2010 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 14

For today’s prompt, write a crossroads poem. This could be a poem about a physical, mental, or emotional intersection. For instance, graduating college or getting a divorce often leaves people at a crossroads. Or finishing a ginormous project at work. Or even starting a poem. After all, that blank page (or screen) offers so many new possibilities.

Here’s my attempt:

“Just ask for directions”

We found the road but couldn’t find our way,
worried tomorrow will still follow us
across pastures of happy yesterdays.
We found the road but couldn’t find our way,
though few of us could think of what to say.
After two days trapped on the same shuttle bus,
we found the road but couldn’t find our way,
worried tomorrow will still follow us.


Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer


Check out 35 poetic forms free!
Today, I wrote a triolet. Yesterday, I updated my Poetic Asides poetic forms list, which includes the triolet and 34 other forms.

Click here to check it out.

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

  1. essay order

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  2. Susanne Barrett

    This is very late and very rough as I attempt to catch up after a crazy week of grading and teaching….

    each breath heaves wetly,
    each sigh agonizing–
    lungs filling, filling,
    fluid rising and choking.
    pain unspeakable throbbing
    in wrists, ankles, head.
    blood mingles with cold sweat,
    uncontrolled tears wash clean
    the bloody face unrecognizable,
    the broken jaw.
    the beatings, the ridicule–
    these were nothing, nothing.

    the thorns forced onto head,
    piercing scalp and forehead–
    the royal robes draped over shoulders
    raw with bleeding whipstrikes.
    a scepter meant for a king
    now all too heavy–
    these were nothing, nothing.

    unseen pain brought untold agony–
    desertion, for the first and only time.
    the weight of the entire world’s people,
    past, present, future–
    all laid upon this body,
    so thin, broken, bleeding, drowning, dying.
    the wrongs, the injustice,
    the lying, cheating, stealing,
    the hatred, vice, murder–
    all these submerged His Spirit
    to a suffering never experienced
    before or since–
    more wrongs, more hate
    poured into Him, upon Him, through Him–
    he took it all, willingly–
    only His final words betraying
    the depth of His pain,
    pain far beyond mere physical suffering:

    "My God, my God…
    why have you forsaken me?"

  3. Connie Peters


    C hoosing
    R ight or left
    O pen highway or narrow roads
    S traight or curvy
    S hort or long
    R ight or wrong
    O pen mind or narrow way
    A divice followed or
    D isregarded
    S aving commitment for things that matter

  4. ideurmyer

    Destiny’s Path

    Mynammar to Alaska,Peru to Ukraine,
    Traverse the globe midst same refrain
    You live, you die; if there is a hereafter,
    All ask same age-old question.
    You live, you die; if there is a hereafter,
    I choose to believe the simple reply:
    Cross the answer, love the why.

  5. Justine Hemmestad

    We were at a crossroads,
    and like Oedipus killed his father you killed me,
    not knowing who I was.
    You once drove a pin through my feet to bind them together
    and left me in the wilderness to die.
    You did this to me while promising me Heaven itself.

  6. Dennis Wright


    All roads cross.
    Roads cross all.
    Cross all roads.

    On your knees,
    beg and plead,
    ask God please.

    Shake the dice,
    wild and free,
    ask God please.

    Cross all roads.
    Road cross all.
    All roads cross.

  7. Marian O'Brien Paul


    Imagine molten lava flow;
    watch its swift downward
    slide upon volcanic slopes
    before slowing, spreading
    as heat waves still hover.

    Sieve off the shimmering
    coral glow. For one brief
    moment hold it close as
    heartbreak. Now, cast it
    high; sow the atmosphere.

    That’s how the very air
    appeared that day: alive,
    tangible as unseen arms
    enfolding me, consoling
    me and sharing my woe.

    On that day decades ago,
    on that dreadful day, I’d
    left my teenage son alone
    among people he thought
    foes as I drove far away.

    Diagnosed with mental
    illness, he lingered one
    long year in treatment,
    but wasn’t healed. Now
    I know: there is no cure.

    Just how the earth knew
    to hold me, I cannot say,
    but the vibrant embrace,
    the coral-tinged warmth,
    for me, will never fade.

  8. Megan

    Lucille Clifton – 2010 Dodge – this will be my first Dodge Poetry festival without her presence

    this is the house
    full of rooms
    full of poetry
    one room is empty
    Her voice is silent
    but sings on in memory

  9. alana sherman

    As soon as I saw it I realized that the first line doesn’t make sense and needs to be changed: ignore first post

    Broadway and 72nd Street

    On sunny days
    the old women come
    murmuring down
    the side streets
    to haunt the corners
    fill the benches
    take in the warmth.
    Always there
    an unchanging melody
    of horns’ clatter and the trains’
    rumble drowning out their words.
    In their misty eyes
    images of friends and families
    whom they’ve outlived
    every wrinkle a memory
    of their beautiful young selves.

  10. alana sherman

    Broadway and 72nd Street

    Rain or shine
    the old women come
    murmuring down
    the side streets
    to haunt the corners
    fill the benches
    bleach in the sun.
    Always there
    an unchanging melody
    of horns’ clatter and the trains’
    rumble drowning out their words.
    In their misty eyes
    images of friends and families
    whom they’ve outlived
    every wrinkle a memory
    of their beautiful young selves.

  11. Lauren Dixon

    You Don’t Look Sixty

    He feels like he’s young in his head,
    then he looks at the face, the body,
    and it’s a lie,
    He’s lived for almost six decades,
    They say it’s a big birthday,
    He’s thinking it’s not. at. all.
    He wants to ignore it, pretend
    it’s not happening, starts
    taking Vitamins for Men 50+,
    with his 1000 mg of Vitamin C,
    in hopes they will help stave off
    this marauder that must sneak in
    at night and steal his good looks,
    replacing them with gray hair,
    and aching feet.

  12. Yoly

    Because of Heaven I Imagine

    a cross-road where the footprint
    of humankind will activate peace;

    dreams form a receiving line
    when hope draws a piece of mind;

    countries hoist up flags,
    and fold the fear of collapsing horizons;

    with mercy, a people will bear
    arms around untouchables;

    hunger loses its grip on reality;
    preservation drifts like salt in a stream;

    the narrow road, a vaccine,
    protects believers from losing sight;

    love is in every fork of road, a seed that dies
    before rising with the heart’s eye.

  13. Michelle Hed

    Wheel to Wheel

    They met
    with their front ends almost touching,
    their eyes glued to each other.
    Who will move first?
    Will one move out of the way
    or will they just sit and stare?

    The toddler on the right is getting fidgety
    upon his Tonka truck
    and the toddler on the left
    is moving back and forth on his scooter.
    But neither is actually moving out of the way.

    They met
    with their front ends almost touching
    their eyes glued to each other
    until someone hollered “Snack Time”
    and then it was just wheels facing each other
    forgotten and ignored.

  14. bc

    Meggie’s at a Crossroads
    Troilet Style

    But Mommy has never lied to me
    So who should I believe?
    It’s not like we even have a chimney,
    But Mommy has never lied to me.
    The kids at school say Santa will not be
    At our house on Christmas Eve,
    But Mommy has never lied to me…
    So who should I believe?

  15. Rosemary Nissen-Wade

    Crossing Points

    At the intersection of two paths
    she placed rice and flowers
    in a tiny palm-leaf boat.

    Seeing me, she smiled,
    put her hands together and bowed.
    I returned the unknown gesture.

    It was my first morning in Bali.
    I‘d slipped out early
    before the family woke.

    Six years later, guests
    at Ngurah’s father’s cremation,
    we shared the preliminary feast.

    Some tourists opened the gate.
    Ngurah strode down the path. ‘Sorry,
    this part is only for family.’

  16. Mike Bayles


    At the meeting of country roads,
    decisions are to be made,
    destinies to be chosen,
    whether to turn back
    to safety of the city,
    or to risk getting lost
    in a maze of fields.
    Unmarked roads lead
    to some location, but where,
    and maps fail to tell the story
    of unfamiliar land.
    In silence sun passes,
    threatening dark
    to obscure landmarks
    to lead me to destiny.
    At the intersection of roads,
    I realize the journey
    can take me many ways,
    the wanderlust inside me,
    the innate desire to go home.

  17. AC Leming

    not sure about the title….


    We left my Dad and oldest sister behind.
    My Mom and the four youngest girls flew
    to the Lower 48, to my Mom’s hometown.

    Culture shock awaited us:  no more being
    the odd gusak out, no more being picked on
    for looking different.  But no Mom in the

    same school system, let alone the same 
    building.  No Dad principal.  Just as I was 
    getting my Southern legs under me, making

    friends, getting used to Sunday mornings
    spent in Church, we left.  Mom quit her job,
    the last straw unknown to us then, but she

    fled back to the man who wanted his freedom, 
    the daughter who had been expelled from 
    boarding school, back to village life, 

    back to being the minority, back to being 
    the favorite victim of schoolyard bullies.

  18. Debbie Ridpath Ohi


    Should I kill or should I save?
    That’s the question of the day
    My heroine’s plucky but she’s boring
    By now, I’m sure, my reader’s snoring
    So perhaps I’ll kill her off
    I’ll start with just a little cough
    Then when she starts down the road
    I will make her head explode
    or maybe she’ll fall in fondue
    or get struck by a high-heeled shoe
    flung by the hero by mistake
    and like poor Jill, her crown will break
    or should it just be a close shave?
    Augh…should I kill or should I save?

  19. Sam Nielson


    Here I sit
    At the kitchen table
    In the excruciating apartment
    With burnt orange couch, drapes,
    Loveseat, overstuffed chair.
    They anchor into the dark lime
    Green sculpted carpet.

    What do I say?
    There rests about me
    Shades of kindergarten brashness
    Stabbed through the heart by
    A load of scheduled credit classes.

    Shall I form myself an engineer?
    Torsional moments, static loads,
    I take those classes by duty.
    Shall I reform myself a photographer?
    Light and darkness in changing patterns
    Often walking at the extreme edge of day
    While other life stays away?

    An artist? Would push my brain some,
    Not to think, just smelling life smushed
    Around by oil paints gut feeling?
    That seems a bit fractured, indefinite,
    Glutton for living, ascetic for living,
    Skinny at least?

    Which for work, which for hobby?
    Would one become the other
    Sneaky-like without my permission?

  20. Pam Winters

    Late, late, late.

    The Literary Virgin

    Her life had no crossroads,
    no hooded stranger, no problematic bargain.
    She collected the fallen leaves, pressing them
    in the Yellow Pages. She painted each room
    the color of a dream. To write of death,
    she pondered the expression of a souffle
    as it collapses. For love, she listened
    to the soul man’s “Oh, nooooo”
    and monitored her pulse, tasted
    the dampness of her brow.

    For remembrance, she opened
    that relic, the phone book,
    shook it by the spine,
    watched the flat colors flare
    as they fell.

  21. Tracy Davidson

    I wrote this poem but thought twice about posting it because it won’t mean much to anyone outside of the UK. We used to have a soap opera called ‘Crossroads’ which was based in a motel of the same name. So apologies to all those who won’t know what the heck I’m on about. But hopefully some fellow UK poets of a certain age will recognise some of it.


    An ordinary soap,
    about an ordinary motel.
    Not glamorous or glossy
    like most American soaps.
    Not a single shoulder pad in sight.

    The poorly-constructed cheap sets
    that wobbled every time
    someone as much as breathed on them.
    Remember the hammy acting, stilted
    dialogue, forgotten lines
    and silly storylines.

    But it didn’t matter.
    A nation loved it anyway.
    Characters we cared about –
    Meg, Jill, Miss Diane and
    dear, slow-witted Benny
    with his old woollen hat
    and kind heart.

    They tried to resurrect it,
    bring it up-to-date,
    with better sets, new
    characters, deeper scripts.

    They missed the point.
    We loved it because of its faults,
    because it sucked.
    Like real life often does.

    I miss it.

  22. Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    Don’t remember
    the crossroads ever being this dark.
    Has heaven moved
    or my mind simply gone faulty?
    Did I miss
    subtle clues along the way
    or did the devil suddenly
    win the lotto?

    No matter which
    direction I turn,
    there’s a bend in the road just
    far enough to obscure my sanity,
    I can feel the trees lean over
    hedging their bets
    while Hecate tugs at my sleeves,
    and the compass is spinning mad.

    Have I finally come to a point
    where everything now matters?
    Where one wrong turn
    can be the death of me?
    To the left
    to the right
    which shall I choose?
    Don’t remember
    the crossroads ever being this dark.

    © 2010 by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

  23. Marie Elena

    MiskMask, thank you so much for the kind comment. My cousin is actually still hanging in the balance at this time — in a medically induced coma. It’s horrible.

    All: I haven’t had a chance to read, other than MiskMask’s Poem’s Dilemma (since it followed on the heals of mine), which is just fabulous. Hoping to get more time to read in coming days, but not certain what to expect. Missing your voices. Keep poeming!

  24. Walt Wojtanik


    Decisions become "no-brainers",
    in the passing of time we learn
    of costs and consequences
    and our role in both.

    Both feet firmly on the pavement,
    a connection to ground, a human
    lightning rod hard at work.
    Life is electric and you get a charge out of it.

    It becomes your power; your driving force
    in the course of your personal histsory.
    The mystery evolves in the dilemma of your choosing.
    All the musing in the world does not determine.

    Determined to be all you can; a plan falls
    into place and you face some choices.
    You can listen or ingore, but they implore you
    Do what you feel is right, it can wait all night, can you?

    You can’t go back, and the future looks dicey,
    but to put it nicely, if a kick in the pants is needed,
    it will because you conceded the challenge.
    In the melange of options you live with your pick.

    Pick your boot straps and give a yank, and thank
    your lucky stars you are halfway there.
    Because when it’s all said and done,
    it is neither here, nor there. But if you dare, it can be.

    It’s your decision.

  25. MiskMask


    All I wanted was
    What every woman was
    Physically created to do, a baby was
    All I wanted.

    Major surgery was
    No help, a scar was
    All to show for it, and still I longed for
    All I wanted.

    A hormone jab was
    Twice a day, it was
    Painful, bruised black and blue but still didn’t bring
    All I wanted.

    Babies under glass was
    Next. Six: one by one it was
    Goodbye. I wept for months, giving up on
    All I wanted.

    Adoption it was
    For me and them. It was
    Brothers, 6 and 12. Abandoned but not by
    God who led me to
    All I wanted.

  26. MiskMask

    There’s some truly excellent writing here today.

    Genevieve: I’ve read yours three times, and love it every time.
    Debra: When you hit 50, you’ll wonder why everyone thinks it’s such a milestone. Felt the same as any other birthday for me.
    Linda: I really enjoy your crossroads piece; famous people making famous choices.
    Amy: Very cute. 🙂
    Taylor: Vivid and a good read. Liked it a lot.
    Sara: I really like How Many Roads…version2. Brill.
    Vivienne: Wow! The Dream is very good!
    Pearl: Really enjoyed your Crossroads Nano poem. I like back-stories.
    Marie: Your Crossroads poem for your cousin is very toughing, and I’m sure it will touch everyone who’s lost a loved one.

  27. MiskMask


    Do I need to dig so deep
    scratching until I bleed
    for he and she and you to read
    before what I write is poetry?

    Perhaps I’ll pick one hundred words,
    ten or so ideal verbs, aimlessly shuffle
    them like cards and say
    Voilà, this is poetry.

    Risky, nervy , to post or not
    Is what I write for you or me.
    I’ll post this and we’ll see.
    Voilà, this is poetry.

  28. Laura Hohlwein

    "If you want to learn how to make songs yourself, you take your guitar and your go to where the road crosses that way, where a crossroads is. Get there be sure to get there just a little ‘ fore 12 that night so you know you’ll be there. You have your guitar and be playing a piece there by yourself…A big black man will walk up there and take your guitar and he’ll tune it. And then he’ll play a piece and hand it back to you. That’s the way I learned to play anything I want."

    Tommy Johnson


    What would it be like?
    I’ve done this, but in the daylight,
    not right before midnight

    Stopped in the middle of a dirt road
    (Van Gogh country)
    like some animal
    paying no mind to possible traffic
    but kneeling down, recreating
    the typical cypress lined landscapes of Arles
    in branches, rocks

    Someone would drive over it soon enough
    But then I had that spirit
    I could taste cadmium on my tongue
    Knew the color of rain
    oil in the rain
    the madness of crows
    startled from a corn field
    caught in violent daubing gestures
    or darker pebbles

    But what if

    Maybe my crossroads is not in France
    Maybe in Lodi somewhere
    or right up the street.

    I’ll wait until just before midnight
    stand under the streetlights
    create a little picture
    in the black heart of the intersection

    and I’ll see the shiny shoes first

    He’ll take my hand and drag it across the pavement
    It will bleed out image
    (just like Jimeny Cricket painting an entire swamp scene
    in an S shaped swipe)

    And on my little road
    where I live
    under the flashing lights
    Wait. Stop. Go.

    I would issue all the sunsets Van Gogh saw from his little cell
    all the sunrises I’ve seen from mine
    the locket of my heart would fall open
    and spill pictures
    of every moment of grace and pain
    every plate laid before me
    candles lit
    touch, traveling
    fields flying past
    my fingers would burn
    from this love

    I would go with him then I guess
    and not feel anything
    but the movement of color
    and the satisfaction
    of a decent trade

  29. Marie Elena

    Psalm 139:16. … all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.

    (A sonnet with love for my cousin)

    He stands between the living and the dead,
    as ailing lungs no longer understand
    the expectations of a heart in dread,
    not willing to let go of all it planned.

    Though comatose, his mind exerts its will,
    Not giving up, nor knowing how to cope;
    As loved ones, keeping vigilant, instill
    An ember of illuminating hope.

    Sad we cannot return to days of old,
    Of playing ‘til the streetlights called us home;
    Now, heart-in-throat, we watch events unfold;
    Our desperate pens add chapters to his tome.

    Yet, God imparts His own life-giving breath,
    to give eternal life that transcends death.

  30. Buddah Moskowitz

    Onward (for Cookie)

    The white-haired burst
    of firecracker laughter
    named Stella
    finally went silent
    this morning.

    Cookie sits
    at the kitchen table
    surrounded by
    pill regiments
    insurance papers
    and her reassuring family.

    “What am I going to do?”

    I have nothing profound
    to offer.

    When the center
    of your world
    has been taken,
    ruthlessly, stealthily
    like a cyclone
    in a silent movie,

    when the directions
    on your compass
    have been smeared away
    by grief

    in what direction
    does one proceed?

    step by step


  31. S. E. Ingraham

    Pros and Cons

    We are at a crossroads of sorts
    Some might say an end of the road
    Others intimate a new beginning
    I favour the latter option and am trying
    To convince you to do the same; lately
    I seem to be winning you over but
    Maybe you are humouring me so

    I don’t end up in the cracker factory
    Although you seem sincere most
    Days; especially today when you
    Reminded me of how we used to
    Buy day-old cakes from Safeway
    And have the cake-woman write ‘Pros’
    On one side and ‘Cons’ on the other
    With a line down the centre ….

    Then all four of us armed with tubes
    Of icing after dinner, would have
    A grand time, entering out thoughts
    For and against: moving, changing
    Schools, your new job prospects,
    Opening our day home, whether
    To adopt those gerbil brothers—

    Remember “Dude” and “M.C. Hamster”?
    One black gerbil but still… good name
    Died of an unfortunate photo op
    And a cat underfoot mishap… guess
    We maybe should have gone with cons
    On that one … poor M.C. – I remember
    After Jules stepped on him and he just
    Looked so innocently asleep, she
    Wondered if he might awaken “soon”

    Why is it looking back at crossroads
    Or decisions in the past, things always
    Seemed so much simpler then? Is it
    Just that those things are finished?
    Any mistakes to be made or good moves
    Completed, have already take place
    And hindsight is so much clearer
    Than anything seen through the future’s
    Dimming eyesight? – still – perhaps
    We should get a cake, what do you say?

  32. Mary Kling


    I stand immobile on the crossroads, as
    traffic comes at me from all directions.
    There is no escape from being crushed
    from one direction or another.
    Something will hit me, get me,
    it is just a matter of time.
    I am sad, very sad, as I bide my time
    but yet it is almost peaceful here
    calm before inevitable storm
    and there is sleep that gives respite
    when it happens as it should
    and it doesn’t always happen.
    There are still prayers that
    the worst case scenario will
    not happen, that God does listen.
    I have to keep the faith.

  33. Jackie Schicker

    The Curve

    The danger that comes about that curve
    Headlights never seem to express
    In the dead of night, as people swerve
    In my mind I begin to speedily bless
    Hopes that this night the crossroad will be seen
    With white lights and not the flashing ambulance scene

  34. Daniel Ari

    “The Road Not Taken”

    I once found myself once in a frosty wood
    well equipped for the adventure but stopped
    where there trail split north and south. There I stood
    looking up one path, then its opposite,
    sucking my canteen and wishing I could

    explore both unknown opportunities.
    A raven passed overhead calling out.
    Was north versus south the only shopping
    available? I laughed and headed west,
    easing through pristine forest. It felt good

    to leave the trail and leave no trace, and it
    has been many years since I went that way.
    I’m at home now with a slight cold, sitting
    to write this. I know my situation’s
    on a fern-curl trajectory from that

    divergence from that choice of paths that day.
    I am still slowly off-roading today.


  35. Nancy J

    10 – 9 – 8 . . .

    Have you noticed signal lights have numbers now?
    Right next to that little white walking pedestrian
    symbol, red neon numbers that count backward
    from ten. Must have seemed like a good idea, an
    added safety measure, a comfort to people
    crossing busy intersections.

    But the little red numbers have transformed the
    crosswalk into a shooting gallery. Drivers watch
    the flashing countdown out of the corner of their
    eyes, rev their engines and inch closer to little
    old ladies with canes and shopping carts who
    blink at the neon numbers, their lips moving
    with the countdown . . . 7 – 6 – 5 . . .

  36. Jeanne Rogers

    November 14, 2010

    A Fine Line

    The ICU lights and beeps
    keep time to her broken heart.
    Her oldest daughter is upstairs, out
    of surgery for internal bleeding, broken
    pelvis. Watchful grandparents pray
    for good news on the brain scan.
    Her son has a broken arm,
    the only person in the car
    in a seatbelt.

    The icy bridge caught her unaware,
    their lighthearted conversation
    recapping a Saturday afternoon matinee.
    Her youngest daughter—thirteen,
    showing the intelligence and strength
    of the woman-to-be—made a silly joke.
    She knows, remembers she felt content,
    the movie and shopping a treat,
    took pride in her role as mother.

    Now, comatose in the ICU, she hears
    her parents enter for their allotted visitation,
    yet remains silent, consciousness
    a place she can never live again,
    just as her youngest daughter
    no longer lives on earth. Thrown
    from the car, all three of them, only her son
    inside as it rolled from the icy bridge,
    and if she wakes, she will scream
    for the rest of her life.

  37. Michelle McEwen

    Seasons Change

    Lovin is easier
    in the summer
    when there is summer fruit
    to eat & flowers stretchin
    toward the sun. No matter
    how hot, I just want to be up
    under my man— sittin on the porch
    sweatin like somethin just went down
    upstairs. &, too, there is
    the lemonade. Knowin there is
    a pitcher in the refrigerator, for
    later when it is hotter, just makes
    me move in such a way: slow slidin
    across the kitchen floor like
    I don’t have no place to be. & we are
    so in love in our tryin-to-keep-cool-
    togetherness. And he is workin in the yard—
    shirt off & I’m out there with him
    rollin up my skirt to the tip-tops
    of my thighs hopin he don’t cut
    the tallest part of the grass just yet.
    June, July, August, September
    we so in love we forget
    to remember that winter is right
    around the corner— & we will be back
    to fightin about the heat bill & how
    even though we can see our breath
    in the bedroom, we just have to make do
    til January sometime. & how mean he’ll be
    when he’s out in the cold warmin up
    the car for me.


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