2011 April PAD Challenge: Day 17

Yesterday, we had the snapshot poem.

For today’s prompt, write a big picture poem. I know these can be difficult to write, because they cover big ideas or emotions or concepts. However, we’re just getting our first drafts out this month, so it’s the perfect time to attempt something big–even if your big picture poem fits within a shadorma or fib, which actually might be a great fit for tackling a big picture since the poem expands with each new line.

Here’s my attempt:

“Poetry and world peace”

I don’t believe in the perfect poem,
one poem that could stop every gun
from firing, every fist from punching,
every mouth from saying what shouldn’t
be said. Prufrock’s love song appeals to some,
but leaves others scratching their heads. So much
depends on red wheel barrows in a few
circles, but others couldn’t be bothered
with white chickens (rain or no rain). Again,
I don’t believe in the perfect poem,
though I’d like world peace. I’d like to wake up
every morning without a reason
to mourn what’s happening on this planet
each day. You know what’s happening as much
as I do. The knives and shouting, the lack
of “thank you” and “please.” The little things that
build over generations and sink their
teeth into our skin. The big mistakes we
make after we let smaller ones snowball.
I don’t believe in the perfect poem,
but we can still keep trying anyway.


Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer

Tweet your April PAD Challenge progress on Twitter with the #aprpad hashtag.


Paint pictures with words!
Some say a picture is worth a thousand words, but how do you convey a picture in a thousand words or less? Rebecca McClanahan provides tips in her book Word Painting, which helps writers write in a way that enables their readers to “see” what’s happening.

Click here to learn more.

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0 thoughts on “2011 April PAD Challenge: Day 17

  1. Susan M. Bell

    The pictures tell only part of the
    story. Lots of white teeth and
    laughing eyes. Nothing shows the tears
    we cried. No one can hear the raised
    voices. There is no image saved of the
    bruises left behind. Nothing can erase
    the memories. Not even the pictures
    of the perfect happy family.

  2. Rose Anna Hines


    When walking in my shoes
    my world can be small or gigantic
    sometimes tiny and big simultaneously
    sometimes alternatively

    Sometimes my life seems small,
    a tight fitted wetsuit,
    confining, limited, tiny
    like I am on the assembly line hourafterhour
    dayafterday, weekafterweek,
    the assembly line at
    the get-the-list-done-take-care-of-everything-everyone plant

    Yet, when I interact with:
    -the microcosm of life forms in my garden
    or step on a slug or other nasty bug
    I feel big almost God like
    -a patient with Parkinson’s tremor
    shaking violently in bed who came into the hospital
    because of a stroke and now can’t speak,
    suddenly my perspective changes
    my life seems full of possibilities.
    -a magnificent sunrise, a cup of coffee in hand,
    sunlight beaming into the koi pond
    I’m opening the gift a bright new day.

    My life feels globally massive when
    -oil wells in Saudi Arabia,
    drip into my wallet.
    -a flood in Louisiana,
    deluges my brain
    -starvation in Kibera, Kenya
    makes me hungry for change
    -shrapnel shot in Iran wounds me
    -radiation released in Japan
    a foul stench seeps through room to room
    city to city, country to country
    until I am sicken.

    Yet gigantic or small
    my perspective determines it all

  3. ideurmyer

    One Piece of Paper

    Just a simple certified birth certificate.
    It did not seem complicated at the age of 60.
    I have had a passport for 10 years.
    The birth notice I have is small and old,
    so I went to our capital city to procure form.
    Six decades of life and I received a revelation.
    I had no father listed on the hospital records.
    No one wanted to tell me the truth of my heritage.
    An uncle had attempted to at the birth of my child
    I pondered, wondered, and denied what I heard.
    Now I had an official paper in my hands,
    blank where the fathers name and info are required.
    Now I know I have brothers,sisters, nieces, nephews,
    a large family of which I was the youngest.
    I thought they were family friends and I loved to visit them.
    My hero was my big brother and no one told me.
    One piece of paper can change one’s whole perspective.
    I know it did mine.

  4. Diane

    Lost my keys
    Forgot your name
    Tripped in the hall
    I’m sure everyone was looking!

    Missed that red light
    Got a ticket
    I bet the whole town knows!
    I wish I could disappear.

    But how much of it
    will anyone remember
    a year from now
    next week
    or even tomorrow?

  5. Diane

    Maybe God is up to much more than we imagine
    and restoration extends further than we know.
    Maybe we don’t understand God at all
    or even come close to grasping his plans.
    But we think we do…

  6. Arrvada

    Ready to Start

    The big picture isn’t a city
    Not s specific place
    It’s the feeling, the idea
    The hope that freedom’s
    A hand’s reach away
    It’s the reality that someday
    Some way I can spread out
    And leave, that I can
    Move out into the space
    That surrounds me
    That I can claim my dreams.
    The big picture isn’t a house with a
    Picket fence
    It’s a wide open sense
    Of freedom and hope
    Of doing what I want and finally
    Being able to start living and
    Not just waiting, lingering here
    Every day, waiting for my life
    To begin.

  7. Laura Hohlwein

    On and Eadward Muybridge Series of Photos: Picking up Fruit

    Fullness of mind
    Motion slow
    Slow motion

    not Jester


    Not Justice
    Just Us
    Moving our hands

    new word
    And fruitfulness
    Hand full of fruit
    Mind full of movement

    Pick up
    Put down
    Little finger
    out to make it
    Every moment
    – if we could see it –
    a prayer

  8. Virginia Snowden VSBryant

    Love and the Words

    I fell in love with the words, soft, simple, so sweet
    Each letter caresses me, feeling me with love, so tender, so deep.
    I fell hard with the idea, one day knowing everything could be perfectly at peace,
    You and me, them and they, all one together, endlessly.
    I fell far, for the cause, for children I would never meet, little hands tiny feet,
    So precious, so joyous, each one day only these streets.
    I fell in love with the idea, the words, and the wisdom, of a mother, of a father
    Each hoping, each rising, each fighting for a better beat.
    To know the word peace, is to know endless bliss, the world will one day see its greatest destiny.

  9. Jay Sizemore

    Life and Death

    Invisibility is a concept
    that scares us to death.
    Entire lives are waged
    in struggles with that
    they cannot see. Whole
    days are devoted to
    the appeasement of
    deities, just in case
    they might be listening,
    in buildings erected
    for that specific purpose.
    Camp fires are circled
    with stories of haunted houses
    or malevolent spirits meant
    to make the noises of
    the wilderness take on
    an alien eeriness. In one
    of our oldest films, a man
    named Claude Rains succumbs
    to madness after being given
    this power of the gods.
    Hand sanitizer is available
    on every other counter,
    to kill 99.999 percent
    of germs our eyes can’t detect.
    None of these things stop
    us from becoming
    that which we fear in the end.

  10. shann palmer

    On a Clear Day you Can See Forever

    There’s a wedding dress on the final sale rack.
    It was meant for someone who never picked it up.

    The tag says “A. Love 2-14" marked through in red,
    implying a mystery not to be explained, why

    a woman named Love decided not to walk the aisle,
    maybe eloped, or received an unexpected photograph:

    her fiancé in flagrante with a tramp-stamped dancer,
    or perhaps married with cute twins in Toledo.

    There’s no telling, only speculation, how this dress
    with all its fluffy abundance, was left unused.

    A person who’d buy such a thing might also choose
    wedding rings from a pawn shop, a divorced man,

    surly step-children, or even a live-in mother-in-law.
    She may be just passed her “Best if used by” date,

    willing to bet on a Valentine’s Day promise,
    her exact size, fifty percent off with veil and shoes.

    There is no perfect future, lifetime warranty, pre-nupt
    to stave unfortunate circumstance, a laughing deity.

    The trick is getting the best deal you can, an easy
    schadenfreude, enough to leap, perchance to fly.

  11. Doug

    your break …

    there are many words
    that could frame tomorrow

    and maybe
    and perhaps

    and those that nail these
    firm closed, fixed

    a regular square
    a dimensionally accurate simulacrum
    ninety degrees to the tiniest second

    well, these, are the doctrines
    that are riveted, their focus more

    on rigid disciplines
    doing things by rote

    it’s a functional approach
    efficient, structured

    demoralising, with a closed view

    now do you get the picture?

    © Douglas Pugh, April MMXI

  12. Caren E. Salas


    Will books someday be obsolete; relics
    From the past just like the Ford Model T?
    Will kids stop learning to speak to others,
    And electronic communication
    Instead, replace human conversation?
    Will travel become a thing of the past,
    And virtual vacations, the new norm?
    Will the technology meant to connect
    Us all, be the tool that destroys contact
    Leaving us desensitized and hollow
    Shells? This may be the "progress" that’s coming.

  13. G. Smith

    (A Kautata)
    (c) 2011 – G. Smith
    Right here, right now, God
    Has placed you for a reason;
    Be still and hear the I Am.

  14. Mariel Dumas


    You stroke my hair black
    Lying down to see the sky; kissing it with purple lips
    The thick pulsing membranes of fire
    Become stars above a pale moon
    On a blue wrist
    Jupiter and Mars; Venus, Aristotle’s planets like nymphs
    Giggle into a stygian night
    Burn behind my eyelids like images implanted on a silk screen
    When the rain hits the forest
    A lullaby of dark shadows and beasts on a turning music box with a lampshade
    I inhale and the air cools deeper to an icy chill
    We exhale ensemble
    On days when I wonder what foot next to move
    Which hill to climb
    Which bones to pick in muddy water
    A gently coaxing whisper scares me into silence
    Growing louder into a voice so crisp
    It feels like an ordinary Autumn day
    I walk on with my fur coat on; my knees deep in snow
    Muffled flats on a steep rocky cliff
    The blinding night makes my hair darker and I wish I could pray
    To fiery galaxies I know possess the power to make the rain
    And make it gone; like yesterday’s milk
    Take away pain like Moses split water; or was it tides
    To think on days like this; when all is quiet and frail
    Churches pass by on ungrounded journeys; territories of clay
    And it seems too quiet to think or breathe
    My skin beginning to recall past exercises of self-deception
    Of despair; of focused darkness so rich it blinds the palest fragment of light particles from entering into my shaded apartment
    There I pause; and the three sisters appear
    Next to the red bulbs that now appear mauve in the garden
    The man on the moon winks
    Smiles, Nods
    Stillness; Unquiet

  15. PSC in CT

    Finally having some time to read & comment… will see how far I get. 😉

    Robert – liked “Poetry and World Peace” – great start for this prompt!
    mbschied and Becca – Two small poems with a big message. (And mbschied – Existential – indeed! Nice job!)

    mike Maher – a unique take – love the ending.
    Sam Nielson – I like the idea – looks pretty sparkly to me. 😉
    Bruce Niedt – your fib – visual and well written – worked well for this assignment.
    Pearl – “Do Not Lose Sight” – beautiful! … and excellent advice.
    Daniel Paicopulos and Lori Thatcher – I like your small viewpoints of the big picture – nicely done!

    Rachel Green – touched a sad chord in me.
    Barbara young – I like your message. Time travel & Stone Soup (I always liked that story!) – an interesting combination!
    M.A.Dobson – “In a Nutshell” – so true, but oh, that catch is a big one, isn’t it?

    Dare Gaither – short, simple, says a lot.
    Joseph Harker – Eighty Sixth Floor – a different viewpoint, beautifully written!
    Sandra Robinson – a pretty picture.
    Andrew Kreider – “Air Safety” – LOL and “Beggars” – WOW!

    Taylor Graham – “So small a thing, a key. / But it opens doors.” – perfect!
    Michele Brenton/banana – “Best never to fib in the first place” – Loved this! 🙂
    Jane Shlensky – “The Small and Large” – lovely!
    Nancy Posey – “Change” – sweet, honest, and so true.

    That’s all I can do for now… back later for more – I hope!

    Oh! But I have to say: Sara McNulty – thanks for the mention!
    And: Nina B. Lanctot – thanks for the read & comments.
    You both made me smile. 🙂

  16. ChapLynn


    I remember when I went to sea. The American flag went with me; into every foreign territory. She reminded us that we were free. I pledge allegiance only to thee. Wherever my patriotism is flown. My dedication is known. And her stars and stripes are shown. From the Death March they carried her home. To the graveyard, placed in a mother’s arms. Back to the place where she was raised. Under the words that sing her praise. By all who stand and gaze. They burned her once in all the craze. In the fog of purple haze. Thank goodness, that was just a phase. Their judgment has since been restored. They are sure to salute her now, as she waves above the bow. Telling the world for which she stands. I am an American.

  17. Meg

    Robert – I LOVED yours.


    I like to believe
    that if people knew
    how what they do
    and say
    can offend
    and how they truly
    come across
    they would choose
    to be different.

  18. JSP

    Ever After

    Eat, drink, and be merry
    for tomorrow we may die.
    Prophetic words that apply to everyone,
    whether we be young or old, male or female,
    we are all born to die.
    The big question then, is what comes next?
    Eat, drink, and be merry without a care or
    concern about anyone or anything, living
    life moment to moment, answering to no one
    and to no god. Living a life for self and self alone.
    Selfishness and self-centeredness hinders our
    personal relationships with anyone and God.
    But eat, drink, and be merry with consciousness,
    consideration of others, loving, and putting
    personal gain aside; looking to God for answers,
    and for guidance. Seeking the ultimate relationship
    with Christ — for tomorrow we may die and spend
    eternity with Him.

  19. Judy Roney


    we will keep walking
    the treadmill each day
    work out, keep up, stay
    at a good clip, sync
    to our age.

    we’ll get used to our
    numbers a solid four
    for an hour – then
    incrementally we’ll see
    we’ve slowed down
    three feels like a four
    our meter will show
    less time, fewer miles
    and when we get used
    to the new us, we’ll slow
    more and get used to it,
    or rail against the creeping
    barage of time.

  20. Yoly

    Snapshots of Spring

    You’re in my coral apron with the tractor patch,
    kneeling on raised soil and sunlight, squinting
    at the camera. A zephyr wind blows my hair over
    the lens: part of you comes through part of me.

    The flowerbed is made. Daffodils proudly present
    trumpets to their maker. You insist I get in the photo:
    show up the flowers. I’m in grubby overalls and your
    white tee. Lucky chases Boots the cat. I look
    away: my profile points to dust tails.

    In Chicago’s meadow: Wrigley Field, you hold up
    a plastic cup of pop. Ryno blasts one past
    the ivy leaves, gets a holy cow from Harry:
    your bliss on 110 film.

    I bring in crocus for the saffron,
    blossoms for their fragrance and
    call out to you. I open the pantry door.
    You, hiding, take a close-up of freckles on my nose.

    A ladybug leaps from a calyx to your arm;
    light leans forward. You hand me a calla
    with a band in it. I jump into your arms,
    kissing before yessing: a gift from a passerby
    with a Polaroid and quick spring.

  21. AC Leming

    Left Bank Art Gallery, Greymouth NZ

    I ducked under the clothesline
    where the names of 29 dead miners hung.
    The print stopped me cold
    as I stood upright again.

    A hundred years ago, families
    waited for word after a cave-in
    trapped their men. Women drank
    strong tea and sewed their tears
    into mourning clothes. Black cloth
    pushed through petal run machines,
    a hedge against slow deaths underground. 

    The lithograph’s stark shades
    followed me around the gallery, 
    until I broke down and sent it
    home to await my arrival,
    just in time to see Chilean miners
    trapped two miles down.


  22. Eve Brackenbury

    “Quality Time”

    I was kidnapped Saturday night
    without warning, without time to shave my legs,
    with a promise to return Sunday afternoon.
    Held captive without phone service or internet.
    I really started getting the shakes
    just as the sun started to rise this morning.
    Two hours from home, two hours before rush hour,
    three hours before I had to be to work.
    Sleep-drooling in the cab of the truck,
    wearing yesterday’s clothes,
    dog in my lap, ticks unchecked.
    Damned McDonald’s coffee too hot to sip.

  23. Daniel Ari


    When I’ve drifted
    without a sign
    into a werewolf zoo,
    it is a losing game
    to play as though
    the dirigible
    is unburning. Who
    will catch me
    when I choose
    to see I’m off course
    and in need?
    Let me put down
    this racket and leave
    my mouth shut
    until I’ve something
    to say to the sea.


  24. PKP aka Pearl Ketover Prilik

    Andrea, Nina, Janet, Sara M…. I needed to return to yesterday’s comments …afer a family member of mine came upon yesterday’s Big Picture poem and thought that I had "villified" when I intended to write a poem that pointed to how political inteference can mess with a more natural (in my opinion) coming together of us all! I am even more grateful than usual, that you (apologies to any others I might have misssed in my quick scanning) "got it"… I understand and am at peace with poetry being interpreted in many ways but to take yesterday a particular Sabbath observed as holy by so many, and write what was perceived as a "family member" as a potential indictment when I meant to convey of message of peace would have left me unable to enjoy the day!

  25. Iain D. Kemp

    Dear Moosehead,
    Ya see! It’s like I always say, ya gotta
    look at the big picture. Look at the series
    not the game. Our boys were superb.
    My new hat survives and life is good.
    As a treat and as I can’t buy the real Jeter
    a beer I got lil Jeter a bone to gnaw on.
    I suggested your mother’s leg but your
    sister started reaching for a mule. Let’s hope
    we can close out the series tonight. I’ll pick
    you up at 6 – bring extra cash I fancy a chilli-dog.

    Yours dancing the dance
    Ringo the Howler

  26. Iain D. Kemp

    Wide Angle Lens

    Life happens in panoramic vision
    everything too huge to comprehend
    too massive to take in
    the numbers are too big to feel, to cry
    the distances are too far to count, to care
    and all the detail is lost in the overwhelming vista
    confused and bewildered by the big picture
    and left ignorant of the minutiae
    living in a world where ignorance is truly bliss


  27. Pam

    Four-Color Poster on a Metrobus: “May 21, 2011: Judgment Day!”

    It prompts questions: Do I throw a party on May 21? (Conveniently,
    it’s a Saturday.) Do I throw dice, or I Ching? Such a big idea,
    such pricey ad space. I don’t mean to mock, exactly,
    but I’m relieved to be in this car
    and not on that bus.

  28. stephanie barbe hammer

    In the Los Angeles Times Saturday edition, a story appeared about an Italian peace activist Vittorio Arrigoni who was murdered by an extremist group as he worked to assist Palestinian fishermen and others in Gaza

    Arrigoni, we are sorry. We let you down
    said Bassam Massri, a friend of the deceased.
    This crime will not go unpunished
    said Hamas. I am ashamed said Bassam.
    The body was found in Gaza City.
    Killed by the people the activist was trying to help?
    The possibility saddens the friend.
    In the photo of demonstrators in Ramallah
    a placard held by a beautiful girl reads
    I love Palestine/Kill mee too.

  29. Kris K

    Even If Today There Are Clouds
    the sun shines
    that reality is lost in the
    present, clouds form
    internally and externally
    sight is lost
    doubt lingers, skepticism
    clouds dull everything, but
    the pain, the weight
    of knowing
    sunlight has not vanished, nor
    the light within
    faith is knowing that it
    never stops burning
    always there,
    warmth and heat burn, though
    blanketed by the clouds
    the green of the grass, the trees
    prove that clouds don’t
    last forever, our heart
    knows like the growth of the earth
    the sun will always shine, even
    if today there are clouds

  30. Carol

    Thanks all for the shout out! I had fun writing Hands That Rock…and no offence meant to any of the masculine persuasion here. Everyone knows poets are different!


  31. Michelle Hed

    Eyes Open

    One event
    does not form a big
    picture, one
    action by
    one person does not include
    the entire race.

    Do you think
    all people who wear
    glasses are
    smart? You don’t?
    Then why would snow in April
    make you think global

    warming is
    just a hoax? Have you
    looked at the
    big picture?
    Do you want Earth to remain
    a sustainable,

    living world?
    Shouldn’t we take care of
    our planet?
    If there is
    something you could do to help
    would you not do it?

  32. Margot Suydam

    New Look

    in black mink
    discarded, zipper
    stuck halfway,
    yet I glow through
    winter bleakness;
    thaw in currents
    the warming
    forms of spring.

    Or maybe a light
    and golden shift,
    glimmering oyster
    pearl found in thrift,
    a shop on the corner
    a new lease, a new star
    I am entranced

    with beginnings,
    the casting off
    replaced by signature
    form firmly rooted
    and displayed,
    a head nodding;
    boredom erased.