Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 412

For today’s prompt, write a name tag poem. The poem could be about a literal name tag (I’ve written one about a pencil before, so why not? But it could also be a poem that includes your name (kind of like a traditional ghazal includes the poet’s name in the final line). Or it could be a poem that defines you. Or go old school and work your name in via an acrostic poem–or some other sneaky poetic device.


Order the new Poet’s Market!

The new 2018 Poet’s Market, edited by Robert Lee Brewer, includes hundreds of poetry markets, including listings for poetry publications, publishers, contests, and more! With names, contact information, and submission tips, poets can find the right markets for their poetry and achieve more publication success than ever before.

In addition to the listings, there are articles on the craft, business, and promotion of poetry–so that poets can learn the ins and outs of writing poetry and seeking publication. Plus, it includes a one-year subscription to the poetry-related information on All in all, it’s the best resource for poets looking to secure publication.

Click to continue.


Here’s my attempt at a Name Tag Poem:

“My Name Is”

Running off through the streets and mob
of people who like to shorten and remember
Bob, even though that’s never been my name,
even though I point it out often to the many and few
repeatedly. When it comes to my name, I have a preference
to Rob, Robby, Bo, or Bob, and if you’re not sure, just say, “Sir.”


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 likes to write an acrostic from time to time.

Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.


Find more poetic posts here:

You might also like:

  • No Related Posts

88 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 412

  1. Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    name tags
    by juanita lewison-snyder

    i only sing with ghosts
    for they sing like coyotes
    with sheer joy in their hearts,
    far away from the land of judgment
    they care not if i forget the lyrics
    nor if i am out of key,
    just that i am in the moment with them
    as they pass through this dimension
    without name tags.

    © 2017 by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

  2. JWLaviguer

    Not a Number

    I am not a number, I am a free man!
    “What is your name, sir?”
    “Jason Warden,” I exclaimed proudly.
    “Right. Okay here you are. You’re number 72. Have a seat.”
    The box lights up, now serving number 23 it says.
    It’s going to be a long day.

    JW Laviguer

  3. lsteadly

    I Know I Know You…

    Our thirty-fifth high school reunion
    invited a spell of confusion
    until we conceded
    that name tags were needed
    to hide our memory’s slide toward ruin

  4. Bruce Niedt

    Losing Myself

    I lost my identity today.
    I know I left it somewhere,
    but all I know is it’s no longer around my neck.
    I have to move about the conference surreptitiously,
    like a spy or intruder, a one-man covert operation.
    But I can’t get into the events.
    “Can you identify yourself?” they ask.
    I pull out a mirror and look at my face.
    “Yup, that’s me,” I say.

    But they don’t buy it. I slink away,
    The Man without a Name. I need to find myself.
    My mother used to say, “It’s always in the last place you look.”
    But if I was in the last place I looked,
    wouldn’t I already know where I was?
    What if someone already picked up the tag
    and they’re impersonating me, taking all the credit
    and my credit cards, having the time of my life?
    They’d better not steal the time of my life.

    I start to feel uncentered, disembodied –
    there’s an unclaimed piece of me out there –
    certainly nothing as trivial as a finger or a collarbone.
    It’s my name, goddammit!
    Now I’m racing from room to room,
    turning over books and chairs,
    knocking people aside – I’m a crazy man!
    But it’s okay because no one knows my name.

    Finally someone grabs me and sits me down.
    “Have you looked in your tote bag?”
    Sheepishly I reply, “No.”
    I unzip the front pocket and reach deep down.
    There it is, my name tag – that wondrous laminated rectangle
    with the elastic string, my name proudly emblazoned upon it.
    I sigh and loop it around my grateful neck.
    I’ve been with me all along.
    I feel whole again.

  5. thunk2much


    Cradling his soft fur,
    stroking the scars on his face
    around his sore and
    (always now) runny nose,
    we wait for his blood to talk
    and the vet to translate.
    I look at his collar, and think
    of the one just like it
    (but with little white skulls
    instead of lizards)
    that waits on the shelf
    for us to plant the garden
    and the box of ashes
    and I wonder just how many
    name tags we can stand
    to bury in one year.

  6. Anthony94

    ID Required

    I find them tucked inside
    pages of unread books
    face down in the bottom
    of a jewelry box, hacked
    in two before the purchase
    of a shredder. The obligatory
    name tag, a snapshot of one
    moment in time, most often
    a moment where thoughts
    raced ahead to next tasks
    and far away from those
    lines requiring hold, sit,
    smile, check, next.

    Over the years how many of
    annual issue have been inserted,
    clipped to pockets, hung from
    blue lanyards, faux jewelry ropes
    meant to disguise, the retracting
    chain guaranteed to ensure instant
    availability. I rarely mirrored anyone
    I knew, just a stranger’s face
    above a name, image, words,
    another label but oh so not me.

  7. Bushkill


    Around my neck the lanyard hangs
    This albatross of still-life.
    For I am no longer defined or known
    Without my tag of entry
    My badge of belonging.

    What is it for?
    Why do I need it?
    I’ve been here for decades.

    Schools used to be
    A place where minds could open
    And flower under the bright
    Watering of sound Sages.

    We still do fire drills.
    We also do active-shooter drills.
    And lockdowns.
    And sheltering in place.
    We even have a reverse evacuation
    For when funnel clouds form.

    My badge of belonging
    This soulless, senseless nametag
    Is pointless, though.
    It offers no safety
    For me or others.

    And it clashes with my tie.

  8. Amy

    Hello, My Name Is Ghost

    there’s a ghost
    she’s wearing my name
    but she never seems
    to share my blame
    gloved hands
    so as not to leave a trace
    of origin
    she begins where I
    turn in

    there’s a ghost
    she’s moving my mouth
    Judas lips shape
    great escapes into
    tame landscapes
    she’s all tall grass and
    painting over my briny

    there’s a ghost
    she’s holding my bones
    just a skeleton beneath
    the lonesome reach
    of she and I

  9. pmwanken


    The page has turned to pumpkin spice this-or-that, yet my feet take me to where my mind wanders when the long hot days shorten into crisp night air. Strolling through markets and malls, my eyes dance over the wares, my fingers lingering on the flannels and fleece that forecast the days to come. Items are added to my virtual list for the nice, and even the naughty (they are not exempt from Mrs. C’s list). My mind’s eye sees the wrapping and ribbons, and tags printed just so. Delivering these items to family and friends is a joy, but the planning and anticipation is a journey that feeds my soul.

    fall window shopping
    puts extra pep in my step
    -ping toward Christmas

  10. Nancy Posey

    Forty-Year High School Class Reunion

    We entered reluctantly,
    hovering outside the door,
    sure coming was a bad idea.

    At ten years, the pecking order
    had still held. The prettiest girl
    still was.
    Most likely to succeed
    still might.

    By twenty years, we had less
    to prove, bragging rights–
    jobs, homes, children.

    At thirty years, fewer
    returned and those who never left
    stayed away, certain
    they saw who they needed
    to see.

    But after forty years,
    we feel more mortal,
    more forgiving,
    but memory and eyesight
    fail, names slip from out grasp
    so when we see them,
    stacks of name tags:
    who are are
    and who we were
    with pictures
    of how we looked.

    Just the slightest squint,
    a lean-in
    sends us sliding back in time,
    so glad we came.

  11. grcran

    case of mistaken identity

    participants googled for name tag
    had never had badges before
    they’d selfie-sticked, texted & tweeted
    put up facebook photos galore
    spent yours & our hourly wages
    emailing, playing video games
    used user IDs, many passwords, till…
    at last, they’d forgotten their names

    gpr crane

  12. StoryMom


    I would try to sing my son to sleep
    But he’d say, “No, no, tell a story,”
    So I’d cuddle up with his favorite puffs
    And tell tales of the working man’s lorry.

    Twas the best part of life for this Story Mom
    Imagination unrehearsed.
    And every night he would whisper my name
    For I always fell asleep first.

  13. JRSimmang


    I am impermanent,
    impervious from
    to dawn.
    I yawn
    at the rest of us,
    the naysayers and
    game players
    who see this name on my chest
    and rip it off
    and tear the cloth
    that stitched us together


    once and for all.
    I see you in the hall

    and when you wave
    I call out your name
    but it’s blame that comes from your lips,
    it’s Freudian slips and clips
    and apocalypse
    too fast to take stock
    in the firmament and rock
    upon which Christ bent and cracked the fist,
    and now I’m pissed.

    I’m pissed that we cannot walk
    hand in glove
    love the Message
    that in each age
    no matter your creed
    we’ve been planted with the seed
    of humanity.
    It’s insanity
    that we stopped to blind ourselves

    Take my name
    from my chest
    and take the name from yours
    and perhaps,
    we may see each other
    for who we are.

    -JR Simmang

  14. rlk67


    When I feel like I’m a loner,
    I know just what to do,
    I try to say some friendly words,
    like, ‘Comment allez-vous’?

    It never works, I feel left back,
    What do I need this for?
    Please just say a simple Hi!
    I won’t be last no more.
    So now I go in hiding,
    Can you now find my name?
    I hint is in the banner.

    (~I’m Ross Kryger all the same.)

  15. AsWritten


    My name is whatever
    the stars allow you to see
    at midnight

    or whatever your dreams
    allow you to imagine
    when frozen by fear.

    Just call me by whatever
    words form on your tongue
    and I’ll arrive

    half-beaten by whatever
    mistakes I’ve made that
    no one will ever know.

  16. Alphabet Architect

    Welcome! Come In!

    I peruse the name tag of each new arrival
    Zohal, Horia, Fikri and Haval
    Nyankuet, Ayak, and Wongalwit
    These names don’t roll off my tongue one bit.

    Rama, Azel, Yananaeh, Mayar
    My students live here, though they came from afar.
    Htoo May Moo, Asaph, and Paw Kblah Wah
    Shee Nay, Tha Hlei, and li’l Abdullah

    There’s Sincere (who is) and Silent (who’s not)
    Happy, Hosanna, Holy, and Dot.
    Bethlehem, Glory, Magnolia, Iris,
    Mohammad (times three), John, Ali and Frances.

    With fifty plus students and name tags in all
    I must get them right so they’ll come when I call.
    So I study each child and make it a game
    To match up some aspect of them with their name.

    Tags aren’t an option; they are critical.
    Our twins both look and dress identical!
    And I, of course, wear a name tag too.
    But for now “Teacher, Teacher” will have to do.

  17. Connie Peters

    Writer Not Rider

    When I share my email
    I have to clarify that it’s
    not rider.
    I ride in cars, in busses, in vans,
    in planes, on horses and bicycles.
    But I write a lot more than I ride
    so it’s connielpeterswriter.

  18. Jacqueline Hallenbeck

    My name is…

    I carried you inside of me for nine months and in my heart every year after

    I loved you all the years of your life
    I don’t remember them anymore
    I pray you do

    I don’t mean the words I say or the things I do
    and if I repeat myself, forgive me
    I am confused

    I am still here
    Give me a hug

  19. Walter J Wojtanik


    You may know that I come
    from a long line of Walters.
    Through no fault of my own
    I have come to own that tag.
    But over the years the names
    and nicknames that have framed me
    became me and then let me go –
    for the most part. But let me start
    at the beginning. I was named after
    dad and his father, Little Wally was me.
    And my rosy complexion had the effect
    of causing the neighbors to call me “Pinky”.
    A name I hated. It grated on me.
    Then that was me at the piano,
    the stinker who would tinker at the keys,
    and that brought me to Schroeder,
    Charlie Brown’s pal. All well and good,
    I could live with that (and did)
    but who am I kidding? Helping
    my carpenter dad with his hammering
    I lost my stammering as Wallbanger
    the drywall hanger (before the advent of screws.)
    I’ve written under pseudonyms
    on the whim of my fragile muse.
    J. Phillip, Castlebaum, Vincent van Wendt,
    and they gave birth to Chase.
    I would choose Walt over Wally,
    and came to Walter at the altar.
    So my name tag would brag,
    “Wally Pinky Schroeder Banger
    wallbanger j. Phillip Castlebaum
    Vincent van Wendt Chase Walt Walter Wojtanik”.
    But, you doesn’t have to call me, Johnson!

  20. charmuse


    I’ve never heard my name in a dream
    no one calls, there’s no phone
    my mother visits often
    and the airplane takes off but can’t ascend

    I’ve heard a dream in my name
    it called my mother
    to visit − she cried, “I can’t have this baby”
    during delivery, but the doctor reassured:

    twins, even, would be feasible

    ~ Charise M. Hoge

  21. Eileen S

    In the Name of Patriotism

    The respect that I was taught to show for my country is not the same
    Million dollar athletes should save their free speech for after the game.
    Let’s show some respect for glorious banner of the land of the free.
    The playing of the national anthem is not the time to take a knee.
    Whether or not we agree with the politics of the man at the top,
    disrespecting our flag of freedom in a public forum has got to stop.

    I know I’m on the soapbox! I hope you respect my opinion even if you don’t agree.

  22. candy

    hello, my name is …

    no first or middle
    just tag
    sometimes I’m a game
    a little fun
    to make you run
    tag you’re it
    or I can be an
    irritant – make you rant
    and scratch ( don’t pick)
    and itch
    feel like a witch
    a mere
    skin tag
    I might be in the know
    have the lasted info
    you need to finally decide
    look at me a
    price tag
    I keep you legal
    street wise – no violations
    keep on rollin’ down the road
    plates in view – licensed
    I’ll say goodbye
    bid you adieu
    say tootle-loo
    the end is near
    parting is sorrow-sweetie
    tag line

    feeling a little silly today 🙂

  23. deringer1


    I cannot always wear a name tag.
    Why should I have to so that
    you remember me?

    Am I so forgettable,
    so unimportant,
    just another common face

    in the crowd, a nobody?
    By your darting eyes and
    impatient dismissal

    I know what you are.
    It is fine with me when
    I am not acknowledged

    for I discount you too—
    I have no time for
    ego driven arrogance.

  24. headintheclouds87

    Names with No Shame

    Some wear their name with pride
    Treating it with thought and care
    Under fear of it being dragged
    Across the mud of the marked and judged,
    Reckless ones however care not for
    These petty concerns, see infamy as their prize.

  25. taylor graham


    You’ll see him walking slow
    up Broadway past Starbucks headed for
    Grocery Outlet, or maybe the dark, green hills
    above strip mall – winding paths up
    through brush. Or the other way, but not as far
    as Main Street. You’d think
    he’d wear a track in sidewalk, all that walking
    without getting anywhere. He doesn’t
    leave anything so distinct
    behind him. When was the last time he
    marked a ballot? back in the days of blacking
    the oval that might make something
    better of the world. They say he used to be
    a poet, still has memories
    from before most of us were born.
    He ripped off his name-tag at the shelter,
    couldn’t get the hang of such a place. He keeps
    a rosary sticking half out of his pocket,
    and his route up Broadway
    maybe as far as the old Greyhound station,
    a bramble-patch at hill’s bottom.
    Blackberry smudges on his mouth. He’ll
    look you in the eye, and smile,
    and he waves at all the traffic going by.

  26. Daniel Paicopulos

    On a Sunday in Summer

    On a sunny, summer Sunday,
    I throw on my cleanest finery,
    which, as it turns out,
    doesn’t have much to say for itself.
    It’s fine, though, I’m still up for listening,
    headed to one of my safe places,
    the most spiritual of spaces,
    seeking some joyful calm,
    a message of balm,
    leaving struggle at the door,
    feeling peace, and what’s more,
    finding a non-anxious presence
    in an anxious world,
    hearing that still, small voice,
    its beauty unfurled.

    It’s Sunday at Seaside,
    where love and good and light,
    are real in our life,
    just as real as toil and strife,
    where “effortless effort”
    is written in invisible ink
    on our nonexistent name tags.
    There’s music and prayer and meditation,
    a break from the madness, a soulful vacation.

    I have no name for the effect,
    but I do know what to expect.
    Others will speak, I will listen,
    and an unseen current
    will course through me,
    and I will see
    that change is challenging
    but hope is tangible,
    and grace is possible.

  27. SarahLeaSales

    Lip Service

    Her name was Vix—
    short for Victoria (with a secret)—
    and for something else,
    for those who knew her intimately.
    She left her mark on the world—
    on her children’s cheeks,
    her husband’s lips,
    her lover’s letters—
    a mark that one could define
    as neither pink nor red,
    but was called “Love is On”
    by Revlon.

  28. Walter J Wojtanik


    I am an enigma; a legend,
    insistent that the season becomes
    the most important thing.
    It is for the children that I work,
    and it seemed that they came
    to appreciate this generosity,
    which was rather rare.
    Up in my spacious
    hamlet I plan, amidst the hustle
    and bustle (and time to rustle a sugar cookie
    or two) with my diminutive minions
    to charge through more rapid than eagles.
    Rather happy, rarely sappy, I continue to hurl
    myself into this chore clenched fist and more
    until I think I will burst.
    And when I laugh my belly shakes,
    a right jolly old spasm! Bridging the chasm
    of disbelief, for a dedicated cause.
    There is no mystery here. I am Santa Claus.

  29. tripoet

    Where the Polar Bears Go

    Running on ice
    against time
    satellite collars
    and tagged
    sea ice reduced
    melting into
    skinny bears
    one tag holds
    begs to save


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.