Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 411

For today’s prompt, write an information poem. The poem could be about delivering information, sifting through information, or receiving information. But remember: Not all information is created equal. And not all of it is reliable. And some of it is hiding in unlikely places, like the mouths of children and observations in nature.

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Here’s my attempt at an Information Poem:

“As Maria Draws Near”

He tells me he’s in Puerto Rico
& that a hurricane is bearing down
on him & that he’s about to lose cell
service for the next three days & that
he’s on high ground & that he has food
& water & to let our mom know he’s okay.

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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 tracks storms from afar, because he knows his baby brother tracks them from a near.

Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.

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155 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 411

  1. Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    For Terry
    (my brother)

    by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    He lies in wait
    in a building somewhere up north
    run by hospice Mennonites,
    while sons take turns feeding ice chips
    to try and quell an angry bitch Cancer
    that’s been unusually cruel as of late.

    Though he floats in & out of lucidity
    because of the morphine,
    I’m still hopeful he’s using the time
    to decide upon which deceased friend or relative
    he wants to come fetch and transition him over.

    Will it be the infamous bridge crossing?
    Or equally beautiful garden gate tour?
    Or maybe he’d rather be rowed to shore
    like in the good ‘ol days?
    There’s always the classic
    light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel drag & pull.
    Naw, I bet my big brother just opened
    a plain wooden door, the type that
    separates the living from the dead,
    just to go sit in on a pinochle game
    next to dad whose been waiting a long time
    for one of us kids to come along.

    Yeah, that’s it.

    Go eff yourself, Cancer.

    © 2017 by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

  2. Karen

    W is for woolly yak.
    Up, down, left, right,
    look both ways before you cross the street,
    don’t talk to strangers.
    They have so much to learn.
    Maybe someday soon
    We can teach them about
    Trust—
    We are the adults
    children should be able to trust us,
    They deserve that
    We all do.

  3. Ivy_Lane

    Informed

    knowledge is powerful enough
    to do what, I’m not sure

    stitch together tattered squares,
    unravel a cloth perfectly sewn

    what I know for certain is her score
    (a four — divorce, abuse, bipolar, poor)

    and her chances
    (slim to none)

    two times more likely
    to die tumored, heart-diseased

    a thousand times more bold and brave
    breathing, a beating heart

    twelve times more likely
    to steal her own breath

    infinitely opportuned to
    give the world her smile

  4. Jane Shlensky

    Adventures in Pain

    My Southern Mama had a phrase
    that purely matches Sally’s ways:
    “She enjoys poor health,”
    and then she’d smile
    to let me know there is a wealth
    of information for each scar,
    each wrinkle, mole, pucker, and itch.
    Sally enjoys each bump and glitch.

    Vast landscapes of disease and pain
    create her plan for keeping sane,
    but niceties, like “How are You?”
    are met with hours, detailed and grue-
    some. “People don’t know I’m this sick,”
    she says, reciting ouch and glick.

    I wonder if the tune would change
    if she could focus on the range
    of things that work, organ and cell,
    if we might, well, unring this bell.
    “So what feels good, today?” I ask,
    hoping she’ll take to this new task,
    but no, she takes a breath and starts
    reciting pains from burps to farts.
    “It’s what it is,” her husband said,
    removing then his hearing aid.

  5. Bushkill

    Information Age

    It seems that man who perplexed stood
    Befuddled and confused in a yellow wood
    Could have benefitted from a hint or clue
    If he had then access to a tooth of blue.

    And the Ancient man, becalmed at sea
    With ice flows far behind
    Would surely have set a different course
    If to NOAA he had paid a mind.

    Our Literature groans under the weight
    Of befuddled loss and tragic fate
    Would Willy’s young lovers succumb so quick
    If one had but texted, “I’ll be late.”

  6. taylor graham

    WHAT THE CROWS SAY

    Long gone are tadpoles
    from the vernal pools and marshy
    spots along a bulrush edge of lake.
    Summer’s heat is gone
    from bedrock mortars on the hill.
    A chill at evening, crickets
    frantic with their swarming song.
    A sudden storm of oak leaves,
    and this morning a flight of crows
    passing over; they’ve got
    a destination, an urgency –
    information, if I could understand
    it. Everything, it seems,
    is moving. The quickened pulse
    of nature is my own.

  7. JRSimmang

    WISDOM OF THE AGED

    I asked my Son,
    “What is the texture of the leaf?”

    He, trembling, lifted his fingers
    and stroked the tender spine,
    the veins and purple bruises,
    the mechanisms of life,
    the rough ridges and greeness of Spring,
    and said,

    “Smooth. Flat. Scrolling and strolling.
    How am I doing?”

    “As in Earth as it is in Heaven,
    the leaf is but a leaf,
    but does yours fall as mine does?
    Does yours signal the death of the year and the
    birth of its progeny,
    change the color of your sky,
    have the power to make hatchlings cry?

    My Son considered this,
    the Son of my Son,
    and slowly faded
    into the dark
    blue
    buzzing corners
    content
    that the leaf
    he perceives
    will
    never
    fall
    from
    a
    tree.

    -JR Simmang

  8. grcran

    reinforming the vent

    in formation out of whack
    we rush to judge then cower back
    informal ain’t oh ain’t’s a word
    vernacular cain’t be misheard
    informed quick-witted do discern
    right reasons for a phrase to turn
    form liberties instead of doom
    released from information’s gloom

    gpr crane

  9. Heather

    notifications

    Alarms signal the start of the day.
    In my drowsy state
    I miss the steam
    and jump into a shower
    far too hot.
    News anchors feed fear
    ad nauseum,
    hurricanesearthquakeshurricanesislandsterrorthreatsnuclearbombsethicshurricanesconspiracies
    I can’t tell where the stories begin and end.
    Notifications vibrate my phone
    as I plan
    breakfastlunchdinnerworkmeetingslaundrypicturedaywhattowear.
    I almost miss his still small voice
    echoing my own.
    “Let’s stay home and play.”

    ~ also posted at heatherbutton.com

  10. seingraham

    TMI

    There is a hush in the waiting room next to labour and delivery
    An unnatural quiet here in this place not accustomed to sad
    More, to celebration and crying, the relief to be had in recovery
    Where laughter and smiles are the norm; not woe, panic, and bad

    An unnatural quiet here in this place not accustomed to sad
    Where families gather to help greet the new ones with joy
    Where laughter and smiles are the norm; not woe, panic, and bad
    Pastel colours, soft lights, warm blankets greet wee girls and boys

    Where families gather to help greet the new ones with joy
    With celebration and crying, the relief to be had in recovery
    Pastel colours, soft lights, warm blankets greet wee girls and boys
    But, there is a hush in the waiting room next to labour and delivery

  11. Maria Grace

    I cannot feel that hint of cold
    that ends the endless heat,
    but aspens glow with sudden gold,
    and everwhere the squirrels, bold,
    are hunting nut and seed,
    and clouds of blackbird sing and scold–
    For all the stubborn heat still holds,
    I read of its defeat.

  12. Connie Peters

    Information

    I nvestigative reporters may put their
    N oses where they ought nought be to get the news. Scouring for
    F acts they may come up with lies
    O r even fudge on a few details causing their
    R eports to be more fiction than reality, as they develop their
    M aterial. We need to examine
    A ll the evidence with wisdom and discernment.
    T he vast communication we experience today and the abundance of
    I ntelligence available online can be
    O verwhelming. The knowledge we gain is tremendous, though
    N ow we’re never sure the data we receive can be trusted.

  13. Daniel Paicopulos

    About the Haiku

    Always three lines,
    five-seven-five,
    some say a focus on
    nature must thrive.
    Others insist
    a season
    we see,
    unrhymed slice of life
    with epiphany.
    A pivotal point
    ‘tween lines two and three,
    all said in one breath
    with great brevity.
    Present tense mandated,
    minimalist view,
    but if you use humor,
    it becomes senryu.
    Some think a hybrid
    form should be free
    of anyone’s mandates
    for natural plea.
    I say, just write,
    describe but don’t tell
    unless it’s a haibun,
    which works just as well.

  14. thunk2much

    Never Met-a-Four, They’re All Tens

    That sunlit day,
    when she was crowned
    Miss Information
    and paraded
    as a matter of fact
    through the streets
    and on your television
    did you wonder at her lies,
    seductively kissed
    from those gorgeous red
    and unnaturally plump lips
    or were you too busy
    wondering about wandering
    across her hips instead?

  15. Uma

    in-
    -formation
    the words
    march out
    of your mouth

    Mesmerised
    by the way
    your lips form
    syllables

    I let the me-
    aning slide by
    into the silence
    left behind,
    leaving me
    uninformed

  16. mayboy

    The Harvest

    We are all butterflies of info.
    When the flowers open their
    heart to the bees, they’re performing
    dance of pollen and increase the
    harvest, the nectar of honey
    without the sting of the beast.

  17. shethra77

    Phone Call

    I don’t want to know in the first place
    not really
    but she insists on telling me names dates
    what the doctor says what her friend says
    what her husband is yelling out the window at the turkey buzzards
    as I nod and murmur, “That’s all right, dear, it’ll be fine,”
    even though I don’t know from those turkey buzzards.
    Then the cat strolls to the windowsill and spoils the view–I feel like
    clouds and now there’s only cat butt.
    Oh well. At least it’s fuzzy.
    Oh my God the story is not done–
    “Yes, honey, yes, it’ll be fine,” and then the
    cat jumps down to sit in my lap–way better, because now
    I have the fuzziness
    and the cloud view and honestly it will be fine, I know it will be
    because God whispered in my ear and said so,
    so there.
    And finally she believes me.
    Go figure.

  18. ZurkPoetry

    Not all information is equal.

    “The desk is clear, dark,

    One defined yellow square, post-it note,

    Stuck there. Leaning down, I tear it sharply,

    Pencil scribbles, just made out,

    Says “Call back the dentist.”

    I toss it and it floats curving,

    A yellow square on the floor, two centimetres from the bin.”

    -zu

  19. De Jackson

    We Regret to Inform You

    This poem knows nothing new
    of note. Nothing notable nor news
    worthy. Nothing even slightly south
    of sane.

    It’s got no goods, not even on
    the
    down
    low.

    No get up and go when it comes
    to bending an ear. No here and
    now. No whowhatwhenwherewhy
    nor
                   how.

    This poem is so out of the
    loopy, it’s soupy with extraneous
    scutt and the
                  (like, big)
    butts of its own jokes.

    If you’ve got the 411, good
    for you. This poem’s got none.
    Not one fancy thing new
    under the sun.

    Its deets? Incomplete.
    Its facts, stacked in sand.
    No scoop. No poop. No dirt.
    No dope.

    One tiny iota of knowledge?
                                    Nope.

    This poem is clueless.
    (Like, totally.) It’s useless
    to try and make it care.

    Close your eyes
    and listen.

    It’s barely
    there.

    ::

  20. Marie Elena

    Drat. Had a typo. Please forgive the re-post. Thanks guys!

    BINGO!

    “You kids are nosy,”
    I say. Then wide-eyed you ask,
    “Who’s the nosiest???”

    #seventeensyllablesfortwentyseventeen
    #MyYoungestKid
    #TrueStory 😀

  21. Sara McNulty

    What??

    Heard from a little bird
    this morning, that red
    is in reality, blue.
    I never knew. Russia
    has moved to the mid-east,
    North Korea is inviting
    everyone to a feast. United
    Nations has disbanded due to
    lack of interest. Anybody’s
    guess what we will learn next.

  22. candy

    Straight From the Heart

    for your information
    this poem speaks from
    the heart
    no part has been analyzed or
    organized or otherwise
    compromised
    it says what it means even
    if that means it must stay up
    all night to consult with the moon
    learning how to make you swoon
    this poem holds out its hand
    to offer its love
    no secondhand moonbeam or
    tarnished star trinket to
    place on a shelf
    this poem offers itself
    unpolished, unvarnished
    not garnished with roses
    false glittery poses
    this poem tells the truth
    for your information
    this poem is in love
    with you

  23. Nancy Posey

    Information Please

    Back then
    I had a number to dial
    with a real person on the other end
    of the line,
    always a woman,
    with a real name,
    like Doris or Eva,
    not Siri or Alexa.

    Soft-spoken
    and patient,
    she helped me find
    telephone numbers
    missing
    from the phone book
    Mother kept in the kitchen drawer.
    She didn’t mind telling me
    street address
    and middle initials.

    Without her
    we could never have called
    the cute boy from BGA
    we met at a debate tournament,
    who never called us back
    by the way.

    Sometimes late at night
    when sleep would not come,
    I’d call and ask her
    other questions,
    information not found
    in the card files
    I imagined on her desk:

    When is the first day of spring?
    Is there really algebra in the real world?
    Does she feel lonesome
    sitting there all alone
    with the receiver pressed
    against her ear?
    If something happens to both my parents
    who could take me?

    Even if she didn’t have
    all the answers
    she tried to help
    and told me the truth,
    even if it was simply
    I don’t know.

  24. PowerUnit

    Knowledge
            the power of the people

    A common trust
            the omnipotent
            will never transfer
            even to Jesus

    Wield your words
    like knives in the night
            Close to your chest

    Feel the beating
    from the back of the pit
    the strumming, the wailing
            All on the same page

    We know what you are up to
            Your secrets are known

    Bound to a bargain
    compliance assumed
            Until it’s too late

    Not even our fathers
    had choices
            One ringydingy
            Two ringydingies

  25. Anthony94

    Message Sent

    Mars and Venus greet me
    as I tilt the blinds to let in
    earliest morning, that time
    of stillness before sunrise
    two bright orbs fluorescing
    miles away as they almost
    illumine highway and hayfield

    I pause to receive their messages:
    that I’ve lived another day
    that purple asters will begin
    to bunch beside orange sumac’s
    signal flags heralding the approach
    of autumn. Even as I move away

    from the window, the two will hang,
    lanterns in the sky, beacons
    bearing reminders that there is so
    much more than what clutters
    our lives, our minds. These old souls
    so faithful, bearing witness.

  26. deringer1

    BIG BROTHER

    No need today to wonder who you are,
    to navel gaze or wish upon a star,

    for there’s no way to hide from eyes that see,
    no way for you to be a mystery.

    One key, just hit one key. Alas and woe !
    For there upon a screen for all to know

    appears your history, and where you live,
    what books you read, and who’re your relatives.

    Big Brother lives! He’s always watching you.
    So just relax; there’s nothing you can do.

  27. taylor graham

    INFORMATION IN THE DARK

    Dim flash of light aslant the bedroom window.
    Couldn’t be traffic on our little country two-lane;
    too constant, not moving. Fire? at the end
    of a long, droughty summer. Bright-bright lights
    on the road. Rhythmic pulse of blue and red
    standing still. Nothing like it to jumpstart
    the imagination. Another accident? at the same
    curve as two weeks ago – a bad one. No sirens,
    no hurry, no sound. Down our long, steep drive
    in the dark, I stopped. Three tall figures with
    maglights – slowly! illuminating chipseal.
    Looking for evidence? As if painting the road
    with light, and I was the time-lapse lens.
    They spent particular time at our drive’s far
    side. I stood and wondered. What could I intuit?
    Twenty minutes passed. No sound. I was too
    deep at edge of woods. They moved on, with less
    acuteness to their search. They left. Another
    mystery. Did anyone find anything in the dark?

  28. headintheclouds87

    Digital Hydration

    An influx of information
    Bombards us at every location,
    But what is actually worth consideration
    Amongst acres of inane confabulation
    And miles of baseless speculation?

    It journeys with us to all destinations,
    Wi-fi at every airport and station,
    To go without induces petty frustration,
    Our first worry when on vacation,
    We can’t unplug for too long a duration!

    It informs our social preparations
    And provides handy highlights and summation
    Of our circle’s leisure and libations,
    But can equally cause emotional deflation
    When you realise your non-existent invitation.

    Fear not! There is plentiful distraction
    From your friends’ cold ostracization,
    There are quizzes of questionable calculation
    To tell you your ideal vocation
    Or a soulmate plucked from randomisation.

    These precious droplets of information
    Fuel our fixation
    And claim our concentration
    Until one day, we look up
    And escape this digital stagnation.

  29. Walter J Wojtanik

    TMI

    How’m I doing?
    I’m glad you asked!
    My lower back is killing me,
    sciatica and something
    internal, I think. And this
    infernal pain in my right shoulder
    feels like a boulder
    landed on it ,
    it’s giving me fits.
    And my left is starting to ache,
    doesn’t take much over-compensating
    to relay that pain across to there.
    This weight loss my not
    be the result of good eating
    after all. Not sure what to call it,
    and hope I can stall it until
    after December.
    I don’t remember things like I used to,
    and I could use two Aleve to relieve
    what ails me. It never fails me.
    Once I figure out how to relate
    to my prostate’s insolence…
    you know, I should cut the violins
    and quit complaining.
    I’m serving up too much information.
    How’re you doing?
    Oh, I’m glad you asked…

  30. Walter J Wojtanik

    AUTHOR

    Awards and background information,
    and contact information for contacts; affiliations.
    Memberships are credentials of experience; an
    expert in the field of media. Marketplace credibility of
    media appearances, connections.

    Personal anecdote platform. Professional organizations
    and the promotion of proven track records.
    Public speaking and published works,
    a publishing experience showing demand for their book,
    a writing track record.

  31. Marie Elena

    “He tracks storms from afar, because he knows his baby brother tracks them from a near.”

    Can’t even imagine. And you have to be the one to keep your mom as informed as you can. Ugh. Holding Simon and Juston in prayer.

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