Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 389

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For today’s prompt, write an improvement poem. It could be an improvement you’d like to see in yourself, in someone else, or in a machine, tool, or whatever else you can think to improve. (For instance, I’d like to see an improvement in how at least some folks are having to comment on this blog.)


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 an Improvement Poem:

“Never Ending”

i lose 20 pounds
so i can start running
& the more i run
the more i want to lose weight

& the more i want to improve
other things in my life
like my writing
which always requires more reading

& of course my kids
could always use a little more
of my time & attention
to details

& i’d like to volunteer
with the church & scouts
& the world in general
& it seems like i’m always

looking for the next way
to improve myself
& those around me
& i’ve given up on finding

my way to a finish line


Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). And he believes in the process more than the result, whatever that means.

Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.


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96 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 389

  1. Eileen S

    Flow With the River

    Don’t push the river back uphill
    You will just be fighting the flow.
    The river is designed to flow by itself.
    If you fight the flow,
    you will be swept in the undertow.
    Become the river and just flow.

    I am accepting a difficult situation.
    I can not change the situation.
    I do not like knowing a person with an illness.
    I love the person, not the illness.
    I did everything I possibly could for this person.
    I can not change this person.
    If I don’t accept the situation,
    I will have no peace of mind or ability to progress.

    I am afraid to laugh because I’m betraying his memory.
    I am living as a prisoner of depression.
    I live in darkness and sadness.

    I now realize that the anger I hold for this person
    imprisons me and keeps me from helping others.

    It’s just like trying to push the river back uphill.
    I need to change my thinking.
    Changing my thinking will change my feelings.

    I’ll be able to look at the river flowing down hill
    and feel the water, smell the air, taste the breeze.

    I realize that the flow of the river differs from
    how I thought things would be .
    I should flow with the river.

    If the river of life differs from your expectations,
    change your expectations and flow with the river.

    Don’t push the river back uphill
    You will just be fighting the flow.
    The river is designed to flow by itself.
    If you fight the flow, you will be swept in the undertow.
    Become the river and just flow.

  2. pipersfancy

    TITLE: Scotch with Soul

    Rufus Harley? Now, there was one cool cat!
    He was the MAN with the music.
    Women, when seeing that cocked hat
    take the stage would SWOON as though sick,
    and when he played—Ahh! The sounds he made!
    That black jazz man extraordinaire—
    no one could deny his sound swayed
    like a kilt at a Scottish fair!

    Now, hold on! What did you just say?
    About a black jazz man, and kilts a’sway?

    Well—with jazz musicians, there’s all type.
    Rufus marched to a different beat
    and played the Great Highland Bagpipe.
    Picked up his first set on the street
    after scouring New York’s pawn shops.
    Learning to play was a self-taught feat.
    Though his neighbours often called the cops
    he kept right on skirling in his suite
    and when they showed, his words rang true:

    “Officer, you jiving me, man?
    Now, do I LOOK Scottish to you?”
    (His pipes were shoved behind the divan)

    He played ’em loud, he played ’em strong!
    That Afro-wearing Scots Wha’ Hae
    to Clan MacLeod he did belong.
    Although unorthodox his style of play,
    it didn’t take him long—and soon he learns
    to play the blues, some funk and jazz
    (all in tribute, ‘course, to Robert Burns.)

    It was such a shame he had to die
    but (as all good Scots before him went)
    he plays a ceilidh in the sky
    while back here sing his lament.

    —Christina Perry
    *poem inspired by the real-life jazz musician, Rufus Harley.

  3. Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    Room For Improvement
    By Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    “Still room for improvement”
    he notes shakily on the clipboard,
    head slung down low, going
    for honesty over accolades.
    Serving as Super is never easy,
    thankless more often than not,
    but a paycheck is still a paycheck
    no matter the outcome,
    even if the employee happens
    to be your wife.

    © 2017 by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

  4. taylor graham


    There were no audio tapes in 1846 to hold
    against the guilty – if anyone back then
    would establish guilt. Was the black man
    guilty? – slave escaped from Dixie,
    hidden in the chill on deck among cargo?
    So cold, even a tomcat would creep below
    for shelter. No, that black man – kidnapped,
    you might say, by his wish for freedom –
    lived on the knife-edge, stowaway
    from the New World, hoping to jump ship
    on the colorblind shore of Europe.
    Just a day from landfall he was discovered,
    shackled, to be sent back to his master.
    Maybe there was guilt enough to spread
    clear across the Atlantic tiding cold and free.

  5. woodpeckerduo

    Comedy Act

    America’s all a-Twitter
    Different might be better

    But wait…

    Does making us great again
    Mean teaching us hate again?


    No improvement yet seen from any
    Poorly planned scheme by this
    Very rich and mean

    DA Crane

  6. taylor graham


    The cellar’s closed off – icebox tunnels
    and grotto-caves where we used to sit with tea
    around a rough-hewn table, shivering in our
    verse while in the next cubby an artist agonized
    over a world surrealistic in oils. Could our
    poems make more sense? The miner and his cat,
    both ghosts, keep their own counsel. We
    can’t meet in the cellar anymore, underground
    is locked for security/safety reasons.
    Is this an improvement? Rather, we climb
    the creaky retro-Victorian stairs. They say
    the ghost of a nurse – privy to as many secrets
    as the building itself – still haunts the rest-
    room-corner, emptying chamber pots. We sit
    down to poetry under the eyes of a great
    pachyderm out-of-place in this town.
    It’s a wall-hanging of designs hieroglyphic,
    runic, or emoticon, I can’t tell from my
    perspective. What would it say to us? The stairs
    aren’t cordoned off – yet – to keep us here
    like a café secret, to make us part of security
    lockdown against those spirits of place
    already breached by the fact of words.

  7. Jane Shlensky

    If You Just

    Never mind how bad you feel,
    what news is fake and what is real,
    how much you think you cannot deal,
    just look at folks and smile.

    We’re—every one of us—half blind,
    half in and half out of our mind.
    Why not focus on being kind?
    Just look at folks and smile.

    Yes, some folks are the devil’s friend,
    and some annoy us without end,
    all sporting breakage we can’t mend,
    but look at them and smile.

    Pretend you’re seeing with God’s eyes
    a soul you love and can’t despise;
    let positivity revise
    your feelings as you smile.

    Humanity cannot displace
    its wrongs—what meanness we embrace—
    but we can still improve our face
    if we can only smile.

  8. Anthony94


    Improving soil means road time
    to another city for fine compost
    black as night, powder fine and
    sifting through the truck like soot.

    After a bulldozer load, we tarp
    and begin the long drive home to
    shovel and rake it onto gardens
    that dot old pastures like patchwork.

    Steady wind blows to gusts across the
    fields so we become covered with a dull
    darkness that sifts into boots, ears,
    nose. Five hours and our ache to

    improve this abused land becomes
    real through back and arms and legs.
    But there is more for the hauling so
    we hurry to beat the rain, our truck

    become like a covered wagon rolling
    westward bent on returning to the soil
    what’s been robbed by years of neglect,
    recycling someone’s yesterday into tomorrow.

  9. seingraham


    Take it apart – no – tear it apart
    and be ruthless, the editor says to me
    Do what you would if you were
    changing a very dirty diaper
    You know what you’d be getting rid
    of then, right?
    That’s what you need to do when you
    revise your poem – get rid of all the sh**
    That’s the only way to make it better,
    to make it good
    I know she’s right, I do
    Sighing, I begin


    Alone is an Improvement

    Coming home and the dishes
    Are undone and the food
    Is uncooked and the laundry
    Is unwashed and unfolded,

    Besides the sweeping
    That needs doing, and the garbage
    The needs taking out, not to mention the
    And other sundry tasks
    That wait for someone with a free moment
    To complete them.

    But the biggest chore of all was
    In bed,
    Home all day,
    Who could have completed some
    Of these tasks but chose not to.

    Now that chore is done, and
    I am alone, and
    Alone is an improvement.

  11. Walter J Wojtanik


    I’m doing great!
    I’ve lost some weight
    and of late I’m finding my mojo again.
    It hasn’t been easy (but then)
    nobody said it would be.
    I’m still the same old me,
    only better. I’m back
    to not sweating the small stuff.
    It’s enough that I sweat
    at all. Everything is small stuff.
    I’m far from buff, but don’t
    slough me off for trying.
    I’m relying on my health
    to be the wealth of me.
    I am firmly in the groove,
    not so new, but improved!

    © Walter J. Wojtanik

  12. JRSimmang


    I remember the
    way the sun hit the sill most,
    summer light prisms.

    The teacher telling
    us that she dreamed of waters
    clean and calm. A wish.

    She’d sit and stare at
    the pictures of Malibu
    and sigh, and sigh. And

    Sigh. At 10, the world
    seemed so large. Now, I find I
    get lost on the path

    out to my mailbox.
    I find that I’m not the man
    I thought I could be.

    -JR Simmang

  13. ReathaThomasOakley

    Promises to keep

    In my younger days, how long ago
    that was, I’d commit to paper
    dreams, plans, worries, tears,
    then tuck them carefully away
    in a corner of my cedar chest,
    ironically called ‘hope’ back then.

    When a year, a month, had passed
    I’d dig out a folded paper or two,
    review or throw away in disgust
    the simple words I was sure would
    bring happiness, or contentment,
    or some sort of change or
    improvement in my life.

    Now future plans swirl around in my brain,
    untethered to paper, mostly forgotten before
    I can pull them out for review or to contemplate.
    Perhaps improvement is an idle dream,
    happiness and contentment are not.

    1. Arash

      At first the title made me think of “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” But I see these are promises to oneself…perhaps no easier to break than to others, and to find contentment instead of achieving yet another thing. I quite enjoyed your poem, nicely done.

  14. Uma

    I am

    the choices I made
    every day, from the
    moment I knew
    I could choose.

    I am

    the paths I took.
    The ones that led me
    away from him
    took me to you.

    I am

    the decisions I made.
    The white of our wedding,
    not the red in which
    I would have wed him

    Am I

    the better version of me?
    The one I have become,
    defined by my choices.
    Not the one I would have been

    if I had chosen differently

    1. Arash

      That’s life isn’t it, with freedom of choice we take on responsibility also for what we have and what we could have had, and sometimes even blame, but at the least simply wonder about possibilities and alternatives and what could have been. I find the line “not the red in which/I would have wed him” mysterious. Your poem has a simplicity and to-the-pointness that I like. Nice.

  15. SarahLeaSales

    Improvement (is an Inside Job): In Acrostic

    It starts with the self
    Minimalism and mindfulness
    Productivity over busyness
    Recursive reading
    Occupational happiness
    Varying experiences
    Eat well, pray often, love the one you’re with
    Making time, taking time
    Endless intellectual curiosity
    Not afraid to say no
    Thank you, please, and I’m sorry

  16. Stephanie H.


    How I miss your chocolate chips
    And gravy on Sunday
    The promise of primrose lingering in the
    heavy summer sun
    Long naps to the rhythms of rice fields pumping, music playing, and baby oil
    simmering my shoulders to a crisp

    How I miss the smell of your cold cream
    and how you would try to sing
    When I played
    Long bus rides and band trips and football games

    How I love that you still cheer for me
    Still teach me
    How I hope
    To be that for him
    To do that for him
    To leave him missing
    The smell of homemade memories

  17. grcran

    the more things change…

    while some folks reckon things is gettin’ better
    the others swear they’ve gone from bad to worse
    we warm the world for flood, the mud is wetter
    we roll our pant-legs up, write higher verse

    increase syllables making iambs greater
    add letters at a record-setter’s pace
    best hurry, get ‘er done sooner than later
    achieve a toe-hold ‘fore you fall from grace

    stock market booms & crashes willy-nilly
    stock cars go faster, belch more smoke. they prove
    that thoughts of man’s improvement are quite silly
    when heads beat upon mountains, they won’t move

    * note: … and no, i won’t be revising this…

    gpr crane

  18. Stephanie H.

    The Mom I thought I Wasn’t

    He knows how to push them
    Those buttons
    That raise my volume
    Along with my blood pressure
    Until my temples bulge
    And my head flies off

    Words hurt
    And it shouldn’t hurt
    To be a child
    Or a mom

    So I kneel
    And beg
    For better
    I’ll do better

  19. taylor graham


    How many times fire’s come through this forest.
    Charred snags stand sentinel in mountain-
    misery – some call it “bear clover.” A common
    theme in our evolving history, inventing
    kinder names. Gold Rush miners were
    “unabashed” but we’ve renamed a local river- bend “Negro Bar.” And this hydraulic pit –
    overgrown now with pine and cedar as tall as
    the unmined forest around it – is known
    as Old Chinese Mine, even though my old map retains the racial slur. Chinese peasants who
    left their homeland for a better life
    weren’t always treated well here. Taunts
    and worse – the flames of Volcanoville.

    But I came to his forest place
    to walk myself out of my mind’s dark –
    to improve the day.
    Just look: two young trees have grown
    together, twining leaves and branches, slow-
    dancing – swaying into each other
    on an up-canyon breeze.

  20. DMK

    improvement of poetry of me
    by Dawn kvernenes

    expanding conscience language poetic form
    nights of silent or musing feelings of longing and forlorn
    turn my Picasso brain
    into more of a Homer, Monet more understood fame
    self- improvement in poetic language from mind to hand
    does not seem an impossible demand
    even with the visit of the forty thieves
    sufficient for a heart that grieves
    tragic, hero, martyr???
    will the true story be taken farther
    now I work on better poetic form
    perhaps my brain will be reborn

  21. candy

    An Improved Poem

    i moved a word
    or two
    then changed
    a rhyme
    until i realized
    it had become a
    different form
    instead of a poem
    of hopefulness it
    now exposed my
    innermost fears
    that only my muse
    could understand
    this poem was not what
    i planned when my pencil
    first scratched a word
    on paper – but
    it was after all
    an improvement

  22. headintheclouds87

    Habits of a Scattered Brain

    So many books sit there unread,
    And still yet to write the one in my head,
    Suggestions of catch-ups and coffees
    Shall continue to be left unsaid,
    Stacks of clutter stand unsorted
    Or otherwise shoved under the bed,
    Yes, there may be room for improvement
    In this scatter-brained state of mind,
    But ultimately the strategy shall remain
    Of saving it all for tomorrow instead.

  23. Sara McNulty

    House Hunting

    Written for: Poetic Asides: Write an improvement poem.

    In searching for a house,
    They pop out at me. See
    that window frame-wood rotting-
    or that door, poorly
    installed, hanging
    off hinges? Fringes
    of a house, outside
    and in, have my head
    spinning with dancing
    dollar signs for all
    those needed improvements.
    Still searching.

  24. qbit

    Your fingers
    Up my spine
    Tapping cool improvisation
    Like jazz as fingertips
    Like blues as touch
    Like nothing to prove
    Cannot im-
    Prove or dis-
    Prove or re-
    Gotta just
    In the river of it.

  25. mschied

    Baby steps

    Emerging from my cocoon
    a peep before the beep
    instead of huddling
    entrenched, oblivious
    to the overly optimistic
    chirping in my ear
    would be a step in
    the right

  26. De Jackson

    Renovating Dawn
    (an aubade)

    There weren’t quite enough clouds
    to stir up that crimson purple rose
    blush sort of sky cauldron, and the
    tangerine shine of rising yolk sun
    was acceptable, at best. Cue more
    birdsong. Cut the traffic din.

    Maybe a crowflight smudge or two
    to keep us humble.

    And perhaps tomorrow,
    if we might begin
    an hour or two later?

    would be great.


  27. Nancy Posey

    Home Improvement Project

    two people
    move from
    one large house
    built for five
    to one small house
    built for two
    with fewer
    smaller attic space
    no cellar at all.

    What do we do
    all these
    bed linens

    by some law of physics
    to fill every space
    to store
    give away?

  28. PowerUnit

    I have learned how to win.
    when a fastball is better than a curve,
    and a slider is better than a screw.
    Pitch selection is no mere whim.

    I have played power positions,
    a running back feared,
    a defenseman, steered away from,
    Learned to use my strength and wisdom.

    I have traversed the black and white,
    the board of kings and queens,
    of bishops and knights,
    when to sacrifice and when to tip my crown.

    I have learned to count beans,
    add bits that can’t be seen,
    and though I can’t say what it means,
    I’ve traded my money for self-esteem.

    I have learned that fatherhood
    is more than loving and caring
    but sharing life’s secrets
    without any regrets.

    Even though I’ve made progress
    in becoming magnanimous,
    I still have much work to do
    in learning all about you.

  29. tripoet

    Running Up the Tab

    My mother always warned me
    “Never a lender nor a borrower be”

    I managed to hold firm on the later
    even in times when I was very hungry

    while opting out of the former- it felt good
    to help others who might be a few bucks

    short. But over time I noticed “friends’ ”
    “thanks” evolving into “expectations”

    and do I dare say, “demands” and never
    found reimbursement in their hands.

    Their mind set to do for themselves replaced
    in creative ways to play on my guilt.

    Next came inflation in dollar amounts
    and me still thinking only my friendship counts.

    There are times when I can’t help but measure
    how much I’ve already spent on my friends’ pleasure.

  30. Ann M

    Garage Doors

    They were part
    of the beginning;
    when the house
    was built,
    the rock laid
    and the line drawn.

    Now fallen
    off their hinges,
    leaching lead paint
    and broken glass;
    swung awry by
    any wind.

    If you could fix
    them, please;
    to keep out the dead
    leaves, the rot,
    rust, raccoons,
    old age.

    We would be
    most grateful.

  31. tripoet

    As a committed reader of “self-improvement” books for nearly 40 years and a runner for about the same length of time, “Never Ending” hit the mark. Fun poem and also very clever in how it presents a reality that so many face..


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