Saturday, May 17, 2014

Prompt #185 – What You Don't Know (The Unexplained)

Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible laws and connections, there remains something subtle, intangible, and inexplicable.
— Albert Einstein

Our universe is filled with mysteries that neither history nor science can explain. From paranormal occurrences to UFO sightings, to mysterious creatures and places, there are both hoaxes and real phenomena that exist in the space between legend and reality. Many of these defy forensics and psychology and exist only in the shadowy archives of the unknown. What is it about the odd and unexplained that excites our curiosity and stirs our imaginations?

We’ve all read about or seen TV documentaries or fictional accounts of a Bigfoot or another moving into a dense forest, planes going down in the Bermuda Triangle, alien abductions on dark country roads, and the ghosts of British royalty lurking in dark castle halls (some without their heads).

Along with unusual phenomena of the mind, such as feelings of déjà vu, there’s something about the mysterious and the unexplained that invites us to explore—to be thrilled and frightened by— such subjects.

Psychology suggests that the mysterious and unexplained are uniquely linked to human experience. They are certainly linked to human entertainment.

This week, let’s create some special “entertainment” with a poem about something weird, odd, or unexplained.


1. Some subject ideas:

            Bermuda Triangle
Loch Ness Monster
            Jack the Ripper
Out-of-Body Experience
Ghosts (Poltergeists)
UFOs or Aliens
Crop Circles

2. Have you ever had an “unexplained experience,” something otherworldly? If so, write a poem about it.

3. Is there a particular unsolved mystery that interests you (Bigfoot, Shroud of Turin, ghosts)?

4. Consider writing from the point of view of an unexplained creature or mysterious person (Jack the Ripper, the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, a chupacabra, a ghost, an alien life form).

5. You might want to think about a spiritual or faith-based poem dealing with a subject such as the Shroud of Turin.


1. Create a feeling or tone that fits your subject.

2. Use language that suits your content and tone.

3. Work on a sense of the visual.

4. Think in terms of sonic impression—the music you make in your poem. Figure out how you can use sounds to enhance the “music” of your words (alliteration, assonance, internal rhyme, off-rhyme, anaphora).

5. Pose a question that’s impossible to answer.

6. Can you move beyond the obvious subject of your poem and suggest a deeper meaning?

7. Try to create a concluding image that will startle your readers with its unexpectedness.



  1. A great prompt "tribute" to the odd, to the eerie, and to the mysteriously wonderful!

  2. I forgot to note in my previous comment that the image for this prompt is superb. That cloud shaped like a UFO ... amazing!

    1. I thought that was pretty cool too. I had three or four images lined up for this prompt, but this one was the hands-down winner. Glad you like it!

  3. I saw your excellent "Trains" video on YouTube and wondered if you've ever given any thought to a transportation themed prompt. Might be fun! This one is great.

    1. Thanks, Rich! Stay tuned—there's a "transportation" prompt in the works!

  4. I think most everyone enjoys a bit of the mysterious! Great idea for a poetry prompt.

  5. Mystery

    a lightness of heart
    the empty room
    dense with spirits
    who've come to join the chant
    time space and corporeality
    on the same frequency
    the original sound
    the first universal sound
    the sound at birth
    the birth sound
    Om m m
    the sound of infinity
    the frequency of one hand clapping

    1. Wonderful, Risa! Great sound quality—I could almost hear the "om" as I read.

  6. The "first universal sound" -- wow! I love the way you incorporated the sound "effect"into your poem. Anyone who has ever meditated will "hear" this poem and relate to it. Those who haven't will be struck by the way you've described that particular vibration.

  7. : ) thanks for your comments!