2011 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 9

Is it just me, or is this month flying by? It seems like intense poeming always speeds up time for me.

For today’s prompt, take the phrase “(blank) or (blank),” replace the blanks with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Example titles could be: “This or that,” “Dogs or cats,” “Go my way or the highway,” “To poem or not to poem,” etc.

Here’s my attempt:

“ready or not”

we find the children
                            in an empty house

on the edge of town
                            where most things are found

recently. in fact,
                       we aren’t astonished

when they–the children–
                                    are discovered, though

we took long enough
                              to send someone out.

almost as if we
                      could care less, we do,

and then, our outrage
                               at ourselves for our

not getting involved
                            any earlier.


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306 thoughts on “2011 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 9

  1. JoBella

    Dead or Alive?

    Dead in sin or alive in Him
    I praise God for His choice
    I am not what I once had been
    My reason to rejoice

    Walk alone or by His side
    How will I take this path?
    Now in Christ I do abide
    No longer under wrath

    Is there a cost or is it free?
    I see now both it is
    It cost His life for me he gave
    And now I know I’m His

  2. alana sherman

    Day 9 poem

    Here Or There, Up or Down

    In or out I say to Hannah (four)
    Come in or out but please close the door
    Do you want your coat? Put on your boots
    Cheerios or oatmeal?.

    Up or down I say to Ben (two)
    Make up your mind you can’t go through

    Why do I have to choose? He asks quite seriously,
    whether or not to put on shoes,
    If I want to go outside
    or just want to take a ride?
    Who says that it must be?

    Pick a dress, decide on lunch
    Life’s full of decisions and I’ve hunch
    that none of them are easy
    all this either or makes me very queasy

    When I was ten I thought I knew
    What it was that I would do
    Be a cowgirl, be a vet
    Today I’m old as old can get
    I’m not a doctor or a star
    I’m not even sure I’m a poet!

  3. realityspace

    With or Without

    At sunrise, my heart breaks
    without the stillness of night.
    Light swings into place —
    the fairest silent cinema.

    Early risers in the hedgerow
    bestow electric arias
    with the myth of shadow
    cast into my room

  4. RJ Clarken

    Charge It!

    To shop or not to shop:
    on my list, at the top?
    Let’s go!
    I’ll do it ‘til I drop.
    Even then, I won’t stop.
    And so…
    I’m off to boutique hop
    like a crazed turbo-prop.
    Owe… No!


    (Note: The form is Lai.)

  5. Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    contemp or tradit
    by juanita lewison-snyder

    contemporary poet or traditionista?
    do i favor more, metered or free verse?
    does my work lean more towards
    epic, lyrical, or the dramatic?
    if i were to describe myself in
    one word provocateur, would it be
    stanza or prose, concrete or haiku?
    narrative or speculative, classical or slipstream?
    or do i curdle too chicano for you?

    even i am not entirely sure myself,
    disliking labels et all, knowing
    whatever slave plan they come up
    with to explain away my death
    i will most vehemently
    and unequivocally deny
    from behind the blush rhododendron
    pulpit of my final resting place.

    © 2011 by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

  6. Marian O'Brien Paul

    Sane or Not

    Before the advent of in-the-ear telephones,
    if I’d seen a person talking aloud, his hands
    gesticulating as he walked along the street,
    I might have crossed to the opposite side.

    Once I was safely out of his sight, I might
    have announced my non-verbal diagnosis,
    winding one finger in the air near my ear
    to show I believed him undoubtedly loco.

    But that wouldn’t be my reaction anymore.
    Now, I am tempted to tell a person I know
    (who has an actual psychiatric illness), he
    ought to stick a turned off earphone in one
    ear whenever he hallucinates a tête-à-tête
    so strangers wouldn’t know he’s not sane.

  7. Jay Sizemore

    To be continued or not

    She doesn’t remember me.
    Did I imagine that web of sparks
    and glances that danced
    between our eyes
    like invisible light
    on the night we met?

    Am I a fool, trying to dredge
    up a memory from the pool
    of lost time like a man
    down a well, hosting conversation
    with the echoes, pulling up
    that dripping stone from the depths
    and asking her to write
    my name in the moss?

    There’s no answer,
    just a gleam of white reflections
    cast from the corner of her
    windowed inner self,
    a smile, that beckons for more
    reasons to share seconds,
    and a hint of fate’s hands
    twisting the dials
    on the radio.

  8. writejowrite

    Laugh or Cry

    You walked out, no longer in love with me
    I begged you to stay, because I couldn’t see
    How love could end so effortlessly
    My heart is torn in two

    You found a love with someone new
    Someone you say excited you
    Much more than I could ever do
    I cry myself to sleep

    You flaunt your love with cruel intent
    You say this love is heaven sent
    The love for me you never meant
    I hang my head in shame

    Your new love left you at the altar
    As down the aisle she began to falter
    She left you for your cousin Walter
    You cry yourself to sleep

    You are remorseful and want me back
    Good judgement is what you say you lacked
    But this time you will stay on track
    I laugh and close the door.

  9. Judy Roney

    Black or White

    Tell me my husband is OK.
    I don’t understand all this doc talk.
    Say yes, he has cancer, or no.
    The vagaries of the disease I’ll
    learn when I can comprehend this first,
    Does he or doesn’t he?

  10. Glory

    Red or White

    what shall it be?
    Honour, Life and Liberty?
    Or shall we cheer for
    the Black and Tans,
    rebels that shot at any man.
    Guerrillas, young blood,
    all in the name of money,
    and all for fame.

  11. NomiWrites

    Column A or Column B

    At Ruby Foo’s I learned
    To choose from Column A and B
    Or even C and D

    The flaming PuPu platter and the wonton soup
    Appeared before the sticky ribs
    And a kind of noodled goop called Lo Mein something

    In 1950s Jersey, Chinks meant stretching beyond
    The boundaries of tree-lined streets called Main
    Hair-sprayed women in pre-PETA sable and minks
    Who played Canasta and Mah Jongg
    With melds and cracks and bam
    Cigar-smoking men who mixed rye and bourbon
    With golf scores and a memory of the shtetl

    In those pre-Friedan days, I could not choose
    To be the rabbi, lawyer, doctor,
    Just the mate of power or at least the date
    Of doctor’s sons

    Families sat shiva for those who dared to wed
    The shiksa princess or the football stud
    The pill opened new choices about when
    To open razor-nicked legs in hopes
    Of finding the One to define myself by

    Today, when I can have
    Chinese or Thai or Indian, Buddhist, Baptist, or Jew,
    I wonder why
    Choosing things I never knew I wanted
    Is never as satisfying
    As when I chose
    One from Column A and two from Column B

  12. Tracy Davidson

    Sean Connery or Daniel Craig

    Who’s your favourite Bond?

    The one with the hairy chest
    or the one with the smooth?

    The one with the sexy Scottish accent
    or the one with the English?

    The one with the great body
    or the one with the oh-my-god body?

    Actually, to be honest,
    I preferred Roger Moore.
    But then I’m weird like that.

    (Not true by the way – for me it’s still too close a call between Connery and Craig)

  13. KathyintheWallowas

    to her to me to yourself

    I caught you talking of love on Facebook
    it was not to me
    I caught you talking of mistakes and
    innocence retrieved
    it was not clear: to her, to me, to yourself?

    I caught you dining in town near tire shop
    it was not with me
    I caught you stealing apples from feral orchards
    you didn’t take me with
    It was not clear – is she in, am I out – is it just you?

    I caught you bearing gifts in my kitchen
    they were, perhaps, for me
    I caught you loving the world, but creating
    ambiguity for me. just who
    goes there? her or me, or truly you yourself?

  14. PSC in CT

    Love or Money

    An artist, she
    sees beauty
    all around her

    makes magic
    in any media
    every day,
    then, gifts it away

    art, she knows,
    is what she is
    not what she does
    for love or money

    1. bluerabbit47

      Which is why she has to teach somebody else’s kids, clean up somebody else’s messes, listen to somebody else’s problems, or sell somebody else’s junk to have a roof over her head and food on the table. Sighs. Wish it were that easy.

      1. PSC in CT

        Hmmm… easy? Well… it is, and it isn’t. It sounds to me like you’re trying to mix “art” and “making a living” together. No one ever said that making a living was easy. (Or… if they did… well, they lied!) 😉 Don’t give up on art (or music or writing or whatever it is that defines you & brings you pleasure). It makes all the rest bearable. Hang in there. 🙂

  15. Walt Wojtanik


    Love me, or leave me.
    Love me and walk away.
    You better believe me
    I’m not begging you to stay.
    After the time we’ve had
    you just want to treat me bad,
    Love me or leave me,
    or hate me and go.

    Love me or leave me,
    love me and walk away.
    You live to deceive me,
    and someday I’ll make you pay.
    With all that we’ve been through,
    I’m sure I’ll get over you,
    Love me ore leave me,
    or hate me and go.

    For all the times I told you I loved you,
    and for the many times I told you I cared,
    if, after all this time you don’t have me on your mind,
    I’ll never be there.

    Love me, or leave me.
    Love me and walk away.
    The day that you leave me
    will be like a holiday.
    I wished you believed in me
    but now, just be leaving me,
    Love me or leave me,
    or hate me and go.

    For all the times I told you I loved you,
    and for the many times I told you I cared,
    I don’t know what’s left to say, so why don’t you walk away,
    and just leave me alone?

    Love me, or leave me.
    Love me and walk away.
    You better believe me
    I’m not begging you to stay.
    I wished you believed in me
    but now, just be leaving me,
    Love me or leave me,
    or hate me and go.

    ** A song lyric I had written a few years back that fits the prompt.

  16. Dheepikaa

    Truth or Dare

    When the skies meditate
    before it rains, truth speaks its silence –
    Thunder dares to wait,
    when the clouds bash like diamonds;
    against each other after flashes of light
    occupies the skies before they strike:
    eyes of the world eagerly watch
    if it is dare, listen when it is truth.
    You want to play truth or dare?

  17. Penny Henderson


    I choose broccoli skilfully-
    firmly crisp–not too much stem,
    compare the unit pricing tags,
    apply my poet’s mind to get
    the mathematically best deal
    on cans of corn and Campbell’s soup.
    I check the date on jugs of milk,
    ponder large or extra large eggs,
    pick over the clearance rack gems,
    sort my coupons and go check out.
    I’ve done it so well, but as the the
    seeing eye door spots me coming
    I shiver with sudden fright.
    The big heavy cart full falters.
    Where did I park, left or right?

  18. Uma

    Peeling Or Layering

    The gentle wind on his grey beard
    parted like grass on a windy evening:
    follicles fall and grow – trope of death-life.

    There are relationships that he peeled away:
    new and shining like a snake smoothly
    weaving its path in dust, dusty in no time.

    His hair is wet with water he spilled the previous day,
    he feels for the scar on his daughter’s scalp:
    fingers comb the tresses she shed to remove the tumour.

  19. iainspapa

    Poetry or prose?
    Who knows?

    In grade school where I learned to read
    One simple rule was all we’d need
    To nail the answer every time:
    Poems always had to rhyme.

    When the teacher read a book about a bear cub learning to dress himself and the story told how he got mad because his red shirt with the blue stripe got tangled up and stuck on his head so all you could see was his two brown ears, one furry paw and a little black bit of the end of his nose,
    That was prose.

    If Bear’s shirt was RED
    And got stuck on his HEAD
    And the sound of the TEXT
    Warned you what would stick NEXT
    And you knew by the RHYTHM
    What Bear would do WITH ‘EM
    And your head bobbed as you got to KNOW HIM,
    That was, quite clearly, a POEM.

    As grown-ups, though,
    It’s hard to know
    Where poetry ends
    And prosy begins.
    No simple rule
    Like back in school
    Exists in which it’s safe to place your trust
    Enough to confidently segregate poetic airs from more prosaic dust
    And yet, if we hope to avoid a glance or two askance the next time we attend a soireé or a salon at which literature is discussed
    Find such a rule we must.

    With the understanding that what follows is merely my own poor attempt at a reliable algorithm which may well go amiss,
    Try this:

    If you’re reading about a particular class of plants and the author describes them as generally woody perennials with a number of secondary branches growing from a single main stem with clear apical dominance, and it’s equally clear that the author is describing trees, and furthermore, you are absolutely convinced that of all the myriad subjects on which the author might have chosen to write he chose wisely in this instance because, by God, trees are what he knows,
    That’s prose.

    But, if, with a few deft images, a well-turned phrase or perhaps a single word that falls upon your mind’s eye like a thin ray of sunlight that pierces the distant canopy to illuminate a tiny patch of mossy, leaf-strewn understory, the author leaves you with the sense that all at once and for the first time in your life you by God know a tree,
    That’s poetry.


  20. Karen H. Phillips

    Day 9 11-9-2011
    Write a “blank or blank” poem.

    Wait or Ditch?

    It’s happened before.
    Our favorite breakfast spot,
    small and family-run,
    crowded with patrons,
    some of them table-lingerers.
    But this morning, more than usual.

    Two men, tip obvious on the table,
    chit chat, oblivious to us or the couple
    ahead of us.
    A man in the corner, taking up a table
    where two could easily dine,
    intent on his MacBook.

    Several who appear to have eaten,
    or perhaps they’ve just ordered–but my
    husband’s feeling impatient with those
    who, unlike him, aren’t quick to consider others.

    We joke, as we exit, that the owner, who’s
    apparently at her other job,
    would not approve. She, in a brusque but
    kindly way, often urges slow diners to
    move things along.

    We head for our second favorite place,
    where this early,
    there’s no wait, but due to the slow morning,
    also little help in the kitchen,
    and I barely make it to my dentist’s appointment.
    But I make it.

    And we wonder why people, especially regular customers,
    would treat a busy family restaurant
    like a deserted Starbucks, and be blind to people waiting and waiting.


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