2011 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 5

Quick reminder: Daylight Savings is tonight. Set your clocks appropriately before going to sleep.

For today’s prompt, write a broken poem. The poem can be specifically about something breaking or just include something (or someone for that matter) that’s broken. Get as creative as you want about interpreting what’s broken: cars, hearts, toys, spirits, codes, etc. Heck, I guess–unless we’re writing prose poems–we’ll automatically be breaking lines.

Here’s my attempt:

“this tree spreading outward”

my shadow wants your shadow to filter
through these branches and dance for no reason
other than the sun is warm and the wind
shifts the leaves any direction it can.
this tree spreading outward wil break sidewalks
and foundations. its roots will seek water
while holding firm to the earth. the years will
ring themselves inside, and children will hide
behind when they play games. yes, this same tree
spreading outward will outlive us, but we
still have this quiet chance to dance alone.


Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer

And while you’re there, tweet poetic with other challenge poets using the #novpad hashtag.


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It’s definitely a satisfying experience to write poetry for yourself and even share with friends and family, but what about reaching an even larger audience? Learn how to reach that larger audience with the Build an Audience for Your Poetry tutorial, presented by Robert Lee Brewer. From getting out to poetry events and joining organizations to using social media effectively, this tutorial shares how to start building up a life-long readership one reader at a time.

Click here to learn more.


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280 thoughts on “2011 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 5

  1. RJ Clarken

    Printer Jam

    I sent a print job to the printer queue
    but nothing ended up in the output tray.
    I said, “Hey Printer! What’s the matter with you?”
    The printer just sat there, but it didn’t say.

    But… an LED error message appeared which read, “Pull out paper tray.”
    I did this and saw a piece of paper which was stuck
    on some cog, but since my boss was approaching, I didn’t say
    what was really on my mind. (*Sigh*) Of all the luck!

    So I wiggled and jiggled some ‘things’ to try and get the paper unstuck.
    My boss shook his head, then laughed. “What’s the matter with you?”
    “I’m glad you find this funny,” I replied, “But it’s just bad luck
    that your ‘RUSH’ report caused a printer jam – and right on cue.”


    Note: Form is Pantoum.

  2. PSC in CT

    My Thanks

    This is my “Thank you” to helpers and healers,
    menders and fixers of things that are
    broken, (but not beyond repair);
    linemen and tree men, roofers, technicians
    plumbers and builders, and all electricians.

    Gratitude too, to all the care-givers: the doctors and nurses,
    family and friends, neighbors and strangers, huggers,
    hand holders, laughers and smilers, and all of the ones
    (who would wave or would wink, or just drive by and honk)
    letting us know we are not alone.

    1. sidewalkdiva

      nice. I like the rhythm of the list. someone — was it annie dillard? someone talked about all lists being a form of prayer… ‘laughers’, the parenthetical ‘but not beyond repair’.

      thank you for this one!

  3. Jay Sizemore

    The way sunlight breaks

    across ocean waves
    into liquid light confetti
    around my wife’s feet,
    there’s a celebration of simplicity,
    a rippling assurance in the whispers
    of water against sand that says,
    “this is all there is, accept it.”

    The melted crystal sea sparkles
    around us, every winking reflection
    a camera flash from another plane,
    a star exploding in a parallel universe,
    a prismatic exchange between
    the darkest of blues and the lightest
    of whites, erupting like two dimensional
    fireworks across a plate glass window,
    that begs to be lifted up into the heavens,

    so I gather some of the sea into my palms,
    where the stillness kills the light,
    and throw it into the air, each droplet
    becoming a bead of fire
    filled with unquenchable freedom
    against the backdrop of clouds and blue,
    for just an instant soaring,
    a thousand diamonds torn from the rings
    on mother nature’s hands,
    then falling back to the blanket
    of endless kisses washing to the shore,
    waiting to be turned into rain.

    1. sidewalkdiva

      i like the way the light seems to dash across the page, like lightening. I almost see jagged thread of light moving across the lines, changing from form to form, and still light. There are word pairs throughout that are unexpected and exciting: ‘unquenchable freedom’ ‘stillness kills’ ‘celebration of simplicity’ ‘rippling assurance’..

  4. Glory

    Never To Find (villanelle)

    Lost in the haze of time
    I roam, ever to seek,
    never to find.

    Wanting all that is mine,
    my lover unique,
    lost in the mist of time.

    I reach far out, climb
    the stars until weak,
    never to find.

    In my heart, a rhyme
    always to seek,
    lost in the mist of time.

    Riding with time
    to the heavens, I speak,
    never to find.

    In darkness I creep,
    with sorrow I weep,
    lost in the mist of time

    never to . . . .

    1. sidewalkdiva

      villanelle … so close to the word ‘villain’ when I go to write them…
      I was carried forward, a lolloping gait, as I was just lost in the mists here, outside my house, the imagery is particularly prescient. I find that I want you (speaker in the poem) to find your way home…

  5. Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    the book of juana
    by juanita lewison-snyder

    she takes in strays
    despite the ban
    she mends the broken
    because she can

    neighbor castoffs
    two-legged and four
    the sick, the hungry
    the abused, the poor

    the addict, the loner
    the orphan, the insane
    the disabled, the dreamer
    the empty, the vain

    she nurtures minds
    broken hearts
    helps lost spirits
    find new starts

    it’s who she is
    her greatest wrath
    her nature’s calling
    her chosen path

    she takes in strays
    despite the ban
    she mends the broken
    because she can.

    © 2011 by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

  6. MichelleMcEwen

    Railroad Salvage (by Michelle McEwen)

    The biggest luggage I’ve ever seen, ma bought
    at Railroad Salvage—a flea market/furniture store
    daddy took us to on the weekend. She got her stockings
    there, too. But it is the gigantic luggage she always brings
    up whenever somebody says, “Remember Railroad Salvage?”
    She tells them how she found it in the middle of the store
    as if someone had wanted it— then, remembering how
    it wouldn’t fit in their trunk, left it there. It fit
    in our station wagon, though, and next summer
    when Daddy drove from central Connecticut to the middle
    of Alabama, ma packed her four daughters’ clothes and
    and underclothes, too, in that luggage and the zipper worked—
    wasn’t broken like the ones you find on the luggage
    at the Salvation Army. “And there was still room left
    over,” ma says. Enough room to fit, on our way back,
    the buttered-colored towels she stole from daddy’s mama.

  7. vsbryant1


    Broken pieces fall to the floor
    Hearts stop, tears over flow
    Broken promises hit like a bat
    Hearts stop, tears overflow
    Broken dreams lye abandoned in the trash
    Herats stop, tears over flow
    Broken lives falls victim to the war
    Hearts stops, tears over flow

    Broken pieces fall to the floor
    Nightmares come, love never more
    Broken sight, blinded to the core
    Nightmares come, love never more
    Broken, beaten, battered, bruised
    Nightmares come, love never more
    Broken love, left holding stone
    Nightmares come, love never more

    Broken pieces fall to the floor
    Hearts stop, tears over flow

    Broken pieces fall to the floor
    Nightmares come, love never more

    Broken me, left here alone
    You took my heart, left me only with pieces
    Nightmares of love lost
    Shattered glassed left scattered over battered parts

  8. JujYFru1T

    Tricky Time

    I’ve replaced the battery on this clock three times
    Cleaned out all the dust
    Polished the face
    But the constant ticking is silent
    the hands unmoving at 11:23
    All I can think is
    Hey, the Fibonacci sequence
    As opposed to the fact that
    it chose to stop working
    on the day you chose to leave

  9. Iain Douglas Kemp

    Forsaken Haunts

    The mind is in turmoil
    all the way home
    to make the right decision
    and as the car approaches the town
    a right turn signal is given
    the road to the pub avoided
    straight home
    to poem
    an early supper
    an early night…

    …and night after night
    the pattern is repeated
    the favoured haunts are forsaken
    and at last
    the habit is broken!


  10. NomiWrites

    I know I’m a day – okay two days – behind. But I figure if I keep posting it will push me to keep this up.


    I am not used to silence

    My friends are still out there
    Dr Oz telling us how to get well, stay well
    Cooks cooking something very fast –
    I’m amazed that no one has food poisoning;
    Designers designing clothes that only models dare to wear
    Dancers dancing impossible dances in impossible costumes

    Bones and Castle and Gibbs still hunt down
    The killer of someone killed
    So we can have the pleasure of watching
    Our heroes catch the bad guys

    Perky morning hosts catch us up on yesterday’s news
    So we have something share around the coffeemaker

    But I have none of that
    Even this typing machine can only talk to itself

    The cable guy is coming today
    A part of me still hopes he might be young and cute
    But mainly I want him connect all the boxes in my house
    To the source
    So that I don’t have to go out and live the life
    I sit at home and watch.

  11. Nimue

    Behind the smiles,
    Reality spins a different tale,
    On-lookers wonder, while
    Keen eyes smile with understanding,
    Enough stories live within stories,
    No matter how long you keep silent.

  12. Marian O'Brien Paul

    Quail: a Metaphor

    A perspicacious eye
    assessing the clutter on my dresser top
    might well spy
    lost in the velvety dust, a ceramic quail.

    Some forty years old
    it survives, rescued long years since:
    shards then cradled
    in my hands, each shattered piece.

    For Mother’s day
    this gift from my nine-year-old son
    he’d hidden away
    but it slipped from his careful grip.

    If you had seen
    those tears on that little boy’s face
    you’d have been
    hard-pushed to keep adult eyes dry.

    “Never you mind,”
    I promised. “I’m sure we can mend it
    Just run and find
    our brand new bottle of Elmer’s glue.”

    I no longer recall
    how long it took, each fragile sliver
    from that fated fall
    remolded with the help of tweezers.

    Unintended metaphor
    some might say for his future life
    requiring a reservoir
    of faith that someone can fix breaks.

    A gauzy dust veil
    hides the old glue, opaque over gaps
    in the ceramic quail,
    the way love’s lens softens my son.

  13. seingraham

    Cracked, Fractured – Finally, Broken

    First, only the fingers of fate and felicity
    Can pull apart the crevasse
    So slight is sanity’s shredding seam
    As her mind begins to unravel

    One day it’s a word heard or overheard
    The next it’s less than that
    Something indiscernible that not only widens
    The fissure but starts hairline cracks
    Radiating out in all directions

    Before she quite knows what’s happened
    There is pain beyond all measure
    And no amount of holding her head
    Alleviates the howling as more fault lines
    Snap – not cleanly – no never cleanly

    But broken through and through and through
    She tries to hold onto the knowledge
    That shattered minds do mend – they do
    She has witnessed this countless times

    Still – each time, she can’t help wondering …
    If this is the time there will be no
    Repairing the damage
    The time the seam will be too frayed
    To with-stand restitching
    She has witnessed this before as well

  14. Linda Neas

    Lost Limb

    The snap split the silence of sleep
    as the limb crashed down
    weighed heavy with snow and ice
    landing with a thump on the roof

    In daylight, the damage done
    is less than expected
    No puncture to the roof
    Only the lost limb lying
    limp in the arms of arborvitae

  15. gammaword

    Way In

    In the country of the dragonflies
    a yellow kayak steers
    around small ceremonies
    of gift and wingbeat,
    its sides scratching the husks
    of summer.

    It encroaches. It’s a voice
    calling out
    on a quiet Sunday, unbidden,
    unwelcome. It follows what little
    water there is,
    breaking what’s fragile, the blade’s
    careless swipes working deeper
    into the cluttered reeds.

    On the other side of the world,
    in the country of the luminous,
    your face emerges
    and more perfect
    than I remember,

    an open watercourse
    with quickwater sureness.
    Nothing I say,
    nothing I do
    will disturb what’s already unkempt
    and free. What’s already
    a little bit
    reckless .

    Wilderness – (how your hair
    catches the
    half-light!) –
    we bow to each other
    and enter

  16. jane hoover

    Where to Begin and When

    I watched myself all week as
    I peered again and again into my studio
    wondered where to begin

    All was well there – paper and pen ready,
    computer humming low,
    room neat and pretty, an inviting space.

    Yet my feet turned me away
    again and again.

    A voice whispered, how about making
    some cookies – try out your new oven?

    A voice encouraged, write later
    after the warm sun goes
    after bird-song closes down.

    And so the week ticked off the days
    and we enjoyed oatmeal cookies, a dozen
    sausage-cheese biscuits, all hot

    I worked the challenge of Sudoku
    met three new neighbors

    Still, silk-sweet voice cooed its hold
    a best time, a better time, but
    not just now…

    Until I replied enough, broke
    the noisy voice with the volume of my pen
    began again in the middle of a moment.

    Jane Penland Hoover

    1. alotus_poetry

      I really enjoyed reading this, Jane! Isn’t it amazing that the more we “ignore” our voice and the urge to write, the stronger and more pressing it gets? Then when we sit down to write, it becomes water rushing over a dam. 🙂 I love how you capture the every day routine in this one as well.

  17. hohlwein2

    Broken Poem

    It is wrong to assume
    nothing else can be broken.
    But dust cannot break,
    nor mold, nor ash.

    The art broke
    The dishes one at a time
    The spoken words broke
    and the trust underneath them.
    The floors, the stairs, the sidewalks
    broke. Tables. Toddler’s tables.
    Pool tables. Inside tables. Out.

    The ease broke
    The dreams
    The evenings, the lights
    out, broke
    The stars falling, broken.
    Bottles, of course, broke.
    The night’s peace, broke
    The morning’s peace, broken
    The afternoons vanished into
    into a darkness unbroken.

    The pride broke
    The will broke and broke
    The will broke and it broke
    The will broken
    The money gone,
    broke and broken
    even the stretching beach
    cut right to its edge
    the waves breaking
    without a spread to peace
    That peace, broken.

    It is wrong to assume
    nothing else can be broken
    even when nearly nothing
    is left to break.

  18. Penny Henderson


    Like an antique clock,
    never quite on time,
    my inner timepiece
    begins to malfunction.
    Hours escape down
    unswept corridors,
    uncharted, mislaid,

  19. justastatistic-poet

    On my Birth Day……………………….
    Lashed by time unremittingly stark impossible to ignore,
    Old memories grows frequently dim,
    Bereft of sweet nourishment the soul grows unseemly unsightly unbearably grim,
    A heart so long pierced an unhealing ache,
    Now daily I drag myself reluctantly to wake,
    For that one recurring instant that her face becomes clear,
    Though from within bleeds a twenty-year-in-waiting soul-torn-tear,
    In that miserable moment I despair that I yet live,
    How I regret that every time you fell I just held you and said shit yes babe of course I forgive,
    You couldn’t shake your addiction,
    I watched helplessly your slow drug-induced crucifixion,
    So so long ago,
    My love all these empty years since how I wish I could rewind and forgo,
    Just to squeeze you close again,
    To out-love your affliction and to never-ending kiss away the pain,
    But from this fallen world you gently passed,
    And my loveless future was irrevocably cast,
    On this day my birth day,
    You went away,
    Forty-four years and still without the words to make it clear,
    Just how much I fucking miss you…my perfect delicate damaged dear,
    And yet still branded by your addicted mark,
    For I withdrew and desolately drifted… damaged in the dark…

  20. Domino

    The only thing I have today is something that’s a little dark. Bear with me.


    As a child,
    the world we’re born into
    is whole.

    There are generally parents
    aunts and uncles
    siblings and cousins.

    This is our life
    this is all we know.

    And eventually,
    sometimes sooner
    sometimes later,
    someone dies
    and leaves our
    a little less whole.

    And we grow and
    learn and
    people come into
    our lives.

    later, bosses
    and coworkers
    and eventually
    love comes along.

    And our world gets bigger
    with each addition
    but also
    a little smaller
    with each loss.

    And we discover
    that everyone,
    is from a world
    that was once whole
    and with each loss
    becomes more

    And in fact,
    the people that raised us,
    they were broken
    for as long as we’ve
    known them.

    And as life goes on
    and the older each of us gets
    the more broken
    our world is,
    the more people
    we are missing.
    And somehow, even making
    more additions
    does not take away
    the weight
    of the loss.

    Diana Terrill Clark

  21. Sibella


    Every move ends with something broken.
    From the packing box I unwrap the long-stemmed
    handpainted wine glasses, one of my thrift-shop finds.
    One base comes out of the box on its own, a glass disk
    with a sharp glass nipple. My husband, on the phone
    as I show him the rest of it, tells his brother, “We now have
    a wine glass we can use only on the beach.”
    We smile at each other across the room.
    A tumbler that really tumbles. A drink
    you can’t put down. A stem that could stab you
    through the heart, if you’d like.

    His brother is trudging through a divorce
    as slow as a walk along the shore as the tide
    whips up the sand, teases with splashes,
    goes dead serious with undertow. It’s like a disease
    that could worsen with a slight temperature shift.
    When I told my cardiologist I didn’t feel ill
    despite a blood pressure that ought to have laid me out,
    she said “That’s why they call it the silent
    killer.” I wonder what her machines
    would show my brother-in-law,
    who’s been snapped off at the base.

    I want a healer to fix him. I want family love
    to make it right. I want to cradle his heart
    in my hands, share some light wine and dark talk,
    feel the fresh air. I want his home to be broken
    like his brother’s and mine, this long ramble
    whose shards become stories, whose losses
    are minor trash, easily swept away,
    or tales bright as fireflies.

    Pamela Murray Winters

  22. Catherine

    Everyone here has a story and this is ours.
    How the insurance assessor pronounced our chimney sound
    Then the city shook for a third time and the chimney
    sheared off at the roofline, took a leap
    over the side of the house
    and crashed through the eaves to land in the driveway.
    The assessor, from halfway down the ladder,
    leapt to the ground to find his car blocked in.
    When the builder took the remains of the chimney
    to be dumped, he found
    it was a ton of bricks.
    It fell like a ton of bricks.

  23. Raina Masters

    The broken way we love

    Through parts that barely fit together,
    stretched out seams that light infiltrates.

    A gentle shove to stir, a poke
    a prod – a reminder
    of everything that is wrong with how
    we sleep and wake and sleep again.

    We stumble through this union,
    bang our heads on a flimsy foundation
    scrape change and cut coupons to cash in
    a guilty pleasure or two,
    just to try to remember the taste of
    what we used to call a good time,
    an idiotic notion.

    We stay up late and go nowhere,
    lay in bed and stare at the ceiling,
    at the curtains being jostled by air vent heat.

    Repeat. Resent. Repeat.

  24. pmwanken


    one keystroke
    reignited a piercing pain
    that sucked all air
    emitted from my lungs

    the strident pitch
    of my cries echoed
    throughout the
    shell of my being

    while tears flowed
    endlessly into the
    pleats of my
    pillowcase, until

    delirium seemed
    to overtake me…
    or had I fallen
    asleep, to dream

    of the soothing swishing
    waves on the shore
    of dappled sand,
    cool between my toes

    P. Wanken


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