Surprising Poetry Prompts

Lots of times poets, and writers in general, have a few big themes they like to explore and they visit those themes over and over again – the wonder of nature, family relationships, LOVE, social justice, the impact of science and technology, etc. Sometimes, people who play with words and meaning and think deep thoughts need a little nudge to get the brains and pens flowing. Thus, the poetry prompt.

The internet is full of them. That’s all well and good. I occasionally enjoy a good prompt and, truth be told, for the last five years, I have spent one month writing and posting every day to themed prompts.  

But, somewhere along this poetry journey I am on, a fellow writer described the purpose of poetry for her. To paraphrase, we writers use poetry as a way to examine life, to find its meaning with precision and brevity. I would add, to find a meaning in the most mundane things.

The poems that seem to come out of nothing – the morning walk through the neighborhood, the insects in the flower beds, the updating of an old piece of furniture, yes, old furniture – those are the poems that surprise me. Those are the poems I think I both need to write and am meant to write. To my delight, I found one of those poems this week (or it found me). I hope you, too, can be surprised with extraordinary poems out of the ordinary. Enjoy!

Plain Brown Objects

I have packed a truck and moved too many
times to allow heavy objects to hold more
meaning than utility
but this week, according to her plan,
my daughter and I painted the dresser –

the dresser that stood guard under slanting ceilings
of Papa and Grandma’s upstairs bedroom
the sturdy, brown, Army-surplus dresser
with one notch-cornered drawer
the dresser that waited for me
to return to my tiny, yellow room
every winter break, every spring break
the dresser I painted

raw silk and salmon
to welcome a baby girl and flying fairies
the dresser that cruised to Germany
and made a return trip adorned in stickers
the dresser that faced my sleeping girl
through every night of her life
and all she faced

My daughter and I sanded and stroked
each square inch of
the dresser
Then, we coaxed it into place
and she filled it.

©2022, Marilyn Garcia

*OCONUS is military jargon which means “outside of continental United States”

Now, please visit the Poetry Friday roundup, hosted this week by Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche

20 thoughts on “Surprising Poetry Prompts”

  1. How wonderful! This poem is a keeper…and much lighter than a dresser. I’m in this stage of life of paring down and keeping only the most meaningful items. It’s bittersweet to let some things go. I’m so glad that this dresser has a new life. It’s beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Linda. I dream of the day when I can pare down and I am really happy that my daughter will be able to take this dresser with her wherever she goes. It does look much better than it did when I received it!


  2. Wow, Marilyn. The dresser is gorgeous! And it has such a long history in your life. Your line “heavy objects to hold more meaning than utility” resonated with me.


  3. We have a dresser just like this painted a teal blue and stored in an upstairs bedroom. It has been many places. Your poem made me think of writing about it. I love finding poems in the ordinary things of our lives. Tuck this one somewhere into that dresser for someone to find years from now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OMG! Margaret, that is a fantastic idea. I’m going to use my best Canva skills to print out this poem and do just as you suggest. I think I won’t even tell my daughter – I’ll just let her find it herself, someday.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. All the history and love in that one piece of furniture. Maybe you should write a response poem from its POV…(that’s an invitation, not a command!)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love your intro before the loving poem, Marilyn. “Sanded and stroked” with so many memories means a piece of furniture kept with love, now ready for the next journey. I have a piece, now waiting for its next task, in my basement, what was my grandparents first dresser and on. You’ve reminded me of how important a poem can be. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Well, I was expecting to nod and enjoy a poem about refurbished furniture, but I wasn’t expecting it to make me cry! This poem is so unassumingly beautiful, humble, nurturing. Thank you! (And the new paint job on the dresser looks wonderful.)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha – YES, I do. I submitted a poem recently that made my hubby tear up when I ran it by him, and I’m pretty sure I did the “Yes” under my breath with a fist pump as my first reaction…. Writers might not always be the easiest people to live with, ya think? ;0)

        Liked by 1 person

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