Tag Archives: poem prompts

Poem Tryouts: Abandon Ye!

9:30 a.m. — San Antonio

listening to… well, who else? Bowie, of course

Hello, everyone. Are we all bundled so we don’t freeze our patoots? Brrr. Enjoy your summer, southern hemisphere. To distract us from the cold, let’s play with a word. I decided I wanted to explore abandon several weeks ago when Mark Windham sent me a wonderful photograph he knew I’d like. You’ll see it for our image prompt in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, the word. word book

Do you like my new word collecting book? My daughter gave it to me for Christmas. Hand bound with leather cover.

Abandon originally meant to put someone under bond, to put someone under someone else’s jurisdiction. Now, we use it to mean leave completely and utterly. I almost abandoned you this morning because of a video game the same daughter introduced me to at Christmas.

Then there is the phrase with gay abandon. Sounds more positive, you say? I always thought so until I pondered it this morning. Usually, if you have decided to throw yourself into something with gay abandon, you are abandoning morals, mores, possibly laws.

We haven’t played with a word, in a while. So, abandon whatever you are doing, gaily or not, and explore. There are many ways you can go with this.

1] Go to the page I have given you the link for. Write your poem using words and phrases from that page. If you choose this one, remember to credit the source.

2] Go to the page, but use it more as a spark for an idea.

3] Write about something you abandoned. Despite the general negative connotation of the word, this can be a comic story.

As the sun set
she abandoned him
to the wolves.

He was bigger
and brawnier
than she.

What do you mean you don’t see comedy?

4] Write about a time you felt abandoned or were abandoned. Seared forever, in my memory, is the time, in fourth grade, when, despite my parents’ warnings, I dawdled while getting ready for school. Fine, my mother said, we’ll leave without you, and they did. You should have seen me tearing down the stairs — we lived on the fourth floor, but our elevator was molasses —  screaming at the top of my lungs — the poor neighbours. Then my bag fell and everything spilled out…

That’s more comic, you say? You should have been me.

5] Write about a situation on a more worldly scale where the word abandoned works.

6] Go your own merry way.

I will see you Thursday where I will talk a bit about my day with Poets & Writers Live, in Austin and give you a couple of links; and, Tuesday for another prompt. I may do a borrowed one. Now, I am abandoning you and going back to my game.

Happy writing, all.




Posted by on 12/01/2016 in exercises, poems, poetry


Tags: , , , , ,

Poem Tryouts: Dream Symbols

8:18 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to the rustle of the newspaper as my brother reads it… standing up(?!)

Hello, all. I’m tossing a quick one at you. Well, I’ll be quick. You might be a bit longer. I have found a nifty site that lists thirty of the main dream symbols and writes a brief bit with each. Head over to the site, read through the list, and when one resonates, do something with it. Too vague? Nah. I have faith in you. You’ll know it when you see it. Trust me.

See you Thursday for links; Friday is dark, as I will be on the road; and Tuesday for our next prompt.

I’ll try to get back to read, but it might be spotty. I have relatives, and museums to see. Happy writing, everyone.


Posted by on 09/06/2015 in exercises, poems, poetry


Tags: , , , ,

Poem Tryouts: What a Coil

8:07 a.m. – Atlanta

listening to I Will Talk and Hollywood Will Listen sung by Robbie Williams

Urk! Yes, I do have a blog to write and a hair appointment, not two things I usually forget, but between the SNOW in Atlanta and something the hairdresser forgot, the appointment has been put off twice. It’s no wonder my brain has stopped keeping hold of it. We’ll put off the body series start until next week. I need time and  space to stretch while I compose! We shall do another word prompt. Hello, everyone.spring1

No matter how it’s used, coil means the same as it did originally, from the Latin colligere: to gather together. Coil’s meanings and uses have everything to do with its shape. Associated words are wind, spiral, rings, loops, twist, and circles.

Even Hamlet’s mortal coil has to do with the shape of a coil. In this case, Shakespeare took the word coil to mean wound up in confusion [i.e. life]. Think of times when something in your life has caused your stomach to feel like it’s gathering itself together in one big twist.

I remember, when I was growing up, when we were out on our junk, watching mom coil the anchor line. There was something mesmerising about the action and something beautiful about the flat white coil of rope when she finished. I used to watch my amah put her hair up after washing it. Black hair, waist length, she would comb it free of tangles, divide it into two and twist each side into ropes which she coiled around her head.

Snakes coil. They look much like the anchor line I spoke of, also mesmerising, but perhaps a little more menacing. Without mosquito coils, when we lived in the many mosquito infested places that make up most of my life, there were times I would have thrown myself off a cliff with misery. Think of incense smoke coiling into the air. Fusilli, one of my favourite pasta shapes, gathers together and holds the sauce in its twists. Slinky was one of the first coils I remember. I would sit on the stairs outside our flat and set it off, watching in delight as it gathered itself before sinuously falling to the next stair.

Think about all the coils in your life literal or metaphorical. You can write a straight forward poem describing a coil of some type, or you can play with form and see if you can make the poem seem to coil as you write about a coil, or you can use several of coil’s synonyms in the poem, or something else that strikes you.

I shall see you Thursday if I find the link I want to put up; Friday for the week’s prompts roundup; and next Tuesday for the start of the body series.

Happy writing, all.


Posted by on 04/02/2014 in exercises, poems, poetry, writing


Tags: , ,

Summertime and the Living is Tuesday Tryouts

8:47 a.m. — Walnut Creek

Finally. I am in California, with my mother, where I will spend the next month. Routine. Lovely. Now, where are we in the Summer Tryouts? Ah, the list poem. I love list poems. There is no wrong way to do one and lists allow experimentation, play, fun.

You can go back to the list you made of summer associations and see if there is a list poem within it.

You can check out Walt Whitman, the king of listmakers.

You can try a riddle ala Sylvia Plath. Those who don’t know this poem, every line is a metaphor, as is the whole poem. Everything adds up.


I’m a riddle in nine syllables,
An elephant, a ponderous house,
A melon strolling on two tendrils.
O red fruit, ivory, fine timbers!
This loaf’s big with its yeasty rising.
Money’s new-minted in this fat purse.
I’m a means, a stage, a cow in calf.
I’ve eaten a bag of green apples,
Boarded the train there’s no getting off.

You can try your hand at a BLAZON, for no other reason than it’s a cool name for a form. Here’s an excerpt from a blazon, a poem that itemises the qualities of something or someone beloved:

Free Union
a 1931 poem by Andre Breton

My wife whose hair is a brush fire
Whose thoughts are summer lightning
Whose waist is an hourglass
Whose waist is the waist of an otter caught in the teeth of a tiger
Whose mouth is a bright cockade with the fragrance of a star of the first magnitude
Whose teeth leave prints like the tracks of white mice over snow
Whose tongue is made out of amber and polished glass
Whose tongue is a stabbed wafer
The tongue of a doll with eyes that open and shut
Whose tongue is an incredible stone
My wife whose eyelashes are strokes in the handwriting of a child
Whose eyebrows are nests of swallows
My wife whose temples are the slate of greenhouse roofs
With steam on the windows
My wife whose shoulders are champagne
Are fountains that curl from the heads of dolphins over the ice
My wife whose wrists are matches
Whose fingers are raffles holding the ace of hearts
Whose fingers are fresh cut hay

If you wish to read the entire poem, you can find it here. Note that Breton starts at the top and is working his way down the form of his wife. That is one of the conventions of a blazon.

A list poem may be short, as in ‘The Grocer’s Children’ by Herbert Scott

The grocer’s children
eat day-old bread
moldy cakes and cheese,
soft black bananas
on stale shredded wheat,
weeviled rice, their plates
heaped high with wilted
greens, bruised fruit
surprise treats
from unlabeled cans,
tainted meat.
The grocer’s children
never go hungry.

A site on wikispaces offers a good working definition of a list poem, to go with ‘The Grocer’s Children’: ‘List poems are made up of common (but not plain) items, sensory details, metaphor, and uncommon observations or comments. Basically, the poem is a list of images, but at the end the poet sort of answers the “So what?” question we are begging to ask.’

Go forth. Make lists. Play. Post. I am looking forward to reading your list poems. I will also [plan to] finish catching up on last week’s poems as soon as mom and I have groceries. She knew I was coming in on the 2nd. She thought the 2nd was today.

Happy writing everyone.



Posted by on 03/07/2012 in exercises, poetry, writing


Tags: , , , , , , ,

  • creative commons license