Prompts for Red Wolf Journal, Chapter 19

All You Lovers Out There,

Happy Valentine’s Day! I have to say first off, that I did not see a single stalk of a real rose on this day. Where are all the roses? Is there a conspiracy against roses? Maybe I wasn’t in the right place at the right time. But then there’s that irritating reminder, I never promised you a rose garden. To which my reply would be, Still, all we need is love, right? Enough of this fluff. Get to the writing. You have till the end of February to submit to Red Wolf Journal. That’s why I am even writing all this lovey dovey stuff to you.

Prompt 105: The Beatles sang it. All we need is love. So on this Valentine’s Day, you go write a psalm or something. What does love mean? What does loving mean? What does love want? What does loving want? Why is love so enigmatic? Soulful? La Di Da. Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all. Without love we are nothing. Say this whichever way in your poem.

Prompt 106: There’s this quote from Haruki Murakami which says that the storm is within you and that “when you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” I rate that as one of the foremost truths I’ve learned about what life is really about. It is really about storms/burning forests. So write a poem referencing such a storm.

Here’s the entire quote:

“Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn’t something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn’t get in, and walk through it, step by step. There’s no sun there, no moon, no direction, no sense of time. Just fine white sand swirling up into the sky like pulverized bones. That’s the kind of sandstorm you need to imagine.

An you really will have to make it through that violent, metaphysical, symbolic storm. No matter how metaphysical or symbolic it might be, make no mistake about it: it will cut through flesh like a thousand razor blades. People will bleed there, and you will bleed too. Hot, red blood. You’ll catch that blood in your hands, your own blood and the blood of others.

And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”

Prompt 107: Write a poem in which a wolf is featured. The wolf as trope. It is associated with instinct and intuition, and maybe that’s the way to navigate the spiritual/physical world. It is a wild and free animal. It is also a predator. You may, for instance, let your poem’s theme be passion. I’ll leave you to figure out what to do with the wolf in your poem.

Prompt 108: Are you a Christian? A follower of Christ? Well then you’ll have a very firm set of beliefs regarding heaven and hell, sin and punishment, a belief system that will set you up for the afterlife. But you don’t need to be a Christian to live an ethical life, to let moral impulse guide you. Call that your conscience. I’m curious to know the kind of moral imperatives serving as a life guide for you. What are your morals like, poet? Or just write a religious poem. Let the image via Magpie Tales inspire you.

christ-in-the-wilderness stanley spencer

Christ in the Wilderness by Stanley Spencer via Magpie Tales


Prompt 109: I was reading a short story that had this line: “Days and years and feelings much the same, except that the children would grow up, and there might be one or two more of them and they too would grow up, and she and Brendan would grow older and then old” (Alice Munro, “Post and Beam”). Isn’t it weird when one goes into summary mode? So much ellipted. How does that line (or some abbreviated form of it) work in a poem? I tried it on for size and you are to do the same. You know, just to see what kind of taste it leaves in your mouth (or poem).

Prompt 110: We’re almost to the end of February, folks, the month of love. Therefore that’s what she’s prattling about. Love is a big deal. It is. And love comes in infinite forms, that’s a thing I’ve learned, in all its redeeming ways. And if I could quote John Keats, who had said, on his deathbed (well he died): “…Love is my religion–I could die for that–I could die for you.” I believe the love he had for Fanny was non-consummate. So love is a pretty ineffable thing. Write about love.


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