Saturday, August 3, 2013

Prompt #157 – How Do They See Me? Let Me Count The Ways.

When Elizabeth Barrett Browning published Poems in 1850, I doubt if she would have imagined that a sonnet in that collection (“How Do I Love Thee?” Sonnet 43) would become world famous or that its title would be the source for a prompt topic on a 21st century blog. But here it is …

Lest you begin to think that our prompt this week is cupid-driven, let me assure you that we’re not going to write love poems—we’re just using a certain spin on a famous love poem as a prompt title to jump-start our writing.

Here’s the idea: Adopt the persona of one of your neighbors and write a poem that tells how that neighbor sees (thinks about) you. You may prefer to be serious with this or you may go for a lighter, humorous tone.

This week, pay special attention to sound (the music in your poem) through use of alliteration, assonance, dissonance, anaphora, and internal and scattered rhymes. 

Some Things to Think About:

1. What does the neighbor think of you? Why?
2. What does the neighbor believe about you? Why?
3. What does the neighbor hear through your open windows?
4. What does the neighbor see or hear of your personal life?
5. What does the neighbor think he or she knows about you (correctly or incorrectly)?
6. Can you use the famous line from Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall” (“Good neighbors make good fences”) as an epigraph or to enhance meaning within your poem? "Mending Wall" by Robert Frost
7. On the flip side, what don’t your neighbors “see” about you and your life?
8. An alternative idea is to write a poem about a neighbor (or neighbors); and a second alternative is to write a poem about the image at the top.


Alas, I wasn’t able to find any example poems that quite fit this prompt, but I did find one “neighbor” poem that you might enjoy: "The Good Neighbour" by John Burnside


  1. Brilliant, Adele! Old EBB would probably go into a faint over this prompt, which makes me wonder what my neighbours in the adjoining flats think they 'know' about me.

  2. Forgot to add that clicking on the picture gives an even better view of its weirdly wonderful subject matter.

  3. Another nice prompt, for which thanks.

    I just scrolled down the sidebar and saw that you added a video of Chaucey's birthday. He's one sweet little guy. I have two Yorkies and really enjoyed the video. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks so much, Madeline! It's good to hear that you enjoyed the video. My best to you and your Yorkies.

  4. Just for fun (again). Something about neighbours. Not real poetry but, I hope, worth a smile.

    They see thin,
    they see me tall;
    I wish they didn't
    see me at all.

    I know they're there
    hiding wide;
    I close my window
    and try to hide.

    I don't even know
    their faces or names,
    and I don't want to play
    their neighbourly games.

    To keep them at bay,
    I've erected a fence
    and hope for more privacy
    starting hence!

    1. Hello again, Anonymous! Thanks for posting your poem.

      Of course, this is "real" poetry. Some poems are meant for pure enjoyment and, yes, I certainly did smile when I read this one.

    2. This is great fun! Thanks for posting! (Who says poetry has to be serious?)

  5. Welcome to Poopville

    Welcome to Poopville
    where giant dog turds lay
    under your window
    their odor wafting aromatically through
    iridescent Florida Blue Flies swarm, too

    Welcome to Poopville
    where the law matters not
    and neighbors matter even less

    Welcome to Poopville
    where living is convenient
    costs are high
    just not high enough
    to have a sign
    $500 fine
    for leaving your dog's doo

    1. I think a lot of people can identify with this. Back home, when I was a child in East Anglia, we had neighbours whose pets relieved themselves on our lawn all the time. Those awful brown stains were very frustrating!

    2. Love the title, Risa! And the poem says it all. Thanks so much for sharing.

  6. I just ordered The Crafty Poet. Congrats to Diane Lockward and to all the poets included. Thanks for posting the announcement in your sidebar.