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Poetry Prompts

Monday Poetry Prompt: Epigraph

This week let’s write a poem with an epigraph. Think about your favorite author, doesn’t have to be a poet, and find a quote or a clever line from their work, then write a poem in reaction to it, using the line as the epigraph to your poem. If you can’t think of any, may I suggest the opening line of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked…”

Take your time then post your epigraphic poem in the comments below.


About Bartholomew Barker

Bartholomew Barker is one of the organizers of Living Poetry, a collection of poets and poetry lovers in the Triangle region of North Carolina. Born and raised in Ohio, studied in Chicago, he worked in Connecticut for nearly twenty years before moving to Hillsborough where he makes money as a computer programmer to fund his poetry habit.


28 thoughts on “Monday Poetry Prompt: Epigraph

  1. Asylum I

    The Willard Asylum for the Insane, upstate New York, closed its doors in 1995. Four hundred suitcases were found in the attic, the contents photographed by Jon Crispin.

    Linger on images. Each photo. Loss.

    Hairpins. Pliers. Sequined belts.
    Wooden leg
    in a box.
    A woman’s list:
    Black dress, blue skirt, jacket with fig trim.

    Needles and threads. Baby shoe.
    Shakespeare’s Tragedies.
    Curling iron.
    Glass vase.

    Revenants. Rummage.

    Wedding photos. Fork. Spoon.

    Music book.
    Cancelled clock.

    This poem is forthcoming in “Asylum,” my poetry collection that will be published by Main Street Rag Publishing Company this spring.

    Liked by 3 people

    Posted by redfoxpoet | January 11, 2022, 11:00 AM
  2. Somber Advice from Mark Twain:

    Sotto Sorrow

    The day was overcast and cool
    leaves floated woeful in the pool
    gray-green pallor robes the sun
    in some dull crepuscular omen,

    A day aligned for the forgetful mind.
    Work laid aside, book spread along the spine
    eyes droop and waver
    while the indolent heart begins to savor

    A bass note, work laid aside
    no use for industry this tide,
    the inner ear scans seas of warning
    gaps in rhythm, a glitch of mourning.

    Thus defenseless, lay down your day
    the best laid plans in disarray.
    Huddle there, an afghan for your chair,
    and watch the pale day fade into its lair.

    So much was promised to be done
    work denied with denied sun
    the subdued heart can not rise up
    as barely damp the chasmal cup,

    Idleness goes finest with this flow;
    Ah, never put off till tomorrow
    what you can do, sotto sorrow,
    the day after tomorrow.

    Liked by 4 people

    Posted by ts19page | January 10, 2022, 6:33 PM
  3. “Be Still and know that I am God” – Psalm 46

    Eight words
    taken in or out of context
    a whole, intact
    beautiful and dialectic

    When spilt
    endlessly alive, sparkling
    hues of many colors
    on the pages that are our mind

    Be still and know I am
    a name without a name
    a tense
    all tense

    Be still and know
    a call to us
    reach outside
    the knowable denotation

    Be still
    an imperative
    important today
    as it ever was

    finite flesh
    grasp the complex plane
    and the tree, still too soon

    No words, a null
    a call to hesychasm
    let there be silence in our restless left hemisphere
    beyond human words

    a+bi, a=0… maybe mu, maybe not
    The only word that was ever spoken
    The word we try to understand
    The Word that calls to us, always

    Liked by 5 people

    Posted by Chris Clarke | January 10, 2022, 1:23 PM
  4. https://poets.org/poem/not-small-voice

    An epigraph poem using the line “This is not a small voice you here” by Sonia Sanchez

    Untitled by Lisa Tomey

    This is not a small voice
    you hear.

    Tracks of tears
    crease their faces
    with memories
    too often made
    daily by the rumble
    by the traction
    by the violence
    on streets meant
    to walk, play, work
    with purpose

    This is not a small voice
    you hear.

    Wails at the nonsense
    cries at the anger fueled
    by the fights inside and out
    hosted by the blue lights
    the red lights
    the swirling lights
    as if
    we cannot see
    what’s happening
    on the very streets
    where people cheered
    for the rights of birth

    That small voice
    is the voice of newness
    but what about the dawn
    the early light
    time to clean up
    from the night before
    only to find
    the dawn’s early light
    is another chapter
    in lost voices.

    Do not let those voices die.

    Liked by 5 people

    Posted by Lisa Tomey | January 10, 2022, 8:29 AM

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