NaPoWriMo Day 30: Alex Blustin – Ignore The Prompt

Gallopavo D’Eville [credit: C Blustin]

It’s the last day of NaPoWriMo. Congratulations on staying the course and hopefully written some great poems on the way. You might be sick of writing from prompts by now but there’s still one day to go. So today, write to the prompt – then ignore it! Alex Blustin explains in the post and podcast below.

Ignore the prompt

This is an exercise in detaching yourself from creativity-limiting prior plans. It is based upon suggestions in Patrick’s handy book Poetry Non-Stop.

1) Choose a picture, any picture; preferably at random.

2) Set a timer for 10 minutes.

3) Write continuously for the 10 minutes, describing every last aspect of that picture, and everything it brings into your mind.

4) After the time is up, choose a phrase or an idea from what you have written down, and use it as the basis for today’s poem which will have nothing to do with the original picture.

For the following poem, I started with an image of Gail Brodholt’s linocut “The Price of Progress” (2016; link: It contained some small dark blobs on the sky which implied birds. 

From this, I latched onto the phrase “Birds are implied”… by a design which might appear on a packet of fashionable organic muesli in a shop window. The finished comic villanelle turns on the contrast between actual birds and the sentimental concepts of nature appropriated by marketing agencies.

This poem appears in Issue 60 (Dec 2022) of the light verse webzine Lighten Up Online [link here:]. 

Pecking Hell

Seen it in the window? Birds are implied;
He recognised that muesli, being well bred.
Nothing in his breakfast could have been fried;

Needing to mollify a righteous bride,
He never demurred at what he was fed.
Seen it in the window? Birds are implied;

Beak-filling goodies, crunchy and dried,
Fibrous; organic. Serious cred.
Nothing in that breakfast could have been fried;

How bad could it be? It had to be tried.
Luxurious packaging awakened his dread;
Seen it in the window? Birds are implied…

He looked in the box. His eyes grew wide;
Could his companion have wanted him dead?
Nothing in that breakfast could have been fried.

Something had already dined inside,
Paid for it in droppings and swiftly fled.
Seen them in the window? Birds were implied.
Nothing in that breakfast could have been fried.

Brief biog:

Alexander Blustin’s light verse has previously appeared in Lighten Up Online, Light Quarterly, The Bell and in audio form on the Poetry Non-Stop blog. His heavier verse has appeared in Popshot and elsewhere. From October 2012 to July 2014 he ran a weekly poetry stall on Cambridge Market (UK), with a particular focus on work from local Modernist and experimental publishers.

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