Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 370

For today’s prompt, write an evacuation poem. Today’s prompt is inspired by Hurricane Matthew churning through the Bahamas and toward the United States, but there are any number of reasons for people to evacuate. And myriad possible stories related to evacuations.

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Here’s my attempt at an Evacuation poem:

“Fire Drill”

Always 3 a.m. when some guy would pull the fire alarm
in our all boys dorm my freshman year of college. Always
on nights when I’d just fallen asleep after studying
for a test. And it seemed that it would always be a prank.

Until, of course, the night that I’d slept through the fire alarm,
because of a week of homework and tests. I remember
closing my eyes and then opening them to a large man
in a fire fighter suit telling me to get out, and I

stumbled my way down the stairwell as the alarm did its
best to disorient me (like usual) until I was
outside watching the boys’ faces watching and pointing at
the side of the building dripping water, because someone,

as I later learned, thought it’d be a good idea to play
with fireworks in the trash chute. And I don’t remember my
test later that morning or how I did in my classes,
only sprinkler water and not waking up on my own.

*****

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 would not recommend an all-boys dormitory to anyone who wants to sleep through the night.

Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.

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99 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 370

  1. artifiswords

    WAITING TILL THE END

    We’ve been warned
    The seas are rising
    And as we refuse to see
    The writing on the wall
    We risk ever greater loss
    We build our lives in
    Precarious places…
    Prone to disasters
    Natural or not…
    One day it will be
    Too late…will we
    Get a clue and
    Leave behind a
    Precarious existence
    Or evacuate on the run?
    Human nature says
    It’s the latter

    © 2016 Robert Mihaly

    Posted also to:
    https://artifiswordpresscom.wordpress.com/2016/10/22/waiting-till-the-end/

  2. Arash

    Today in Canada is Thanksgivings Day. I combined the idea of giving thanks, and the current prompt, and wrote a poem today:

    It’s Not Easy at All to Give Thanks
    by Arash

    It’s not easy at all
    To give thanks. You recall
    I’m sure the day you sent
    Me, this heavy present
    You wrapped in skin and woe—
    With nerves you’d tied the bow!
    The day you sent this I:
    Unknown, unasked, from high;
    With fury, fear, and shame;
    With grief, torment, and blame….

    The vacuum cleaner drones
    And fills the emptiness
    With dead skin cells and waste.
    This old vacation home
    Is where we’ll house the guests
    This Thanksgiving…and more.
    A child who coughs and spits
    Who laughs for no reason
    Looks up at me, says thanks!
    I don’t understand you.

  3. ReathaThomasOakley

    Evacuation

    Soft white bread
    thickly spread with butter,
    no margarine in our house,
    a dab of mustard for one
    slice of Sunday’s ham and
    Daddy’s sharp hard cheese,
    folded in a napkin, stuffed in
    my right front dungarees’ pocket,

    Big Chief tablet, pages filled
    with Shakespeare’s sonnets
    carefully copied while sitting
    on the dusty cloak room floor,
    Mrs. Kaler was my favorite teacher,
    I needed nothing else to escape,
    to make my way to the deep
    yellow-sand pit in the vacant lot,
    my sanctuary, my place of solitude,
    my little moment of perfection.

  4. uvr

    I have banished your memories
    hovering like wisps on clear summer skies
    brushed aside the soft brown of your gaze
    with the autumn leaves drifting across my face
    shovelled away your icy neglect
    that falls like winter snow
    shut down every spring hope
    struggling to bloom out of the cold earth

    What more can I leave out of my thoughts?

    All that is left
    is the empty husk of my mind
    and the vacant shell of my body

    But still I think of you

    Some dreams are squatters
    clinging to every scrap of space

      1. ppfautsch24

        EVACUATE
        Hurricane gale force winds
        blow and bellow, cutting currents
        over the sea of unrest voices
        screaming with dread.
        Forecast threatened to leave,
        vacate, evacuate the political
        season of 2016.
        But, I will stake my claim
        to weather the storm and cast
        my vote, to let my voice be heard.
        By Pamelap

  5. DMK

    gray lazy turned to charcoal rainy
    hot chocolate, cider maybe with a nudge
    what ever will allow heat to stay within
    keeping cold damp without
    heavy on my chest teas having trouble
    fever making cold less, then like a betrayer;
    opening the door becoming colder than ever
    no one but a blanket who might just get a name
    after all the time spent together keeping still and warm
    difficult to evacuate pray won’t come to that
    falling trees, rocks soil are just as likely
    to being underwater not to view the fish

    ** Hurricane Matthew up north

  6. seingraham

    THE DILEMMA OF EVACUEES

    Another article in today’s paper
    explains why we can’t take in any more
    refugees – why we’re full-up here
    And not two pages over, a photo
    of wild-eyed folks trying not to fall out
    of an over-filled small boat, in a rough sea
    Plus, reruns of photos of the children
    dead on the beach in Greece, and
    others being hauled out of bombed
    buildings in Aleppo
    These are some of the very people we,
    amongst others, are refusing to take
    in – these people who are fleeing
    their homeland have no choice
    We, we who have choices, are beginning
    to harden our hearts to those who have
    none – those being forced to evacuate
    their countries
    How is it, we cannot put ourselves in
    others’ shoes?

  7. Cynthia Page

    Hurricane Camille

    Leaving was nothing new to us.
    We moved more often than blue-northers rained.
    We had one of those the week before she came
    ashore, before the infamy of her name.
    They called her Camille that August year;
    second worst cyclone and much more.
    A category five, she wove across the gulf,
    blasting beaches and houses from shore to shore.
    The sheriff’s deputy went house to house
    in Turtle Cove, our boating community,
    climbed to each stilted house or called across
    porch to porch. He gave us just two hours to leave.
    Mom arrived with truck and brawn.
    We loaded all – from couch and dish to shoe and sock
    While the deputy stood with hands on hips,
    leaning on his squad car, telling Mom
    she had to stop, but she didn’t care.
    She would not leave behind a brush or hair;
    clothing piled inside blankets and sheets;
    five beds with dresser drawers on top;
    knick-knacks jumbled with pots and pans.
    Mom’s paintings cushioned between box springs
    and the electric organ blanket wrapped;
    her oil paints, gesso, and her brushes, too,
    in grocery bags with odds and ends
    carried downstairs and tucked in truck corners.
    Our house was on stilts, just a mile from the beach,
    so every trip was down the stairs, and shove it in,
    and then back upstairs to grab for more.
    Nothing was missed except our trash;
    not even a shirt or hat left behind.
    In three hours we were mostly done,
    all was ready for the drive to Houston.
    I didn’t want to leave our home,
    however temporary I knew it was.
    But winds blew harder, tossing choppy waves
    in the boat docks below each lifted house,
    and the only levee road to dry land
    was nearly swamped when we drove away.
    Camille turned aside to the north.
    She hit Mississippi hard, missing Texas
    by hundreds of miles, but her storm surge
    and winds whipped all the gulf states.
    Camille never came close to Turtle Cove,
    but storm-track predictions were harder then.
    I hated the drama and the letdown.
    I wanted to go back, but I was a child,
    unaware of all the reasons to run.
    There was more to her decision than wind and rain.

  8. grcran

    Muster Stations

    Behave. Nothing lewd nor risqué.
    Evacuation is today.
    God says yes.
    Evacuation is this practice thing.
    A skill you’ll bring
    To the dance.

    She says yes.
    Cohabitation. It’s no novice thing.
    Love’s trill does ring
    With romance.

    Crew says yes.
    Not prevarication. This is happening.
    He says no.
    He knows the drill. Unwilling.
    He can’t chance it.
    He stays.

    gpr crane

  9. DMK

    friend strangers people are good to me
    rather than hidden or open cruelty
    those I pray blessing over
    format able chore: bless and cover
    more effort if causing woe
    repenting; my friend are those in the know
    low/ slow; that’s how people grow
    Are you sure it doesn’t count for your soul ?
    we people are stupid go with what is sure
    how can we live/endure?
    for your sake
    would I evacuate?
    keep you in the loop
    bring a bowl of chicken soup

  10. Beth Henary Watson

    Because I Said (The Bad Boss)

    His tone, though civil, said
    Evacuate A-SAP
    Run if you know what’s good
    Not only for you, but
    For your wife, for your kids,
    Lest I ruin your life
    With what I do not know.
    But I’m in charge, so there:
    That’s all I have for you.
    There’s no time for questions.

  11. RJ Clarken

    Beautiful Day

    “Beautiful day for an evacuation, isn’t it?” ~Doug Dalenay

    The talking heads of weather brought
    the news, so milk and bread were bought.
    And tubs were filled. And windows nailed with boards
    as hoards prayed they’d not failed.

    But coastal living has a cost.
    A storm? A surge? What could be lost?
    Evacuation was the call, since soon,
    no dune could hold the squall.

    An heirloom once is now not that.
    Upholstery? Watch mud go splat.
    An act of one disgruntled god? Or just
    Earth’s crust? Or ice that’s thawed?

    Where do you go when this is home?
    Trees downed by wind; floors filled with foam.
    A lovely day to watch debris float by.
    That’s why. Evacuee.

    ###

  12. writinglife16

    Gray Matter Evacuation

    My memories
    have left my life.
    Winds blow through my mind
    stirring up remnants of laughs
    and whispers of pain.
    Like a toddler learning to stand,
    I grasp at stability.

  13. Sara McNulty

    Another School

    Another school
    bound in yellow
    crime scene tape.
    Another shooting,
    children evacuated,
    crying–parents in panic.
    Manic perpetrators,
    and victims younger
    and younger. These are
    not people forced from
    their homes by hurricane
    warnings, tornados, or fire.
    Situation is dire. This is not
    Mother Nature at work. Where
    can troubled citizens get help?
    When are gun laws going to change?
    Why do we owe an allegiance
    to the NRA? How many more
    schools will be bound in yellow
    crime scene tape?

  14. taylor graham

    GET OUT OF TOWN

    It’s an Americana thing, out the door
    like closure on the same old place,
    gotta get moving, hear the ocean tiding
    in a sea shell, head for the open
    spaces. Imagine your dad’s new car
    sleek as a fox – a glimpse of dash
    and disappear, leaving yesterday in
    a cloud of exhaust; taking off
    up Citrus Hill where the world opens up
    in vistas as far as the county line.

  15. Shennon

    My mind screams “Evacuate!”
    As I contemplate
    The approximation
    Of the girl I’d like to date

    But I can’t tolerate
    The wait for fate to instigate
    So I extricate and deprecate
    Myself, feeling deflated

    With no means to compensate
    Alone again I recalculate
    A way to find and isolate
    The girl who quickens my heart rate.

    –ShennonDoah

  16. qbit

    Into the Void

    If I were an angry God
    Back when darkness
    Lingered on the face of the deep,
    Maybe I would have left things
    As they were,
    Let Nothing’s perfect vacuum
    Continue for eternity,
    Sparing myself the trouble.
    Skip all the Sturm und Drang
    Between Genesis and Revelations
    Because in the end everyone has to clear out
    Anyway.
    Why bother?

    Or if I were a benevolent God
    And couldn’t help
    That first utterance
    Which split darkness from light —
    It just felt so good.
    Would I come to regret it,
    The day Adam and Eve
    Have to pack up and go?
    My enthusiasm
    Always gets the better of me —
    Humans, Pet Rocks, Mood Rings —
    All seemed like good ideas
    At the time.

    Instead it is only me.
    I do have some lonely power
    To create,
    And eternity
    Is waiting for you
    To come to bed,
    But I’m not ready yet to shed
    This mortal coil,
    Leave the world as I entered it
    With less on my back
    Than a refugee.
    Even my skin.
    Left behind
    In the rubble of paradise.

  17. deringer1

    Imagine

    I close my eyes and try to see
    bombers flying over head. I try to hear bombs exploding
    on my street, my neighbors screaming.
    I cannot.

    I wonder, what would I grab to take along
    if I had to leave my home,
    my comforts, everything dear?
    I cannot imagine it.

    I try to see myself in a far-away place
    depending on charity for food and shelter.
    Where would I go? where would I live?
    I cannot see.

    I breathe a prayer for those
    who do not have to imagine , for
    they live everyday in fear and depravation.
    May God have mercy on them and
    on those who cause their pain.

  18. Anthony94

    Staying through Matthew, 2016

    In the photo, she is the face
    of a shantytown in Haiti,
    peeking out from beneath
    her burlap scarf with her
    hundred braids and wide
    eyes. She is one who won’t
    leave believing with her
    elders that in absence
    someone will steal the few
    possessions that make up
    her world, arrayed beneath
    the tin roof, the pots propped
    against rusted walls, arranged
    around the dirt floor. So I pray
    her safety will be floated above
    the swirling water and palm
    bending wind and that she
    will not be detritus counted
    as stubborn inevitability after
    the eye as big as Arizona passes.

  19. SarahLeaSales

    Intimate Portrait of an Unnamed Woman

    The hurricane was her coroner,
    classifying her as dead in the water.
    The wind had placed her in an
    unreliable witness protection program.
    The flooding had buried the ewe,
    birthing a lioness.
    She had gathered wool for years,
    and now pulled it over the eyes
    of her hungry captors;
    her bleat became a roar.
    With her past wiped out by nature,
    her future, by nurture, was made possible.

  20. PowerUnit

    Not all rumbling is thunder
    The worst tragedies are silent, slow
    Internal rumbling, inescapable decay
    Boiled frogs littering the fields
    Freedom, to change, an unwillingness to admit defeat
    Evacuate the mob, thinking
    It’s the only way

  21. De Jackson

    In Case of Emergency, Break Glass

    This poem is a perfect storm.

    The abnormal crawlings and clawings
    of a wayward gypsy heart. Clouds are
    forming, global word-warming, drops
    waiting to spill. Beware saltwater and
    too much silence, the violence of
    scattered whim and will, wonder and
    worry filling tree skins with equal
    measure.

    So far, it’s stayed off the Richter scale,
    flown below the radar, known how to
    be
    without causing mass panic
    in the streets. But it’s building.

    Willing itself into
    thunder and rage and hurricane
    pages tornadoed loose. It’s both
    lifeline and noose, sink and swim,
    refuge
    and eye
    of the tempest.

    It’s a huge deluge of both dream
    and doubt.

    It’s got plenty of warning

    (sighs)</i
                    signs,

    but we can’t get out.

    ::

    1. De Jackson

      Booooo. Formatting issue. Sorry.

      In Case of Emergency, Break Glass

      This poem is a perfect storm.

      The abnormal crawlings and clawings
      of a wayward gypsy heart. Clouds are
      forming, global word-warming, drops
      waiting to spill. Beware saltwater and
      too much silence, the violence of
      scattered whim and will, wonder and
      worry filling tree skins with equal
      measure.

      So far, it’s stayed off the Richter scale,
      flown below the radar, known how to
      be
      without causing mass panic
      in the streets. But it’s building.

      Willing itself into
      thunder and rage and hurricane
      pages tornadoed loose. It’s both
      lifeline and noose, sink and swim,
      refuge
      and eye
      of the tempest.

      It’s a huge deluge of both dream
      and doubt.

      It’s got plenty of warning

      (sighs)
      signs,

      but we can’t get out.

      ::

      1. PressOn

        “Beware saltwater and / too much silence, the violence of / scattered whim and will.” This poem is full of startling;y apt expressions, but for me, this is the crux 0f the piece. Wonderful.

  22. De Jackson

    Mass Exodus

    The sky is falling again, and they are calling
    to each other like Armageddon is in their midst.

    Moses (he’s the big one) has a doodle-bobber
    the size of a headdress and he’s obviously in

    charge, and his voice sounds part kitten, part
    authoritarian bully and he’s telling them all

    that this is the big one, that their cozy covey
    needs to get on the move. Now. And the bow

    -wow-wow call is the last straw, before they all
    abandon both limb and hope, and take to the blue.

    .

    1. qbit

      Really like all of that. Love the way “Now” and “bow-wow-wow”/”call” and “all” work. Just pulls the reader though.and launches into the sky.

  23. headintheclouds87

    In Fear of Innovation

    Searching for motivation,
    Slipping and falling into
    These so-called situations,
    Caught in life’s trap
    Without slightest notion
    Of how and why we got here.

    These same old streets,
    Same stilted conversations
    Soon imbed in tired minds
    The seed of frustration.
    That cell so real, we soon forget
    It is of our own creation.

    We can unlock ourselves,
    Alter our destination,
    For in each life we wear out,
    And in every failed vocation
    There is still hope of escape
    And chance of evacuation.

  24. Nancy Posey

    I’ve been out of pocket for a few weeks, but I’m back!

    The Next Storm

    We’ve boarded up our vacation home,
    following the same steps we’ve used
    so many times before, the price we pay
    for living this close to paradise, a view
    of the ocean closer than close enough
    to smell the salt air, to hear the gulls’ cries.

    We mark the years by names of storms
    we’ve run from, leaving the coast early
    but not early enough to avoid long lines
    of traffic, more frustration than desperation.

    Even as we eye the darkening skies,
    monitor our weather apps, tune in
    to the local radio for regular reports,
    our minds wander to people in Haiti,

    with only one home, nowhere to run,
    no way to board up windows, to fill
    water jugs, their wells a four-mile
    walk away. They get their weather
    reports in real time: the water line
    working its way up the wall, wind
    whipping, ripping. The tap-taps
    they ride into town are gone now.

    In a few hours, in our dry, calm house,
    we’ll watch the news looping over
    and over, reporters standing knee deep
    in flood waters, shouting into mikes
    the worst is over, the search begins
    now for the quick and the dead.

  25. PressOn

    ON WALKING THROUGH A GHOST TOWN OUT WEST

    I wondered, when I saw the place
    of weathered wood and vacant space,
    if folks who lived there had a race
    to leave no trace; to leave no trace

    of what they did or what they ate
    or how they lived or met their fate.
    But someone said, and did not prate:
    “Evacuate! Evacuate!”

  26. Walter J Wojtanik

    WOODLAWN BEACH

    On Erie’s shore just south of Buffalo, in the shadow of Bethlehem Steel, Woodlawn Beach languishes. Sand strewn with driftwood, seaweed interwoven between seashells and toes. Rocky layers stubbing and protruding, eluding them was a battle. The passing years have brought a stench, the Steel Plant having been evacuated, stands as an ominous reminder of the decay. Dead fish and gulls lay where children once played, now they stay off shore. No more escaping or scraping memories out of her unkempt shell. It’s just as well. Woodlawn Beach is closed again. The beachcombers have stayed away! This Year. Every year.

              nature left in ruin
              nothing left but to witness
              her painful demise

    © Walter J. Wojtanik – 2016

  27. tripoet

    Call It Eviction or Evacuation. Does It really Matter?

    I came home for Christmas vacation
    full of myself and Freshman euphoria
    of independence. Did I even belong
    to this “old” family when I had so many
    “new” friends. Friends who didn’t tell me
    to eat every scrap off my plate. Friends
    who didn’t care if I was a genius or even
    passed a class for that matter. My parents did.
    Yes, it was cold in our home that Christmas.
    The chill came up from the floor and kept
    on going. Even our meals felt the draft.
    I didn’t care much about that family until
    I answered the door to a ring everyone else
    ignored, had gotten too used to, I suppose.
    So when the eviction notice came it landed
    in my hands. Somewhere along the line, they’d hid
    the news, even between the lines, of letters they’d sent
    me, their obligation to assure my college days were fun.
    that my dad had been shown the door at work
    and now we’d been shown the door too.

  28. Connie Peters

    Louisiana Evacuation

    Nothing like the feeling
    you get when a hurricane
    descends on your daughter
    as she escapes to Arkansas

    and then days later makes
    her way back with a convoy
    of cars. And then you
    listen on the phone

    as she returns to her apartment
    and checks her toilet
    for critters that may have
    washed up from the flood.

    I’m glad she’s in Phoenix now.
    Nothing more to worry about
    than a haboob on the highway
    or heat exhaustion.

  29. Walter J Wojtanik

    MEMORY EVACUATION

    My memory is dotted with crisp images
    that have ingrained into the depth of my soul.
    I have no control over them; they lay dormant,
    only to bubble to the surface when I least expect.
    Trying in vain to relinquish these old feelings,
    I reel with remorse, this sad course I contemplate
    leaves me silent and still and alone.
    And so, I am left kneeling in supplication,
    a broad brush of despair paints me.

    © Walter J. Wojtanik – 2016
    This clown cries out from within, making a spectacle
    of my mirth and mired muse. My evacuation
    refuses to take hold; these memories grip me;
    dominate me. It is too late. Love languishes.

    1. Walter J Wojtanik

      MEMORY EVACUATION

      My memory is dotted with crisp images
      that have ingrained into the depth of my soul.
      I have no control over them; they lay dormant,
      only to bubble to the surface when I least expect.
      Trying in vain to relinquish these old feelings,
      I reel with remorse, this sad course I contemplate
      leaves me silent and still and alone.
      And so, I am left kneeling in supplication,
      a broad brush of despair paints me.
      This clown cries out from within, making a spectacle
      of my mirth and mired muse. My evacuation
      refuses to take hold; these memories grip me;
      dominate me. It is too late. Love languishes.

      © Walter J. Wojtanik – 2016

    2. tripoet

      Wow. It is as though you have 2 poems here depending where you decide to end. I always think that,
      ( that meaning the poem owns the space) is a sign of a super poem as it can do its thing and stop or continue to keep on going and be significant either way. Nice work.

      1. Walter J Wojtanik

        Thanks tripoet! An inadvertent break feigns my “genius”. Not sure how that happened. But I agree, sometimes we try adding too much when a minimum would say so much more. Not sure if that’s the case here, but it does change the message a wee bit.

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