What Is a Paint Chip Poem?

Once again, I am offering a kind of free write this week. We are in the P section of the poetry dictionary and I decided to go with an easy one. I might stay in the P section again next week and go with something more challenging, because there are a lot of fun entries that begin with P. But for this week, the entry I chose was poem.

I know, it seems like a bit of a cop out, but I thought it would be good to focus on the definition of poem that John Drury offers, with the help of some well-known poets:

POEM (Greek, a “made thing”) A text or verbal composition, often written in lines, whose language is compressed and resonant and which conveys an experience, an emotion, or simply an aesthetically pleasing arrangement of words. Samuel Taylor Coleridge defines a poem as “that species of composition, which is opposed to works of science, by proposing for its immediate object pleasure, not truth; and from all other species (having this object in common with it) it is discriminated by proposing to itself such delight from the whole, as is compatible with a distinct gratification from each component part.” John Crowe Ransom says that a poem is “a loose logical structure with a good deal of local texture.” William Carlos Williams defines a poem as “a small (or large) machine made of words.” According to Wallace Stevens, “Every poem is a poem within a poem: the poem of the idea within the poem of the words.” As Robert Frost says, “It begins in delight and ends in wisdom.”

the poetry dictionary, pg. 215-216

The Challenge

My challenge to you is to write a poem that conveys an experience or an emotion, or that is simply your beautiful arrangement of words to convey whatever you like. You can either pick one word and flesh out what it inspires in you, or use at least five of the seven paint chip words offered today. Bonus points for using all seven.

The paint chips I picked today are pearly gates, habanero, mud, pins and needles, breezy, quicksand, and indigo.

It’s an odd selection, I admit, and few seem to go together. Although I can certainly see mud and quicksand showing up in the same poem.

My Poem


A deep indigo zephyr ruffles my hair
Warm muddy sand between my toes
Foam of refreshing waves washes my feet
I sink almost as if in quicksand but not too deep
A breezy paradise sun toasts my skin
Only beyond the pearly gates is peace deeper
Than this seaside Hawaiian paradise

Your Turn

Now it’s your turn to write a paint chip poem, any style, using at least one of the words and phrases. You can share it in the comments, or if you have your own blog or website, you can share it there and drop a link in the comments. I would appreciate it if you would include a link back here to share this prompt with your readers. The more poets the more poems we’ll have to enjoy.

I am a Jesus Freak, and I don't care who knows it. I am a wife, mother, sister, aunt, daughter, and friend. My blood family is only part of the larger family of Christ that I belong to. I love to write, especially about my dear Savior.


22 Responses

  1. Coming off April’s 30 days, 30 poems added to my 3 weekly, this may be a little strange, but I get it.

    Sharp Edges

    I learned to separate pins and needles
    One has an eye while the other a head
    One holds the fabric and one pulls the thread
    Be careful to harmonize, don’t homogenize the two
    Quicksand lies still till its victims accrue
    But who can resist an indigo sky?

  2. Here’s a first version.


    There’s quicksand by the pearly gates
    for those who wander off the way,
    who love the breezy, sleazy mud.
    The pleasure pops – another dud.
    On pins and needles – one more play.
    “Let’s try again!” And there they stay.

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