NaPoWriMo Day 5 for April 5, 2016

April 4, 2016

“End with an image and don’t explain.”

Stanley Kunitz

DAY 5  – NaPoWriMo Prompt for  April 5, 2016 

Welcome to Day 5 of the NaPoWriMo challenge.  Use these prompts to inspire you to write a poem each and every day of April.

Write a ‘Don’t Ask’ poem.

In the book The Clouds Should Know Me By Now – Buddhist poet monks of china, editors Red Pine and Mike O’Conner write about Don’t Ask Poems.  A fifteen poem series called Don’t Ask was written in 921 by Chi’i-chi after he was appointed to head a temple called Lung-hsing-ssu in Chiant-ling Hupei.   In Chinese the poems are in five character regulated verse and begin with the words mo wen or Don’t Ask.

In English they become 8 line poems.  Two line set-up, followed by 4 lines of ‘the teaching’ followed by two personal lines.

An example from 921 (first in the series)

Don’t ask if I’m out of touch with human affairs:

Kings, marquises — I leave all to them now.

Boorish by nature, no harm if I let it show

the way I did when I lived in the mountains.

In quiet moments I enter the soundless music,

in my madness reject properly ordered poems.

I act for myself, look after myself,

hoping the man in charge will understand.


An attempt by me (Chris Jarmick)

Don’t ask me about the ending

If you need to know . . . watch the movie.

Passing curiosities are like melting ice,

changing from one state to another.

Value found only by taking action.

Do something other than take up space.

Once you have seen the movie’s ending

let us commiserate; share our thoughts.

Now it is your turn. . .

For those living anywhere near Western Washington you might want to look at the new Poetry Day of the Week page that you’ll find in the upper right corner under PAGES.   A couple of times this month you may also find my Poetry Northwest announcements in between the NaPoWriMo posts.

If you post the poems on your blog or anywhere using this prompt… send me a link.



My Day 3 Prompt Poem (pick a Tarot Card….ekphrastic)

A Fool?

By Christopher J. Jarmick

True story, I must confess.

The sun bright and warm

She dares me to wear a dress

bright yellow boots too.

Grab a bindle stick.

Go for a walk.

Get lost in the woods.

“Look up,” she says,

“Now do a little jig step for about ten paces.”

I trust her,

Head up into blue spaces

I dance and laugh

“I shall go for ten more!”

“No,” she yells.

I turn around


“I am silly, miss.

but no complete fool”

Says she:.

“Prove it with a kiss.”


  1. I sure do like the “Don’t ask” prompt, as well as your explaining the tradition behind it. The imperative makes for an urgent, close-up voice in the resulting poems. Thank you for posting these, Chris!

    • Thank you. I was just recently made aware of the book and the form and thought it worth sharing.

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