WRITING PROMPTS aka Switching It Up In Honor of NaNoWriMo!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

November is National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo for short! If you are one of the thousands participating in the insane writing challenge to write a 50k rough draft novel within the thirty days of November, may God have mercy on your soul. JUST KIDDING! What I mean is, good luck! I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for NaNoWriMo, I never would have started writing. It gave me permission to write badly, which then turned into practice and workshops and feedback which led to getting MUCH better (despite this run on sentence, TRUST ME) to the point that I have two published books, one more to be published this month, one awaiting a publisher, and one currently in the works as my November Nano novel

So, if you are a fellow wrimo (NaNoWriMo writer), at the time this posts you are reaching the end of week one and entering the dreaded “Sophomore Slump”–aka week two. So here are three visual writing prompts to give you a little inspiration. See you at the finish line!

*image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net via Creative Commons Licensing.

*image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net via Creative Commons Licensing.

*image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net via Creative Commons Licensing.

POEM: “Siren Song”

Siren Song”

      you've been warned
know where they live across open sea
know which sharp craggy rocks they perch upon
snaring sailors on their deadly shore
cracking the bones of sea-faring men
cleaning their flesh from teeth stained 
by a thousand extinctions, they sing
music of the spheres to lure and leech
the lives of enamored audiophiles

       choose another route
sail from those soul-sucking succubi
their heavenly voices and sanguine incisors
      stuff your ears with wax
or blast Bach through headphones
to cancel out their carrion call 
      better to cast eardrums into the Western sea 
than drown yourself in black oblivion

	who would not be tempted 
by them, to hear the complementary notes 
of creation and destruction? 
the voice of god vibrates in the music 
of spheres spinning through the void 
as well as the whisper of autumn breezes
each shimmering fish in the sea.
no need to risk all when 
beauty’s before you.

	resist the temptation
danger loses its allure 
when you’re a corpse: dead is dead. 
sex and danger cancel each other 
when sunk within 
deep ocean 
graves

and yet
      some things are worth dying for,

but
for some 
a simple mutilation will suffice,
or 

maybe something less
like--a pounding head,
    --an eardrum busted 
by noise-canceling BOSE,
    and an enormous credit card bill 





#

*inspired by the following tweet by @sentantiq at 6:59am May 13, 2021
“Someone might escape the beautiful bewitchment of Homer’s Sirens by not starting at all, by stuffing wax in his ears, or by turning in some other direction.” #Eustathius

*common sense disclaimer: I am not disparaging BOSE earpieces, just commenting in the poem that blasting music too loud (to cancel out outside noise) through any earpiece could damage your ears.

*note: I am no longer using twitter for ethical reasons (link), but this prompt was written earlier, before I left the platform.

*image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net via Creative Commons Licensing.

POEM: “shield”

shield” 

during months or years of peace
his wife has been polishing--the shield 
blackened as it hung in the chimney corner
 
respond to the call to fight 
plain duty admits no hesitation. 
a hard interruption of their happy lives, 
the risk of passing 
from the warm company of men 
to the chill shades of death. they knew bravery 
is not an everyday possession.
highly as they prized it

to warm their hearts for the clash 
most Greek armies 
as they charged,
shouted,
that each might borrow from the general stock 
courage. 

what best suits the citizen-soldier 
battle 
in which one short effort carries him forward, 
in which a man’s duty to his immediate comrade 
best spurs his intent.

during months or years of peace
the shield blackened as it hung in the chimney corner
his wife has been polishing



*
--found poem taken from The Greek and Macedonian Art of War by F.E. Adcock. If you are unfamiliar with this type of poetry, it’s a way of collaging the work of another author into a unique poem by clipping, altering, and rearranging pieces into something new.

*image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net via Creative Commons Licensing.

POEM: “The Unsigned Letter”





Photo by George Milton on Pexels.com
The Unsigned Letter”

“No need to sign since I give it her myself”
the lie you told, hiding your true feelings
in the pocket nearest your beating heart

she described you perfectly yet you saw no hope, 
seeing beauty everywhere but in yourself,
you lie concealed behind another’s handsome face,
a poet’s exercise excuses your tear-stained words

divinity of form for a form poet: why can’t you see 
the truth of yourself? more than a poem composed,
you are the sonnet that creates itself.

#

Thanks for stopping by my blog. Check out my Patreon for more of my writing! 

I’m thrilled to announce I’ll be reading selections from my book, An Optimist’s Journal of the End of Days and Other Stories, at Barberton Library on Saturday, September 11th at 2pm!  I will also be selling and signing copies of the book for those who are interested.

In the meantime, stay safe, stay well, and read often!

*inspired by Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac.

POEM: “sunflowers”


Photo by fotografierende on Pexels.com
sunflowers”

charcoal heads droop, their glowing halos 
weighted with the heft of so much cheer

petals flame this dinner table hearth
lightening the heart of this happy home

sunshine yellow arms outstretch to embrace 
or supplicate, cut from their grassy beds,

their tendrilled roots removed, replaced, 
stabilized instead by a shallow red glass

its life-giving water dries up all too soon 




*Thank you for visiting my blog! I hope you enjoyed the poem. If you are interested in reading more of my work, please check out my craft posts on my Patreon! In the meantime, stay safe, stay well, and read often!

POEM: Plague of Dragons

picture of fire-breathing dragon on top of a building
Photo by Craig Adderley on Pexels.com
Plague of Dragons

the world opens up as a new monster
looms on the horizon, belching fire,
slaughtering victims without thought
to gender, creed, or age: the smallest
of the small, resistant to her older
brother’s charms, no longer spared
infectious breath.

not content to massacre millions by breath alone,
she melts crematoriums whose iron frames soften,
run from the heat of so many bodies burned
in so few hours, days, weeks of death; chimneys
crack from overuse, appalling mockery that mimics
hospital beds buckling from the influx of live bodies
they strain to save and might despite their failures.
Parks no longer host festivals but burning pyres
that brighten twilight like bonfires left behind
by the wyrms’ warm feasting

or colossal candles lit in earth’s cathedral
for each of those extinguished lives, bright enough
to catch the eyes of the gods in their heavens
or the demons down below.

the beast that plagued last year seems tame
beside his younger sibling, the serpent virulent
exhaling flame who does not deign to spare
the lives of children.

Will she leap across the waters, span
the ocean, leave that far off land
to spread her curse upon
our slowly awakened shores?

Does she await our recovery
only to make her scourge more felt?




#
Thanks for stopping by my blog. If you’d like to read about the crafting of “Plague of Dragons,” check out my Patreon next week for a free technical breakdown of the poem.

I’m thrilled to announce I’ll be reading selections from my book, An Optimist’s Journal of the End of Days and Other Stories, at Barberton Library on Saturday, September 11th at 2pm! I will also be selling and signing copies of the book for those who are interested.

In the meantime, stay safe, stay well, and read often!

*inspired by the Indian variant of the Covid-19 virus.

POEM: “last year’s revels”

Photo by Charles Parker on Pexels.com
last year’s revels”

the toddler rolls from bed, 
a ballerina princess excited 
for the special day ahead,
anticipates her long-awaited party.
strawberry-topped chocolate cake 
with a grape soda chaser,
she’s fueled for festivity:
rainbowed streamers wave 
above a table piled with gifts,
sunshine yellow ribbon
seals each shining gold wrapper, 
as storm clouds gather unheaded
outside her window’s thin glass.

she tears a first package apart, 
eager, greedy for its contents,
frowns at the dimestore damsel’s
impossible figure and painted smile,
tosses her aside for another 
bright box’s glinting temptation, 

enchanted to find inside
flint enough to fire her tinder home. 
caffeine-fueled and sugar-dosed, 
she blazes pirouette on tip-toes,
ecstatic homage to firenadoes 
swirling flame outside her door.
she watches in delight, 
her face crimson bright 
as a demon risen to scorch 
this mortal earth with hellfire.

hay-colored landscapes wither, 
flames kindle the world: fireworks 
enough to entertain her swollen 
all-too-childish brain. she collapses, 
in a fit of giggles watches murder hornets 
bloom across the blood red sky.
her joy indisputable on a face free 
from the thin cotton mask she refuses to wear.

she knows these days are hallowed,
these endless nights will last
for years to come.

exhausted from her revels, 
quietly 
     she tears the Barbie’s bloodless arms; 
     the doll’s blank eyes reflect nothing, 
     the hollow chest holds her silent scream, 
     her frozen face beaming 
     an eternally vacant grin.






#

Today’s poem was inspired by a prompt to write a poem personifying the last year. Many thanks to Diane Kendig and Cuyahoga County Library for their Read + Write Poetry daily postings, which included this prompt!

If you’d like to know more about the craft that went into this poem, next week I will be posting a poem dissection on my Patreon–which is free during the pandemic. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, stay well, and read often!

POEM: “spark”

colorful lights in stormy sky over skyscrapers
"spark"

I hobble out of bed at daybreak
an Igor with dreams of being both doctor
and creation, waiting for just one spark,
juice enough to fuel that night's creation.

Excitement looms on this horizon
pregnant storm clouds heavy with rain,
whipped overhead by hurricane winds,
ready to strike, incite the dead to life.

Petrichor coats my tongue, fills my head,
lightning flashes, blue-white channels
blaze down these rods to these hands,
fire enough to burn, birthing this beating heart.

My blood boils, my eyes open.



#

*Thank you for visiting my writing blog. I hope you enjoyed the poem! If you’d like to read about its creation, I will be dissecting it next Friday on my Patreon.

If you would like to read more of my writing, I will be posting once a month (both here and on my Patreon) for the foreseeable future; I’m concentrating on my next poetry collection, as well as writing a novel.

In the meantime, Happy April--aka National Poetry Month!

POEM: “untitled”

untitled

i remember when i thought twice,
thrice, a dozen times moreover
whether to call myself writer,
a title hallowed in my heart
throughout my childhood years,
the ones who wrote the books
i devoured with my every free hour,
my escapes into worlds of make-believe,
my gateway to learning beyond
what adults prescribed for me

i’ve known too many writers
to be intimidated by the title,
known their kindness and generosity,
heard of others’ lack
lucky enough not to experience it myself

i remember when i hesitated
to call myself poet, the title
seemed too pretentious, too artistic
to apply to just anyone, like lumping Van Gogh
in with the man who graffitis the roadside
in the dead of night. but why not?
why should a canvas command more respect
than the underside of an overpass?
why should the verse of authors long gone
hold more esteem than the coffee house clique
reciting their rhymes in the meeting place
of modern minds? the old and new both live

i’ve known too many poets
to be awed just by the word
when their humanity alone humbles me
my own attempts to grasp each
abiding image, each emotion collaged
upon these pages like flowing script,
rivers of ink and electrons
imprinted upon our collective minds

with or without title, i’ll write
these words, this verse, hope
someday they will be read, felt,
imbued with life

words change form throughout time as organic
as a climbing vine growing with each age
titles are more specific, rigid like concrete
i call myself the words
the titles themselves unknown

#

*image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net via Creative Commons Licensing.

POEM: “She Who Was the Helmet Maker’s Once-Beautiful Wife”

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com
She Who Was the Helmet Maker's Once-Beautiful Wife"

you didn't know what awaited you
when you began the long trek to see your son
bare feet and fallen arches old bones aching
with miles of marching your final journey
all for one more glimpse of your boy
become a man

why bare yourself for the artist's art?
how much more could you have to give?
the tragedy of your worn form outlives your mortality,
the young girl you were forever trapped in iron gray.





*Rodin’s model for She Who Was the Helmet Maker’s Once-Beautiful Wife was the mother of one of his male models. The photo I used reminded me of a younger version of Rodin’s model, since I was unable to obtain permission for an image of the original sculpture. You can find an image of Rodin’s masterpiece here.