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7 Spine-Chillingly Strange Prompts For Your Wicked Poems

What goes bump in the night, screams like a raven, and smells of brimstone? Find out in this month's spine-chillingly strange set of prompts, designed specifically for all your wicked poetic needs.




WARNING! The following content may contain explicit content that is triggering to some individuals. Please be advised.


Table of Contents


Image by Itus from Getty Images, created in Canva

1. One, Two, It's Coming For You

I don't know about you, but I've had my fair share of nightmares where I've been chased around by some mysterious and shady figure. Can you recollect a time where you've been chased? Or, perhaps, you were the one doing the chasing.


Write a poem from the perspective of someone being chased (or yourself), or as the chaser.


2. The Ethereal Sound of Madness

Have you ever heard nails scratch against a chalkboard, or the absolute silence of a padded room? Emily Dickinson's I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died is perhaps the most diligent of poems that hones in on the harmonics of poetry.


Listen to this film by Peter Hague on Art of E-Brink's YouTube channel:

After listening to Hague's apparitional voice, think about how you might have recited this poem. Is there a noise you've discovered that's particularly obtrusive or painstakingly annoying?


Write a poem with sounds in mind. Will you focus on the "buzz" of one particular noise, or will you create a cacophony symphony? The radio dial is yours!


3. You'd Better Hide... Preferably in the Closet

Imagine for a moment that you're playing hide-and-go-seek with a group of friends, but by the time you've counted to a hundred — everyone's missing. Like, literally gone.


Write a cinquain poem (either in forward, or in reverse) about what happens next in this scenario. Do you find your friends? Are they being chased by someone? Did they get hijacked by an alien invasion? Let your imagination fly! Don't forget to bring a big enough swatter.



Image by EdvanKun from Canva

4. Don't Worry, It's Only A Movie... Or Is It?

Think of one of your favorite scary/horror movies — mine is Beetlejuice or The Secret Window. Now count on your fingers how many times you've been on the receiving end of a jump scare whilst watching those films.


If you have no more fingers left to count, then Freddie or Jason has already claimed you. Take one of your biggest fears or villains from your favorite film, and personify it within a poem. Don't worry, nobody is looking over your shoulder.


5. The 'Itsy Bitsy Spider,' But With A Twist

"Kill it, kill it with fire!" is what I shout every time I spot a spider. I loathe those six-legged creepy crawlies more than Wiseau's The Room. "I did not burn it enough, I did not."


For this prompt, I want you to think about all those grave-digging, soul-sucking, creepy crawlies, and write them into a horror-pact nursery rhyme; just like The Itsy Bitsy Spider by Camp and Camino in California.


Fun fact! The term "itsy bitsy" was originally published as "blooming, bloody." Makes the nursery rhyme much more grotesque, don't it?



Image by Moussa81 from Getty Images Pro, made in Canva.

6. Can You Spell "O-U-I-J-A"

The ouija phenomenon is considered by the scientific community to be the result of the ideomotor response. Michael Faraday first described this effect in 1853, while investigating table-turning.


Spiritualists in the United States believed that the dead were able to contact the living and reportedly used a talking board very similar to a modern Ouija board at their camps in the U.S. state of Ohio in 1886 to ostensibly enable faster communication with spirits.


For this prompt, create an acrostic poem that spells out "ouija," but here's the twist: you have to write the poem as if you were asking a question to the spirits of the great beyond. The last line providing the possible answer to this question.


So get your candles and grab your socks, we're having an old fashioned seance.


7. Here Lies...

The Poetry Foundation describes an epitaph as "a short poem intended for a tombstone and often serving as a brief elegy" to the departed. For this prompt, consider what you'd like written on your headstone.


How will people remember you? Is there a warning you'd like to leave potential grave robbers? Maybe you've got some wisdom to pour and reserve for the future? Whatever your epitaph may be, let them hear it from six-feet under!


To give you all some insight — here's a sample epitaph written by Robert Herrick titled Upon Ben Jonson...


"Here lies Jonson with the rest

Of the poets; but the best.

Reader, would’st thou more have known?

Ask his story, not this stone.

That will speak what this can’t tell Of his glory. So farewell."


 



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2 Comments


Shen Friebe
Shen Friebe
Oct 11, 2022

Fantastic work, Ken- just in time for the spooky season! 2, 3, 5 and 6 are my favourites, and the line "absolute silence of a padded room" alone is a fantastic prompt for a poem.


Spiders are rather sinister if you really think about it; their arching legs, silent shuffles in the night... but I can never bring myself to kill them.

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Adam Gary
Adam Gary
Oct 10, 2022

Tis the season to be spooky! Thanks for these awesome prompts Ken!

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