NAPOWRIMO 2020 – Prompt 24

By on Apr 23, 2020 in Poetry

Canadian goose on grass with tree shadows

April is National Poetry Writing Month, and many poets like to challenge themselves to write a poem a day. With that in mind, Wild Violet will be sharing poetry prompts each day: one geared towards adults and one for kids. 

If you write a poem based on this prompt, feel free to share a link to your poem, or the poem itself, in the comments. Poems appearing in the comments are not considered published in Wild Violet, and you retain all rights to your work. 


Fractured Sayings

For adults:

If you have never heard the advice “Don’t use cliches,” then you probably haven’t been writing for very long. Today, however, try embracing a cliche or an idiom, but put your own spin on it. You might start with a well-known saying and then take flip it on its head. For example, Lewis Carroll’s poem “How Doth the Little Crocodile” is a twisted version of a moralistic poem, “Against Idleness and Mischief” by Isaac Watts. Rebecca Hoogs addresses a movie cliche in her poem, “Another Plot Cliche.” And in “Poems for Blok,” Marina Tsvetaeva begins with an idiom in the first line and then goes far beyond it.


For kids:

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Don’t cry over spilt milk”? It means you shouldn’t waste time getting upset over something that you can’t fix. The English language is filled with common sayings like that, sayings that you’ve probably heard again and again. We call them idioms. Today, try creating a poem by taking your own unique look at a famous saying. 

  1. Think of a famous saying, or find one on this list of English idioms.
  2. Consider the real meaning of the saying and how you might do something different with it. Do you want to take it literally? Or add a line to it? Or alter one or more of the words? Do you want to write an answer to it? Or a silly explanation or definition? Or write about the opposite of the saying’s meaning?
  3. Write a poem that uses your thoughts.

Today’s example is written by my son, who is a fourth grader.

Sticks and stones may break my bones,
but most birds will never hurt me.
Birds are fluffy and feathery
and they  say, “Tweet Tweet.”
Except for geese and swans.
They are very fierce.


Alyce Wilson is the editor of Wild Violet and in her copious spare time writes humor, non-fiction, fiction and poetry and infrequently keeps an online journal. Her first chapbook, Picturebook of the Martyrs; her e-book/pamphlet, Stay Out of the Bin! An Editor's Tips on Getting Published in Lit Mags ; her book of essays and columns, The Art of Life; her humorous nonfiction ebook, Dedicated Idiocy: How Monty Python Fandom Changed My Life, and her newest poetry collection, Owning the Ghosts, can all be ordered from her Web site, In late 2019, she published a volume of poetry by her third great-grandfather, Reading's Physician Poet: Poems by Dr. James Meredith Mathews, which also contains genealogical information about the Mathews family. She lives with her husband and son in the Philadelphia area and takes far too many photos of her handsome, creative son, nicknamed Kung Fu Panda.