November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 10

Hooray! Once you finish your poem today, you will be one-third of the way to completion. Isn’t that awesome? And isn’t this month speeding by so fast? Possibly even, too fast?

Well, it’s not over yet. Today, I want you to write a “survival of the fittest” poem. Try to come up with a poem relating to your theme that plays around with the idea of the survival of the fittest. If you think about it long enough, you may be surprised with what you discover.

Here’s my attempt for the day:


You can be good in school,
but I’ll still follow you home;

you can lock your doors,
but I’ll still force my way inside;

you can hide in your closet,
but I’ll still find you right away;

you can stab me in the face,
but I’ll still rise up again;

you can shoot me out a window,
but you can never find my body;

you can go to sleep at night,
but you can’t forget my name,

or my William Shatner mask.


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82 thoughts on “November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 10

  1. Lynne

    American Beauty’s Fit

    "You’re hardly fit to be in my shadow."
    The haughty red rose looked down upon
    the humble dandelion plunked in the grass
    across from the rose bed.

    "Fit enough," replied the perky yellow flower.

    The rose, an American Beauty, puzzled over
    such confidence coming from a common
    dandelion, then sniffed "you’re not special,
    you carry no scent and you’re a blight
    upon the landscape. I am pampered
    admired, dusted to keep vexing aphids
    away, then selected to display myself
    in a vase inside where my perfume wafts
    through every room."

    The dandelion took on the glow of
    sunshine. "My place of honor is in the
    hand of a child presenting a bouquet
    to a mother. When I grow old, my place
    of honor is again in a little one’s hand
    as a small puff of breath sends fluffy
    white parachutes into the air."

    The rose, clearly perturbed, dealt
    what she thought was a crushing
    blow. "I am beautiful and fit. You
    are nothing but a weed that everyone
    wants to eliminate."

    The dandelion’s yellow head shone
    brighter. "Although you’re beautiful,
    you’re pampered, they coddle you.
    You depend upon them for protection,
    even for the water you need. That is
    how you survive. My life is self-sustaining.
    Sunshine and plentiful water come to me
    with no help from anyone. I don’t desire
    to sit indoors in a vase hoping someone
    will remember to freshen my water.
    They can dig me up or mow me down,
    but my roots will rejuvenate, my white fluff
    will float away to grow in new surroundings.
    I will survive as I have for centuries."

  2. Carol


    Window smash –
    a woodpigeon lying on the garden flags,
    a female sparrow hawk flaps and lands on top,
    yellow talons curling into the still warm breast,
    beak tugging clumps of soft grey/white down,
    tossing them around.
    Scattered feathers roll in the quiet breeze,
    spreading over the path, catching in plants.
    Flesh is torn, hooked up in stripes,
    bright red organs and sinew
    are stretched like elastic till they snap,
    then disappear down the beak.
    With much pulling and twisting,
    and clamping of claws
    a wing is finally wrenched off
    and cast aside, so the hawk can resume
    flaying and swallowing flushed meat,
    until the carcass offers nothing more.
    Then the sparrowhawk spreads its wings
    and lifts its bold amber eyes,
    leaves a mass of mangled bone and feathers,
    she has survived another day.

  3. Kathy Kehrli

    X. The Cardiac Victims’ Memorial

    In memory of the men whose physical hearts cut short their soulful hearts. We mourn and remember the inequity.

    *Chamberlin, Wilt – age 63
    *Schulz, Charles M. – age 77
    *O’Connor, Carrol – age 77
    *White, Reggie – age 43
    *Ritter, John – age 54
    *Carlin, John – age 71
    ~Kehrli, Walter – six weeks shy of 71

    *confirmed dead
    ~presumed dead, later confirmed alive

    Be it luck or fate
    Or the grace of God,
    We’re thankful our dad
    Still roams this sod.

  4. Taylor Graham


    forty days ago. They found his truck
    at the trailhead. Searched for a week,
    hasty teams on all the trails
    and down the creek to the falls. Helicopter
    overflights. Five-man teams abreast
    for half a mile in all directions. Experts
    determined how long he could survive,
    given his health, the weather,
    his wilderness skills. At last
    they suspended the search. Yesterday
    he came back out. Told
    how he broke his leg in a fall,
    splinted it as best he could. Ate ants
    and termites, caught rainwater in his cap.
    On hands and knees he followed stars
    and sunrise. Lost thirty pounds.
    His leg mended more or less. He
    crawled out of the canyon,
    found the trailhead They’d towed
    his truck away. He hitched
    a ride to town. First thing
    he asked for was a beer.

  5. Tyger


    We always thought
    the strongest was king
    the most brute
    most demanding
    dominating, domineering
    the loudest screamer
    with the vilest words
    the one whose fist
    slammed on table or lectern
    to underscore each
    forceful word
    but oh surprise
    when the humble one
    with quiet tones
    and unflappable calm
    carried away the victory!
    And his gentlemanly bearing
    turned even his adversary
    back into the statesman
    he once was

  6. Jolanta Laurinaitis

    Survival of the toughest elements

    Energy saving lights
    Turn off your appliances
    Recycle paper, plastic,
    Aluminium, and other materials
    Solar energy
    Water saving restrictions
    Recycle your grey water
    Plant more trees
    Water saving plants
    Compost, worm farm
    Rebuild, reuse, recycle
    Grow and supply
    Support and protest

    No matter how you try
    No matter how you care
    The buildings
    The pollution
    The gasses
    The death
    Will prevail

    Gaia will move on without her children

  7. Monica Martin

    Two houses dot the landscape.
    One is new, standing tall
    and proudly against the twilight sky,
    ready and able to shield a
    family from the elements.

    The other house is older,
    decrepit, and falling down.
    It is filthy, even moldy.
    It will need much love-
    and much work.

    Only one home will- can- be chosen.

  8. lynn rose

    " A Woman "

    A woman doesn’t keep him, for work is his wife, it controls everyday of his life.
    I have tried to capture him and set him free. Free him from this mess, but
    you can probably already guess, to no avail I have failed..
    For It is always there..
    Go with me to the Ocean or to the Sea, go with me to the river or see the leaves.
    Have dinner with me, or watch a movie, blow my mind and consume my body.
    But he never has the time, for work is always on his mind.

    Sometimes, I would like to be a piece of paper that captivates his mind or be an uncharted island or a major science find..
    For work is always on his mind
    A woman does keep him, for it isn’t his wife. Its a woman, in someone
    elses life..

  9. Karen H. Phillips

    Theodore Robinson, American (1852-96)
    The Watering Pots, 1890

    Hardy Stock

    Plain she may be,
    but ruddy cheeks hold
    a kind of beauty,
    a hardiness of spirit.
    She rests, using the stone wall
    of a fountain as her bench.
    The green garden glows with
    shades of yellow and jade
    as her backdrop.
    A vine of greenery trains up
    a post, healthy, vital,
    promising perhaps grapes or beans?
    The woman wears a simple straw boater,
    Her white blouse, short-sleeved,
    contrasts with the water-blue skirt.
    To her left, a silvery watering can,
    she’ll fill with the fluid of life,
    to keep the garden alive.
    She touches with her extended right hand
    another vessel like the first.
    It rests at her feet
    on the pinky-peach path,
    waiting to refresh the garden,
    not only surviving,
    but thriving,
    as does its caretaker.

  10. Vanessa O'Dwyer

    False Survivals

    Who really survives
    When we let go dreams
    over the stresses of life?

    Who really survives
    When a husband yells
    Because the wife didn’t listen?

    Who really survives
    When a parent slaps
    Because a child shoved another?

    Who really survives
    When a group destroys
    the reputation of its competition?

    Who really survives
    When a country
    Makes war with another?

    Who really survives
    When a group
    Can make a patent on life?

    Who really survives
    When people focus
    on belongings over the man?

    Who really survives
    When we forget
    That life is animated by beings?

    Who really survives
    When we harm others
    And all in the name of God?

    Vanessa O’Dwyer

  11. SaraV

    Robert–really enjoyed your poem today!

    Fish or fowl?

    He splashed about
    A youngster not sure
    Not adept in the wet
    Long-legged gawky
    But with a deadly beak
    He walked the edge
    Flopped into the water
    Beakfirst, he might have heard
    Us giggling through our pancake
    Packed mouths, as we watched
    But finally
    He caught something
    Something huge
    Too huge
    He stood by the edge of the pond
    A clearly visible fish profile
    Sticking in his throat
    Couldn’t move
    Couldn’t drink
    Couldn’t swallow any more
    We were mesmerized
    Who had top score
    Finally he spread his blue gray wings
    And lifted off, not confidently
    He slipped and slid through the air currents
    But did he live? or did he die?
    I don’t know,
    but if I was a betting man
    I’d bet on the fish

  12. PSC in CT

    Any Given Day

    Mirror Mirror on the wall
    Who’s the fittest of them all?

    Fastest, smallest
    Shortest, tallest
    Smartest, neatest
    Meanest, sweetest

    Survival of the fittest –
    It can turn upon a dime
    Without apparent reason
    With no apparent rhyme

    On any given morning
    With any racing pair
    The winner may be tortoise
    Or the winner may be hare

    On any given afternoon
    The gunfight may be won
    By slinger with the fastest draw,
    Best aim, or biggest gun!

    And when it comes to battle
    It’s impossible to say
    If brains or brawn will win the war
    On any given day.

    So what determines “fittest” then –
    Good luck or fate or will?
    Although I’ve pondered long and hard
    It’s a mystery to me still!

  13. Rodney C. Walmer

    I honestly hope this qualifies. I have been sooo busy, so far behind, just trying to catch up again.

    All Alone

    He remembers the light
    remembers the noise
    thought the boys were in another fight
    after all, boys will be boys

    Then the radio went dead
    so, he simply went back to bed
    TV was out, just static
    certainly something he could do without

    A day or so later, his crops all withered and died
    He shook his head
    thought at least I tried
    went back to his shed
    Uncorked a jug, and got himself stupified

    He had lived alone,
    made this land his home
    he was the last
    all the others had passed

    Little did he know
    what he would soon find out
    Decided to go into town
    get some supplies
    never expected what he found

    The air burned his eyes
    dead bodies lay all around
    most in a state of decay
    everyone else had gone away

    Town was in tatters
    Glass all shattered
    buildings falling apart
    Some had burned
    all gone, even that K-Mart
    he simply turned
    left that town
    fearing he’d be blamed
    he didn’t bother to even turn back around
    He thought, With cityfolk, it’s always the same
    What he did not know
    what the town did not show
    was the nuclear bomb
    if he had,
    perhaps he would not have been so calm

    You see, he was the last
    just like his home
    everyone had past
    on this little dustball
    he was all
    all, all alone. . .

    ©Rodney C. Walmer 11/11/08 Survival of the fittest poem

  14. Kate Berne Miller

    So many amazing poems, I keep coming back at odd hours to read. Some of my favorites from today..Satia’a letter to Darwin, inspired!Jared’s Seeking Asylum..powerful and wry. Margaret’s woman walking across Poland and under the ocean…a mythic story if there ever is one! Thank you all so much!

    And thanks to Heather and Kate for the words of encouragement and connection…I guess that’s part of why I write…to communicate…and it matters to hear when we touch others.

    Kate Berne Miller

  15. Don Swearingen

    Gray. The day has been that color since
    The first dismal light of dawn.
    I watch as the rain tries to rinse
    The air of the fog that’s drawn
    Across the landscape of my street
    Alternately seen and then unseen
    Trucks and cars bursting indiscreet
    From the mist headlights keen
    Upon the road, that shines up
    Wet. From the window
    I watch and sip from a cup
    Of something hot, don’t know
    What, for my mind isn’t on it or the day,
    But you, and you were anything but gray.

  16. Juanita Snyder

    the power of No…
    by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    if she told him once
    she told him a hundred times
    to please stop
    but as usual her words spilled forth
    like meaningless change
    from empty pockets,
    forever lost between seat cushions
    in a dim-lit room.

    had become a rank to be stripped away,
    a luxury no longer tolerated,
    a rare endangered species to be tossed
    out with all the other rubbish.

    one day when her black eye
    would no longer bruise darker,
    the bands that cinched her dark side tight
    like logs on a semi,
    suddenly snapped,
    and an avalanche of rage
    broke free,
    tumbling down bare marked arms
    smashing her hands into the bread
    dough, over and over again
    until even the yeast began to beg
    for mercy.
    she knew the time had finally come —
    a decision had to be made
    about the cul-de-sac that had become her life.

    standing in the fading light
    at the foot of their bed,
    she quietly contemplated
    the power of No,
    while he lay crossways in a drunken stupor
    atop her favorite quilt
    that had also suffered alongside her
    for too many years,
    a hint of something silver flashing in her left hand.

  17. Mary K

    To Survive

    I try to bounce back
    from difficult times in life
    sometimes with the help of angels,
    a plan, random luck, or passing of time.
    But most often it takes will and energy
    to survive a challenging time.
    Is it survival of the fittest
    or the most determined?

  18. SusanB

    Cannot express how honored I feel to share the same board with poets like yourselves. I just read the day’s work from Monday’s offerings and cried, identified with, awed by and was tickled by the images, the stories, the human expression of it all.
    Not going to mention names or special ones…they are all special…again thanks for sharing. That’s all.

  19. kate

    The young of the grey nurse shark
    devour each other in-utero
    until only one is left
    to be expelled into the ocean

    in the pool are two rubber rings
    and three children,
    a problem that won’t be resolved
    by taking turns or sharing

    there is no level playing field
    too many times, for the sake of a little peace
    he who shouts loudest
    gets it.

  20. Kate Berne Miller

    How is it that, faced with the theme“survival of the fittest”
    all that comes to mind are those that have not survived,
    gone from here to not here, crossed over. What stands out
    to me tonight is not the poem of why I am still here but one
    about who is no longer here.

    For Justin, Who Didn’t Survive

    When I saw your obituary I remembered that toothy
    kid running like crazy on the playground—
    thought it couldn’t be you—counted back the years
    until I saw it was true.

    We never think of the future the way we examine the past-
    No premonitions when I looked at your crooked five-
    year-old grin that you’d be shot to death at 22 while I slept
    in a house not five blocks from where you lay dying.

    I remember the letter your mother gave me when I
    left that job—the only parent who thanked me—all
    those special meals I cooked at the daycare—
    you couldn’t eat what the other children ate.

    I grieve that I only knew you for those two years,
    never as the man you became, only as possibilities
    stretching out ahead of you, the bird that would
    take flight, travel to Alaska, to meet your tribe.

    Today I had lunch with a friend—turns out her daughter
    knew you in Job Core. Though she didn’t like Raves, she
    almost went to the party, could have been shot that night,
    one of the ones who didn’t make it out the window or
    the back door, one of the ones who didn’t survive.

    There is that moment of silence as her mother
    and I look at each other—that beat of breath—
    chance spared her daughter but chose you at dawn
    while I slept. I heard the sirens in my sleep.

    In the map of our lives there’s a pattern
    that once we thought was random,
    lines drawn between us highlighted—
    for a moment glowing florescent.
    Danger, do not exit, turn here, stop.

    The newspaper sits on my lap as the train rolls
    south to San Francisco through acres of flooded
    fields filled with birds. A solitary Brown Pelican,
    awkward and ponderous, lifts up into the sky.

    Kate Berne Miller

  21. Judy Roney

    Lost Childhood

    Dad, you held me down
    whipped me with your
    truck drivers’ belt
    beat me with your fists
    looked at me with contempt
    took my innocence and
    childhood, no, not quite
    you never gave me that
    childhood, you were
    too busy living your own.

    Dad, you broke my
    spirit, you won, I felt
    like a roach unfit to
    inhabit the earth
    not able to be human though
    not willing to be an animal.

    Before your death you said
    you loved me, you said I was
    special, I cried and so did you.
    I thank you for that, for trying
    to explain.You asked me to
    forgive you and I did. Now I win.

  22. Kateri Woody

    Joker’s Wild

    In the land of the swine,
    the butcher is king.

    The man who brings a gun
    to a knife fight always wins.

    Cockroaches cease to exist
    beneath the heel of a boot.

    He who laughs last may laugh
    the hardest of all.

    Original sin is washed away
    by Holy water on babes’ heads.

    The meek may inherit the Earth,
    but I will thrive on it now.

    Deuces may be wild,
    but Jokers will always win.

  23. Billy Angel


    I avoid being a passenger,
    offer to drive. In traffic jams,
    I leave enough space to swerve

    to the shoulder if idiots behind
    me don’t stop. When I must fly,
    I sit on the aisle, know where

    the exits are, feel for the life
    jacket under the seat, pray.
    I rarely eat out. I check

    expiration dates, smell
    contents of plastic containers.
    I leave a light on, recheck doors,

    notice if furniture or clothing
    has been moved. When I hear
    a noise in the night, I visualize

    a plan like Neanderthals drew
    successful battles on cave walls.
    A lamp or book’s a weapon,

    a finger to an intruder’s eye,
    kick to his balls. I sleep on my
    stomach, phone by the bed.

    I note the clicks, thuds,
    and creaks, the voices
    in the pipes and drains.

    In my dreams, someone’s
    holding me down, I can’t
    scream. I awaken screaming.

  24. Bruce Niedt


    The musical road is littered with names
    of those who left too soon –
    Mozart, Schubert, Parker, Holly,
    Joplin, Hendrix, Lennon, Cobain.
    There seems no real pattern to it –
    disease, accident, drugs, murder, suicide.

    What would our music, our world
    be like if they grew old? One wonders
    if prodigious talent is deadly. Yet
    there are so many more that make it,
    (some who we’d swear would not)
    just as gifted, still blessing us with art.

    It’s not survival of the fittest, just
    survival of the luckiest, or of the ones
    who knew where the land mines were,
    and had the good sense to step around.

  25. satia

    Heather, Thank you. Needless to say I’ve been following your lessons learned closely. You’re managing to tap into experience that are both personal and universal. I keep hoping one of the lessons will be "Happily Ever After Can Happen."

  26. Michelle H.

    Patti – first of all – Congratulations! I am so sorry for your surpise this morning but I’m still laughing!!! 😉
    I too am on Facebook but I’m a newbie, I will request you as friend to see you and your books but it is under a different email and will come up as hedquarters.

    Connie and Iain – I must be in a the mood for rhymes – enjoyed both of yours today! 😉
    Goodnight all!

  27. Michelle H.

    A little research:
    What is the definition of fittest? 1. Adapted to the environment to survive; 2. Made ready (ie. the house is fit for company); 3. Healthy – physically and mentally.

    A few facts:
    The tallest tree today
    Is the “Coast Redwood”;
    The stoutest tree on recorded
    Is the “Montezuma Cypress”;
    The largest tree in overall volume
    Is the “Giant Sequoia”;
    The oldest tree on record
    Is the “Norway Spruce” at 9,550 years!


    “The Fittest Tree”

    “I am the fittest tree”,
    Proclaimed the stately Redwood
    “For my branches reach highest into the sky
    to enjoy the life giving rays of sunshine.”

    “Oh, no”, said the Cypress
    “I am by far the fittest tree around, for
    I can give shelter to more animals and birds
    than any other tree in the world.”

    “I think you are both wrong”,
    Said the superior Sequoia
    “For I can touch the sun with my branches
    And shelter just as many wee friends as you.”

    Then the old Spruce
    Stated simply, “I will still be here
    long after the three of you cease arguing;
    Therefore, I am surely the fittest.”

  28. S Scott Whitaker

    The Copper Thief

    We found Calvin in the middle of the road
    his mouth sputtering and his clothes disintegrating,
    the hairs upon his head fried and now, coming apart
    in the August breeze that blew his scorched oil scent
    back in our faces.

    My brother leaned in and shouted. We knew Calvin from high school
    And he’d been running around with Stuart
    And cutting copper and stripping electrical.

    He punched him once, and I jerked, but only to make sure
    Calvin wouldn’t retaliate.

    His jeans were split and torn, and there was something like hose
    On his legs, a crispy web of circles and ovals.

    Calvin only sputtered and farted.

    “For luck, but under the shingle, Stuart didn’t know.”

    Was all he managed before my brother kicked him in the ribs.

    “Did you hit the Stevens?” He shouted, stomping the clay dirt
    Into dervishes.

    Calvin nodded, and my brother broke his jaw with a single punch
    And blood and spit began pour out of Calvin’s face.

    “Shit,” My brother said, and turned and I followed,
    Watching him smack his ball cap into his jeans,
    The rust and dirt rising in curly puffs about him.

    Ahead the truck leaned low to the ground. All day
    We plowed scrap metal and steel.
    But we had a CB, and my brother grinded out curses
    Worrying a hole in his heart about what to tell the doc,
    And what his wife would say about it when she heard about it before he got home.


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