    Too many things swirl in my head.
    I know I should get out of bed,
    take a shower, get dressed instead
    of lying here, bed covers strewn.
    I know I should get out of bed,
    although I am stressed out and blue.

  20. SarahLeaSales

    Life is a tug-of-war,
    for our right hand often doesn’t know
    what the left hand is doing.

    We want two things that cannot coexist–
    a happy lover and a happy marriage,
    stay-at-home motherhood and a career,
    the food we want with the body we want.

    Like Irena Dubrovna,
    there is the fear of wanting,
    of getting what we want,
    and more than what we want.

    It isn’t what we see,
    but what we don’t see–
    the ringing telephone,
    the letter left unopened,
    doors not answered.

    We cannot fight what we cannot,
    or will not,

    “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12

  21. De Jackson


    This poem is
    a struggle, a red hot mess.
    It needs a life
    vest, a straight
    jacket, a kick in the pants
    and a hat
    to hang homeward.

    This poem needs
    a snuggle. A hug. Some small shrug
    to tell it the world is fine
    and good and right. Something
    to fight for. Some small flight
    of fancy. A sequin. Or a bit of

    It’s rambling
    and scrambling
    its own helter-skelter way,
    scuffling and scrapping together
    some semblance of sway

    This poem will
    neither boast nor stand
    upon some soapbox
    (derby) smile. It’s got a few
    thousand miles under its
    skin and a few million
    more to go and it’s slow
    as molasses but tastes
    pretty good over first
    December snow.

    Oh, this poem.

    See it climb, only
    to fall? See it fail? See it
    stall its way through another
    stanza trying to stand
    on its own two I Am
    -bic feet? See it treat
    itself to a word or two,
    a blue-streak phrase
    or a more somber hue

    See it worry
    and war and wrestle
    with its own self

    It’s about to get
    what it most de
    -serves: an ending.
    A bending toward fin
    -ality. Some personality
    to carry it up into this
    inky starspilled mess.

    This. Poem.
    Confess: un
    -dressed, it’s stressed.
    And not quite feeling its someday best.


      1. Sarah Metzler

        I agree with everything Sara said. I enjoyed reading your poem and looked forward to each new line. I also love the way you use fresh unexpected metaphors to elevate your poems and so pleasantly surprise me as your selection and placement of “A sequin.”

  22. taylor graham

    for Coppa Hembo

    He goes to prove himself
    against the bear. Grizzly gets under his skin
    clear down to bone.
    Left for dead
    but for the weapons of his hands,
    the man flays bearskin off Grizzly,
    carries it against his own
    flayed self, back to the village, the people.
    His scars give him voice.
    He teaches:
    look under the skin to find no enemy
    but friend. He teaches:
    battle against Grizzly is the last war
    he’ll wish.
    And: lest the enemy attack you
    from within, and burst in poxy blossoms
    on the skin,
    prick a cow’s fester, insert the poison
    deep through your own
    skin, a wound of healing
    like gush of wellspring from bare soil.
    The teacher carries bear scars
    to his dying breath,
    he lays him down in bearskin.

    1. seingraham

      I just finished watching “The Revenant” and somehow your poem reminded me of that, especially his mauling by the bear. Also, “Legends of the Fall” when the Brad Pitt character, in the end, gives over to the bear – I loved that – your poem actually speaks more to that character (at last to me) – in all, a wonderful poem.

  23. Walter J Wojtanik


    Without his dreams, a man will die,
    falling short of his desires.
    Some will not notice; some might cry
    as he’s laid beneath the briars.

    Having aims and goals gives one a direction;
    the focus for your life to provide
    all that your life needs to succeed.
    Without his dreams, a man will die,

    and surely, it’s a struggle,
    for life is not a piece of cake(walk).
    A man who would forsake his dreams will be
    falling short of his desires.

    The process becomes a slow dance to success.
    Try and fail only to rise and try again.
    People will see you for who you are:
    some will not notice; some might cry

    to know they had given up on the same dream.
    It seems he wishes to rise above like rich cream,
    and surely, once committed, will reach higher
    as he’s laid beneath the briars.

  24. Julieann

    A Struggle Against Time

    Each of us is given an exact measure of time
    Whether we count it in seconds, minutes,
    Hours, days, weeks, or whatever!
    Sixty seconds make a minute
    Sixty minutes make an hour
    24 hours make a day
    And seven days make a week
    No matter how I count it
    How I look at it
    How I prioritize it
    Nothing seems to help
    No matter how fast I read,
    Or sew, or quilt, or garden,
    Visit family and friends
    No matter how seldom or often
    I look at the clock
    There is just too much to do
    Too many irons in the fire
    Than all the remaining time allotted to me
    Will consent for completion of the task!

  25. Al

    The Deplorables

    I struggle to see the light
    on the left or the right.
    Though they champion the Bible
    both are deplorable.

    Is it really the right’s guide.
    when some preach racial pride,
    or claim that in God they trust
    but like Him they’re not just?

    How can those on the left, pray
    when a fetus they say,
    is not a life until birth,
    let it return to dirt?

    Whether on the left or right
    claiming they are the light,
    I see the deplorable,
    doing what is awful.

  26. Connie Peters

    Sugar War

    Sugar is like a stealth bomber
    cloaked in so many foods I love.
    Going down the grocery aisle
    is like tiptoeing through a minefield.
    Skipping sugar shows how much
    a prisoner of war I am, with aches,
    moodiness and sluggishness.
    I may never win the victory
    of being completely sugar free,
    but I can comfort myself knowing
    less is better that more.


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