Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 416

Here’s the final prompt before November, which means we won’t be back on the Wednesday Poetry Prompts until December 6th. That’s because we’ll be poeming every day of the month of November for the 10th annual November PAD Chapbook Challenge. Details on the way.

For today’s poem, use at least three of the six words listed below in your poem (title counts). Three is the minimum, but you know I’m going to try use all six of these:

  • sidereal
  • recruit
  • magnetic
  • compact
  • whippoorwill
  • carbon


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Here’s my attempt at a Three of Six Words Poem:

“Parking the Kia Spectra at a Gas Station in Tennessee”

I hear the whippoorwill’s sidereal call
to recruit the stars plastered against
the carbon night, a magnetic trill
as I try to sleep in my compact car.


Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). Recently, he did catch a few zzz’s at a gas station in Tennessee, though he was too tired to hear any birdsong.

Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.


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149 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 416

  1. Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    By Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    To be carbon-based in a previous life
    schooled in the death-omen ways,
    compact and camouflaged in owl-like
    shades of brindled grey-tawn, with
    nocturnal song so ethereal and magnetic
    it haunts melodically across open dusk waters
    for lost soul recruits looking to depart
    and put behind instead, dark times past
    for the cold kiss beauty of sidereal skies
    and the welcome embrace of one Borealis
    come home to roost.

    © 2017 by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

  2. seingraham


    Chart my course to
    the call of a lonesome
    Recruit the aurora
    or sidereal constellations
    if the magnetic needle
    in my compact compass
    swings wildly,
    can’t find north.
    make a carbon-copy
    just in case.

  3. usedname

    (Side note: if you have suggestions for a title please tell me)

    Two perfectly composed carbon life forms,
    Laying upon each other,
    Like tea leaves wafting through hazy waters,
    A prophetic image appears-

    As though experiencing a divine sidereal time,
    They are the science of astrophysics-astrology,
    Magnetic,Telekinetic, Eccentric beings
    Bending space and time to the will of their love.

    How curious it is to define the nature of heavenly bodies.
    From two, to one, from one, to three,
    In a moment, life can be formed from nothing.
    A young soul lays hidden;whippoorwill.

    1. Jilllyman

      I applaud your clever ruse of seeking a title! It made me slow down and explore every branch, leaf, and (cough) limb of your writing. So glad I did. Delving multiple mysteries that touch on universal and primal sense and feeling. Oh, and that title suggestion? Genesis. or, Conceiving the Mystery. or…. I’ll stop now.

  4. Jane Shlensky

    Before the Proposal

    Recruit the stars.
    Let carbon shine sidereal
    and compact above her,
    drawing her eyes upward
    magnetic pull to

    What if

    If she could be anything,
    would she be mine?
    A whippoorwill’s call
    pierces the night.

  5. qbit

    I learned the nightjar whip-poor-will

    I learned the nightjar
    Can sense a soul departing,
    Its wing chord
    Precedes the darkness –
    A nighthawk shadow
    Hunting down the light
    Like prey.

    Does it carry us then
    Through the sidereal night
    To the end of stars?
    Where black as diamonds
    Carbon sings its last,
    And wings fold tight in
    Last dive past gravity –
    Our final compact
    With certainty.

    1. Jilllyman

      The sound of a nighthawk in dive is so distinctive and you have captured that here as a myth about moving into eternity. Shadows, night, diving – excellent job of maintaining the motifs here. Also like how the word ‘compact’ looks, at first glance, like ‘impact’ and how that plays in the poem,

  6. taylor graham


    The draw was magnetic, elemental.
    I confess, I trespassed – ducked below a Posted
    sign. Skirted litter – collapsed stool, a ceramic
    bowl – left by the homeless who shared
    furtive campfires in these derelict woods before
    they were rousted out.
    I was looking for an abandoned railroad track.
    I wanted to witness the once-a-year
    impetuous cavalry run of a horse and rider
    dodging the 21st Century.
    Talk about extreme sports – back in 1861
    they recruited skinny orphan kids with guts and
    no family to grieve them gone.
    A compact between borrowed horse
    and daredevil rider maybe guided by nothing
    but a sidereal sky chart in his mind
    and a warning on the wind, softer than call
    of the whippoorwill.
    But I was only looking for the Re-ride,
    historical re-enactment here through the woods
    behind Social Security. Horse and rider
    would be clattering the carbon-black rails –
    railroad that helped put Pony Express
    out of business.
    I could hear approaching hoof-beats.
    I could feel the rush. I aimed
    my iPad for a fuzzy photo as souvenir, as proof
    I saw them – before they hit their vanishing
    point, headed for French Creek and
    beyond, gone like history.

  7. JRSimmang


    The whippoorwill of
    the skillful robin
    in time with the
    spinster’s bobbin,
    drive a sidereal rhythm
    behind her hands.

    She thumbs the thread
    and the bed beckons,
    but sleep has gone.
    Instead, she stares in the hearth
    at the ashes and concludes
    that since all it is
    is carbon
    and all she is
    is carbon
    she, too, will burn someday.

    -JR Simmang

  8. headintheclouds87

    Managed to use all 6 words! An interesting challenge, this one…

    Song of the Whip-poor-will

    At darkest night, under a sky sidereal
    Comes the foreboding and ominous call
    Of the small, unassuming whip-poor-will.
    Their sombre song is magnetic to the soul,
    Signalling one’s fated time to go,
    To depart from their carbon whole
    And escape the body’s compact mould.
    These are the recruits chosen by bird’s cry,
    To penetrate the mysterious sky
    And grow their own wings to fly.

  9. Anthony94

    Attempting to Forge a Compact

    With every sunset, the sidereal year winds
    down, sliding across the stubble of soybeans
    to end at the southwestern corner of the pasture
    above the pond, the very same where

    in the spring the whippoorwill nestled within
    fresh grasses, disguised as a ball of weeds
    atop her speckled eggs. Over time she has
    learned the futility of trying to recruit her

    mate for nesting duties and so she slept
    as best she could above the rocking orbs
    while he roamed the woods and traded
    melodies with coyote and owl.

    Now deep into autumn, some magnetic
    pull finds us holding onto those last rays
    attempting to forge some compact in
    anticipation of a reverse traverse by March.

    We roll to tuck away traceries of months passed,
    preserve smudged carbon copies for the future
    hoping that stars will again align to allows us
    to repeat the best in man, bird, beast.

  10. AsWritten

    RICE WINE VINEGAR by Ken Bentz

    Two tablespoons
    was all the recipe asked.
    But your compact hands
    let it slip.

    “Maybe it will be fine,” you said.
    But you recruited your
    brother to taste.
    You always like to lick the spoon.
    But not this time.

    The drift from recipe to experiment was swift.
    More salt? Why not?
    Double the milk.
    What happens when we add baking soda?

    375 degrees. Why not 400?
    The result was something that
    mixed the taste of carbon and laughter.
    We’ll have to make it again.

  11. SarahLeaSales

    Rhinestone Hope

    A diamond’s “Before” picture,
    who left her carbon footprint
    wherever she went,
    she possessed,
    a magnetic personality,
    attracting polarizing opposites
    who put her under pressure,
    and placed her into a powderless compact,
    from which she emerged–
    still full of flaws.

  12. Sara McNulty

    I Would Like To Recruit A Whippoorwill

    A compact bird,
    the Whippoorwill,
    on summer evenings, he trills
    an endless song,
    magnetic to the ears,
    camouflaged if someone’s near.
    Leaves tiny carbon footprint–
    to nature, very dear.
    Imagine how many tunes
    the Whippoorwill has sung
    in a sidereal year,
    and all just for fun.

  13. Marie Elena

    ROBERT and POETS: Are any of you experiencing trouble with the site? Maybe it’s my computer? But it seems whenever we are approaching April or November, the site gets all wonky. It’s jumping around like crazy, making it hard to read and comment

  14. Jilllyman

    In That Waning

    In that waning
    when the mosquitos are following
    your carbon breath-print
    and the first stars adjust
    their eyes to your being
    there a goatsucker
    (or is it a whippoorwill?)
    flies over, no call at dusk,
    just a silent recruitment
    of the frogs to expand their
    compact lungs,
    calling out the sidereal
    turning in which we
    take our place


  15. De Jackson

    Distant Stars

    we recruit that most madly moon
         (magnetic in her cloudy sway)
    to deem us worthy of our carbon,
    our base, our centers,
    our side
    -real longings.

    She’s a powdered compact,
    a mask we choose to pull
    from sky with whip
    -or-will invisibility,
    a seek of strange,
    the full range of night
    jars calling.

    we’re still


  16. ajm390

    Becky won’t be at rehearsal today: so what’s the point?

    What is a wind quintet without the flute, that windiest of winds,
    Brought from among the whippoorwills, of sidereal spans?
    The compact oboe reaches out for all the highest notes,
    The carbon-copy clarinet can sing or sound like goats,
    The horn and bassoon, if able and inclined,
    can reproduce some flute-y trills,
    but then they’re left behind.
    In the brave Tchaikovsky, Duck argues with itself.
    And Cat runs aimlessly around the tree, and doesn’t stir the wolf –
    And we’re all sad because we have no bright parade confetti
    To lead us, fearless and magnetic, into the Persichetti.

  17. deringer1


    He seemed to have come from
    the fraternity of the other worldly
    with a soul sideral, a mind at peace.

    His magnetic smile drew you to him
    and wouldn’t let you go. Without meaning to
    have your life transformed, you became

    his recruit, his defender, his follower,
    and nothing thereafter was the same.
    And the world was changed.

  18. taylor graham


    Up the trail through pine and fir – not
    a challenging hike but the kid mutters like
    a raw recruit. He’s never carried a backpack
    before, even a light one. Will he regret
    the compact he made, “summer camp” with
    Grandpa the old forester?
    Our dogs race ahead, finding trail, intuiting
    direction while you orient yourself
    with quad sheet and compass – declination
    set for this part of the Sierra. Second nature
    to you. The dogs and I prefer our own
    reckonings, maybe something magnetic
    in the blood, the DNA. At night I look for
    Polaris, without getting into the astronomical
    points of sidereal navigation.
    Will we hear whippoorwills? the kid wants
    to know. Grandpa, repository of all
    outdoor knowledge. Not here, he says.
    Somehow, in the evolutions of carbon and
    geography, our mountain missed out
    on whippoorwills. Even the poorwill is lower
    elevation. But nighthawks! Under a zillion
    stars tonight, we’ll lie in our mummy bags
    listening to lake lap against its granite
    bowl, while the nighthawk hunts insects
    so much tinier than a child.

  19. rlk67

    Ode to My Teacher

    “You don’t know what ‘sidereal’ means?!”
    She shouted at my face.
    I really hate my teacher
    ’cause she lives in outer space.

    “‘Magnetic’ means it’s blah-blah-blah.”
    I don’t know what she said.
    I wish a force would glue her
    to the wall ’til she turns red.

    “‘Recruit’ is such a tricky word,
    Please write it over twice.”
    I think I’ll volunteer her
    for a voodoo sacrifice.

    “Bring in a compact object
    and present for show and tell!”
    I want to crush her in a ball
    and throw her down a well.

    “‘Whippoorwill’ you’ll spell three times,
    please note it has two p’s!”
    I hate long words! I wish she’d fly
    someplace that’s overseas!

    Sand and glass I’ll throw
    inside her clothes so that she’ll itch!
    She’s just a ‘carbon’ copy
    of an ugly mean old witch!

  20. PowerUnit

    We fight the itching to roam
    Poison ivy forests off limits
    Casual explorers toting
    Capguns and bamboo fishing poles
    And dreams of old raspberries and new corn
    Beyond the barbed wire fences

    Three new recruits of the back field
    Circling the enemy for control
    Of tall Brown grass and green-apple trees
    Grasshoppers leaping through the milkweed mines
    And the cool trickle of the spring
    A magnetic call to the parched

    The frantic flight into night
    On the edges where dark things live
    Quiet talking and chocolate milk sipping
    The urgent tapping of Grandpa’s sidereal pipe
    Waiting to play Euchre with dad
    Yawning while the whippoorwill sings

  21. Bruce Niedt

    It’s almost impossible to use the word “whippoorwill” without ending up with a nature poem.

    October Morning

    A formation of recruits moves across
    the sidereal sky just before dawn.
    I can barely make out their silhouettes

    against the carbon curtain,
    but their bleats are unmistakable.
    A compact V, they head for magnetic south,

    while a whippoorwill calls from the edge
    of the wood nearby, as if to tell them
    that he, too, will soon be leaving.

  22. PressOn


    When it comes to sidereal sights
    that recruit pure magnetic delights,
    I seek carbon-black places
    where stars twinkle graces
    compacted in whippoorwill nights.

  23. tripoet

    Medal of Honor winner—Gary Michael Rose, Army Medic

    Like a whippoorwill
    reiterating its cry
    voices play
    in the young
    soldier’s head,

    “Save yourself
    Run away.”

    War compacts man
    makes him feel real
    small and defeated under
    the sidereal sky.

    The magnetic draw
    of patriotism
    blurs under the
    carbon night
    that smells of
    death and more death
    and even more black stars.

    But he knows
    what he was recruited for
    and under enemy fire
    the medic saves lives,
    won’t leave his brothers

  24. Eileen S

    Camping in Baxter State Park

    It an August midnight in the compact RV site.
    Campers belonging to white collar workers
    vacationing to escape the day to day rat race
    line up in formation like military recruits.
    They marvel at the magnetic red moon
    illuminating the sidereal carbon sky,
    wondering why they don’t just leave
    their stressful jobs and move to rural Maine.
    Suddenly, a whippoorwill starts chanting
    to remind the other birds that the humans
    have invaded their territory.
    Visitors have second thoughts
    as they are reminded of
    the perils of nature.


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