2010 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 30

Today is the final day of the November PAD Chapbook Challenge. Or is it? I’ll post a wrap-up on the challenge tomorrow, but today is technically the final day of the initial poeming for this challenge. We still have all of December to collect and revise our November poems, slim our manuscripts down to 10-20 pages of poetry, and submit them (to me!). Again, I’ll share all the details tomorrow–or click here to see the basic guidelines.

(Also, usually we do a poetry prompt on Wednesday in non-challenge months, but I think we’ll skip tomorrow’s Wednesday Poetry Prompt. We’ll resume our weekly poeming on Wednesday December 8.)

For today’s prompt, write a lessons learned poem. If you’ve been writing to a certain theme, this poem might take a moment to step back and reflect on the BIG PICTURE. If you’re like me and couldn’t quite stick to one theme throughout the month, then this poem might be about real lessons learned (either this month or during your entire lifetime). Or you might just write a poem about going to school. Or to work. Or this blog. Or something else.

By the way, this is a “Two for Tuesday” prompt, so the opposing prompt would be to write a poem in which someone or something doesn’t learn their lesson. Or how they’re unable or unwilling to learn their lesson.

Here’s my attempt:

“Lessons learned living here”

Believe it or not, the world is getting
heavier and lighter at the same time.


Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer


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127 thoughts on “2010 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 30

  1. S.E.Ingraham

    Finally – I think this will catch me up!

    What Can we take Away From This

    So, after every class, this professor would sum up
    The material and glancing around the room he would
    Look over the top of his glasses and say, rhetorically

    “Let us review, think people, what is it that we can
    Take away from this?” Then, he would slap his folder
    Closed, nod at the students, check his watch and leave

    As always, there would be several long moments of quiet
    In the room; his was a popular class and he, a well-liked
    Instructor; his lessons were well-crafted and left them

    With much to think about, muse over and eventually
    Discuss, argue about, theorize and write essays on
    Years after the fact, they would meet each other

    The students that is, and recall fondly these classes
    And this professor and as they were parting would
    Call after, laughing, “what can we take away from this…”


    Lesson that Should have Been Learned but Was Not

    One would think after all that nastiness during the war
    You know that business with the concentration camps
    And the gas chambers and all those people murdered

    And that horrid little man, that Hitler character, remember
    He was said to have been a great speaker, charismatic even
    Him with his ideas on a perfect race and a final solution

    One would think that after all of that, the world would
    Have taken to heart the lessons taught and learned from
    Such atrocities perpetrated during that time and recorded

    For all on tape, in books, and film – also afterwards with
    Those oh-so-famous war-crimes-trials – it’s not like the
    Heinous acts went unremarked, the whole world knew

    One would think lessons such as these would be so
    Ingrained, so well-learned, there would be no danger
    Of repetition, and yet, there are unmistakable signs

    In fact, more than that, investigations are showing
    A resurgence of and proof too, that sects are forming
    Pockets of fascist organisations both in Germany

    And in the United States, plus other parts of the world
    Not just skin-heads either, but alarmingly, upper
    Middle-class types who are terrified of immigration

    But seem unable to think past any way but final
    Solutions to cope with their fear, are amassing and talking
    With Nazi fervour and intent –a lesson so soon forgotten

  2. Patti Williams

    I learned my lesson:
    Don’t believe a word he writes.
    When he says he will destroy me, that I’m just trash,
    Followed by I am beautiful, and he could never
    Live without me … well, they are all lies.
    I will not be destroyed by him or anyone else.
    I am Patti Bone Williams: writer, teacher, mother,
    Daughter, lover, friend, his ex-wife.

    Everyday I wake, go to my job and help.
    I am a part of the spin, then return to my
    Place to write, create, love, make dinners.
    And guess what?
    He is not invited.
    Because I will always be
    Patti Bone Williams: writer, teacher, mother,
    Daughter, lover, friend, his ex-wife.
    Lesson forever learned,
    At least by me.

  3. Yoly

    Another Journey into the Humanity of Things

    All I need is one stone and brilliant aim. It’s been done before.
    Because Goliath has brothers, they come at me too. It sounds
    so ordinary, though some common events carry little bombshells
    in them and strike adversity on the spot where list of names are stored.
    My head spins like it is three full glasses of Caymus deep, but the heart
    is clear on what it will do and begins to flood with its own saliva. I have
    three in my pocket and one drying stone a 1/4th the size of my hand:
    microscopic compared to the danger of losing it all. It carries the weight
    of bedtime-prayer-gone-to-groan, tightly threaded qualms, prophetic words,
    rechargeable faith, cathedral-range dreams, and lessons-about-to-be-found-out.

  4. Mike Bayles

    Snow Will Fall

    In every summer a winter hides
    in every silence a memory,
    and after an hour with friends
    I walk alone out into the snow.
    A frigid wind is conversation stilled,
    and I feel dead and alive
    at the same time.
    The gray afternoon
    promises dark night
    in all its clarity
    speaks of impermanence
    while winter’s descent
    wishes summer time.

  5. Jeanne Rogers

    November 30, 2010


    Lessons learned
    bridges burned
    this one dies
    that one cries

    over spilt milk the story goes

    which only shows
    that rosemary grows
    if thyme stands still
    against our will

    once in a blue moon

    it’s ill-advised
    can’t turn the tide
    apostles slept
    Jesus wept

    for a month of sundaes

    Peter Piper a peck to pick
    Pied Piper his heels did kick
    and pranced out of town
    sure gets around

    and the tales were sure to follow.

  6. Dennis Wright

    Lessons Learned

    Poetry is the mother.
    Zen is the father.

    I am the one who plants
    And walks, and suffers.
    Then I laugh and then
    walk some more.

    My rhythms move
    back and forth,
    left and right,
    just like my feet.

    Brothers and sisters
    are bound to arrive.

    Lessons Not Learned

    How to get from here
    to there just like the
    young bright creek that
    flows by the school yard.

  7. AC Leming

    Gah, been writing but unable to post until today…


    Blame the snow
    for hiding the rock within
    the snowball

    Natalie threw
    in second grade, fowling my
    taste for snowball

    fights forever.
    Childhood memories rear up
    at odd times.

    Sometimes they
    haunt you until you write them
    down, write them

    out on paper,
    white as snow
    before your lost innocence.


    Blame the snow
    for hiding the rage lodged
    within the girl

    who looks at
    the small village around her
    and sees nothing

    to give her hope
    that she will escape.
    Can she escape

    the hate she carries
    packed tight in the chambers
    of her heart.


    Purge the rage,
    cold as ice.

    Empty the heart
    of sorrow.

    Melt the snow
    packed within it’s chambers.

    Let healing take hold.
    Let smiles replace wary looks.

    Leave the memories behind,
    far enough to break their destructive hold.


    You ask me what I’ve learned,
    what lesson my childhood served me.

    I can’t tell you that now.
    Maybe I will, someday,

    when I’ve written and rewritten
    my life out on paper,

    bled out red ink
    like blood on snow.

    Maybe the lesson is
    that I will never be through;

    I will always have to carry
    the child I once was
    safe within my grown up heart.

  8. Taylor Graham


    Out here, it’s cool on every side
    of the pillow, assuming you’ve got one –
    shirt rolled up in your levi’s, plastic bag
    of socks, bandannas, dollar bill.

    Forget that dormitory where they truck
    “transients” every evening, feed ‘em
    what they ought to eat; turn out
    their lights. Too hot on every side.

    Here, we’ve got Henry’s fiddle
    that sang a soldier’s tale in Symphony
    Hall, long-time ago. Here, the stars
    come out to listen to him play.

    And Karl with his Big Easy
    trumpet not quite washed away –
    I ask you, in a world of changing
    climates, what is cool?

  9. Hannah Gosselin

    My friend, Marie.You could NEVER tarnish any space. Even your hurt resounds with love. I’m sorry that things have been difficult for you and yours, know that you’re always in my prayers. You’ve not missed me Marie, I’ve only just posted here today. The urge to reconnect and write was too strong to ignore today. Huge hugs and blessings to you Marie!!

    Big smiles,

  10. Hannah Gosselin

    Pearl! Extremely moved and humbled by this beautiful piece you’ve honored me with! I am without words to exclaim how loved this makes me feel. BIG hugs and smiles back to you, Pearl. 🙂

  11. PKP aka Pearl Ketover Prilik

    Just returned with a big hug for Hannah… welcome back! So happy that you let me know that you decided to take a little walk on the street today.

    What I ‘ve Learned About The Street Without Hannah

    There dandelions have sat out the dances
    the gentle croaking of frogs on
    lily pads have been
    the butterflies folded their
    waiting for
    to return
    with word
    from the
    Natural World

    What I Haven’t Learned

    to not miss
    the gentle
    voice of
    Hannah whispering
    laughing, savoring
    her song of life

  12. Marie Elena

    At times, it is best
    that I, instead, abstain from
    tarnishing white space.

    Hello to all my poet friends! Thank you all for the kind thoughts and prayers that have drifted my direction over these last few weeks. I can only imagine that is due in most part to my PArtner’s prompting. (Bless you, Walt). We’ve had a rough go of it, but life is good, regardless.

    I see that I’ve missed out on my Sweet Hannah! Bummer to the max! But I’ll look forward to catching up on reading in the near future.

    Thank you, Robert, for another great November. I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to participate as fully as I would have liked.

    Blessings to all of you!

  13. Hannah Gosselin

    On another more depressing kind of note…


    One child learns
    upon his cry
    hope of nourishment
    nurturing; unconditionally.

    Another child learns
    despite his cries
    of hunger and longing;
    echoes of empty promise.

    Both children deserving
    born for the same purpose
    to love and be loved.
    Never should one go


    Written by Hannah Gosselin © 2010

  14. Sam Nielson

    A New Sheet of Paper

    We think, we mull, we try to figure
    Out our portion of time.
    We write a critical poem
    A history of our mind.
    We do so quite carefully
    To not ever forget
    The important parts, and
    Try to make sense of the jet-sam
    Of gathered things our feet
    Find as we cross that lush
    Moist and green meadow
    Towards the sun.

    Each word captured
    Milks its venom or balm.
    We write with dark colored
    Pen so our efforts remain calm,
    And visible in the whiteness after us.
    We leave edges, margins between
    Which we tread, time ticking
    The steps, the storm’s sheen
    Dictates how straight the course.
    Our space we find already used
    Perhaps eloquently and necessarily
    In bright fat red crayon.

    Our lot leans towards knowing
    That the sameness of the syntax,
    The same 26 letters for us writes,
    Not new, maybe different things
    Within our own score on that exam
    At the end of breath.

  15. Pat Jourdan

    My thanks to every one of you for an amazing insight into poetry – and your true selves.
    It has been a valuable lesson in humility.
    Among so many gifted writers, my favourite was Taylor Graham, whose pieces were like compressed novels.
    So many different ways of being beautiful -you were all like a field of wild flowers.And now we have the chapbooksto look forward to….

  16. Hannah Gosselin

    Okay, so leave me a little space to look messy and unrevised here but I NEEDED to write a poem. The first in months!


    He’s learning
    her loving touch,
    her caring smile,
    her gentle way.

    He’s learning
    to find his voice
    use his smile.
    His liquid laughter

    dances in my ears
    reverberates in my soul
    stirs my Spirit
    to heights anew.

    She’s learning
    to love unconditionally.
    She’s learning
    it’s happy to love.

    Written by Hannah Gosselin © 2010

    Dedicated with love to my beautiful boys.

  17. Bruce Niedt

    I echo Nancy’s sentiment: I wish there was more time to read and comment this past month, but most days, especially toward the end, I barely had time to write a poem, and started running a day or two behind. But I made it – more than 30 poems this month. Maybe I’ll have some time to review and browse now that there’s a sligt lull in the holiday season. This is indeed a great community, and I can count on reading quality work on a daily basis. I have my favorites (and you probably know who you are) but there is a wonderful diversity, camaraderie and sense of community that’s hard to find elsewhere. You’re a bunch of great people. Time to put together a chapbook!

  18. Hannah Gosselin

    Wow!!!! I’ve SO missed this! I thought I’d stop in on the last day of the challenge and read some poems. Actually my heart has been being called to write and read all this long time I’ve been in "Mama land," with the new baby and toddler!

    To ALL I can’t even begin to comment individually, but know that I was SO pleased to see new names, familiar voices and friends who actually missed me (thank you W.W.). I look forward to getting comfortable in this "new’ transition of life and making "poem time!"

    Happy writing and BIG smiles to ALL!

    P.S. Thank you to all and anyone who has congratulated me on the new baby. I haven’t had a chance to read them but I appreciate it greatly!

  19. PKP aka Pearl Ketover Prilik

    Ahhhhhh… back already… must say WELCOME AND APOLOGIES to the new faces on the street who I tried to welcome and have been a magical delight… It is truly wonderful, I do believe, that this site has become so large that it is difficult to mention each wonderful poet by name… your words and voices linger along with the glow of the vivid and unique images you have brought… THANK YOU!

  20. PKP aka Pearl Ketover Prilik

    Happy that I peeked in a day late… Robert just simple, succinct and wise… a lovely poem… incidentally Chev yours did strike a chord like a chime ringing to bring this month to a sweet-poignant note…

    I am getting around to reading the novel that I wrote for the NaNo challenge, a task which just flew from the Kaitlin poems. I must give credit to this wonderful "street’ and these last few years freeing up my writing by daily exercises in the presence of wonderful poets and a truly challenging and supportive community.

    Thanks today to Janet for your always kind words, you are a delight and balm to the heart.

    Thanks to RC for today as always leaving me with a smile.

    To MiskMask you are welcome.. in so many ways… hope to see you on Wednesdays!

    Thanks to Walt, for a winding ride filled with all sorts of concrete, abstract, clear and abstract images.

    To this wonderful street where words have shifted to reveal the faces of SE Ingraham and Amy, and Barbara, and Clauds, Linda, Beth, Sal, Bruce,Nancy J., Nancy P., Sara Gwen and Sara M.,Sara V., De, Daniel, Joseph, Patricia, Khara, Chev, Margaret, Karen, Sheila D., Constance, and Laurie my cardinal during NaNao…… and oh my I now know how those folks feel when they stand up somewhere trying to speak with a full heart and feeling those who have come to mean so much to them and who will invariably in the rush of such intense emotion be felt but perhaps not mentioned. To ALL, who have inspired, chided, applauded, criticized, challenged and been moved along this street by me, and with me…(or perhaps even in spite of me…lol)

    Happy end of November PAD and thank you Robert, for providing the prompts that pave this street with gold.

  21. PKP aka Pearl Ketover Prilik

    Lessons Learned

    What is lost is never gone
    but simply waiting energized
    by the purity of patience
    and belief in the
    never land of undiscovered

    Lesson Not Yet Learned

    Calm, unhurried patient acceptance
    that what is lost is never gone
    but simply waiting in the
    ever land of undiscovered
    potentiality either to return
    or to continue to fly free in
    the kingdom on potentiality

  22. Jacqueline Hallenbeck

    Everyone, I feel like a freshman in a room full of senior poets (and I don’t mean old). My brain is fried, but we made it. Yay! ^^
    Robert, you make me write (and sometimes I come up with a few good gems). For that, I thank you tons.
    Walt, no need to thank me. You are so good I trip just trying to catch up.
    YPG (your poetic groupie).


  23. Bruce Niedt

    What I Have Learned from November

    Weather changes quickly – dress for the future.
    No other month owns sunsets like this one.
    We live in a great country:
    even those who don’t vote have the right
    to complain about their government.
    Hate war, love the veteran.
    Thanksgiving is a compound word –
    be thankful, and be giving.
    Black Friday builds character.
    Writing every day, even through holidays,
    can be a chore. Slog through it.


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