Day 1: When breath becomes me

“The prompt is based on Robert Hass’s remarkable prose poem, “A Story About the Body.” The idea is to write your own prose poem that, whatever title you choose to give it, is a story about the body. The poem should contain an encounter between two people, some spoken language, and at least one crisp visual image.”

My body was disappointing me. I blamed it for misbehaving, issuing pain where others received pleasure. She taught me to breathe as I had never breathed before. She placed a plastic model of my insides in my hands and said, “This is what you look like.” The body is sectioned into parts, is it not? When she replied, “no, it is all connected,” I realized I was not broken. This whole time I had a bowl of muscles woven together inside, a supportive base for my deepest desires, waiting to be filled. Breathe down, breathe wide. Let your belly hang, let the air become your anchor. 

Day 0: Spring

Over the past year, I’ve experimented with writing poems based on, or responding to, various lines from [Emily Dickinson’s] poems. Today, I’d like to challenge you to do the same! –


My chosen inspiration is: “The absence of the Witch does not / Invalidate the spell”

Spring arrives 
cold and wet 
The green grass
pops like a vintage dream
against the gray backdrop
of a rainy week
Grape hyacinths hide
at my heels
masquerading as lavender 
in the sidewalk cracks 
I cannot see who cast
this spell
But I can sense Her in 
the soil that moistens
In the daredevil squirrels
who race in the empty parking lot
In the arch of white petaled trees:
a heavenly carpet for
a blooming consciousness  
and bewitching ideas 

Day 30: This way

And now for our final (still optional!) prompt. Today’s prompt is based on a prompt written by Jacqueline Saphra, and featured in this group of prompts published back in 2015 by The Poetry Society of the U.K. This prompt challenges you to write a poem in the form of a series of directions describing how a person should get to a particular place. It could be a real place, like your local park, or an imaginary or unreal place, like “the bottom of your heart,” or “where missing socks go.” Fill your poem with sensory details, and make them as wild or intimate as you like.

Walk straight until you hit
The honeysuckle bush
Sip the nectar 
And teleport to a
Blue marbled surface
(If it fails, sip more)
Here you’ll find
Cold feelings
A girl too young to hurt so
Never enough sweaters to 
Keep her warm though
Walk backwards 6 steps
And you’ll drop like Alice
Into a spinning world of malice
Small rejections stick
Under your skin
Like ticks
Skip to the left and
Attempt to wash them away
In a fishtank of rocks
You’ll get some
But not all --don’t worry
Keep moving, no hurry 
Your skip will turn to a run
Euphoric sweats and
Pinkening cheeks 
Will humble you weak
Drink the miniaturizing potion
And disappear for awhile
Unlock locked doors
Undress in front of no one
Undo yourself like a zipper
And relish in the delicious
Stay here awhile --
When you’re ready
A guiltless, delicate cake 
Awaits you 
Just around the corner

Day 29: Window to Earth

And now, for our prompt (optional, as always). This one is called “in the window.” Imagine a window looking into a place or onto a particular scene. It could be your childhood neighbor’s workshop, or a window looking into an alien spaceship. Maybe a window looking into a witch’s gingerbread cottage, or Lord Nelson’s cabin aboard the H.M.S. Victory. What do you see? What’s going on?

The triangular skylight 
Faces upward and onward
Deep darkened endless sky 
It makes us think we are alone
They’d like us to think fondly
Of these domes in which we live
On this cold comforting planet 
Eternal poppies and hooting owls
Long sleepfull nights
Days full of curious jewels, uncovering
Liminal spaces that weave between
Our fingers and toes 
But I find the window they
Boarded up
Lower than the knees
Of even the youngest citizens
Black like the wall
But chipping paint reveals its
Decades-long secret
A window fit for a mouse

On my belly I peak through
And see the blue dot
That once held my great grandparents’
Dreams, accessories,
kitchen utensils 
All in that tiny marbled star 
I press my thumb against
The glass
Erasing its existence
With my small body
For hours I play: reveal,
Cover, reveal, cover
I feel an ache and think,
Why am I homesick
For a place I’ve never been?  

Day 28: Cell phone anxiety

Our prompt today (optional, as always), is to write a poem that poses a series of questions. The questions could be a mix of the serious (“What is the meaning of life?”) and humorous (“What’s the deal with cats knocking things off tables?”), the interruptive (“Could you repeat that?”) and the conversational (“Are those peanuts? Can I have some?”). You can choose to answer them – or just let the questions keep building up, creating a poem that asks the reader to come up with their own answer(s).


Why can’t I leave the house without it?

Sleep without it?

Feel safe without it?

The buzzing blue light

Tantalizes your brain cells.

How do I rid myself of the guilt

When I don’t respond now, now


You don’t.

Why do I feel a buzz in my back pocket

When it’s in the other room? 

It becomes a part of you…

Will my eyes pop out of their sockets

If I stare and scroll all night?


Will my thumbs break off like lousy carrots?

Your non-opposable thumb ancestors

Would be ashamed. 

Why do I feel depleted when the battery is low?

You’re an empathizer.

Why do I get anxious when I can’t find it?

When it dies?

When I’ve lost the charger, too? 


Where’s my phone?! 

Day 27: Ringlorn

In today’s (optional) prompt, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem inspired by an entry from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. The entries are very vivid – maybe too vivid! But perhaps one of the sorrows will strike a chord with you, or even get you thinking about defining an in-between, minor, haunting feeling that you have, and that does not yet have a name.

At night I drift into
A world of ice and fire
Of mad queens
Heinous violence
And palpable love  

I wake up dazed
And ringlorn*
Cold cereal flows down 
My throat
As the pit in my stomach 
Craves dangerous destiny
And life-or-death decisions

Even without white walking
Winter brutality 
There are known enemies
In this world 
Call them racism, viruses,
Climate disaster
We have no epic battleground
On which to fight them
No script to polish off
Our character arcs 
Never knowing whether we transformed
Whether we got what we deserved 

I wear no crown
I swear no oaths
But in my dreams
I sip rose milk with the moon
And listen for the sweeping flight
of the dragon’s tune

*ringlorn: adj. the wish that the modern world felt as epic as the one depicted in old stories and folktales—a place of tragedy and transcendence, of oaths and omens and fates, where everyday life felt like a quest for glory, a mythic bond with an ancient past, or a battle for survival against a clear enemy, rather than an open-ended parlor game where all the rules are made up and the points don’t matter. 

Day 26: Not Friday

Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a parody. Besides being fun, writing parodies can be a great way to hone your poetic skills – particularly your sense of rhyme and sound, as you try to mimic the form of an existing poem while changing the content. Just find a poem – or a song – that has always annoyed you, and write an altered, silly version of it*

12pm, waking up, snoozed my alarms
Gotta be dressed, coffee in hand 
Gotta log-on to zoom (zoom) 
No one will see me pantless
So don’t feel stress 
Gotta mute myself (mute myself) 
Gotta stay awake

Set-up with my cool background
No one needs to know 'bout my burial ground
Of tissues, of masks, and lots of socks (socks)
Did I actually mute myself? 

It’s Monday, maybe Tuesday
Gotta stay awake either way 
Everybody’s looking forward to a nap, nap 
Wednesday, Thursday 
Not staying awake
Some things I just can’t shake

*Inspired by the song "Friday" by Rebecca Black. The obnoxious lyrics can be found here: 

Day 25: A wedding

Our prompt for today (optional, as always) is to write an “occasional” poem. What’s that? Well, it’s a poem suited to, or written for, a particular occasion…The poem you write can be for an occasion in the past or the future, one important to you and your family (a wedding, a birth) or for an occasion in the public eye (the Olympics, perhaps?).


Raise your glasses

to stability,

Cheers to love lasting 

It’s what our family needs,

has never had

A heritage of newspaper ad love,

sparks flying at AA 

All to become broken-glass affairs

Now, highschool sweethearts

stand before us and say,

Till death do us part

And we believe them

We’re fueled by hope alone

because we have never witnessed

this before

It will not be 

a simple stubbornness against 

breaking sacred vows

It will be a fierce commitment to

be different than our parents

just as our own children will

crave divergence from our mistakes 

Rebels beget rebels 

But first, let us show them 

Respect, laughter and

embarrassing displays of affection

So they know

it’s not just for special occasions

that we love

Day 24: Curious Moth

Today’s (optional) prompt is a fun one. Find a factual article about an animal. A Wikipedia article or something from National Geographic would do nicely – just make sure it repeats the name of the animal a lot. Now, go back through the text and replace the name of the animal with something else – it could be something very abstract, like “sadness” or “my heart,” or something more concrete, like “the streetlight outside my window that won’t stop blinking.” You should wind up with some very funny and even touching combinations, which you can then rearrange and edit into a poem*.

Curiosity’s perfume can be carried for miles
eventually and inevitably reaching 
its receiver’s antennae
Once the receiver hits an air pocket 
containing the irresistible aroma
they fly up into the sky in a zig zagging dance 
colliding into another pocket of mystery
like popping bubbles
and freeing secrets
The chemical trail is followed back again
to Curiosity 
as the cycle continues 
in shadowy spirals 

*Inspired by this bit from a NG article: “The female moth’s “perfume” can be carried for miles, eventually reaching the pheromone receptors on a male’s antennae. When he hits an air pocket containing the chemical, he’ll fly upward and zig zag until hitting another, following the chemical trail back to the female.” 

Day 23: A knock at the door

Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that responds, in some way, to another. This could be as simple as using a line or image from another poem as a jumping-off point, or it could be a more formal poetic response to the argument or ideas raised in another poem*

To arrange one’s self 
For external sources is
Exhausting --
Tidying your tears 
And bandaging your brain 
But if we kept the dust in the open
It would be the big, pink elephant in the room
Humans can’t look away from chaos
Or difference
And humans don’t like to be the source of

I would know
I am human, after all  

*In response to: “Knocks on the door” by Maram al-Massri, tr. by Khaled Mattawa. Can be found here: