Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 404

For today’s prompt, write an error poem. Alexander Pope said it best, “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” We’re all human, and we all commit errors in life, whether intended or not. Some of them are small errors, like misplaying a ground ball in baseball or spilling milk. Others are much larger and complicated. And yes, there are non-human errors too. For some, it may be obvious that this prompt is inspired by the “404 errors” that used to riddle the Internet. Let’s have fun erring together.

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Here’s my attempt at an Error Poem:

“Fast Break”

As Jimmy came down with the rebound,
I broke to the other side of the court
with my hand raised for the pass bound
for me, and I knew I could resort

to a layup if I was guarded close,
and at worst I might get fouled by Tim,
but I found no one to stop my approach,
and still I was stuffed by the rim.

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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 loves basketball, but he never could pull off a dunk at regulation height.

Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.

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73 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 404

  1. taylor graham

    SMUDGED WINDOWS

    Trek, my dog of long-long legs and
    longer feet than any dog needs, is guardian
    at the window. Glass is always in the way.
    He’s posted his long self on guard
    against trespass. Ground squirrels tunnel
    from lawn to under-deck, they ravage
    our garden – tooth-marks marking their way.
    On window glass Trek leaves prints
    of his long-long nose that misses nothing
    at the window which is a sliding door,
    a passageway of trespass. The door is closed,
    its glass smudged by nose-prints –
    evidence of dog on guard while master
    is away. With all his long-long dog-hood,
    Trek longs to be on the other side
    of glass. His long-scenting nose, his long
    feet and long-long legs could catch
    those rodents, who even now are snatching
    birdseed scattered on the deck every-which-way.
    Ground squirrels win. But don’t tell Trek.
    He’s doing instinctual guard-dog duty.
    How could he be in error?

  2. usedname

    It was my mistake

    With a palm stretched out I tried to cover the sky,
    so that even in the moonlight, I couldn’t see
    your carefully worded lies,
    that rolled so easy like the tides over this bed of sand,
    Your kisses were sharp and salty of brine and white rum,
    I wanted to believe in your gentle caress,
    But much like the brilliant evening star,
    this love did not shine as brightly
    past dawn.

  3. EllaT

    little fool

    I read in one of those listicles
    that humans in small groups
    look at those they feel closest too
    when laughing

    though it’s been five years
    or maybe three years two months
    and twenty seven days
    since we last made eye contact

    my mind rushed back to furtive glances
    on the field by the fire under the oaks
    all the places we encountered each other
    your blue eyes burning
    sadly yet intensely
    into mine

    my error then now blaring
    I wanted proof
    I wanted everything
    when outside the ether
    and that deep feeling of oneness
    there was nothing you could give
    other than meeting my eyes
    when reality laughed

  4. EllaT

    little fool

    I read in one of those listicles
    that humans in small groups
    look at those they feel closest too
    when laughing

    though it’s been five years
    or maybe three years two months
    and twenty seven days
    since we last made eye contact

    my mind rushed back to furtive glances
    on the field by the fire under the oaks
    all the places we encountered each other
    your blue eyes burning
    sadly yet intensely
    into mine

    my error then now blaring
    I wanted proof
    I wanted everything
    when outside the ether
    and that deep feeling of oneness
    there was nothing you could give
    other than meeting my eyes
    when reality laughed

  5. Arash

    Kind of a mindless syllabic aaba rhyme poem. I hope I didn’t make any “mistake”.

    The Weird Tail of a Whaling Wail with a White Tale
    by Arash

    To be exact, I liked the white tale in the tail,
    the wild waves, those sounds, save for the whale of the wail.
    Some made no sense: I never learned how the made maid
    the sea hare happy housed inside the ship’s pail pale?

    When you wondered out loud about the weigh to way
    a whale in ship full of hey, and when you yelled hay!
    my mind was somewhere else, not hear. I could not here
    your views on whale’s pray either, pardon me, I prey.

    I had left the animals and there plight right their,
    since for sea hair and blue fish I care not a hare—
    That’s not write, baleen whale is mammal, I should right,
    not fish!—Sorry to air, I’m human…I breathe err.

  6. Jane Shlensky

    Convincing Arguments

    It ain’t like I done nothing wrong!
    I hardly ever make mistakes.
    And then they’re small, depending on
    Who needs correcting and what’s the stakes.
    Some folks are quick accusers, see?
    Some people see what just ain’t there.
    That’s how they come to point at me
    Suggesting that I might could err.
    Listen, I’ll put your mind at rest;
    No need to think too much and fret.
    I ain’t done nothing wrong. At best,
    What I did do—heck, I forget.

  7. Eileen S

    Old Folks

    Tonight, old folks come to dinner.
    We want the meal to be a winner.
    As they chew and swallow,
    in the past they’ll wallow,
    and talk of all who are sinners

  8. PressOn

    SPEED DATING

    When I met the next miss on my list,
    the result was a tryst with a twist,
    for she surely was thrilling
    and I thought she was willing
    but her fist turned my kiss into grist.

    1. grcran

      William, i hope you are still looking back for a comment here, maybe i will mention it on the current week comments… but this one is just spectacular with its rhythm and rhyme… a big wow!!!

  9. rlk67

    GPS is from Venus

    “Don’t talk to me! I need to drive!”
    “But Daddy, we passed exit 5!
    We’ve gone too far, oh please go back!”
    “Just shut your mouth or get a smack!”
    “Now, dear, just buy a GPS. I saw a sale, so please say ‘yes’!”
    “No! No! No! I’ll never need
    Some lady’s voice to intercede!”
    “But Boston’s exit 102!”
    “Directions are just meant for YOU!
    Not me, you see, ’cause I’m a man!
    I’m captain of this minivan!”
    “Oh, my, a sign! It does confuse!’
    WELCOME ALL TO SYRACUSE!

  10. Danny Ballan

    To Err is Man

    To err is man,
    why can’t you forgive?
    as perfect, I could never live
    up to your perfection,
    erasing all my errors
    to get your attention,
    yet a dandelion amidst the wind,
    all fly away but my skin—
    my sin, entrenched in me like a scar
    no matter how much I raise the bar,
    I know I could never win—
    not for the right I’ve bled to show
    but the wrong I hid as I hid along
    myself;
    how could you love another man?

    1. usedname

      I just wrote a response to your poem for fun.

      “I could never live up to your perfection,
      erasing all my errors to get your attention”
      but what was left? there was no retention,
      of a man, my David, sculpted with precision.

      In a spring of wild flowers
      and lovers,
      I held onto you with with everything
      my heart unrelenting,
      yet like a dandelion whisked away in the wind,
      I took hold in fresher soil

  11. StoryMom

    I no grate writer,
    Caint you tell.
    I no grammando,
    And I caint spell.

    I got ‘magination,
    Though I err on the rest.
    But I gettin’ good learnin’
    From Writer’s Digest.

  12. Anthony94

    An Error of Too Much

    Sunrise tints the corn tassels
    pink as any hair in the nightclub,
    grass a funky shade of green,
    the Rose of Sharon complicit.

    It’s been an error of too much,
    wanting gardens full of flowers,
    the high gardens overwhelming
    with produce of all kinds until

    we burden neighbors with our
    handing off, surely, and they are
    too kind to decline the bounty
    in the same way the morning

    corn accepts its new color from
    the rosy dawn, bravely raises its
    tresses and shoulders on, troops
    ready for the day, make no mistake.

  13. grcran

    Error in a Mirror

    Two mirrors made a corner in my state
    Room. Wine glass booze-filled bottle multiplied.
    Gone one to two then four reflected. Great
    Good fortune. Drank it all. My brain was fried.

    My face did corners. Slick mirage malaise.
    Left looking glass behind to my amaze
    Meant one glass empty. Error of my ways.

    gpr crane

  14. PowerUnit

    Pop-up, left field

    It’s a fickle wind that blows, anyway
    drifting and quivering
    in the lap of gods
    cupped hands wait for the gift
    but supplicants know the careless
    flighty paths of stars
    in a game of chance
    as the dice settle on deuces

  15. qbit

    Garden

    You said “jacaranda”
    And I “bougainvillea”,
    But neither of us know a thing
    About either other than
    The divine comedy of
    Loving words,
    Like when we didn’t know
    The names for birds
    So we invented them –
    Marmalade Bunting,
    Clicky-Throated Sparrow
    The Tobias Finch –
    The error of our ways
    Like the joyous mistakes
    Of Creation,
    In the beginning
    Was the Word
    As God was just
    Making stuff up
    And here we are

    1. tripoet

      I love this poem. It has a contemporary fresh clean feel to it while still bringing past history along with it.
      I think that good poetry affects you and makes a difference. Today I see myself renaming life around me at the lake where I am staying and having fun. Nice job.

  16. Sara McNulty

    Miss Take

    Her name was Miss Take. Take
    on weights and never measure
    up. She was a short sell,
    no bells ringing to start
    her day. Today, she ponders
    more and wanders less. Works
    hard to keep restlessness under
    control. She strives to open
    herself, each petal struggling
    to unfold, to take in more
    light, to forgive her past
    Miss Deeds. Burdens no longer
    become her.

  17. deringer1

    WHERE IS NEW MEXICO ? (a Villanelle)

    There’s much unique about New Mexico,
    where age old cultures thrive among the new,
    but where it is most people do not know.

    From alpine peaks to desert terrain low
    the skies are sunny, clear, and oh so blue.
    There’s much unique about New Mexico.

    The pace of life here people find quite slow,
    manana is our motto and our view,
    but where it is most people do not know.

    Here was the wild west, roamed by buffalo,
    here too, atomic energy was born and grew.
    There’s much unique about New Mexico.

    We have snowy peaks and caverns underground.
    We have the world’s most powerful telescope too.
    But where it is most people do not know.

    It’s new, yet fascinated with the old.
    You do not need a passport ! Get a clue !
    There’s much unique about New Mexico,
    but where it is most people do not know.

    (the error is that people think NM is not a state of the US)

  18. Nancy Posey

    Comp 101

    Janet never made an error,
    no typo, not a single word misspelled,
    her participles never dangled,
    infinitives never split.
    She mastered citation,
    pagination, agreement,
    and verb tense.
    She kept Wite-out in her purse
    where other girls kept lip gloss.

    Too bad her essays,
    her letter perfect essays,
    had so little to say.

  19. De Jackson

    Err, Apparent

    She is holding an un
    -quiet dragon under her skin,
    the line
    -age of whom can be traced
    back many moons,
    monsoons
    and slow gulf
    stream storms.

    She has mumbled and fum
    -bled her way into
    some smallish spaces
    not fit for wings
    or the up-stretched strings
    she sometimes ties
    to wanton sky.

    Try as you may,
    you’ll not see her here,
    except in lily clouds
    and silence, the
    empurpled violence
    of another abed sun.

    Mistakes were made.
    Her heart’s been played.

    But in
    the end, she’s
    won.

  20. De Jackson

    Human, Divine

    We hold our scars
    close to chest,
    rest our flitter-fluttered
    hands against our tired
    breasts;
    err our differences
    and breathe out
    all these things we
    cannot change.

    We for
    -get
    {where, when}
    we got
    all this pain,
    all this rearranging
    of skies, too; all these con
    -solation prizes we fought
    so hard

    for.Give us
            {strength, life, hope?}
    Father. We know not what.

    We do.

  21. taylor graham

    CAMPGROUND – STOP

    It seemed so mercenary – a use-fee to eat
    the sandwich I brought from home. I came here
    in error. So I pulled a U, drove switchbacks
    down chipseal with no railing and hardly a wide
    spot to admire the view – granite profile
    of mountain diving off in ridge and canyon,
    rambling vines of creek, with sprinklings of fir
    so small so far below they might be trees
    of a child’s train set. I kept driving till the road
    leveled off, not farmland but open range,
    occasional cattle-guard; mixed conifer forest.
    A furtive dirt spur left pavement. I took it. Drove
    out of sight and sound of traffic; sat down
    on a log by an old fire-pit. And without a use-
    fee, in shadow of a towering silver-gray snag
    fit for an offertory of ravens, I ate my sandwich.

  22. Jrentler

    I must have your set

    the only everyday
    ash upon smoke swirls
    your lips through lips
    from wick once kissed
    prayers by a
    sky homegrown
    bound winner

    1. Jrentler

      (I err’d in posting-working on new forms but spaces works best when posting if there’s periods…hopefully)

      I must have your set

      the only…………………..everyday
      ash upon……………….smoke swirls
      your lips………………….through lips
      from wick…………………once kissed
      prayers………………………by a
      sky………………………….homegrown
      bound………………………….winner

  23. SarahLeaSales

    Mr. Norman’s Folly

    The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

    His God was her God,
    but it was the error of his ways
    that overruled her ways.

    It was his control of her,
    his lack of control over himself;
    it was the waiting for a miracle,
    well-past that mysterious eleventh hour
    (like the thirteenth floor in Howard Roark’s world);
    it was the seeing of miracles in randomness,
    the believing in him,
    the disbelief in inevitability;
    it was serendipity misunderstood
    and feelings misconstrued;
    it was the cutting off,
    it was the letting in,
    and it was the string of short-lived stays of execution.
    It was all these things.

  24. headintheclouds87

    Capacity of Error

    Minds warped by impatience,
    More prone to simple mistakes,
    Sharp tongues of the easily irritable
    Cannot swallow the slightest foible,
    Haste and hatred lead to failure
    Whilst care and restraint are our saviours.

  25. tripoet

    God’s Error

    They said
    if you were
    real it’d be
    impossible
    you’d allow
    men to bomb
    small children,
    kill innocents.

    I tried
    to tell them
    you were busy
    helping
    Mrs. God
    with the dishes
    that fateful day.
    You were distracted.

  26. Connie Peters

    By a Thread

    “I told you I was sick,” you said.
    I told you to have your bp read.

    You could be dead
    Instead, part of your brain died in your head.

    Now you can’t get out of bed
    without help. We know not what’s ahead.

    You must take your med
    so the illness doesn’t spread.

    I’ll see that you’re fed.
    I love you since we wed.

    Nearly forty years ago. No dread.
    We trust the one whose blood was shed.

  27. annell

    THE EMPTY CHAIR

    the locket fell lost in the dirt it was not my intention to ruffle feathers

    the hens are a flutter the bear comes from the wood disturbs the peace

    the order of the yard grannie hid in the rafters for a week no one knew she survived

    all the others were eaten chicken dinner on the ground the women in white

    the moss hung from the trees the men played games the sun grew hot

    end of summer you ask will it come again?

    before you know it a hundred years passed the sun still shining

    reflecting off the water each year becomes another memory can we write them down

    give them away who will keep what is passed you were here

    laughing telling jokes made the trip several times

    first he went and then you followed your empty chair waits your return

    August 3, 2017

    Note: This is for my friend, Mary Kelly.

  28. Daniel Paicopulos

    Just Right

    Away from the easel, I see that it’s complete,
    yet my life is still a work in progress.
    Maybe too much green, perhaps a dab of cerise, and yet,
    away from the easel, I see that it’s complete.
    Some lush strokes, others thinner, the whole of the canvas
    what matters, not every mistake should be fixed.
    Away from the easel, I see that it’s complete,
    yet my life is still a work in progress.

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