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2012 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 17

Today’s prompt comes from Maxie Steer.

Here’s Maxie’s prompt: Take the phrase “How to (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem.

Robert’s attempt at a How-to Poem:

“How to Woo”

Confess the world returned upon first sight,
but more than that, you swallowed the universe whole,
and now, your dreams, once an endless summer

of soap opera re-runs, are prime time HBO,
or in other words, food has flavor again, flowers
beckon, and the moon is a long lost friend, so that

these words that crash against the shores of your heart
can’t be placated with anything less than a kiss,
a touch, a dance in the fields of chance.


Thank you, Maxie, for the how-to prompt! Click here to learn more about Maxie.

Click here if you prefer using the WD Forum for sharing your poems/comments.


Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer


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132 thoughts on “2012 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 17

  1. foodpoet

    been writing but now catching up on posting

    How to Tune out Tunes

    I used to love Christmas
    Fall fading free
    Winter bright renewal
    Now all seasons blur

    Fall fading free
    As leaves fall carols sound
    Now all seasons blue
    Masks, turkeys, carols – all one

    As leaves fall carols sound
    Tuning out early
    Masks, turkeys, carols – all one
    In a season stew

    Tuning out early
    Winter bright renewal?
    In a season stew
    I used to love Christmas

  2. JRSimmang

    How to Cause a Riot

    Be sure to pack your red paint,
    it’s more an art than a science,
    before hitting the town.

    It’s an enigmatic thing,
    causing fear
    and liberation in one simple cocktail.

    It’s simple,
    just stand up and do it.
    Become more than the flames and smell of sweat.
    Become a part of the sky
    and the blood-red asphalt.
    Become the hungry consumer
    built by homegrown
    Embrace the
    inequality and injustice
    you so broadly paint on the face of the world.

    become blind.
    Become blind to the holding of hands,
    the warm embraces,
    the business of people.
    Look for the weak,
    prey on the meek,
    seek and destroy the prayerful.

    when all is said and done,
    March over them all.

  3. Karen H. Phillips

    Day 17
    Prompt: How-to

    How to Enjoy Morning Coffee

    Make hazelnut.
    Add skim milk, sparingly.
    If it gets too cool, nuke it.
    Nurse it over your grocery list or to-do’s.
    Use it to accompany morning devotions.
    Make more if needed.
    Pour an extra mug,
    just in case,
    for the afternoon,
    before your son drinks up the pot.

  4. po

    How to Bake a Song

    First contact all our shy bakers
    in the world. Ask what they sing
    at 3AM when they bake you
    bread and muffins. Take your
    fiddle to a pebbled road
    at high noon. Keep playing
    even if travelers consider
    you vulgar. Every half-an-
    hour peek under the old
    oak by the side of the road.
    On day 14 you’ll find a
    baked song.

  5. Michelle Hed

    How to Fall From Grace

    Start slowly,
    by forgetting the little things;
    Forget to call,
    beg off on a date
    be unimpressed with the latest news…

    Then ramp it up;
    Ignore phone calls,
    don’t return them for weeks,
    be unavailable…for anything
    at anytime…

    complete communication termination
    except when forced
    and then use extreme politeness
    with a touch of boredom…

    and then your in-laws will finally
    leave you alone
    about having that next baby.

  6. Glory

    (Day 17)

    How to spend the day when
    all I want to do is snuggle
    up under these sheets,
    loose myself in remembering.

    How to spend the evening when
    all I want to do is sit by the fire
    the heat mottling my legs,
    my head full with remembering.

    How to spend my life now
    you are gone when every minute
    every day, every night
    reminds me, when remembering.

  7. uneven steven

    How to chop wood – the tin man’s explanation

    Chopping wood is an intimate affair
    involving the cutter, the wood and
    his tools.
    Careful observation will tell you
    which way the grain will yield
    and which way it will stand fast,
    the density of the wood telling you
    how much force will be needed
    to split it.
    The axiom
    spend five minutes
    sharpening for every minute
    cutting is more than
    the axiomatic cutting at the branches
    versus hacking
    at the roots
    less so,
    for chopping is not clearing brush
    and neither is it sawing,
    chopping is a means of
    breaking down to constituent parts,
    a way of burning away
    to the essence of a thing,
    its heat heating your body, your food
    exactly what an individual needs
    to survive.
    So yes dear
    when I called you nothing
    but dead wood
    believe me
    I was only
    my ax.

  8. posmic

    How to Peel an Egg

    Put your thumb in;
    make a crazed dent
    in a world made of
    chalk, white as that

    and as dead, because
    no rooster was present,
    no chick begun like a
    wet, unraveling spark.

    Think about those
    hundred year eggs,
    or tea eggs, all the
    many ways an egg

    can be etched by time
    and yet, somehow, too,
    preserved. Think what
    a shame it is, to break

    something so complete;
    slide a thumbnail now,
    lift off shell and also
    membrane, that skin

    meant to protect against
    predators like you. But
    protect what? It’s a dead
    letter, a false promise,

    something silent that
    should not be so inert,
    lying there on the plate
    naked, without feathers.

  9. Jacqueline Hallenbeck

    How to write a poem under pressure

    Use a rhyming dictionary.
    Ignore the lovely man you married.
    Write about kids, pigs or roses.
    Kill no subjects in the process.
    Don’t confess to any crimes.
    Pray the words you use will rhyme.
    Hope your piece garners some praise
    or watch it die in cyberspace.

  10. DAHutchison

    How To Shovel Snow

    Forget those snow throwing devices,
    A T-Square or two suffices.
    From the back of each rim,
    Cut a path, straight and trim,
    And back out before the track ices.

  11. heiditoad

    How To Live

    The heart is a crippled leader, yet I follow it to places that my heart would never allow me to go;
    To the most dangerous cliffs and treacherous trails
    I freely climb, no begrudging steps.
    I follow my heart into the depths
    Of darkest caves and steep crevasse
    Plunging into its icy bath,
    Into the desert’s hot, dry air
    I’ll follow this heart anywhere.

  12. claudsy

    So many instructions, so little time.

    How to Learn to Smile

    Turn off judgment
    Lest its glare cause
    Preconception’s distrust.

    Open your heart’s door
    To possibilities
    Unexpected, unexplored.

    Use your rib’s cage
    To capture humanity’s
    Sunshine qualities.

    Exercise mouth’s muscles
    Lifting, stretching
    Beaming joy to all.

    Sleep with gratitude
    After counting blessings
    Accumulated along the way.

  13. jared davidavich

    How to Submit to Rationality

    Empty your hearts and minds (and pockets)-
    Their contents now belong to us

    Free yourself from doubt, worry, expectation,
    And all notion of sense

    Embrace the numb that cascades over the whole
    Where your soul once danced

    Your wants will be needs, and those will be provided,
    But look not beyond your desires

    For solutions may be sought, but only be found within;
    Society without is burdened by reason

  14. shellaysm

    “How To Hammock”
    (a Triolet poem)

    Rolling in and tumbling out
    It’s quite a humorous act
    To laze away an afternoon swinging about
    Rolling in and tumbling out
    Worth each awkward effort, no doubt
    Lying ‘neath shade tree canopy, sacked
    Rolling in and tumbling out
    It’s quite a humorous act

  15. De Jackson

    How to Cultivate a Quiet Core

    Shed this sorry skin, these weighted cells
    and dizzy spells of no, and now and how.

    Stain self in salt water, siren song and ink,
    think in nothing more than whispered whim.

    Cling to nothing; fling all fast and loose and
    far and wide, and cry not for its passing.

    Climb the closest, tallest tree and trace her
    roots to limbs, imprint her bark into your smile.

  16. Ber

    How to Smile

    What makes us wonder
    what makes is look
    what makes us understand
    the deepest heart that gets struck

    Open up your mind
    open up your eyes
    open up your world
    dont get stuck

    Wilderness all around
    twinkling tingling heart pound
    breathless voices
    emtpy choices

    Walking along the line
    what was once there
    is now in decline
    fresh smell of pine

    Hands held together
    patience is on the run
    smiling on as he watches her have fun
    words written
    he is smitten
    curling up inside
    his heart she has bitten

  17. DanielAri

    “How to make quiche”

    Set frozen crusts to heat.
    Make coffee in the press.
    Open the cottage cheese.
    Kiss the back of the neck
    while the knife chops the leek.

    Spill out a lot of eggs.
    Before frying bacon,
    replace shirt and leggings—
    or just wear an apron.
    Retain a skosh of grease.

    To meld the roue, combine
    everything in a pile.
    Four-handedly stir in
    salt, spices and a smile.
    Then fill the shells. Perfect.

    Recline entwined a while.
    Soon you will taste the smell.

  18. FangO

    “How to disagree like a man”

    When I go home, my dad embraces me in a transcendence
    of gladness that I’ve come back from the distances of grown-up life.
    In a parallel universe a short putt from here, his engineering artwork
    is often at the Guggenheim, and he may have even voted democrat,
    but in this universe, he was career Air Force. And he put
    clothes on us, food on our table, and my three brothers and I
    through college. He is a present and a loving father,
    and everyone who meets him says they love my father.
    “I love your dad!” Of course. We disagree about what government
    should do, but why should that matter? It troubles me that he holds
    such certainty about who in at fault in the Middle East
    when to me the situation has deep and troubling subtlety.
    But this is not larger than love. He does not feel that same-sex
    couples should marry, and I find that position as indefensible
    as pointing down and calling it up. See,
    This is the lesson I want now that he’s taught me to be grown up
    and a man: how to disagree in the larger embrace of love.
    I need to learn this. If I can model gentle acceptance of him
    with his opinions as they are, then maybe I can model
    acceptance of those who are different (which to me seems
    lacking in the right-wing gestalt); but I can’t have that intention.
    I just want to hold the disagreement in the larger embrace of love.
    If I can do that, I think it will do my father proud.


  19. Sara McNulty

    Poetic Asides November Challenge – Day 17
    How to ______ (Replace blank with word or phrase, and make it the title)

    How To Break A Spate of Depression

    Remain removed from blue
    colors. Ignore the sky, do not
    gaze into opaque oceans
    imagining layers underneath–
    not while you soak in sadness.

    Steamy showers soften
    skin, open pores. Step out
    into cool air; refresh
    your outside and work inward.
    Sift through songs that lift
    your voice to match their beat.
    Find funny cartoons in magazines.

    Force your feet to walk outdoors
    in long strides. Notice nature
    in greenery and flowers. Pet
    pups you chance to meet,
    and exchange words with
    strangers. See how you fit
    into the world.

  20. sonja j

    How to Lie

    You don’t really have to believe
    what you say. Actually, it’s better
    if you don’t. What you do have
    to believe is that truth is a dangerous
    thing, not to be trusted. Truth hurts.

    Then you just have to pay attention.
    To every word, every raised eyebrow,
    every angry question. You have to know,
    before you speak, if you are saying
    the right thing, the thing that will keep
    you safe. You have to be ready with
    the right answer. Don’t look away, don’t
    blink, don’t touch your face.

    The trouble is, if you get good at it,
    if you protect yourself, it becomes
    reflexive. You may as well try
    to stop blinking.

  21. Eleanore D. Trupkiewicz

    How to Pray

    I don’t know any other place to be
    except here, on my knees, as soon
    as I can find some space for myself.
    It doesn’t have to be in a church; I
    learned that from a wise person,
    early on. God doesn’t care where
    you are, but He sees you there, and
    He knows your name, everything
    about you, and He loves you in spite
    of yourself. I kneel and lift my hands
    and bow my head and exalt the One
    who is faithful to His promises even
    when I am unfaithful to Him—in
    silence, I ask His pardon for all of
    my transgressions, my rebellious
    choices that flout His statutes—
    they exist, I know, only for my good.
    But for His mercy, the sun doesn’t
    rise on its own every day, and the
    stars don’t sparkle by themselves,
    and I know I can’t be anywhere else
    but here, on my knees, in bowed
    surrender at His throne, where I find
    grace to help me in my time of need.

  22. sherwette

    How to Get to Start

    How to get to start when all you look for is the past?
    You tilt your head and look back.
    Do you think what if?
    Or do you wonder about that different path?
    You can’t look back.
    Trust me, you are not the only one.
    All others are loathing in silence.
    You can only hear you voice.
    It can’t be your only guidance.
    That’s why you feel you are the only one.
    Look up.
    Don’t look back.
    Who cares?
    You do. I know you do.
    But how to get to start when all you look for is the past?

  23. julie e.


    Don new raincoat, red
    Hood up, open door.
    Walk outside, wet
    feel chill on face, cold
    Blink eyes against mist
    hands in pockets deep
    Steps long to keep warm
    pray my toes to keep.
    Taking breaths, rich
    with autumnal loam
    I lift my face to
    the leaves in full poem
    Extravagant hues
    with names I don’t know
    start pushing blood through
    this heart no more cold.
    Returning now home
    with thanks in my chest
    I smile at my God
    “You say things the best.”

    My fingers wrap ‘round
    a steaming hot cup
    I stare at my tree
    watch as the rain drops
    The poplar leaves dip
    and shake like a bird
    at each tiny drip
    as rain showers through.
    I see You now, God
    even in rain
    and hope that my soul
    is never the same.

  24. Michael Grove

    How to Make Perfect

    Ask yourself if perfection
    exists in anything.
    Overanalyze your own
    response seeking
    positive reinforcement
    Create an ideal vision
    Formulate a plan.
    that in this instance
    and with this issue
    there is no right or wrong.
    When all else fails

    By Michael Grove

  25. julie e.

    Robert, EVERY DAY i read your poem and i say, “how does he DO that?” You are amazing!

    Today’s reading has been so enjoyable, and i have to admit i feel a bit embarrassed about commenting as i don’t consider myself a “real” poet, but i figure everyone likes to know when someone appreciates their writing, right?

    Back later!

  26. Mariya Koleva

    Before posting my poem for today, let me say something of offerings that impressed me:
    RJ with Shopping on Black Friday, and of course
    Walt with Shopping on Black Fiday: I know it’s a bit unusual, but I’m not the “wife” who would do all RJ has described, I’ll take your suggested course of action :-)
    De, your triptich rocked me:-), and
    Viv the perfect cake is just too perfect! (BTW, do you really have to put equal weights?)

    Now, here is my poem:
    How to say I’m sorry

    biting my lips, blinking sleepless eyes
    they itch and sting with fear and foreboding;
    twitches in my chest, mad butterflies
    fluttering their crazy “hello’s”
    in my veins,
    with gritting teeth, and swooning heart
    the shake in my knees
    that I feel every time
    I see I have to confess

    All those are
    small pebbles
    compared to the huge abyss
    I see
    in my feet, I can’t cross the crevice
    running in my mind
    and see the dumb perspective,
    the loony alphabet of misery,
    explaining all the reasons why
    this heart won’t run on water.
    I love this pink champagne
    and the bubbles
    going on and off,
    not saying “sorry”, or “forgive me”

    Pink champagne is my excuse
    to find a better use
    to poetry
    than writing manuals on
    How to say “I’m sorry.”

    1. viv

      I always argue that Autumn is a time of high winds, and the leaves will all blow away if you leave them alone. And they do.

      Maria: yes flour, fat, sugar should equal the weight of your eggs in the shells. Why? Because the weight of eggs varies, and big/small eggs can throw out the proportions of the other ingredients if you just say eg 8 oz of each ingredient plus 4 eggs. I can’t get on with this cup business for the same reason. I have a lovely little electronic scale which seems always to be in use. A good cake is a poem in itself.

  27. taylor graham


    The old dog startles from sleep
    on his cedar-bed. He grumbles low
    in his throat, almost
    a growl. What dreams woke him?

    Nightmare is a closet shadow,
    labyrinth, or your hand
    groping for a splinter, foxtail, shard,
    exploding rocks. Door-locks

    have teeth. What terrors
    dominate a dog’s dreams? He has no
    words but the flare in his eye.
    You’ve had such dreams

    refusing speech, and woken up
    trying to grab the word
    by the throat but it’s escaped
    between door and sill, clutching its

    knife, its knowledge lost
    on the journey to words. The old
    dog gives chase,
    disappearing into the dark.

  28. Maxie


    a simple sequence
    that brings healing
    starts with pain.

    Breathe, if you can.

    because many deaths
    are born in such labor,
    put mourning aside.

    Breathe, if you can.

    find the string tied
    around your finger,
    remember the future you desire.

    Breathe, if you can.

    the coagulant is not
    happiness, it is consciousness.
    be awake and

    Breathe, if you can.

    find a hand once bloodied
    and pierced, but now cleansed
    to hold you and seal your wounds

    with love. find it. hold it.
    Breathe, if you can.

  29. J.lynn Sheridan

    “How to age”

    I start my car and see her,

    she is standing in the doorway waving

    like a child waves

    when parents leave for a weekend away.

    I know her wave is saying don’t leave me

    alone with him. He has hurried inside the

    house. I spied him piling some of her

    stuff into my trunk, the stuff he doesn’t want,

    his way of saying

    I’m sending her with you and

    I don’t want you to leave me alone with her.

    I back down the driveway

    feeling so very old

    so very very old.

  30. Marjory MT

    17 How to read your hands…. (Haibun)

    When the hands move they speak words the lips cannot say painting pictures of what is seen, events at work and play. Moving hands pull the eyes towards understanding, convey longings and hopes. They shout, sing and whisper. Build stories as threads are woven. Bring sunshine, an autumn breeze, a winter storm into a room. They speak of joy, laughter, sadness and tears. They describe a baby’s tiny hand.

    When hands come to rest
    as their flying movements cease,
    there is a silence.

  31. madcapmaggie

    Nov 17: make “how to … ” the title of your poem.

    How to Lose Your Mind

    Lay it on the kitchen counter
    beside your car keys.
    When you return,
    both are gone.

    Take out your cell phone
    to make a call.
    Forget both
    in the drug store.

    Dig your wallet
    out of your purse.
    Take out your brains
    along with the junk.

    Collect trash,
    take it to dump.
    Leave brains
    on heap with recycling.

    Remove rational thought
    along with glasses.
    Lay both on night stand.
    Forget about both.

    Stumble into kitchen
    find brains on counter.
    Heave sigh of relief
    at temporary reprieve.

    .Margaret Fieland

  32. elishevasmom

    How to Forgive Yourself

    front of
    a mirror
    in all your you-ness,
    look yourself in the eye and say,
    “I give you permission to be human. I love you.”

    Ellen Knight

  33. bluerabbit47

    How to Paint

    Set up a surface,
    whether canvas,
    paper or weathered
    wood doesn’t
    matter, at least
    not at first.
    Next, squeeze
    out a bright
    worm of color,
    or mix it up
    from power
    with medium
    and binder.
    Invite your
    thoughts to
    depart, opening
    to other
    forces beyond
    Then, pick
    up the brush.

  34. Bruce Niedt

    How to Dance Without Music

    1. Pick someone you’ve known most of your life,
    or someone you wish you had.

    2. Have a gently rocking rhythm in your head.
    Think of Unchained Melody, Always and Forever,
    The Way You Look Tonight.

    3. Hold her, left hand clasping right,
    the other hand on the small of her back.

    4. Slowly sway, with your favorite song
    playing through your brain. (Chances are,
    she will hear the same song.)

    5. Hold her closer.

    6. Closer.

  35. De Jackson

    How to Fall
    Forget feet,
    surrender all.

                                 How to Fly
                                 Let go,
                                 don’t try.

                                                                     How to Flee
                                                                           Open door,
                                                                           follow me.


  36. Jane Shlensky

    How to Avoid Raking

    Walk the perimeters of the raking space
    and catalog the trees—maples, hickory,
    sycamore, dogwood, myrtle, gingko,
    crabapple, pine and cedar, oak.
    Count, that’s ten excuses not to start.

    Let the flaming beauties decorate
    before you think of fueling a blower.
    Sit back, breathe in sky, humming
    gold red peach. Colors last
    only a few weeks. No hurry.

    When you can see sky through limbs,
    your wife starts. The colors are down
    like diaphanous veils dropping
    until the trees stand, naked trunks,
    gray with cold. There is a wind.

    Walk the perimeters blowing the driveway.
    The gingko holds her golden leaves
    until first frost, then drops her whole
    cloak, like a stripper keen on impact.
    Is it time? There are still the oaks.

    You have reservations about saving grass.
    The woods don’t care if leaves fall down.
    That sweep of green bullies you now;
    you think of all the mowing, edging, weed-eating
    just to maintain green beneath those trees.

    Your wife talks leaves incessantly. You hedge.
    The oaks, you say. But she recites her autumn
    mantra, that oaks are staid and prudish trees
    like old Puritans who bathe in their clothes.
    They won’t drop their leaves until new ones push

    them off by force or winter winds fleece them
    of tentative flutter. Leaves, she says, leaves,
    lawn, mess, leaves, blow, rake, leaves, and so
    you spend a sad dayof repentence, slowly
    assembling rakes, blowers, mulchers,

    praising tree, but cursing leaf, your wife
    beside behind nearby around you,
    encouraging until you set to work.
    She leaves.

  37. viv


    Take four eggs and weigh them in their shells,
    blend with the same weight of richer butter
    add sweetness with an equal weight of sugar.
    Take a deep breath, use a flexible whisk
    and forceful energy to beat the hell out of them
    until the mix dramatically becomes light and fluffy

    The tricks of the trade
    require you now to replace
    energy with lightness, tenderness and love.
    Sift the same weight of plain flour,
    with a teaspoon of baking powder
    into your frothy batter,
    holding it high above the bowl
    so that it falls like white rain.

    Push the hair out of your eyes
    with the back of your hand
    and exchange whisk for metal spoon.
    Gently, lightly, turn your wrist
    over and over until the flour merges
    and all is smooth again.

    Your oven is ready, hot but not too hot,
    Two loose-bottomed tins are lined
    with baking parchment.
    Divide the pale mixture quietly
    between the tins, and place
    in the middle part of the oven,
    being careful not to joggle them.

    Now you must be patient.
    Glance in on them from time to time –
    you don’t want them to burst into flames –
    but you mustn’t open the door.
    I repeat, do not keep opening the door.

    When the cakes have risen evenly,
    and acquired an all over light tan,
    now you can open the door.
    Reach in with hesitant finger
    and gingerly touch the middle.
    Each perfectly cooked cake
    will spring back at once,
    to where it was before you prodded it.

    Take out your luscious booty,
    stand the tins on a board for a breather.
    Now you must be brave.
    Push up the bottom of each tin,
    and cautiously slide the cake
    in its paper onto a wire rack.
    Remove the rings and paper
    and wait another little while
    until they’re cool.

    Spread home-made jam –
    any flavour will do – on one;
    slap on a dollop of thick cream,
    stack the other one on top,
    lightly dust with caster sugar
    and enjoy your teatime treat –
    the perfect Victoria Sponge.

    1. julie e.

      Oh that’s a yummy cake! My daughter is married to an Englishman, and she made that when i was visiting. i must say though, i must be the Bigfoot of bakery and you’re the delicate fairy! i’m more of a throw-it-all-in-the-Kitchenaid sort of cake maker.

  38. rustydude

    Nov 17

    How to Frustrate

    Join a pad of folks that share online
    Enjoy the writings – most sublime

    Wishing for more time at the close of the day
    More minutes to read and leave my say

    Finally late in the night, when the chores are done
    Worked up the courage, give it a go – have a little fun

    Click the submit, and all I get
    Your posting too fast – you idiot

    Finally get it all to work and it posts in success
    I wrench my hands with hallelujahs and YES

    As I try to get some rest, sleep before the next day
    Now my mind shutters – does anyone read – yesterday?

  39. Marianv

    How to Plant a Rose Bush

    How to plant a rose bush
    Plant with care
    Even on the smallest bush
    You will find some thorns – beware!

    Do you know where you will place it?
    Take some time to look around
    Can you see it from a window?
    Does the spot have fertile ground?

    Dig the hole deeply,
    Also make it wide
    Fill part of it with compost
    Then tuck the bush inside.

    Add your best soil, keep
    Adding soil until it stand alone
    Then water deeply , and let it drain
    Then add your compost- ground up bone

    Don’t be afraid to trim it back
    For its long winter sleep
    Keep it covered with fallen leaves
    Til the first buds of Springtime peek.

  40. Domino

    How to Survive a Broken Heart

    At first you are sure that no one, no one
    could possibly understand the depth of
    your pain. And they really can’t, because they
    are not you. Part of your mind says “This is
    not happening,” but it is, and real
    -ity feels intrusive and alien.

    “Who are these people, and why do they keep
    calling me mommy?” Even the kids seem
    strange, like they should be changed too, somehow, or
    they should stop needing everything they need.

    Part of you decides the best thing to do
    is to pretend everything is fine just
    fine and carry on as if it is still
    all fine just fine and meanwhile, inter
    -minably, your heart is screaming so hard.

    And there is a mental shift, and you start
    to become furious, livid, that he/she
    did this to you, made you become this in
    –dividual whose life seems to be
    falling apart, whose reality has crashed.

    And in the process of gathering your
    -self together there is an internal
    monologue that is saying crazy stuff
    like, “If I was better, if I was good,
    if I were only who I should have been, then…”
    and you know this is crazy, but at the
    same time it seems to make a kind of sense
    somehow, that this is your fault and if on
    -ly you had changed, it would all be okay.

    But it’s not. And as the reality of
    your new life begins to set in, without
    the person who left (you all alone, a
    -lone) it is difficult to eat, sleep, breathe
    even, or simply carry on. “Why try?”
    Your heart tries its best to just give up, to
    tell itself to stop beating, to let the
    grief win. And you wonder how to survive
    this broken heart. How? You simply must. And
    so you do.

    1. julie e.

      ACK! So vivid, so good! and i love your word breaks, like
      “did this to you, made you become this in
      –dividual whose life seems to be”
      And the whole part about the children, the whole poem is so very cool. i can only hope it’s not autobiographical, but wow–

      1. Domino

        Thank you, Julie! But unfortunately, the only way to write about pain is to have felt it. The good thing is that it makes one a deeper more sympathetic person, and if nothing else, one hopes a better writer. ^_^

  41. barbara_y

    How to make an easy-peasy villanelle

    Just take the A line in your left hand,
    and with a few spare mono-rhymes tucked behind your ear,
    pick the B up with your right hand.

    This looks like it takes all the limberness you can command,
    but keep the first step clear:
    Just take the A line in your left hand,

    and without making your gestures too grand,
    while keeping that left line near
    pick the B up with your right hand.

    This is easier if your rhymes are planned
    ahead, but even if they weren’t don’t fear,
    just take the A line in your left hand

    and hokey pokey a bit while the band
    cuts loose a while. You’re almost here.
    Pick the B up with your right hand.

    You will notice that nothing has changed. You began
    with–and still have–two lines, and that batch of spares:
    Just keep the A line in your left hand
    and pick the B up with your right.

  42. Andrew Kreider

    How to make love to a landscape

    Begin at the crest of the Achilles
    and visit the entire length of her.
    Treat each long limb with awe
    like the magnificent branches
    at the top of a canyon.

    Relish the intricate angles
    the light and shade
    of her hip, her breast,
    the  hollow of her back.
    Tell the truth about it all.

    With one finger, trace
    her high cheekbones,
    her collarbone and shoulder.
    Breathe the quiet air
    and do not insist.

  43. Miss R.

    How to Make a Memory

    How does one make a memory?
    With certain people, it’s easy.
    Take them, and you, and add some fun;
    Seize some old idea and run,
    But don’t leave anyone behind.
    Stay hand-in-hand, and you will find
    Yourself awhirl with cheerfulness.
    Don’t over-think, don’t second guess;
    Just let the day flow as it will.
    Soon you’ll hit the crest of the hill
    And looking back, see a display
    Of all the wonder of the day.
    Seal the moment with a shared smile,
    And cherish your new memory awhile.

  44. Nancy Posey

    How to Invoke the Light

    The simplest solution to your problems
    and challenges, major or minor, real or imagined—
    just add light. That spider web invisible
    as monofilament fishing line stretched
    stretched from the reading table to the ceiling
    catches the sunbeams through the window
    just long enough for me to sweep it free.

    These stockings—maybe black, maybe blue–
    impossible to discern in the morning
    until you switch on the table lamp, hold them
    close to my skirt in the light to match.

    The faint note on the back of the photograph,
    a name, a place, perhaps a date,
    so dim now, almost faded, but held close
    under a bright light, you see, jotting down
    the words while you still can, filing the note
    with the picture so someone else can see
    without squinting under magnifying glass,
    a captured moment rendered meaningful.

    In pressing the light into service, take care
    not to look too close if you fear flinching
    at what you find there. Use softer light
    and call them laugh lines and candlelight
    to camouflage anxious glances, to fill
    those cold, forbidding silent spaces.

  45. RJ Clarken

    How to Shop on Black Friday

    Arm yourself and gird your loins!
    Bring credit cards and cash and coins.
    Prepare to stand and wait on line.
    Black Friday shopping, by design.

    Doorbusters start quite early, so
    camp out. You’ll be the first to go
    right through the doors while others whine.
    Black Friday shopping, by design.

    Then grab up bargains. Quickly or
    someone will beat you. That’s for sure.
    Ignore the jerk who screams, “That’s mine!”
    Black Friday shopping, by design.

    You know the drill. Just buy those things
    like Furbies, TVs, diamond rings.
    But if this scene says, ‘Disincline’…
    Black Friday this year, buy online.


  46. RJ Clarken

    How to Get Rid of Hiccups

    While drinking water, use a straw;
    then block your ears. Hiccups withdraw.
    If unsuccessful, remedies
    are plentiful. Try one of these:

    Take nine or ten sips from a glass.
    Your body should make hiccups pass.
    If unsuccessful, remedies
    are plentiful. Try one of these:

    You take a deep breath; count to ten.
    Your hiccups should be gone by then.
    If unsuccessful, remedies
    are plentiful. Try one of these:

    A knuckle on your middle finger?
    Simply squeeze. Hiccups won’t linger.
    If unsuccessful, remedies
    are plentiful. Try one of these:

    Just take a paper bag and place
    it over your entire red face.
    Breathe deep. If it fails, remedies
    are plentiful. Try one of these:

    Enlist a friend to scare the damn
    bejoobers from your diaphragm.
    If unsuccessful, remedies
    are plentiful. Try one of these:

    Do cough, sneeze, burp – or something like
    those things – your hiccups take a hike.
    If unsuccessful, remedies
    are plentiful. Try one of these:

    Some vinegar or sugar might
    just make your hiccups say goodnight.
    If unsuccessful, remedies
    are plentiful. Try one of these:

    And yes! Some peanut butter can
    work wonders. Make this your game plan
    to rid yourself of hiccups. Please
    use your own cure – or one of these.


  47. RJ Clarken

    How to Fold a Fitted Sheet

    How do you fold a fitted sheet?
    Is there a blueprint for this feat?
    I fold: it still looks like a ball.
    I cannot ‘get’ it. That is all.

    Tuck in corners, follow creases.
    My frustration never ceases.
    It is a mess. Looks like a brawl.
    I cannot ‘get’ it. That is all.

    While in its package, it’s just right:
    perfect, neat and oh-so-tight.
    I take it out – that’s my pitfall.
    I cannot ‘get’ it. That is all.

    Some videos on YouTube show
    you how to keep sheet status quo.
    It doesn’t matter. I just stall.
    I cannot ‘get’ it. That is all.


    1. Miss R.

      Ahahahaha my roommate and I were talking about this not long ago. We’re both totally hopeless. Never thought of looking for a Youtube video on it, though . . . :)

  48. Connie Peters

    How to Grieve a Father’s Heart

    I don’t know how old I was,
    maybe seven or eight, when one night,
    in the dead of Pennsylvania winter
    our coal furnace went out, and frost,
    usually delegated to the back room,
    painted all the windows.
    My teeth chattered and I said how cold I was.
    Pain registered on my dad’s pinched brow
    and he asked, “Are you trying to make me feel bad?”
    I was shocked. I had no idea
    he felt he had anything to do with my being cold.
    In that moment, I saw all my dad did—
    work at the steel mill
    hunt and fish
    raise a garden
    take care of the house and yard—
    came from a responsible, loving father’s heart,
    which I had grieved with my simple words of complaint,
    kind of like the Israelites in the wilderness
    when they grumbled against God.

  49. Linda Rhinehart Neas

    How to See the Magic

    Patiently, watch as the light
    builds within a mind that has
    known only darkness

    Whisper words of encouragement –
    You can…You will…You have…
    with great sincerity

    Demonstrate that mistakes
    are simply new ways to learn
    not evidence of failure

    Then, when the day arrives –
    when the magic happens
    and words string together

    When pen and ink form
    letters, words, sentences
    that all can understand –


  50. Maurie

    How to dream

    Here in the coolness of a sweet Georgia night
    while the crickets sing, gnats take flight
    rest with me on the old porch swing
    inhale soft jasmine… hark, whippoorwills sing
    Take my hand, hold it close, hold it still
    for it trembles now, as if there’s a chill
    Pull me please in warm embrace
    caress my hair, ears, and face
    transport me completely with total affection
    For with the thought, the mere suggestion
    of a life locked in love, reality takes flight
    here in the stillness of the sweet Georgia night

  51. Misky

    How to Make the Last Bits Last

    It was all about those last
    few potatoes.
    Cupboards bare, last turnips gone,
    the hen stopped laying
    and soon became soup,
    and now she arranges
    sparse handfuls of potatoes
    in a visual feast.
    It was all about those last
    few potatoes.