Most of the basic words we use everyday, if not all of them, presumably began as undifferentiated sounds; noises that people made to correlate with what they heard in the world around them. Sometimes those sounds become words that are little altered from the sounds that prompted them: “meow,” “woof,” “roar,” and “chirp” come to mind. Write a poem that uses one or more onomatopoeic words in the title or body of the poem, or is about sounds in general: the crack of a bat on ball; the rumble of a broken muffler; the gurgling of small waves on a beach; the rustling of wind in the trees. Your imagination might create sounds no one ever thought of, or that don’t exist.



These words, if they’re words, are so puzzling to me;
I always am wondering what they can be:
the sounds of the cymbals; the crashes of drums;
sensations of rumbles, vibrations, and thrums?
Perhaps they’re mnemonics, a form of encoding,
or maybe the sounds of a sheep exploding.

© copyright 2013, William Preston



Stuck between hard rock and a place
where music finds its root.
Foot tapping and the gentle rapping
against a table top never stops.
The kids are jumping, Their feet
are thumping the floor. Windows
rattling and battling the urge
to turn every dirge into Top 40.
Back beats and bass lines found their
way in their day. Hear the people sing.
Elvis is dead; Long live the King!

© copyright 2013, Walter J Wojtanik

118 thoughts on “PROMPT #136 – SOUNDS RESOUND

  1. A pedestrian attempt! I’m only just free of the constant tuneless whistling and singing of the almost-teenager who spent the New Year with us, I’m onomatopaeically played out.


    Whoosh and crash outside
    as wind and jetstream coincide.
    A clatter from the kitchen
    as someone does the dishes.
    Wailing violins from the radio –
    I could do without the audio
    Silence in the ocean
    in the world of fishes.
    I think I’ll go there.

  2. Noise

    Fwwwap fwwwap fwwwap went my lips
    as I sp-sp-spit out some pips

    and then gave some thought to Onomatopoeia.

    I can grrrrowwwl
    or meooooowwww
    but just how
    does a cow
    make a mmmooooo
    while she’d chew
    on her cud?
    This is ud-
    derly, sud-
    denly noise.
    Poem ploys
    are just scripts
    to eclipse

    the more serious kinds of POW! erful stuff that just whifffffffs

    (pen or lips.)
    Damn those pips!

    Scritch scratch scretch
    rhyme and kvetch
    ‘til a wretch-
    ed verse is penned……
    Here’s my zzzzt frnerk wibblesnok quiridingdingding poem, my friend.

    (Okay – in a very silly mood – and was actually inspired by hearing ‘The Trolley Song’ playing in my head.)

  3. The Noise in the Middle of the Night

    Three in the morning, I awaken to clatter
    Clitter and clatter and chitter and chatter-
    Arguing voices, tell me what is the matter
    These sounds make no sense, just clitter and clatter.

    The illuminated face of our clock tries to smile
    The cat is still sleeping, but her tail twitches while
    The sound of the clattering ,smattering , style
    Of noise from the window makes sleeping a trial.

    I look out the window, the world frosted in snow
    Oh, where did our garden and flowers all go
    Weary and wilted, the wind does not blow
    But something is falling and noisily so.

    No need to keep wondering what is the matter
    What it is causing this clitter and clatter
    Rain drops are falling from clouds up above
    But vanished is the gentle sound that I love
    Water changes to ice on this night dark and cold
    Shattering the silence –nature’s artillery bold!

  4. Shhhh, Do You Hear Anything?

    isn’t silent.
    I’ve never heard
    its voiceless void
    even in the quietest
    quiet of night
    I hear
    the pops and creaks,
    hums and groans
    of the house
    settling down.
    In the stove
    crackling wood,
    spluttering fire
    whistles high and sharp
    then dies away- a whimper,
    small protest of whining sigh.
    All is quiet,
    yet my ears,
    register the roar
    of nothing.

  5. Intuition

    What to do when, is called intuition
    and while there are some who claim it unspeakable
    it is, truth be told, quite a common condition.
    It’s there for both the bold and the meek-(able).

    How many times have you heard someone say
    (in fact, by statistics totally true,)
    “I just knew it was going to happen this way.”
    more often than not, this has happened to you.

    There are those who insist it’s a language unteachable,
    and knowledge of it, with the smallest of sounds,
    like the wall of a castle forever unbreachable,
    the inscrutability of it abounds.

    Yet what it comes down to is simple admission
    to the power of making intelligent choice,
    and boldly granting yourself the permission
    of listening to that small inner voice.

    Intuition to lean on, it’s really not foreign,
    the more you do so, the more you are strong.
    In actuality a power forgotten
    that has been hiding within all along.

    Ellen Evans 1.5.14
    write a “sounds” poem for PB

    • This is a fascinating piece of work, in my opinion. I never thought of intuition as an inner voice; for me, it’s been more like motion. Very thoughtful piece, this. Thanks.

      • Thanks Will. I used to say that my intution was nearly always spot on. But as time goes on, I am inclined to think that it is always right, and sometimes I just don’t listen!

  6. Pingback: Shhhh, Do You Hear Anything? | georgeplacepoetry by Debi Swim


    The magic of the Iron Horse
    we oftentimes dismiss.
    Yet, true enough, it shaped our course
    with clickety-clack and hiss.

    The future of America
    was built on rails and track.
    With western-bound hysteria
    came hiss and clickety-clack.

    The mighty engine chugged along,
    a deadline not to miss,
    determined by its steadfast song
    of clickety-clack and hiss.

    It made a nation free to dream.
    But progress can’t go back.
    We moved away from trains of steam
    and hiss with clickety-clack.

    © Susan Schoeffield


    We stand motionless in the middle of Central Park
    grinning like fools at each other, at the place,
    hardly daring to believe we are where we are
    There is an energy in New York City that is like no
    other and as we sink onto a park bench, we try
    decide just what it is…
    Off in the distance, the ubiquitous horn-honking
    of mostly yellow cabs goes on pretty much non-stop
    –its counter-point in the park, the clip-clop of
    horses hooves as carriages pass by one after the
    other, ferrying visitors on tours of the park
    A pair of pigeons coo above on one of the old-growth
    trees near us; they are silhouetted against a sky
    fading to scarlet as the day dies

    This is the city that never sleeps, a reputation
    well-deserved, we agree, as our hotel is just off the
    famous, and never quiet, Times Square
    We wonder if it’s just the time of year— the week before
    Christmas— there are people crowding the square
    at all hours
    And we are both struck by the hub-bub that masses of
    people make but how surprisingly orderly it all seems
    There’s a police presence at almost all intersections so
    the trill of a whistle is heard there
    We’ve learned quickly to recognize the different emphasis
    on the whistles and what they mean
    Short soft tweets are just ordinary “keep it moving” noises
    But if you hear a loud sustained blast, you better clear
    the road, whether you’re a person or a vehicle
    All these people pressed together and rarely any shouting;
    that’s been a surprise
    And even with street vendors on almost every corner and
    some even mid-way down the streets
    No hawking of wares…another surprise
    Not what we were expecting

    However, dinner at the Algonquin, the place where so many famous
    writers used to congregate?
    Pretty much just what I expected…the elegance was understated;
    the china, crystal and silverware gleamed genuine and antique,
    And all I heard throughout the meal was the gentle clinking of silver on
    china, the occasional musical joining of crystal wine glasses raised in toasts,
    the murmur of conversations, some polite laughter
    I imagined seeing Dorothy Parker come through the door at any minute, hearing
    her wicked laugh disturb the status quo…

    In our quest to discover NYC’s energy source, we visited the world famous
    Birdland, curious to see what jazz would sound like there
    Another surprise as that night, Michael Feinstein sang from the American
    Songbook—old standards and some Broadway hits—tunes that caressed
    our souls; it wasn’t quite the jazz I was anticipating but it mattered not
    We also lucked out and saw “Tosca” at the Met…in the balcony closest to heaven,
    in that space, the energy fairly vibrated there, the place where so many “firsts”
    have taken place – Pavarotti, Price, Fleming – to name a few
    We were struck by the lights at the Met; all of them are replicas of their main chandelier, an ultra-modern stylized snow-flake; when the “lights go up” – the ones in the main auditorium
    actually rise into the ceiling…an added bit of magic
    Of course the sound at the Met was nothing short of extraordinary…angel voices that
    reverberated inside our heads, long after we left there
    A highlight for me after the show was hailing a cab, dressed to the nines…another ubiquitous
    NYC sound, “Taxi!”
    It’s exhilarating to raise your hand, give a shout, and stop a car…

    No matter where we toured nor what we saw, the city seemed to fairly thrum
    with an undercurrent of energy that was hard to define but like nowhere else we’d ever been.
    Our last stop before returning home was the New York Public Library,
    a building as architecturally beautiful as any we’ve seen in Europe, with its
    stately Corinthian columns and magnificent paired lions, Patience and Fortitude, guarding
    its entrance…its interior is decorated more like a cathedral than a library, vaulted ceilings with oil paintings directly on walls and ceilings…
    And even though the city’s energy is still felt in this building, the most remarkable thing
    we noticed was the absence of sound, the quietude in this seven story repository is conspicuous, and the space resonates with silence.

    It was a fitting end to our unanswered quest.

    • I was utterly enthralled by this description. I could hear and see what you speak of, and the conclusion was perfect; true sounds of silence. As I read, I also heard Autumn in New York in the background of my mind.

  9. Squ-Onomatopoetry

    Ketterump, ketchunk,
    skree, skree, whump,
    again, again, he won’t let up.
    From deck to feeder’s
    ringing, swinging, he
    closes its maw with his weight
    then jumps with a thump,
    winging poof of furry goof,
    no spoof on feathered friends.

    His onomatopoetry’s
    percussion without harmony.
    Squirrels on feeders—
    who’d have thunk it?—
    lay down some jazz
    for the birds each junket.
    Skree skree, kerplunk it!
    He’s sound gone mad.
    Who knows when this set ends?

  10. Why I Like Silence

    Noise comes in colors—did you know?
    It crashes everywhere you go.
    Big bully racket trouncing sound
    with bluster, hazing all around;
    like red or orange, pushy hues,
    the saxophone of broken blues
    can tear the night and vanquish sleep.

    Or purple and canary shriek
    with sticky wetness at your feet.
    The hopes of pastels, quiet seas
    of tint, still crowd thoughts like disease.
    Even white noise can wear us down
    with static hiss and hums that drown
    our needs for silence, sweet and healing—
    snowfall on dogwood tree, cardinal pealing.
    In silence, we hear sounds we keep.

  11. Pingback: Sigh and Blue Skies | Metaphors and Smiles

  12. Sigh and Blue Skies
    It was the winter of sigh
    and sudden blue skies.
    It was a winter of fissures,
    frost creaking across glass
    and fast-paced panting-jaunts.
    It was the season of split fingers
    tinder and telltale splinters,
    it was a spell for holding heat
    and learning how to retreat,
    being patient a while
    and waiting for warmer days-
    there were moments for playing ,
    reading and quietly praying;
    there was swaying, singing
    and much mental sifting.
    It was a winter for sigh
    and sudden blue skies,
    crisp lit golden-
    the catchers of sun,
    last leaves on the trees
    become sudden inspiration;
    when snow covers all
    it makes focal and feature
    these remnants of color-
    they’re beauties that one might miss
    amidst the vibrancy of trees
    full and fast-green swaying seas.
    It was the season of small brilliances…
    sun-split gemmed berries
    and snow-dust flying fairies,
    it was the winter of sigh
    and sudden blue skies.
    Copyright © Hannah Gosselin 2014
    Poetic Bloomings-Prompt #136-Sounds- the use of some onomatopoeia words…I don’t really think I accomplished this very well…I started off with the intentions of bringing in some sound action but got caught up in the free writing aspect and let the muse run the show!

  13. Lamaze Instructor’s Phone Rings

    They’d call in the middle of the night—
    I said they could—to ask if they should go.
    Pains were coming on schedule,
    feeling like I’d said they would,
    radiating from the back to front.

    They knew. I knew they knew.
    They called for reassurance,
    unnecessary permission,
    a layman’s advice before they risked
    calling the doctor after hours
    or driving to the hospital, pillows,
    blankets and goody bag in tow,
    fearful it was just a false alarm.

    Somehow I could tell, when
    in the middle of a sentence,
    she’d stop. I could hear it
    in the silence over the phone.

    Get your focal point, I’d tell her,
    take a cleaning breath, then breathe:
    slowly, in through your nose
    and out through your mouth.

    I’d hear her shift to the hee hee hoo
    hee hee hoo, a panting to handle
    more than the early twinges
    of a body ready to unload its cargo
    after nine months. Go, I’d say.
    Call if you need me. You’ll be fine.

    Before falling back to sleep again,
    I’d find myself breathing hee hee hoo,
    hee hee hoo before slowing returning
    to breathing–in through my nose–
    and out through my mouth.


    • This is so timely and descriptive: a granddaughter just had a baby. I’m never going to forget “hee hee hoo” now. I loved reading and saying this.


    Red and blue went walking on a whim
    and found
    it populated with a rising hymn
    of sound
    that rose from harmonies of swirling mist
    when orange deigned to pause and coexist
    with green
    and yellow lisped, and purple uttered prose
    so gay
    that brown and black were summoned at the close
    of day
    and all, together, sang a surging song
    of vim
    when colors orchestrated peace along
    a whim.

    copyright 2014, William Preston

  15. Morning Sounds

    Bzzzzz bzzzzz bzzzzzz
    All right, I’m up already!!

    Meow, prrrr prrrr
    Meow, prrrr prrrr
    Hungry again!!
    Didn’t I just feed you?

    Swish, swash, swish, swash
    Ahhh! Fresh breath and white teeth!!

    Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle
    Click, clack, clunk
    Whoop, scraaaape, plunk
    Crack, sizzle, stir
    Clatter, clink, pop
    Tink, tink, splat
    Honey, your breakfast is ready!!

    Flip, whoosh, gush, whoosh
    Gurgle, gurgle, gloop
    Shoop, sshhhhh, shoop, sshhhhh
    Hmmm! Love the smell of coffee!

    Whoosh, skrinkkle, scrape
    Clink, clank, clunk
    Click, fzzzzz
    Click, fzzzz
    Click, fzzzz, gorummmp
    That’s the sound
    Gotta work on the dishwasher

    Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle, shuffle
    Click, whrrrrrr, tick, whizzz,
    Enter password

    © 2014 Earl Parsons

  16. Pingback: Ting! | echoes from the silence


    We pined for the silence of green rural scenes
    and so bought a house with our limited means.
    We lived near a farm of oinkers and mooers,
    a rustic old place devoid of all sewers;
    there always was sort of a tang in the air
    that rolled in the nose with the clang of a dare.
    Whenever we had a easterly breeze,
    each breath was replaced by the squeal of a wheeze
    and bugs banged the house like the patter of rain;
    all the spots that they left were a permanent pain
    in the essence of owning a countryside home.
    Burt enough was enough: we now live in Rome
    where the clatters and tinkles and jabbering crowd
    are blessedly urban, and blessedly loud.

    copyright 2014, William Preston

    • …HaHa… that ‘tang’ has moved many city-slickers back to the city.
      However, for most country-bumpkins, the ‘tang’ is acceptable, and not an offence to country living.

      • I understand. My wife grew up on a farm, and would agree. However, she says it depends on the “tang”; cow “tang” is acceptable; pig “tang” is not.

  18. Night Noise

    Buzz, buzz, buzz.
    I put my hands
    over my ears. Why,
    do I think the mosquito
    will not be able to find me?

    Hum, hum, hum.
    The air conditioner
    attempts to hypnotize
    me back to sleep,
    but the buzz, buzz, buzz
    continues. I smack
    my arm, hear a squish.


    pitching stones
    into the lake
    from the bridge
    high above

    truant boys
    ignore the whoosh
    of fast cars
    Whizzing by

    somewhere birds
    cheep and chatter
    bright secrets
    about spring


    • Save for the fast cars, this has a “Huck Finn” feeling to it. I love the sense of birds cheeping and chattering their secrets.


    Sker-unch, ker-plick, sker-unch, ker-plick,
    the snow is blowing hard and quick
    and wind-chills fasten each false lick
    of tongue to lip and makes them stick;
    sker-unch, ker-plick, sker-unch, ker-plick.

    Whee-oo, a-choo, whee-oo, a-choo,
    I sneeze and see where each sneeze blew
    as ice is forming on my nose too
    and frost is biting without ado;
    whee-oo, a-choo, whee-oo, a-choo.

    copyright 2014, William Preston

  21. Gasp, Puff, Gulp, Wheeze

    When they first mentioned the drastic cold
    I imagined a small tear in the ozone layer
    which swaddles the earth,
    leaking in the cold air of space.

    But then I realized
    they always talk of space as a vacuum
    so therefore, wouldn’t a small tear
    mean the warmth or cold would
    be sucked out?

    Then came the magical words…
    “polar vortex”…
    and in my mind’s eye I saw
    a swirling white wormhole
    (with the occasional polar bear flying by)
    descending upon us with winter’s fury.

    The “polar vortex” arrived with the sun.
    Deceiving in the light of day
    but take one step outside and your gasping,
    gulping for air and puffing your cheeks out
    to warm up the frigid air your sucking in
    and it all makes you want to wheeze.

    Back inside,
    Your left to wonder –
    what the opposite of “polar vortex” might be…
    “equatorial vortex”?
    “Sahara vortex”?
    “hellishly hot Vortex”?
    Realizing you would probably be making
    Similar sounds in an “equatorial vortex”
    you move on … to tea.

  22. Pingback: Prompt #136 | Bastet and Sekhmet's Library

  23. Oh William, you saw that Johnny Carson episode too? The great Carnack almost fell out of his chair–thank you for the laugh! Walt, your wordplay always brings a smile–love that first line!

    • I wondered whether anyone would recall that allusion. I loved those Carnac bits; they recalled for me Steve Allen’s “Question Man” bit of a decade or two earlier.

  24. Hidden

    Silence in the ocean in the world of fishes,
    I think I’ll go there.
    Daring to dream fantastic schemes and wishes.
    I wonder why and where
    God came up with such a plan to show off His beauty
    Where no one else can see,
    Creating such marvels beyond the call of duty
    Hiding within the deep.
    Pondering His extravagant creativity,
    I think He features
    Secret wondrous and invisible marvels
    In all His creatures.

    “Silence in the ocean in the world of fishes, I think I’ll go there.” Noises Off by Vivinfrance

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