Poem Tryouts: Lights Out

02 Feb

8:51 a.m. — San Antonio

listening to Cool Water sung by Marty Robbins

Hello, everyone. How’s things? We have blue sky, sunshine, and a promise of 62 as our high. Gorgeous. Not that I trust San Antonio’s weather. Two days ago, it was so hot, we stopped at Sonic for malteds. In January, for crying out loud. Enough chitchat, let’s begin.

In the past couple of weeks, we have had our electricity go out a couple of times, as work is being done in the neighbourhood. When we lived in Jakarta, especially the early years, losing our electricity was a common event and could last as long as two days. We have been known to move into a hotel. As I sat in the quiet of last week’s outage, I noticed, again, how still the world becomes without electricity, how quiet, almost the quality of a snow silence.

An unscheduled outage is what we’re looking for. Think back over your life to times when the electricity went out unexpectedly. Jot notes on the things you couldn’t, or could, do because of the loss of various electrical appliances, not to mention lights. How much of a nuisance was it? How helpless did you feel? Or did you revel in having no choice about certain things? If you want, go universal and comment on the dependency we have on electrical items.

The specific outage I remember best happened in Hong Kong, my senior year in  high school. Outages were rare and this one happened at night, as I was writing an essay due the next day. I sat on the living room couch with my mother’s Smith Corona typewriter on my knees and two candles on the coffee table. I got the assignment done.

Feel free to mash-up your memories. If you have lived your life without an electricity outage, you will need to adapt this prompt. 

I will see you Thursday for stuff and then the blog will be dark (yes, an electricity outage, heh heh heh) for a couple of weeks, while Skip and I head to Georgia for our Atlanta fix.

Happy writing, all.



Posted by on 02/02/2016 in exercises, poetry


Tags: , , , ,

28 responses to “Poem Tryouts: Lights Out


    02/02/2016 at 10:58 am

    I have a drawer in the garage, which I can find in the dark, full of candles, matches, tea-lights and the like. Our woodburner will keep us warm, and maybe boil an old saucepan of water for a cup of tea. You can see that I am experienced in power cuts, having lived through the Winter of Discontent and also the quirks of dodgy generators in Seychelles. I’ll think of something to write.

  2. Jane Dougherty

    02/02/2016 at 2:27 pm

    I wrote this piece inspired by your prompt, totally disregarding that it was supposed to be a poetry prompt. Here it is anyway. Thanks for bringing back the memories 🙂

    • margo roby

      03/02/2016 at 8:36 am

      Jane, you may always write prose to my prompts, so long as you write 🙂

      • Jane Dougherty

        03/02/2016 at 10:46 am

        Oh good—I can reply on all blogs except my own 🙂 Thanks for allowing rule bending. I write a lot of poetry. Sometimes it’s good to write prose instead.

  3. pmwanken

    02/02/2016 at 5:35 pm

    Howdy, neighbor…I know what you’re thinking: “But it wasn’t an image prompt…”

    Here’s my poem nonetheless…

  4. julespaige

    03/02/2016 at 6:27 am

    I was nine…
    Power of the People


    03/02/2016 at 6:35 am

    I managed to use an ancient form, the Habbie Stanza, to tell my story:

  6. memadtwo

    03/02/2016 at 9:08 pm

    This started out much longer, but I’m finding that often less is more.

  7. barbara_y

    04/02/2016 at 6:16 am

    Don’t you listen to him, Dan. He’s a devil not a man, and he spreads the burning sand with water.

    Fine song

  8. barbara_y

    04/02/2016 at 7:31 am

    Just for kicks, I tried Viv’s Habbie Stanza. I was right–it’s hard.

    A spring twister crashed on the town,
    tossed sycamores and roofs around,
    dragged the power lines to the ground,
    deafened me with its weight.
    On the tail of that howling hound
    wires popped like blue-black whips.

    • julespaige

      04/02/2016 at 4:28 pm

      Time to call the firefighters and the electric company!

  9. Walt Wojtanik

    04/02/2016 at 9:43 am

    Reminiscent of a freakish October Surprise snow storm we encountered:

  10. Hannah Gosselin

    04/02/2016 at 9:54 am

    This brought back a pleasant memory…thank you, Margo. 🙂


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