This poetry prompt is based on "Today I Didn't," a poem by Terry Ehret from her book Lost Body. As you can quickly see, it's a structure in which you describe what-is by describing what-isn't. This example by a boy in juvenile detention is about a dozen years old, but I still remember the powerful voice.
I didn’t wake up when I felt it was a good
time. Today I didn’t wake up in my comfortable
bed. Today I didn’t eat what I wanted to
didn’t go to McDonald’s and order
a large orange
juice and two hash browns.
Today I didn’t smoke a
satisfying Marlboro Light. I didn’t go to Stop-N-Go
and beg the clerk to
sell me a pack of cigarettes.
didn’t watch TV. I didn’t watch X-Files
or The Simpsons. Today I didn’t
wear a nice shirt. I
didn’t wear my
favorite Gap or Polo shirt. Today I
relax on my hammock and swing back and
forth while getting dizzy. I didn’t listen to the radio
and find the
similarity between the song and
experiences in my life. Today I didn’t drive to the
mall. I didn’t pick up my friends. I didn’t even
hang out with my friends.
I didn’t curse out the staff. I didn’t
get upset over their demands.
I didn’t get upset
over their comments.
Today I didn’t go to Special
Class because I didn’t do any of the above,
would cause me to go. I didn’t sit
in an isolated
room for thirteen hours.
I didn’t feel as if I were
about to die of boredom. I didn’t throw a chair or
table due to
receiving a black mark. I didn’t get
slammed against the walls, on the floor, not even
against tables, or in better
terms, get restrained. I
handcuffed to the door of the Special
I didn’t get hog-tied and thrown into Time
Out. I didn’t cry out of my fury. I didn’t cause any
problems that would have
caused me to spend my
46th day in the Special Room. Today I didn’t have a
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