April 13, 2009

Prompt: What Sustains You in Tough Times?

I thought that in these tough times, it might be good to write this month about those things that actually help us through these periods.

I started looking at poems, but I was probably a bit too focused on the economic aspects of our current crisis. Then, I came across "The Hungry Gap-Time" by Thomas Lux from his collection, God Particles. I like the poem which depicts hope on a farm that is facing lean times but with a harvest coming. 

But there's more than our need for food to sustain our bodies. Dreams are also necessary to sustain our spirits. I passed the poem on to a fellow poet, Steve Smith, whose response forms the basis for our April writing prompt. 

What dreams sustain us in times of scarcity, worry, or exhaustion? What's left to do as Lux says, but "lie on our backs and stare at the blue" when "our work is done, our bellies flat," and read poems for hard times, and think toward some future fulfillment that will hopefully arrive "soon, soon." 

 In the Lux poem, the larder is depleted, but the harvest is near. Everyone seems filled with expectations of what is to come (Soon, soon there will be food again), now that the hard labor is done. Slack times have not dampened the simple hope of life's continuance as expressed by Albert and Harriet's father. Even the pigs and the lambs will share in the bounty when the bins are filled with corn. The river is now low and the water is cold, but that too is part of a natural cycle familiar to people who make their living farming the land. The fact that the people are living "above the fault line/ beneath the mountain" suggests that whatever life's disruptions, life endures. 

We ask you to write a poem about whatever sustains you through tough times. If you are new to Poets Online, take a look at the prompt on our site, read our submission guidelines, and look at some poems in our archive from earlier prompts in order to get a sense of the types of poems we publish.



  1. I love the new look of Poetsonline.org - clean and easy to navigate.

    Also, surprised to find my poem up - thought it wouldn't pass muster. Thanks!

  2. When are the poems for the new prompt due?

  3. Submission deadline for this prompt is May 3.
    see http://poetsonline.org/prompt.html


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