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2012 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 27

This month’s final two-for-Tuesday prompt comes from Paula Wanken.

Here are Paula’s prompts:

  1. Write a hero poem.
  2. Write a villain poem.


Robert’s attempt at a Hero and Villain Poem:

Heroes and Villains

Always a favorite Beach Boys song,
because of the harmony, of course,
but also the shifts throughout, and
anyway it’s about good guys, bad guys,
and la-la-la-la, do-do-do-do.


Thank you, Paula, for the heroic prompt (as well as the prompt of villainy). Click here to learn more about Paula.

Click here to share your poem on the WD Forum.


Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer


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73 thoughts on “2012 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 27

  1. JRSimmang

    Here we are again, my old foe.
    My, my, my, how time passes.
    It seems like just yesterday that
    you were sitting all alone in your little cell,
    scrawling the years on you walls.

    Since the day you broke free,
    you have been a royal pain in my rear.
    You started off small, I can understand,
    not wanted to draw too much attention to yourself,
    snatching purses, hitting banks.
    But then, then came the silent threat.
    Your little stunts at the football games,
    in the harbor,
    at the top of the Statue of Liberty.
    You kept me sweating for 6 long years.
    But now,
    you sit in that chair, tied like a pig,
    about to face your sentence.
    How could you do it?
    How could you play so many people
    like that fiddle of yours,
    and not think that one day, you’d be here,
    pleading for your life,
    whining like a girl,
    weeping like the child you are?
    Your death will be plastered
    on the walls,
    cast in bronze,
    and I will bathe in your blood.
    It looks like you have outlived your usefulness.

  2. PSC in CT

    Dishwasher Stud Muffins & Parenting Faeries

    Superheroes surround us.
    There’s no readily apparent superpower,
    no mask or special suit, no cape to give them away.
    You need pay heed, or you’ll never guess how
    their (whispered) actions speak louder
    than [shouted!] words to reveal their true identities.
    (Note: Appearances may be deceiving.)
    Though they seem exhausted – beaten up (& down)
    by all manner of evil foes & villains,
    most still manage (somehow)
    when all is said and done (against all ap-
    parent odds) to foster truth and inspire integrity
    while still maintaining patience (mostly);
    to muster a tired smile, hang on to hope (by both hands),
    and come back to do it all again

  3. Karen H. Phillips

    Day 27
    Prompt: Heroes and/or Villains

    Who is a villain? Who is a hero?

    lie in wait for innocents
    seek their own way at cost of anyone else
    care not who gets hurt nor what chaos is left in their wake.

    risk all to save another
    act with courage while quaking in fear
    consider others lives as valuable as their own if not more.

  4. Sally Jadlow

    Hero or Villain?

    Some days, a hero when
    I responded to the request,
    “Mom make me a new dress for prom.”

    Other days, the villain when
    “Be home by midnight,”
    fell from my lips.

    Hopefully, when it’s all faded
    into distant memory
    I’ll be tagged, “hero.”

  5. Nancy Posey

    Late again.


    Just a small amendment to my prayer:
    I know I asked for a hero, but perhaps
    I should have been more specific.
    I have no need of an epic hero,
    riding off toward Troy for fame
    and glory, returning twenty years
    too late, smelling faintly of swine
    and Calypso, leaving me at home
    fighting off brutish suitors, raising
    his son. Nor do I wish for a knight
    in armor—shining or otherwise—
    off chasing some grail, his resume
    lacking the proper criteria—perfection,
    purity. Spare me the tragic hero,
    at the top of his game, discontented,
    overreaching, falling to pieces
    over a simple handkerchief, trusting
    his fate to witches, leaving me
    walking the floor, wringing my hands.
    Grant me instead the everyday hero,
    willing to rush into the flames
    to save a kitten, lifting the car
    off the child pinned beneath,
    the hero who finds satisfaction
    reflected in my grateful eyes.

  6. Marjory MT

    VILLAIN Triolet

    A man at odds with me
    who’s in the driver’s seat,
    can pick where I will be.
    A man at odds with me
    can jail or set me free
    glories in my defeat.
    A man at odds with me
    who’s in the driver’s seat.

  7. Michelle Hed

    My Hero(Harrisham Rhyme Poem)

    The man who helps ladies with car trouble,
    entertains small children and have them learn
    something at the same time, now that’s doing double!
    Giving his time, money, whatever good turn
    greatly needed at the moment, that man with the stubble,
    yep, right there, he’s mine, bye-bye, don’t return.

  8. Michelle Hed

    Maleficent (Harrisham Rhyme Poem)

    She was a witch!
    Elegant it’s true,
    takes a bit of style to be that cold but switch
    spots with me and see her with my eyes, I knew
    she would find away, she’s dark as pitch
    especially with the prince, did you see it when she flew?

  9. po

    My Heroes

    slide across the room
    with ease and ceremony—
    navigate between speed
    and pomp. Stretch
    in the here-and-now
    like there’s no tomorrow.
    Can curl up in a ball
    and sleep through bad
    weather or serenade
    you with a gusty yowl.
    Best of all, on a snowy
    day, they curl up on your
    lap and purr.

  10. Miss R.

    To Be a Hero (A Harrisham Rhyme)

    So you want to be a hero, eh?
    Or do you just want the credit?
    Remember that when you say
    Readily “I’m a hero,” you’ve said it.
    You can’t just take it back halfway.
    Understand if you do you’ll regret it.

  11. foodpoet

    Exquisitely evil – bond ad

    The Bond girls
    The sublime martini
    The gadgets

    Nope beauty is eye candy
    Drinks dry
    Gadgets just a prop

    A backdrop to the snapping bite
    Of the bond

    Not necessarily the prime threats
    Goldfinger glittered, but what I recall
    Is top hat now writing this realize it’s
    Odd job

    I have a fondness for henchmen.

    They all come too bad ends in moviedom,
    But bond, hero, without villain or henchmen
    Would be saltless bland fare.

  12. Bruce Niedt


    Don’t idolize the hero.
    He may not be all he seems.
    Maybe he cheated on his wife
    or his taxes. Maybe he has
    dirty pictures on his computer.
    He may just wear that uniform
    for the glory, and saving so many citizens
    every day has become a grind.
    Those superpowers may just be
    special effects. He may drink
    too much, or gamble, or take steroids,
    or maybe he’s just full of himself.

    Don’t demonize the villain.
    Maybe he struggled in school
    and crime is the only job he does well.
    Maybe he was neglected as a child,
    and that bizarre costume
    and maniacal laugh are because
    he craves attention. Maybe he has
    anger issues, ADD, OCD, PTSD,
    and can’t help being destructive.
    Maybe he needs a good psychiatrist,
    or even a girlfriend, or a dog.
    Maybe he’s just misunderstood.

    There are more shades of gray
    than there are of black and white.

  13. Marie Elena

    AGE-OLD HEROES (Harrisham Rhyme)

    Whatever heroes come my way,
    Rescuing me from self-chagrin
    Gently persuade my heart to weigh
    Youth’s suppleness against thick skin
    Supplied by dose of day-to-day
    Deliverance of what has been.

  14. Tracy Davidson

    Movie Villains

    They always talk too much,
    explaining their madcap plans
    for world domination,
    or describing the painful death
    they’re about to inflict on the hero,
    giving said hero time
    to come up with an escape plan,
    a way to save the world
    and rescue the love interest
    without getting a single hair
    out of place.

    If I were the villain
    I wouldn’t say a thing,
    just shoot the damn hero,
    blasting his or her brains
    into smithereens.

    But I guess that would be
    a very short movie.

  15. julie e.


    She was lean and ferocious
    that day on the beach
    hand on hip, posing
    in her new 38C
    purchased breasts,
    newly recovered from a
    bilateral mastectomy.
    She smiled for the camera,
    loving her new shape
    and the weight lost to
    cancer hell,
    and I was proud.
    She showed me
    who to be:
    I need not fear life.

    She was mean and ferocious
    that day she packed the boxes
    to be sent from her lawyer
    after her death,
    making sure that I
    received the full
    of a life disappointed,
    my fault
    his fault
    their fault
    never hers.
    notes littered the
    with spite,
    and I was shattered.
    She showed me
    who not to be:
    living in the key of bitter.

    So much trouble
    making sense
    of her life
    in contradiction,
    my hero,
    my villain,

  16. Rorybore

    Love this prompt!!
    For the record…..my kids made me do it.

    The Love You Know

    Once there was two orphan boys,
    who grew up quite alone;
    without sibling, nor friend
    nor home to call their own
    till they came to a magical school
    that would be their first real home.
    (despite an imperfect pedigree)
    And by the words of a hat who sorts
    discovered they had a destiny
    beyond the potions, spells and sports.
    So they learned some dark arts
    and conversed with snakes….(also, Snape)
    found respect for a great wizard
    while a Prophecy sealed their fate,
    In a Chamber of Secrets, a riddle’s revealed –
    but both have deep wounds to tend,
    and neither one will yet yield.
    Just one lonely boy against another —
    but there: the similarities end.

    One gathers dark powers, followers and souls
    and brags of the deeds his foulness extols
    he speaks not of love, and kills with a curse
    summons his minions, and sacrifices them first
    though his magic is dark, and his power strong
    he cannot defeat, what he’s lacked for so long
    too late he discovers, as twin cores clash
    and last sins appear before him in a flash
    to hold him at bay and assist his foe
    while flying curses set a graveyard aglow
    He Who Must Not Be Named, stands alone by the grave
    While the Boy Who Lived, escapes with the boy he couldn’t save.

    The hero has something: so much more than a scar
    though it doesn’t burn, it’s power too leaves a mark
    too have been loved so deeply, though the person is gone;
    with Love’s last sacrifice, the protection lives on.
    And on that example, our hero chooses his tract
    while the Dark Lord only uses, by faking the act
    The Power of Love, The Absence of The Same
    can make all the difference – no matter the name.
    So, neither can live, while the other survives:
    one cheats Death – to what will the other one strive?
    He too will beat Death, with a gifting of three;
    and sacrifice himself, so his friends can live free.

    Now the battles’ begun, and blood will be shed
    though the Dark Lord is weak, the snake isn’t dead
    but his minions are fleeing – while our heroes defy
    and the Boy faces Death, with his head held high
    A Dark Lord is vanquished, by the thing he knows not
    A soul divided cannot rise again; it can only rot.
    And our hero is saved by the knowledge he gains:
    That real love never leaves us; to the end it remains.

  17. DAHutchison

    I was aggravated to have to bunt on this one—went for cheeky irony when I wanted to go deep and couldn’t find the words… So here’s a second attempt… still not satisfied as there is so much hidden depth in the subjective nature of heroes and villains… ah well.

    Big Stones and Very Small Rocks

    Our ancestors moved a big stone. Our forefathers broke large rocks,
    Today we shovel a thousand one pieces of gravel and punch a clock.
    My father’s a modern day hero, a pot-bellied champion of service,
    He tries for first place in every race so that even the cheaters get nervous.
    Dr. Jones was a great work of fiction, but for all of his fortune and glory,
    He understood service was life’s greatest joy and that makes a great hero story.
    While it’s true that some Action News heroes, were just at the right place in time,
    They are nothing if not plain responsible folks getting by on a hard earned dime.
    I pity the whistle blowers, privy to cost cutting crooks,
    Cause nothing makes shoveling gravel worse than a bad boss with two sets of books.
    But more so, I pity the villains, who live off of other folks’ spines.
    What a rotten state! What a heart full of hate! To live so far outside the lines.
    Real heroes aren’t quite as chiseled, but that isn’t to say that they’re lazy,
    ‘Cause heroes do what they know they must, where a villain’s agenda is hazy.


  18. Sara McNulty

    Poetic Asides November Challenge – Day 27
    Write a hero poem.
    Write a villain poem.

    Two Clerihews

    MIghty Mouse
    Had no spouse
    Clad in a cape
    He fought villain’s escape.


    Boris Badonov
    Was never goodenov
    To catch squirrel and moose,
    No matter the ruse.

  19. madcapmaggie

    Nov 27: : write a hero or a vilain poem

    Hero Sandwich

    A gyro is made from meat on a stick
    that has been roasted and toasted and brown.
    It’s a sandwich you make double-quick.

    You make it with pita bread, soft and so thick
    with tomatoes and lettuce and onion all around,
    a gyro is made from meat on a stick

    You whip up a sauce of yogurt. A flick
    of the wrist and it’s done. Pour it like a crown
    on a sandwich you make double-quick.

    To season the sauce, use just a lick
    of mint and cilantro. Try not to drown
    the gyro that’s made from meat on a stick

    To keep it from leaking, her is a trick:
    wrap it in foil, tightly bound,
    round the sandwich you make double-quick.

    You can add peppers to give it a kick,
    take a big bite. The flavor will astound.
    A gyro is made from meat on a stick
    for a sandwich you make double-quick.

    Margaret Fieland

  20. PKP

    The “man”

    There he is
    the “man”
    no boy he
    pays his own
    bills with money
    he makes after school
    she flutters eyelashes
    without will
    just a girl dressed
    in a woman’s body
    Proudly permitting
    his heroic hands
    to roam stirring
    her blood
    Until it pounds
    in her ears
    and blocks
    the sense and
    sound of that
    first slap
    that splits her lip

  21. DanielAri


    To take a year-long assignment in Antarctica, you’d have to be predisposed
    to a limited community and comfortable in relative loneliness.
    That was the guy who picked me up in a floor-to-ceiling stuffed and partly rusted
    Subaru hatchback bound for Burning Man. We came to each other via Craigslist,
    hooked up by another group. (We were their overflow.) At three, we got on the road,

    and by four, we were done talking. I found the man to be brusque, peevish and tactless:
    “Going to chase a wee skirt,” he barked in a fleeting Scottish brogue, re: his Burning Plans.
    Then, though he was the one who had to stop for groceries, he groused at me for “wasting
    time” in the store. When I talked about my dog, he said, “the one that barfed in the plants?”
    “Oh, right” I sighed. “You met her,” and thought, “A.S.A.P, I’ll get away from you, pard.”

    Twenty miles north of Sacramento, the car sounded like a stack of falling pans.
    It wasn’t going anywhere. Waiting for the tow truck, we went to see Jet Li
    as “Hero.” In the movie, he plays an assassin who takes incredible pains
    to kill the first emperor of China, but chooses, at the last minute, mercy.
    After the movie, the tow truck arrived and the driver carried the car and us

    back home. At midnight, I said goodbye to our savior and to the guy I would see
    never again. Nor would I return to Burning Man. That was in 2003.

  22. Mike Bayles

    Robin Hood

    he is a hero to the poor
    giving with such generosity
    treasures to meet desires and needs
    of poor people down the street.
    They call his act
    to risk his life,


    he is a robber
    taking with such gall
    treasures and comforts
    of rich people isolated in their homes.
    they call his act
    to risk his life

  23. Mike Bayles

    Robin Hood

    he is a hero to the poor
    giving with such generosity
    treasures to meet desires and needs
    of poor people down the street.
    they call his act
    to risk his life,


    he is a robber to the rich
    taking with such gall
    treasures and comforts
    of barons traveling the road.
    They call his act
    to risk his life

  24. elishevasmom

    As soon as I posted earlier, I was sorry. I couldn’t let that stand as my attempt for the day.This I am happy with.

    The Mask of Zorro

    The heroes are ready a bomb to disarm
    without any thought to personal harm.
    The villains are always ready to swear,
    but the heroes come riding in ready to wear
    the white hats.

    And the valiant ones in the comics books, please.
    They’ve got tricks up both of their sleeves.
    They can fly and bend steel, even swallow a flame
    But there is only one thing they all have the same
    —a mask.

    Is it easy to be a chump with no pride
    to disguise a super persona inside?
    The one seen to flee at the first sign of danger,
    so the hero arrives at the side of a stranger
    for the rescue.

    We expect our heroes to be more than human.
    But now when they fail us, we’re so quick to sue them.
    Politicians’ sex scandals, and athletes doping—
    paparazzi’s new headlines keep everyone hoping
    for more.

    So where do we place our trust?
    Even Superman turns to dust,
    as Ironman does to rust.

    Back to heroes in white hats, but that isn’t proof.
    When “Z” marked the spot, it was never a spoof.
    A white hat for Zorro would be too great a cost.
    He might have changed hats, but he would surely have lost
    his mojo. Ellen Knight 11.27.12

  25. bluerabbit47

    The Villain

    It doesn’t wear black
    or lurk in alleys.
    It doesn’t dwell
    in putrid swamps
    or waylay travelers.
    It doesn’t creep
    around in the dark
    or carry knives.
    It loathes all
    It resists all
    It has no conception
    of better.
    It wants everything
    to stay
    the same.
    Child of long
    Advocate of
    unconditional survival,
    it does not
    trust aspiration.
    It does not suffer
    dreams. It keeps
    me heavy and silent.
    It cautions me
    to remain safe

  26. zevd2001

    after the discovery of penicillin by Dr. Alexander Fleming

    I am not a pest. I didn’t know
    whose window it was I traversed when I flew in
    or what piece of bread that I did spin
    upon. I left a memory of where I had been, so
    what else did you expect from someone of my kind
    that travels about such places. We collect
    the refuse of civilization. We respect
    what others throw away and we remind

    them what they consume. Ah, oh my, did I forget
    the remains of their canine companions when they fall
    upon the sidewalk, droppings appearing when nature makes a call
    we come to pick up the bacteria—what’s wrong with that!
    The window was open, what difference did it make to me
    if this was a pub, or if this was a hospital,
    or these little dishes were samples, all
    to discover cures for diseases, here sterility

    was the rule of thumb. Then me, a fly,
    I landed on dish with a piece of bread
    in a medium, something that was supposed to have said
    how it attacked the bacteria inside it, why
    it happened, how it might work in some other place.
    You hear these things in the air, that’s where I be
    most of the time . . . maybe I’m dumb, but I don’t see
    Dr. Fleming had to wait so long to close the case

    of the petri dish from which he shooed me away.
    Dr. Alexander flicked his hand, I was out of there,
    almost as soon the bacteria in the dish did disappear.
    Will miracles never cease! Up to that day
    the critter in the medium took two weeks to leave
    some poor waif sweating alone in their bed
    I offered my lousy stuff and then I sped
    out of the window into the air to weave

    return to some abundant garbage pail.
    I still don’t understand you, learned Doc
    that was in twenty-nine, right on the clock.
    the contents always working without fail
    year in year out, it’s nineteen thirty-nine,
    you still refused to believe, because I buzzed
    into your laboratory, you were lost.
    Then came the war, it sure worked mighty fine.

    Zev Davis

  27. taylor graham


    The old dog’s reached his golden hours.
    He’s a lion on the couch.
    He could find a lost child in a snowstorm.
    He’s found every tennis ball outside the court.
    He makes peace between warring cats.
    He only chases the cat when his work is done.
    He barks at the door to greet the morning.
    The other dogs rush out, he cleans their bowls.
    He gathers his possessions like a king.
    He takes from the bad and saves the good.
    Just try to take a stick from his treasure-heap.
    A hero puts the world in order.

    The new pup rags the old dogs to a rage.
    Everything is her fault.
    She hides her bones under my pillow.
    She raises dust-devils on the fenceline.
    Wherever you go, she’s there to trip you.
    She’s the sweet-talk villain in a sable coat.
    Her eyes are honey when she begs a treat.
    She sleeps like an angel with gremlins inside.
    She defeats every training method known to man.
    She finds the key you lost.
    Nothing escapes her.
    She keeps the old dogs dancing.

  28. elishevasmom

    Zorro of the Black Hat

    Ask anyone from four to
    ninety-four how to tell the
    heroes from the villains.
    Right away, they’ll always
    answer, “The good guys wear
    the white hats.”

    And as for the valiant ones
    in the comics, well
    on top of everything else,
    they can fly.
    But the one thing they all have
    in common—a mask.

    Are they just being modest?
    Is it easier to hide their super persona
    inside a chump with no pride
    to take evil to task by
    donning the mask?
    Or is it perhaps, that
    revealing their own humanity
    would reduce their powers
    in our adoring eyes?

    We expect our heroes
    to be more than human.
    But now they are unraveling
    as we watch.
    Athletes doping,
    politicians ousted by sex scandals,
    movie and rock stars exposed
    over drugs and domestic violence.
    Turn on the nightly news
    and choose a mix and match

    So where do we place our trust?
    Even Superman turns to dust,
    as Ironman does to rust.
    Our heroes are flawed,
    because they are
    human. As are we all.

    It would be nice to go
    back to a life where our
    heroes wore the
    white hats.
    And even that wasn’t foolproof.
    After all, Zorro was
    definitely a good guy,
    but he would have lost his
    mojo if he showed up in one.

    Ellen Knight

  29. Yolee

    My Boy

    When I was tall
    to you, I would fetch
    things that were out
    of reach. My fingers
    walked up your spine:
    your gurgle encoded
    our burgeoning language.

    I was your magician,
    vanishing and reappearing
    when the sun rolled out its
    bright slide on the nursery’s
    hardwood floor, when late
    afternoons hunkered behind
    crops of the city, the horizon’s
    closed eye rested upon the sea’s
    face, and silence sat on my lap
    or scurried away like a blind
    mouse, my arms and chest
    were your skirt wrapped
    around the transparencies
    of both our needs.

    The teen years vilified
    our rapport. I was no longer
    the heroine in your world.

    Time had its agenda. And since
    I had already drawn two other
    berries from the motherhood tree,
    I waited on the slow churning miracle
    that would present you with new heights.

    Now you’re able to reach serving
    platters. Questions and answers
    meet like old colleagues; you
    reemerge just as I think some
    unruly friend or fancy girl stole
    your identity. I get to lean on
    the shoulders of my super-hero.

  30. shellaysm

    “In Light of Shadows”

    Heroes and villains:
    known arch enemies,
    foes and nemeses.

    While one is noble,
    other: sinister.
    A writer’s balance
    to administer.

    Woven together,
    strength and weakness loop.
    They thicken plot like
    flour in thin soup.

    Truth be told, heroes
    are made heroic
    in light of shadows
    of villains: stoic!

  31. Walt Wojtanik


    Heroes can be defeated.
    Villainous agents can ravage
    the strong and brave, who can save
    the world but have no effect on their own lives.
    Looked upon as virtuous and miraculous, the
    meticulous scrutiny slips past the eyes so awed
    seeing the flawed as more than mere mortal.
    At the portal of despair, it is there that the hero
    serves his best function – to open the eyes of the weak
    and meek to the power they possess; it flows throughout.
    Without a doubt, the heroic are stoic in appearance
    but the strict adherence to hero law is muddled,
    for he stands in a puddle of his own making, shaking
    in his red patent leather boots. The only difference between
    a hero and a victim is that the “hero” is too stupid
    to realize he is afraid. But his decision is made.
    Save the world and glue it together, piece by peace.

  32. RJ Clarken


    “Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy.” ~F. Scott Fitzgerald

    “O villain, villain, smiling damned villain.” ~William Shakespeare

    Pen in hand, he then created
    characters, and one was fated
    to be tragic, since tragedy
    is that which holds the story’s key.

    It didn’t matter. Something would
    compel this hero to do good.
    But in the end, catastrophe
    is that which holds the story’s key.

    And as you know, no hero can
    exist without his ‘polar’ man,
    a villain who’s just bad, since he
    is that which holds the story’s key.

    The characters are quite complex
    because a bit of each reflects
    within. Familiarity
    is that which holds the story’s key.


  33. DAHutchison

    This Stuff Writes Itself

    She gets kidnapped!
    The most visceral of plot devices,
    Nothing wrong with a jewel heist,
    But go after the woman he loves,
    And that’s real drama!
    The Director strokes his chin,
    But has questions, like why?
    Is our hero loaded with cash?
    Carrying microfiche?
    Our Writer opts to sleep on it,
    But the Producer insists the girl,
    Be air-headed and full-bodied like a great beer,
    So we know our hero prizes her.
    That’s the important part, right?
    She is precious and oh, so scared,
    As the Villain clutches her arm,
    And yanks her from the sedan,
    With such force her gossamer dress,
    Like our Hero, strains to preserve her honor,
    Guns blaze and maybe he takes
    A bullet in the arm for her,
    But keeps going…
    Maddened as he sees her gagged and bound,
    To a cold steam pipe at the… chop shop?
    We’ll have to ask the Writer, but…
    She is freed and the lens softens as they kiss.
    Long and hard as he pins her,
    Again, against the steam pipe.

  34. Andrea Heiberg


    Russian tanks all over Prague
    entire European nations shocked
    all around Czechoslovakia
    looking for America
    and yet this voice of a
    from somewhere inside there
    on hope in words
    we did not understand
    but learned to love for the mere
    sound of freedom.

  35. posmic


    In line at the Bon Marché in Seattle with my mother,
    I heard a high-pitched scream. A woman ahead of us
    laughed and said it was probably her husband, who
    was afraid of escalators. Life moved on, but my mind
    stayed in that groove for a long time—maybe a couple
    of years. Somehow, that screaming man became a

    villain, Snidely Whiplash-style, with mustache,
    top hat, and cape. We moved from Seattle to
    Thief River Falls, Minnesota, but the memory
    moved with me, packed away someplace
    secret, so I could play it like a Disney 45

    in my playroom in the basement, any time
    I needed to scare myself, any time I needed
    to make my formless, nameless fear into
    something I could turn on and off, or just
    let play, over and over, until it was done.

  36. Jane Shlensky

    Great prompt, Paula. I grew up with Dudley Doright and Little Nell always refusing the advances of her villain. I loved the simplicity of melodrama and the hope of deus ex machina. Thus the haiku and tanka dilemmas below.

    Dilemma 1

    The bastard that bound
    me to his will rescued me.
    I am so confused.

    Dilemma 2

    My hero lifted
    me gently, swept me away,
    tied me to his tracks.

    Dilemma 3

    Pomaded hair and
    waxed mustache betray his heart;
    his eyes smile at me.

    Dilemma 4 Tanka

    Fed melodrama,
    no wonder women wait for
    heroes on white steeds,
    and boys with raging sex drives
    do right—curse and learn to ride.

    Dilemma 5 Advice to Little Nell

    So he has money
    and loves you–oily perhaps,
    talks gangster, tangos
    through life, lusts, intense. Women
    love projects, nurse lost causes.

  37. Glory

    My Villain –

    Two Timing Dude

    See that Jane by the door
    all dressed up
    d’you know what for?

    In satin dress and three-inch heels
    ruby lips, and cheeks that glow,
    looking for who, perhaps you know?

    Maybe that Dandy, what’s his name?
    Such a shame, but please don’t tell
    he’s out with that other girl.

    My Hero –

    My Man …
    of many hues
    that’s you,
    one I cannot fathom
    that’s true,
    but when I look
    into your eyes
    all I see is blue,
    so maybe that
    is how I think of you,
    dazzling blue,
    always true,
    my man blue….

  38. Domino


    Enter Heroine.
    She is dressed in a fluffy manner,
    and her behavior is likewise,

    She moons after her boyfriend
    and fondly remembers him.
    She then wishes he weren’t so far away.

    Enter Villain,
    twirling wicked moustaches,
    grinning like the rogue he is,
    and steals the Heroine away.

    Heroine kicks and flails ineffectually.

    Villain recites his plan of vengeance
    against Hero, gloating as he
    anticipates his ultimate

    Heroine faints in a fluffy manner
    as she learns her incipient demise
    is part of Villain’s plan of vengeance.

    Hero returns early to Heroine’s home,
    only to discover
    (with remarkably few clues)
    what has befallen his lady-love.
    Hero leaps astride horse and
    rushes to rescue Heroine,
    foil Villain’s wicked plan,
    and restore his family honor.

    Heroine awakes from fluffy faint
    tied to railroad tracks.
    She shrieks and flails and
    calls for help, also noting that
    Villain will surely regret this.

    Villain answers with an evil laugh,
    twirling wicked moustaches,
    and grinning like the rogue he is.

    Hero dashes in at last moment,
    bashes Villain, rescues Heroine,
    and calls in authorities to
    arrest Villain.

    All ends well,
    Heroine gives Hero fluffy kiss.
    Villain files suit for damages.


  39. Andrew Kreider

    Real men

    When Stan Bowles was
    bathing in champagne
    a topless bird on each arm,
    and Don Revie’s boys
    were kicking all comers

    to kingdom come,
    when Bremner,
    Giles and Hunter
    were having a oily rag
    between passing drills,

    when Socrates drank
    like the proverbial
    and Ardilles smoked
    forty-two a day

    when Georgie Best,
    well, what didn’t he do?
    It was so clear in my mind
    there was nothing I wanted
    more than to be just like them.

  40. Marianv

    Hero of the Neighborhood

    When I was a child of four who spent
    Her days imaging games with the
    Neighborhood kids and a special friend
    Anna Marie, the girl next door
    Our yards separated by a prickly hedge
    You had to walk around to the side-
    Walk out in front. An old neighborhood
    Even then, in the days of the great
    Depression when every one was poor.

    The morning I remember, Anna Marie and
    I were playing in our yard. My mother was
    On the porch washing clothes – she used the
    Old community washing machine that had
    A tub and wringer and not much else…Suddenly

    We heard the screams, perhaps we screamed
    Ourselves, running to the porch where my
    Mother’s arm had been seized by the wringer
    And would not let go
    All the neighbors ran outside

    Including Officer Feeney who had stopped
    To have a cup of tea with his sister, the
    Mother of Anna Marie. When he heard the
    Commotion outside he didn’t take the time

    To run around the side walk – no, what he
    Did was leap the hedge – sailed over in a
    Single bound, unplugged the machine and
    Set my mother free! What a hero! I
    Remember how the neighbors cheered
    While I clung to my mother, crying,

    Later, I stood next to the hedge. It was
    As tall as me. I don’t remember the
    Cameras, the newspaper interview.
    But when I read of Superman who
    Could leap
    Tall buildings in a single bound I
    Remember Officer Feeney
    who did it first.

  41. JWLaviguer

    Father Figure

    In his arms
    she felt safe
    her hand in his

    She refused
    to be a victim
    like her mother

    Blinded by pride
    ignored the warning signs
    sleeps with the light on

    Locking the door
    just makes him angrier
    so she takes it

    One day she awakes
    and makes a decision
    to kill her father

  42. JanetRuth

    Vexing Villain

    Some poems need no syllables
    To distract or beguile
    Darling, I shape you against me
    In a faint, tender half-smile…

    The poet dreams in perfect want
    For that elusive word
    Darling, I’ve borne the perfect taunt
    In sudden passion stirred

    As the air, obscure around us
    Seethes with possibility
    Darling, is it not ironic
    That love’s perfect poetry…

    …is not mouthed in verbal creations
    Of bland inequity?
    For Muse is a vexing villain
    Of hope and insanity

    But now we have trumped her ineptness
    Though the silence may drive us wild
    Love’s perfect poem, oh darling
    Exists in a faint, half-smile

    The Hero…

    You do not come crashing in
    on a black stead or verbose and vile
    But darling, you persuade me
    with nothing, but a faint half-smile

    …across the room I see you
    My hero; come, let’s go home
    Our eyes meet; the air is full
    Of love’s most perfect poem

  43. RJ Clarken

    Heroic Couplet

    With a totally selfless act, he kept
    his entire village safe…that is, except…


    Villanelle for a Villain

    Evil is as evil does, but he aimed
    to be a cut above, this ‘knife’ called Jack…
    His crimes kept the press of the day inflamed.

    And yet, strangely enough, not one soul claimed
    credit, except in hints. He had a knack:
    Evil is as evil does, but he aimed

    for effect. Victims were stabbed, sliced and maimed
    before they bled out. He’d cut them no slack…
    His crimes kept the press of the day inflamed.

    How could this be? ‘Though several were blamed
    throughout this Whitechapel panic attack,
    evil is as evil does, but he aimed

    to remain anonymous, unashamed,
    and it seemed as if there was no come back.
    His crimes kept the press of the day inflamed.

    Then the reign of terror ended, proclaimed
    the papers. An unsolved case, this ripper, Jack.
    Evil is as evil does, but he aimed
    crimes to keep the press of the day inflamed.


  44. suzanneh7

    we were cousins
    in our under-roos
    emblazoned cotton courage
    superman, aqua-man
    I changed
    in the bathroom
    while they marveled
    became a wonder of a woman
    in my 6 year old
    heroine under-things
    justly united
    we saved them all
    invincible 1970’s children
    we saved ourselves
    while truth ensnarled bad guys
    within the looping of my golden lasso
    those fascists
    those corrupt & power hungry
    those villains who foolishly grew up
    and abandoned childish dreaming

  45. Ber

    Saving Time

    Where is the one
    who longs to make me belong
    where is the one
    who wants to play me his song
    where is the interest of my being
    where is the eyes that keep on seen

    Lingering smiles
    smoldering longing
    shoulders apart
    some where else
    where to start

    Fly down
    set me free
    take hold of my
    very soul
    take hold of my hand
    take hold and control

    Whispering winds
    passing by
    words fly through the air
    in disquise
    giving something to rise

    Saving time
    where have you been
    take me off my feet
    do not hesitate
    or over compensate

    With sparkle smiles
    leading the way
    making something better
    than yesterday
    something to crave

  46. uneven steven

    Telling heroes from villains
    is a moral dilemma
    depending upon
    which of the
    bull’s horns
    you find yourself
    pinned on,
    for it pays to be on the side
    of history and her cadre
    of writers,
    a painful reality
    only obvious
    if you’re on the losing side.
    It’s quite profound,
    all these heroes and villains
    going together like
    one big
    black and white, for sure,
    and yet
    without one
    there can’t be
    the other
    and still call it what it is –
    hard unyielding strength
    sharply breaking
    with a satisfying
    soft vulnerable giving
    quite unbreakable
    but easily licked,
    all depends on
    your taste,
    I guess,
    and whether or not
    you first dip
    the whole bull
    in a giant cup of
    myth milk –
    ever notice when you do that
    it all just seems
    to melt
    in your mouth?

  47. RASlater

    The Looking Glass

    I look in the mirror and there she is
    My own worst enemy staring back at me
    She knows my every weakness, my every flaw
    I am an open book to her, even what I hide
    She leads me astray, exploits her knowledge of me
    Intent on getting her own way

    But I am all there is
    No one else can fight her
    I alone can conquer
    To run the race before me
    Though my path is not smooth
    And the way ridden with obstacles
    I need no one to swoop in and save me
    For as I am my own villain
    I am my own hero
    Shouldering the burdens of reality
    I press ever onward
    Refusing to be defeated

  48. Linda Rhinehart Neas

    1. What Will We Tell the Children

    as the doors close on yet another opportunity?
    How do we explain to them
    as they sit waiting for us to lead
    that they are not worth our time and money
    simply because they did not
    have the privilege of being born among us?
    How do we sleep at night and
    what will we tell the children?

    2. What Will We Tell the Children

    as the pendulum swings back to reason?
    How do we share the exhilaration
    of finally having that which will bring
    wonder, discover and wildest dreams
    into their small worlds?
    How do we keep from jumping for joy and
    what do we tell the children?

  49. patteran


    Uncle Bill was a bad man. Mother always
    said as much each time the departing AJS
    got curtains twitching down the avenue.
    She’d sniff the blue smoke, fold her arms

    and step indoors. He’d walked out on
    two wives and dumped a mistress (off
    the back of his motorbike – quite literally –
    in the middle of Carshalton Park).

    That moustache – Clark Gable style – above
    a row of gleaming teeth; the sideways glance,
    the shift of eyes away, the quick, one-sided grin
    that passed for interaction; the gargled laugh

    like clockwork in reverse, at the end
    of every gag and anecdote – evidence all
    to Mum of a long steep fall from grace away
    from magnolia walls and the well-cut lawn.

    Her censure passed me by. Any man who could
    spit pips into an empty glass; stump upstairs
    like Grendel coming home, farting loud on every riser;
    change a spark plug in a storm on Kingston Hill;

    switch the pipe to the side of his mouth and float
    smoke rings like naughty haloes ceiling high, was
    a buccaneer in tweeds and leathers, unsafe, risky,
    blowing in from a world beyond the garden gate.

  50. Walt Wojtanik


    He stands aloft and aloof,
    the one who makes her heart whole
    the one who breaks her heart too.
    Not the man she thought,
    not the man he wanted to be.
    His cape is smudged and torn;
    over used and tattered worn
    and still, she sees no flaw.
    Tall buildings will defeat him,
    steaming locomotives will out run him.
    Speeding bullets will surely kill him.
    Just a man in the American Way,
    hoping she finds the hero she needs.