2011 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 21

We’re three weeks into this challenge already. I don’t know how it is for you, but for me, it feels like we just started November a day or two ago. It’s like complete warp drive.

For today’s prompt, take the phrase “Whenever (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then write your poem. Example titles could be: “Whenever I write a poem,” “Whenever something good happens,” “Whenever never,” etc.

Here’s my attempt:

“Whenever the phone rings”

I expect a million dollars
or a death in the family.
If I don’t know the caller,
I expect a million dollars.
If I do and their voice falters,
I always think fatality.
I expect a million dollars
or a death in the family.


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368 thoughts on “2011 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 21

  1. Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    whenever i see crows
    by juanita lewison-snyder

    whenever i open my door and see crows
    i think on our neighbor lady
    out tending her wild chickens
    with scratch not so benevolent,
    giving them the day’s assignments
    as she wagers with the devil
    because she knows the evil that crows do
    and because she thinks they can take him.

    © 2011 by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

  2. KathyintheWallowas


    it’s the moment past and
    the calendar opens up like
    an empty highway on open
    range. it’s now your job to
    watch out for what comes,
    to swerve left when you
    think to swerve right, to
    keep your eyes peeled for
    whatever comes next, for
    all the signs that say “life
    here, wherever you go.”
    whenever you turn the
    page, whatever you want,
    wherever you take it: go.

  3. Marian O'Brien Paul

    Whenever Winter’s Near

    gray sky darkens losing light
    the clouds are belly-full as if
    waiting to drop the first snow

    I scan the empty space above
    building tops three stories high
    searching for wheeling crows

    black wings against gray sky
    before all natural light is lost
    winging wide an ancient gyre

    here one, there two drop out
    to perch a while on high-rise
    rooftops, catch their breaths

    before returning to the throng
    their winter dance, silent song

  4. NomiWrites

    Whenever I Look in the Mirror

    Whenever I look in the mirror
    A stranger greets me
    Reminds me that we haven’t met in a while
    Shows me new evidence of life lived
    Challenges me to choose
    How I want to present myself to the world

    This is what they see, she says
    I struggle to see
    Beyond my pain
    That there is actually a person there

    Emotionally I am still a six year old
    Longing for approval
    Outwardly I am ten times that
    But still yearning
    Just as these words are
    Me and Not Me
    So the mirror shows
    Me and Not Me

  5. seingraham

    Humbling Journeys

    Flying over great bodies of water
    Seen from the air, they appear
    Like art canvas in varying shades:
    Brush-stroked or pallet-knifed
    Cobalt, Prussian blue, slate,
    Pale viridian – to name a few
    I feel so insignificant
    At times like these – hours
    Of passing nothing but water

    The only things seeming as endless—
    At least thus far in my travels—
    Viewed from the air,
    Are mountain ranges
    Row on row of snow- covered
    Peaks, that from 30,000 plus feet
    Appear somewhat the same height
    It is illusory but equally humbling

    Travelling by train or car
    I get the same sensation
    Going across the prairies
    In North America or up around
    The great lakes in Canada
    While that section of road and rail
    Don’t really go on endlessly,
    But with the twists and turns
    Through the Canadian Shield
    Passing through steep canyon
    Walled tunnels and past
    Thousands of un-named
    Lakes and islands, some
    That still show on no maps,
    It seems at times unending
    And has the propensity
    To make me feel diminished

    I find myself, especially
    When flying, thinking often
    Of brave Amelia Earhart
    Flying off into the great
    Unknown – radioing
    To land that she and her
    Co-pilot were lost but
    Not that worried –
    And then, they were
    Never seen
    nor heard from, again

  6. Joseph Harker

    Thought this had posted successfully before… apparently not! 🙁

    Whenever There’s Smoke

    The chimneys
    have gone volcanic,
    with black plumes
    that scatter above Midtown
    in the autumn air;

    and each time,
    I think, don’t panic:
    but there’s still
    those brief thoughts,
    Towering Inferno thoughts,
    triggered in my head;

    I’m counting
    all the fire exits,
    so at least
    I’m ready
    for when the alarm is real
    and we play for keeps.

  7. seingraham

    Whenever I Pause

    Whenever I pause to draw another breath
    Or shed tears, or blood, or a jacket in summer
    Whenever I take a second to listen for your step
    Or bend down to hear if the dog or the car is coming
    Round the corner and nearer the house at last
    Whenever there’s a hush in the night so still
    I find myself puzzled awake and wondering why
    I’m pausing between breaths and heartbeats
    As I lay there in the dark; that seems to be
    Whenever I find myself feeling closest to you of all

  8. Judy Roney

    Whenever I Shop

    the world gets smaller.
    No crime, starving children,
    no touchy conversations.
    A kaleidoscope of color, whirls.
    Melodious background voices, calm.
    No aches, no pains, no work.
    Just shop, smile, be, hunt, enjoy.
    Melt away in a daze of joyous
    Sights, sounds, and kinetic energy.

  9. Sibella

    Whew. With this one, I’m caught up again.

    Lines Written While Listening To “Peace Sign” by War

    Whenever I hear War I see colors
    rubbed down with grease and ribbons of sweat,
    metal that bounces like Akron rubber,
    clouds of smoke that makes you cough and grin.
    I reminisce about times I never had,
    places I’ve never been. I know what it’s like
    to have piston rings and a black bandana,
    to play a hot horn in cascades,
    to taste cherry-lime soda. War is
    the thick white shadow on the eyelids
    of my mojo. War is the time machine,
    hands on the eight-ball stick,
    fuel that, with anachronistic funkitude,
    perpetually recycles itself.

    Pamela Murray Winters

  10. Tracy Davidson

    Whenever I Eat

    I have to take
    an even number of bites,
    never odd,
    preferably a meal or snack
    should be eaten
    in a number divisble by 4.

    I don’t know why
    or how it started,
    I’ve just been doing it
    as long as I remember.

    If there’s an odd number
    of chocolates in the box,
    or chips on my plate,
    I bite one in half
    to even up the numbers.

    It’s my ‘thing’,
    my superstition,
    my little piece of OCD.

    Just like when I was little
    and used to colour in
    all the ‘O’s’ in my books
    in pink or yellow felt tip pen.

    Guess I’m just weird like that.

    (I have to go now – the men in white coats are here to take me away!)

  11. justastatistic-poet

    Whenever love comes…

    A life half-remembered,
    Dreams dismembered,
    A noose swishing swaying end-it saying,
    Trembling timbered hollowed-out praying,

    The colors unreal tarry awhile,
    Dazzling colors just…like…your…smile,
    My poems you loved but loved not me,
    Mindless churning self-anarchy,

    Steamy forest raindrop falls,
    Searing tears unfit fate now calls,
    By what design this God intends,
    So love comes…So love ends…

  12. Nimue

    whenever we meet

    “Love is blind”,
    so was said long ago,
    “and lovers cannot see”
    that drowned my hopes,
    to ever be able to speak,
    the silence smoldered
    the fires,oblivious to my sky
    trapped in a planet of dreams,
    fleeting glances of you,
    like ice to the my tired feet,
    pierced holes of longing
    in the soul already battered,
    and eyes so devoid of sleep…

  13. Benjamin Thomas


    Whenever I’m posed to relax
    Whenever I’m desperate for a nap
    Whenever I’m eager for silence
    Whenever I’m within inches of deep R.E.M.
    Whenever I’m stressed and filled to the brim
    There’s a text
    an email
    a bill
    a phone call
    a diaper
    a cry
    a demand
    a question
    a dish
    a pile of laundry
    But, I’ll get to it whenever…

  14. Nancy Posey

    Whenever I Teach…

    Whenever I teach Shakespeare, I polish up my thees and thous,
    bouncing into class as excited as a middle school girl ready
    to introduce one best friend to another, sure they’ll hit it off.
    Letting my students in on the clever wit, the corny puns,
    the rich language that feels good rolling off my tongue,
    I offer them the chance not just to read aloud, but to stand,
    Folger paperback in one hand, props in the other, speaking
    the lines, muttered asides, royal proclamations, love talk.

    Whenever I teach Dickinson–I make sure I’ve saved up dashes
    for week– knowing her mere influence will force me–
    to overspend my limit as I rush forward through her lines—
    humming the words to the tune of Amazing Grace—
    how sweet the sound—or Working on the Railroad.
    I make no pretense of understanding Emily–sequestered
    by choice in her upstairs room—mourning perhaps lost love.
    I never seek to know her truths—sure as I am she’d tell them

    Whenever I teach Chaucer, rarely in the month of Aprill,
    I teach the prologue, line by line, explaining all the words,
    except perhaps, those ferne halwes couth…providing the world
    a classroom set of Middle English speakers—capable at least
    of eighteen lines, a hedge, I’m told, against loss of memory.
    I catch myself reciting too, driving down the highway
    every morning, picturing the years and years of high school
    seniors similarly prepared—for what? Like a party game,
    to rattle off those magic words as if in some secret sorority.

  15. De Jackson

    Whenever I Lose Myself

    I look for her in strange
    and sorry corners, trace
    inky fingers along dark
    walls, Braille my way to

    cocooned center, where
    she has wrapped herself
    in feather and phrase
    carved cold worn heart a

    safe and sacred hollow,
    followed her own veins
    to a place where they
    might spill, filled her

    lungs with hope-honed
    breeze and willed the
    trees to shade and sway
    as she gives herself away.

  16. JanetRuth

    I Know That You Feel it Too…

    Whenever the moon, like a bright silver dollar
    Is skimming the crest of the hill
    Whenever the day slips beneath earth’s dark collar
    And evening is solemn and still
    Whenever I feel you steal over my heartbeat
    Akin to the gathering of dew
    Whenever the rush of the past whispers to me
    I know that you feel it too

    Whenever the twilight becomes the distinction
    Dividing what is with what was
    Enlarging within me my scope of reflection
    And time’s vast expanse between us
    Whenever I gather my longing that lingers
    And wrap it, like a favorite worn cloak
    Weaving the echo of you through my fingers
    I retrace the words that we spoke

    Whenever night’s broader shadows have deepened
    As heaven and earth coalesce
    Whenever I feel you as daytime lies is sleeping
    Beneath the pale moonlight’s caress
    Whenever I feel you steal into my breathing
    In whispers of soft azure blue
    I’m overcome with wild pleasure and grieving
    And I know that you feel it too
    Yes, I know that you feel it too

  17. cstewart

    Whenever I Hear

    Whenever I hear the word “tradition”.
    I listen carefully,
    To see if the bulb has gone out,
    To see if what is being discussed,
    Is worth remembering
    Or needs to be rewired for today.

  18. Brian Slusher


    shows up at your recital, dressed
    for a Victorian funeral, and he pulls
    a long face as you’re about to go
    for the high note, don’t
    hesitate: remember even Callas
    was called Una grande vociaccia,
    “a great ugly voice” by those
    who loved her best, because beauty
    isn’t pretty—it’s tough enough to
    tear your heart out if you let it
    do its work. So open your throat
    and blow the crepe right off those
    silk hats, send those black shawls
    wheeling willy-nilly to the exits.
    Those somber Thomases expect
    holes, not miracles. Give them
    above C, beyond colossal, all
    you got that’s generous,
    voluminous, luminous, and
    however flawed, magnificent!

  19. alana sherman

    On the Occasion
    of Another Wedding Anniversary

    Whenever my marriage goes awry
    I never bother to question why
    I merely reach for a bottle of wine
    And very soon everything’s looking fine

    When fights disturb connubial bliss
    I don’t seek analysis
    I beg your pardon Sigmund Freud
    But a Pinot makes me less annoyed

    A simple Chateau-neuf-du-pape
    Can bring a wrangle to a stop
    And every sip of Chardonnay
    Ensures another anniversary

    So here’s to Vin, both white and red
    They help preserve the marriage bed.

  20. cstewart


    Always a surprise in white –
    Whenever I ran breathless,
    Down the long, curved driveway,
    To the big, silver mailbox –
    The crisp envelopes snapped
    With colorful ink and stamps
    I looked inside to see –
    What was not forgotten.

  21. cstewart


    Always a surprise in white –
    Whenever I ran breathless,
    Down the long, long driveway,
    To the big, silver mailbox –
    The crisp envelopes snapped
    With colorful ink and stamps
    I looked inside to see –
    What was not forgotten.

  22. DanielAri

    “Whenever in the rearview”

    I’ve been trying to figure out
    why it pulls me inside out
    seeing my daughter after
    I drop her off at the front
    of the school, knowing her
    comfort even before K-hall
    opens the passage to the yard.

    We, her parents, argue
    our concern about the school,
    public education with its tests
    and candy. All its mixed
    influence. But she wants
    to stay at Valley View.

    She’ll go into her day
    more confidently
    than I ever could at her
    age, when I would cry
    and cling and watch
    the car pull away.

    That’s the surprise
    that twists me so:
    that she doesn’t wait
    to see me go. This
    makes me pull over
    to watch her from further
    up the curbing,
    both of us facing
    forward. She is at home
    in her world. She doesn’t
    need me with her now.
    Blessed be. Mercy me.

  23. Jacqueline Hallenbeck

    Whenever lightning strikes

    Whenever lightning strikes,
    it is God who is taking pictures of me!
    He must love me! I’m so psyched!
    Whenever lightning strikes,
    I think up poses He might like;
    He’s a master at photography!
    Whenever lightning strikes,
    it is God who is taking pictures of me!

    Note: First 2 lines are from a popular saying/quote by an unknown source.


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