November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 19

A week ago, I had you write a poem focused on a tiny detail. Today, I want you to write a poem that shows the big picture. You can still get very specific, but I want you to try incorporating a big picture concept related to your theme. For instance, if you’re writing war poems, you could write a poem focused on the leader of one of the armies and through his specific concerns cover the full scope of what’s happening.

So, for today, back up and soak in the big picture.

Here’s my attempt for the day:


He runs outside–barefoot–to grab the morning paper,
cursing the cold weather. When he gets inside, he grabs
his coffee and reads the headline: Godzilla Attacks Tokyo!

Again, he thinks before flipping to the East Europe section,
filled with stories on zombie uprisings, witch hunts, and
werewolf sightings. A vampire is suspected in Romania,
though there are no confirmed biting deaths on record.

He puts the paper down and eats his bacon-egg breakfast,
thinks about trying to leave the house, knowing he can’t.

So much going on in the world, he thinks, and I’m part
of it, but still… It’s the waiting that kills him, waiting
for someone to venture into his neck of the woods,
stumble upon his deserted house, have curiosity tempt
that person inside, when he can finally have his fun, too.


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82 thoughts on “November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 19

  1. Kathy Kehrli

    XIX. Assuming the Title “Weightlifting Champion of the World”

    It wasn’t the bawling
    From 3,000 miles away,
    A whole country armoring him
    From the firing squad I watched
    At point-blank range.
    It wasn’t the self-pity,
    The “I lost my mom”—
    Yeah, I know, I lost mine too—
    Or the “My girlfriend left me
    So I’m all alone.”
    I wasn’t any of that, really.
    What really made me want
    To rip through the fiber optic cables
    And slap his self-medicated face
    Was the “Yeah, but, you’re stronger than me,”
    As if somehow his trauma
    Exceeded mine.
    Either I did what needed to be done,
    Or it simply went left undone.
    “Strength” had nothing to do with it.
    I could break down now
    Or I could break down later.
    He chose the former;
    I opted for the later.

  2. Juanita Snyder

    (I don’t know how much bigger a picture one can get than this scenario, as we Oregonians already know. Plays well with my "Tales from the Pacific NorthWest" theme I think. –spidey)

    by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    When the “Big One” finally comes,
    they say the new coastline
    will be in Montana,
    that the entire Northwest
    will secede from the Union
    and slide into the Pacific,
    high-fiving those tectonic
    plates from the Barrios
    on the way down.

    The left-wing sector will
    look with raised brow
    then begin posturing over
    future fossil fuel ops
    (don’t want all those millions
    of lives going to waste).

    The right-wing sector will
    simply point pious fingers
    and say we had it coming,
    that God finally tired of
    this Sodom & Gomorrah sector
    and simply clicked the
    “Return to Default” menu option
    to rid himself of
    the undesirables.

    © 2008 by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

  3. Jane penland hoover

    Embedded Heat

    My heart longs once more to endure desire,
    trembling sensuous sensation, sweet
    mounting rhythms roar, burning wild, like fire.

    Delicious sense the taste of maple, we conspire,
    eat loaded stack at IHOP, in our seat.
    My heart longs once more to endure. Desire

    drives us around the base, Stone Mountain’s spire,
    where he asked and I nodded yes. Then sleet
    mounting, white rhythms beat and roar, wild like fire.

    Cold mess of frozen limbs and tongues grows dire
    with stroke. We stumble on — amazing feat.
    My heart longs once more to endure desire.

    With steel promises we shield our empire,
    from ills marauding to undo complete.
    Mounting rhythms roar, burning wild like fire.

    Now, latent embers, we excite to inspire
    each other’s mischief. Wistful smiles replete,
    my heart longs once more to endure desire,
    mount the rhythms roar; burn bright, like wild fire.

  4. Tyger


    Interesting, how
    his name on everyone’s lips
    has a different flavor
    when Charlie Gibson speaks it
    than whem Rachel Maddock does
    Sounds better from
    Chris Matthews than from
    anyone on Fox News
    Reads better in Time Magazine
    than in The Dallas Morning News
    Yet, when I say it
    It just tastes like Freedom

  5. Penny Henderson

    day #19 Big Picture

    I have the map folded
    to the ten inch square
    I traverse.

    I paused,
    leaving a classroom,
    by the pull down
    plat of America.
    My square was barely
    a pinhead.

  6. Rodney C. Walmer

    I have to apologize for being so far behind. I want you all to know, I have read some of the best poetry here in the last month that I think I have ever read. A few poems I really feel should be published, or made into songs. I have been taking time to read, but I just have so much work, I have a hard time keeping up my writing. This year is a tough one, but a good one so far. The kids for the most part (in two of three classes are getting the stuff I am teaching, behavior has been better overall) the thing is, when you are succeeding with children for only the second time in your 18 year career, you want to go that much further to make things continue to work for you, hence the demands on my time. I will continue to read and write what I can, Robert, I promiss to finish this challenge, just maybe a couple days late, my brother. I hope that is ok. Guys, my fellow poets, I honestly believe at some point we all, including you Robert (you have done some amazing stuff with the monster theme) should take our work and find a way to get it out there, I believe we have the makings of success in this field called poetry writing. I will of course opt out on that, because I do not desire to be recognized, but to be unseen. But, I will support all of you proudly.


  7. Rodney C. Walmer

    No Cyrano

    We could not have a Cyrano de Bergerac
    Restless hearts would lack
    thoughts of condolence
    would go unsaid
    major history would lack reference
    there would be one less way to remember the dead
    if words that can be said no other way
    then through poetry, one could never say

    There might never be that first date
    were there’s love
    there might be words of hate
    and that loved one your thinking of
    may never know
    hearts may break
    where love might grow
    if words don’t take
    where the seed’s of poetry
    one does not sow

    What kind of world would there be
    if there were no Cyrano
    no romance, displayed through the imagery
    created through the simple words of poetry
    How would loved one’s know
    how one truly might feel
    without a poem to make those feelings real?. . .
    © Rodney C. Walmer November 22, 2008; big picture poem

  8. Kate Berne Miller

    Astronomy for Beginners

    So much of our night skies are polluted with light, sprawling
    urban centers lit by thousands of artificial suns, obscuring the
    heavens, devouring darkness. Millions of children in Beijing
    and Tokyo, Moscow and Los Angeles, have never seen the stars.

    After dark we lie down on the white dock, above us meteors streak
    across the bowl of sky. The lake, mirror still, reflects each star in its
    ebony depths. I am dazzled by the sheer number of them spinning
    overhead, a multitude more than the meager few I see from town.

    What makes the pattern of constellations, Orion and Cassiopeia and
    the Pleiades? Is it the stars themselves: each pinprick planet shining
    steady, each star consumed by cold fire, every dying sun, each singular
    hole of light eaten into the night’s fabric, or is it absence of stars, the
    vast black distance stretching between them, light years apart?

  9. PSC in CT

    Another busy day ahead — and already running late, so just a few quick comments:

    Paul – what a beautiful, poignant tribute.
    SEI – Becoming Invisible brought tears to my eyes. Well done.
    Patti – nice job!
    Cheryl – some wonderful images & descriptions of melancholy.

    Keep up the good work everyone!

  10. PSC in CT

    Linda, (because you asked . . .)

    I have also been working (really mostly thinking!) on putting together a book of children’s poetry. I haven’t gotten very on it so far, but it is definitely something I plan to do in the future. 🙂

  11. kate


    The aprons are gone
    and the mothers who wore them
    well equipped with tissues
    needle and thread, a few pence
    kisses for a grazed knee
    a firm, kind, certainty
    we are the mothers now
    hobbled without apron pockets
    muddling through.

  12. Peggy Goetz

    I tried to have fun with this prompt. In case you all are not basketball fans, the announcers seem to have the habit of calling the taller players these days the Bigs.

    Father and son: 2910

    What’s basketball, Dad?
    An ancient game, played
    by people called the Bigs
    where they threw a ball through
    a metal hoop. Millions
    of people were fans all
    over the world.
    How big were they, Dad?
    They had to be over 6-10 just
    to get on the team, son,
    and they were all superstars
    wealthy beyond what we
    can even imagine. Was
    everyone that big then, Dad?
    Of course not, that’s what
    made them so special.
    So the Bigs were kind of
    Like the Longlegs are now
    and regular people like us
    wouldn’t have a chance
    and only really rich people
    can sit up close at their games.
    That’s right, son, but we
    can still watch the Longlegs
    on our holoscreens, and
    see even better than if
    we were there.

  13. Linda

    Earl, a children’s book–cool. I am also writing a book of children’s poems (not that stuff posted here though–actually i think a lot of my children’s poems aere better than the dribble i post here). I wonder how many others in our group are doing the same thing. Hey, everybody, if you are writing poems for children on the side, speak out. I am curious what the numbers are.


  14. Judy Roney

    Grief is a Job

    Grief is a job
    its not a job anyone welcomes, wants,
    or knows how to deal with ahead of time.
    Its labor intensive and exhausting.
    We have to take care of ourselves
    physically as well as emotionally
    so that we are up to the task.
    Grief is a project that we will get through.
    We will learn to encorporate our loss into
    our life so that we can go on eventually.
    We can forget the life we led before our
    loved one dies, our lives will never be
    the same. It will be our responsibility
    to rebuild ourselves, reinvent us so
    that we are compatible with living fully
    again. We can’t rush grief and time is
    the one sure thing that works for this
    malady that strikes us all eventually.
    Another tool that always works is to get
    outside ourselves and helping others
    in some way.
    We owe it to ourselves and those who
    love us to get through grief, get to
    the other side of grief and live again.
    We can’t expect things to ever be
    the same, but joy will return as well
    as love. Accepting those things
    into our lives honors our loved one
    who has passed away.
    It takes as long as it takes, we can’t
    rush it and neither can any one else.
    Our loved one has left us gifts and we
    have to look for them. My son left me
    a fearlessness and openess about life
    that I would never have though possible.
    I thought of myself as an injured bird
    when I began this process but now I see
    myself as an eagle, better able to fly.

    Judy Roney

  15. Connie

    No it’s not televised here. I get it off the internet. They do occassionaly show it on TV months after the fact. I saw it once a few years ago. Up until then I didn’t know such a thing existed.

  16. Earl Parsons

    Linda – Thanks for your kind words. I hope you daughter likes it. If she does, I have a book of children’s poems I’m working on and would gladly share some with you. By the way, it should have been "snow white sands" not "show white sands". I live on the Emerald coast and our sand is as white as snow with green waters to boot.

  17. PSC in CT

    Rats! Gotta run. Busy day ahead. This idea only just came to me this morning, and I haven’t had the time to polish it yet, but here is my first (or maybe second or third) draft — for now. Will work more on it when time allows. Be back later to read and comment! And pick up today’s assignment!) 🙂

    We Are One

    We are all
    The same

    We are
    Infant, child, teen, lover, mother
    Father, son, daughter, sister, brother,
    Single, married, divorced, widowed,
    Addict, abuser, enabler, leader
    Artist, student, healer, helper, teacher

    We are
    Black, white, red, yellow, gray,
    European, African, Asian, American,
    Rich, poor, fat, thin, tall, short
    Innocent, experienced, seasoned

    We are
    Alone, apart, fearless, afraid, glad,
    Love, hate, envy, desire, betrayed, sad
    Passion, apathy, empathy, faith, disbelief
    Regret, remorse, gratitude, pity, relief

    We are
    Amaze, astound, appall, impress, intend,
    Energize, enervate, buy, sell, spend,
    Smile, sing, laugh, cry, dance, shout,
    Question, answer, know, believe, doubt,
    Want, need, take, have, give, share,
    Surrender, fight, hurt, heal, care,
    Wish, dream, do,
    He, she, them, us, me, I, you

    We are
    We are
    The same
    We are

  18. Shann Palmer


    There must be a place
    where old men wait
    for wives to be ready
    to couple and uncouple,

    give foot rubs after
    shopping for couches,
    remember to buy bulbs
    for living room lamps.

    Bearded men who regret
    their haste having noticed
    the wisdom of a light touch,
    a dark room, a cool breeze.

    Mountains understand,
    endure what nature brings.

  19. S.E.Ingraham

    In the House of Moon-Madness

    “The greatest of our blessings comes to us through mania…madness coming from the deity is superior to the sanity of human origin.” Socrates

    In the time before uncivilized life became
    The norm and the muses ruled not only
    The mind but the heart and soul and great
    Thinkers worshiped in the house of moon-madness
    My sovereign self was sure and confident and as
    Poetess I walked in hues of purple royalty
    With all attendant to my moods and
    Whims, for great knowledge was born only of
    Chaotic thought and troubled introspection
    Truth was a revelation of the divine to
    The manic alone and was to be received
    With gratitude; I held to my original titles
    Those of maternal power, moon-spirit and
    Goddess – in the time before life became
    Uncivilized and great thinkers still
    Worshiped in the house of moon-madness.

  20. Linda

    Terri, I love your poem for today.

    Earl, So My Child is so nice. I think I will read it to my daughter.

    Lots of good poems today. As for me, I am a little stumped on this one. Got a few ideas but not getting anything good on paper. Also in the middle of a big project with a deadline on Saturday.

    Connie, I smiled when I read your dominoes poem. Over here Domino Day is always televised and it is amazing the things they can do. Do they even show it in America?


  21. Linda

    Terri, I love your poem for today.

    Earl, So My Child is so nice. I think I will read it to my daughter.

    Lots of good poems today. As for me, I am a little stumped on this one. Got a few ideas but not getting anything good on paper. Also in the middle of a big project with a deadline on Saturday.

    Connie, I smiled when I read your dominoes poem. Over here Domino Day is always televised and it is amazing the things they can do. Do they even show it in America?


  22. Jolanta Laurinaitis

    If you could see

    If you could see
    What I see
    You wouldn’t execute
    Your final death-wish
    Borrow my wings
    And come fly with me

    I think I heard Mother Nature decry…

    Over the ruins.
    Over the rotted corpse
    Of her defiled curvacious
    Mountains that once brought
    Home the freshest rain

    I think I heard Mother Nature deny…

    Hover above the desolate
    Creeks, rivers, and streams
    That were filled with
    Bountiful species
    That now reside away
    From the slick surface
    And taunting keels

    I think I heard Mother Nature defy…

    Flutter around the barren
    Lands of death, murder and
    Offer no hope to those
    Bearded Sapiens that wander
    Around in dumbfounded

    I think I heard Mother Nature sigh…

    Lift yourself higher
    And choke on your breath
    As the air is no longer
    Cleaner up here
    The grass is no longer
    Greener there
    And home is no longer
    Where your heart is

    I think I heard Mother Nature cry…

    But lastly I dare
    You to linger around
    And observe from space
    The devastation, obliteration
    And total annihilation
    Of your home
    You will ask;
    Where will we go now?
    What will we do?

    I think I heard Mother Nature die…

  23. SusanB


    It’s great to get good marks in school
    To be leader of the band
    Show off all the medals you win
    Speak up and take a stand

    That’s a wonderful job you’ve gotten
    Being clever in interviews
    And the deal with the used car salesmen
    Bought the efficient car you use

    The house you own is lovely
    And having your own family
    Voting for good men to lead us
    Is good for the whole country

    With all these great achievements
    When you wonder what else is there
    Then you step outside the picture
    And you find a way to share

  24. Nancy Posey

    I’ve had a very sad day.

    The Big Picture

    Lecturing today, I asked my students
    to define tragedy, and then I laughed
    when someone said that some girls find
    a broken nail quite tragic.. Patiently,
    I explained that while the loss of a
    child, a school bus wreck, a deadly
    fire all seem tragic, that Aristotle set
    it down in black and white: the death
    of a high-born man, basically good,
    but cursed by a fatal flaw—ambition,
    hubris, untempered haste—who falls,
    taking down his nation or his tribe.
    Could Aristotle be wrong? But when
    I finally arrived at home, saw the
    flashing light signaling voice mail,
    picked it up, I learned of the death
    of a man, simply a man, his fatal
    flaw, untempered sadness, loss
    of hope, tucked all this time behind
    a false and frozen smile. No nations
    crumbled, but when I saw his daughter,
    disconsolate, melt into her mother’s
    arms, I knew I looked on tragedy.

    Nancy Posey

  25. Kateri Woody

    Here in his tiny prison cell,
    he’s just another number – another
    life deployed to fill the gap
    in society, a tally for those
    without a strong sense of morality
    a mark against the machine
    lost in the overwhelming rising
    costs of a human life.

  26. Paul W.Hankins

    As a former activity director in a long term care facility, I really enjoyed Scott’s poem today, "The Illusionist." I had to post later than usual today and it is with a sense of great accomplishment to post right at 10PM before doing a writing workshop for another school in the morning. I get to go to the home of Larry Bird. I am more than excited but exhausted. Thank you for letting me share outside the poem.

    There is a lot of great work on here. . .I want to celebrate all of you. . .line by line, rhyme by rhyme, but this will have to do for tonight. . .



  27. A.C. Leming

    Again, not my best…will have to revise.


    Comfort zone: Eighteen inches unless you’re special,
    then either I need nothing or three feet to feel comfortable.

    Elemental: That measurement between electrons, neutrons
    and protons, which need an electron microscope to be measured.

    Pocket: The fit needed to successfully throw you over my hip
    without utilizing brute strength instead of proper mechanics.

    Gravitational: The pull of a black hole, gravely sucks matter
    into it’s bottomless maw, visible light bends as it enters the well.

    Tension: The frisson between your lips and mine before we
    touch, the promise of desire a breath away from fulfillment.

  28. SaraV

    Margaret–Great BIG picture and great ending. Nicely done

    The sun rises
    And sets
    Yet what spans the time
    What have you seen
    Shadows play skipping
    From water to land
    and back again,
    Different activities every day
    Some routine and
    Comforting in the same way
    The rocking rhythm
    Of waterfowl walking
    Droplets spark and flash
    In the sun
    A fin, a nose, a tail appears
    Then just as quickly it is gone

  29. Paul W.Hankins


    The picture on the mantle:
    you are holding our son,
    he is two – going on three-
    and he loves to hear your stories –
    he is recoiling, not in fear,
    but, in awe of your ability to spin a yarn.

    Your hand is seemingly waving
    in the air as you make some dramatic element
    come to life in the story you are telling
    I look at the picture and my grieving eyes
    see you waving away the flash,
    waving away the recognition,
    waving away the role.

    I cannot remember the story you are telling;
    the photo does not capture this,
    but your mouth is open wide
    and your eyes are alive;
    you are telling me not to take the picture,
    that you are without your makeup
    and necessary necklaces;
    there is a slight haze around your hands
    where the flash could not stop your hand.

    It’s the way I like to remember your hands:
    telling me the stories of Pikeville,
    of your father wearing a suit to the store,
    of the senior in your room who called you mother,
    of the way you rocked the mentally retarded patients
    to sleep even if your job was to only clean their teeth,
    these things you did with your hands:
    cannot be expressed ,fingers interlaced together
    like you were crafting a cat’s cradle
    in the casket.

    They are story telling hands:
    hands that clapped to Wilson Pickett
    when we danced at the reception,
    wild, conducting hands, playing out
    the cacophony of the life that cannot be told
    with hands in one’s lap
    or across one’s chest.

    So here is only part of the story,
    told in five by seven,
    the larger story sweeping past the edges
    of the frame as you touch the world
    of our son who was two – going on three –
    he loves to hear stories about you,
    and in this picture we tell him,
    you were talking about dinosaurs.


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