Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 434

Welcome back to the Wednesday Poetry Prompts! I hope you enjoyed April as much as I did, but now, we can get back to a bit more leisurely poetic pace.

For today’s prompt, write a project poem. There are so many possible projects: write a book; plant a garden; train for a marathon; build a life-size Godzilla out of ice cream and toppings (and then, eat it!). I mean, this prompt projects a lot of possibility.

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Here’s my attempt at a Project Poem:

“the patio”

it took an entire weekend
to dig up the earth & smooth
out the base & place the stones
that weren’t exactly perfectly
level but the three-person
swing held an entire
four-person family
late into Sunday
evening

*****

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 still feel his muscles from his weekend patio project, but it’s been great for swinging.

Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.

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114 thoughts on “Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 434

  1. tunesmiff

    THE REBUILDING
    G. Smith (BMI)
    ^^^°^^^°^^^°^^^
    I had an old T-Bird,
    I bought north of town;
    Me and my daddy,
    We tore the thing down,

    It was rough ’round the edges,
    We paid maybe a grand,
    After school and on Saturdays,
    We worked it by hand.

    The paint was a bit rusty,
    The dash, a bit dusty,
    And the floorboard had a hole or two,
    Under the mat;
    Had our share of skinned knuckles,
    A lot of good chuckles,
    And soon had it looking like new;
    And nothing was better than that.

    Out in the shop,
    We rebuilt the engine,
    Changed brake pads and rotors,
    Overhauled the transmission.

    Dad found an old hard top,
    The kind with the porthole,
    A little more work,
    And we were ready to roll.

    The paint was a bit rusty,
    The dash, a bit dusty,
    The windshield was cracked, too,
    Three tires were flat.
    Had our share of skinned knuckles,
    A lot of good chuckles,
    And had her looking brand new,
    And nothing’s better than that.

    Finally the day came,
    We were finished and done,
    We fired her up…
    And just let her run.

    (For A. J. and Mr. Gene)

  2. Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    oleander
    by juanita lewison-snyder

    little wonder you favor oleander,
    everything you touch
    becomes a bed of dying coral
    bleached, lifeless
    but you are a work-in-progress
    or so you boast,
    a diamond in the rough
    ready to be loved and saved
    like a sweet old house,
    white fragrant oleander
    where roses oughta be,
    but i know better.

    oleander was the first to bloom
    in the Hiroshima aftermath
    that was your life back in ’45.
    you started out with nothing
    but clawed your way up
    with looks and cunning.
    “whatever it takes,” you preached
    each time i watched the lipstick
    go on those Bette Davis lips,
    kissing the mirror glass
    daring it to shatter.

    decades later,
    even after a lifetime spent
    running from you, we are
    once more shackled together,
    only this time
    as caregiver-client,
    your memories fading
    your bones brittle,
    but your vanity intact.
    i’d care, but
    the daughter inside
    bleached away with the coral
    long ago.

    you are still strikingly beautiful
    your hair unicorn silver,
    your skin faint with oleander
    your red ruby lipstick case
    still checking reflections
    in the attached lighted mirror.
    “whatever it takes,” you preach
    from your spoked golden chariot
    as i push you down the hall,
    my work-in-progress
    diamond-in-the-rough
    Hiroshima aftermath.

  3. LCaramanna

    Project Girl

    She is a girl from the projects
    with a part-time mom
    whose boyfriend of the month
    drinks too much and eyes her.
    She is a girl from the projects
    with a little brother and baby sister
    both in need of her protection.
    She is a girl from the projects
    who works at the burger joint
    and saves her tips in a secret
    account at the bank.
    She is a girl from the projects
    who finishes homework late at night
    then escapes each morning
    to the safety of school.
    The girl from the projects
    is a do-it-herself project,
    though the odds are against her
    she builds a better life.

    Lorraine Caramanna

  4. Jane Shlensky

    The Glacial Progress of Deep Thought

    He’s been inside his closet
    for eight months. He’s cleaning it,
    he says. To wait and see.
    Vast piles of what was in
    is out, papers among t-shirts,
    shoes among hangers,
    ties among plastic bags,
    no definable order manifested.
    I bring three boxes to help:
    keep, throw out, recycle,
    but he calls each item a project,
    holding up a rumpled shirt lovingly,
    and projects take a lot of thought.

  5. Jane Shlensky

    On Marrying Projects

    Miss Hilda said she married projects,
    called it her ‘unfortunate habit’
    quoting an article that claimed
    most people, especially women,
    married spouses they wished to change,
    devoting years to that sad effort,
    for, said Hilda, “you can’t change
    another person, but you might
    could cause them to want to change
    themselves if they love you enough.”

    I tell my friends about Miss Hilda’s
    confession and the article she reported.
    I admitted that I might have hoped
    for change, but I never seriously
    believed another person would change
    for me, more that I would change
    for better or worse. My friends are silent
    through most of the meal, angry
    with one another over a number
    of things that go unvoiced.

    When we arrive home, Joe unlocks
    the door and stands back for us
    to enter their house. When Lisa
    passes, he asks with more than
    a little bite, “So, did you marry
    a project?” Lisa glances at him
    as if he has asked a foolish question.
    “No,” she says, “but you did.”

  6. De Jackson

    I’m ’Bout to Build a TreeHouse

    ’Cuz we need a place to be(e),
    a place for tree-
    age and sigh
    -lence. We’ll lace
    a ladder of purple fuzz
    and buzz, and the blizzard
    force of backward breeze.

    We’ll hiccup
                  (and down)
    and sneeze, and talk
    and chalk ourselves
    sane. Prey for rain. Shine
    our tiny flashlights over
    tiny poems and hum
    our crazy raves
    out on the terrace.

    We’ll ice these leaves with fire
    -flies and faeries, stack our
    books in corners, break the bored
    -ers with tu-tu
                       -tu much finger paint.

    We’ll contemplate
    the sky and sing out loud
    and nobody can hear us
    cuz our walls are made
    of clouds.

    It’s our own silly slum
    -brrrrr party place, scented
    with a trace of jasmine tea.

    Best part? Ain’t nobody in
    -vited; ’cept for you
                      and me.

    ::

  7. mayboy

    A plan

    Why many things projected
    for too many plans rejected,
    for a few trees inflected?

    Snuggle down on the sofa,
    feel the aura of life enigma,
    plan to live la Vida Loca.

  8. writinglife16

    What now?

    I feel as if I am
    standing on the edge of a
    great cliff after stumbling
    along a twisted road
    for a long time
    with no sense of direction
    or purpose.

    I sit on the patio
    and admire the ants
    reacting to sping.
    Gathering grass and moving dirt
    dedicated to building their home
    and supporting their lives.
    That focus is what I don’t have.

  9. grcran

    project woodpecker

    not many trees on treeless plain. not much
    dead wood. no woods for woodpecker to peck.
    went looking for a fallen bole to stand
    upright. and settled for a driftwood trunk.
    fifteen foot long. washed up on beach. retrieved
    it to backyard. dug four foot hole with hur-
    ricane in mind. mixed bags of concrete. shov-
    eled half the day. stakes braced the rustic post.
    and sure enough, woodpeckers came to nest.
    raised babies in the armpit of a branch.
    And trilled. in joy and thanks? we’ll never know.

    gpr crane

  10. headintheclouds87

    Project-Minded

    I always put in my all,
    Make everything a project,
    Even if seemingly simple,
    It can’t make sense to me unless;
    It’s precisely planned and plotted,
    Then shot repeatedly to pieces
    Becoming orderly bullet points
    Neatly and tidily arranged again;
    This is the leisurely process
    Upon which all my decisions are made,
    Spontaneity was never my strong suit,
    But grin and bear with me
    And I’ll grant you the promised answer,
    (Just after I’ve put all of the implications to paper).

  11. timphilippart

    What?

    Project,
    I have improved,
    stand up straighter,
    increased eye contact,
    I can look right through you,
    I practice my breathing six times a day
    I project from my core,
    Wait,
    what do you mean?
    noun?
    accent on a different syllable?
    never mind,
    just another
    to-do on the list.

  12. tunesmiff

    THE OLD HOMESTEAD
    G. Smith
    °•°•°•°•°•°•°
    Built over a hundred years ago,
    This old house has been a labor of love.
    The floors aren’t level and the plumbing is slow.
    Built over a hundred years ago,
    This place stands firm when the storm winds blow,
    From the basement below to the attic above.
    Built over a hundred ago,
    This old house has been a labor of love.

  13. De Jackson

    DIWhy?

             I think this
    pro
             -ject
                   is going well,
              but maybe that’s just
    con
                              -jecture.

    ::

  14. Connie Peters

    Packing

    He watched
    as I packed
    his pants,
    shirts etcetera
    in a large suitcase.
    He watched
    as I packed
    his favorite toys
    in a satchel.
    He watched
    as I packed
    his bathroom items
    in an overnight bag.
    I told him he’d be
    with his friend
    Jeremy for a while.
    He went in to his room
    and got his froggy pillow.
    He doesn’t speak,
    but I got the message.
    Don’t forget Froggy.

  15. LeeAnne Ellyett

    I posted at poem at 2:30, just below the time it said “your comment is awaiting moderation”
    Can anyone tell me what this means?

        1. Poetjo

          That happened to me as well. I just kept trying to post – if it shows up and stays a couple of times, people will get more than one chance to read it!

  16. Janet Rice Carnahan

    ONCE THE KIDS HAVE GONE

    All that time
    Effort
    Energy
    Great hope
    For all things good
    And now
    Where will the time go?
    What needs our push
    Where should we put all our effort
    What can we watch grow?
    Develop and evolve
    And go all the way
    The way they did
    After so many years
    Taking our heart
    Our soul with them
    Sure, there is the garden
    Always the garage
    Cook something
    Anything new
    Travel and see the world
    Find our self
    Somewhere different
    Or maybe, just maybe
    It is time
    For just me
    To breathe
    To relax
    To be glad
    I am the only
    Project left
    And maybe I am ok
    Just as I am
    Already!

  17. PressOn

    THE RATIONALIZATION PROJECT

    Should a failure come,
    I’d claim my luck’s dumb
    and wry;
    but one must be numb
    to think life but scum
    thereby.
    I cannot blame some;
    fate’s not out of plumb;
    it’s I.

  18. serenevannoy

    I have an actual project this month, and it’s to continue my poem a day habit by working through my favorite poetry prompt book / poetry manual, Steve Kowit’s _In the Palm of Your Hand_. Here’s the first draft from that project, from the first exercise in the book:

    I am eleven, our last year in Spain,
    I have taken time with the letter,
    written it on pink paper
    with scalloped edges,
    sealed it with a wax seal I bought
    as an affectation,
    but have come to love.
    In it, I tell Tammy,
    the friend I left in Connecticut,
    of my new boyfriend, Alex,
    four years, five months, and twelve days older than I,
    with gorgeous lips,
    and a talent for the trumpet.
    Tammy doesn’t need to know I’ve never really met Alex.
    I don’t know how Mom finds the letter, but she does.

    She sits in her blue serge skirt and short-sleeved blouse,
    on a chair atop a rya rug,
    with one elbow on the table, and my letter in her other hand,
    laughing, reading certain bits over, twice, three times,
    so her friend will know how funny this is.
    My cheeks are hot and wet. I stay in the hall shadow.

    I am twenty-five.
    Dad probably didn’t send the letter;
    my guess is Mary did.
    They are inviting me to their wedding.
    I don’t know how Mom finds the letter, but she does.
    She calls their priest, tells him secrets,
    and he cancels the wedding.

    She sits in her tan pantsuit
    at the glass-topped dining table,
    her lips tight across her teeth, her eyes looking anywhere
    except at me.
    My throat clutches and my voice is too loud.
    I do not stay in the shadow this time
    “Listen,” I say,
    “You need me more than I need you.”
    And I am right.

    I am fifty-one. She will be eighty soon.
    I open her mail now. A pendant around her neck tells me
    if she has fallen, so James and I can go pick her up.
    And when she finds ways to feel bigger, better at my expense,
    I let her.
    She has become tiny and brittle and precious,
    so I let her.
    Because I see it coming.
    I don’t know how, but I do.

    1. Fanny Pad

      Very perceptive observation about the mother becoming ‘tiny and brittle and precious’.. as she grows older – how regardless of her faults, the unconditional, emerald green bond of love remains. My project is to gather together my April PAd poems and to print them

    2. Poetjo

      This is so good! I love how you weave both lives together seamlessly and how you use the theme of letters at the different stages of your lives.

  19. thunk2much

    clutter

    they pile up quickly
    the What Ifs and Shoulds
    until there’s no space
    on the counter for good

    they crowd out the apples,
    the bread and the butter
    and so we go hungry
    in spite of the clutter

  20. k weber

    Of me

    I wake up devastated at least three times
    a week. Forever I am dragging my ragged

    carcass to doctors, nurse practitioners,
    technicians, therapists. They are taking

    my complaints, my blood, my heart
    rate, my my my. The list of prescriptions:

    too long to list in this life. Side effects
    may be just about anything. I sleep-

    walk across each day but try to remain
    awake when driving or need food. Better

    hope I am not too numb and stumbling
    when I collect my own urine. This ongoing

    project that is the mystery of me might only
    be solved in autopsy. I am hopeful I will

    someday be thoroughly studied in thesis,
    lecture hall or even science fair.

      1. k weber

        thank you… i think it’s important to let that side of things out now and then. sometimes things just aren’t entirely wonderful 🙂 i like to examine the negative but also find humor in it and some resolution too!

  21. taylor graham

    THE HILL PROJECT

    Any project is an empty suitcase.
    The fox packed up to leave, once her kit was roadkill.
    Hear the tingle of sunrise over the ridge,
    the hum of commuter traffic on the main road.
    You pick it you’ve gotta wear it,
    three brass buttons fastening up the morning.
    You said, if that bird’s a nuthatch it must hatch nuts.
    Unwelcoming soil grows the loveliest flowers –
    how long till tomato vines give off their fragrance?
    Touch of royal thistle, taste of miners lettuce in the salad.
    My dog goes hawkshawiing around after ground squirrels,
    then he flies gabbling like the wild turkey.
    Roadrunner has a trick knee,
    on the main road everyone is going nowhere too fast.
    Muffy found the suitcase on a trail up Quartz Hill.
    This hillside will keep ascending, a ladder to sky.
    There’s no such thing as an empty suitcase:
    the blooming calochortus of surprise.
    I gave up my Schnellzugzuschlag a long time ago.
    A suitcase so full, it pops its leather seams.

  22. LeeAnne Ellyett

    That’s when I got the call

    Today’s project is to write a testimonial
    to recall our matrimonial, some 25 years long past

    That’s when I got the call

    That’s how I found out,
    that my ex has been abusing his wife

    That’s when I got the call

    Years ago from my new neighbors
    the new Mrs and I became good friends
    getting together for drinks on the weekends

    That’s when I got the call

    That they were moving away, we stayed in touch
    although in the last 10 years, we haven’t spoken much

    That’s when I got the call

    the Mrs and I reconnect, she’s a wreck,
    HE sexually abused her, had affairs, even cut off her hair

    That’s when I made the call

    To testify, remember dark secrets long buried
    To release us both the pain we carry

    That’s when I made the call…To the Police.

  23. MET

    It is time to clean out my pantry again…

    What a monumental task
    I took on years ago…
    To make my crowded pantry useable…
    I stepped into a nightmare
    The day I decided to do it.
    To remove one shelf
    Involved patching
    Unintentional holes
    In the wall…
    I found treasures
    My father’s pipe,
    Nails enough to build something.
    I painted the shelves bright white
    And the walls Chinese yellow…
    So bright across from my office…
    I sit here looking
    At the quotes I placed…
    “Rejoice in the Lord always” Phil 4.4
    Tough at times
    To follow… but there it is reminding me
    Rejoice always…
    “’It’s today and I must be livin’’” said Fairlight
    In the book “Christy” by Catherine Marshall…
    Another one hard to do…
    For livin’ is more than getting out of bed…
    It is getting out into life.
    “it is thru grace we live each day” by Joseph Archer Todd, Sr.
    My father left us these words
    In his poem Today….
    Hard living in the moment of today,
    Hard sometimes knowing what grace is.
    “Those who sing; Pray twice” St Augustine…
    A friend who knew I loved to sing
    Gave me this quote… and
    I sing though my cats think opera
    Sounds like I am dying.
    “All gold does not glitter,
    Not all those who wander are lost.” J.R.R. Tolkien
    A wanderer at heart, how could I
    Not love this quote…
    And the gold of the sunset
    After a day of wandering
    Is the best gold there is.
    The last quote I chose
    For I love the writer…
    Tennyson gave me so much
    He saw so much
    Beyond what is here and now…
    Besides I stood on his grave
    On his birthday in a magical moment
    A few decades ago…
    The summer I picked up pen
    To write poetry again…
    I had to search for the right one…
    I read it and knew…
    “Love is the only gold.” Tennyson
    It came from his play on Becket…
    It is a truth I came to know
    Losing my family…
    All that lost gold.
    IT is there to remind me
    Love is what matters.
    It is time to clean the pantry…
    But the quotes will remain
    They are my daily reminders
    Of how I should treat life
    Sing my heart out,
    Wander whenever I wish,
    Today is the day I am alive,
    Grace is how I get thru that day,
    Love is the gold that does not glitter, and
    Rejoice no matter what…
    Not a bad life to live
    I would say.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    May 2, 2018

  24. Anthony94

    When Out to Sea

    I write
    down
    projects
    pages
    anchor
    them

    to paper
    in ink

    red urgent
    green go
    blue later
    black demanding

    letters carved
    into the lined sheets
    so that I
    can read
    them backward
    with my fingers
    no escaping

    I divide land
    into cardinal
    directions
    names of beds

    iris, cactus, herbs
    to be weeded watered
    tally wheelbarrowed dirt

    hanging
    baskets balance
    shepherd’s crooks

    feeders hang
    for hummingbirds bright
    red tubes
    sweet water

    punctuation marks
    against dull sky
    drooping clouds

    I mark them off
    large /Cs/
    completed

    add notes
    in margins
    anchor

    to these
    pages
    projects

  25. Cam Yee

    Steps

    Open your eyes, stretch, yawn,
    breathe the morning deep into your drowsing lungs,
    feel the tingle as that enhanced oxygen boost
    imbues your blood and muscles with vim and vigor.
    No, no, don’t roll over, don’t punch your pillow
    into the perfect shape, don’t touch that tempting button
    on the clock,
    it’s late, lift your leg, that’s it, the left,
    swing it over the bed frame, let your knee bend, let your foot fall,
    twist your torso in the same direction,
    you can hold on to the bed rail if it helps your balance,
    use it to pull yourself up, yes, like that.
    Now shake the hair out of your eyes, wipe your hand down your face,
    from brow to chin, pinch your cheeks pink, clear your throat,
    swallow the sour taste of sleep.
    Swing the other leg over, let it hit the carpet, it won’t hurt, its soft,
    Like sheep’s wool, curl your toes
    In its wiry fibers,
    stand up,
    put one foot
    In front of the other.

  26. PowerUnit

    New Home

    Financing
    It’s not easy being green
    Inspection
    Knowledge is power
    Negotiation
    How do you really feel?
    Payment
    Passing the buck
    Painting
    It’s not a black and white world
    New floors
    Dont tread on me
    New copper
    Noah can stay dead
    Moving in
    You think you’re stressed, wheres your cat?
    Appliance failure
    Not all tires were kicked
    A bottle of wine
    Because there isn’t enough

    1. k weber

      you have lines that flow along and others that abruptly interrupt the poem. perfect representation of the frustration and highs and lows and uncertainties of homeowning!

  27. Daniel Paicopulos

    Lightwork Too

    I am saving the world,
    one hummingbird at a time,
    and one flower, one tree, one human,
    each precious to its kind.
    I am saving the world,
    transforming it with love,
    with right action, too,
    not white magic from above.
    I am saving the world,
    but it’ll take a miracle, they say.
    Well, then, I’d best get moving.
    I can’t think of a better day.

  28. SarahLeaSales

    Just Call Her Chief

    She oversaw the hard news,
    the soft news,
    the “no-shit” news.
    Being editor of The Daily Dope,
    she wanted to make sure that
    whatever her reporters dealt,
    would make the students light up.

  29. Poetjo

    Instruction Manual

    I want
    to build
    a better
    me but
    can’t
    find an
    instruction
    manual
    anywhere.

    I’ve tried
    Sears,
    Macy’s,
    The Bay
    and
    Target
    but no
    luck so
    far so
    I guess
    I’ll have
    to write
    one
    myself.

    Step 1
    Love yourself.

    Step 2.
    Love others.

    Step 3.
    Listen to
    your heart.

    Step 4.
    Take good
    care of
    your
    body.

    Step 5.
    Have fun.

    Step 6.
    Write
    poetry.

    Huh.

    Who’d
    have
    thought
    building a
    better me
    would be
    so
    easy?

      1. sincerescribe

        Book Project

        Blow the dust off your book project.
        Stop treating it like an object.
        Retrieve it and resume writing,
        For your vision is worth fighting.

        Revisit goals that you charted.
        Remind yourself how you started.
        Why view your labor as rubbish?
        Answer your calling to publish.

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