NaPoWriMo #30 – Dead End

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! Well, it’s been a big and busy month for this year’s NaPoWriMo. I always enjoy the month though, as even though I try to write something everyday to keep poems, plays, and essays generated – April forces me to make sure that I have something relatively close to a finished poem by the end of each day. This year was no different, and I’m happy to say that I did write to one of the two prompts put out by the NaPoWriMo or the April PAD Challenge sites, and posted to my own blog and to the NaPoWriMo blog every day…even though sometimes it was very near Midnight!

As I post this last poem for National Poetry Month, I just want to mention that as things go back to “normal” that if you do peruse my blog for prompts that I will begin posting once a week again in May – I probably will revert back to my Wednesday posts, but I may even sneak in a few extra blogs as I get inspired myself. And, I will go back and write to some of the prompts that I missed from either NaPoWriMo or the PAD Challenge when I chose the other site’s prompt to work with during April. But I will always start tossing out ones that I’ve come up with as well beginning again in May. So, without further ado – here is my final poem (a senryu) for April, “At Any Station in Life,” the prompt used, and the NaPoWriMo prompt that I didn’t use. Enjoy!


At Any Station in Life

“Dead end” sounds so final,
feeling helpless and dumbstruck –
until the phone rings…

The Day 30 PAD Challenge prompt:

Yesterday, the blog seemed to take the haphazard prompt a little too seriously–as some people were able to access the blog while others were not. Our tech team was working on the very unorganized problem and hopefully have a solution, or else the final prompt of the month will live up to its name as well.

For today’s prompt, write a dead end poem. Of course, I was thinking in terms of the challenge, but a dead end can literally mean the end of a person’s life, a dead end road, a dead end job, dead end mortgage, and so on. Take the phrase “dead end” and apply it to a noun, and the possibilities are nearly endless (except, well, there’s the whole “dead end” finality to it, I suppose). I hope it’s fun and that the blog is alive and well today.

The Day 30 NaPoWriMo prompt:

Today I’d like you to try your hand at a translation of your own. If you know a foreign language, you could take a crack at translating a poem by a poet writing in that language. If you don’t know a foreign language, or are up for a different kind of challenge, you could try a homophonic translation. Simply find a poem (or other text) in a language you don’t know, and then “translate” it based on the look or sound of the words. Stuck for a poem to translate? Why not try this one by Nobel Laureate Wislawa Szymborska? Or here’s one by another Laureate, Tomas Transtromer.

As always, if you want to post something, there’s the comments section below!

Keep writing!


NaPoWriMo #29 – I Remember

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! One more day left of NaPoWriMo after this is posted. It is hard to believe! On this next to the last day, I used the prompt from NaPoWriMo, but I didn’t end up sticking with the “I remember” format – instead I just delved into one of the memories and used that. It’s funny, the memory I chose, because it’s not near Christmas, yet today’s weather still feels a bit like December! For some reason the April PAD Challenge site is not opening for me tonight…maybe everyone is hurrying and posting 29 poems there at once! Anyway, here is a snippet of a memory in my poem, “I (used to) Believe in Santa Claus,” and the prompt used.

I (used to) Believe in Santa Claus

I rue the day when I heard
Santa Claus was not really real – and
my parents didn’t stick up for my dreams;

crushed were the reasons to watch
for Santa’s sleigh with Rudolph
heading up the herd of reindeers

kick gliding through the air among the stars,
as I sat in the backseat of a warm car on a
dark country road, in PJs, head against the back window

while on a thirty minute ride to celebrate
Christmas Eve with family; dashed was
the wish for snow each year so Santa

could land softly on our roof, even though we
had no chimney to shimmy down
because he was smart enough to find a way

to leave unwrapped gifts near the tree just for me;
with Santa Claus, anything was possible,
until the fateful day Santa became fiction in my eyes.

The Day 29 NaPoWriMo prompt:

Poet and artist Joe Brainard is probably best remembers for his book-length poem/memoir, I Remember. The book consists of a series of statements, all beginning with the phrase “I remember.” Here are a few examples:

I remember the only time I ever saw my mother cry. I was eating apricot pie.

I remember how much I cried seeing South Pacific (the movie) three times.

I remember how good a glass of water can taste after a dish of ice cream.

The specific, sometimes mundane and sometimes zany details of the things Brainard remembers builds up over the course of the book, until you have a good deal of empathy and sympathy for this somewhat odd person that you really feel you’ve gotten to know.

Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem based on things you remember. Try to focus on specific details, and don’t worry about whether the memories are of important events, or are connected to each other. You could start by adopting Brainard’s uniform habit of starting every line with “I remember,” and then you could either cut out all the instances of “I remember,” or leave them all in, or leave just a few in. At any rate, hopefully you’ll wind up with a poem that is heavy on concrete detail, and which uses that detail as its connective tissue.

If you get anything that you’d like to share, post it below in comments!

Keep writing!


NaPoWriMo #28 – Telling a Story

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! Day 28 of NaPoWriMo and the prompt was to tell a story, which is right up my alley since most of my poems I’d consider more “narrative’ than anything. The twist to the prompt was to tell the story backwards. What I worked with is a freewrite from a journal of an event that I experienced a while back and always wanted to do something with (It actually was a time I was a featured reader during National Poetry Month at the Indianapolis Artsgarden a few years back). It may not sound so “backwards,” yet the last 3/4 of the poem used to be the beginning as I was working with it, and I decided to flip it…and it seems much better this way. Anyway, here is my poem, “A Lunchtime Poetry Reading,” the prompt used, and then the April PAD Challenge. Enjoy!

A Lunchtime Poetry Reading

At the Artsgarden, the view of cars
passing beneath my feet traveling
the old National Highway was a high,
as if soaring in the sky; a stalker as
pedestrians scurry outside
to their next important meeting
or place to perch. Classical music
serenades shoppers taking a break
in this transparent room. Sparrows hop
across the floor or flit into indoor planted
trees in search of a better view – some morsel
to sustain a limited living. Poetry was spoken
into the microphone. Onlookers scattered
as if someone had yelled, “Fire!”
Behind the podium, I read my poems,
for those staying behind
to risk a nest of words in their minds –
proving poetry can thrive in a hungry environment,
it can be delivered or taken to go. Lunch poems
if given the chance can live inside the looking glass
where birds are the captive audience,
where people listen without making a peep,
where the trees absorb Monday and digest
a diffuse applause.

Day 28 NaPoWriMo prompt:

Today I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that tells a story. But here’s the twist – the story should be told backwards. The first line should say what happened last, and work its way through the past until you get to the beginning. Now, the story doesn’t have to be complicated (it’s probably better if it isn’t)! Here’s a little example I just made up:

The Story of a Day

She lay her head down on the table.
She climbed the stairs to her room and sat down.
The afternoon of the boarding house was cool and dusty.
She walked home slowly, watching the sun settle on brick walls and half-kept gardens.
Work lasted many hours. Office lights buzzing with a faint, mad hum.
Breakfast was a small miracle.
She thought it a wonder, as always, that she’d woken up at all.

Well, that’s kind of unsettling! But I think it works as a poem. Maybe you’ll have better luck working backwards toward a happy beginning.

Day 28 April PAD Challenge prompt:

For today’s prompt, take the phrase “Important (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write the poem. Possible titles could include: “Important Documents,” “Important: Read Before Assembling,” “Important People,” and so on. I hope everyone finds something important to write about today.

If you get something to share, be sure and post it below in comments!

Keep writing!


NaPoWriMo #27 – Long Lines

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! It’s Day 27 of NaPoWriMo and only three more days left in the month. Wow, it’s flying by! Today’s prompt was to write long lines...a la Walt Whitman, or perhaps making a haiku (17 syllables) out of each line; however, as I’ve done with a few other prompts this month…I’ve given myself creative license. So my poem, “A Writer’s Observation,” is practically all one long line…perhaps close to a run-on, yet it’s a very brief poem…but definitely longer than a haiku. Anyway, I had fun because it really is this writer’s observation. Following is my poem, the prompt used, and then the April PAD Challenge prompt. Enjoy!


A Writer’s Observation

Hemingway wrote of watching the goat herd travel the morning streets of Paris on his way to a café to write; words for other mammal masses that don’t appreciate the life of a writer any more than those goats in the morning streets appreciate the Eiffel Tower, a good bottle of cabernet sauvignon, or aged brie.

Day 27 NaPoWriMo prompt:

Today’s prompt comes to us from Megan Pattie, who points us to the work of the Irish poet Ciaran Carson, who increasingly writes using very long lines. Carson has stated that his lines are (partly) based on the seventeen syllables of the haiku, and that he strives to achieve the clarity of the haiku in each line. So today, Megan and I collectively challenge you to write a poem with very long lines. You can aim for seventeen syllables, but that’s just a rough guide. If you’re having trouble buying into the concept of long lines, maybe this essay on Whitman’s infamously leggy verse will convince you of their merits.

Day 27 April PAD Challenge prompt:

Happy Administrative Assistant Day! If you’re an administrative assistant, perhaps you’ll get a chuckle out of today’s prompt. If not, I hope you still get something out of it too.

For today’s prompt, write a take off poem. Take off work for you admin assistants out there (and any other workers). Take off a runway–for those of you who like to fly. Take off from a dangerous or weird situation–or maybe even a comfortable one. Or maybe you have a completely different take off of a “take off” poem. Go on and take off on your poetic paths.

If you get something that you would like to share, go ahead and post in comments below!

Keep writing!


NaPoWriMo #26 – Call and Response

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! It’s Day 26…hard to believe there’s only four more days of NaPoWriMo 2016! It’s going by fast…not to mention that its end coordinates with the end of the semester and the big grading frenzy grande finale! Nevertheless, to be able to take a  break and write some thoughts down and formulate them into a poem...well that saves the sanity. Today, the NaPoWriMo prompt was what I followed as it was different for me, and fun to do…a call and response. I didn’t keep with the exact response each time, but I’m the writer so I get to tinker. Does it work? We’ll see. The April PAD Challenge prompt is one that I’ve visited on both sides of the fence…love poems…so  I decided to give that a break! Here is my poem, “Making Healthy Choices, “ followed by the prompt used, and then the PAD prompt. Enjoy!

Making Healthy Choices

While all sweet pie types call my name,
pumpkin, cherry sugar cream, lemon meringue,

Eating raw veggies just isn’t the same

Carrot cake with butter crème icing I must refrain,
as too many pounds my hungry body will claim.

Eating broccoli and carrots just isn’t the same

My love of pepperoni pizza isn’t hard to explain,
when I have to go without is when I complain.

Eating unsalted rice cakes just isn’t the same

Cravings for ice cold Coca-Cola – are hard to tame,
but drinking too many I blame for my weight gain,

Eating healthy and drinking water just isn’t the same

It’s comfort foods in life that can ease life’s pain,
but too many donuts and cookies can kill…such a shame.

Eating even more raw veggies just isn’t the same

Day 26 NaPoWriMo prompt:

Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that incorporates a call and response. Calls-and-responses are used in many sermons and hymns (and also in sea chanties!), in which the preacher or singer asks a question or makes an exclamation, and the audience responds with a specific, pre-determined response. (Think: Can I get an amen?, to which the response is AMEN!.). You might think of the response as a sort of refrain or chorus that comes up repeatedly, while the call can vary slightly each time it is used. Here’s a sea chanty example:

Haul on the bowline, our bully ship’s a rolling,
Haul on the bowline, the bowline Haul!

Haul on the bowline, Kitty is my darlin’,
Haul on the bowline, the bowline Haul!

Haul on the bowline, Kitty lives in Liverpool,
Haul on the bowline, the bowline Haul!

The call can be longer than the response, or vice versa. But think of your poem as an interactive exchange between one main speaker and an audience.

Day 26 April PAD Challenge:

For today’s Two-for-Tuesday prompt:

  • Write a love poem. Or…
  • Write an anti-love poem.

If you get anything that you would like to share, put it comments below!

Keep writing!


NaPoWriMo #25 – First Line

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! It’s Day 25 of NaPoWriMo, and it’s hard to believe that there’s only five days left of the month! Today was another busy day, but I did get something written – and to NaPoWriMo’s prompt, which was to choose a first line (or any line) of a poem, and start your own poem with that. I chose Alice Friman‘s line “coming through the window. Sing me a stanza” from her poem “The Trouble With Nightingales,” found in her book Zoo. My poem is brief, but it’s here. I may expand on it later…or tinker with what I have later. I don’t hate it. Here is my poem, “Deciphering Birdsong,” and the NaPoWriMo prompt used, and then the April PAD Challenge prompt:

Deciphering Birdsongs,
(After Alice Friman)

coming through the window. Sing me a stanza,
I need to hear your lengthy tweets, so that I
can define them into my own wordsongs,
and finally discover the secret code of love.

The Day 25 NaPoWriMo Prompt:

Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that begins with a line from a another poem (not necessarily the first one), but then goes elsewhere with it. This will work best if you just start with a line of poetry you remember, but without looking up the whole original poem. (Or, find a poem that you haven’t read before and then use a line that interests you). The idea is for the original to furnish a sort of backdrop for your work, but without influencing you so much that you feel stuck just rewriting the original!. For example, you could begin, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day,” or “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons,” or “I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster,” or “they persevere in swimming where they like.” Really, any poem will do to provide your starter line – just so long as it gives you the scope to explore.

The Day 25 April PAD Challenge prompt:

For today’s prompt, write an exercise poem. The poem could be about a specific exercise, or it could just incorporate exercising into the poem. Or it could be dedicated to a piece of exercise equipment–so an ode to an elliptical machine or those hand grippers or something. Of course, not every exercise is physical; there are military exercises, mental exercises, and so on.

If you get anything to share, post it in comments below!

Keep Writing!



NaPoWriMo #24 – Lost/Found

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! It’s Day 24 of NaPoWriMo, it’s edging ever so close to the end of the month, and I’ve been 24 of 24 so far! I’m not thrilled with every single one of those 24, but I do feel that I do have some keepers, or at least ones that can be revised after April ends. Today, I followed the April PAD Challenge prompt, only because it appealed to me more at this moment, but as I said before I’m archiving prompts I haven’t used from the opposite site to keep writing on into the summer. The prompt was to write about something you gained back that you previously lost. This prompt alone could give me quite a few new poems, but today I settled on one. Following is my poem, “No Doubt,” the prompt used, and then the NaPoWriMo prompt. Enjoy!

No Doubt

At one time in my life,
Kindergarten to be exact,
I had no fear of an audience.
When asked to memorize
a poem to recite for our class
graduation, I had no doubt
about saying I would do it.
My mom, was not so sure.
I followed through and basked
in the attention and applause.

Sometime after that glory day,
in between five and thirty-five
I lost that want, or need to speak
in a crowd or to an audience –
in fact, I kept a lot held tight within,
I never dreamed of speaking up
for myself, or in front of others.

Then after divorces, mothering, and
creating art, I learned my way
back into higher education. Older,
more experienced, I found public
speaking wasn’t worse than death,
ignoring my shaking knees and nausea.
Soon after, poetry came back – my own,
and I thrilled to share with audiences,
to hear their applause: my calling – no doubt.

Day 24 April PAD Challenge prompt:

For today’s prompt, write a poem in which something is lost and then regained. Maybe a relationship is lost and then regained, or a special keepsake. Maybe it was stolen and won back. Or maybe it was in your possession the whole time, but you just didn’t know it.

Day 24 NaPoWriMo prompt:

Today I challenge you to write a “mix-and-match” poem in which you mingle fancy vocabulary with distinctly un-fancy words. First, spend five minutes writing a list of overly poetic words – words that you think just sound too high-flown to really be used by anyone in everyday speech. Examples might be vesper, heliotrope, or excelsior. Now spend five minutes writing words that you might use or hear every day, but which seem too boring or quotidian to be in a poem. Examples might be garbage disposal, doggy bag, bathroom. Now mix and match examples from both of your lists into a single poem. Hopefully you’ll end up with a poem that makes the everyday seem poetic, and which keeps your poetic language grounded.

If you get something that you’d like to share, please do in comments below!

Keep writing!


NaPoWriMo #23 – Sonnet

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! It’s Day 23 of National Poetry Month, and it’s Shakespeare’s birthday (and death day) – so what better way to honor him than writing a Shakespearean Sonnet, or at least making a valiant attempt! This was also the prompt from NaPoWriMo – and it could’ve been any type of sonnet…there are more than one type, you know. My sonnet is titled, “De-stressing Spring,” and is followed by the prompt I used, and then the April PAD Challenge prompt. Enjoy!

De-stressing Spring

Winter has hijacked spring for too many depressing weeks,
along with many beloved celebrity deaths; most recently, Prince,
Mother Nature cries for hours, her dreary days play for keeps,
her warmth has been hijacked, never felt cozy again since.

It’s no fun when you’re grumpier than the 90-year-old Queen,
when it comes to those unresponsive students you teach,
at the end of the semester it makes one feel unusually mean,
reading panicked student emails; ones you earlier tried to reach.

But the calendar shows the grading deadline is finally drawing near,
and spring warmth will really arrive, along with pretty migratory birds,
there will be free time to commune with friends, share good wine or beer,
it won’t matter anymore that the youth will think that we’re all nerds.

So, forget the tense, distressing moments of life’s sad harassing tests.
Look up high for inspiration; maybe discover majestic bald eagle nests.

Day 23 NaPoWriMo prompt:

I challenge you to write a sonnet. Traditionally, sonnets are 14-line poems, with ten syllables per line, written in iambs (i.e., with a meter in which an unstressed syllable is followed by one stressed syllable, and so on). There are several traditional rhyme schemes, including the Petrarchan, Spenserian, and Shakespearean sonnets. But beyond the strictures of form, sonnets usually pose a question of a sort, explore the ideas raised by the question, and then come to a conclusion. In a way, they are essays written in verse! This means you can write a “sonnet” that doesn’t have meet all of the traditional formal elements, but still functions as a mini-essay of a sort. The main point is to keep your poem tight, not rangy, and to use the shorter confines of the form to fuel the poem’s energy. As Wordsworth put it, in a very formal sonnet indeed, “Nuns fret not at their convent’s narrow room.”

Day 23 April PAD Challenge prompt:

For today’s prompt, write a footwear poem. A poem about shoes, flip flops, socks, slippers, flippers, boots, pumps, and so on. If you’d prefer not to dedicate a poem to your footwear, just mention footwear somewhere in the poem. That’s right; your hi-tops don’t have to be the star, and it’s totally cool if somebody’s clogs play a minor role in the poem.

If you get something that you would like to share, feel free to post in comments below!

Keep writing!


NaPoWriMo #22 – Earth Day

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! It’s Day 22 of NaPoWriMo and coincidentally Earth Day too. I’m back on the NaPoWriMo prompt today because of that since the prompt was to write about a favorite place in nature to honor Earth Day. I have plenty of places to choose from, and settled on a place that I frequent a lot with my camera – but haven’t written about the site specifically: Magee Marsh/Black Swamp Bird Observatory in NW Ohio. So, following is my poem, “Nature Reactor,” the prompt used, and then the April PAD Challenge prompt. Enjoy!

Nature Reactor

One of my favorite places
to commune with nature,
is Black Swamp Bird Observatory
in northwest Ohio.
I’m assured at each visit
a healthy dose of birdsong,
music to my ears, along with
the waves of Lake Erie lapping land,
sometimes loud like an angry spouse,
or gentle like an easy lover. An eagle’s nest
always in view high in the trees
near the shore – and when lucky,
there’s a mom or dad tending their eaglets.

In the marsh: mallards, geese, and
mudhens swim in their own cliques,
making sure all their ducks are in a row.
Along the edge of the water, egrets or blue
herons wade with grace or stand still
as if a nature painting; just a little farther away
up on a grassy ridge, a deer family graze,
and watch through the sparse brush
and young, gangly trees: a water fowl parade.

But in the midst of all of this
beauty, perfection, and Mother
Nature’s sanctuary, stands in the not
so far distance – Besse, nuclear powering
her clouds of billowing white steam into the air,
a stark contrast against the blue sky, a reminder:
not all reactors active in nature are natural.

Day 22 NaPoWriMo prompt:

Write a poem in honor of Earth Day. This could be about your own backyard, a national park, or anything from a maple tree to a humpback whale.

Day 22 April PAD Challenge prompt:

For today’s prompt, take the phrase “Star (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write the poem. Possible titles include: “Star-struck,” “Star Man,” “Star Wars Prequels Aren’t Star Wars Movies,” “Starter Set,” “Stark Raving Mad,” and so on.

If you get something that you would like to share, don’t hesitate to post it in comments below!

Keep writing!



NaPoWriMo #21 – Response Poem

Welcome to Writing Prompt Pit Stop! Today is Day 21 of National Poetry Month, and I had intended to use the NaPoWriMo prompt today, but instead I saw what the April PAD Challenge prompt was and decided to go that way instead. Today was Poem in Your Pocket day, and this was a chance to take a line from a poem and respond to it. I could have gone with a plethora of poets that I know and love their work, but I decided to go with a poet that I don’t know much about, and who was listed as one of the poets on the PAD Challenge, Jamaal May. I indeed liked his poem, and decided to work off of it. Granted this poem of mine is a little rough, but I think it’s one that I will work more with. Here is my poem, “Sitting in the Catbird Seat,” the prompt used, and the napowrimo prompt:

Sitting in the Catbird Seat
“When they said those birds were metaphors”
– after Jamaal May

She told me, years ago, I should be flying
as high as those eagles in the sky,
but in those days I felt fallen,
a woman without wings, uncertain,
unwilling to sing my own tune.

Later, it took years of nesting –
as a Ball State Cardinal,
where a little birdie told me
I was migratory, I could soar,
I could ruffle some feathers,

my writings weren’t all chicken scratch,
to free my hen pecked mind,
get all my ducks in a row,
spread my wings!

My old friend was wise
as an owl back in the day –
when I was a spring chick, and didn’t
realize I really could soar.

Day 21 April PAD Challenge prompt:

Today is Poem in Your Pocket Day! It’s a day to pick a poem to carry in your pocket and share spontaneously throughout your day. Click here to learn more.

For today’s prompt, write a poem that responds (or somehow communicates) with another poem. You can respond to any poem. If you’re having trouble figuring out which one, choose a poem from this following list of poems from collections I’ve been reading this month:

Day 21 napowrimo prompt:

Today I challenge you to write a poem in the voice of minor character from a fairy tale or myth. Instead of writing from the point of view of Cinderella, write from the point of view of the mouse who got turned into a coachman. Instead of writing from the point of view of Orpheus or Eurydice, write from the point of view of one of the shades in Hades who watched Eurydice leave and then come back.

If you get anything that you’d like to share, post in comments below!

Keep writing!