2010 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 17

Personal note: I had the prompts for this challenge figured out about a month before we started this challenge. We’re 17 days into the challenge now, and I think I’m finally figuring out my theme for the month–for my own poems. We’ll see what I come up with during the final 13 days, but I may finally know what I’m trying to do. Or not.

The point I’m trying to make is that I’ve been contacted by quite a few poets who haven’t figured out a theme for their poems. I’ve let them know one-by-one that a theme is optional for this challenge. After all, I created the prompts, and I’m just now “maybe” striking upon a theme.

The main goals of this challenge are to poem and to have fun. If you’re doing those two things, then you’re having a successful challenge.


For today’s prompt, take the phrase “Tell me why (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write the poem. Possible titles could include: “Tell me why 1+1=2,” “Tell me why I’m wrong,” “Tell me why my hand always gets stuck in the Pringle’s container,” etc. Get silly; get serious; get poeming!

Here’s my attempt:

“Tell me why we get lost”

Even the dead know when to quit trying,
so my father waits for the world to end,
because this life is all about dying.

My father believes, so he’s not lying:
He speaks of orbs, the messages they send.
Even the dead know when to quit trying;

they know when living’s too death defying.
I can’t see them, but I hear the sirens,
because this life is all about dying.

I used to care; there used to be crying,
but after a while he’s hard to defend–
even the dead know when to quit trying.

What father’s selling, I won’t be buying.
His mind is buried in its own coffin,
because this life is all about dying.

Brother worries, but I’m only sighing,
“What will father do if the world won’t end?”
Even the dead know when to quit trying,
because this life is all about dying.


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14 thoughts on “2010 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 17

  1. S.E.Ingraham

    As I try to get caught up – I’m assuming these are poems that got wiped out accidentally – hope I’m doing the right thing by reposting mine …

    Tell Me Why Oh Why Oh Why

    I watch you baby boy as you stumble to the door
    Sobbing as if your heart is truly about to break
    Apart; you are screaming hysterically once you
    Get there and shaking your wee head like a much
    Older person, as if in disbelief, you try to fit your
    Chubby baby fingers between door and jamb
    An impossibility but you keep at it – you know
    Your parents, but especially your mama, went out
    That door just minutes ago and you heard the outer
    Screen door slam shut as well, a sound that sets
    You off all the time these days

    The doctor says he thinks you are experiencing
    Night terrors and extreme separation anxiety
    I am not sure what I think – neither of my children
    Suffered like this and I feel so helpless in the face
    Of your pain; I pick you up to try and comfort you
    And you arch your back and stare at me with so
    Much “why?” in your baby blues it is like being
    Sprayed with pepper spray or at least how I
    Imagine that might feel

    You shake your head at me and strain your arms
    Toward the door again – your mother has warned
    Me of this behaviour so I knew it might happen,
    Would happen, I guess – I just didn’t want to believe
    It; I decide to try and distract you – take you to your
    Room, dump out the toys, and all your books – you
    Love books – you look at me like I have lost my mind
    And I see more “whys” as you raise your eyebrows
    Looking the very picture of your Dad, sceptical except
    For the huge tears and the unchecked sobs, your throat
    Growing raspier each second from so much screaming

    I ask you if you would like some juice and finally
    You look interested in something; take the big-boy
    Sippy cup, grab your blanket, glare at me as if
    I am the betrayer of all betrayers and climb up
    Beside your Grandpa on the couch, lay your head
    On his lap, sling your cup back like a real boozer
    Close your eyes and proceed to pass out.

  2. AC Leming


    Tell me
    (you hate me)
    Tell me why
    (you berate me)
    Tell me why
    (you denegrate me)

    I’m born
    (pinky white)
    clothed in skin
    (purple from cold)
    in these bitter wates

    Tell me why
    I’ve done you no wrong
    (brought here all unknowing)
    besides living
    (in your space)
    (your air)

    Tell me why
    (you hate me)
    the sins of my forefathers
    (never committed)
    against your people
    your pride
    (living on handouts)
    your way of life
    (no longer nomadic)

    Tell me why
    (you hate me)

  3. Kyhaara

    Tell Me Why Philosophy Matters:
    Philosophy is the can opener of the mind,
    Cutting through a firm wall and exposing
    New thoughts into the air.
    “Why am I here?” you may wonder
    And then ask yourself:
    “Why is there a universe?”
    Philosophy is not about answers,
    But about the questions, the “why”s
    Posed to the world around us.

  4. Megan

    Tell me why in a month of chaos
    When my mind is blank
    I struggle for a few words
    To call my own

    When my mind is blank
    I hang onto a kernel of inspiration
    To call my own
    To share ideas

    Calling my own
    Time to be free
    To share ideas
    To breathe

    Time to be free
    I put this aside
    To breathe
    Then focus again on your unfocused mind

    Tell me why in a month of chaos
    I put this aside
    Then focus again on your unfocused mind
    I struggle for a few words

  5. Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    Tell Me Why Again
    by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    Tell me why again, do you wish this to be over?
    Have I not passed each test you’ve thrown my way?
    Did I not prove my strength, my loyalty?
    Why do you think me so cruel?

    There was a time when you liked my cat-like prowess,
    said it made you feel loved, protected, insane
    said it all excited you, cloak and dagger, fang and claw
    said it made you feel powerful, Mafioso, above the law.

    Both friend and enemy loathe you now,
    kiss your ring hand out of fear and respect,
    lower their eyes whenever my sleek form pass.
    wait for the day we’re put in the ground.

    Take a good look at this vast kingdom I’ve given you,
    know it’s too late to take it all back now.
    Blood has been drawn in your name on this paper, my love
    so tell me why again, do you wish this to be over?

    © 2010 by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

  6. Sam Nielson

    Tell Me Why

    Tell me why
    The white of clouds
    Can mute so to brooding black
    Or the restless wind leaves
    And sun’s warm fingers
    Need closed eyes.

    Tell me how
    The rush of river water
    Against your legs can slow
    The beat of time, each
    Tick a longer tug
    At skin.

    Tell me what
    Does it mean when
    Two crows fly silently
    In the blue sky when
    A bush of sparrows
    Chatter on.

    Tell me where
    A badger digs home
    Under a layered bone
    Of earth rises, or a
    Mule deer curls up
    Nose to flank.

    Tell me why
    Stars shine brighter
    In the fresh dark air
    After a passing rain
    Has done its sweet

    Tell me when
    The long dark field
    Moans a sweeter rest
    Under starlight that
    Winks slowly into
    The low hills.

    Tell me please
    Who can trod a
    Pretty trail in pines along
    A canyon rim and not
    Smile into the dusk.

  7. Yoly

    Tell Me Why We Must Walk in Someone’s Shoes to Feel How They’re Laced

    The window had her by the top right corner
    when I saw her move in my direction. She said
    the purple chrysanthemums and yellow dandelions
    were love-bites, but all over her arms?

    This time her hair hung in a loose braid
    with red wiry strands. The large t-shirt
    and jeans on her gaunt frame made the fabric
    wave like flags from a country of one.

    Torn black converse seem to hiccup
    as she disappeared from my watch.

  8. Rosemary Nissen-Wade

    Apparently many comments have gone missing. All my posts are also on my poetry blog (click on my name below). And perhaps I am lucky to be running late!

    Tell Me Why

    Why do you still think of Bali
    after all these years?

    Love is the answer to every question
    and this one too. I fell intensely in love
    with the place as you might a person.

    Why did you burst out crying
    so often on that first visit?

    As Bill said at the time, understanding first:
    it was the Indian in me. I was seeing
    memories of my grandparents’ house —
    bowls, carvings, vases, jewellery….

    And after your third visit, why did you sob
    uncontrollably, all the way home on the plane?

    I knew I would never return to Bali,
    never be with my love again. I was right.
    Life has a way of cancelling our plans.
    And now it’s too late; my Bali is dead.

    Why are you writing so many poems
    on your Bali? Why not let go?

    I am old at last, and selecting
    what is precious out of my tiny life.
    I offer the essence to God, and I feast.

  9. alana sherman

    Tell Me Why They Have To Take Down Trees

    The ancient ficus rubiginosa
    is required by the council, who deem its old
    twisting limbs and roots “at risk of failure”
    to be replaced with a “more advanced species.”
    From where I sit across the park
    it looks healthy enough. A woman
    is in its shade, she has her shoes off
    and she rises and sits in the rhythm
    of prayer. Parrots and crested pigeons
    fly to and leave the tree’s knobbly branches.
    The tree swirls in the breeze.
    The woman’s hands cover her eyes
    and she bows her head. It is clear
    she has been watching me as I have been
    studying her. And I realize she is crying.

  10. Susanne Barrett

    I shouldn’t let the kids watch Paranormal State while I try to write….

    tell me why
    tell me why he creeps
    ensnaring minds,
    entrapping souls,
    bent on stolid destruction
    of all that is holy and good.

    he entered this world made his
    through a decision eons ago
    when a serpent hissed
    into her ear
    and she listened
    and acquiesced
    and tempted another
    and they blamed one another
    and they blamed the serpent
    but they never blamed themselves.

    he crouches at the door
    to deface
    to devour
    to destroy
    to enter the weak and
    swallow them whole,
    leaving behind not a crumb.

    do not succumb.
    you may bend, perhaps, but do not break.
    you are hedged by the Light
    that glimmers in dankest night–
    brightening as Grace approaches.

    sorry–very rough….

  11. Bruce Niedt

    Let’s try again:

    Tell Me Why I Can’t Get Started

    It’s almost midnight
    and I haven’t revved my engine.
    I got a prompt for my key
    and turned the ignition
    but all I got was a whine,
    a sputter and shudder,
    as bad as any sub-zero morning.
    The brain won’t turn over –
    maybe I need antifreeze
    (make that a few antifreezes)
    or some new spark plugs.
    Maybe I should read
    that manual again.
    Or I could write about writing,
    use some clever auto metaphors.
    Call it "cars poetica".


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