Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 400

I have to admit: Today’s prompt kind of snuck up on me. But now that it’s here, I’m taking a moment to soak it in. 400 Wednesday poetry prompts is pretty cool! With 10 April PAD Challenges and 9 November PAD Chapbook Challenges, it means I’ve shared 970 prompts on here, though admittedly, there’s been a few repeats (like the love and/or anti-love poem for each monthly challenge). Just guesstimating, that probably also means easily more than 100,000 poems written as a result of the prompts. So today is kind of a big event! Thank you for being a part of it!

For today’s prompt, write an event poem. The poem can be about a specific event that is known to many–like the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, a sporting championship, or watching the Challenger explode. Or it can be a more intimate event in your life–like losing your first tooth, running a marathon, or experiencing that first kiss.

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Here’s my attempt at an Event Poem:

“Independence Day”

Billy brought wooden swords
for all the boys to swing.

Violet pined for Austin
saying boys confused her.

The parents lit fireworks
and talked about themselves.

The teenagers drifted
off into the shadows.

*****

Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). In addition to all the prompts, he’s also written and shared more than 1,000 of his own poems on the blog (for both prompts and poetic forms).

Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.

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85 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 400

  1. taylor graham

    LOKI DANCING

    Sable as shape-shifter Coyote –
    spirit of Wolf, the tiny part of DNA
    denied by our old bible, the breed book.

    But now we have the internet
    with its ungoverned sources, its hints
    and innuendos.

    What Russian wolf-dog danced
    with my dog’s grandmother? My Loki’s
    never low-key.

    Leader in the leash-
    dance; outside our human laws
    of fence and physics.

    There’s a wild
    world out there. Just take my
    lead, she says, follow me, I’ll show you.

  2. Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    Getting it Right
    by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    The first dog I ever put down
    was a malamute-coyote cross that
    I totally cowarded out on.
    I went to the Vet, paid the fee
    then walked stoically out to my car,
    falling apart there in the parking lot
    unable to move much less breathe.
    I was haunted for years afterwards.

    The second was a complicated rott
    that I still couldn’t wrap my head
    around the end so my mate stepped up
    and held her, all the while
    whispering into her good ear,
    giving thanks for all the lovely
    years of service she had bestowed
    upon us while I watched and learned,
    and thought my heart would burst.

    The third dog, I finally got right.
    The hubster was often away so I
    made most of the medical decisions.
    Though he was present at the end
    it was I who stepped up this time,
    locking eyes with, as the vet
    administered the fatal dose and
    he went limp in my arms. I wanted
    to be the last friendly face he saw
    as he crossed over. For weeks
    his playful spirit stayed with us.
    I could hear his toenails click against
    the oak floors late at night, and
    often smelled his breath whenever
    I rolled over on my side in bed,
    expecting to see him standing there,
    eyes blinking, pink tongue at the ready.
    But as comforting as that was
    I still worried he was there simply
    out of obligation. The last thing
    I wanted was for him to become
    forever “stuck” to this place,
    to this time period, to “me.”
    So like a good mother
    I released him, with words,
    with song, with prayer, with tears

    and for the first time in my life
    without anguish or regret.

    © 2017 by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

  3. seamuscorleone

    Funeral

    We count
    Up
    For birth
    Days
    Because we do not
    Know
    Enough to count
    Down, though
    That is what we are
    Really
    Doing, counting
    Down to a
    Day that we will
    Not
    Be around to
    Celebrate.

    1. ppfautsch24

      Moving On

      Musical playing
      Of our hearts
      Cadence beating
      Doing our part
      To text and talk
      Bonding a meeting
      Of two hearts
      Sexual attraction
      Just not enough
      Chemical reaction
      A daring romance
      Collide and combust
      Moving on to
      Take another chance.
      By Pamelap

  4. Madaket

    Sugar, Salt & Dead Fish

    Steamy, hot, and thickly humid,
    The ocean dispatched its savory scent
    To lure us forward.
    Uncertainly, we followed.

    Setting out an unfamiliar quartet,
    Of mismatched notes and bellows,
    As unharmonious as
    Rusted steel against glass.

    Lugging beach chairs,
    Umbrellas, and discontent
    That he who binds us
    Chose not to accompany us.

    Gratingly,
    we trudged against the burning sand,
    As well as each other,
    Selecting a “spot.”

    With pinching, sandy shorts, salted lips,
    And exclamations of misery,
    Suddenly, it came to me
    In the form of a dried, crusty crab.

    “I’m building a castle,” I announced.
    My three charges looked apprehensively,
    One to the other,
    Before searching, excitedly for adornments.

    Each scrambled,
    Scouring the beach near and far,
    To contribute to the Masterpiece
    Symbolizing a truce, a unity.

    Ours was never meant to be calm,
    Too much sugar, salt, and dead fish
    To create a smoothie, yet
    Stormy- we settled for a stormy union.

    Made of gale winds,
    Fluctuating temperatures,
    Carping and fluking,
    Tart as lemons.

    Its beginning a crusty ole crab,
    Encased in sand,
    Decisively placed atop the magnificent,
    King Crab Castle.

  5. Jane Shlensky

    Robert, congratulations on providing 400+ opportunities for us to practice our skills and meet with our people. Because of you, I have so many poems to rewrite, I can hardly keep up. And meeting the PA people here has enriched my life and my writing. Love you.

    Nudge
    (for Robert, with gratitude)

    Who knew the guy would keep us fed
    for years, nudging us once a week?
    And then for two months, daily led,
    the buffet spread and spread and spread.
    We all need prompting now and then,
    taught of new forms, challenged to grow.
    His friendly place where we check in
    to poem–we come again and again.

  6. Jane Shlensky

    Assisted Care

    Their calendars are jammed with all
    that senior citizens enjoy,
    luncheons and programs they’ll recall
    for months or weeks or minutes; boy,
    the fun goes on and on—it’s planned
    from armchair yoga to bingo,
    painting, singing, local bands,
    there’s hardly time to nap, you know?
    The home distracts them every way,
    vast smorgasbord of how time’s spent,
    but waking up alive each day
    is still their favorite event.

  7. Connie Peters

    I Hugged a Man Once Dead

    Sunday, at church, I hugged a man
    who had died, saw Jesus,
    and came back to life.

    What do you say to a man
    who the last time you saw
    him he was dead?

    I said, “I want to hug you.
    The last time I saw you,
    you didn’t look so good.”

    Understatement.
    I was there that day.
    The pastor was preaching.

    And then someone interrupted.
    saying they needed an ambulance,
    then the man’s wife and daughters cried.

    The pastor dismissed us.
    I turned around and saw the man—
    greenish skin, vacant eyes, still.

    People gathered to pray for him.
    I gathered my things to go home.
    That’s how I’d want to go, I thought.

    I went home to wait confirmation.
    In the evening, my friend who hadn’t
    been to church called me with the good news.

    Two weeks later he told his story,
    but I missed it being out of town.
    His daughter filled me in.

    No pulse for several minutes.
    CPR administered until the medics came.
    He started breathing. He said he saw light.

    Jesus. A crowd of people. Children.
    He particularly remembered Christ’s beard.
    Jesus told him not to fear death.

    I told him that I’m sorry I missed
    hearing him speak two weeks after
    since I went to a reception and reunion.

    He said that everyone needs to rest.
    We all have a work to do, but it’s okay
    to rest, to enjoy, to appreciate His gifts.

    This life is temporary. Heaven’s real.
    All things are possible with God.
    We all die—some more than once.

  8. Heather

    then she speaks

    On her lap
    papers shake
    wrinkled, twisted
    curled and unfurled,
    slightly damp
    from energized hands.
    Underneath
    knees bounce,
    heels glance floors
    in erratic rhythms.
    Above the waist 
    everything remains calm,
    stillness before silence
    before storm,
    then she speaks.

    ~also posted at heatherbutton.com

  9. candy

    Friend Event

    Why do we always wait for an event
    to get together
    to give a call
    to send a card

    We used to know everything
    about each other
    crushes
    favorite ice cream
    music
    shoe size
    fears

    You’ve moved again
    I don’t even know your address

    It’s not your fault
    or mine
    life has us spinning off
    in different directions

    If we’re patient maybe
    someday
    it will spin us back together

  10. Walter J Wojtanik

    SINCE THAT FIRST KISS

    That moment with our lips pressed,
    a tender buss to stir the embers
    and seal the glow of love’s true heart,
    I had been changed. I craved you,
    I savored the flavor of you. Breathing
    through each other in passion’s breath.
    Soft and warm and disarming,
    you were charmed as I was charming you.
    Ever since that night, the moon shone
    brighter, my steps were lighter and
    I was brought into your heart, a
    delicious sip from your sweet lips.
    My hunger has been sated.

  11. Eileen S

    STS-120 Discovery
    October 23, 2007

    The
    STS-120
    Discovery
    stands tall against
    the background
    of clear blue sky.
    The waters of
    Cape Canaveral
    surround it.
    A powerful rocket
    is about to be launched.
    The astronauts have
    spent many hours
    preparing for this moment.
    NASA employees are
    about to witness the
    fruits of their years of teamwork.
    Spectators sit in the bleachers
    talking amongst themselves,
    awaiting the countdown.
    The moment arrives.
    The clock says zero.
    The shuttle takes off.
    Fire and yellow clouds
    taint the placid blue skies.
    All watch the mighty rocket
    head to the heavens.

  12. De Jackson

    Thanking Him Prompt-ly
    For Robert
    (And continued Triolet play with Walt…sorry to have de-serted you, Sir. Traveling, and family in town. 😉

    Knowing full well there’s a chance to get burned,
    he keeps plugging prompts, and we keep penning poems.
    Gathering all of the poem-knowledge learned,
    and knowing full well there’s a chance to get burned,
    we keep lighting ink-fires and paper in turn –
    turning out syllables, opus and tomes.
    Knowing full well there’s a chance to get burned,
    he keeps plugging prompts, and we keep penning poems.

    ::

    1. Walter J Wojtanik

      DRINKING THE KOOL-AID HE BREWS

      He keeps posing prompts, and we keep penning our poems.
      Another week awaited to be elated with words.
      The brew he proffers stirs us to verse. He’s the master, you know him,
      he keeps posing prompts, and we keep penning our poems.
      And when we’re sent to the Old Poet’s Homes,
      we’ll emote by rote the poems and quotes we’ve heard.
      He keeps posing prompts, and we keep penning our poems.
      Another week awaited to be elated with words.

      HAPPY CD, he who is not Bob!

      1. De Jackson

        The Poetry Party Goes On

        Another week awaited to be elated with words,
        Wednesday to Wednesday we will our quills.
        We poem and poem, perhaps you’ve heard –
        another week awaited to be elated with words.
        Until pens are dry, or life too absurd,
        we’ll scribble our syllables til we’ve had our fill.
        Another week awaited to be elated with words,
        Wednesday to Wednesday we will our quills.

        1. Walter J Wojtanik

          BEATS OF A POETIC HEART

          From Wednesday to Wednesday our quills have their own wills,
          they write at will and will instill thrills to those who read.
          And it is certain that these skills will not pay the bills,
          but from Wednesday to Wednesday our quills have their own wills.
          Our words are direct and to the point, they have few frills,
          but our poetic rants express what rests in a poet’s heart indeed!
          From Wednesday to Wednesday our quills have their own wills,
          they write at will and will instill thrills to those who read.

  13. tripoet

    Humpty Dumpty Re-imagined

    Humpty Dumpty sat on a cliff
    holding hands with the girl egg
    he was with. When she asked him
    to marry, it got kinda scary, so we
    wonder did he cause his own fall?

  14. JRSimmang

    WHEN WE SAID LOVE

    We were turned into statues
    while the patchwork
    simplicity
    bore unto us
    the reflections of snow.

    I, the great owl,
    spread my wings to the night.
    You, the desert lion,
    broadbacked and alabaster,
    let loose your triumphant scores.

    And in that moment,
    we were captured by the marble master,
    chiseled from a monument.

    It was an oath,
    and the Earth swallowed us whole
    as the sun
    took its time to share with us
    its secret.
    We slipped our love above
    those slopes
    and under the
    slowly turning
    patchwork simplicity.

    -JR Simmang

  15. JRSimmang

    A DEDICATION

    We find 200 goes into it twice.
    And, 100 four times. Isn’t that nice?
    A Quarter fits neatly 16,
    and 8 can be counted times fifty.

    If we multiply the squares of 5 and 4,
    we find we get the same with 20 score.
    We’ll factor 5 twice and 2 quadrulpled,
    and find nary a squabble or scruple.

    When truth be told numbers
    are never a reason to slumber,
    and 400 is certainly a number superstunner!

    To 400 more, and 400 ever after,
    to tears and sighs and everpresent laughter.

  16. JRSimmang

    WHEN WE SAID LOVE

    We were turned into statues,
    rough hewn and marblenude,
    under the great patchwork
    simplicity.

    I, the great owl,
    wings outstretched,
    found my prey.
    You, the desert lion,
    bristled against the
    cool night breeze.

    One revolution,
    two bright tokens,
    embracing the circlets
    carved into our chests,
    we stood while the
    night sky
    shared its secret
    with us.

    We paid dearly,
    though gladly,
    and now we
    beg the monument
    buried within us.
    It is our true-lover’s knot,
    and it forever binds us

    under the great patchwork
    simplicity.

    -JR Simmang

  17. Sara McNulty

    Blue Move

    My move has become an event.
    So much has gone wrong that I’m spent.
    Timing did not go as planned,
    six weeks at my cousin’s and
    two dogs who are dazed and confused-
    this is not a move they would choose.
    We finally obtained the key,
    so why is our house still empty?
    Our belongings cry out from storage,
    please give us a home, not boardage.
    From movers, no cooperation;
    for us, no gratification.
    Some events bring a sense of joy
    This one does naught but annoy.

  18. deringer1

    LARA

    I brought you home,
    I remember the day—
    Remember it so well.
    I, who appear always calm,
    was excited beyond expression.
    My heart raced, inspired by joy.

    Then you were there—at home at last,
    your little yellow bassinet
    lost in a big room;
    a tiny gem sleeping peacefully
    in a setting of love.

    I loved to hold you then,
    your tiny face and hands
    inspired a love unknown
    except to a mother.
    How inexplicable that force
    of caring and connection.

    Your baby softness
    snuggled close to my heart,
    made so much more precious
    in the knowing that you were
    a special miracle, a life spared
    by God to give me joy.

  19. Anthony94

    Watching the Columbia Shuttle Disaster

    Go, the announcer urges, and the very wrinkles
    on his face are an agony of passion etched
    by experience, thousands of hours reporting
    human failings and now this shatter of seven
    falling across two states, one universe.

    He has told us how bells toll in India as masses
    beg for a miracle, their very own lost along
    with all the hopes of Israel and family
    after family whose eyes proclaim what
    he can only affirm.

    He struggles to continue, but then
    his voice deepens and he admonishes viewers
    to step outside tonight and gaze upward
    into an infinity of stars studded by not only
    dreams but these very dreamers now
    scattered meteors, shuttle become starship.

    He concludes gruffly: Parents go hug your children.

    I try to gather my two and find it’s more a question
    of how to get their very pieces back inside
    the safety of my arms.

  20. Arash

    Kiarostami, the well-known Iranian filmmaker, passed away last year on July 4. That is the event that this poem is inspired by. This poem, in his memory, makes references to a few of his films, in particular one about a suicidal person driving around asking others to fulfill a unique request (His 1997’s Taste of Cherry).

    To Kiarostami
    by Arash

    Were you the one driving us sir,
    alone, and one by one asking
    earnestly…what…to bury you
    right there—there!—by that barren sign?
    Did you desire to heal, seeking
    to find in our refusals lines
    that lead to roots, curing you too?
    Of what, tell me, your own despair?
    Perhaps you were the passenger
    who rode with us, the audience—
    to whom cinema’s for hiding
    from self, who hope to find a friend
    who’d stop a bit to throw a rope.
    But what’s the need for this pretense?
    I too had seen me in your lens.
    Abbas, confess though, was that you?
    If not then what are you here for,
    Close-up or sound take only? Hope
    celestial winds would carry you
    to roots at home—or at a friend’s….

    p.s. Robert, if you’re reading, I have emailed you several times now and not received a reply. I’m having trouble posting to the sonnet poetic form challenge.

  21. PowerUnit

    They came
    From miles around
    Their Plymouth Dusters
    Lined shoulder to shoulder
    With Chevy Novas
    The lone AMC Gremlin
    Striking out with the chicks
    All ears listen for a crack
    Over Whalen and Willie
    A backwards indicator
    Hairs on long necks stiffen
    Sideburns panic
    T-shirts stretched
    Searching for foul weather ticks
    And young women waiting
    Laughing at the scrambling
    To keep dents out of hoods
    And the view of the road home
    Clear

  22. headintheclouds87

    21.02.2014

    That first day we met
    We made each other smile
    With stories of shared disdain
    For the others around us,
    All in good fun, of course,
    We agreed there were a select few
    In life that we could tolerate,
    But after a few short words
    We both could sense
    Something stronger between us.

    And so we shared more days
    Nattering about everything
    Serious and silly alike
    As I let my daily mask slip
    For you, showing the real me
    With anxious imperfection and all,
    Knowing that it didn’t matter
    To you one way or the other,
    And that hundreds of days later,
    I still live just for seeing you.

  23. Walter J Wojtanik

    EVENT OF THE SEASON

    The kids are grown,
    the neighborhood is quiet
    and the Fourth of July is less raucous
    than I remember. The swelter
    is bearable and the helter-skelter
    of life has found a sense of serenity.
    No work today and I play
    possum through the afternoon.
    An early swoon with little
    to do and all day to do it.
    Tomorrow will come and some
    memory of this will remain.
    I plan to do it again,
    maybe better next time,
    but for now there is reason to believe
    this was the event of the season!

  24. grcran

    Eventuality Uneventfully

    You can’t get there from here they told us no
    One tries it fails finds cul de sacs and creeks
    Few bridges cross the bays or railroad tracks
    And us so tired so many miles to go

    Complexity gave up a tiny breach
    We wound around through chest-high johnson grass
    Snake-bit behind under the overpass
    At long last uneventfully we reached

    gpr crane

  25. cassandrascurse

    a tempest-slammed door
    then outside, the birds

    shatter the trees
    find the air

    regather, fly
    ahead of the storm

    a squall
    out of season

    in this, my most
    intemperate age

    1. Arash

      Codependency, now that’s a lifelong challenge for many, and it takes a kind of clarity and commitment to get through it, and I think your poem really speaks to that.

  26. taylor graham

    PARALLEL UNIVERSES

    We push open the oaken door into dark,
    eyes adjusting from summer glare,
    from squinting for a parking spot. Another
    big event at the winery, upstairs, above
    our cellar. It’s not ours, of course, poetry
    not being profitable. Upstairs this afternoon,
    there’s a wedding or a wake. A lot of noise
    either way. We’ll have trouble hearing
    you read, what with all the stomping and
    sliding of furniture. But the ghost
    will be listening. He loves poetry more than
    wine – even the cabernet that won gold
    at the fair. He hangs out in our cellar.
    It’s more intimate, cool and dark, historic.
    It’s where the wine club dines once a month,
    sipping new releases, and tourists wander
    in to find the spirit of the place – even
    this afternoon while the ghost reads a poem.
    We’re the remainders. No, we’re
    the vines bearing fruit. Soon we’ll be
    on our way, into daylight, driving
    past vineyards in search of the next poem.

  27. carolemt87

    Friday evening at the River Inn

    The evening evaporates into poetry at the bow
    of the River Inn docked south of Brownville, Nebraska.
    The upper level decked for fifty yards in Husker red and white.

    A group of people on the upper deck
    stand watching a pair of Great Blue Herons
    flying north along the Missouri river.
    A man identifies them as bald eagles and
    the talk turns to the website of
    Decorah Iowa where three young eagles
    thrive under a webcam’s watchful eye.

    I stand on the deck listening
    to the music of the water
    flickering over the rocks and
    soft folk music from three
    whiskered young men floats
    from the lower level.

    Slate clouds crochet the silver bridge
    and I foolishly sit on the Astroturf steps.
    As carp kiss the bottom of the river’s muddy skin,
    last night’s rain seeps up into my jeans.

    The cool wind drops into the dusk
    and I pull my shirt down
    over the top of my wet pockets
    and go back inside
    for another glass of Riesling.

  28. Nancy Posey

    A Life Chronicled with Fireworks

    Through childhood, we ate chicken stew
    made by school moms and church folks,
    chicken pickin’, teary-eyed onion chopping,
    potato peeling for stew filling cast-iron pots
    larger than bathtubs, stirred with oars.
    For sale by dawn, gallon jars of stew
    became our breakfast, lunch, and dinner
    before we set off bottle rocks, spun
    in circles with sparklers, jumped
    as whole packs of firecrackers erupted.

    Once every two hundred years, the dean
    announced, we make an exception,
    cancelling classes for Independence Day,
    freeing me to fly to Philadelphia,
    stretching out at night on the lawn
    of Independence Hall for fireworks
    set to Sousa, climbing up on our roof
    as the whole city sky burst into light
    and color—more gunpowder than shot
    in the whole Revolutionary War.

    Grown, with children of our own,
    finding ourselves in a new home
    in a new town, our first friendships
    formed at an all-day Fourth of July
    annual celebration—swimming, sailing,
    food, and fireworks bought across
    the state line, so brilliant that spectators
    at the nearby minor league stadium
    turned from their show to watch ours.

    Living in a neighborhood with real
    neighbors, we gathered in back yards,
    grills fired up, picnic tables piled with food,
    children bobbing in the pool, parents
    nearby keeping one eye on them while
    waving away flies, accepting just one
    more glass of wine, until twilight

    when boats appeared on the lake
    their lights mirroring the stars,
    dropping anchor, waiting for the show
    they knew would come, a battle
    of fireworks volleying back and forth
    across the lake, sending dogs cowering
    inside the house as children oohed
    and ahhhed. We all waited, knowing
    the grand finale came, unorchestrated
    but necessitated when supplies ran out.

    Now living in one of a dozen of cities
    boasting the biggest fireworks display
    in the country, we end our picnic early,
    head home to nibble on leftovers
    and tune in to the local coverage
    of the celebration on Lower Broadway,
    hundreds, maybe thousands, happy
    but hot and sticky, necks craned upward,
    ears tuned to country music wannabes
    before the symphony takes charge.

    Padding off to bed, we hear the pops
    and booms as neighborhood kids
    put on their own pyrotechnic celebration,
    and we are glad this one day to live
    without pets or infant light sleepers.

    1. Arash

      What a rich poem, full of activity, love, sounds of preparation for and the celebration itself, there is a realness to the poem that feels grounded in a life lived to the fullest. Well done.

  29. qbit

    July 5th, 1977</em

    Wrapped up in her blankets
    My wife looks like some sort of chinchilla
    Bunked down for the winter.
    I tease her and wave coffee
    Under her nose
    To draw her out of her burrow.
    We make up a song
    Using some failed attempt of “chinchilla”
    For “chim chim cher-ee”
    In the Mary Poppins
    Chimney sweep song.
    We greet the 40 years
    Since the first time we woke
    Side-by-side.

    1. Arash

      What interesting and adorable imagery and metaphor, chinchilla, waving coffee to draw her out of a burrow, singing songs together, and then the big 40, whether based in reality or not, there is love and playfulness in this wonderful poem, well done!

  30. PowerUnit

    Living alone is a dream
    and dreams are unattainable

    Too much to do tonight
    to shut them all out

    Are you going, she asks
    I repeat my disinterest

    Everyone will be there, good
    I can go anywhere, alone

    You’ll send me a notice,
    and I’ll ignore it

    Let them pile up in my feed
    the unclicked red dots of interaction

    Why do people think rejection
    means you don’t want to be friends?

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