Poetry Tow Truck 42: Life, the Universe, and Everything

42 is an interesting number.  It was the number of hours Juliet slept after drinking her potion. Alice in Wonderland has 42 original illustrations and rule number 42 requires that all mile-high people must leave court immediately. An episode of Doctor Who entitled “42” is shot in real time and lasts 42 minutes. And, most importantly, Douglas Adams chose the unassuming number as the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything in his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. So let’s try to write some poems based on this little number.

1.  Choose one, simple, unassuming word. Fork. Grass. Dog. Chair. Whatever you like. Then write a poem where this one simple word becomes the answer to a difficult problem or question.

2. If you are age 42 or older (I’ll never tell), write a poem about something memorable that happened during that year in your life.

3.  Be a modern-day Juliet. Without all the dying. Imagine that you sleep for 42 hours straight. When you wake up, what will you have missed? What part of your life will have passed you by while you slumbered? Use your imagination.

4. Doctor Who can time travel in the Tardis, his spaceship that takes the form of a police box. Write a list poem full of 42 things that you would do if you could time travel.

As this is the 42nd Tow Truck post, there are only ten more until the end of the year. At that time, I will be taking a break from the Tow Truck, leaving the archive active for anyone who hasn’t had a chance to try all 52 prompts it will contain. I would like to do a  weekly feature that perhaps is a bit different, as there are now many good sites that offer prompts for poets. If you have any suggestions, I am all ears. I have a few ideas, but I haven’t settled on any one thing as of yet.  Thanks! And happy writing.


9 thoughts on “Poetry Tow Truck 42: Life, the Universe, and Everything

  1. Aieeeee! But you are one of the best! And, no one has quite the imaginative slant your prompts have. Ah well. The tow truck will be sorely missed. But, it does take energy to come up with a weekly prompt. I’m still learning how to write a prompt and already I am panicking over how long I can go.

    I am curious to see what direction you take yourself.


    • Wow – that means a lot. But I am finding it more and more difficult to come up with something unique every week, and I don’t want to keep going and have the prompts just be “topic” prompts. I figure an archive of 52 Tow Trucks (many of them having more than one option) will still be a good resource for those looking for prompts. I am considering posting a poem every week that either has had some personal meaning for me or has taught me something about writing and perhaps offering a suggestion for writing based on the poem. What do you think of that idea?

      • I absolutely understand that. I may go through all fifty two prompts and study them for pointers.

        I like your idea very much. There are many writers visiting who need to take a maturational leap with their own writing. If you were to talk a little about why / how the poem works and then suggest something for readers to do based on the poem, that would be very different from anything going on the web now and should be fun for you.


  2. Woohoo!! So close to this goal of 52 prompts–incredible.

    One of my students wore a shirt to class yesterday that said “Don’t Panic and Carry a Towel,” in the style of “Keep Calm and Carry On.” So good….

  3. I understand why you’d quit while you’re ahead. Your prompts are good ones. That is no simple thing. The few I’ve tried to write–I can practically see people on the other end wrinkling their noses and scratching their heads. You, on the other hand, are quite nearly transparent, you’re so lucid.

    of the guides, televised, I
    liked the first best, but, but, but
    how can you beat Alan Rickman’s
    fatalistic robot? http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi2478899481/

    I’ve concluded that 42 (XLII) is actually another word for silly, and managed to carry that through Dr Strangelove’s OPE and Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, but
    can’t seem to get a poem out of it.

  4. You really are one of the best prompt-creators out there right now, and your challenges will be sorely missed! But looking forward to your continued activity in the blogosphere and what you have in store for the future…

    Meanwhile, an attempt: Weeds

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