Saturday, October 20, 2018

Prompt #325 – Halloween 2018

  When witches go riding, and black cats are seen, 
the moon laughs and whispers, ‘tis near Halloween.

—Author Unknown

Yes, “’tis near Halloween!” Here, in my corner of the map, it’s autumn—a time filled with all the color and glory of the calendar’s last bright whirl. With Halloween near, I thought a related prompt might be fun.
By the way, did you know that the poet John Keats was born on Halloween in 1795? His last poem is an untitled, eight-line fragment that seems chillingly well-suited to his birthday:

This living hand, now warm and capable
Of earnest grasping, would, if it were cold
And in the icy silence of the tomb,
So haunt thy days and chill thy dreaming nights
That thou would wish thine own heart dry of blood
So in my veins red life might stream again,
And thou be conscience-calmed—see here it is—
I hold it towards you.

For our Halloween prompt this year, begin by reading some Halloween and associated poems to get into the "spirit" (some examples are offered below), and then write a Halloween poem that brings back the memory of a particular Halloween (from childhood or more recent), a costume you’ve worn or wanted to wear, or a mask that says something about you. There are no guidelines or tips other than to observe the usual caveats and to have fun with this. Here you go ...
  • Your poem can take any form: narrative, lyric, prose
  • Be sure to evoke a mood or tone that's compatible with your subject.
  • Include some “creepy” similes and metaphors.
  • Use language that's appropriate to Halloween and your content.


And, by way of sharing, here’s a Halloween prose poem from my book A Lightness, A Thirst, or Nothing at All:

                 By Adele Kenny  
Trick-or-treaters come to the door repeatedly—little ones early, older kids into the night until she runs out of candy and turns off the outside lights. The wall between worlds is thin (aura over aura—stars flicker and flinch). The woman buttons her coat, checks her reflection in the mirror, and stands cheek to glass (eye on her own eye, its abstract edge). She leaves the house (empty house that we all become)—shadows shaped to the trees, crows in the high branches.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Prompt #324 - Faceted Falsehoods

Long-time Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn once said, "You'll never get mixed up if you simply tell the truth. Then you don't have to remember what you have said." There’s wisdom in that statement even if it doesn’t address the ethical and moral aspects of untruthfulness.

Lies are successful when they control language to achieve the effect of truth. How do poets control language to make their poems believable? Have you ever read a poem in which the words, phrases, lines were beautiful but somehow just didn’t hold up under emotional scrutiny? Have you read poems in which phrases and lines sounded contrived or manipulated, almost as if they were listening to themselves with a kind of smug satisfaction? What it is that makes a poem “ring true?”

This week’s prompt focuses on how you can use a lie to create a poem. One goal will be to use a lie you’ve told to reveal a truth about yourself. Whether it’s a little fib or a glaring whopper, re-tell your lie in a poem, and add a layer of meaning by revealing something the lie tells about you.


1. Before you begin, think for a moment about the shape-shifting nature of truth, lies, white lies, fibs, and lies of omission.

2. Now make a list a list of lies you’ve told. Move out of your comfort zone and be completely honest (it’s okay – the list is for your eyes only). Think about real lies – not fibs or white lies told to spare someone’s feelings or to avoid unnecessary conflict – we’re talking “whoppers” here!

  • Do you remember a lie that you told as a child?

  • Did you ever cheat on a test in school?

  • Have you ever lied to avoid something you didn't want to do?

  • Have you told a lie to avoid judgment or to make yourself look “good” in some else’s eyes? How have you fibbed to improve your image?

  • Have you lied to someone you’ve loved? Protected yourself with a lie of omission or selective truth?

  • Do you recall a time when you lied because you lacked the courage to tell the truth?

  • Have you ever told a lie and then not remembered the details, making it impossible for you not to be caught?

  • In what ways have you lied to yourself?

3. For each lie you list, remember the consequences.

4. Pick one of the lies you listed and write a poem about it. What does this lie tell you about yourself?

Alternative Ideas:

1. Write a total fantasy, a poem based on fabulous fibs and delightful deceptions.
2. Make up a scenario that you’d love to live. Not the truth, of course – a fantasy. You might try prose poem form for this.
3. Write a poem about a liar you’ve known.
4. Write a poem about a time that some lied to you.
5. Write a poem about Pinocchio (Geppetto’s wooden puppet who came to life and whose nose grew whenever he told a lie).


1.  There should be a sense of confidence in your poem, a revealing of something you’ve never exposed before.

2. For a poem to be completely successful, it shouldn’t reveal everything easily; strive for different layers of meaning and understanding that become clearer on subsequent readings.