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November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 10

Categories: November PAD Chapbook Challenge, Poetry Prompts.

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:


“Michael”


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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About Robert Lee Brewer

Senior Content Editor, Writer's Digest Community.

82 Responses to November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 10

  1. Lynne says:

    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 says:

    SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST

    SPARROWHAWK
    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 says:

    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 says:

    HE WENT MISSING

    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 says:

    Surprise

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    " 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. 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,
    small-brimmed.
    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 says:

    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 says:

    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
    Cartoonish
    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
    Now?
    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 says:

    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 says:

    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 says:

    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. Rachel Green says:

    To many to thank for some fabulous poems. Truly an emotional rollercoaster.

  16. Don Swearingen says:

    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.

  17. Juanita Snyder says:

    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.

    “No”
    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.

  18. Mary K says:

    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?

  19. SusanB says:

    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.

  20. kate says:

    Shann and Kate B M your poems made me gasp, such powerful images and strong emotion combined. Too many other great ones to mention!!

  21. kate says:

    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.

  22. Kate Berne Miller says:

    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

  23. Judy Roney says:

    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.

  24. Kateri Woody says:

    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.

  25. Billy Angel says:

    Fear

    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.

  26. Bruce Niedt says:

    Survivors

    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.

  27. satia says:

    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."

  28. Michelle H. says:

    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!

  29. Patti- LOVED your cat and mouse poem! I hope you have recovered from your "treat".

    K Weber- fantastic!

    Laurie K.

  30. Michelle H. says:

    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!

    So…

    “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.”

  31. S Scott Whitaker says:

    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.

  32. patti williams says:

    typo … "won" not "one" … I hope the spirit of the poem comes through anyway!

  33. patti williams says:

    This morning I was gifted by my fat orange tabby cat Cheeto – and it was a big gift. Just had to post another … because he went to so much work to kill and drag that thing into the house, then to my closet, waiting for me underneath my jeans. Yes, I screamed …

    Cat and Mouse

    It was more than a
    Cat and mouse game.
    It was survival of the fittest.
    His round orange fury self
    Stalking the largest rodent
    He had ever come upon.
    His woman must have
    The prize.

    Oh, how he loved his woman.
    His bowl was always
    Full of delicious food,
    He had trained her to give
    Him a treat each time he
    Sat by the pantry door purring.
    When her alarm sounded
    Each day at dawn
    He rushed to her side
    To receive his massage.
    And this rat would be her prize
    Then she would know
    How deep his love was for her.

    The field rat burrowed through
    The tall grass
    Poking, nosing, searching
    For what he did not know
    Or care to find out.
    The rat probably had his own family
    At home, but for the cat
    That was not his concern.

    The orange tabby lunged with
    All of his girth, grabbed the
    Monster rat by the head
    And in one bite
    The prize was one.

    As he drug the carcass
    Into the house through
    The idiot white dog’s
    Doggie door,
    His heart smiled at what
    He had accomplished.

    When she awoke at day’s light
    He would lead his woman
    To her surprise,
    The gift expressing
    His greatest love.

    And none could be finer,
    For sure.
    She would know then his hunting
    Ability matched no other
    And that his love for her
    Was the greatest of all loves.
    Her delight would be heard
    Through out the neighborhood
    As soon as she turned the light on
    And saw his offering.

    And he was not disappointed …

  34. Heather says:

    K Weber, another wow.

  35. Heather says:

    Satia, what can one say? Wow. So good, great.

  36. k weber says:

    the exchange

    keep loving
    keep fighting

    your demons: all
    in the form

    of pills
    and manipulation

    climb all 12
    steps

    tumble down, again
    and chase

    with wine
    and lies

    cling to god
    like a crutch

    and hobble
    through your days

    sleep through
    a family easter

    escape christmas
    with the kids

    believe your own
    excuses

    play your favorite
    sport

    and score

  37. satia says:

    A Letter to Darwin

    Dear Chuck

    It’s been a while now and I’ve already procreated,
    Done my part for the species, and I’ve been thinking
    That maybe this is some sort of cosmic joke—
    A sort of de-evolution from fish moving to land.
    It is my hypothesis that this vertigo is a sign,
    The first step of a new phase, where mankind
    Will return to the water from whence we all came
    And walk more easily there than here on dry land.
    Or maybe if Beagle 2 had not crashed the answer
    To my discombobulation would lie somewhere
    On Mars and its gaseous surface. Who knows?
    It’s all just speculation and in the meantime
    I keep flying, an ace at avoiding how I
    Can no longer acquit myself in a solid world.
    Survival of the fittest suggests that I should not
    Be here, that in another time some saber toothed
    Beast would feast on my inability to run.
    Or maybe if I had been born sooner, I would turn
    To another intelligence to explain these things
    And not turn to the wisdom of man’s science.

    Sincerely,
    Satia

  38. Paul W.Hankins says:

    "Alterations"

    These no longer fit:

    a lavender pant suit hung
    upon a white hanger
    in a downstairs closet,

    a pair of athletic shoes,
    the plastic tabs at the end
    of the laces split,
    beginning to fray,

    A camel-colored topcoat
    with a leopard print scarf
    hung regally about shoulders
    without a clasp

    these arms that reach out
    to hold her daughter
    shows where survival sags,
    our feelings hemmed-in –
    cuffed at the ankle –
    so that we drag our feet

    when we walk
    up the stairs
    with a shoebox full
    of tangled necklaces
    without charms.

  39. Neal’s Darwinian Karma

    Neal used to think, to ponder, to contemplate
    the meaning of mitochondrial DNA and weather
    on the eastern seaboard. His thoughts drifting
    like a sloop toward the old world, where his mother
    sat remembering Jesus Christ and croissants
    with butter topping. Neal always wanted a brother
    until she told him scrambled eggs were unfertilized
    and he realized what brotherly love meant
    dipped in ketchup. Neal also knew he grossed
    about twenty dollars a day in pocket change
    and lint, if lint were worth a penny. Money
    mattered to Neal. That’s why he never held
    onto a job. His true vocation was pontifical,
    penniless. One day he’d prove he could rise
    could be crucified. Today he sits in a rocking
    boat, a wooden chair, surrounded by ether
    and forgotten strands of his Father.

  40. RJay Slais says:

    Out Of Season

    Some may wonder why
    the tree’s leaves depart
    from the branch mid summer;

    full of greenery, yet they fall.
    Like a bony finger, the stick ends
    twig the direction for blame,

    sapless accusations that point
    everywhere, around the corner,
    down the street, out in the field.

    We are all guilty for being
    the ones that hold themselves
    higher then all that surrounds us.

    Even the greatest ones will depart,
    holding nothing more in the end
    then their one last breath.

  41. Sara McNulty says:

    Patti, Congratulations! Also loved your poem today. Rachel, you are a wonderful poet and must also be an incredible person. Connie, love the dominoes.

    Everyone seems to have rallied to this challenge.

  42. Thanks, Rachel, your poems always blow me away,
    …and Patti, I love how you compare childhood to tragedy,
    …and Lain- thank you- I’m enjoying your poems, too.

    Laurie K.

  43. Sara McNulty says:

    Survival of Barack Obama

    You might be the first
    African-American President
    You might be young,
    fresh and eager
    You might have defeated
    an older well known
    You might speak
    with eloquence and style
    but . . .
    you are the President
    solely because
    you are the fittest
    in quite a while

  44. Earl Parsons says:

    Day 10 for SS:

    Keep Us Going

    We’re all in this thing together
    So we’ve got to work as one
    You do your part
    And I’ll do mine
    And we will survive together

    I guess I’ve got the advantage
    A skull to protect my cerebellum
    A spine to channel my nerves
    Eyes and ears to keep danger away
    But, there are still hazards out there

    A hardhat can protect me while working
    A helmet can shield me from shrapnel
    A pile cap to keep me from freezing
    A baseball cap so I don’t get too hot
    Just a few of the ways to protect me

    Because you want me to stick around
    And you want me to remain healthy
    For your sake
    And our survival
    So together we can keep us going

  45. Earl Parsons says:

    Day 10 for LL&L:

    Only I Will Stand

    Before time began
    I was here
    For I began time
    Before the first star shined
    I was here
    For I set the stars in the sky
    Before the earth was formed
    I was there
    For I made the earth what it is
    Before man was created
    I was there
    For I created man
    And woman
    Before the first sin
    I was there
    But I didn’t create that
    You did
    And as your punishment
    I kicked you out of Eden
    And watched from my throne
    Smiling at times
    And crying at others

    Sin grew
    And you pushed me away
    So I flooded the earth
    And got your attention
    For a time
    Still, I survived

    You followed Me
    Then walked away
    Time after time
    For thousands of years
    Then I sent My Son
    And got your attention
    Again
    For a time
    Still, I survived
    And so did He
    Even more than before

    Nations followed Me
    And they prospered
    Until they turned away
    To worship themselves
    Before they fell flat

    Then along came America
    The apple of My eye
    So faithful and loving
    I blessed you
    And loved you
    And protected you
    As you prospered
    Beyond all expectations
    Until lately
    When you turned your backs
    Kicked Me out of schools
    Muzzled My messengers
    And turned My name
    Into meaningless vulgarity
    Still, I am here
    Right where I’ve always been

    I’m watching
    And waiting
    As you bow down to your false gods
    And your man-made idols
    I was here long before
    Any of them showed up
    And I will be here
    Long after
    They are all gone
    For
    In the end
    Only I will stand

    For I am the only
    True and living God
    Will you be there with Me

  46. Nancy Posey says:

    Survivor’s Guilt

    Who can take credit simply for surviving,
    for outlasting the oppressors, for mastering
    the art of duck and cover? Can you go
    on forever telling the tale? I should have
    been on the plane, but I forgot my passport.
    I would have been at my desk in the second
    tower but for a trip to the dentist to replace
    a missing crown. How did the Dachau liberators
    answer the unanswerable: Why not me?

    Nancy Posey

  47. Heather says:

    Thirty six years of
    Soaking pain
    Coagulates me into being
    The opposite of what I’ve
    Seen

    My wounds are still here
    They do not
    Define me

  48. Heather says:

    She raised her sister,
    Loved her mother,
    Tolerated her father,
    She is strong

  49. Shann Palmer says:

    Change

    When all the towels are folded
    properly, facing the right way,
    the soaps stacked, the tissue
    turned and tucked, she can go

    to the next room to begin again;
    blinds open to the window latch,
    vase to the left, books by the lamp-
    so little time, so much disarray.

    Don’t think she needs a doctor,
    she doesn’t wash her hands raw
    or alphabetize the soup cans,
    but order is its own reward, after all

    his suits still hug the closet, with
    those magazines, his dirty magazines.

  50. A.C. Leming says:

    I meant to preface my poem by saying this pretty much is a true story a friend of mine went through. And why you should never tell writers stuff like this because it will end up somewhere in their work. Man vs train and lives to walk away.

  51. A.C. Leming says:

    The Downtown Train

    He steps onto the railroad tracks
    late so the conductor can’t stop
    the train. He’s not sure the man
    saw him do it. No whistle sounds

    and the engine did not slow.
    Full on hit to the chest and the
    next thing he remembers – flying
    through the air, the ‘thunk’ of his

    back hitting pavement. Blacks out again.
    Sees ravens look down at him
    from the roof he barely sees from
    the sting of blood in his eye. They

    wonder if his stillness means
    the death he hoped to find.
    Fades out, then in. The birds nearer
    now, feathers ruffling as he stirs.

    Moans as the pain innervates
    his body until he passes out again.
    The ‘caw’ of blackbirds wakes him.
    He claws up the brick wall and

    stumbles back to his dorm room
    to face the life he wanted to leave behind.

  52. Iris Deurmyer says:

    Treking across the steaming desert
    Our canteens are empty and we pray for rain.
    We come upon an oasis with pure water and trees to shade us.
    One by one we stumble and fall as we attempt to reach the water’s edge.
    Now we know it was a mirage to give us false hope and then dash it to dust.
    Like our love it was an illusion which lasted as long as our belief in the vision.

  53. Rachel Green says:

    Melting Pot

    There’s a werewolf in the room below
    I’d have got it but I was too slow
    with sling and arrows and silver shot
    (those candlesticks weren’t worth a lot?)
    I saw the hairy beast last night
    at my window – what a fright!
    There’s noting in the media
    I opened Wikipedia
    but what I’m really looking up
    is can a werewolf have a pup?
    I talked to Dad – he said not yet
    he had it neutered at the vet.

  54. AnnNoE says:

    Moon
    rising
    badly wakes
    the warrior’s soul.
    Fight!

  55. Lori says:

    Addendum

    Ha! We’re winning.
    You’ll never rid yourselves of us.
    We make you sick and make
    Your food go bad.

    But why are you eating that?
    We infected it.
    Why are you wearing that?
    We produced it.
    You’re making your plants stronger?
    Your materials lighter?
    Your fuels more efficient?
    All with products we make.

    You are making your world
    cleaner
    safer
    more efficient
    And you are using us to do it.
    well, then.
    Let the fittest of us both
    Survive.

  56. Jane penland hoover says:

    Rachel, Like Fire makes me see the Phoenix rising – "condemned to life" – WOW – the raw edginess that survival is all beating in the air of this –

  57. Lori says:

    Determined

    You bombard us with poisons
    That tear up our defenses
    And we build new ones.

    You eat away at our population
    Yet we grow faster
    than you can kill us.

    You destroy our homes
    Take away our food
    Teach your children to avoid us
    To rid themselves of our effect.

    You take medications that you think will protect you
    But we become resistant.
    We will always be with you.
    No matter how many antibiotics you take.

    —–
    This poem may seem kind of depressing, but I just got out of microbiology class when I wrote it. Bacterial survival is kind of inspiring if you think about it. If they can do it so can we.

  58. Peggy Goetz says:

    In considering this prompt, "survival of the fittest," I was thinking about how you never really know who is the fittest or what survival means.

    Lamp Beads and Dying Fish

    The prettiest beads
    bob merrily on the surface
    laughing in beauty
    dancing in the sun
    to be picked off by
    crows, smashed to
    smitherines on rancid
    crags, while those not
    pretty enough to
    float live on just
    under the surface
    never seeing the sun
    until watery murk
    evaporates, they
    twitch stranded like
    dying fish, yet the
    broken shrads
    remain to glisten
    under the stars.

    Nov. 10, 2008

  59. jared david says:

    seeking asylum

    bleach white walls that always smell so
    lab coats, pristine, no wrinkles, no odor
    milk in a plastic cup
    and precisely portioned food
    on paper plates, the sturdy kind
    but still no more than cardboard

    welcome to purgatory, for the insane
    at least I’ve heard them say
    this is our last chance to prove our worth
    to the society that has already abandoned us
    then banished us because we are different
    or so they claim, I think we are the same
    even more rational—we don’t ignore
    the voices, the sensations, the demons
    or we can’t, but is that so unnatural?

    and what if we succeed in denying our fears?
    I don’t expect acceptance if we return
    like a stray dog that won’t stay gone
    does hallmark even make a
    ‘congrats on being normal’ card?
    even recovered, people would always see
    the invisible asterisk over my head

    I still don’t understand why they need
    a purgatory between two hells

  60. Margaret says:

    Dreams of America

    Sustained by a vision
    of a place where they are free,
    of a place where a knock
    on the door is merely a neighbor

    asking to borrow a cup
    of flour, she walks across Poland
    carrying her children. They cling
    to each leg,so heavy it takes hours

    to lift one foot, mere seconds
    to set it down, THUMP, so hard
    the child bleeds, drip, drip,
    so she leaves a trail of red behind

    as she walks to the Baltic sea, swims
    under the sea to America, where
    the streets are filled with Yiddish voices,
    to live with her eight children

    and six boarders in three rooms,
    where two children die of typhoid,
    two of influenza, where she works
    from six in the morning

    to eleven at night, all
    to earn fifty cents with which
    to buy kasha and cabbage:
    the fulfillment of a dream.

  61. Jane penland hoover says:

    Shady Past

    Always the same
    exploding shot,
    fierce pointed thrust,
    to her right eye.

    Migraine flattened,
    held her hostage.

    Hours cowering,
    shadow of herself,
    face covered, woozy brain
    averse to motion,
    any thought

    except that prayer
    for oblivion
    or sudden death.

    Always the same
    awakening,
    fourteen hours
    into her future,
    surviving pain again.

  62. Iain D. Kemp says:

    Dear Moosehead,

    Goddammit you’re an ass! Spend all
    day dreaming about stuff when you should be
    facing reality. Speaking of which I am determined
    to overcome the oppression under which I live. I am
    stronger and tougher than those broads and I will survive.
    Just like the Yankees, they will be back on top next
    season, have a record road year as well as winning
    everything in the new Palace. The strong will out my friend
    and that’s a fact! (As you’re so fond of saying!)
    Speaking of dreaming I had one about your cousin…
    we can get into that later…or not!
    Oh! And speaking of cousins, that fool from Atlanta
    who claims to be my family says he’s coming to visit.
    Says if he has to watch Hockey he might as well be cold too.
    Remember when the going gets tough the weak do not run
    crying to Shea Stadium.
    Pick ya up at seven, bring your camera.

    Yours optimistically

    Ringo the Howler

  63. Iain D. Kemp says:

    I have to agree, it seems an awesome days start for the Ladies: Patti, Heather, Laurie, Susan, Terri & Ronda all supebr. Connie I am soo loving your Dominoes great stuff…. Off to write a Ringo now…

    Can’t wait for everyone else, got a feeling its going to be a good day on PA!!

    Iain

  64. Terri Vega says:

    Poem 10

    Hazards of fire, of wind, and hail
    flooding the plains and burning the
    drought ridden earth of its today
    and still – in the tomorrow they rise

    Freezing temperatures of winter’s gate
    only hush the babies to sleep
    and with the waking of spring
    the seedling sprouts again encouraging a true leaf
    to turn and face the calling sunlight

    Taken – seed and stem, leaf and flower,
    even robbed of root from creatures,
    species needing to survive; who
    less than hardy would kiss the
    darkened void of nothingness –
    and still the herb blooms
    her strength.

  65. Iain D. Kemp says:

    Cats, Poetry & Death #13

    The Test of Time

    Cats and Poets all share one fate
    With the Grim Reaper they have a date
    Some Cats are skilled at dodging cars
    Some reach old age with battle scars
    Some get sick and fade away
    Some just leave home one day
    Poets are just mortal men
    Set apart only by use of pen
    Some will live to ripe old age
    But some are lost on an early page
    Cat or Poet the strong will out
    And live for years there is no doubt
    But weakling runt or sickly man
    Can only do the best he can
    Words set down in printers’ ink
    Will never be seen to sink
    They last forever bringing joy
    To every little girl and boy
    The survival of the fittest test
    Shows that Poetry is the best
    And long after its author’s dead
    His words are there still to be read

    Iain

  66. Ronda Eller says:

    Thanks Rachel. :) Ronda

  67. Rachel says:

    Wow you ladies are amazing… awesome poems.

    Thanks so much Laurie. :)

    These lines grabbed me…

    Laurie "She first had to learn to love herself,
    only then would she be lovingly fit."

    Susan "Get under the big umbrella
    In spite of all we’ve done for you
    You’ll catch your death of cold "

    Ronda "you can’t remember…
    but it was grotesque…"

    Patti "For the first time "

  68. Connie says:

    Survival of the Fittest

    Ten domino builders
    Building just fine
    One tipped early
    Then there were nine

    Nine domino builders
    Tempting their fate
    One had bad timing
    Then there were eight

    Eight domino builders
    One from South Devon
    He was called home
    And then there were seven

    Seven domino builders
    One couldn’t fix
    An early mistake
    Then there were six

    Six domino builders
    One took no jive
    He lost his temper
    And then there were five

    Five domino builders
    Crouched on the floor
    One fell asleep
    Then there were four

    Four domino builders
    My friends and me
    One got lazy
    And then there were three

    Three domino builders
    Her, me and you
    Nature called her
    And then there were two

    Two domino builders
    Isn’t this fun?
    You didn’t think so
    And there was one

    One domino builder
    Nearly four thousand stones
    The first one got tipped
    Then we went home

    (Must be the kid in me writing today.)

  69. patti williams says:

    Heather, Rachel, Laurie – excellent work!

  70. patti williams says:

    The wind blew
    Extra hard the day she
    Walked away from the
    Tragedy she called
    ‘Childhood.’
    She found with
    Each step,
    Each gust,
    Each bit of distance covered,
    Her legs felt stronger,
    Her back grew straighter,
    Her focus
    Clearer than it had ever been
    Before.
    For the first time
    In her life
    She felt like a
    Survivor.
    For the first time
    She really believed she could
    Make it through
    The Storm.

  71. Rachel, Susan and Heather – powerful poems once again.

    I too am sorry for you Rachel. I know what you are going through and I only wish I could help you. But I’m your friend, and I’m here for you if you ever want to talk…

    Laurie K.

  72. Ronda Eller says:

    x. illusatory

    hanging over breakfast
    you try to shake it off…

    last night
    you went somewhere
    and you left your name behind.
    you were someone else
    winning a new red rocket,
    then riding an elephant

    not on safari
    but along the freeway,
    tossing jewels
    that looked like M&Ms
    to the applauding cheers
    of a pauper crowd
    whose hands reached out
    to touch you
    and became what?

    you can’t remember…
    but it was grotesque…

    and suddenly, in another land,
    you introduced your mama
    to Paris Hilton
    (you planned to marry her)

    but when you turned your back
    she became a gorgon
    floating you coquettish grins
    from inside your bowl
    of All-Bran.

    ~ Ronda Eller 2008

  73. SusanB says:

    Day 10

    Survival of the fittest

    In days of yore
    When people lived
    From hand to mouth and
    Off the land
    No welfare, bailouts
    Jumpstart fixes
    Survival of the fittest

    Now insurance covers everything
    It’s even hard to kill Your Self
    With all the nannies watching
    ERs taking notes
    Survival of the fittest

    Soon helmets tied upon your head
    For rides in any conveyance
    Straps on every seat and pads
    For all those nasty edges
    Survival of the fittest

    Watch out all you bullies
    There’s a special class for you
    Anger Management will calm you down
    Survival of the fittest.

    There’s a pill for this and a pill for that
    Here’s a shot for whatever ails you
    No worries about the side effects
    Survival of the fittest

    It’s a safer world without the guns
    And knives – they should be licensed
    All sharp implements will be registered
    Survival of the fittest

    No more will God protect
    Ignorance, drunks, and babies
    There’s literacy council, double A groups
    And in-home checks for mommies
    Survival of the fittest

    Is there anyone left out in the rain?
    Get under the big umbrella
    In spite of all we’ve done for you
    You’ll catch your death of cold
    Survival of the fittest!

  74. Lovingly Fit

    She was not about to give up on love,
    throw in the towel or admit defeat.
    Simply because her marriage had failed,
    she would not take a back seat.

    Then she met someone new and wonderful
    who swept her off her feet.
    Until one day, he pulled out the rug
    and went back to his wife so sweet.

    So the next time she chose someone older,
    twelve years to be exact.
    He had money and took her on fancy trips,
    buying her love, that’s a fact.

    But money and trips, presents and such,
    did not make her life complete.
    Try as she may, to find another true love,
    she could not win, she was always beat.

    Finally she discovered how to survive the game
    on love, and all that goes with it.
    She first had to learn to love herself,
    only then would she be lovingly fit.

    Laurie K.

  75. Rachel says:

    thanks Heather.. you’re going to make me cry.

  76. Heather says:

    Thank you, Rachel. If your poem is about you, I’m so sorry . . . sorry for the situation. Good poem.

  77. Rachel says:

    lesson #10 is good
    especially
    "The shame she felt for
    Thinking,
    Not acting
    For wanting,
    Not having?

    She thought she ruined it all
    Because she was human
    Living the best way she knew how,
    Not knowing which way to turn,
    Not knowing if she needed a way to turn at all,
    Just knowing she needed something
    From this impossible world "

  78. patti williams says:

    I will post a little later – but wanted to tell all of you that have a Facebook page, my first ever book of poetry arrived on Friday and I’ve posted a picture of me with my boxes and boxes of books to sell! Feel free to do some shopping! The theme is whimsical, inspirational poetry … all G rated stuff … would make great teacher, friend, mother, daughter, gifts and the holidays are creeping up!

  79. Heather says:

    Ummmmmmm should be lesson #10. Sorry, don’t know what came over me. Oops.

  80. Heather says:

    Lesson # 13: Timing

    She thought she had ruined it all
    Lost herself
    In the midst of laughter,
    Happiness,
    Truth,
    She was comfortable
    For a change

    She couldn’t believe he liked her
    Considering her shoes didn’t match her shirt
    She felt so fat!
    Maybe it was the soup
    That put her in a trance,
    Damn them for pouring that second glass!!!
    (Of God knows what wine)

    She thought she had ruined it all
    That her smiles would give her away,
    Could they tap into her dreams?
    In the morning would they see
    The shame she felt for
    Thinking,
    Not acting
    For wanting,
    Not having?

    She thought she ruined it all
    Because she was human
    Living the best way she knew how,
    Not knowing which way to turn,
    Not knowing if she needed a way to turn at all,
    Just knowing she needed something
    From this impossible world

    She thought she ruined it all,
    Fell apart
    For a minute
    Because a minute is all she’s got
    To give her heart
    For now

    Lesson #13: Timing Is Everything

  81. Rachel says:

    Like Fire

    I can’t survive this
    broken life,
    one more round.
    I’m beaten down
    over and over
    and
    over
    I wish it were over…
    I push my
    bloodied face
    off the floor and
    he beats me down again
    with His words
    like fire
    R I P P I N G
    through my
    soul,
    shredded and bare.
    I know You’re there
    why else would I be
    here?
    It’s almost a joke,
    a cruel punishment,
    that every time
    I want to lie down
    and stay at
    the bottom of this ring,
    You pull me up again
    for the 4 spectators –
    little boxer
    apprentices –
    at each corner
    of this battleground
    and I can’t let them
    down.
    Condemned to life –
    that’s me,
    in this ring
    dead on my feet
    fighting with your
    hand in my glove,
    and I despair
    I’m not going
    to lose it
    here.

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