Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 422

For today’s prompt, write a harmless poem. Some people think all poems are harmless; others know this isn’t true. So, what is a harmless poem? I guess we’ll all work to figure that out with this week’s prompt, eh?

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Here’s my attempt at a Harmless Poem:

“Most Dangerous Animals of Latin America”

Will picks a documentary on the most dangerous
animals of Latin America, and I think no harm
can come of it. After all, boa constrictors and

poison dart frogs are scarce in Georgia, even
feral dogs are not something that hides under
a nine-year-old’s bed at night, until the recluse

spider is mentioned that most frequently bites
people when it crawls under the bed covers,
which means Will sleeps with his parents tonight.

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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 can’t wait to find out what other dangerous animals from Latin America also exist in Georgia.

Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.

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105 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 422

  1. Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    Ciggy
    by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    The inauguration started with Bette Davis —
    brash, profane, a studio rule breaker
    Ciggy dangling from those small red lips,
    eyes wide shut.

    Ciggys were an iconic extension
    of her already over-the-top self,
    that deep gravelly voice
    dismissive look,
    petite wrist bent just so,
    holding paradise, smoldering, between fingers.
    it was cool and sophisticated
    assertive and unconventional,
    sexy as hell.
    I was hooked.

    Like Bette,
    Ciggys helped me relax and unwind.
    Like Bette,
    Ciggys kept emotions in check
    and wit razor sharp.
    And like Bette,
    Ciggys kept the weight off
    and the men still interested.

    Co-star Henry Fonda once quipped
    he’d been close to the Queen of Shade
    for decades, “and I have the
    cigarette burns to prove it.”

    Well, don’t forget me, Bette
    I’m your biggest fan,
    “and I’ve got this stoma in
    my throat to prove it.”

    © 2018 by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

  2. seingraham

    HARMLESS?

    “Try it,” he said, “It’s fun, it’s harmless.
    I’ve used it hundreds of times.”
    But I was wary, I was unsure,
    so politely declined, then more
    forcefully insisted that, no,
    it was not for me – harmless or not.

    He seemed to get it, seemed
    to understand, and I thought
    we were on the same page.
    Didn’t think about it when he refilled
    our drinks, until suddenly—
    our Aztec wallpaper
    began dancing and moving about.

    Then I was dancing too, but not
    as was usual, my feet took me
    up to the ceiling and i felt crazed,
    as I rushed out to the balcony,
    “I’m going to fly away now!”
    I called back to my brother, but he was
    right there, wrapping his arms so
    tight, he could hold onto me like a vise.

    With strength I didn’t know he possessed,
    he carried me back inside, all the time
    murmuring, “I’m sorry, so sorry, sorry…”
    Then sitting me down on the couch,
    which didn’t appeal in the least to me then –
    I leapt up and started back to the balcony –
    But, was grabbed from behind by the same
    pair of arms as dear brother sat me down
    again – rather forcefully, I thought – and
    even then, would not let go of me.

    “I’m so sorry,” again, he kept saying, “I
    know you didn’t want it. But I thought you’d
    love it. I’ll stay with you until you come down.”
    What the hell was he talking about?
    Stay with me? More like sit on me…
    It took a whole awful night of me being
    out of my mind and him holding me down
    before the acid started to vacate my brain.
    Trips to the can with him carrying me were all
    he’d allow –
    By dawn, I finally passed out.
    Harmless? I beg to differ dear brother.
    Not for me, not by a long shot.

  3. phoenixfeather

    MUSE

    I want to write about your eyes, mostly,
    and the way they scared me sometimes.
    but everytime I try to find the words
    I stumble onto cliches and
    beauty is hard to define.

    It’s easier to talk about your cold smile and
    your hands, soft against my chest,
    the scent of your hair in the morning
    and the songs you sang in the shower.

    I’ve told strangers the details of
    your ribcage, your eyelashes
    the rhythms of your fingertips, your
    prayers whispered into my skin,

    and the fears that stumbled out
    only at night
    and only to me.

    you told me you killed a man once
    wrapped your gentle palms around his throat
    and watched him grow still.

    I never asked why
    I still don’t know.

    we set things on fire, it’s true
    watched the flames lick each other
    and laughed.

    I wonder if you’ll read this poem
    if you’ll be angry I told them all our secrets
    but they don’t know you,
    and they don’t know me.
    so its harmless, really.

  4. Marie Elena

    ALARMING

    He knocked on my door, and though I didn’t know him, I let him in. After all, he said he needed access to my basement, to check my meter alarm. It wasn’t until he left, that I questioned: What meter? What alarm? I called the police.

    I held my toddler daughter on my lap as the officer questioned me. Did he wear a uniform? I don’t know. How tall is he? I don’t know.

    Is he black, or white?

    I don’t know.

    This morning’s severe
    winter storm is far from all
    that makes me shudder.

    1. Marie Elena

      Unfortunately, this is a true story of me in my early twenties. Thankfully, neither my daughter nor I were harmed. Thankful for God’s protection in spite of my stupidity and lack of observance. The officer was so alarmed at my poor decision and lack of being able to describe anything about the man I let into my home, that he lectured me like my own father would have.

      Also unfortunately, I’m hardly any more observant now than I was then. Ugh …

  5. thunk2much

    You might drown, struggling
    in the gentlest stream
    or you might fly wild-whooping
    through rapids tall as trees
    and either way you’ll be right
    when you say I knew
    I somehow always knew
    that this would be my life.

  6. Heather

    harmless

    His words,
    their syllables simple,
    meant nothing on their own.
    Each word
    a sound,
    willingly misinterpreted,
    until strung together
    into one little phrase.
    “I love you.”

    ~also published on heatherbutton.com

  7. Sara McNulty

    Ladybug

    A ladybug alights
    on my hand. Tickles.
    I allow the black-dotted
    red bug to inch
    up my arm, certain
    she does not feel
    as taken with me
    as I with her.
    To prove my point,
    she delicately descends
    down to my wrist
    and flies away. I miss
    that ladybug’s tickle.

  8. De Jackson

    Inviting Walter back out to play, from where we left off, when you have the time…

    When the World Gets Noisy

    What has saved me from the maddening crowds?
    (For they seem harmless, but are far from so.)
    To sing, to poem, to spill out loud
    is what has saved me from the maddening crowds.
    (But only when coupled with pondering clouds,
    for silence holds its own gentle glow.)
    What has saved me from the maddening crowds?
    (For they seem harmless, but are far from so.)

  9. Connie Peters

    Harmless

    In trying to list
    things that are harmless,
    I’ve come to the conclusion
    nothing is purely harmless
    in all situations.
    Consider the lowly peanut.
    Most people can gobble them down
    but some are so allergic
    traces of peanut oil can be dangerous.
    Other foods? Besides allergies,
    too much can make you sick,
    fat or choke you.
    A kiss? Germs. Abuse. Betrayal.
    Remember Judas?
    The sorry fact
    Is that our bodies
    are fragile,
    mortal,
    temporary.
    Unless you’re in heaven.
    Then all is harmless.

  10. rlk67

    I’m just a harmless poem,
    Just some letters on a page,
    I will never cause you sorrow
    any pain or any rage.

    But there are always certain people,
    Wo will always get offended,
    They mix up my words and letters
    For a message unintended.

  11. De Jackson

    Busy as a bee{sting}

    Pooh’s got a red balloon
    and a hankering for honey
    like nobody’s business. Be a cloud
    be a cloud be a cloud

    he saids
    (thinkthinkthink)
    but we all know some
    -times the ground’s closer
    than we
                  (think)
    hope. And inside
    all that buzzbuzzbuzz
    and honeyed talk,
    there’s some harm
    -less thing
    than idea;

    more sting
    than song.

    ::

  12. Nancy Posey

    She Called It Harmless

    Just a harmless prank
    she called it–
    and shouldn’t poets
    tell the truth,
    she asked,
    a rhetorical question
    if I’ve ever heard one.

    Speechless, shaken,
    finding my name
    in her poem,
    my truth,
    my heartbreak,
    I remembered:
    Even Dragnet changed the names
    to protect the innocent.

  13. taylor graham

    SONG OF THE GLASS BORDER

    Outside the sliding glass door
    a ground-squirrel’s gorged on seed
    scattered by finches at the feeder.

    Inside sliding glass, the dog
    is going shattering-insane.
    No use bidding him be quiet.

    He’ll capture that creature!
    smash the glass door,
    dominate the redwood deck.

    He leaps against stiff glass,
    7-league swashbuckler on stilts
    of giving air.

    War’s peace at home,
    held harmless at the border,
    the sliding glass door.

  14. HoskingPoet

    Emotional crack
    Sticks and stones may break my bones
    Names are harmful too

    #haikuchallenge on twitter today is to use the word crack. This poem isn’t exactly harmless, but when I read harmeless I thought about, Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me. Growing up with a disability, I am well aware how harmful names can be.

  15. SarahLeaSales

    The Weight of Words

    If words were harmless,
    there would be no speeches,
    no debates,
    no letters,
    no newspapers,
    no books,
    no poetry,
    no music that tells us how to feel.

    Though actions speak louder than words,
    works,
    louder than prayer,
    words can explain away
    a multitude of actions,
    for they often precede action.

    Lo, if words were harmless,
    then how could the words in the Bible be so powerful
    that many have sought to destroy them,
    even absent of their original delivery?

  16. Eileen S

    Football Rumors

    There are rumors about infighting within
    the key players the New England Patriots
    football team. Will they be harmful to
    the team and the league or will they just
    create more attention and hype so people
    will watch football and the playoffs?
    This year, many fans were turned off
    with the “take a knee” controversy and
    stopped watching. Maybe this is just
    a ploy to bring back the fans resulting
    in profits for the owners and the league!

    1. tripoet

      Ahhhh, Eileen, I am a Chiefs’ fan. Still hurting after our crazy loss. Alex Smith is my favorite player.
      So there is no Super Bowl for us this year.To me, the New England Patriots are “The Evil Empire”. 🙂 But understand this from a girl who grew up close to Buffalo.

      Brave of you to write about the NFL. I like brave writers. 🙂

      1. Eileen S

        Sorry for your loss. I live in NE. Never got into the Pats because they were so terrible for so many years. Some people I know are really happy with their success in recent years and I know that fans in other places can’t stand them.

        My Boston sports hero is Bobby Orr. This summer I visited the Hockey Hall of fame in Toronto. That was exciting.

  17. headintheclouds87

    The Wrath of the Writer

    Whoever said words were harmless
    Has clearly never been on
    The receiving end of a writer’s wrath;
    For words are their weapon of choice
    Whether in harsh ink or voice;
    Those cutting “k’s”, stabbing like a knife,
    Or venomous “sssss’s”, with deadly bite,
    Their point is clearly made,
    A pen becomes a dagger, thrust into the skulls
    Of those foolish enough to cross the writer,
    Because writing is their chosen revenge
    In a world ravaged by so much inelegant noise.

    1. lsteadly

      How I love watching the birds, too. I actually saw a robin here in my snowy yard in northern VT when it was -10 degrees this past Saturday – the poor thing!

  18. Daniel Paicopulos

    What Else?

    Even when the clouds weep,
    or the earth cries out in pain,
    it is possible
    to love throughout the day,
    to find joy midst the suffering.
    Walking through our world,
    it is possible
    for every living soul
    to express innate wisdom,
    being and acting as harmless
    as they know how to be.
    It is possible
    to shed anger and hate,
    to smother them with
    charity, sympathy, tenderness,
    benevolence, compassion.
    It is possible
    to practice radical humility.
    It is possible
    to notice that what is convenient for us
    is inconvenient for others.
    It is possible
    to slow down,
    walk more slowly on the earth,
    be healing and strong,
    rejoice in the day.
    It is possible.
    What else are days for?

  19. Anthony94

    Fine Print

    Words spread themselves
    onto the page spilled ink
    forming into letters
    words.

    Only later does meaning come
    sneaking in between sly double
    entendre implications and
    connections

    forming some heady mix
    usually found in high school
    chemistry labs or between
    lovers

    in a summer park
    go ahead and read them
    after all I had the words
    hold harmless in the fine print.

  20. PowerUnit

    #meetoo

    It’s not that I’m harmless
    but I wouldn’t try to hurt you

    I am just a man, though
    and I shouldn’t be trusted

    It might not make any sense
    to treat a father as a criminal

    It’s for my own good too
    as I don’t want to be busted

    It’s not like you’d accuse me
    but who am I supposed to believe?

    I’s too bad we have this divide
    that more men can’t respect you

    It’s a shame we’ve built these walls
    the hands of popes and the words of Bibles.

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