Challenge 26

Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that incorporates a call and response. Calls-and-responses are used in many sermons and hymns (and also in sea shanties!), in which the preacher or singer asks a question or makes an exclamation, and the audience responds with a specific, pre-determined response. (Think: Can I get an amen?, to which the response is AMEN!.). You might think of the response as a sort of refrain or chorus that comes up repeatedly, while the call can vary slightly each time it is used. Here’s a sea shanty example:

Haul on the bowline, our bully ship’s a rolling,
Haul on the bowline, the bowline Haul!

Haul on the bowline, Kitty is my darlin’,
Haul on the bowline, the bowline Haul!

Haul on the bowline, Kitty lives in Liverpool,
Haul on the bowline, the bowline Haul!

The call can be longer than the response, or vice versa. But think of your poem as an interactive exchange between one main speaker and an audience. Happy writing!



April 25th – Borrowed Lines

So I used the borrowed line from a poem by Andrew McMillan, ‘Strongman’. I’m using it as the title of the piece and then riffing off of it from there. Hope you enjoy:

Not Even A Minor Greek Would See As Fit To Sculpt

Us – in pieces,
viewed through
bedroom window.

The bronze of your skin,
marble of mine.
Cast here –

against the wall.
Call the piece
‘The Beast with Two Backs’;

study in love’s absence;
unwanted coupling.
Make show of this –

his back against
unpainted walls.
Mine to you

and feeling flesh press
to groin in drumbeats –
the same way that

a hammer beats
out metal until it can
never been seen as straight.

Challenge 25

Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that begins with a line from a another poem (not necessarily the first one), but then goes elsewhere with it. This will work best if you just start with a line of poetry you remember, but without looking up the whole original poem. (Or, find a poem that you haven’t read before and then use a line that interests you). The idea is for the original to furnish a sort of backdrop for your work, but without influencing you so much that you feel stuck just rewriting the original!. For example, you could begin, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day,” or “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons,” or “I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster,” or “they persevere in swimming where they like.” Really, any poem will do to provide your starter line – just so long as it gives you the scope to explore. Happy writing!


April 24th – Haiku

So I took this idea from Carol Ann Duffy’s poem ‘Drams’ which is a sequence of Haiku all surrounding shots (or Drams) of whisky. This one I wrote around Christmas and used Mistletoe as the conduit for the poem, so each Haiku represents a different kiss. Enjoy:


First one; full throttle –
all tongue and rough, roaming hands
desperate for more.

Next; peck on the cheek
from old flame turned firmest friend –
reminded of us

as partners in crime
when we kissed with more passion;
a flame long snuffed out.

Third – the cute one from
work; flirting is a weapon
best wielded by me.

Then, friends from uni
at Christmas parties. Flavours
and textures plenty.

This one – both taken
but unable to resist the
temptation of lips

and eyes locked – perfect
prison for long kept passions;
our secret now, dear.

Last is the best – him,
the lover’s lips at your neck
before sinking deep

into wilderness;
into the deep of it, losing
yourself to longing.

Challenge 24

I was wondering how long it would take to get to this point – yes, today is Haiku. And by Haiku, I mean the typical westernised 5-7-5 form. Write just one, write a series, write them however you please.

Good Luck!


April 23rd – Poseidon

So, following on from yesterday, I decided to stick with Grecian myth and my problematic obsession with the God of the Sea. I’ve always been fascinated by Poseidon but let’s just say I don’t think he’d make for a very stable long-term relationship (as hopefully explored a bit better in the Sonnet). Speaking of which, here it is:


What is it to be in love with the sea?
To feel the rough caress of the
Aegean; the cool bronze of a trident
against my skin. To have hours spent
among the coral, down in this bed
of weeds with him – my beloved
God. Feel his hands crossing the map
of my body, caught in his riptide trap;
in this maelstrom of sex and madness,
suddenly longing to be free of this.
Even the raging tides can be possessive –
clawing at the skin to, unable to forgive,
to grasp the scope of his unwelcoming depths.
I’m passing out from holding my breath…

Challenge 23

Today, I challenge you to write a sonnet. Traditionally, sonnets are 14-line poems, with ten syllables per line, written in iambs (i.e., with a meter in which an unstressed syllable is followed by one stressed syllable, and so on). There are several traditional rhyme schemes, including the Petrarchan, Spenserian, and Shakespearean sonnets. But beyond the strictures of form, sonnets usually pose a question of a sort, explore the ideas raised by the question, and then come to a conclusion. In a way, they are essays written in verse! This means you can write a “sonnet” that doesn’t have meet all of the traditional formal elements, but still functions as a mini-essay of a sort. The main point is to keep your poem tight, not rangy, and to use the shorter confines of the form to fuel the poem’s energy. As Wordsworth put it, in a very formal sonnet indeed, “Nuns fret not at their convent’s narrow room.”

Happy writing!


April 22nd – Aegean

So since it’s Earth Day and we are honouring the Earth in some form or another, I figured I’d take something out of ancient history/myth to honour; The Aegean, and by extension, Poseidon. Enjoy:

This is how you saw me;

another lost boy to be used

and I fell for it.

For the same

tired lines, tried and tested



You still smelled of the sea –

of salt and sand and paradise

and I was hooked on it.

A boy once more,

learning to love like

Gods do.


But that was long ago –

before the temple, the shouting

and I cheated.

Escaped your

clutches for one night, slight



And you still claim to want me;

be yours, be the lost boy you met

and I said nothing.

This was not

what I wanted. It was no longer



So I ran, swam for the shore.

Longing to find a new bed to frequent

and I found it.

I lay awake

terrified of the sounds of

the Aegean.


Challenge 22

Today’s prompt comes to us from Gloria Gonsalves, who also suggested our prompt for Day Seven. Today, Gloria challenges us all to write a poem in honor of Earth Day. This could be about your own backyard, a national park, or anything from a maple tree to a humpback whale. Happy writing!


April 21st – Alice

Such curious things,
these children who wander
up into the stars;
into wonderland.

Curiosity can get you killed,
dear Alice. Remember that.
Some things are
not worth investigating.

This cat smiles, the hatter
winks coyly. The hare taps his
stalled pocket watch
expectantly, as if

it has meaning. As if
there is some sense to this.
To the bark of blood
thirsty queen;

the war beneath your
world. Yes, even the plants
have their whispers here.
I know how you

stumbled, fell through
earth and madness to find
yourself lost in the
weeds again.

This was never your fight
but it appeared predestined.
It was convenient
for us to use you.

You weren’t meant to
survive insanity.