GRE Haikus and Short Poems

I did something a bit different this week! (And my failure to get it up yesterday was a scheduling thing, not a depression, promise — cross my heart and all that!) So, I am studying for the GREs, which a number of MFA programs around the country still require despite the GREs being pretty irrelevant to most MFA programs. Potentially the most relevant bit to me as a writer is vocabulary — for the purposes of expanding my vocabulary, but also apparently because I realized I could use the words I didn’t know as prompts for haikus and short poems. I did this mostly to help myself remember what they meant by giving them a context that was meaningful to me, but hey — it also meant I was very poetically productive that day. 🙂 And this is only from the first word group — I intend to do this for the rest of the word groups as well.

For my other poets out there, I was curious if you might join me in utilizing these ridiculous words and their definitions as writing prompts to create something that maybe you wouldn’t have thought of before? It was certainly an interesting exercise, and there are a couple here that I might actually expand in the future because the ideas feel worth exploring further. Besides, I would absolutely love to see what other people were coming up with. If you decide to take up the GRE vocab prompt challenge, please feel free to leave a link to your prompt responses in the comments so I can visit them and give them a like, comment, whathaveyou. 🙂

Alacrity (noun) Eager and enthusiastic willingness.
We begin our lives
With such alacrity, then
Watch as it dwindles.

Approbation (noun) An expression of approval or praise.
We toil without an
Approbation, weary and
In filth, we toil on.


Axiomatic (adj) Taken as a given; possessing self-evident truth.
Argue if you will
Argue if you must.
Your force of ignorance
Is powerless
Against these axiomatic

Censure (verb) To criticize severely; to officially rebuke.
The small worker is
Censured in a dusty field.
His blood goes unseen.

Disabuse (verb) To undeceive; to set right.
She will disabuse
The wrongs he has done to her
With her sharpest knives.

Effrontery (noun) Extreme boldness; presumptuousness.
She acts unashamed
With effrontery, ready
To proposition.

Enervate (verb) To Weaken; to reduce in vitality.
Harsher words are thrown
To enervate us margins.
We won’t be silent.

Equivocate (verb) To use ambiguous language with descriptive intent.
Big men with big words
Speaking nebulous tones caught

Exculpate (verb) Exonerate or clear of blame.
You, my beloved.
Be you exculpated of
Your harsh history.

Exigent (adj) Urgent; pressing. Requiring immediate action or attention.
The fate of us, and
We, has become exigent.
A perilous time.

Fulminate (verb) To loudly attack or denounce.
Like Judas cry thee
Fulminate these, false prophets
Rising on false stars.

Inured (adj) Accustomed to accepting something undesirable.
Inured, I am now
Inoculated against
All your cruelest jests.


Irascible (adj) Easily angered; prone to temperamental outbursts.
In the kitchen
A spoon falls.
Clatter, on the floor.
Innocent enough.
But my father is
As though the world itself
Has turned its back on him
He begins to tear the kitchen down
Beam by beam and tile by tile
Cursing, screaming, waling all the while.


Nascent (adj) Coming into being; in early developmental stages.
Fetal, you call me sacred.
My life, it seems, more valuable than
The orphans and the children
In foster-care imprisoned.
And here you stand
More nascent than I
With your baseless signs
You are corrupt as this world
Corrupted by this world
And quiet, I know only warmth.
I wish not to be corrupted by this world.
Let me know only warmth.

Neologism (noun) A new word, expression, or usage; the creation or use of new words or senses.
No word here can fill
The writer’s whim. So behold:


Obviate (verb) To anticipate and make unnecessary.
Let us obviate
The risk of your opinion.
Turn now to the research
And statistics.
If you do not understand
Do not worry. You can hold my hand.

Paean (noun) A song or hymn of praise and thanksgiving.
I call your name, oh
My Lady, Sigyn divine.
Behold this humble
Paean in your name so fine.

Perfidy (noun) Intentional breach of faith; treachery.
The priest finds himself
Among shape-shifters, witches.
Smiling, sipping mead.

Perspicacious (adj) Acutely perceptive; having keen discernment.
Highly, I value
Those perspicacious few who
Speak aloud and true.

Prevaricate (verb) To deliberately avoid the truth; the mislead.
Return we now to
Equivocating men who
In seeking to fool
Have now laid bare their
Let us call it now
What it rightfully is, this
Fear-monger’s un-news.

Reticent (adj) Quiet; reserved; reluctant to express.
Reticent women
Are of high value, I hear.
To men preferring
The sound of silence to an
Intellectual challenge.

Solicitous (adj) Concerned and attentive; eager.
My love, I am here.
Solicitous, and tender
To soothe your nightmare.

Veracity (noun) Conformity to truth or fact; accuracy.
Veracity, the
Highest virtue in the world
Superstition bought.

Ingenuous (adj) Artless, frank, candid; lacking sophistication.
Ingenuous, they
Called her, for her sex and grin.
She knew more than them.

Perfunctory (adj) Cursory; done without care or interest.
Studying, I am
Perfunctory. My mind, it
Wanders wearily.

Extemporaneous (adj) Improvised; done without preparation.
The pilgrimage was
Extemporaneous. I
Was lost in green hills.


13 thoughts on “GRE Haikus and Short Poems

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