The great American short story writer Raymond Carver, in addition to his iconic body of work in the story form, wrote a fair number of poems. And many of these poems I’ve found to be excellent prompts, including (and especially) one entitled “The Car,” which can be found in a collection of Carver’s poetry entitled Ultramine.
Carver’s “The Car” begins like this:
The car with a broken windshield./The car that threw a rod./The car without brakes./The car with a faulty U-joint./The car with a hole in the radiator./The car I picked peaches for./The car with a cracked block./The car with no reverse gear./The car I traded for a bicycle./The car with steering problems./The car with generator trouble./The car with no back seat./The car with the torn front seat./The car that burned oil.
The poem goes on to list about thirty more things that the car has, is, or did. And ends with these two lines:
Car of my dreams./My car.
So, what I like to do is read “The Car” in its entirety and then choose another object (in place of the car) and mimic the form Carver’s uses in his poem, writing my own “Car” piece. I’ve found that doing so not only produces an extensive list of details but also, at times, due to the beautifully simple and freeing form of “The Car,” evocative details that hint at other stories or tell stories themselves.