Sitting at my desk, I look up to see a placard over the door that says “NOT AN EXIT.” But it leads to a room with a sign over its other door that clearly reads “EXIT.” So would it be a “Prelude to an Exit?” Whatever. Today you have another choice to make. Write an EXIT poem. Or Write a NOT AN EXIT poem. Decide if you want to leave a situation or remain in the one you’ve been in.


I’m an introvert.
I feel the need to exit
before I enter.

© Marie Elena Good, 2021



I get lost in my words.
Every thought leaves me
to wax poetic; it is therapeutic.
Poetry is an escape that takes me
to distant places, to see loving faces,
to share traces of myself, to fly
a mile high then to land again.
To share my heart and soul,
to lose control and be verbose,
or closerthanthisclose. I go
where my words take me.
They are an escape, not an exit!

© Walter J Wojtanik - 2021

305 thoughts on “PROMPT # 342 – NOT AN EXIT

  1. Pingback: 8:10AM – This Is Not A Diary – Plumb-Lines


    Before we get out of bed,
    we must exit a fumbling state of mind,
    naked and gormless.

    We must shake off the night—
    shift gears, put our foot on the gas,
    and engage the day with gusto.

    Accelerate—turn the page on yesterday;
    like old news, or expired food,
    and begin anew at last.

    Benjamin Thomas


    Life is a ball of memories
    that we accumulate as it rolls downhill
    picking up speed with the greed of gravity.

    The ball gets bigger,
    bounding and bouncing about,
    picking up milestones, various stages in life.

    Until it loses steam—
    the fervor of momentum, serving the law of physics,
    the force behind it subsiding.

    At the bottom of the hill—
    it stops, stands inert, still warm,
    and someone picks us up, treasures
    the memories of us.

    Benjamin Thomas

  4. Exits

    In a few days I’ll be making my exit
    from my small town in Colorado
    which I’ve been so busy in
    and leaving it all behind,
    well most of it anyway.
    I’ll still have writing assignments
    I’ll be working on in my motel rooms.
    From Wyoming, I’ll watch for the right exits
    along I80 and meet three sisters in Nebraska.

    Then we’ll watch for more exits
    until we meet our oldest sister in Ohio
    whom we’re all going to see
    before she makes her final exit,
    hopefully that’s not an exit
    in the near future.

    Maybe on the way back,
    I’ll meet a special poet friend.
    Then I’ll exit that Colorado town once again
    and retrieve my husband who I left
    sweltering in Phoenix heat,
    of which he’ll gladly exit
    for Colorado mountains.
    Lord willing, of course.


    It’s the little things.
    Minute. Infinitesimal.
    That make big splashes.

    Things that should protect us.
    Are the ones that betray—us.
    Like eyelashes.

    Tears profoundly whisper.
    Abstruse feelings.
    Words can’t utter.

    Benjamin Thomas

  6. Exit Stage Left

    Some people have a dramatic flair
    a “look at me” center stage air
    but I like being peripheral, on the fringe
    having all eyes on me, makes me cringe
    others, at hogging an exit scene, are deft
    as for me, I just *exit stage left.

    *exit stage left
    noun: A timely and inconspicuous exit or departure, done so as not to make a scene or attract attention to oneself. An allusion to stage directions in theater, indicating when (and where) an actor should leave the stage from a scene.


    Whilst skylarking through shenanigans
    at the home of the batty Brannigans,
    I indulged in some buffoonery
    by dabbling at cartoonery
    involving algebraic
    matters quite prosaic,
    followed by bits of boolery
    and other choice tomfoolery,
    until I make my exit
    muttering, “long live Brexit.”

  8. Marie, I so understand this poem… I am actually painfully shy… put me in with people I know barely, I go into wallflower mode, and with those I know… it is only a bit better…

    • So many can relate that it makes me feel like it should no longer come as a surprise. I’ve always felt like odd-man-out for being such an introvert, but I’m beginning to wonder if we are much more common and perhaps even the majority.

  9. Doors

    There are doors that go in
    Doors that go out and
    Doors that swing both ways

    Each door taken is a choice
    Each choice made is our own
    And all have consequences
    Some good and others not

    So choose each door wisely
    But choose nevertheless
    Or suffer stagnation
    Or suffocation

    Always remember the adage
    “When one door closes,
    Another door opens”
    In truth you have to open it
    If you can find it

    But what if there are multiple doors
    And only one is the right one
    Choose wisely
    The door that you choose to open
    May be your last

  10. Great use of the prompt, Walt and Marie! I enjoyed both your poems! So many directions to go with this one.


    And when is it time,
    To go
    When do we appear?
    Will they let us know?

    Is there a right moment?
    To exit
    A socially acceptable sign?
    Yes, wait a bit!

    Hesitating to enter
    Not knowing when to leave!
    We have to trust our exit,
    Like knowing what we believe!

    We can so easily enter,
    Into life’s circumstance
    But how do we navigate?
    Is it time to end the dance!

    Some exits have flashing lights!
    To guide us on our way,
    We know when something has ended,
    There is nothing more to say!

    We can enter at our own risk,
    Taking our own life by the hand,
    We just have to know where to go out,
    If we do, we’ll understand!

    Some signs aren’t so obvious,
    Like maybe an exit doesn’t exist
    Like entering our walk for the day,
    Might end in a blinding, heavy mist

    Maybe our timing to enter is slightly off,
    Maybe we should adjust our idea to depart,
    Or maybe we jump in with both feet,
    Surrendering to it, right from the start!

    (c) Janet Rice Carnahan 2021

  11. Exit Wounds…

    It has been a decade
    Since you decided
    You didn’t want me in your life.
    I accepted it…
    But the shot you made
    As you walked away
    More that bruised my heart.
    It caused my soul to bleed,
    And it has bled ever since…
    For you there were no exit wounds,
    For me it was a bloody mess.

    You reached out to me,
    And I know I should feel joy…
    But all I remember
    Is how you sullied my name
    And thought you were justified
    For surely you can’t be wrong.

    I know that I will reach back,
    But I am wary…
    For I know that
    I will say something you do not like.
    And you will leave me again
    With exit wounds
    That will bleed me out…

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    July 11, 2021

    My oldest nephew trashed me a year after my mother died. He told me I was to have no contact with his wife or his children. I tried once to reach out to him, and sent him a gift, and I got trashed even more. He has his problems… and I pray for him… He contacted me last week wanting to come down right now to visit… but he said, my children want to visit the farm…I told him i had plans and company until August. He would have to wait…I know I am strong enough to mend this, but I know I will be crushed again… He wants me to be moved out of my home so he can move in it. I can live here until I die. I just needed to express myself… I post most of my poems on fb but this one I will not because I know people who will tell him what I wrote.

    • Positive thoughts for you, Mary. Think you’ve expressed this tragedy well albeit painfully…. perhaps there’s true healing in the future. We all need a shot a redemption…

      • I Know this and I know he is not a soul that is saved, and I do love him.. Praying for wisdom and strength..

    • We must forgive others in order for God to forgive us. This sounds like a lesson your nephew needs to hear and heed. Sorry for your family struggle. We all have one or two of them if we look hard enough, I know I have and still do. Of course, even the act of forgiveness from one side is not always met with forgiveness from the other. That’s when it’s time to give it over to God and let Him handle it. Blessings.

      • Thank you Earl, and my brother who was mentally ill was his father…He has some of the signs of his father….

      • Thank you….This is one those times I have been wrestling with the Lord.. in the end, I will open my door to him and his family…but I know it will be stressful for me…

    • Sorry, my comment got misplaced…. Powerful. I felt this. I have family members in the same vein. Anytime I reach out to them there’s an wound inflicted. Sadly,I don’t reach out to them anymore.

      • I understand that and I wonder about his motives… I will reach out this time on my terms, meaning you visit when I say… and it is because of his kids and his wife… my poor nephew is so damaged, and he doesn’t see it…

    • Mary, sad to hear of this hurt in your heart, the healing seems to come so slowly when the wounds are so deep. Praying for a miracle of peace between you that doesn’t depend on either of you, but on the grace of God.

      • thank you… Yesterday I almost did not go to church but I did and the preacher talked about Jesus telling the woman who washed his feet with oil to go in peace… those words resonated with me, and have grown a little stronger…I try to remember that I am an instrument of His work. Not always easy…

  12. Marie, I so appreciate a short poem which says a lot. Walt, everything about yours is to be enjoyed…the content, the structure, the rhyming, the length, the choice of words. Magnificent, both of you.

  13. Sitting

    When one can not
    find an exit in the fog,
    one might pause,
    sit a bit in meditation,
    in quiet contemplation,
    to discover a singularity,
    the present moment’s clarity,
    or maybe just because.

    To survive the fog,
    one must be willing,
    like a blind dog,
    trusting itself, running
    headlong into the mist,
    accepting whatever comes,
    including this,
    the brilliant phosphorescence
    of a new way to see the world.

    To escape the pea soup
    of not knowing,
    one could make room for everything,
    the invisible, the showing,
    joy, grief,
    misery, relief.
    As a spider weaving a web,
    starting from nothing,
    grasping the difference
    between action
    and accomplishment.

  14. A WAY OUT

    The question is a way out,
    Of what?
    The easy road
    The road less traveled
    The straight route
    From here to there
    The fastest point from
    A to B
    Will we see something different?
    Will we be someone different?
    Will we glean a new perspective?
    Or just shift and change
    An old self-image
    Until we need the next way
    To move forward
    To move on
    To move back
    And then we wake up
    One day
    Expecting something new
    Something, someone, or ourselves
    we left behind,
    Only to find,
    We have effectively
    Just gone around in endless circles
    Trying to circle a square,
    Or a removing a knot,
    That was actually,
    Never there!

    (c) Janet Rice Carnahan 2021

  15. Grace

    I step from the trail believing
    myself well equipped for the foray
    boots to my knees and an eager gleam
    in my eye reflecting sun’s glare
    from purple black drupelets rising
    above insect-shredded triads
    raggedy green leaves already turning
    rusty orange cupping hands of red
    berries clustered around those perfect
    ones so ripe they lure you past
    sprawls of poison ivy and waist high brome
    where last night’s herd bedded in
    mashed whorls of grass no doubt sated
    on these tasty jewels so delectable a finish
    to their foraging in summer fields buck and doe
    alike able to pick their way past thorns
    and no doubt passing the skill along to
    spotted toddlers now dotting cooler woods

    but here hooked spines snagging skin better
    than burdock’s famous Velcro until
    intent on winning this war I tug
    at immature berries only now beginning
    to lose the rose glow that clearly shouts sour
    determined not to leave without something
    to show for my journey; move to wipe hands
    on my jeans only to find myself trapped
    by a thousand tiny teeth their ripping shred
    as I try to back out of this blackberry patch
    my entry so much more graceful than my exit.

  16. Two Doors

    His door is always open
    It has no lock or key
    The sign above it plainly states
    That what’s inside is free

    Free to all who walk through
    Of their own accord
    Of course there’s still the other door
    But that would be absurd

    We all must choose a door
    Before our final breath
    Which one determines where we’ll be
    After we’re put to rest

  17. The Front Door is Locked

    The front door is locked
    as I sit alone, stories in my head
    waiting to be told.
    My life is another page turned
    remnants of a song I sang last night,
    a keepsake on my table.

    I look out the window
    to where clouds and trees loom
    like a painting I once saw.
    A clock says it’s time to go,
    but visions linger.

    Weather forecasts on my cell,
    fortunes to be told,
    a trill of a songbird, then gone
    the call of the road,
    but not now.

    A friend now lost once said
    there’d be a lot of living to do
    even after she’s gone,
    a soft voice cracking with delight
    fire in her eyes.

    Kissed by memories
    I allow myself another moment
    before taking to the highway
    entrance and exit ramps
    panoramas passing before my eyes.


    The soundless tears exiting a suffering soul
    are its’s blood shed from wounds inflicted.

    They are never truly silent though, or inaudible,
    for they echo the screams of pain deep in the ravines.

    They are the toil of twisted emotion seeking an escape
    from the prison of the inner being.

    They are the hemorrhage and eruption of anguish,
    Volcanic ash—that people are now seeing.

    Benjamin Thomas

  19. The Interruption

    Stark naked
    on a folding
    cot, the couple’s
    lovemaking is
    interrupted by
    a pink-cheeked
    “Oh my, isn’t
    this the exit?”
    Male of couple,
    face flaming
    from being caught,
    as well as for
    Grandma’s mistake
    bellows, “Can’t you
    read the sign
    that says No Exit?”
    Pink cheeks firing
    up, the grandmother
    says, “I am close to blind.
    Your excuse is mistaking
    the No Exit sign for a


    Tears are transparent.
    They are the most genuine part
    of human nature.

    They show us exactly what is within,
    and without.

    They transmit rays of light
    to see through—mind, emotion will,
    allowing safe passage.

    Making visible the hidden
    seat of affection.

    They are the liquid sign,
    connection—of joy, fear, and grief.

    Benjamin Thomas

    a heavy door
    the hinges stiff
    it takes a grip
    upon the knob
    a shoulder’s thrust
    against the edge
    a shove of muscle
    mind and heart
    a will to leave
    a will to leave
    a want that’s deeper
    stronger than
    the room I’ve been in
    far too long
    the hinges stiff
    a heavy door
    © Damon Dean 2021

  22. My Exit…

    There were jokes about me
    At my office…
    I had been there so long
    I was dubbed “Moses caseworker.”
    Because I wore black on many days…
    My coworkers said I was witchy woman.
    I sometimes got called- the witch with a capital B
    From he ll…Angel had been taken by the other Mary…
    She really is an angel.
    I was tough, it didn’t mean I didn’t care.
    When I was handed a new case…
    I was informed it was a Mary Todd case
    Meaning nothing would be normal.
    But I heard the jokes that I would never retire…
    That they would find me dead at my desk…
    They didn’t know me…

    I had a dream…
    From the first time I put pen to paper
    I knew who I was in my soul…
    I was a poet and a writer…
    A wanderer, who listened
    To the wind blowing through the trees
    In the forest that is my home.

    This job I had had for nearly three decades
    Was a place of teaching for me.
    It was time for me to leave
    For I heard the wind speak to me.

    On my last day after my luncheon,
    My supervisor said,
    “You are not really going.”
    I smiled and said, “Watch me.”

    I made my exit from the work,
    That had consumed my life.
    It was in many ways a quiet exit…
    A cousin or two came to celebrate, and
    Two friends traveled far to be there.

    It was an end of an era…
    A coworker said to me…
    You succeeded in your work…
    She knew I wanted to be a writer,
    And she told me to give up my dream…
    I had had my success in life.
    She was a realist…
    I respected that for I was one too,
    But I had a dream, and I had to try.

    I heard her words.
    They froze me for a time,
    But then I remembered…
    I had made an exit to my job,
    But not to my life,
    And I had much more to give…

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    July 12, 2021

  23. There is no exit….

    You are in a room.
    You hear the fights-
    Every night,
    And see the results-
    Every morning.

    You are ten,
    And every loud noise
    Makes you jump,
    Expecting to hear
    A scream.

    Pretending to sleep
    And you heart races
    As you hear
    The door knob turn
    And then your bed creaks.

    The fear
    That is with you-
    Every waking- and
    Sleeping minute-for
    There is no exit.

    What freedom
    Would mean,
    If this was
    Your reality.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    July 12, 2021


    Sometimes, as they say in Spanish,
    “Prohibida la salida” there ain’t no exit;
    there is no off ramp on this road called life.

    There are no shortcuts to reach our journey’s end,
    or small mercies down the epic lanes of route 66,
    we just put the pedal to the metal, clambering down
    that mother road.

    The situation never gets easier, or old, as we take
    the grand tour around the hinterlands of hard times.
    We just tip our hats, let the suffering do its work.

    There is no exit when your young’un is a hungry,
    and he’s gunning for the breast with a vengeance.
    We just bide our time, let em’ drink til the cows
    come home.

    There is no exit when there’s no grub on the table neither.
    We gotta go the extra mile through blood, sweat, and tears,
    keep yer nose to the grindstone for them vittles, you see?

    But just between you and me—when the going gets tough,
    the tough keep going down that ol’ mother road,
    like we’ve been told, spankin’ that ol’ Route 66.

    Benjamin Thomas


    There is no way around—
    the great wall of a young fractured mind.

    There is no escape—
    when you’re the convict, your loved ones
    have ill-defined.

    There is no way through—
    the bunker you’ve built, solid over time.

    There is no getting over—
    normalcy’s hill, you always get to climb.

    There is no way under—
    the rapids of guilt, all joy seems to be a crime.

    There is no way out—
    survival mechanisms, methodically designed.

    There is no way past—
    the hurricanes of pain, they’re always in behind.

    Your life has been forecast—
    the interest is high, but your card has been declined.

    You’re stuck on a long rugged road—
    with potholes, but there is no exit sign.

    Benjamin Thomas

  26. finally… it came up allowing me to post… sort of fits with this poem….

    The Exit Sign Is not in View…

    Car wrecked and scratched
    Two weeks ago
    (Dealing with the others insurance is not fun,)
    My new air conditioning is broke,
    And I am broke since I bought it,
    And it will have to be replaced,
    My roof needs replacing,
    My oven has been broken for over a year,
    My dishwasher for even longer,
    I can’t make gravy worth a dam-n,
    Three of four ceiling fans are broken,
    A leak in a pipe, fixed, but
    Missed fixing the hot water pipe
    To my bathroom…
    For now, living is
    In a sauna and going to cool off
    In a near frozen river (I have a well)…
    My dryer decided that today it would break.
    My iron levels I know are getting low…
    Trying to decide whether-
    To let it get lower, so I get an iron infusion,
    Or take more iron in hopes I get better…
    How I wish-there was a device
    To test my iron each day
    To stay ahead of the game
    Instead of walking blind
    Hoping I am on the right track…
    Until I know I am not.
    When the dryer died,
    I cried,
    Because I am weary.

    But I have good friends, and
    Some dear relatives, and
    There is hope for some things changing-
    That is all I am saying, and
    I sent my novel series to the second agent,
    And I know that is a toss in the air,
    Until I find the right one…
    But I am trying…
    In the meantime, I write every day…

    This is the life I have.
    It is a gift…each day is a gift,
    And it is also a dance…
    This is the dance card
    I have been given,
    And the exit sign
    Is not in view…
    Give me strength
    Give me wisdom…
    I will get through this…

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    July 13, 2021

  27. Storms, not a reason to exit…

    My life has been a series of storms of late.
    It is like the end of the major storm
    That hit me a year ago…
    It has worn me down.
    It is chaos,
    And I prefer cosmos
    To chaos.

    I took a shore ride
    In yesterday’s sun
    To clear my head of the storms
    That were shaking my life
    Like a series of tornados.

    As I was driving home…
    I stopped on my driveway…
    Where the giant trees
    Were battered
    By the blows of a tornado
    A quarter century ago.
    I remember that night,
    And the destruction
    I saw the next morning…
    For I was sure my forest
    Would die.

    I was wrong.

    I stepped into the sunlight,
    And felt it dapple my skin.
    I looked at the tall giants,
    Damaged by that storm,
    But still standing.
    Strong, tall,
    Reaching for the light.
    It was peaceful…
    They were peaceful…
    Scars were there,
    For life often scars us.
    There was also life…
    Seeking out
    The good in the air,
    And the sunlight on their leaves
    Looking as a cathedral
    In an ancient gothic church.

    It is a holy place,
    My forest,
    For God walks
    In the gardens of His creation.
    There is cosmos
    In the gardens, and
    I found it as I stood there.

    I had wanted to give up
    And stop fighting,
    But looking at these tall giants…
    In the heart of my forest,
    I knew, storms are
    No reason to exit,
    Or to give up,
    But only give us strength
    To continue to reach for the light.

    I took a few photos,
    But knew they would never expose
    The cosmos of that moment
    As I stood with God
    In His cathedral
    Created by His love.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    July 14, 2021

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