November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 5

As requested, I’m getting today’s prompt out a little earlier in the morning than usual. Hopefully, everyone didn’t stay up too late watching the election coverage last night (if you were watching the election coverage, that is). I know I’m still a little sleepy-eyed (though that may have more to do with these spreadsheets I’ve been working on for

Today, I’d like you to write a poem that sets a scene. In other words, one that pays attention to the details of the scenery and uses those details to heighten the effect and meaning of the poem. For instance, if you were to write a poem about the election results last night, don’t drown it in abstractions and ideas. Instead, focus on the setting of a rally and let the details describe whether the particular candidate won or lost.

Personally, though, my attempt for the day is going to continue on with my monsters theme: 

“Autumn Poem”

He loves the way leaves fall from trees
and collect on the ground. He loves
raking them into little mounds
next to the street. And as more leaves
fall, his mounds grow ever larger
until they’re the right size for him
to climb inside and wait for kids
biking along the gutter to
venture close enough to jump up
and scare. The reason why no kids
trick-or-treat his end of the street.


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95 thoughts on “November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 5

  1. Lynne

    Broad expanse of lawn neatly manicured
    emerald green with random dots of vibrant
    yellow and and a few spots of white fluff
    peaceful cohabitation

    children full of giggles make wishes
    blow on dandelion wisps of white
    a toddler picks a bright yellow bouquet
    for his mother who stands on the sidewalk
    with the gardener going over instructions
    for spraying as the background roar of a
    lawn mower drowns out birdsong

  2. Shannon R

    Under parched vacant sky
    immigrants from Ukraine settled
    in the prairies. My great grandmother
    remembers the slap of dry air
    assaulting her skin when she first stepped onto the land
    she had travelled over an ocean for
    three children in her arms. Two survived.

    I wonder what sound vibrated from her core
    when her eyes first saw the rock lined forest of pine and fir trees
    towering on the land she was promised her family could farm on.
    How long would her suffering rattle in my bones, in my blood lines
    each time I considered settling for a promise handed down to me from a stranger?
    Tonight I enter the dance floor
    the bodies piled around me like pillars are her fir trees
    their dance her forest.

    We both enter
    eyes squeezed shut
    ready to begin plowing though
    to make a path for our own.

  3. Kathy Kehrli

    V. Too Close (to Death) for Comfort

    Sleep lassoing me in like
    A truant calf forty-eight hours
    Since its last noted spotting,
    I lay my cheek against
    The gray Berber carpeting
    That underfooted the waiting room
    I’d come to call “my new home.”
    Every inch of windowless wall space lined
    With armchairs whose comfort level
    Anyone would liken to the electric chair
    After two full days upon them.
    These torture devices closing in on me;
    The whir of linoleum polishers
    Committing holy matrimony
    With the nightmarish brain activity
    I blissfully could not relate—
    When all was said and done,
    None of these discomforts
    Could hold a cardiac shock
    To the five full days
    You spent flat backed,
    Tethered to life support.

  4. Amanda

    The cherry red door opens
    Revealing the interior of this dwelling
    This house she called home as a child

    I find it hard to stand on the dilapidated front porch
    Is it so hard to use a level?
    Stepping over broken nails, I’m glad to have worn my boots

    The light bulb flickers next to the doorway
    I try to remember the morse code combination for "S.O.S."
    But fail miserably

    The stout older woman glares at me
    Curiously or Dangerously? I can’t tell
    She’s as unkept as her home

    "Who are you? What do you want?" she screeches
    I look at her with sympathetic eyes
    Before I turn and walk away

  5. Taylor Graham


    in this new house you worry
    that you can’t afford, you turn off
    every switch behind you. Your husband
    keeps forgetting. There’s a constant night-
    light at the bottom
    of the hall. Right now the space ahead
    of you is dark. How early the day fails
    us in November. Daylight savings
    done, just listen to the news of market
    crash and subprime mortgages,
    the jobless rate, the price of gas.
    In the dim
    you step carefully, not to trip
    over three dogs sprawled at ease,
    not curled nose under tail
    against winter. They twitch
    in dreams that have nothing to do
    with famine.

  6. Rodney C. Walmer

    Second detail poem, though, this may be more of a if this detail had not been overlooked type poem. But it was written for this prompt.

    Youth and Details

    They were young and on vacation
    out in a country they’d never been
    enjoying self-discovery,
    they did not bother with information
    Unfortunately, they never would again

    It had reached about noon
    they saw a sign just off the main
    it said fresh apples, and other fruit
    She said lets go
    He said, not so fast, it’ll be dark soon
    that’s a dirt road, what if we get lost
    She said, be adventurous, lets go all the same
    little did they know what this trip would cost

    About an hour into the ride
    the sun went down
    there were no lights, just the moon
    But, he had flashlight inside
    Looking around,
    they noticed they were alone
    they first heard the howl
    He was the first to feel that sense of doom

    She said, this place is nowhere to be found
    it’s pitch dark, and from the sound
    out here the wolves’ abound
    I think it’s time to turn around

    They were young,
    so they had not yet learned
    knowledge to some
    that has to be earned
    That is the little details
    the ones that really count
    those that when overlooked
    one usually fails
    the obstacles to surmount

    What they failed to realize
    was that they were on a desolate road
    more so, this road was too small to turn around
    as you may have surmised
    this was not all the bad luck they were owed
    with a thumbda thumpda, thumpda
    they soon found,
    they had a flat

    Where was the nearest gas station at
    there was none
    they did not even know where they were
    but, they were not done
    they would lock the doors
    sleep the night
    and just wait for someone
    they would be alright

    well, that’s what they thought
    They soon became hungry
    patience they’d never been taught
    so he decided to fix the flat himself
    no sooner did he open the trunk
    when he realized
    this car had belonged to someone else
    it had been back a mile or so,
    she complained that something stunk
    but, two dead bodies
    she never expected to find in the trunk

    They had to go
    no one could ever know
    they might be blamed
    She proclaimed
    So, they left the car
    as they ran
    but, they didn’t get far
    That’s when the end began. . .

    ©Rodney C. Walmer 11/15/08 detail poem. Funny this was written before I found out about the
    fright poem, I might have been able to use it, but that would not be fair, so I will post it in the
    prompt it was meant for.

  7. Tyger

    Back at Work

    They spend hours today
    talking in hushed voices
    dark faces filled with wonder
    they bend over newspapers
    and scour the internet
    no loud celebrating here
    but I feel the glow
    they quiet when the white girl walks by
    until they learn how I voted
    and then they speak to me too

  8. Monica Martin

    Riding in the car,
    the interstate stretching
    ahead and behind us,
    the autumn leaves float
    to the ground. The radio
    plays softly in the
    background as we discuss
    moving in.

  9. Carol


    … a heavy shower –
    and a goldcrest appears,
    flicking through sharp branches,
    a bright raindrop.
    After nine long months
    of mini-migration
    –it’s back!
    Spirea and oak glow rain rich yellow,
    and from Berberis Darwinii bursts
    a single ochre petal.

  10. SaraV


    Like well steeped English Breakfast Tea
    It catches the sun funnels it deep
    Flashes of orange, blue scales flicker
    And then dark, a cloud sliding by
    Blocking entry to the deep
    Circles molded by the motions
    of fins and tails unseen
    Arise and then collapse again
    Wakes building molten edges
    From the callused orange legs
    Stroking lazily beneath the snow white rump
    Gliding to the far side where the
    Weeping willow drapes spring green knifelets
    Over the pond’s edge, swaying like with each breath of breeze
    And the sun shifts gilding the surface with gold, silver
    Finally rose encompasses it
    and then all is dark from shining Tea to midnight Tea
    And all is still,
    Until the morning glow
    Opens a window
    To the well-steeped deep again

  11. Ronda Eller

    v. playgrounds

    i move through mauve
    inside the temple.

    there are classrooms here.

    i watch students learning
    to float in awkward

    and then
    a whistle sounds—
    eyes turn on me,
    centurion guards bombard us
    and I am their target.

    i speed into emerald,
    high-tailed against
    a stationary, green-backed sky.

    i have no time
    for wooing caresses;
    it must surrender.

    my highway leads me
    to yellow playgrounds
    where my pursuers
    become soaring eagles—

    the trees
    understand guardianship.

    mustard children giggle
    as I render a swing-set
    into a kitten.
    they gently pat it
    into daylight.

    ~ Ronda Eller 5nov2008

  12. Terri French

    The carpet is vacuumed diagonally
    The blinds dusted slat by slat

    Fresh flowers in your mother’s vase
    The table lemon-pledged to an oily sheen

    The kids are clean and playing in their rooms
    A roast in the oven with potatoes and carrots

    Your car pulls into the driveway
    I glance into the mirror
    and reapply lipstick
    My bruise is almost gone

  13. S Scott Whitaker

    Outside the T

    The strident chords progress through the neural network
    to the skin
    from the heart to the strings on the electric guitar.

    The people spilling out of T stop and toss a coin
    or two,
    the man doesn’t notice,
    he’s channeling Billy Bragg, and keeping one eye
    on his hat.

    Autumn hats patrol the street.

    Those who stay to watch the showman
    witness his hands transform into fighting birds
    moving up and down the branch of his guitar.

  14. Karen H. Phillips

    Heather, today’s was my favorite of yours so far.
    Iain, I like the irony of your Moosehead/Ringo letter-poems.

    Eugene Boudin, French (1824-98)
    The Beach at Trouville (1887-96)

    He captures the gradations of blue,
    from powder of the low cloud-bordered sky,
    to deep aquamarine of the sea,
    to the blue-green of a distant grassy knoll.

    Why does a man drive a horse-drawn wagon
    across the beach,
    with another man riding in the back?

    Left to wonder, the observer might shade
    her eyes from the glare
    seen only on an overcast day
    where the clouds are as bright
    to the eyes as sunlight.

  15. PSC in CT

    I am REALLY looking forward to being caught up, so I can read more of the entries that are here. For now, though, it’s head down and keep writing!

    Here is my PAD – DAY 5: “Set a Scene” Poem

    Late Autumn Arrivals

    Never mind the
    Hot stone massage
    Moist mud wrap
    Sea salt shimmer

    Don’t even mention the
    Waxed and exfoliated
    Moisturized, buff & polish
    hot-oiled mani-pedi combo
    With French tips

    Just forget all about the
    Roots recently colored
    Tresses tastefully tamed
    Highlights and lowlights
    Artistically executed

    In spite of every effulgent effort
    The juncos arrived today

    Can winter be far behind?

  16. Judy Roney

    Her arms engulf me in greeting as
    she holds me against her ample bosom.
    I can smell the Tabu and the hard day’s work
    on her flesh. She has on her navy-checked
    cotton dress that has been line-dried and
    starched in the sink before she put the iron to it.

    She gets her vast body into her worn green
    vinyl lounge chair and sighs to let me know
    all is not well with her or many others.
    She picks at her cuticles as she worries
    about me, family and friends, and the world.
    She punctuates my update with “Well…”
    as she shakes her freshly permed head and fills
    our space with the odor of amonia, the mole on
    her chin moves as she tells me how much she
    missed me, how much she loves me, how she
    hopes I have a good relationship with God.

    Beside her on the cheap, clanky folding table sits her
    favorite Bible, highlighted and bookmarked,
    the worn edges beginning to curl up. There’s
    a notebook with a yellow No. 2 pencil she uses
    to jot down visitors names. She checks her notes
    riffles through the pages. “Not as many came today
    as they did last Wednesday. I had 52 visitors last
    week but I won‘t have that many this week.“ Then

    I smell the biscuits baking and I walk into the kitchen.
    I notice the incline towards the back porch is steeper
    the floors creak with each step. There’s always something
    cooking on the stove as if she had a sixth sense about
    people coming.

    I half the fluffy biscuits and add some of her fresh
    churned butter and the blackberry jam she put up
    last summer and we feast. She died 20 years ago
    but I can still see grandma there standing by the
    screen door with her arms outstretched.

  17. Jane penland hoover

    k weber – I wondered when I first read – but then I think we can put what we need to – This is an alluring poem – love the expanse and sense of time and space evoked in this piece – the longing

  18. k weber


    your cough
    on the radio
    reminds me
    that i don’t
    know your hand-
    writing, have
    only seen you
    in second
    or third

    another coast
    to float on: you
    three hours
    behind me
    but both
    of us dreaming
    in sound-

    too many land-
    scapes separate
    us: the desert
    of time, the mountains
    of too many
    minutes apart
    like contractions
    of "cannot"
    and "will not"

  19. Terri Vega

    Bursting from split cedar
    mounds of mulch. Color contrast
    to red, all flowering in
    sprawling echoes of desire
    to stretch their limbs

    Waving rock flows
    up and down
    circling the bed with
    abrupt closure as the wave breaks
    against sun faded beams
    of standing fence

    Rain gutters and rock
    determined to navigate
    rushing waterways away from
    the gentle motion of the mound.

    The tiny Lilac patiently waits
    in the back corner
    Alone, sure that one day its
    full grown bloom will steal
    the show.

  20. Don Swearingen

    The wind howled all through the night,
    Still wails and bends the trees,
    Bowing and rising, though the sun is bright;
    Giving the dark grass no ease,
    As, swept by golden leaves, it yellows
    On its way to winter sleep.
    The stones stand in frozen rows,
    Holding stalwart against the seep
    Of time, demanding eternal remembrance
    For ancestors the busy world has forgot,
    Though for now, reverence
    And law protects each granite dot.
    I stand before the small gray stone
    That tells me you are gone, and I’m alone.

  21. lynn rose

    " Love Lost"

    Love was lost to her. She had been in love many years ago and it graduallly left her.
    She had loved with every ounce of her being , every
    inch of her heart had been filled.
    The years went on and the love she felt lessened with each.
    She became lost with no feelings, no emotions could be
    She began to see a man that wouldn’t allow any kind of attachment.
    This was the kind of love she needed, one that wouldn’t cost her anything.
    But love is very sneaky, it can even find the hardest hearts. She found herself wanting to love, but she wouldn’t allow this feeling to take over.
    She continued to makelove with him with no attachments, that’s what she thought she wanted.
    She really wanted to love him and wanted him to love
    her back, but she knew this would never be.
    She needed him physically and he needed her too. The love they made was so passionate and so incredible,
    for that moment she could feel his total love inside and out, without being in love.
    This was the love she settled for. This was the only love she would have.

  22. Euphrates


    Shadows flicker along the walls
    As she descends the candlelit stairway
    Once a simple basement room
    Now a cavern of fear and delight
    Black and purple velvet drapes
    Disguise cold cement and stone
    Lush carpet caresses barefoot steps
    As the centerpiece draws her forward
    A mammoth bed of beam and steel
    Satin-clad altar of sacred and profane
    A glimpse of rope, the clank of chain,
    Devices of pain and erotic torment
    Dangle within easy reach
    A whisper of warm breath
    Then sudden darkness
    A blindfold in place, pushed to her knees
    Held, bound, helpless..
    A deep voice in her ear,
    “Are you ready?”
    And trembling,
    She can only whimper “Please…”

  23. kate

    Frustrating I don’t have time to read everything properly, just skim read, but so much fantastic work. Especially enjoyed Heather, Patti Williams, Vanessa, Kate Berne Miller, K Webber, Earl the brain poems, Iain the mooseheads are poetry and I love ’em!, Juanita, SE Ingraham.

    My theme is my kids – no great ambitions with the book, maybe something I could share with my family, and a gift to myself and the kids in the future, to catch a little of how they are now.

    Go poets!!

  24. kate

    Thursday – takeaway

    When I get home from work
    he’ll be lying on the couch
    ‘come on’ he’ll say ‘let’s get going’
    he’s been waiting for this all day.

    I’ll get changed into something cooler, nag the kids to hurry
    one will leave his lego on the floor for later
    one will grumble shutting down the computer
    one will turn off the tv halfway through her show.

    When we get there they’ll stand before
    the row of glass fridge doors
    and gaze, undecided.
    ‘Hurry up and choose’ he’ll say.

    We’ll sit at the table up the back
    with the worn plastic cloth
    the doors will be open to the street heat
    the loose tiles will have been patched with glue,
    and none of this will matter.

  25. Jolanta Laurinaitis


    Moon casting silver strands
    Catching the last leaves
    As they scamper about the ground
    Silhouetting the broken limbs
    And clean skin trunks
    Waiting to be taken

    Ravaged earth carelessly soiled
    As moon beams caress over
    The scattered filth
    Suffocating Gaia’s breath

    The breeze shimmers
    And disturbs the flickering dust
    Dancing alone
    Along the annihilated land

    Skimming the silent lake
    Ripples forming
    And gliding to the bank
    Silence eerie on a lazy
    Summer’s eve

    Surrounding the placidity
    The remains of destruction
    Float carelessly –
    A mutilation of her body

    The dancing jewel
    Wings shadowing
    The stillness,
    Passes over again
    With a tearful sigh

    Like the ripples
    That never return
    From the shore
    Neither shall her spirit.

  26. Shann Palmer


    A pebble in a shoe, pea
    under the mattress, whisper
    in an empty room, fall rain
    tapping Vivaldi on a tin roof,
    and in the space between,
    you rise up bittersweet
    as sorghum on my tongue.

    I can’t let loose the grip
    sorrow demands but will
    lift you to the fine white light
    that keeps me on this journey
    of troubles bearing a hunger
    I can’t satisfy, a fear I embrace
    like a brick begs mortar, hold.

  27. Bruce Niedt

    The New Conductor
    (November 5, 2008)

    As we take our seats in the theater,
    programs in hand, the orchestra sounds
    like chaos. Each musician stretches a string
    or clears a valve, runs a scale or polishes up
    a bit of melody, scrapes a chair across the floor,
    shuffles music sheets, adjusts the metal stand.

    Into the noise strides the conductor,
    bowing to polite applause.
    He mounts the podium and raps his baton,
    and the concertmaster rises, drawing a long note
    on his violin. The whole assemblage falls
    into place, morphing to one unanimous “A”
    before the conductor raises his stick again
    and everything goes silent.

    It’s his first time, he and his family have waited
    so long for this – it seems like centuries –
    but he exudes confidence. Every instrument,
    every player is poised on the edge of the music,
    watching the very tip of his baton,
    and as he brings it down in a graceful swoop,
    our symphony begins.

  28. Sheryl Kay Oder

    Nancy, your poem says it all. There is no need to concern ourselves with having to create a chapbook, unless we want to. It would be fun to try, though.

  29. S.E.Ingraham

    Brockville Psyche

    The sound of the double-thick doors clunking behind us
    Followed by the complicated machinations of lock and key
    Every time we went from hallway to stairwell
    To hallway and so on – is just one of the things I recall from Brockville,
    And peering into the tiny solitary rooms, especially this
    cell-like one, bare of all but a tiny shrivelled woman
    Curled fetus-like in a corner, so still, I thought perhaps dead
    When queried, the doctor said they feared greatly for her;
    She had swallowed her thirteenth toothbrush that week
    And if they had to open her up again, it would likely kill her
    Why toothbrushes, I wondered? “To scrub her sinful insides,”
    He told me, “At least that’s what she keeps saying.”
    There was no convincing her otherwise and no keeping
    The toothbrushes away from her either apparently.
    We carried on. A nine hundred bed hospital for the insane
    From the outside, architecturally beautiful – red-brick, gothic,
    Park like setting, wrought iron fences surrounding, huge swing gates
    That were never locked; dangerous patients were kept locked up inside
    Oh, but inside, the hallways – narrow, dimly lit – and they smelled of urine
    And ammonia, and something indefinable – I couldn’t place it then
    When I was still on the right side of the keyed doors but now
    Years of experiencing time on the other side of those doors
    Has acquainted me with that smell – the scent of lunacy and fear
    Still, back then, in my naïveté and youth, I imagined I would become
    A psychiatric nurse, so worked as an assistant with one of the doctors
    A volunteer, but still, got close enough to both patients
    and disorders to discover, I disliked working with the sick and,
    There was no way I could work in that field; the cure rate being
    far too depressing- two percent at that time, thirty years ago, not much
    better these days, they just don’t ever give a ‘cure’ rate…
    Back then, I didn’t realize just how dangerous
    some of the people the doctor had me interviewing actually were
    He would lock me and a criminally insane patient in a teeny tiny
    Interview room with a clipboard and fifty quiz questions to ask
    Said patient, and a few instructions re spotting signs that signalled
    A subject needed changing – ‘just in case’
    I don’t know who was more foolish, the doctor, or me
    He did leave a few cursory instructions about how to contact
    emergency help, should I feel matters were ‘getting out of hand’
    I marvel I came out of there unscathed, but they say
    god protects drunks and fools and I don’t drink…
    Of course, I didn’t know that eventually, I would
    make major use of the mental health system myself, ironic really
    Even more ironic too when I remember how nervous I was
    attending a social function for the patients and having to dance
    with several of the cuckoos, as I thought of them then
    Poetic justice, really, and it serves me right that now I am
    one of the cuckoos; back then I was embarrassed and frightened
    of ‘those’ people, people who were probably a combination of
    the mentally ill, the retarded and other segments of
    marginalized society that was lumped together…
    Having become familiar first hand with the stigma that still runs
    deep and how misunderstandings still abound about this
    disenfranchised part of society is what makes me determined
    to be an advocate for the mentally ill today

  30. Juanita Snyder

    birthday girl
    by juanita lewison-snyder

    so sorry
    i missed
    your special day —
    11th year of your existence.
    climbing behind
    the wheel of imagination
    i can still picture your
    long thick hair,
    the color of mint copper
    pulled away from a
    as it dips chin-down
    to blow out
    waxy-striped candles
    with juvenile lungs —
    the force of hurricane-winds
    circling a sea of
    care-bear blue icing,
    smoldering in the dim-light
    amid a confetti of
    song and

  31. jared david

    Michelle- i don’t think i’d see it this way if not for Obama’s victory, but is WASP a metaphor for the changing of the guard in washington? …great poem regardless

  32. Heather

    Sara, thank you soooo much . . . WOW!!!!
    What a difference a day makes, twenty four little hours . . . I look forward to the posts tomorrow. Iain, I expect to see Cats and Moosehead 🙂
    Cheers and love to all-

  33. Paul W.Hankins

    Thanks all for your feedback, even if I am living vicariously off of the general comments of the last few days. This is an amazing group of which to be a part and I thank you for welcoming the newcomers to the PAD. . .

    Onto day six!


  34. RJay Slais

    hey lain, hang in there
    I have had 155 rejections this year so far…
    the acceptances keep me coming back,
    wanting more out of myself and the craft.

    tomorrow’s a new day filled with opportunity
    to grow, learn, and most of all, have fun with it!

  35. Cheryl Chambers

    Just one more quick note, then I’m done.

    I confused my Rachels in my earlier post. I commented on Widow’s Daughter, so that earlier comment of mine is for you, Rachel. 🙂 Fab images, again.

    And now for Rachel…gorgeous writing, particularly:

    of summer hidden beneath a short fingered canopy
    of silvery green oblong leaves

    Fab stuff to both of you, and to everyone. (Sometimes I get confused endlessly scrolling up and down, and I don’t know everyone just yet…)


  36. Michelle H.

    Rachel – beautiful.
    Iain – What I didn’t tell you the other day, is that I like Cats & etc so much (based on what you’ve written so far) that I would buy your chapbook!! 😉 So, keep it up!!

    However, I understand feeling blue, I’m beginning to think I like nature too much to write about it well – or maybe I’m just tired… 😉

    Good night all! Great reads again today!

  37. Yvonne Garcia


    There will be no grand monument,
    no marble stone nor carved angels,
    no gated entrance nor posted hours.
    I will walk by the aspens
    under the old cedars
    past the trillium, purpling
    at the edge of the clearing
    walk by the small flowers
    decorating the miners lettuce
    and past the cottony remnants
    a fireweed. I will walk
    until I find this keystone,
    this brick encrusted to the earth
    welcoming me back to the place
    that is home.

  38. Sara McNulty

    Hey all,
    Just letting you know that you are all fabulous. If I only name a few it would be Iain for Cats, Death and Poetry, Garden of Sorrow-Rachel …Heather, Kateri-I think you are all wonderful writers.

  39. Michelle H.

    And another…

    A deserted street
    A cloudy sky
    Snow covering your sneakered feet;

    The wind is hollowing
    You walk all muffled and blind
    Your arm stretched out seeking;

    Your coat is grey
    Your scarf is red
    Hoping to live you pray;

    It starts to snow
    You’re completely lost
    You find the going slow;

    Should have stayed with the car
    You think, now you’ve lost your way
    You thought home was not far;

    A mound of white
    A peak of red
    She’s been gone a fortnight.


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