Confusions, confounding, and cons come in all forms. A message may be misunderstood. An event may have an unexpected outcome. A magician may play a trick that seems impossible. The world is full of surprises. Write a poem about a surprising or unexpected event or person or state of affairs. The result of the surprise may be pleasing or not.



I gather you’d rather slather the matter with blather than merely verify and clearly clarify the grand plan at hand.  I don’t understand.  Must you be contiguously ambiguous?  Profusely abstruse?  Contentiously pretentious?  For heaven’s sake, give us a break!  Be frank and clear, like me right here!

© copyright Marie Elena Good – 2013



The guy
with the muck truck
comes and goes quickly
unless he finds that the baffle’s
© copyright 2013, William Preston

216 thoughts on “PROMPT #117 – BAFFLED

  1. Bewildered In The Blackberry Bushes

    My hand held
    In yours, surrounded
    By sharp thorns,
    Sweet berries:
    Confused messages received,
    Oh, the thrill you gave!

    © Copyright Erin Kay Hope – 2013

    One of the sweetest memories I have is from a couple years ago: I was picking blackberries with the guy I like and his little brother (I don’t know why it was just us three, so don’t ask me 😉 ). Anyway, they had just jumped over a huge screen of tangled, thorny branches, and I couldn’t find a way across. So he held out his hand and lifted me over. You might think it a small gesture, but my heart still flutters when I think about it… 🙂

  2. It’s Clearly Not Hair Apparent

    “Great Hercules and Samson too/Were stronger Men than I or You/Yet they were baffled by their dears/And felt the distaff and the shears” ~Janet Graham

    Mythology and men do mix
    when ‘ere the coif they aim to fix.
    I’m baffled, ‘though, why does strength drain:
    is potency a poufy mane?


  3. Marie – my mouth had fun (and occasionally a tongue-tie) in saying your poem out loud! Bill – umm…what Debi said. Maybe? But I do want to hear the real reasons…

  4. Terms of Endearment/Rules of Engagement

    “We are prepared for insults, but compliments leave us baffled.” ~Mason Cooley

    Mock me, tease me, call me Doris,
    taunt me with a whole Greek chorus:
    I’m ready with the repartee,
    but kindness baffles. Go away.


  5. Marie, I loved your tongue-twister. one phrase in particular, “contiguously ambiguous,” left me blathering.

  6. “Silent but deadly”

    A dream has a way of twirling ‘round
    and ‘round like a ring on a too small finger
    It gets stuck in that scoop of a skin
    ‘tween its neighbor. Chaffing until
    you twist it up right again.

    I woke up from that dream
    my heart slamming in the silence
    Your silence after my soul dared to bare
    its skin—the spotty flab and miles of
    question marks. Fodder for a poem.
    But not this poem. This poem is about
    smothering inside a silent dream. This
    poem stamps another question
    upon my soul. This poem has a deadly
    silent end.


    I sent a letter to my girl
    to say how much I loved her,
    Then to another wrote goodbye
    And hoped she would recover.

    But in my dizzy state of mind
    I realized much later:
    The envelopes got all mixed up.
    My lover’s now a hater.


  8. What Could it Be?

    My sisters and I, home alone,
    The youngest—two, one almost grown.
    From dark of night, we couldn’t see.
    Kerthunk, kerthunk, what could it be?

    The eldest sis scared us the most.
    “Perhaps a mischievous ghost!”
    A spooky sound, like a heartbeat.
    Kerthunk, kerthunk, what could it be?

    At seven I didn’t believe.
    “There’s no such thing!” I stamped my feet.
    “So you go out,” said older three.
    Kerthunk, kerthunk, what could it be?

    And so I bravely went out there—
    A beagle in a rocking chair!
    I laughed at them. “What did I see?
    Kerthunk, kerthunk, what could it be!”

    My sisters and I, home alone
    Kerthunk, kerthunk, what could it be?

  9. Moment of Rapture

    After many years
    of feeling alone
    and mostly unloved,
    he put his arms
    around me and said
    what can I do
    to make you feel better?
    And for that moment
    I finally felt loved.

  10. The Baffled Heart

    A favored photo on the shelf I keep:
    My love, I know that look upon his face.
    I’ve learned to read his eyes though now he sleeps.
    He poses questions I cannot erase.

    “Where are we found when all of this is past?
    I only ask, as you’re the one around…”
    “Where am I, love, behind this pane of glass?
    I’m with you; yet I’m neither near nor found?”

    I dust the mantle where my love now stands;
    our conversation opens many doors.
    His looks do baffle with their bold command.
    “I cannot answer, love, what you implore!”

    “I know not why you’re gone so long before;
    don’t ask me such a question, anymore!”

  11. Here is a rough offering but I was so determined to get something written before running off to the next event! I’m off! Hope you are all enjoying your last days of summer!

    A Baffled Brook

    It didn’t bubble and gurgle
    as a babbling brook should,
    instead it tinkled and dripped
    like a leaky faucet would.

    We kind of liked the quiet sound
    and decided to call it “The Whispering Tinkle”
    and we giggled
    causing our eyes to wrinkle.

    People walked by us,
    baffled at our merriment
    but smiling just the same.

  12. AS EASY AS A-to-Z

    Yes, it is quiet easy to see
    Come along step by step with me,
    X plus Y is equal to B
    B times S, the L you carry.
    Then take the square root of a D
    Which is really only one T.

    See – easy as climbing a tree.
    Multiply that answer by P
    And what you end up with is V
    Times the V by the number three
    The V times three gives us a C.
    Now let’s stop for a cup of tea,

    Our short puzzle is quite merry.
    We’re getting close I’m sure you see,
    To stop now would be plain scary,
    Do not regard math as nasty,
    It is mind creativity,
    Go right for the best remedy.

    C is close to where we should be,
    I am not being contrary.
    Stay focused, try not to terry,
    The tenth power of C is B.
    It is simple as A to Z.
    X plus Y is equal to B.

  13. Please listen carefully as our menu options have changed

    Welcome to the automated help line
    Para continuar en espanol oprima numero dos
    For billing press one, for technical assistance press three
    for any other questions press four, thank you.

    for faster assistance please enter your
    ten digit telephone number
    beginning with the area code.
    thank you.

    Now also your dress size, number of pets,
    the combined IQ of your children,
    and your gross adjusted income
    from line 37 of last year’s 1040

    If a train leaves Buffalo at nine a.m. traveling
    west at an average speed of sixty miles per hour,
    and a car leaves Boise heading east at the same
    speed, at what point will they cross paths?

    thank you. Please stand on one leg
    and gargle with salt water. Sing me
    some show tunes. Now balance a
    phone book on your chin. thank you.

    If you were to die tonight are you certain
    of where your soul would go? I’m sorry,
    I don’t understand that response, Please
    try again. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.

    I’m sorry. Our system is currently experiencing
    particularly high traffic volume right now.
    Please try again later, or for faster service
    go to our website. Thank you. Goodbye.

    • This also is a delight. Not so weird, either; some of this actually is on those “help” lines.

    • Oh, Andrew! For faster service I would enter my phone number, thank you 😀
      When I read your ‘menu’ poem, I remembered a series of video sketches by two Norwegian comedians (correct me, somebody, if wrong), great young guys, who used to ‘molest’ people in a hotel elevator making them press buttons for floors and answer questions or do challenges in order to be driven to their requested floors. It was very baffling, indeed.

  14. Now I read so great poems, I really think very bad of my offering. Anyway, Ctrl+V and Ctrl+C have already been pressed, so 🙂

    How come I stood all day
    just wondering when time would come
    and pondering it over?

    My plans and dreams
    turning to bleak irritation
    when the day grew into an evening,
    then night

    and I’ve done nothing
    all that day
    but plan.

    2013, Mariya Koleva

    • I commented out on facebook, Mariya, but this is an excellent offering! SOOO glad you were inspired to write, and mustered up the courage to post it! You know how I admire your work, and I hope you know you are ALWAYS welcome here!

      Marie Elena

    • Oh no, Mariya, don’t feel bad about it! This is one of my favorites so far. It is so simply and truthfully put, and is, at the same time, lovely and thought provoking. 🙂

    • Your poem is good, Mariya.

      Considering we are all so different, comparisons are unnecessary. Some people can always produce superb poetry, but the rest of us have good days and lame-poem days. At least I do. The funny thing is on the last form the poem I considered lame was Marie and Williams favorite of the two I had written. The one I considered more creative was second in their opinion.

      Remember Robert Brewer’s advice to have fun.

      I do hope you do not mind my stealing the idea at the end of your poem in my remembrance of my more-analytical-than-productive days of cleaning the house. Some days ideas come quickly, and on other days we need some help.

  15. Pingback: When Luck Blows Through a Deck of Cards | The Chalk Hills Journal


    This girl is luck.
    She’s diamonds swirling on south winds.
    She’s a fierce heart with a speeding train’s breath.
    This girl’s filtered iced coffee and spilt piercing cries
    “Lady Luck, hit me again!”
    And she laughs in gusting echoes of dropped
    poker pieces and emptying cotton pockets.
    This girl is luck,
    and she blows through clubs and spades –
    aces, kings, fives and sixes, exhaling them
    as spent little bent origami lives. She keeps
    losses on her up-yours finger, and bitter-
    ness never springs from her pale hand.
    This girl is luck.
    She’s a white flag that never surrenders,
    an amused and satisfied joker ‘til the deck
    runs out, and then she’ll turn her hand to magic.
    Just watch her baffle a trick out of her hat.

  17. Between Soiled Laundry

    A half of a bottle of brandy
    tucked into her hamper
    and a snooping child
    shouldn’t have found it
    but did with no curiosity
    for why it would be there
    just the oddity
    of why anyone would want
    this bitter taste
    when a pitcher of Kool-Aid
    was in the fridge.

  18. In Albanian, the missionary said,
    yes is “po” and no is “jo” –
    easy, straight-forward, one would think.
    One day he said he asked his class
    if they understood the lesson.
    “Po” they said, but shook their heads.
    He tried again. Do I need to explain further?
    “Jo” they replied with a nod affirmative.
    Now that’s confusin’.

  19. I was baffled as to what to write but was inspired by Mariya Koleva’s poem. It reminded me of my muddled attempts years ago with writing to-do lists. Priorities were hard to figure out, and some days I spent so much time trying to figure out what to do when that I got little done.


    When will my to-do lists
    ever get to-done?

    Planning what I want to do
    at times can be some fun.

    Then I start to wonder which
    job is two and which, one.

    Of course those lists will need
    To wait ‘til every dish is done.

    And then I must dust and dust
    to make dust bunnies run.

    The number of those everyday
    tasks written down is none.

    Oh, here is where I kept the record
    Of what else needed to be done.

    It is very hard to read right now
    due to the setting sun.

  20. Unnamed, Unclaimed
    Most aNonYmouS LEtteRS
    aRe PieCed
    togETher from MagaZinES and neWspaperS.

    SoME AnonyMoUs pOems
    Are pIECed
    the SaMe waY.

    MoSt aNONymoUs LeTTers
    ArEN’t verY niCe.
    SomE AnonYmOuS Poems ArE.

    By: anonymous

    Ellen Knight 8.25.13
    write a confused or surprising poem

  21. Surprise, You’re Still Here

    Working with the suicidally unsuccessful
    leads to some unexpected revelations;
    A person bent on killing himself
    is, for the most part, singularly unhappy
    to find himself still breathing
    When he comes to, after his latest
    attempt to take his life

    While his family, friends, and rescuer
    might think he should feel relieved
    upon discovering he still breathes
    It most often is the opposite reaction
    that greets all those waiting eagerly
    for the subject to come around
    It shouldn’t be such a shock but somehow
    unwanted life detected by one who
    has tried to destroy his, is always
    a huge surprise!

    • Goodness. Effective, indeed. I’ve pondered this before, as a once-upon-a-writer-friend of mine had written a piece of flash fiction horror about this very topic, for a monthly “write off.” If I remember right, she won the competition. It was truly one of the most disturbing pieces I’ve ever read, but I’m not in the habit of reading “disturbing.” 😉

      Very well written, Sharon.

    • Sadly, this is true for most, but some are later grateful for life and gain a new perspective. This situation is baffling for all.

  22. The mind is a confusing and confounding thing……

    Take Flight

    I’ve woken up laughing
    At what, I don’t know
    I try to remember
    But away the dream goes
    And sometimes I wake
    With a tear in my eye
    The dream fades quickly
    What made me cry?
    Other times I find
    I’m wrapped in my sheets
    Sweating and panting
    What force did I meet?
    I try to remember
    But with no success
    My dream runs away
    I can’t even guess
    What made me so happy
    Or what made me cry
    Or what may have scared me
    Awake, lest I die
    I want to remember
    What I dream at night
    But nothing remains
    Once my dreams take flight

    • I think this is very well done. The mild humor helps fasten the essential story. This is familiar to me; I rarely recall a dream.

    • This is well expressed, Earl. I wish for you remembrance of some of those dreams, especially the happy ones.

    • Well-penned Earl…I could feel the things you’re expressing in every line…and aren’t dreams so like that? Flighty I mean? Just when you go to grasp them? Poof and gone.

    • Yep. Nicely penned, and I’m another one who can relate. I go in spurts. Sometimes I’ll remember in depth, and they will stick with me, and sometimes they just out of grasp.

  23. I was recently re-united with a folder of my earlier writings (grade school and high school). I thought I had something in there that would fit this prompt. This was WAY back in the day when I didn’t consider a poem finished until I had named it…I wrote this when I was in 11th grade…

    –and seeking.
    that which is hiding.
    hidden—who’s hiding there?
    in there—that thing called a mind.
    is it a person?
    a personality?
    a personal reality?
    a real personality?
    how real?
    reel it in quick before it hides again.
    again, it’s gone?
    gone where?
    where does it go when it goes?
    …when it does, save me a seat, i
    want to go too.
    but don’t get lost
    don’t lose it.
    ’cause then i’ll have to go find it.
    how do you find it?
    ask how it went—which way?
    which way do you ask
    something that’s searching
    searching for something
    –and seeking.

    ellen evans

  24. Ellen, it is such a joy when we find those old written treasures, isn’t it?

    I love the juxtaposition of real and reel: “how real?
    reel it in quick before it hides again.”

  25. Pingback: Befuddled Heart | Whimsygizmo's Blog

  26. Building Trust

    The weather
    is baffling
    here in Dayton.
    One day
    next day calm,
    One day
    the next day
    If it can’t be
    not to rain,
    Think that then
    inside I’ll remain.

  27. Five Year-Old’s Mystery
    Is it a monster
    Or maybe a bear
    It could be a lion
    Without much hair
    Or one of the blue men
    Who eats small children
    Hurry and turn onthe light
    That’s what gave me fright
    My shirt on a chair
    Just sitting there
    Dark, you are just not right

  28. I Surprise Myself

    I surprise myself sometimes.
    Like running off to Mississippi
    at eighteen to marry. Just out
    of high school, flying down south
    alone. Me, queen of emotional
    distress, firmly rooted in Brooklyn.
    What a test. Didn’t work.

    I surprise myself sometimes.
    Like retiring early, to devote
    full time to writing lines
    of poetry, entrenched in
    wordplay of language.

    Later, after Dad’s death,
    and the fiery ashes of
    my workplace still raging
    in my heart and mind, time
    came to part, leave friends,
    family, and open my heart
    and mind to a new home
    across the country, to breathe.
    I am here nearly five years,
    surprising myself more
    and more often.


    A bobolink is colored upside-down.
    The male is strange and, some would say, absurd:
    it’s black in places where it should be brown;
    an altogether baffling sort of bird

    that bounds across the verdant grassy fields
    and plink-plinks from the wires overhead
    the whole effect is weird: one’s eye yields
    a bird; one’s mind, a mirror image instead.

    But that’s in breeding season, in the spring;
    by fall, the male and female look the same:
    each one an undistinguished-seeming thing
    that looks like sparrows, really pretty tame.

    It changes so, no one could ever think
    to discombobulate a bobolink.

    copyright 2013, William Preston


    These days,
    March mimics May;
    summer lasts for six months;
    and winter seems to stay away.
    Did Mason-Dixon move north?

    copyright 2013, William Preston


    Down the steps on Christmas morn,
    my smiling face was now forlorn
    for nowhere underneath the tree
    was what I hoped my eyes would see.

    For months, I’d waited patiently
    (and near the end, expectantly)
    for something to replace my trike:
    a brand new, big girl, bright green bike.

    I’d done my best, I’d been so good,
    did everything I thought I should.
    When brother tried to pick a fight,
    he’d egg me on with all his might.

    But I would simply walk away.
    I’d make it through, I’d be okay.
    I kept my mind on just one thing:
    a two-wheel bike with bells to ring.

    So when the day had finally come,
    I won’t deny my heart went numb.
    I didn’t want my hurt to show.
    I couldn’t let my parents know.

    I did not cry, would not complain,
    but mom and dad could sense my pain.
    And too consumed by childish gloom,
    I didn’t see dad leave the room.

    When back he came, I turned to see
    the subject of my fantasy,
    that thing that would replace my trike:
    my brand new, big girl, bright green bike.

    Too young back then to understand
    the bike itself was not so grand.
    The joy they felt with their surprise,
    my parents’ love was the better prize.

    ©Susan Schoeffield

  32. I’m late tot he party. We’re finally taking a vacation and having trouble with linking to internet. I’m loving the poems this week.


    Shorts in winter, socks with sandals,
    romance with electric candles,
    napping when it’s dark outside,
    leaving where your hearts abide,
    writing words as cold as clay,
    loving but staying away,
    giving what you do not love,
    being hawk instead of dove,
    traveling to a distant land
    with no desire to understand,
    smiling mouth and angry face,
    celebrating some disgrace…
    so many ironies exist
    to keep me in a mental mist,
    but I’ll survive to contemplate
    a fenceless yard with an iron gate.

  33. Baffled by Genocide Compromise

    Trojan cloned rapscallions
    Spin galactified fallacies.
    Entangled enactments of
    Lowbrowed neanderthals nitwits
    Intoning interlocked idiocies,
    Obstructing ovulating oviducts,
    Tethering tube-tied tourniquets.
    Twisted hunches contorting
    cracks on semi-glossed sensibilities.
    Ill-contrived political correctness
    of book-burning brigades
    forcing brains to retard.
    Cretin curry, force fed down
    habit hole of selvish baggage.
    Atmospheric side effects yielding
    bursts of efrafuvi-fied bupkis
    and an ass-wiped grease rag.
    Sledgehammered confusion sinks
    another ship of fool-hardy has beens
    aggressively masquerading as
    bigot-brawned peace pushers.
    Viagra-inflated Vasoline visions
    gunning in the night
    to lube up your righteous rebuttal.
    Bend over and receive your
    Homeland Security
    smuggling degradation (where?)
    any illegal aliens hiding in there?
    (NOTE: hidden acrostically,
    1 major poet + 1 famous French artist,
    both born in nineteenth century)

    • Hey there, Randy! This is a well-written, edgy, evocative piece. I must say though that we generally steer clear of politics out here. It isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, but we don’t want to rankle feathers. There are a lot of venues that welcome our political voices, but we want to pretty much keep Poetic Bloomings as a safe haven. Thanks for your understanding.

  34. Pingback: Characters | echoes from the silence

Comments are closed.