On Death

credit: Dreamstime.com“On Death”

Since people fearful of this topic most,

its theme does pleasure no one but our host.

Man’s muddied up the waters for review

and so our turbid topic in a stew.

He’s known by cryptic such as ‘passed away’

or some do like to say ‘he could not stay’.

And some resound ‘he’s gone to better place’

but none of us seem willing in the chase.

Though subject’s known to all, and all will cuss

that time when he may come, we all adjust.

To those who gripe and moan and then debate

the terror and the ills of his estate,

‘Tis only death who offers apt reply:

“What better options lie beneath your sky?”

I challenge you to write a poem in the form of a review. You can review either animate or inanimate things, real places or imaginary places. You can write in the style of an online review (think Yelp) or something more formal that you might find in a newspaper or magazine. (I imagine that bad reviews of past boyfriends/girlfriends might be an easy way to get into this prompt, though really, you can “review” anything in your poem, from summer reading lists for third graders to the idea of the fourth dimension).

Day 28, NaPoWriMo

Golden Gate Bridge(iron worker atop the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco)

Golden, magic bridge:

your artisans so wondrous

filling up the sky

Golden Gate bridge two

A bridge is a powerful metaphor. Your poem could be about a real bridge or an imaginary or ideal bridge. It could be one you cross every day, or one that simply seems to stand for something larger – for the idea of connection or distance, for the idea of movement and travel and new horizons.

Day 27, NaPoWriMo

hates the
jogging, happy talker.

It’s the hay(na)ku). Created by the poet Eileen Tabios and named by Vince, the hay(na)ku is a variant on the haiku. A hay(na)ku consists of a three-line stanza, where the first line has one word, the second line has two words, and the third line has three words. You can write just one, or chain several together into a longer poem. For example, you could write a hay(na)ku sonnet, like the one that Vince himself wrote back during NaPoWriMo 2012!

Day 25, NaPoWriMo

It’s true that Bruce Jenner
looks quite a bit thinner
in his new Maxi dress
whose stripes should impress.

A clerihew is a whimsical, four-line biographical poem invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley. The first line is the name of the poem’s subject, usually a famous person put in an absurd light. The rhyme scheme is AABB, and the rhymes are often forced. The line length and meter are irregular. Bentley invented the clerihew in school and then popularized it in books. One of his best known is this (1905):

“Sir Christopher Wren

Said, “I am going to dine with some men.

If anyone calls,

Say I am designing St. Paul’s.”

Day 24, NaPoWriMo


I think that I shall never see

a pizza lovelier than thee.

Its sausages so plump and round

against my mirthful mouth, abound.

A pizza waiting close of day

when mouths shall open up the way

to gobble gulps in front of my TV.

To savor its red, roundness that I see.

Upon my bosom lay remains

that Fido soon will munch, retain.

Oh, lovely was that pie for me

and for my Fido, munching free.

(See: Joyce Kilmer’s “Trees”) Prompt: write a parody or satire based on a famous poem.

Day 22, NaPoWriMo

Day 22, NaPoWriMo Write a “pastoral” poem. Traditionally, pastoral poems involved various shepherdesses and shepherds talking about love and fields, but yours can really just be a poem that engages with nature.

Breakers Hotel

“Palm Beach Pastoral”

We’ll meet, my darling, by the shim`ring sea.

We’ll dip our toes into a surf sublime.

And in the afterglow, a cup of tea

as floating gulls will flap their wings to dine.

We’ll dine on caviar before we meet,

amidst the palms, their social gathering.

The palms will sway and dance their hula greet

while nature’s beams upon our ballroom gleam.

Was ever sunlit dance so lush as this

as rustling of my silks spin ‘cross the floor?

Was ever world so brightly kissed

with moonlight and such glamor to adore?

So, take my hand, we’ll waltz across this floor

to all of nature’s thrills; still wanting more.

(Photo: the Breaker’s Ballroom, Palm Beach, Florida.  I have lived, since 1944, across the bridge from ‘the Breakers’ in WEST Palm Beach, Florida).

“Internet Granny”

“Internet Granny”
Upon the Internet, I am a part
of all that I hold dear.  That piece of me,
unseen without a blog page from my heart,
now views itself in that reality.
I’m privy to their language and their games.
I see the latest tattoo on their skin.
As Granny, careful to approve and claim
all those who would remain, in part, my kin.
Before, I was a stranger to that child,
but now they see me in a knowing light.
So long as I may text a note that’s mild
and make it brief and end it out of sight,
 I still exist.  I’m wired and in my eyes
that’s still cool comfort I cannot deny.

(The poem is about you and you are about what you say, think, talk, eat. You might end up with a poem that seems bizarrely solipsistic (like the internet itself, maybe?), but there might also be a spark there of something live and fun and present (like the verbal equivalent of a really great animated cat .gif).

Day 14, NaPoWriMo

dog__just_simply_dog_by_ultimatedesu-d5ha1cy(credit: Deviantart.net)

“Conversation Between Malcolm and His Master”

Where are you, Alphie; you, who knew my ways?
I heard your voice in sadness and in strife.
My heart will search for you remaining days.

Strong-willed was I, like roaring of the waves;
But I was faithful to the end of life.
Where are you, Malcolm; you, who knew my ways?

I’m spirit-sad, I mourn you as I stray.
My loneliness and fear cut like the knife.
My heart will search for you remaining days.

You sought my footprints; those you did obey.
I wait for you throughout my endless night.
Where are you, Malcolm? You, who knew my ways?

Where are you now, my loyal pal in play?
We raced this beach in youth; our bodies lithe.
My heart will search for you remaining days.

I’ll find you, Alphie, in Valhalla’s bays.
You were my hero once that was so blithe.
Where are you, Alphie; you, who knew my ways?
My heart will search for you remaining days.

(form: Villanelle)

write a poem that takes the form of a dialogue. Your conversant could be real people, or be personifications, as in Andrew Marvell’s A Dialogue Between the Soul and the Body, or Yeats’ A Dialogue of Self and Soul. Like Marvell, and Yeats, you could alternate stanzas between your two speakers, or perhaps you could give them alternating lines. Your speakers could be personifications, like those in Marvell and Yeats’ poems, or they could be two real people. Hopefully, this prompt will give you a chance to represent different points of view in the same poem, or possibly to create a dramatic sense of movement and tension within the poem.