Image Prompt Poem

blue petals
folded & pressed
flattened white veined
solar systems all your own
in the center
busha’s face
laughing at
my vision

She trudged through the muck
her gumboots
buried in
slurping filth with each step

a jar of sourdough starter
tucked under her arm
the lifeblood to feed
the next generation

her heart beat
at a mouse’s rate
as she thread the needle
through thick and vine

she longed to see
a single cloud upon the sky
but no such open spread
lay upon her vision

instead she trundled on
through the undergrowth
hoping for the light of dawn
hoping for them all

[Prompt 11: Write a poem using at least 5 of the following 10 words/phrases: Forest Ranger, Skyscaper, Periwinkle, sourdough, Cloud, needle, gumboots, beat, spread, storefront]

Finals Week

While it may not be official
it’s the sweetest holiday to me
the final week of classes
before winter break

The clackity-clack of the keys
as students pound out
their final thoughts
documenting sources MLA

One by one
they shuffle to the printer
as it moans under the workload
hundreds of mediocre pages

The celebratory mini-stapler
my name and office number
inked on its side
clip-pips another masterpiece

Nicely done, I say
with a handshake, hug, high-five
Have a wonderful break
You deserve it!

What surprises me most
is how some hang back
unable to end it all
by walking out the door

They linger, chat about what’s next
simply want to hold timeless
the comfort of the familiar
the known

Get on with your life, I say
Shooing them out the door

The greatest celebration
isn’t that they’re gone
but knowing they have
moved on

[Prompt 10: Write poem about any holiday in December/early January.]

“The most important lessons can’t be found in any textbook.”

I gave up using textbooks
long ago
Relying instead
on the lives lived
by my students
to fuel their imaginations
and motivations

Allowing them the freedom
to sort through traumas
of the past and explore hope
for their futures
our conversations became
the basis of learning
validating and affirming

We share in teaching
between lines of compound
complex and simple sentences
learning the flexibility
of the comma to add
of the colon to announce
of the semicolon to gently separate

The period draws an end
but also leads to new beginnings
each line shaping their experiences
giving voice to thought & feeling
each line influencing my perceptions
giving insight and understanding

There is no textbook in the world
more informed than the one
we each write of our own lives
each page a revelation
each page a possibility
of what it all could mean

[Prompt 9: Take a common saying like “To get lost is to learn the way” or “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch” or “This too shall pass,” as the basis of writing a poem.]

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusty Bowling

she stuns at first glance
but looks past rude stares
to allow gawkers the opportunity
to reveal their kinder, gentler selves
it doesn’t always happen

befriending the boy
whose Tourette’s keeps him
alone in a world filled
with ‘others’ who simply
haven’t been separated yet

someday those others
will each be all alone
and maybe remember
what it felt like
when the armless girl smiled
and gave them a second chance

[Prompt 8: Try and condense the plot of a book, any book, into a poem. It can be very direct and recognizable, or abstract and obscured.]


“normal is boring”
the button on my backpack
announced to the world
as I coursed through my youth

spiked red hair
pierced eyebrow
and brooding countenance

I wanted nothing to do with
status quo but to prod and dissect it
upend conformity
bend the will of approval

until an unseen force
turned the whole world
inside out
froze us all in a state
of desperation

normal was lost
a thing we didn’t know we wanted
until we didn’t have it
and now the thought
we will never have it again

that button is in a box
in the back of a closet
I dig it out and pin it on
to wear around the house

normal is boring
and I welcome it

[Prompt 7: Write a poem exploring the word normal.]


her broad hips
carry a child on each side
their place in line behind
other mothers and fathers
grands and great grands
and ahead of the same
each step forward
searching for the promise
of safety, of security
of home
while leaving
the absence and
uncertainty of the same

[Prompt 6: Write a poem about walking without ever using the world walking in it.]

Time Encapsulated

“If I could save time in a bottle,” sang Jim Croce, “the first thing that I’d like to do, is to save, every day, til eternity passes away, just to spend them with you.”

What is a time capsule, but time somehow encapsulated, in what – ?

A photograph.
A ticket stub.
A newspaper clipping.
A windup penguin.
A lock of hair.
A campaign bumper sticker.
A bullet casing.
A necklace.
A bottle of beer.

You laugh, but the Egyptians did it. Though as I recall, the beer wasn’t that good. Would what we leave behind be any better a thousand years from now? Two thousand?

What does it matter what’s buried and entombed?

It is a reflection of lives lived, and a time of existence.

We cannot capture time in a bottle. We cannot save up past eternity.

Eternity, Joseph Campbell said, is here and now.

Be present. Don’t collect time, spend it.

[Prompt 5: You find a time capsule buried in the backyard of your new home (or anywhere else, depends on you). What’s in it? How old is it or its probable story is up to the poet.]

Borrowed “Netting”

Did you know
some insurances will not
cover fertility?
Mandated STD testing
Fertility shots
Blood tests to see
if it worked this time
(IV? Only if you can afford it.)
All costs borne by
desperate-to-be parents
But when it fails
when the fetus is
declared dead
insurance will pay
to vacuum out the parts
for blood tests to figure out why
for years of therapy
to cope with the trauma of loss
My friend went through this
not once, but twice
Now she stands on rally lines
crying out for universal health care
admonishing inadequate
and unfair practices
sharing the humiliation
of her own story
“Otherwise how could she recover,
how would she survive?”

Closing line from “Netting” by Oluwabambi Ige, published in Agni 93 (140-146, 2021)

[Prompt 4: Grab a book from your shelf. Read the last line in it. You have to use that line as the first or last line of your poem (with credit).]

Emma’s Trigger

Emma lies curled at my feet
the sound of thunder and rain
a constant backdrop
after weeks of drought

Emma lies curled at my feet
birdsong and tires rolling on wet asphalt
a car horn bleeps assuring
doors are locked

Emma lies curled at my feet
the cat saunters by
stopping to sniff her paws
for anything new

Barely perceptible
the creak of the mailbox
Emma bolts upright
and runs barking for the door

[Prompt 3: Write a poem that repeats the same line three times, and then end on a variation of the repeated line.]

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