Five more poems for the month. Or five more prompts—hoping you get many poems.

Today we continue on our quest to convey the abstract through the concrete, and we’re going to get more specific.

From The Daily Poet: “Write a poem where the reader knows what time it is and what season it is through the details of your poem. Do not use words like morning, evening, winter, summer…” Instead, let what’s happening in the poem and the images you use provide that context.

An image I keep coming back to is from a poem by Tracy K. Smith:

“They have been waiting
Since before the station smelled
Of cigarettes.”

(from “Mangoes,” The Body’s Question, Tracy K. Smith)

What images can you find that show time?

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For today’s poem, write a letter to an abstraction without using that word or any other abstractions.

Abstractions can serve as shortcuts. If I say happiness, you have an idea of what I mean. Because it’s a shortcut, you as the listener don’t need to spend as much time with it. You don’t see it or feel it physically. I guess “idea” is itself an abstraction. Other examples include happiness, grief, loss, death, life (isn’t it odd to think of life as an abstraction?), and time, including all those time words: minute, hour, day, month.

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Take yesterday’s prompt, for example. I wrote and wrote to fit in all the words, and I came up with some pretty weird stuff. Usually, in a poem, I think weird is good, going to some unexplored territory. But sometimes it’s just strange and disjointed.

How weird is too weird? How do you carve away the extra stuff without cutting off David’s nose?

(At this point, I think of Dean Young’s comment at SAL that it has to have a spine running through it. Does it have a spine?)

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Full confession: This was supposed to be the prompt for April 18th. It was written and ready to go, but was never published. What happened? My apologies for missing a day. Now, without further ado…

Letter poems are written from a specific speaker to a specific recipient. Prayers are said to a specific listener.

Today’s prompt, from The Daily Poet, is to write a poem for a friend or a relative in the form of a prayer. For an example, see William Butler Yeats’s poem “A Prayer for My Daughter.”

Advice from The Daily Poet: “Share images using all of your senses; flood the poem with metaphor.”

What do you wish for the recipient? Where are you—are you, like Yeats, near the recipient—and what are you feeling as you offer this prayer?

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I confess that I do not usually read the paper. I listen to NPR and I get The New York Times headlines in email—and often they are repeats of what I heard earlier on the radio. My husband reads The Seattle Times every morning, and sometimes I glance at the front page. This morning, I sat down with it—three stories got my attention, leading with lead in the water.

While the news may not be good, it’s a solid way to start a day when we take up “Journalistic Inspiration,” from The Daily Poet. Choose an article in the newspaper and circle the words that jump out at you, intrigue you. Next, write a poem that uses those words but is about something else.

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