Saturday, April 2, 2011

Poetry Prompt #50 – A Poem A Day

April is National Poetry Month! As you know, many poets participate by writing a poem a day throughout April. With that in mind, I thought you might enjoy a prompt for each day (you can do them all or pick and choose as you wish). In the list below, you’ll see a date and an inspiration word. Immediately under the date and word, you’ll find an example poem. The idea is to use the inspiration word and the example to "jump start" a poem of your own. 

Begin by noting the inspiration word, and then read the example poem. (Remember that the example poem is just a sample; you'll want to give your poem it's own spin.) Next, do a short free write. Take a look at what you’ve written. Look for an idea, a line or a phrase, to develop into a poem. There’s one rule: you may use the inspiration word only once in your poem (twice if you use it in your title). Of course, if your muse is off on a three-martini lunch or vacationing in the south of France, you may just read and enjoy the poems without writing anything at all.

April 1 – Loveliness

April 2 – Light

April 3 – Nature

April 4 – Love

April 5 – Loss

April 6 – Letters

April 7 – Aging

April 8 – Morning

April 9 – Night

April 10 – Dancing

April 11 – Faith

April 12 – Choices

April 13 – Peace

April 14 – Freedom

April 15 – Darkness

April 16 – Wilderness

April 17 – Lost

April 18 – Beauty

April 19 – Forgetfulness

April 20 – Obstacles

April 21 – Death

April 22 – Despair

April 23 – Living

April 24 – Fear

April 25 – Seasons

April 26 – Sorrow

April 27 – Happiness

April 28 – Silence

April 29 – Animals

April 30 – Blessings

Be sure to visit where you'll find a wealth of materials to help you celebrate poetry this month. You can read and listen to poems, download lesson plans, look for events in your area, and check out the National Poetry Map. You can also order copies of the poster seen in the illustration above.

If you'd like to listen to poems, there are over 400 audio clips available at

Happy Poetry Month, and happy writing!


  1. Thank you, Adele! Once again you've given us amazing prompts!

    I can't imagine how many hours you put into preparing and posting this blog! Thanks for your spirit of sharing. You must REALLY love poetry!


  2. My sincerest thanks, Jamie! You're one of this blog's most faithful followers, and I'm grateful.

    Happy Poetry Month!

  3. April 3, and the word for today is "Nature." That reminded me of Mary Oliver's nature poems.

    Here are a couple of links to sites about Oliver's work (with samples of her poems) for other blog readers to enjoy.

  4. Thanks, Bob! Mary Oliver is THE contemporary nature poet.

  5. What an embarrassment of riches! I'm going to save these for later, as I've already begun to fulfill my poem-a-day resolve by using some of your previously posted prompts.

    Just want to tell you that I'm thoroughly enjoying them! I especially like the teaching component. Thanks for sharing your passion and your expertise.

  6. Thank you, Violet, for your kind words! I'm so glad you're enjoying the prompts and finding them useful. I hope you'll be comfortable posting some of your poems!

  7. Thank you for the generous invitation to share, Adele! I'll tell you about yesterday's write. I am using your prompts numerically by day as you posted them. So yesterday's was prompt 7 - a form poem with a season, an image, another image, and a memory. It's here.

    April happens to be the month of my daughter's birthday. It is also the month when, a year before my daughter was born, I lost a pregnancy. Somehow those two events were already playing off each other in my mind, so your prompt gave me the perfect vehicle to write about them. This is yesterday's poem:

    April 14, 2011

    Spring. Pink blossoms
    pile in boulevard drifts
    float in rain rivers along gutters.
    In the kitchen a cake
    decorated with pastel eggs
    and twenty-eight candles…
    If, that April, twenty-nine years ago
    I had been able to stop the cramps
    the doctor to staunch the bleeding
    the Doptone to hear
    from its cold spot
    on my burgeoning belly
    a flutter of life
    I wouldn’t have sobbed
    through Easter empty-wombed
    but we also wouldn’t be lighting
    these candles today.

    © 2011 by Violet Nesdoly

  8. Hi Violet! Yes, the "What We Remember" prompt. I'm so happy that you're using the old prompts, and what a wonderful poem! The memory and your expression of it are very touching. Thank you so much for sharing. By the way, the invitation to share is a standing invitation :-))

  9. I've been enjoying your blog for many months and only just gathered enough courage to post a poem/draft (anonymously, of course!).

    This is in response to today's inspiration word "Night."


    AS IF BY

    As if by power of will, or
    maybe choice, the long
    day drifts into night –
    birds on the power lines,

    feathers folded. No one
    looking in – the dark long,
    deep as love, and me,
    here, grateful to be in it.



    To Violet: thanks for posting your poem. I really enjoyed it! Hope you'll post more.

    Thanks, Adele, for a fantastic blog!

  10. On the occasion of "NIght", here is a poem I wrote this morning inspired by Ted Kooser's "Flying at Night."

    Thanks for the great prompts, Adele.


    We all came from villages. Our
    fathers plowed the earth
    raised stock and prayed for rain.
    At night, mother
    blew out the lamp
    and slipped out of our room.
    Sleep healed our hurts,
    revived the hope
    for next morning.

    All rights reserved
    Basil Rouskas

  11. Anonymous! So glad you're enjoying the blog and THANK YOU for posting your wonderful poem.

  12. Hi Basil!

    Thanks for posting your poem!

    How about writing REDRAWING BORDERS BOOK TWO? This poem would be a great fit!

    Thanks again.

  13. This is my very short poem:

    Estraggo da un mottetto di Montale l’osso.
    Lo sai, debbo riperderti.
    Debbo riperderti, e non posso

    L' originale di E .Montale:

    Lo sai: debbo riperderti e non posso.
    Come un tiro aggiustato mi sommuove
    ogni opera, ogni grido e anche lo spiro
    salino che straripa
    dai moli e fa l’oscura primavera
    di Sottoripa.

    Paese di ferrame e alberature
    a selva nella polvere del vespro.
    Un ronzìo lungo viene dall’aperto,
    strazia com’unghia ai vetri. Cerco il segno
    smarrito, il pegno solo ch’ebbi in grazia
    da te.

    E l’inferno è certo.

    Thanks for your blog, Adele. I'd like to read something about italian poetry.

  14. Thanks so much, Jago! I spent a month in Italy once and learned a little of the language. A beautiful country and a beautiful language!

    Here's a site about Italian poetry that might interest you:

  15. Gail Fishman GerwinApril 9, 2011 at 3:11 PM

    April 9 prompt: Night

    “Above us stars. Beneath us, constellations . . . “
    Ted Kooser, “Flying at Night”
    Gail Fishman Gerwin

    for Elinor

    My first flight—from the old Newark Airport
    in a blue and white tube with four engines,
    propellers that could launch me toward
    my parents, already in Miami Beach,
    maybe dancing the rhumba, maybe dining
    at Cooper’s Roumanian Restaurant, where
    skirt steaks fell over the sides of dinner plates,
    where chopped liver came with crispy morsels
    of chicken fat, charred onions, not a statin in sight.

    They’d driven south from Paterson the week
    before, school still in session, leaving me
    with Jack and Dotty, the next-door neighbors,
    and Elinor, who followed me in age by a year.
    The snows came that March week, two blizzards,
    but Dotty’s freezer was full, pierogies from the
    new Food Fair on Madison Avenue for lunch.

    Oh yes—Jack wasn’t there, he was in the hospital,
    recuperating from a heart attack, spurring Dotty
    to put on snowshoes and tromp a dozen blocks
    to visit him while Ellie and I, on a sudden
    snow vacation, listened to records,
    foraged for freezer fare.

    The night after the second blizzard,
    Dotty drove me to Newark for my
    night flight—Eastern Airlines.
    The porter took my Wedgewood blue
    Amelia Earhart suitcase, and I climbed
    the stairs toward the sky, not a jetway
    in sight to shield me from the chill.

    Once aloft, though I couldn’t see stars,
    constellations, I could spy flames
    from the propellers, which I pointed out
    to the stewardess (not yet called a flight
    attendant). No danger, she said, normal,
    and I sat back, ready for adventure,
    not aware that the arms awaiting me at the
    Miami airport wouldn’t be there forever
    for comfort, that my friend Ellie, my blizzard
    compatriot, would die in her sleep too soon
    after we’d renewed our friendship in the shadow
    of our senior years, that the flame in the propeller
    would return in the bright softness of my memories.

  16. Gail, how wonderful that the Ted Kooser poem provided an epigraph for your beautiful memorial to Ellie. Thank you for sharing!

  17. Gail, such an evocative poem.


    Here's a poem on the occasion of today's prompt (Dancing)


    Each year in April I visit the safe deposit
    to tidy up papers, family albums and other
    mementos. The old photograph, curled some
    more each year, but its yellow stains cannot
    erase remembrances of our happy times together
    before she lost her husband and dementia ravaged
    her mind. I look at her dance, with arms stretched out –
    a scarecrow keeping away bad luck. I hear
    the clicks of her thumb on the index finger,
    keeping the beat. And it is then that I imagine
    her dance. Each April I see the sparkle of her
    eyes, before I put her back in storage until
    next year. On the way out, there is an upbeat tune
    in my mind. Winter is behind and the tellers
    ask me why I smile and move like a dancer.

    By Basil Rouskas
    All rights reserved

  18. Basil! thanks for posting another poem! Your participation is much appreciated, and your poems are always very moving.

    I'm so happy to see poets sharing here!

  19. April Poetry Month Adele's Blog prompts
    On the occasion of today's prompt: FAITH


    The ant that drags a grain,
    three times its weight,
    to the underground nest.

    The African mother who
    nurtures her newborn
    in a milk-less breast.

    The Tunisian street
    vendor who loads
    his cart with bananas

    in the predawn hours
    of a city that swelters
    before the sun goes up.

    Are these acts of faith;
    are these acts of hope;
    are these acts of courage?

    Do we know?

    Basil Rouskas
    All rights reserved

  20. Today's Adele's prompt is CHOICES


    It started at the headwaters of this river when a
    storm spiked the water from the clouds and the
    rain forced a new river-bend to the right of the
    boulders on the old glacier’s trail - before you and I
    made this place our neighborhood. Some years

    earlier an architect, who left Havana when the
    revolution of 59 had no more use for his talents,
    made his way north and taught design at Harvard,
    Architecture at Penn, and built this house
    as a wedding gift for one of his daughters.

    In that home, through its eastern all-window-wall, we sit
    and watch the sun glimmer in the winter mornings
    when the naked branches of trees etch raw art on the
    grey sky below the point where the blue heron sits alone
    on the rocks and looks for his lost companion as long

    as we ’ve known him. In this place, we watch the
    sun shimmer off the river-bend in the winter months
    and listen to his wail. We ponder if all these are
    random choices or a series of events
    that comes too close to fate.

    Basil Rouskas
    All rights reserved

  21. Basil! WOW! This is gorgeous. Wonderful first stanza. (Please be sure to bring it to the workshop next week!)

    Thanks for posting. Your participation is always much appreciated. :-))

  22. Thanks to all the poets who have posted their poems! It's great to see how well these prompts work.

  23. 4/13/11
    Today's prompt is PEACE


    This day’s end is no longer time for war.
    The soldiers rest their guns
    to the side and
    take pictures
    out of their
    wallets. A
    lulls the evening
    into a slumber with
    toy-soldier ballads.
    No one on guard duty.
    Tonight both sides make peace!

    Basil Rouskas
    All rights reserved

  24. It is April 14, 2011 and Adele's prompt is FREEDOM


    I dream of three square suburban
    conference halls in a corporate
    park linked at the corners to
    each other in a diagonal SW
    to NE direction . An officer
    dressed like a Vatican Swiss
    guard checks my badge as I
    move from hall to hall in
    the Northeasterly direction.

    I’ve just left the conference
    in the first hall, hardly awake from
    stale ideas, and in the second
    hall someone accuses me –
    "You are not a good follower," he says.
    When I reach the third hall, I want out.

    There is no control officer at the
    gate. I step out and the tops of
    the old trees form a safe blue-green web

    over my edgy body. Fresh air fills my
    lungs. I am in no need to conform,
    No need to belong, I just want my freedom.

    Basil Rouskas
    All rights reserved

  25. It is April 15th and Adele's prompt is DARKNESS


    The actress who plays “Day’s” role
    will walk off the stage.
    At that moment the lighting crew
    will be at the switch of
    the sunset-orange lights and
    a stagehand will be ready to
    to bring the worn-out curtain down.

    This will be the last day of
    “Day.” Then, soon at the end
    of the street someone will turn off
    the last lights on the marquee.
    In our town, “Broadway”
    will shut down.
    Darkness will prevail.

    Basil Rouskas
    All rights reserved

  26. Basil! Just a quick note to thank you again for sharing your poems!

  27. April 18th and Adele's prompt is WILDERNESS


    I walk to the beach to be alone,
    to listen to the water on the sandy cove
    and quiet the mind before my sleep

    - or am dreaming?

    I am not alone. Young people finish
    their music party and grow fainter.
    The beach dances cheek to cheek

    with the low clouds and the lemon
    trees fill the moist air with citrus scent.
    Cicadas dry run their music for

    their overnight concert. Seagulls
    and night owls fly north to
    the hill where I first kissed you.

    I think of dolphins and
    other sea wilderness sleeping in water
    lulled by the back and fro of the waves.

    In the earth, deep below my feet,
    ants turn their beds in their
    underground bedrooms,

    and I calm down the
    butterflies in my body
    when I think of you.

    Basil Rouskas
    All rights reserved

  28. Today is April 17, 2011 and Adele's prompt is LOST


    What if the rabbi gave
    a sermon on someone’s
    life and no family came

    what if a child
    longed for
    a touch

    on his cheeks
    but no mother

    What if I told you
    without you
    I’d be lost

    but no one
    heard me?

    Basil Rouskas
    All rights reserved

  29. Thank you, Adele for this month (and every month) of poetry on your blog! Such richness and wonderful sharing!

    I've been enjoying the poems by Violet, JS, Jago, Gail, and Basil's daily posts.

    I read a poem each day from the list you provide - especially liked April 7th. :-)

    Many thanks to you and your blog poets!

    Máire Ó Cathail (Ireland)

  30. Today is April 18, 2011
    Adele's prompt is BEAUTY


    It’s the body
    of the finch
    on the end branch
    of the pine tree

    outside my
    window this

    it’s the altering arc
    of the branch
    when he flies
    back and forth to the trunk

    pine resin and
    needles on his beak,
    grain meal
    in his mouth;

    so much beauty in life this
    Morning that I’d settle for less

    Basil Rouskas
    All rights reserved

  31. Jago,
    On April 8th you posted Montales' poem and your poem inspired by his.

    I made an attempt to translate into English Montales' work. I would welcome your thoughts.

    Lo sai: debbo riperderti e non posso.
    Come un tiro aggiustato mi sommuove
    ogni opera, ogni grido e anche lo spiro
    salino che straripa
    dai moli e fa l’oscura primavera
    di Sottoripa.

    Paese di ferrame e alberature
    a selva nella polvere del vespro.
    Un ronzìo lungo viene dall’aperto,
    strazia com’unghia ai vetri. Cerco il segno
    smarrito, il pegno solo ch’ebbi in grazia
    da te.

    E l’inferno è certo.

    You know: I must lose you again and I can’t.
    Like a forced trick I moved my bearings
    all my work, all my cries and also the salty breath
    that overflows from the docks and becomes
    the dark spring of Sottoripa.

    Countries of iron and trees
    a forest in the dust of evening.
    a lasting buzz comes from the open air,
    like a shattering of a nails against the mirrors. I seek the lost dream, the promise that existed only because of you.

    And hell is certain.

  32. And Adele's prompt for April 19th is FORGETFULNESS.


    Last night’s film much like
    an abstract painting – of stone
    walls in four brush strokes,
    held by grey mortar,
    an old two-story house
    with weathered roof tiles,
    fresh painted azure shutters over
    a narrow cobblestone street,
    where a woman in black pours
    water in a pot of basilico.

    And in the dreamy gaze of her
    eyes, the woman main character
    surprises her clueless husband
    on their 15th anniversary with
    a visit to their wedding night room
    – numero siette on the 3rd floor –
    in the main piazza of this Tuscany village.

    Stay with me, you haven’t changed
    she says to his unconvinced eyes.
    Have I?

    Basil Rouskas
    All rights reserved

  33. Adele's prompt for April 20, 2011 is OBSTACLES


    The obstacles to your
    oomph for the future
    are nerve endings in your

    stomach, Virginia.
    When you’ve drawn your life
    as a horizontal line upon a paper

    -beginning on left
    end on the right -
    and the actuary puts your

    dot on that line. And you
    look to the right and you
    look to the left

    and you ponder the best
    use of your time: Make
    peace with your left

    or start new wars on the right?
    And you select the only
    choice that makes sense.

    Basil Rouskas
    All rights reserved

  34. Today is April 21, 2011 and Adele's prompt is DEATH


    And so it is, with him on the way to the river,
    where the boatman will take him to the other
    side. His gaze scans the home bank;
    no one to wave his last goodbye. He thinks
    of her. “Hold the boat, she must be here.”
    The boatman looks away, not convinced.
    “It’s time,” he says. The man gazes over

    the valley, darker now, the sky low as night
    sets in. The mooring rope undone. “It’s time.”
    The man lowers his eyes looks at the boatman
    then down at the river flow and the passage
    to the other side. His bows his head. The
    boatman knows the signal well. He pushes
    slowly against the bank with his oar.

    Basil Rouskas
    All rights reserved

  35. April 22, 2010 and today's prompt: DESPAIR


    I am in Athens
    on a delayed flight
    from the states
    to visit mother
    who is ill.

    I am late.
    There are no taxis
    at the airport.
    I call my brother’s cell
    but get his voice mail.
    I’d ask someone
    for a ride but the traffic’ s
    stopped. I ponder
    a police helicopter
    but there is no officer.
    And time’s running out
    and I am more in despair.

    I wake up. There is no traffic,
    no airports, no people,
    but tall trees and the river.

    Mother left us long ago.
    I look at her photograph
    on the wall and smile at her.

    Basil Rouskas
    All rights reserved

  36. Today's prompt is LIVING


    The state of Texas
    executed its 200th

    In Fukushima
    400 thousand

    will be evacuated
    - except an old man
    who has no place to go -

    someone was
    diagnosed with terminal
    cancer this morning.

    Otherwise, we all
    go on with the
    business of living.

    Basil Rouskas
    All rights reserved

  37. April 24, 2011 and Adele's prompt is FEAR


    Weeks into our separation, I got
    it in an afternoon mail delivery

    and my eyes - heat seeking missile - honed
    into your handwriting amid the heaps of junk.

    Stuck in hesitancy, my fingers
    paralyzed with fear of how your words,

    like bullets of a firing squad, would carry
    out your decision. And I still remember

    my swift brute force to
    tear it open and end it all…

    The lipstick mark on the white
    paper said it all without a word.

    “Come kiss me fool -- I
    cannot stand it without you!”

    Basil Rouskas
    All rights reserved

  38. Today is April 25, 2011 and Adele's prompt is SEASONS


    In early winter mornings
    of my teen years
    we walked to the train
    station and said nothing
    to each other until the ticket
    agent asked us for money
    and handed us two tickets
    in his wool-gloved hands.

    We sat in our train seats and
    went back to our silence
    until we got off to walk to the store
    and roll up the shutters-
    To earn another day’s wage.

    Those early winter mornings
    still claw under my skin and
    scratch below like fingernails
    screeching on the blackboard in
    off key sounds that still freak my ears.

    And so went on our relationship;
    remote, duty-bound, cold and
    boring, a series of Arctic
    finger-numbing trips
    to the train station
    in early winter mornings.
    And after all these years,
    4 thousand miles apart,
    -and you, father, departed -

    I still tuck myself under
    the covers late into the winter
    mornings and play hide and seek
    with wind-beaten branches of
    the trees outside.

    In the summers, I again,
    become an early bird!

    Basil Rouskas
    All rights reserved

  39. Basil,

    Kudos and congrats to you for continuing to meet the "poem a day" challenge so faithfully and so eloquently!

  40. Thanks Adele.
    Today's prompt is SORROW


    I write to you
    from a distant land
    of vast cornfield
    stretches that
    grow six feet of corn
    in eight weeks.

    My neighbor, the farmer,
    lost his wife in the spring
    did what he could alone,
    his sons both in the city, and then
    threw himself back to work the land.

    Her passing frames the years ahead,
    shakes the pillars of
    past emotions and uproots
    his plants of hope
    in an unsure future.

    His sorrow turns him into
    a cornfield hit by a storm
    before its harvest -
    half the scarecrows are
    blown away

    half still standing but unsure
    of their role. And I ponder his
    words yesterday; “In this town,
    only the corn in the fields grows
    faster than the fear of death.”

    Basil Rouskas
    All rights reserved

  41. And Adele's prompt for Wednesday April 27, 2011 is HAPPINESS


    When you shield your eyes from the sun
    to scan the open vista and all you see
    is pure light over trees and ocean water;

    and cup your hand to whisper
    words to the ear next to you and
    hear back a baby’s gibberish;

    and smell hyacinths and wafts of orchids
    that vie their ways to your nose against the scents
    of tulips from the first floor window box;

    and burry al dente semolina pasta in pesto of olive oil,
    fresh-cut basilico and garlic cloves in heaps of grated
    cheese with pine nuts next to a heavy glass of red brunello;

    and let your fingers run over your
    touchtone and deem everything good and
    thank your parents for gifting you life with no conditions.

    Basil Rouskas
    All rights reserved

  42. Hi Adele,

    Fantastic sharing. Thanks to all the poets and to Basil who seems to have written almost every day.


  43. Today's prompt is SILENCE


    I stand outside
    the home we rented
    on this Greek island in
    my childhood summers.

    The tourists are gone
    and I am here to
    reminisce the distant
    years of family life in

    this home. The door
    opens and I can peek in
    the empty kitchen. I hear
    The fish sizzle in the pan, and

    mother’s knife chopping carrots,
    as father uncorks a bottle
    Of red wine and fills
    the heavy glasses.

    He takes a sip cries a soft
    sigh of pleasure and rustles
    the newspaper. He then
    delivers his daily commentary.

    Mother calls out for us
    to clean up and come to
    eat. My brother turns
    the water on… My wife

    breaks the silence, startles
    my daydreaming - Time to go
    she says and as I turn to
    leave, a lone seagull

    senses my mood
    and gives me
    a cry as he flies off
    over the water.

    Basil Rouskas
    All rights reserved

  44. Basil,

    I'm sorry about the Blogger issue (error bX-edze7m) that you emailed me about. From what I read online there are a lot of people having the same problem. I sure hope Blogger gets it corrected soon!

    Clever of you to post anonymously. I'm glad it worked. There are several blog readers who do that because they don't want to open Google accounts.

    Thanks again for sticking with the daily prompts for National Poetry Month!

  45. Today is April 29, 2011 and Adele's prompt is ANIMALS


    It is the end of day.
    In northern country
    the light gets

    weaker. The sun
    cuts lower angles
    into the lake reeds.

    A seagull flies south.
    I drive north. Who is
    more alone?

    Basil Rouskas
    All rights reserved

  46. Tomorrow April 30, 2011 brings to a close the daily prompts for poems to celebrate POETRY MONTH. My thanks to Adele for the challenge to practice the craft daily but, also, for the wise selection of the sample poems. I personally found this exercise very helpful and I now have quite a few poems that I can rework. I will always remember APRIL OF 2011.

    The prompt for the last day is BLESSINGS


    Blessed be the forest
    the town declared a
    state park.

    Blessed be the hawk on
    Black River that kept me
    company the day I cut work.

    Blessed be the parents
    Who gave us life
    without conditions.

    Blessed be our
    wisdom to accept
    life as is,

    and blessed be the
    soft feet of the

    we hope you’ll give us.
    Blessed be the roads
    others traveled

    to bring us here.
    Blessed be those
    who found cures

    for things that ail us.
    Blessed be the choir
    now on the stage to sing

    the ode to joy!

    Basil Rouskas
    All rights reserved

  47. Basil!

    Kudos and congrats to you for taking up the challenge and successfully writing a poem each day of National Poetry Month! Such commitment is really wonderful.

    Reading your poems has been a pleasure, and I thank you most sincerely for posting them to my blog!

    I hope the blog will continue to challenge and inspire your poetry! (And, I hope Blogger will solve the posting problem very soon.)

  48. My sincerest thanks to all of you who participated with comments and poems!

  49. This is a test to find out if Blogger has resolved the problem of posting via the Google account.

    Basil Rouskas

    Adele, from the looks of it they have resolved my posting problem