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prompt 200 young mysteries

February 13, 2014
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This week I have been thinking about brothers, sisters, things unknown and unsaid, black and white photographs become sepia old. And mystery – where hardly the question is even known. The seed for this week’s prompt comes from Kim Stafford writing about his brother Bret. (100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do, How My Brother Disappeared)

      When Bret was nine, in January of 1958, back in Oregon, he told our father he was writing a story: “The Mystery of a Gun. This gun, when it shoots, says a word – the sound of the owner’s name.”

Call that your seed. Call that your starting line – ready, set…
Please title your poem “The Mystery of a Gun“, although you may or may not follow as with Bret’s idea, but however you do, take some leap. No conventional bullets allowed. No one gets to die. It is not that sort of story. Step away from the ordinary, away from the expected. In other words, go wherever you want to go. But listen first. Listen beyond immediate thoughts.
What are all the elements here? Left-handed turns, danger, expression, unexpected alternate understandings, what? What might you be able to add into the mix? Do we want to solve small mysteries or leave them unknown? What’s it mean if a brother or sister says this to you? It is a leap – of wondering.
And you know, whenever we make a prompt less defined, less specific, that puts more of the work on you! Not every poem arrives with a thud. Some come gossamer silent, just a whisper of whistling air. Sit and stare at a wall or a far away hill, do finger-painting, make a cup of tea and drink it alone. You know, let words gestate.
Then, when they arrive, trust them.


  1. February 13, 2014 6:31 am

    a tad biographical…
    Also fits Margo’s prompt.

  2. February 13, 2014 8:07 am

    My poem is a “story” poem and “The Mystery of a gun” can be found on my blog

  3. February 13, 2014 9:30 am

    Neil’s title instantly brought flashing images both very old and new,


  4. February 13, 2014 10:11 am

    The Mystery of a gun

    Her nerves were shot
    Her fickle blood ran thin
    Hot under pressure
    She exploded from within

    Her heart metallic barrel
    Her mouth a smoking gun
    The anger took no aim
    Yet the target was her son

    Her conscience sadly branded
    Her hands still numbed her sin
    She became the weapon she
    Loathed screaming, oh no! not again!

    • February 14, 2014 7:16 am

      Good metaphor! Thought provoking and the lines read like bullets fast and direct,


    • February 14, 2014 7:33 am

      Words can hurt just as much as bullets. Now your protagonist has to find a way to stop firing the gun.

    • February 15, 2014 12:30 pm

      so yes i agree…. words have incredible power… !!!

  5. February 13, 2014 10:59 am

    Here’s my response:

    Thanks; I had fun!

  6. February 13, 2014 1:25 pm

    Hold on tight, folks. I (or well, Aanteekwa is) am going back into the darkness.


  7. February 13, 2014 1:27 pm

    This brought me to a digging deep space. Thank you for the challenge, Neil!

  8. February 14, 2014 7:38 am

    I sat and stared at prompt, drank tea, and then a thud

  9. February 14, 2014 3:43 pm

    how thoroughly enjoyable to reflect on the mystery of a gun

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