April PAD Challenge: Day 7

After we finish today’s poem, we’ll be a full week into April. Go us!

Today is our first “Two for Tuesday” prompt of the month. On these days, I offer two prompts. Don’t worry: You don’t need to write a poem for each prompt (but you’re more than welcome to if you feel up to the challenge).

Prompt #1: I want you to write a clean poem. Take this however you wish. Clean language, clean subject matter, or cleaning the dishes. Of course, some twisted few will automatically link “cleaning” with hired hitmen. That’s okay, as long as your poem is somehow linked to clean.

Prompt #2: I want you to write a dirty poem. Take all that stuff I wrote in the first prompt and twist it upside down. The opposite of clean is dirty; so, do what ya gotta do to produce a dirty poem. (Gosh, I hope this challenge doesn’t get too messy as a result.)

Here’s my attempt for the day:


They always start clean. Two
bodies side-by-side. Arm
draped over hip, voices
whispering about dreams
they did or did not have
the night before. And then,
things always seem to work
out in such a way that
the sheets are on the floor
and both need a shower.


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1,081 thoughts on “April PAD Challenge: Day 7

  1. JL Smither


    If she could, she would
    spend her life naked
    in a steaming tub
    with a book, a cool glass
    of white wine, and soft
    music. Some fluffy, crackling
    bubbles, the heavy scent
    of artificial lavender, a few
    sputtering tea lights.
    This is where she was most in love.


    He races out the door, through the rain,
    to chase a robin he has no chance
    of catching, and skids to a stop
    in a low part of the yard
    where the grass hasn’t yet taken root.
    Mud splashes up over all four
    paws, and he sits down in the puddle.
    He picks up an old stick, shakes it
    vigorously, and runs. In his excitement,
    he slips in the mud and scrapes
    his chest through the mud. He stands up,
    shakes, and runs to the back door to be let back inside.

  2. Lissa


    Ever since we met,
    we’ve been tumbling through
    cycles in my skull
    vividly dancing
    sometimes light and floating
    other times damp and heavy
    rising and falling in rhythm

  3. Linda H.

    Send it away

    I wanted to put the food in
    an envelope and send it away.
    All those scraps of liver, balls of
    brussel sprouts, globs of oatmeal.
    I wanted to send it off
    and be rid of it.
    Every tiny pale green lima bean,
    each stinky marinated sardine.
    I wanted to send it off to them.
    Good-bye, venison stew!
    Good-ridddance, split pea soup!
    I wanted to send it off to those
    starving kids in Africa to
    punish them.
    After all, it was all their fault.
    My parents said so.
    Each time I grumbled I
    didn’t like my dinner, they
    would scold, "Clean your plate.
    There are starving children in Africa."
    And I’d eat up, forcing each
    forkful down, each swallow
    moving less readily down
    my throat, heavy like a
    million pebbles in my belly.
    Now well-fed and grown, I
    finally sent that envelope today–
    dinner sent in the form of
    a check, hoping it reaches
    it’s destination, that it
    makes it to their poor
    grumbling bellies.

  4. Amanda Caldwell

    Cleaning under the dining room table

    Today I mowed down a dustbunny
    bigger than any I’d ever seen in real life.
    I had a moment of regret
    as the vacuum sucked it away
    that I hadn’t taken a picture,
    a memento of my neglect.
    As if I need clutter
    to remind me of clutter.

  5. K.E. Ogden

    K.E. Ogden
    April 7, 2009
    Prompt: Clean & Dirty

    "Why muck and conceal one’s true longings and loves [. . .]”—Everett Ruess

    1. Sinless

    There are the tomatoes, of course. Each slick skin oiled up to shine in the dimmest light. Seeds like caviar. Lick the toe. There is too much of this slicing the round body into medallions. Grandmother slathers them with mayonnaise and when placed onto the tongue, each bite is this river of egg-wash. I am lost again inside the dark throat. Take this bite, would you?

    2. Obscene

    What are we to love? There is the sound of my lover’s shoes when he walks across a bare, wooden floor and steps outside. He is smoking in the half-light. He swishes mouthwash from cheek to cheek before we kiss. I sometimes want to slap him. I think of grandfather’s heart, how it stopped in the dingy light of the bathroom as he lay naked in a lukewarm tub. I think of mother’s arteries choking with sludge, and the man who cuts through her breast-bone with a saw-blade, peels back her lungs, and frees her heart from the cage.

  6. Kimmy Van Kooten

    Smell My Flower

    My roots go beyond. . . into a continent land!
    and I imbibe in the pure wetness of clean dirt!
    In a thirst for that different taste, in crapulence
    my piths on the other side of the fence. . .

    I’m raven new reservoirs and I’m overindulging!
    Living in my moments, without any preparation for the dry times.
    I drink.
    I drink, and drink, and drink some more!

    . . . until my belly sounds liquid, and the sensations of it all make me laugh!
    I dig. . . digging, deeper and deeper all the while, quite aware of the bloom I have going on up above!
    You see, the deeper I claw into unknown territory
    the prettier and more unique my flower will be. Simple as that!

    All this drinking has to relieve itself, somehow?
    In a poets’ indulgence, I call it . . . the Bloom!
    My filaments reach out for the warmth, and weather it be!
    . . . in the heat of my passions, or that forever sun beating down on my greenness it’s all in order!

    . . . in an order that allows my souls’ photosynthesis to occur
    and I breathe using every little bit of the nutrients feeding off the new find
    in trackless inhalations. . . where emanation occurs
    which, by my way, is blooming new life, as we speak

    Hey, wanna smell my flower!

  7. Ivy Merwine

    Dirt, dirt everywhere.
    So much dirt, I just don’t care.
    I can waste my life wiping it away.
    Or I can take the time to go and play.
    In the end we will all be dust.
    I just don’t get all the fuss!

  8. Kathryn Hessler

    Clean and Dirty

    Some people and critters like to be clean,
    Others like to be dirty,
    And some of us feel different different times.

    We also may define clean differently,
    Each of us—Does a pig feel dirty in mud?
    The 5-second rule, germs, organization, or dirt,
    The optional or necessary daily shower.

    And, do you know those magnets?,
    The clean and dirty ones on the fridge,
    We had one with a smiling sun for clean,
    And a frowning sun amongst clouds for dirty,
    And there’s no dirt-dispenser, only a soap-dispenser. Huh.

  9. Stacey Cornwell

    I can’t work in this squalor
    Pots stacked up in the sink
    And counters covered in flour

    Before I even start my day
    The dishes need cleaning
    And the counters to be swept

    And why can’t people return
    Thing to their rightful place
    Where I know them to be

    This kitchen is a mess
    An absolute disaster
    And someone I promise
    Will answer for this

  10. Robin Mason

    Clean Dirty

    It started out clean
    But now it’s dirty
    This little thought of mine
    Innocent dreaming
    Wishing, longing
    Went south and crossed the line.

    My face is red
    I feel it burning
    Heat rising in my cheeks
    Passion takes over
    Completely absorbs me ~
    But reality must meet

    This innocent dream
    This passion, longing
    Now must needs be slain
    But lurks beneath
    In subtle disguise
    The passion-dream remains.

    © Robin E. Mason
    30 April 2009

    Dirty Clean

    It started out dirty
    But now it’s clean
    Consuming dream from deep
    Cancelled out
    Such ugliness ~
    Loveliness only to keep.

    Dreams realized
    Passions fulfilled
    Sanctioned, holy, sure
    Paint the images
    From my heart
    On canvas fresh and pure.

    What once was filthy
    And useless ~ no more ~
    Soiled rags, and tainted
    Has been renewed
    Regenerate, cleaned
    Worth the wait has waited.

    © Robin E. Mason
    30 April 2009

  11. Robin Mason

    Something’s Missing

    My poems are missing!
    Well technically not.
    They are there
    They just haven’t been “wrot”

    Down on paper.
    They dance in my head yet
    Singing their song.
    Eventually ~ soon ~ they each will get

    “Wrot” down on their paper
    And digital scripted
    Posted on Poem-a-Day
    To be brutally sifted

    Through by our mentor
    Our prompter, our coach
    And hopefully chosen,
    Awarded a rose.

    Here sit I on this final day
    With five to my credit ~ this one makes six.
    Can I finish the challenge ~ write that many more?
    I’ll do it! I will! I promise! I think…

    © Robin E. Mason
    30 April 2009

  12. Lytton Bell


    I cry for the sterilized world
    I cry for antibacterial soap
    for children so sanitized that they acquire asthma
    if they ever inhale dust
    I cry for the harried housewife
    on the Mr. Clean commercial
    who cannot mop her floors spotless enough
    to please her in-laws

    I smile for scum in the cracks that won’t wash out
    even if you scrub with a toothbrush
    I smile for body odor, for countries where they don’t shower every day
    I smile for the one moldy strawberry, spreading its fuzzy joy to the rest
    for rot, for stench, for decay
    for the futility of the fight against grime
    I celebrate the dirt of this dirty world
    I roll laughing in the mud of what it means to be alive and dying
    at the same time

  13. Ellen McGrath Smith


    Annabelle sat on the homeless shelter steps and told us her memories
    of housework. We all smoked and listened to her.
    She’d been married once and in a house — a man named Elmer.
    “Annabelle,” he’d say. “I’m going out to look for work.
    When I get home, I hope to see you’ve done a little housework.”
    Annabelle picked up a broom and began to sweep the kitchen floor.
    She swept and swept the spattered squares, but they never
    seemed clean enough. She swept all day, over and over,
    until Elmer came home. She never said what became of Elmer,
    but she didn’t need to tell us why she didn’t have a house.

    One of her legs had elephantitis. Sometimes, we had to tell her
    harshly to shut up.
    A schizophrenic woman who channeled a navy admiral tried to choke
    her one night,
    she talked so much. The cots were in the gym, with the acoustics of a jolly, patronizing universe, so even the attack and the screams that went with it were made to sound silly

    and small.

    In the morning, when I finished volunteering, I went home to my own bed called the corners of my room to full attention, and said,
    "Just hold me in, and if you have to,
    take a message."

  14. Christy Dorrity

    “If you are going to catch a fish,”
    Dad said, “you will have to clean it yourself.”
    How bad can that be?
    I thought as I set a worm on my hook.
    Fish are pretty clean already.
    How could I have known
    That making a fish spotless and cleansed
    Would require so much filth and spoil?

  15. PB Rippey


    The acute rescuing
    aspect: handle held, stem held,
    dipped into musical-
    blue (as my-
    self, once, in your eyes).
    Dipped (clean). How often will
    a new recipe call for this maneuver?
    Apples. Ice cream. Coins. Lovers. Souls.
    On some islands, bananas:
    slick/hard coat,
    In some towns, granola
    simply tumbled into frosting (also nails,
    Chevys, cakes, glass, dipped, brushed,
    loved, lent, destroyed…), frosted (clean).
    I prefer coveting little bars
    of candied honeycomb: collap-
    sing caverns of sweet powder
    when bitten, sweetness brief–then vani-


    Your hand on mine. Speech
    this earliest evening. Sky
    through smog. Magick. Hearing.
    Across the street, a child
    complains. In the neighbor’s yard,
    that dog, howling. I can’t recall
    (as stars will out) why I came,
    except that yesterday seemed
    a respite: scant-light, your smile
    lost, my one gift
    far beneath us, or
    vastly above, losing

  16. lynn paden

    "does it come down to laundry and dishes"

    while standing
    on the left
    using the scouring pad

    i strayed not
    on the right
    where you were splashing

    why can’t you
    do the rinsing
    standing still, and

    keep an eye
    on your business
    without looking so

    if i knew
    you hated water
    before i chose
    so badly

    i would not
    be dripping water
    and feeling all
    so madly

    and yet, even
    when we fight
    and fling things at
    each other

    there’s respect
    and deep love
    for the dampness of
    one another

  17. Michael Roy

    “Blank Pages”

    monsters and demons conjured up in our thoughts
    are nothing compared to the blank page before me
    beckoning me, taunting me with its clean slate
    daring me to cover its face with spots
    hopefully to express words in one form or another
    It is the blank parchment that I fear the most
    Give me a pen so I can rid myself of this beast.

  18. Heiberg

    Sorry, had some few corrections, here’s the right one.

    Cleaning Up

    I tell myself again and again:
    She’s dead.
    This woman is dead.
    She has nothing to do with you.
    You’re just cleaning up.
    Don’t get stuck.
    Put them things in them big black plastic bags.
    Get it in there and get it out.

    Ten different seizes of dresses.
    Shoes, loads of shoes.
    Sheets, unpacked and packed.

    Loads of pictures.
    More children.

    That’s what needs cleaning.
    Otherwise you might just move in.
    Who doesn’t need some extra sheets, though?
    Only going back to them big black plastic bags is impossible.

  19. Carol Berger

    “The Secret”

    She planned it all, but no one knew.
    She quit her job, sold the house,
    put the bank accounts in her sons’ names,
    acted as if nothing were wrong,
    giving credible explanations
    of wanting to do something different,
    of no longer needing the house now
    her two sons were living with their father.

    She was the most positive,
    loving, and giving person
    anyone could ever know,
    forever happy, always smiling;
    so none of us suspected that
    under that well-polished façade,
    loneliness and despair were conspiring
    to drive her to a desperate act.

    I didn’t know her all that well.
    We worked together for ten years,
    but our schedules were different;
    her job took her out of the office,
    while I remained in all day.
    We lived two blocks apart,
    but I was only ever at her house twice,
    though I knew I was welcome any time.

    Nevertheless, she considered me a good friend,
    and when I moved to another state,
    she came to my moving-away party,
    came the day I was leaving to help pack,
    came to visit me in my new home once for a day
    on the way home from a trip to California.
    She waved and smiled as she drove away.
    How could I know that was the last time I’d see her?

    A few months later, she called to say
    she was off work for a month,
    having a hysterectomy.
    We spoke once or twice after that,
    as she laid the groundwork of the lie
    she lived for the next six months,
    behaving normally on the surface,
    while the guilt she was feeling inside consumed her.

    Then came the phone call from her sister
    on a warm summer night
    that she’d had an “accident” and was dead.
    My phone number was on a postcard
    found among her possessions
    in the small room she’d rented.
    When was the last time I had seen her,
    talked to her? What did I know?

    What I knew in my heart
    was that it was no accident,
    that the loneliness I’d sometimes sensed,
    the unfulfilled longing to be loved,
    had finally overwhelmed her.
    How did she die? I asked.
    Hit and killed by a train, her sister said.
    Not in her car, but on the tracks.

    She parked her car and walked over onto the tracks,
    but stepped off when she saw the train coming,
    Then, at the last moment,
    knowing the engineer had no room to stop,
    she stepped back onto the tracks,
    and died instantly when the train hit her,
    just blocks from the neighborhood
    where she and I had lived.

    Her sister told me about my friend’s
    bizarre behavior towards the end,
    which I, five hundred miles away,
    could not have known of;
    of interventions attempted that failed;
    of her giving all her possessions away,
    because she “didn’t need them anymore.”
    And of notebooks found with writings.

    Notebooks about how she felt “dirty” and undeserving,
    and filled with pages of self- blame and self-loathing.
    Words that told the real story.
    Suddenly, everything fell into place,
    and I understood the real reason why,
    after coming here from Europe
    right after finishing high school,
    she had never once gone back to visit.
    And I knew what she felt dirty about,
    And why she chose a train to end her life.

    Neither her sister nor I would say it,
    and my friend had never told me,
    but I knew without knowing
    that she had been sexually abused while growing up.
    After a quarter century of living
    with that secret and blaming herself,
    she had chosen to end the pain and self-hatred.
    And in the manner of her death,
    she also chose to reveal the identity of her abuser:
    her father was a train conductor.

  20. Erin Sway

    Clean Slate

    Starting over
    Needing to reinvent
    Recreate the illusion
    What people imagine they see
    The physical projection
    of an inner image
    Adding new discarding mundane
    Sweeping the cobwebbed undones
    from the crevices of a life
    Footloose and fancy free
    Wishing for something new

  21. Tori Grant Welhouse

    Inside the Ashtray

    The walls are concave.
    The flooring is slippery.
    Every handshake is precarious.

    Smoke billows overhead.
    Ash covers everything,
    creates a husk around the eyes.

    The room is dented in the corners.
    The television is never off.
    Her son introduces her loudly.

    Sunlight is fading.
    A tower could be built with the soda cans.
    The other residents move along the walls.

    The screen door bangs.
    Cards are always on the table.
    She challenges him to cribbage.

    His fingers are slim at the tips.
    He drums them while she deals.
    He can hardly wait for a full hand.

    The cards smell like meatloaf.
    He smokes another cigarette.
    His lips are chapped and flake.

    He scores a double run.
    Face gets in, lifting his forehead.
    His cheeks crease.

    The foolery of his grin
    unmasks the fen green eyes
    and she chances a glance: clean.

  22. Maria D. Laso

    never clean enough

    one day she had a new dress
    she wanted to wear it to school
    she promised to take a bath
    she forgot
    she lied her first lie
    her mother touched the soap
    the dry soap
    the lie caught
    the promise broken
    the dress returned
    the most expensive dress ever

    never clean again

    one day she agreed
    she tried something
    something dirty
    there may have been
    promises, lies
    perhaps even love
    certainly fever
    but the thing was done
    and the thing was seen
    the girl was caught
    caught in the act
    friendship broken
    the most expensive dare

  23. Lisa W.

    Cleanliness is Boring

    is next to godliness,
    or so they say.

    But what do “they” mean?
    Is it body clean, house clean, clean thoughts,
    or (D) all of the above?

    If it’s the thought response,
    it would be impossible
    to hold onto thoughts that
    remain pure.
    Thoughts are like perceptions,
    acted on by outside influences.

    Clean is nice, but what is nice?
    Does it pay the bills, entertain the masses,
    does it keep you warm in bed at night?
    Is it interesting? Or bland like plain grits.

    At least with dirty,
    you know what to expect.
    It can’t let you down its more interesting
    and hides so many possibilities.
    At the least it’s a topic of conversation,
    or ice braker at some parties.

    Dirty sells,
    as the song says,
    “Get the widow on the set, we need dirty laundry”
    Then there is “Dirty Dancing.”

    We need the dirty to appreciate the clean,
    and vice versa.
    None of us would be here if everyone’s
    parents had
    “Clean thoughts.”

    Lisa A. Wooley

  24. H. Marable

    Clean Slate

    Clean. I see it all again.
    Whether my eyes are
    wide open, or shut tight,
    it’s all the same thing.
    My mind’s an empty space.

    I’m staring at the blackboard,
    chalk in hand; no closer to the answer
    I’d volunteered to give.
    I know, I know the answer,
    but nothing’s going on upstairs.
    I’m paralyzed with fear.
    Fear of no longer being brilliant.
    Fear of not being rescued.
    Fear of spending eternity in the fifth grade.
    The mind’s a funny thing.

  25. Nadia Kazakov

    “Party’s over”

    The party is over
    The guests are gone
    I’m left to clean up the mess.

    It would be nice
    If someone would sacrifice
    Some time to help

  26. Nadia Kazakov


    Your radiant beauty mesmerizes
    When you move you show grace
    You are beautiful in your snow white dress
    I see true happiness on your face

    This day is your day
    Everything is perfect just like you
    There is no room for dismay
    You are gorgeous all the way through

  27. Sheryl Arnold

    Dirty – Boogers

    Picking my nose
    used to be fun.
    The boogers would get
    stuck on my thumb.
    But now I’m a mom
    and ew, they’re so gross
    because I have to pick them
    out of my kids nose.

  28. Sonia L. Russell

    How Clean and Pure, The Innocence of Paradise
    By Sonia L. Russell

    Oh how I yearn for the New York Spring of old
    When tulips and crocuses bloomed early and thrived
    When birds whistled songs that made one feel so alive
    When the long winter was over and one was able to survive
    Oh how I yearn for the New York spring of old

    How clean the air is, with crisp, clear blue skies
    Perfumed scents wafting with the cool blowing wind
    A light mist of dewdrops dampened my hair as i grinned
    So clear the atmosphere, it allowed sight into the airy mind
    How clean and pure, the innocence of paradise