November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 15

Did you sleep well last night? That’s too bad, because I want you to write a nightmare poem today. You could write an actual nightmare, or present a nightmare scenario related to your theme.

Here’s my attempt for the day:

“The closet”

He wakes up screaming, “Mommy, mommy!
They’re coming for me again. The aliens
were scratching at my closet door. I could
hear them. I could hear them scratching.”

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76 thoughts on “November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 15

  1. Lynne

    Well, darn it, this is the dream-like poem that should have been in Day 9, and the poem in Day 9 "Night Terrors" really belongs here in the nightmare prompt.

    When Dandelions Dream

    Clouds whisper
    across a lemon sky,
    twelve dandelions dream
    a takeover of green.

    Wet-dog rain
    sprinkles them into a
    wakeful baker’s dozen.
    Now thirteen in number,
    they sniggle with glee.

    Emerald grassland
    pays no notice
    to the yellow fuzzy
    threat to its smug domain
    of green turning citrus
    like the once azure sky.

  2. Kathy Kehrli

    XVI. Beyond Sympathy

    “I can’t believe you have to go through all of this
    On top of everything else you’ve endured.”
    Sympathetically, as only a best friend can,
    She conjured up words for the nightmarish
    Situation for which none existed.
    That everything else to which she’d alluded?
    The recipe called for:
    One grandmother,
    Two aunts,
    A beloved canine
    And one good friend
    Stripped of life, one by one,
    Over the span of a single year,
    But not before I’d watched each’s soul
    Slip like satin camisole straps
    Over earth’s shoulder.
    Reduced to acceptance,
    “It’s just the kind of thing
    I wake up every morning expecting
    To happen.”

  3. Penny Henderson

    day #15 nightmare

    What if children could fly
    up to the age of four?
    What if I neglected to feed
    the neighbor’s waiting dog?
    What if, in the act of walking,
    my legs fell off?
    What if the world turned to water
    and I forgot how to swim?
    What if every vile thought of mine
    was a continual feed movie
    playing on my back?
    Worst possible nightmare thought–
    What if I unlearned how to read?

  4. Monica Martin

    This isn’t the home that I bought.
    This isn’t the house that I found
    online, that I walked through and
    called my dream home. This house
    is too small. and is falling apart.
    There are no trees, no garage, and
    half of the front porch is missing.
    What happened to my home?

  5. Karen H. Phillips

    Meesh, loved your vivid sensory details in the elevator!

    Alfred Sisley, French (1839-99)
    Flood at Moret, 1879

    After the Storm

    High waters,
    but no sad or angry sky,
    only blue liquid,
    reflecting the pure flood of
    cloud-flecked blue,
    backdrop to the bare birch trees,
    slender and white-barked,
    four sentinels.
    Then the central focus emerges:
    a cluster of red-roofed houses,
    almost overtaken by the water.

    Peaceful and serene to the onlooker.
    A nightmare to the homeowner,
    who wonders whether the waters will
    recede or rise,
    or whether they have already overtaken
    a prized possession or the wood floors
    so painstakingly laid.

    The beauty of the day only
    delivers a cruel slap,
    waking reality,
    to the sufferers
    after the storm.

  6. lynn rose

    My nightmare
    I wanted to be the one you talked too when things went wrong.
    I wanted to be the one who helped you mow your lawn.
    I wanted to go with you to see new sights and climbed new
    To be there when your daughter played ball, I wanted to be there for it all.
    But you just wanted sex and now you have moved on to the next.

  7. lynn rose

    My nightmare
    I wanted to be the one you talked too when things went wrong.
    I wanted to be the one who helped you mow your lawn.
    I wanted to go with you to see new sights and climbed new
    To be there when your daughter played ball, I wanted to be there for it all.
    But you just wanted sex and now you have moved on to the next.

  8. Vanessa O'Dwyer

    The Nightmare

    I was walking alone before my
    Three people held me down in
    They had their eyes on me for the
    Sex Trade
    And soon I was sold into
    I watched the dark girl treated with
    We were forced to watch her
    I was baffled by the
    Refusing I endured their
    and as I faced certain
    I decided that I should wake up.

    Vanessa O’Dwyer

  9. Jane penland hoover

    dragging the darkness
    attached beneath
    to the under soles
    of her feet

    shadows refuse
    dismissal, even
    now in this dream
    frozen scream

    she wants them gone
    this gray hanging one
    in any bit of light
    fattened, cornered

    by the haunt of shadow
    until she begins
    with her giant eraser
    to rubs away what’s bright

  10. Kate Berne Miller

    Aftermath of a Fight

    After every major fight we have,
    I have nightmares all night long.

    He is stalking a little girl, she runs,
    she hides she slips over the edge
    of the roof, hanging by her fingertips,
    he walks to the edge, steps hard on her
    small fingers, she drops to the ground,
    runs for her life, not quite fast enough
    he leaves tracks filled with blood.

    I wake, jaw clenched, heart racing, you
    snore peacefully by my side, I am safe.
    What am I so afraid of, loss, change,
    abandonment, my own anger, the fear
    of having said something irrevocable,
    who really is the monster here, you or I?

    Kate Berne Miller

  11. Don Swearingen

    The wind is blowing. It scours
    The land, and cleans the air
    Of what pollution the quiet hours
    Of last night gathered. From its lair
    In the mountains, it roars
    Down onto our plains
    A constant. Doors
    Cannot stop it nor windowpanes
    From sifting dust inside
    To grit our food, to turn gray
    All surfaces. It seems nothing can hide
    From another windy day.
    Outside our leaning walk
    Betrays our way; where lives the keening hawk.

  12. Rodney C. Walmer

    Thank you PSC, your husband sounds like a real credit to the profession. I am sorry to hear that you left, but, happy that you have found success in your field.


  13. PSC in CT


    Hue and cry at 2 a.m.
    Shrieks, sobs and sniffles
    Product of monsters,
    Aliens, goblins and ghosts

    Cradling and cajoling, I
    Thank my lucky stars
    Consoled by the thought that
    For now, at least –
    Evil beasts may still be banished by
    Cuddles and kisses

    Not time yet to concede
    Nor need to acknowledge
    The Real Nightmares
    Not so easily defeated –
    Abuse, Addiction, Alzheimer’s
    Cancer, Crime, Hunger, Hatred,
    Prejudice, Pedophilia,
    Warfare –
    Villains so savage and destructive
    I long for my own mother’s embrace

  14. PSC in CT

    Rod — to answer your questions:

    I taught 4th and 5th grades, but left for a more lucrative career working with computers. My husband (who’s planning to retire in June) has taught high school math for almost 37 years. It is a very difficult and exhausting job — often frustrating and thankless, but also very satisfying and fulfilling. (Sounds a lot like parenthood, huh?)

    Middle school can be a touch age, with kids stuck in the middle — not yet grown up, but no longer little either. You have my very best wishes!


  15. Terri Vega

    Day 15:

    Leaves blow in the dark October
    wind. Seedheads sprinkling their
    hardened kernels
    onto my face.

    I try to rise from the tangled
    earth that grasps my legs
    with its vines of wrath. Falling
    back into the ground.

    Crying for aid in the twilight hours
    no one hears but skeleton
    stalks of herbs gone by
    uprooted by panicked hands trying to
    grip something unshakable.

    Swallowed into the worms and
    bugs, crawling across my face
    my arms, my neck. Deeper under the earth
    until I wake in bed and
    brush the sweat from my dream.

  16. Juanita Snyder

    Nightmare 1999
    by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    When day 3 came and went still without word,
    she knew the inevitable day had finally come…
    the Cathy Lynn and her crew had been lost at sea.
    The sheer thought of it gave her instant ulcers
    and a dread she couldn’t shake all afternoon.
    As she stared overtop the kitchen sink window
    willing with all her might for his red 4×4 to
    suddenly come inching up the driveway, ZZ Top
    rattling the custom moon roof and side mirrors,
    the sudden reflection in the corner glass of her
    cream wedding-dress, the curve of the wire
    hanger pushed in the crevice between the wall
    and the top of the door trim, began to sink in.
    She was about to find out what widowhood would
    have felt like, had he not missed their wedding.

    © 2008 by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

  17. Rodney C. Walmer

    Thankyou PSC, I have had the naked dream as well, where I somehow went to work forgetting to get dressed. So many nightmares associated with this profession. What grade did you teach? What grade does your husband teach? I teach 7th for the last 18 years.


  18. Mary K

    Robert, I will ‘second’ Peggy’s question above….

    You’ve done two poetry months with poetry prompts.
    As she asked….how about 2009, a YEAR of poetry prompts?

  19. PSC in CT

    Wow! Some very real and frightening nightmares here. Those that really struck me so far:

    Nancy P – nice job! The worst of reality & current events playing in an endless loop.

    Peggy – well done! Another view of reality as nightmare.

    Sara M – frightening!

    Lori – I’ve had the same dream. Not a patient — usually a pet or an infant — but just as disturbing.

    Rodney – very good, and true. Having taught for a short time many years ago, a similar dream will still visit me once in a while. (My husband — also a teacher — dreams of teaching naked, or sometimes in his underwear!)

    Victoria – very graphic and realistic. So very sorry.

    Linda – re your numbers poem: Interesting concept. I like it! I think you are referring to the square root of negative 1.

    Thanks everyone, for another good read! I’ll be back to post soon. (Still hoping for some helpful feedback on my poem from the Writers’ Digest Poetry forum — before I commit to entering it here! ;-) )

  20. Linda

    Oops! DIVIDED should begin

    Last night I dreamt of a long, wooden crate
    with a red heart painted on top and locked inside it
    was me, with both feet, hands, and head protruding
    as an evil magician sawed through the middle.

    Please disregard any other typing errors!!!!


  21. Linda

    Okay,everyone. I know this fails in comparison to yours but here it is anyway.

    Day 15 prompt: nightmare poem


    Last night I dreamt of a long, wooden crate
    with a red heart painting on top
    and locked inside it was me
    with both feet, hands, and head protuding
    as an evil magician sawed through the middle.
    A blood-curling scream escaped from me
    as he separated the halves,
    pushing them far, far apart
    like lands whose borders are never to meet.
    A vast ocean oozed from the pieces,
    not blood or extremeties but my soul
    sliding away and spilling onto the floor
    for the astonished audience to see—
    memories of fragrant racemes of white
    bell-shaped flowers on the way to Nana’s door,
    the collective voice of my first grade class
    proudly belting out the Star-Spangled Banner,
    the delectable taste of Thanksgiving dinner,
    the image of deciduous trees decorated
    in nature’s colorful Autumn confetti,
    the wondrous display of Fourth of July fireworks
    illuminating the evening sky,
    the faces of family smiling at me

    and the swaying motion of friends, arms intertwined,
    singing merrily, moving to the beat of the Volksmusik,
    the clinking sound of glasses raised as we toast
    to what we call Gemütlichkeit,
    the aromatic smell of warm, cinnamon-scented
    Apfelstrudel topped with vanilla ice cream,
    the panoramic view of white, snow-capped pine trees
    row upon row in the Alps at winter time,
    the smokey breathe of my daughter as she sings
    Weihnachtslieder with the choir outside our church–
    and the fearful faces of the audience as they perceive
    my predicament thrusts me back to consciousness
    like a magic wand instantly reversing the nightmare,
    the reality of being in my safe, warm bed,
    body fully intact, my two worlds surviving as
    internal neighbors as I gently roll over,
    pulling the covers tight around me,
    mindful of the irony of nighttime illusions
    reflecting reality before drifting off to dreamland
    once again.

    And here is Day 13 prompt: A numerical poem dealing with theme

    I am not sure of the title. Two ideas are The Positive Square Root of One (which is the imaginary unit, I believe, iEither The Pos) or simply My Better Half. Any help would be appreciated.

    He had an inclination for mathematics,
    an aptitude for complex numbers,
    an absolte penchant for problems of abstract algebra.
    Geometry and trigonometry were mere child’s play.
    A true intellectual searching for fundamental truths
    and principles, approaching each task logically,
    never to be duped by the trick question
    a calculating figure put him under a spell,
    her enticing angles and simple solutions
    pulling him in, reducing higher math to the form
    of two minus one plus one equals two
    and I didn’t figure into the end sum.
    Was I the complex number that finally stumped him,
    no standard formula for determining my personal equation,
    the infite amount of x’s and y’s that make up the whole of me.
    He had an inclination for mathematics but I remain
    a single digit now, alone, with the knowledge that
    she is just pieces of me he had never seen,
    the sum of my parts left waiting to be worked out
    by the unknown denominator that will someday be
    the man I call my better half.

    Can’t wait to see what today’s prompt is.

    Have a good Sunday everyone!


  22. Linda

    Satia, Rhetorical Questions was a sad, but powerfully well-written poem. I really feel for you. Hope your poetic words help set you free a bit.

    Alessa, Ithink Texture is wonderfully crafted, your best poem so far! Kudos.


  23. Victoria Hendricks

    Green Door Nightmare

    Houston Texas, 1962, twelve years old
    asleep in blue room with pines out window,
    behind pink ghingham curtains Grandma Anna
    made from fabric I took weeks to choose.
    I put myself to sleep imagining walking
    home from school in my new angora sweater.
    I laughed with Jim Livinggood, shot baskets
    at his house. Maybe he thought I was pretty.
    Had to go home. Played too long. Had to hurry.
    had to hurry. Humid afternoon under fall trees.
    Footsteps behind me chased. I walked faster,
    didn’t dare look over my shoulder. Prayed. Ran.
    Footsteps boomed closer, faster, faster closer.
    I ran for home. Made the porch, turned the knob.
    Home safe, home safe, home safe, but front door,
    heavy rich forest green door, with lion knocker
    and beveled glass security window jammed shut.
    Man monster tramped Confederate jasmine, azaleas,
    Grabbed me. Pinned me hard against shut green door.
    Lion knocker bruised my back. Rough kiss drew blood.
    He smelled of rotten eggs,stuck toungue down my throat,
    shoved hot hands up under my baby blue training bra,
    grabbed my tender breasts, pinched. squeezed. Bit my ear.
    I opened my mouth to scream, pushed out breath after breath
    but no cry sounded. Tried to fight,kick, shove, but froze,
    trapped, pinned, against my own green door, I could not
    get away, I could not get inside. I woke shaking in fear.
    Houston Texas, twelve years old, one year after I was raped.

  24. Shann Palmer

    the last stanza posted incomplete:

    If you hear my night cries please try to wake me up,
    wrap me in your arms and hold me firmly here,
    we’ll push the real and unreal fear away, in truth
    bad dreams surround us at all hours, every day.

  25. Shann Palmer


    Un cauchemar can spoil your whole night,
    screamed Mr. Rachett on the Calais Coach,
    stabbed dead a dozen times, revived anew
    each time the book’s reread or movie plays.

    My scary dreams have yet to prove fatal.
    If they are some night I could not divulge
    the script, though it will likely be the beast
    outside the unlocked door, the flimsy stairway
    missing stairs, or the road too steep and narrow
    for my car, my most preferred recurring themes.

    If you hear my cries please try to wake me up,
    wrap me in your arms to hold me firmly here.

  26. Van

    I actually dreamt this the other night. I practically never dream about people I know. It seems this cycle of poetry is taking me deeper. This makes me want to continue it beyond the month. Today is actually her 15th birthday.


    My younger daughter turning fifteen
    wears a shimmering green strapless gown
    and elegant stole.

    Fur? So unlike her.
    And yet the ensemble
    sets off white shoulders so well.

    The studio backdrop, too, is improbable:
    a colourless moor beneath gloomy sky.

    She looks stunning.
    I proudly approach,
    but her face twists and pinches
    as she starts to speak:
    You should have come sooner,
    You should have come more often.

    These words cut to the truth.

    And then:
    “You are a bad person.”
    Wind across the moor.
    Her chin juts forward,
    an unfamiliar pout.

    I struggle to find the ground.
    All these years I have tried,
    and she was always the one
    to put the funniest spin on things,
    never tragic.
    Has it come to this?
    She wouldn’t be the first to say it.

    I frame my response as a question,
    trying to gain understanding.
    Why does she think that?

    But something else is wrong,
    I’m seeing unclearly.
    This angry woman
    not what she seems.
    An actress!
    Who paid her,
    who put her up to it?

    Starting to wake
    I realize—Renée Zellweger!
    Miscast celebrity.

    But how beautiful
    my daughter made her look.

  27. Jolanta Laurinaitis


    Imagine a barren land
    Imagine sludge to drink
    Imagine bathing in oil
    Imagine living in death

    Imagine no life surrounding
    Imagine breathing smog
    Imagine your insides choking
    Imagine crawling in your filth

    Imagine your breathing rasping
    Imagine the eyes rolling
    Imagine scratching at your chest
    Imagine bleeding and cracking

    Imagine killing your mother
    Imagine murdering your nurturer
    Imagine choking to death
    Imagine living your worst nightmare

    …………………Imagine causing your own slow painful demise

  28. Earl Parsons

    Day 15 for SS:

    Bad Memories

    There you go
    Nod off, my friend
    It’s time for me to have some fun
    With your past
    Ready to dream?

    Here’s a frightful picture for you
    The time you sneezed in the third grade
    And filled you pants
    So embarrassing it was
    That you wouldn’t go back to school
    For a week

    How about the time
    You set fire to the barn
    Showing your buds how your glasses
    Could start a fire
    It worked
    But your family had to move
    To a different state

    And do you remember this
    On your 14th birthday
    When your girlfriend’s dad
    Caught the two of you
    Playing show and tell
    In the hall closet
    Was the show worth
    The embarrassment

    Bad memories
    Or life lessons

    You tell me

  29. SaraV

    The Deep Sleep

    That smell fills my nostrils
    Mold, wet, fish scales,
    Decay’s sweetness
    Any way you word it, it’s swamp
    The Anacharis wraps around my
    I tug, I kick, I’m a strong swimmer
    But not strong enough
    The light disappears
    Dark surrounds me
    I sink
    Air gone,
    Fear searing every nerve
    But there is nothing, nothing
    That I can do
    I am doomed
    By the deep liquid darkness

  30. Rodney C. Walmer

    Twas the Nightmare before School began

    Before I start this poem
    I would like to set the stage
    In how I feel
    I know that I am not alone
    while for many like me this is real
    Others won’t blink as they turn the page

    Twas the night before school reconvened
    Of their new teachers and classes
    all the children dreamed
    How to scam those passes
    Fool the substitute
    or just cut some classes
    those same children schemed

    While for each teacher
    the dreams were nightmares
    The child who’s falling out a window
    when you just can’t reach her
    Children running wild
    before they begin you know
    the principal will walk in at that moment in time
    While all this is happening
    some parent
    will come unannounced to the door
    seeing the others going wild
    this parent
    is gonna wanna talk about their child
    and, with all this going wrong
    you thing, now there’s nothing more
    Little Johnny lights a match
    in the back of the classroom
    setting off the sprinklers
    or get’s stuck in the closet, locking the latch
    You hear a sudden Kaboom
    it’s just a popped balloon
    but your still shaking anyway
    Oh god, what a first day

    To some like me,
    the ultimate nightmare
    others might see
    a laugh or two in there
    as long as it’s not happening to me
    I just don’t care. . .

    ©Rodney C. Walmer 11/15/08 Nightmare poem, I hope this qualifies, I know many have many
    different things that scare them. I just thought, I would through out one of mine. Sorry, it’s not
    the kind that go bump in the night, but, like my daddy always said, “Ain’t nothin’ goes bump in
    the night that a bullet won’t stop!” Every teacher I know, goes through nightmares the night
    before the first day of school, including me, have been for 18 years.

  31. Earl Parsons

    Day 15 for LL&L:

    A Big Mistake

    I opened my eyes to pitch blackness
    Had I gone blind?
    Absolute black
    I rubbed my eyes
    They were open wide
    Still not a thing to see

    And what was that smell
    With a mix of rot
    Crematorium like
    Scorching the inside of my nose
    Blinded eyes burning
    But not watering

    Then the heat overcame me
    And very, very dry
    Like an oven
    Ever increasing
    Parching my throat
    Swelling my tongue
    Searing my skin
    I search for sweat
    To quench my parched tongue
    But none to be found

    Painful wailings
    Misery filling my ears
    So close
    Yet I feel no one near me
    But all around me they cry
    For water
    For relief
    They cry for death
    Yet, no death comes

    Then a flash of light
    Just enough to show
    What I didn’t want to see
    With my blind eyes
    Now not so blind
    After all

    I knew this place
    But why was I there?
    Someone made a big mistake
    Perhaps it was me

    Did I truly believe?
    Or was I pretending?

    God, No!
    This can’t be!
    Wake me from this nightmare!

  32. Bruce Niedt

    Nightmare Soundtrack

    Michael Myers has an incessant ticking tune,
    the one the director himself composed.
    Jason announces his next dastardly act
    with that creep y whispering.

    The Exorcist and Megan have their “Tubular Bells”.
    Darth Vader insists that the band play “The Imperial March”
    whenever he sweeps into a room.

    Then there’s a classical piece, that pipe-organ workout,
    “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor” by Bach,
    the generic theme for countless movie villains
    from Phantom of the Opera to Captain Nemo.

    If only my nightmares had a soundtrack,
    the music might warn me not to enter that dim room
    or walk down that dark alley, then I could get
    a head start on the monsters and maniacs
    that would otherwise chase me till morning.

  33. S Scott Whitaker

    Tossed Up In the Flood

    Ass over end the little girl falls backward on the sluicing flood
    That has splintered her swing-set into a thousand
    Broken jagged teeth.

    It is in her mouth, the foul flood water,
    It is in her mouth, the shame of not running to the house
    When she heard the rumble,
    Saw the yellowed curtains balloon out of the top bedroom window.

    It is in her mouth and throat, and the smells are belchy deep
    Bowel smells, and earthy tramps,
    Silt on her teeth like gristled deer jerky her uncle fed her once,
    At Christmas, before she started feeling so alone

    Alone as she is now, on the sluicing wave that yanks and pulls,
    Dips and thrusts her out,
    Throws her wide.

    Upon awaking
    She’ll wipe her teeth
    On her pajamas.
    To know what it means
    To be as helpless as a bean
    Dropped to the floor,
    And kicked under the cabinets,
    Never to see the sun, nor dissolve
    Into tangy earth,
    To be an inert thing,
    A useless stone bean.

    The dream revisits her from time to time,
    It is in her mouth, it is in her breath, and sometimes upon waking
    Her mouth tastes as if it had been filled with earth.

  34. Meesh

    The Elevator is Stuck Between the 12th and the14th Floors

    the Reverened Jerry Falwell’s voice a steady shower from overhead speakers
    our faces canted up to meet it, eyes closed, an attitude of supplication
    accidentally evoked by our instinct to seek high ground, fresh air,
    as we are together, damp wool topcoat to slishing ski jacket, slush
    seeping brown on brown lineoleum, not a friend
    among us, we are all foreign smells, nerve-sweat
    blossoming, sucking into and out of our lungs,
    and itches introduce themselves under collars
    and along elastics, a wrist is rubbed raw
    by a wet woolen mitten’s cuff, digestive blips
    murmur, an undercurrent to the sermon,
    which is getting louder.

  35. AC Leming


    It always starts the same,
    textured white walls swim
    in and out of focus as I lie
    half awake, wondering where
    I am. Who I am. The space
    around me unfamiliar. White
    walls close in around me, the
    ceiling lowers and I can’t
    breathe. The darkness encroaches
    as I rear out of bed to the
    reinforced glass window
    set in the door. My mouth
    opens to scream and I wake
    to textured white walls
    that swim in and out of focus.

  36. Mary K


    I am surrounded by a circle of clocks: old clocks,
    new clocks, alarm clocks, cuckoo clocks, grandfather
    clocks, small clocks, large clocks. Each clock ticks
    loud, then louder, as the horrid procession moves in closer,
    tighter. Each clock face sneers, jeers with intense eyes
    and curled toothless mouths. Clock hands reach away
    from the clock faces, attempt to seize me as I attempt
    to run; but their spindly legs grow long, strong. The
    unwelcome intruders move in so close I can smell
    stagnant breath as the wire fingers begin to assault
    my body. The clocks stop ticking. I cannot scream.
    I cannot run. I’m trapped in time. No escape possible.

  37. Michelle H.

    I awoke with sand between my lips
    Parched and dry I prayed for just a sip;
    Everywhere the eye could look
    There was only sand even by the dried up brook;
    There used to be trees
    And sweet honey bees;
    Now there is nothing but sand
    A dry, hot and barren land;
    Wake up! I say, please be a dream
    But it is exactly as it seems.

  38. Cheryl Chambers


    When Neal stops needing drinks, he dreams
    and climaxes to a nightmare. It is his daughter
    whose death lays before him like a growling dog.
    Isabella is laughing while this happens–no
    not at the dying, at Neal’s incompetence. He has
    no arms in this vision, he cannot act except to continue
    walking. He cranes his neck and looks at the scene.
    She is red from head to toe with bits of gravel coursing
    their way through her bloodstream. There is glass
    covering her hair in shards. It must have been a car
    accident he always thinks as his feet keep moving,
    his neck hurt from twisting to look back
    at his little girl motionless, his wife’s laughter
    and all that glass. There is no God in this.

  39. Lori

    Reoccurring nightmare

    Six AM and I am about to
    close my charts and head for home
    when I realize I had a patient all
    night that I didn’t see
    I run to the room thinking of
    all the medicines missed
    all the hours gone by without
    checking up on them
    I wake up and wonder how
    any one survives
    all night alone

  40. Iris Deurmyer

    The roar of the waterfalls is becoming deafening
    But we cannot steer the boat to the shore
    I flail my arms with all my strength
    Suddenly we are falling down,down…
    Heart beating wildly I open my eyes
    To see my golden retrievers tongue
    As he licks my face.
    The hard floorboards beside my bed
    Where I landed all tangled in my sheets
    Are pressing into my back and I stumble up
    To begin another pre-dawn ritual
    Of walking the dog in the dark.

  41. patti williams

    This is from my chapbook "Poetry is Like Vegetables" … I thought I would throw it in the mix.

    Every night
    When it got real late
    She tried to remember
    Why she fought so hard
    And what
    She was fighting
    But after she dreamed
    And the sun rose
    A few hours later
    She always
    Felt hopeful again
    With not so much
    Fight left inside her
    That way she was able
    To greet the day
    With a new hope

  42. Iain D. Kemp

    Apropo of nothing at all and perhaps something Ringo might offer to clientele in his Yellow Taxi… (I remember this fom my childhood)

    The spring is sprung#
    the grass is riz
    I wonders where
    the boidies is
    the little boidies
    on the wing
    Ain’t that obsoid!
    The wing is on the boid!

    Jimmy the Greek

  43. Paul W.Hankins


    As long as her ears could hear,
    the sounds of the room,
    the click and whir of new breathing,
    the synthesized rhythms of her heart,
    the occasional drip that tried its best
    to imitate the rain,
    then senses would not fail,
    the map of her brain could in error,
    there was life and time
    to say, “I love you” and
    “I’m Sorry.”

    As long as her eyes were open –,
    even in her garden state—
    she did not have to witness
    the sterile nightmare,
    with its crisp white sheets
    and purposefully selected accents,
    attended by caretakers
    in starched and pressed uniforms –
    always in gloves –

    So as long as her hands were folded
    upon her chest –
    never leaving fingerprints –
    the fear of the indelible touch
    that would only serve to prove
    that this was real
    and the remnants of daily care
    would not have to discarded
    into stainless steel by strangers.

    Yes. . .so long as all of these –
    ambiguity would avail amerlioration,
    and all those voices could speak comfort,
    blame could not be assigned,
    pinpointing the culprit
    could be averted,
    thereby leaving the possibilities
    for future night terrors
    visitors with blurry faces
    peering with intensive care
    into leaded glass windows.

  44. patti williams

    In her dreams
    When the nightmares came
    She fought to get away.
    Fearing the meeting she
    Felt the goose bumps cover her
    Shaking body from head to toe.
    Most nights each week
    The encounter regretfully occurred.
    So many mornings when
    Her eyes flew open,
    Tired from fighting in the darkness,
    She was drenched in sweat,
    Her heart pounding so loud
    She thought the whole
    House could hear.
    She splashed water on her face
    Awakening her adult self
    To the safe present that was not
    Her childhood.

    Her mother was not in the house.
    She was miles and miles away
    And the anger she once used
    To abuse her children had diminished to
    Nothing more than a
    Frail, lonely
    Hateful bitterness.

    The storm had rained itself out.
    The only power the old woman
    Had any more was
    In her dreams,
    When the nightmares came.
    It was comforting to know the
    Daylight would always rescue her
    Until she was able to stand up to
    The person she still feared the most.

  45. Sara McNulty

    Night Terror

    The alley is slick
    with rain, fallen on
    cobblestones in
    the moonlight.
    He is chasing me
    I cannot run quickly
    enough to elude the
    stomping shoes on
    stone. Heaviness
    permeates all the
    muscles in my
    legs and alarm
    like a red fire
    gong flashes in
    my head. He is
    coming faster now;
    there’s nothing I
    can do to escape.
    I turn to look over
    my shoulder and
    see a glint of silver,
    sharp-edged sword.
    He is raising it
    it over his head.
    I am going to
    be a slashed
    bloody body
    in an alleyway
    under guise of

  46. Connie

    World Record Nightmare

    My dream had come true. Weijers
    invited me to witness the world
    record-breaking Domino Day event.
    I entered the hall, naked of course,
    because I couldn’t get my school
    locker open because I had forgotten
    the combination. The eight weeks of
    work by eighty-five builders lay stretched
    out on the floor like a fantasy land.
    Before the domino sparrow could swoop
    down from the ceiling and tip the first stone
    (while I was trying to run away from a tiger)
    I tripped over a line of dominoes ruining any
    chance for Weijers to break the world record.
    Fortunately, in reality, November 14, 2008,
    Circus artist Salima Peippo really did swoop
    from the ceiling and tip the first domino,
    resulting in 4,345,027 dominoes toppling,
    thus breaking the world record.

  47. Peggy Goetz

    With fires raging again across Southern California, this is in remembrance of my friend’s ordeal last fall in the San Diego fire. They lost everything. Surely a real life nightmare.

    October 2007

    A wall of orange
    under billowing black
    roar of a thousand jets
    their hill gone
    smoking ash remains
    like the face of the moon
    mind numb
    she cries for
    her mother’s china.

    Nov. 15, 2008

  48. Iain D. Kemp

    Dear Moosehead,
    All is forgiven. I take it all back.
    I awoke this morning in a cold sweat for
    I had seen Hell itself. Every Cab in New
    York City had been painted a terrifying
    red and blue. Emblazoned, each and every
    one with a large M. The papers and all the
    networks announced the horrifying news.
    The Mets were World Series champions
    and the Yankees disbanded in disgrace
    (it was that or move to Elk City. Oklahoma!)
    Imagine how I felt when your sister poured
    my coffee and passed me the Post? I am fully
    contrite and forgive all those who have sinned
    against me, safe in the knowledge that this was
    all just a terrible nightmare.
    Pick me up at seven, I need to get drunk!

    Yours grateful for reality

    Ringo the Howler

  49. satia

    Heather, I wouldn’t worry. The other day I wrote something that included Darwin in it and I noticed that Cheryl Chambers had done so as well. And Iain D Kemp and I both alluded to "wild child" in another poem. It just seems to be the nature of creative communities where the shared energy pours out in similar but never identical ways. I find it very exciting, personally.

  50. Judy Roney


    I run through the tunnel
    charcoal dark and festered
    with rats and filth unspeakable
    The monster is after me
    all I see is one hairy arm
    and veiny hands reaching
    reaching out for me
    all I hear are the grunts
    rumbling through the cave
    and my fear as tangible as
    all that I see and smell.

    I’ve given out, my breaths
    hurt down into my ribs
    piercing pain but not as
    bad as the fear of the monster.

    I spot a ray of light
    just up ahead and the
    adrenaline pulses through me.
    I’m going to make it
    Thank God, I’ve made it.
    I arrive at the opening and
    look up and see no one
    waiting, no one there to
    run to, no one there with
    open arms to see me, so
    I stop running.

  51. Iain D. Kemp

    Cats, Poetry & Death #18


    It must be a waking Nightmare,
    for God forbid such horrors could be real.
    Friends and familiars fade
    before our eyes,
    terror grips us as we
    watch them die.
    Children on their knees, sobbing
    world leaders silent, to shocked
    to cry.
    What Devil’s scheme can rob us of
    such richness? Is there no hope?
    Will none survive? We are left alone
    bereft of company and our hearts emptied of
    the love so fervently given to us by those we in turn loved
    most dearly.
    No muse remains to speak of and none left
    to compose the verses that uplift our souls.
    Only emptiness awaits us…
    No Cats, no Poetry…
    …just Death.


  52. Heather

    Hadn’t read any of the posts before coming up with my lesson, so, Tyger, I wasn’t stealing your "reality" . . . just seems that my lesson is right on :) Okay, going to read on, was stopped in my tracks when I read that comment.


  53. Rachel Green

    Small Comforts

    Her fingers tighten on the carving knife
    as her eyelids open, as her fragile life
    sways in the balance like an old balloon –
    Ten past five – it’ll be morning soon.

    Her heart’s still beating from their sickly grins,
    from their yellow teeth and their flabby skins
    from the snap-snap-snap of their slimy jowls
    and the midnight hiss of their skeletal howls.

    Before she can rest her weary head
    she’ll take one more look underneath her bed
    just the check there’s nothing there –
    just a yellow, blank-eyed stare.

  54. Heather

    Lesson #15: Nightmares

    She could hear the screams
    All the way up the stairs
    Even with her door shut

    It was his day for a marathon,
    Didn’t care who he bothered
    With his sick habit
    He made sure he had the sound
    Turned up nice and loud

    She kindly asked to him
    To postpone his plans
    For torture and pain
    To a time when she wouldn’t be home,
    The screams made her sick
    To her stomach

    It was always the same,
    He did what he wanted,
    When he wanted,
    To whomever he wanted,
    And took his sweet time about it

    She could hear the endless screams,
    Chainsaws buzzing,
    Then more screams,
    Hour after hour after
    Agonizing hour

    He planned his weekends around
    Slash and gash, horror movies
    (I’m talking the really bad, gruesome stuff)
    He’d rent four and five at a time
    To be watched in one stretch,
    An all day affair
    With few breaks

    Even though we refused to watch with him,
    He knew we were listening,
    Forced to listen
    Unable to escape the screams and terror
    Those movies were his school
    He was studying,
    Figuring out what he was going to do
    To us

    Lesson #15: Sometimes Nightmares Are Your Reality

  55. Rachel


    The nightmare is not the illness,
    with the night sweats and vertigo
    every time you try to lift your head.

    The nightmare is not the circumstance,
    with the yelling and merciless abuse,
    even though you try to lightly tread.

    The dream is not the substitute,
    the thing that relieves the pain
    but becomes an addiction that binds.

    The dream is not the world,
    and the acquisition of everything in it.
    Riches bring ills of many kinds.

    Reality is not what you perceive,
    the things you see and hear and touch,
    for gone, these will all one day be.

    Reality is beyond this veil,
    and one day we shall all stand bare
    to give account to God Almighty.

  56. Taylor Graham


    Garbage festers in the kitchen sink,
    a dragon rises from the bathroom drain
    scaled and greasy as oil-slick.
    The carpet stinks. Sludge collects
    from somewhere upstream,
    up-city, its landfill overflowing
    with rusted-out appliances, sprung
    bedsprings, fetid mattresses
    that smell of used-up life
    to drown you.

    Wake up in hope of daylight.
    Listen to the dark.
    Already the morning commute
    is burning up the night.

  57. satia

    Rhetorical Questions

    What if
    I never get behind the wheel of a car
    Never have the freedom of the open road
    and just stay here, not sure if I can
    but never knowing I cannot?

    What if
    The doctors are wrong
    And it’s something else the tests
    Failed to see that’s slowly
    Killing off parts of myself?

    What if
    He gets fed up of my fears
    Drops my hand and won’t hold me
    when I feel like I’m forever
    falling in stillness?

    What if
    My children are likewise damned
    Bound to get up unable to walk
    Genetically doomed to fall
    Like their mother?

    What if
    This really is all in my head
    And I’m making it up as I go along
    Unaware that all I need to do
    Is pinch myself to wake up?

    What if
    There is no waking up
    And every day I spiral into
    A new circle of the hell
    That will not let me go?

    What if
    There is a cure
    And I am forced to take
    Responsibility for myself
    and my freedom?

    What if
    The only cure is death
    And I wake up too tired
    Not wanting to fight anymore
    Willing to die for my freedom?

  58. Tyger


    I do not place my trust in men
    except the one
    whom we elected to lead us
    I dare not think that he
    could disappoint me
    as others have disappointed me
    personally and politically
    men have left me battered and bruised
    and perpetually alone
    I have stood strong
    like a woman
    despite them all
    and now, despite myself
    I place my trust
    once again in a man

    Yeah! I’m back…and I’ve caught up. I have written to every day of this month. (in case anyone wants to know)

  59. Nancy

    The motorcade moves slowly;
    top rolled back for better view
    of smiles and waves, then shock
    when shots ring out from out of
    nowhere. Rolling cameras, frame
    by frame, record the impact and
    her quick response, her rush to
    pull him to her, pink suit stained.

    Bodies fall from windows high
    above the flames, then one by one
    the towers crumble to the ground,
    and send a mushroom cloud of smoke
    and dust to blanket. Strangers reach
    out hands to hold while running
    nowhere special, just away.

    Nightmare scenes shown nightly:
    roadside bombers’ havoc, scorched
    vehicles, bodies swing from bridges;
    temples, mosques and market places
    blown to smithereens, as tolerance
    is trumped by hate and peace can’t
    gain an audience, much less the

    Nightmares run in endless loops,
    across the screen, then through
    my brain, replaying, changing
    angles and perspectives, but not
    outcomes, so that, eyes shut tight,
    I still can see, like reel-to-reel
    film footage, the horrors playing
    out against the night.

    Nancy Posey

  60. satia

    Tyger, I have a friend who went through this and she is now engaged to another man. My mother had a friend who went through it and she actually married a duke. And I have another friend who is now dating and enjoying life again after catching her unfaithful husband cheating on her with multiple women.

  61. LKHarris-Kolp

    The Queen Bee

    Betrayal from another woman
    with her loving man,
    left the faithful wife,
    confused and lost in life.

    The other woman, a pop diva was she,
    lured and enticed him, like a queen bee;
    while she sat at home, all alone,
    watching romantic movies, by the phone.

    Until at last, the wife became aware,
    that she was only having a terrible nightmare.
    When she woke up the next day,
    beside her faithful husband she did lay.

    Laurie K.

  62. Ronda Eller

    In case the text editor on this blog doesn’t show it, each strophe contains line indents to give each one the appearance of an arrow tip. Like this: >

    Unless someone else posts seconds before I do, it looks like I may have pierced the virgin blog wall for today! lol


    running sweat

    running sweat
    the chase
    is on

    all corridors

    dead ends
    duck, deek
    the predator.


    retrace steps,
    feel slime drip
    from cold walls
    feel your way
    through ebon

    feel slime drip
    feel running
    sweat, soak
    the bed sheets…


    Ronda Eller 2008