Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 368

For today’s prompt, write a poem using at least 3 of the following 6 words:

  1. ghost
  2. crack
  3. free
  4. hand
  5. check
  6. know

If you want to use any of these words within a larger word, that’s totally fine. For instance, ghostwriter, cracked, freedom, handle, checked, knowledge, etc. If you can use all six (as I’m about to try), you get extra credit.

Note: For those waiting for the 2016 April PAD Challenge results, I’m nearly there. Should post results before the month is over.


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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 a Six Words poem:

“When Do You Know You’ve Cracked?”

When a ghost checks your free hands for a pulse.


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 usually write one-line poems, but he just did.

Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.


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175 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 368

  1. stepstep


    Crack open your memory bank
    Without using a hand, only
    The will to know, to be free
    So free that one can check
    Ghost mind, Ghost mind, Ghost mind.


  2. artifiswords


    Like a ghost it came…
    I would have been
    Safe moments before
    Free of worry…
    But no longer did I feel safe
    I know it sounds a bit
    Unbelievable, but I felt
    As if the wind had
    Delivered a knockout punch
    Even a check of the weather
    Couldn’t have foreseen it…
    Just imagine a huge punch
    To a punching bag
    Changing the shape…
    Yet I was in a balloon
    And the “fist” was a wind gust
    Likely it was a collapsing cloud
    That was the cause…
    I learned that day
    To expect the unexpected
    And what else could I do?
    You have to be prepared

    © 2016 Robert Mihaly

    Posted also to:

  3. Chrismccaffrey86

    This is this week’s prompt and last week’s ‘struggle’ prompt combined (sorry if that’s cheating).


    Shall I compare thee to a battered ghost
    that still the Reaper’s hand has not yet touched?
    And still all that contains your fleshy host
    is the unstillness of addictions clutch.
    Your presence haunts me throughout the dark night.
    Your undistilled thoughts exorcise your soul.
    A demon has not demons he must fight,
    a spirit has no heartache to console.
    Your earthly shadow proves you still exist.
    It’s darkness outlines where your conscience went.
    And what stares at me now is a poisoned cyst:
    intoxicated, still, broken and bent.
    But unlike the ghost, I know I’ll see
    your bottled demons, let your soul go free.

  4. grcran

    tres bien

    picante plus beans equals food
    plus cheese oh you won’t need to check
    you’ll know it’s a rare kind of good
    glued into this crackin’ great snack
    sneak sideways to tortilla town
    hell yes belly up for the corn
    handmade glutenfree hunker down
    tres tacos to fix your forlorn

    gpr crane

  5. taylor graham


    The Great Debate’s on TV tonight
    screen ghosts pre-empting our monthly read-
    around at the Senior Center. The Center
    doesn’t care, it’s dark after-hours
    unless, with free hand and swipe-key
    from my poetry-pack, I unlock the door,
    turn on lights, spread out books and papers
    full of words – some of them unpolitic.
    What can it matter to the world,
    which I choose? Could the Debate chink
    a crack in already made-up minds?
    Could a poem change our rutted hearts?
    The debate’s important. You’ll stay
    home, hanging on each pointed question
    and its lingering answers, and then
    the facts-checkers, the commentators.
    You can tell me about it later. I’m going to
    unlock the Center door and turn on
    lights. If someone else shows up, we’ll trade
    poems, one leading unexpectedly
    to another, who knows where. If I’m alone
    I’ll speak to empty walls and fill
    the spaces in-between. They’ve been waiting
    all month for poetry. I’ll hear metaphor
    debate with plain-spoken evening,
    then inhale the words back again, changed
    by their journey through air; I’ll look
    differently at morning.

    1. ppfautsch24

      Lofty Dreams
      Scenes ghostly waft freely
      through the cracks of my dreams.
      I check the hands on the clock
      knowing that time will pass slowly
      until morning dawns.
      By Pamelap

  6. Julieann

    Robert, I loved your poem!! Here are my three attempts.


    She shuddered
    Feeling the cold shadow
    Pass through her
    Even to feeling the
    Cracks of his rough skin in her hand

    The knowledge that
    He was gone
    Did not set her free
    She lived in a bondage
    Of anxiety and horror

    She reread the papers
    His obituary told the sordid story
    His physical body — gone
    Yet his villainous spirit lingered
    While his ghost haunted her daily

    A Ghost of a Chance

    There was still a ghost of a chance
    He’d return – their love transcending
    Family, war, separation
    He’d come for her
    He had to know she’d wait
    Forever, if need be
    Years were now against them
    The difference between youth
    And old age no longer a crack
    But an almost unsurmountable chasm
    It was foolish, she knew, to continue
    To hope they’d finally be free
    To go off into the sunset hand in hand


    She knew his soft touch
    How loving his rough cracked hands
    Felt when they caressed her skin
    They were as soft as a
    Ghost’s spirit passing through her
    Reminding her of their young carefree days
    When their unchecked emotions
    Defied sense and sensibilities

  7. qbit


    Orange juice
    Cracking my tongue
    Redolent the
    Breaking dreams into
    Pieces of day
    Small enough
    For hands
    Rote bravery
    Kens the difference
    Between tea and toast

    1. seingraham

      Gorgeous, Jane. Did I tell you I received your wonderful book about a week or so ago? I’ve been reading and re-reading it most nights before bed. It’s delightful sister-friend; you are one talented woman.

  8. Bruce Niedt

    This challenge definitely calls for a sestina! I went all Poe on this one, I think:

    Ghost in the Wall

    I swear I heard a ghost.
    I swear I saw a face in a crack
    in the wall plaster. It wanted to free
    itself, it wanted me to put a hand
    on it to feel the fissured features, to check
    that it was real, to forget everything I know

    about logic and science and say, “I don’t know
    what exists. I have never seen a ghost
    but I know when I walk through fog, I check
    to be sure there are no spirits, no cracks
    in this dimension where I can push my hand
    through and find that it can’t get free.”

    I imagine too much. I need to free
    my mind from reverie. I need to know
    that when the hairs on the back of my hands
    or neck stand up, it may not be a ghost,
    it may be an imperceptible breeze, or a crack
    of lightning about to form outside. I check

    dark rooms and closets at night. I check
    the hat rack in the corner, the branches waving free
    in the wind, casting shadows. That crack
    is still there, and it has grown. It seems to know
    that my unease is growing too. The plaster ghost
    extends a flaky, splintered hand.

    I recoil from the wall, and notice my hands
    are shaking. I need to hold my fears in check.
    How ridiculous to think I see a ghost
    in the wall, as if it were trapped, begging me to free
    it from its suspended state, as if I would know
    that passing through is difficult, and the crack

    is evidence of other dimensions, little cracks
    in the order of things, and that a face or a hand

    of some spirit could be frozen like in amber. I know
    how absurd this sounds. You may want to check
    my sanity, but I think it is my duty to free
    this troubled specter, to emancipate this ghost.

    I crack the walls apart with a sledge, check
    my hand too late. The roof will come down, I know,
    but this demolition, somehow, has freed a ghost.

      1. seingraham

        This is deliciously spooky, Bruce. And that extra line break? Maybe your ghost is just having a little bit of fun with you. I am easily frightened by some of the circumstances you describe in your poem, and even though I don’t know if I believe in God, I watched a new series on TV last night, “The Exorcist” (not based on the movie, but similar) and it struck me how easily I buy into that fear, evil in the form of demons – by logic then, I should believe in something good, yes? Sorry, having a stream of unconsciousness moment or ten. Always good to read your words.

    1. jubob2

      Very effective poetic horror, Bruce. Well done. The first time, I read this line as
      “it may be an imperceptible breeze, or a crack
      of lightning about to form inside. I check”
      And I loved the image of lightning about to crack inside you.

      Do you have a blog? I’d like to follow it.

  9. DMK

    where are my keys I know I set them down
    let me check between the cracks
    maybe days later they show up
    when the ghost removes them from its gown
    and my hand with it finger up with hiding game
    Ollie Ollie out come free
    just give my keys to me

  10. tripoet

    No Teeth

    The ghost floats
    into the dentist’s chair.
    He needs help.
    He has no teeth,
    poor dental care.
    Now he’s afraid
    to crack a smile.
    He blames his spooky mother.
    How could she knowingly
    be remiss, especially when
    checkups were free
    for spirits? His father
    had no hand in this.
    Indeed, his father had
    no hand at all.
    And he, he has no teeth.

  11. seingraham


    It’s the crack in the dark that lets the light in
    The hand reaching down to help you up
    A ghost of a smile that touches even the saddest eyes
    The things you just know without checking
    Are worth everything, and better, are free

  12. writinglife16


    She moved into her new home.
    She had heard there were ghosts,
    but had grown up next to a cemetery.
    She was used to seeing them,
    she just didn’t want to live with them.
    Decorated her place with fresh flowers.
    Freely sprinkled Anise, Angelica, Basil,
    Comfrey, Rowan and Thyme around.
    All rumored to protect from spirits.
    She had vases of Spanish moss
    and roses in every room, but she
    felt like something was missing.
    She was all set to relax when
    a hand holding a cup of hot tea
    floated in front of her and a voice said,
    “You didn’t seal all the cracks
    or burn the sage to clean this place.”
    As her body hit the floor, she knew
    what she had forgotten.

  13. headintheclouds87

    Lost to Dust

    She steps soundlessly
    Through ancient dust
    Checking for faint signs
    Of others like herself
    The lost and forgotten
    Slipping through the cracks
    Of mere mortal memory
    And became poor ghosts
    With no name or history.
    Her own is now clouded,
    The end by her own hand
    With no final note left
    And no one to ever know.
    She accepts this sad loss
    But shows souls the way
    In hope of setting another free.

  14. PressOn


    I thought I’d seen a monkey’s ghost
    the night I heard the pine tree crack,
    but no, an owl, flying free.
    had caught a moonbeam’s helping hand
    as it pursued its nightly check
    of meadowlands. An owl, you know,

    knows things not even sages know;
    it flies as silent as a ghost
    and keeps the vermin hordes in check;
    a mole within the smallest crack
    cannot escape its whispered hand
    as on it wanders, fleet and free.

    The wild is never danger-free,
    as prey throughout its domain know,
    yet, wilderness can lend a hand
    when freedom has given up the ghost
    in cities wracked with guns and crack
    and fear holds gentleness in check;

    in wilderness there’s little check
    on dreams that long to stream as free
    as rain that finds the smallest crack
    and bids the poorest seedling know
    that growth is neither gnome nor ghost
    and hope is present, ever at hand.

    If gods there be, they had a hand
    in making wilderness a check
    on times when hope is but a ghost
    and it seems that one is never free;
    in wilderness I always know
    that joy can explode, akin to the crack

    of tamarack when ice-boughs crack;
    akin to sunrise’s lifting hand
    that births the thermals that red-tails know.
    No, joy is seldom held in check
    when grass grows tall and winds blow free
    and the smallest owl can ape a ghost.

    At rest, I crack some nuts and check
    the hour hand. I wrench it free,
    content to know the monkey’s ghost.

    1. Bruce Niedt

      This is great, William. I had the same idea (a sestina) and even started it much the same way (before reading yours, I swear). Yours has a very strong iambic throughout, with some beautiful language (:…of tamarack when ice-boughs crack…”).

  15. uvr

    A ghost of a smile
    drifted across your face
    I should have known
    what came next
    It had happened
    so many times
    yet I stood immobile
    unable to free myself
    from the clutches of fear
    You took your time
    checked the softness
    of my cheek
    with a gentle hand
    l began to relax
    Then I heard the crack
    of a gun shot
    before I felt it slam into me

    At least there won’t be a next time

  16. RJ Clarken

    Check the Cookie Jar

    “The house smelled musty and damp, and a little sweet, as if it were haunted by the ghosts of long-dead cookies.” ― Neil Gaiman, American Gods

    The jar? It makes a little crack-
    ing sound, as if a maniac
    is free to haunt my cookie jar. A ghost?
    At most, a tiny bar

    is what he took? I have to check!
    Ya leave me some? Oh! What the heck!
    I stick my hand into the jar. For naught!
    The lot is au revoir.

    That damp and musty cookie-ghoul
    has stolen every cookie-jewel.
    I know each morsel of a treat is gone.
    Hang on…A CRUMB! How sweet.


  17. G.Wood

    Dear God don’t, please don’t, let me see a ghost–
    a thousand prayers in that vein,
    a cracked eyelid checking
    to see if the supernatural
    would forget their invisibility cloaks
    and let me spy their secret plain.
    Closing my eyes to the unknown, limiting my definition of free,
    I fell asleep in the comfort of God’s mercy
    blocking the other side from me.

    And now Mama’s gone.
    I know I prayed a fortress between us
    that not even Joshua could stomp to the ground.
    The nights are quiet.
    Not a whisper or a rustle.
    Not the sound of her deliberate hustle coming down the hall.
    Nothing at all.
    Not a shadow, not peripheral movement,
    not a creak or a thump or a laugh or a graze of her hand.
    Not one reassuring signal that the wall between us can’t withstand.

  18. Tracy Davidson

    The End is Nigh

    I did not believe in ghosts
    but cracks between dimensions
    set dead souls free

    now no earthly, or heavenly, hand
    can check their progress
    no-one knows where this will end

  19. Sara McNulty

    The Moocher

    Dressed as a ghost,
    he arrived at the party.
    Empty-handed, he greeted his host.
    Right on time; he was never tardy.
    Cracked voice gave up his checkered past,
    enabling all guests to know
    who he was, and that he’d be last
    to leave, soon as beer ceased to flow.

  20. trishwrites


    You only held her tiny frame
    once in your arms
    Linked fingers in your own hands
    too briefly

    Was it two spirits bound
    She has your eyes
    And your wise soul

    They say it can happen you know
    Two souls twined

    How did you find us?
    Nineteen years later
    on a cursed night
    We paced
    hospital halls
    Not knowing to whom we
    prayed any longer

    We felt your ghost
    walking the halls
    beside us
    We think you might have
    cried out in anger
    That you said she’s too young
    You can’t have her

    I had to shake my head
    Because I swear
    It was you I saw standing there
    Sending her back to us

  21. lsteadly


    Long ago in Italy
    I sat with you awhile
    at the café
    our hands each holding
    an espresso

    You were afraid
    to check your watch,
    admit the ghosts
    slipping through the crack
    of time between
    you and me

    How was I to know
    you wer never
    free of them,
    those ghosts that toyed
    with your heart?
    How did I not see
    the cracks in your hands?

  22. Pwriter10

    JUST A SPEC by DeAndre Oolong

    Know yourself
    if knowing or the self are known.
    So you told me (as if I looked like a philosopher).

    You were a philosopher though,
    at least in the morning
    after our eyes refused to lock.
    A single strand of hair on the bed.
    Did I even know you, or was it a ghost –

    or just a freehand drawing God gave to me,
    a spec to check (if God’s specs can be checked).
    Otherwise, I’d say you were
    just a code to crack
    if cracking codes were something I cared for.

    And I did care for you – I thought –
    if caring is something that can be thought.

  23. Walter J Wojtanik


    He reverts back to where he started,
    now a ghost of his former self.
    A crack had developed in his resolve,
    and solving cryptic word puzzles
    never allowed him to free his mind
    in the ways he was used to.
    His poetic hand was worn and tired
    and he had retired from poemic pursuits.
    But the new recruits didn’t know enough
    to check his myriad of work.
    A once “big deal” had gotten sick of lurking
    in the shadows; he thought
    he ought to get back to expressing
    what his heart wrongly guessed was best left unsaid!
    It was better to come back from the dead!

    © Walter J. Wojtanik – 2016

  24. candy

    Behind the Mask

    it was the ghost of a smile
    you tried to hide
    behind a calloused hand
    that was the first crack
    in your stoney facade
    a secret sense of humor
    you tried valiantly to keep
    in check
    and when that grand guffaw
    was set free
    I knew you had a tenderness

    1. Arash

      He is a bit like your poem; by the time I reached the word “inside”, I had passed through layers of ink and meaning, to come in contact with a tenderness behind it all. Nicely done, I liked it.

  25. taylor graham


    We’ve come to dig down by hand pick, shovel,
    and brushes fine as feathers flicking off the dust,
    finding cracks in a checkerboard of settlement
    and ruin, the hardpacked tromp of ages. We’re
    digging: direction bedrock, hoping to uncover –
    to set free – artifacts of the natural order that
    sprang us here. Who knows what they might tell.
    No actual ghost, but a story of courtesies and
    killings, of civilizing ourselves by glacial steps
    and sudden enlightenings: beasts in the stable;
    plough-horses measuring out the same old rows
    by decades; a child who turns the world on its
    head by speaking one new word.

  26. SarahLeaSales

    Hysteric Asymmetric

    Crackie O’Cain was a know-it-all,
    with a sniff upper lip,
    yet her left hand knew not
    what her right hand did;
    when she fused
    Personality #1 & Personality #2,
    (a.k.a. Thing #1 & Thing #2),
    she lost her ambidexterity,
    becoming one-sided, yet torn in twain.

  27. taylor graham


    The place is haunted. But which is the ghost
    here? Folks who used to work and walk
    the land, or I the intruder on their space?
    Creatures of hands turning soil,
    tending vines and milking cattle, planting
    hopeful seedlings from a world away.
    A girl who walked to the ridge-crest every
    evening to watch the sun pass over
    her homeland across a sea, her flight back
    checked – only ghosts move free as will.
    I know the stories. I wish to learn the secrets
    of this place. Stay Out, a sign warns
    at the creaky door. I peer through cracks
    in the old barn. The owl who roosts there
    litters the floor with pellets, small casks
    of fur, hair, and tiny bone, secrets of lives
    to be dissected or mucked away. The ghosts
    have flown into a crack of day. Traffic
    on the main road. Brittle gust of leaves
    flying to October.

  28. deringer1


    None of us have a ghost of a chance
    to get out of this world alive.
    Oh, I’m sure that you know this
    and yet you still feel free
    to close your eyes to
    the reaching hands
    of those who
    need you

  29. De Jackson

    Dragon (e)Scape

    Fire has brought her to the brim
    end of the sky, the mar
    -bled place where why no longer

    Scatter her scales, they weigh
    nothing, anyway;
    the frailty of her un
    -checked skin, a song.

    She wants, and haunts, her
    heart a moon cracked open
    to let slip free hands,

                         known ghosts.


  30. De Jackson

    To Arms, To Arms


    This world’s gone all cracked
    and cattywampus crazy again
    and oh, I wish we could be
    ghosts with transparent skin
    and checkered hands, polka
    -dot spots that say
    king me if you can.

    It’s a big ol’ mess down here
    below. But this, see?
    I am free

    into gentle arms,
    where I can just
    and know.



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