2012 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 28

Today marks 4 weeks in (with 2 days to go), and today’s prompt comes from Jonathan Edward Ondrashek.

Here’s Jonathan’s prompt: Write a poem illuminating how it feels to stand up for what is right in the face of adversity in the workplace.

Robert’s attempt at a Workplace Adversity Poem:

“Poets March on Wall Street”

We want more stocks, more options.
We want more up and down line graphs.

We want more people freaking out
when we start freaking out. We want

more people paying attention to our
ups and our downs. Mostly, we want

more people paying attention. The rest
would be a nice year-end bonus.


Thank you, Jonathan, for the very unique prompt today. Click here to connect with Jonathan on Facebook.

Click here to poem along on the WD Forum.


Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer


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74 thoughts on “2012 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 28

  1. PSC in CT

    Profit Margin$

    Curveball in a game of dead-
    lines and deliverables, he kept be-
    (live)ing people mattered
    more than profit$;
    maintaining a wallet
    full of folding money,
    gifting greens from his billfold
    to beggars on the street
    as he made his way
    to and from the office
    every day.
    Money was never
    his measuring stick, and
    when they laid him off
    his lo$$ was no profit.

  2. RJ Clarken

    Bad Management Skills

    She said, “Some ‘Secret Shoppers’ came
    and left reports, which placed the blame
    for service lacking, or else rude.
    The fault is yours, I must conclude.

    “You were the manager on dates
    in those reports of scores and rates
    which mention ‘other’ things they viewed.
    The fault is yours, I must conclude.”

    I puzzled how this could have been.
    Who were these folks with their bad spin?
    Was something wrong…or misconstrued?
    The fault was mine, I did conclude…

    that is, until I found a cache
    of hidden papers. Ha! No bash
    for my hard work. Instead, they skewed
    towards praise for me, and did conclude

    that when they visited the store
    when I was ‘on’, from the front door
    throughout the shop, the attitude
    of staff was great. They did conclude

    that I should get promoted. But
    my boss had disagreed, and what
    she did to me was not quite shrewd:
    The fault was hers, I did conclude.


    The next day, here’s what did occur:
    I threw the ‘real’ reports at her.
    I said, “For this, you should be sued.
    For now, I quit.” Goodbye. Conclude.


  3. julie e.

    “the sky is falling!”
    the doctors said
    “our revenue stream
    is somehow dead!
    what shall we do?
    oh me oh my!
    watch out, here comes
    a piece of the sky!”
    I sighed and murmured,
    “oh really? please!
    are you surprised?
    we’ve shown you these
    on many pages
    in many forms
    and suddenly
    you see the storms?
    the sky is falling,
    or so you say,
    the revenue stream
    has dried away
    perhaps your second home
    or third
    (a bird in hand
    is still a bird)
    could be used
    to clear the way
    and pay off all
    you need to pay
    and have a pittance
    left for me,
    the faithful one
    who worked for thee.
    what’s that?
    your wife needs
    yet another
    designer bag?
    of course
    you’d rather
    pay the piper
    who sleeps
    with you
    and so I bid
    (not fond) adieu
    to working in
    a thankless job
    I’m leaving work
    and getting
    a dog.”

  4. JRSimmang

    I am a learner first,
    a teacher second.
    I am convinced that in between the bitter
    folds of pages and under the
    stone-soft heat of the
    pearly white lights
    therein lies the truth unfurled.

    We work in a place where
    knowledge is sacred
    -or should be-
    and given freely
    -or should be-
    and adored…
    It’s a monumentous task,
    this one,
    to stand in the parlor
    in front of the eager hundreds,
    whiling away the hours
    before the day ends.
    It is a goliath job,
    pandering to the precious,
    filling their minds with tools of dreams.
    And yet,

    there they are.
    Those people.
    As if this job wasn’t hard enough.
    the greatest struggle is finding a balance,
    finding a voice,
    standing true to the idea that
    the education you give is the education they receive.
    I wonder, openly,
    why these people hate education so much,
    yet it was that self-same education
    which brought them to the point where
    they can parade their voices like a prize
    shih-tzu, it’s tail pointed to the sky,
    its anus positioned to the world.

    But at the end of the day,
    when I shake my last hand,
    when I realize how sore I am from
    standing so stoically,
    for laughing so riotously,
    for crying so efforlessly,
    that they are the ones who need to be silenced.
    Sometimes, I feel like I could do a better job
    raising their children than they do.

  5. Karen H. Phillips

    Day 28
    Prompt: Standing for right in workplace adversity


    My workplace is home.
    Not that it can’t be adverse at times.
    But I think of Raoul, who has to worry
    that Colombian forces will whisk him away
    and shoot him in the head in the night,
    because he’s a believer.
    That’s adversity at work.

    I think of Mahmoud, or Miriam,
    who may not be educated at university
    because he believes the Bible,
    or who may be forced to marry a Muslim,
    because her family would rather her be beaten
    by a fifty-year-old man than bear the shame
    of claiming the Cross.

    Their work is His work:
    to do the will of their Father in Heaven
    on earth. Or die in the attempt.

  6. madcapmaggie

    Nov 28 : Write a poem illuminating how it feels to stand up for what is right in the face of adversity in the workplace.

    Slip Up

    You roll into the office and your hem is hanging down
    six inches from your ankle with the edges dirty brown.
    Your knee is scatched and bloody and your wallet’s missing, too.
    You’re a victim of the icy, dicey blues.

    You bump into some diva who draws back with great disdain.
    You’re barely hanging in there. You don’t bother to explain.
    You grab a paper towel, then you rinse your hands of goo..
    You slipped up on the icy-dicey blues.

    You head into your office, but your boss has blocked your way.
    He glances at his watch and mutters, “Why the big delay?
    I need those files from you. End of quarter numbers due,”
    but you’re hung up on the icy-dicy blues.

    You shrug out of your coat, sit down, and power your laptop on.
    It beeps, a message flashes all too briefly. Then it’s gone.
    The momser isn’t booting. Damn, you haven’t got a clue.
    You’re deep inside the icy-dicey blues.

    Too bad you need that paycheck or you’d head right back to bed,
    You try once more to boot up, then you call your boss instead.
    He hasn’t got his figures, and he tells you you are through.
    You fell victim to the icy-dicey blues.

  7. Glory

    TODAY IS THE DAY . . .

    Look at all the people
    standing in line
    afraid to move, to motion
    to show anger or decline,
    to frightened to protest,
    to persist, to throw arms open
    wide, to look up, see the sky,
    fight for freedom, let those
    leaders know they’ve had
    their time.

  8. Bruce Niedt

    Oops – forgot the last line:

    Memo to the Crunchers

    You see numbers, I see faces.
    To serve the public takes some care –
    statistics dull the social graces,
    you see. Numbers? These are faces!
    And while they put us through our paces,
    let’s not lose sight of being fair.
    See through the numbers. See the faces.
    Serve the public. Show you care.

  9. Bruce Niedt

    Memo to the Crunchers

    You see numbers, I see faces.
    To serve the public takes some care –
    statistics dull the social graces,
    you see. Numbers? These are faces!
    And while they put us through our paces,
    let’s not lose sight of being fair.
    See through the numbers. See the faces.

  10. sonja j

    No Donald Trump

    “Want to know the worst part of my job?”
    my boss asked. “It isn’t working late.
    It isn’t having to bully people into taking
    crummy shifts. It isn’t even that I for three
    years running I haven’t had a raise because
    I had to choose between me and my staff.
    Nope, I don’t blame anyone for that.”

    “The worst part of my job is firing people.
    I don’t fire people because they’re fat, or ugly,
    or sick, or their kid gets sick. I don’t fire them
    because they talk to each other instead
    of talking to the clients, or because they show up
    late all the time, or take too many breaks.
    I don’t have the luxury, even if I was inclined.”

    “No, I fire people because they steal. Because
    they punch someone. Because they get pulled
    over smoking pot on the way to work. I fire
    people because they fall asleep at their stations,
    and someone could die. I only fire people when
    I absolutely have to. I know I’m doing the right
    thing. But I hate it, and it makes me hate myself, too.”

  11. posmic

    At the Monkey Factory

    We don’t kill any monkeys, not even the ones that don’t pass QC.
    Instead, we discount them and ship them direct to you as factory seconds.

    Some of those monkeys are perfectly good monkeys. Who cares if a monkey has
    a birthmark, or maybe an extra kink in its tail? Not me. That’s why one day,

    I just stopped killing defective monkeys. Just stopped. My boss thought I was crazy,
    almost fired me, said we’d be overrun with monkey returns, and what would we do

    then? But I know about monkeys. Once you have a monkey, you’re not going to
    return it, even if it bites (and they often do). So I think it was a pretty good decision,

    and also I’ve stopped having those nightmares. I can’t even tell you about them
    except to say that every night, a monkey reached its hand up to mine,

    from the floor, you understand—and I killed that monkey anyway.

  12. Rorybore

    This one was a little difficult, since my home is also my office. sorta

    I don’t know what happened
    I’m supposed to be the boss
    But it seems no one is listening
    I’m afraid I’m quite at a loss.

    I’m sure I’ve made the rules clear
    They know what must be done
    But every day, I explain them again
    Now this time – Listen Up Everyone!

    I must confess: there are some days
    When I don’t want to be in charge
    too many questions, too much quarreling
    Someone bring me a double-double ex-large

    I don’t know where Barbies’ shoes have gone;
    why don’t you look in the jeep?
    No, I cannot build a Lego rocket
    Now keep it down – the babys’ asleep!

    No more running, no more whining
    No – that doesn’t go there
    It’s time to clean up the toys,
    How did you get gum in your hair?

    I’ve got to get things under control
    before poor Ken loses his head – again,
    but there’s a pool party on at the Dream House
    and boy, that doll sure can entertain.

    I’m not beaten: though I’ve joined them
    I just need a few moments of calm
    the hours are long, the pay is nil
    yet, I can’t quit: I’m the mom.

  13. Jacqueline Hallenbeck

    I thought it was 2012

    I will stop talking my Spanish
    as soon as you take off that pointy hat.
    Don’t expect me to suddenly vanish.
    I will stop talking my Spanish…
    Two languages to me is an advantage.
    Guess your one language is all you got.
    I will stop talking my Spanish
    as soon as you take off that pointy hat.

  14. elishevasmom

    Work Place

    Changing adult diapers,
    taking the clients “bowling”,
    helping them “make” Christmas dinner.
    You don’t choose this job, it chooses
    you. Either you’ve got it
    or you don’t.

    The new governor balances
    his first budget
    with an eye on politics.
    As not-for-profits belly up
    to the bar, looking for
    a handout, they invent new ways
    to bend his ear.

    The needs of the many outweigh
    the needs of the one.
    The agency gets more money
    in having a fully disabled
    “client” than one only partially so.
    R. spends his time either in
    his wheel chair or in
    his bed—being lifted
    electronically from one
    to the other—bed sores a constant

    Some part-time staff are
    teaching him new
    exercises in his bed.
    He wants to visit
    his cousin, but to do that
    he needs walk. He really
    wants to walk.
    His doctor gives him
    a fifty-fifty chance of it.

    And then it happens. One night
    you see it. You and a co-worker
    try an experiment.
    He stands behind the wheelchair,
    and you stand across the room.
    You ask R. if he wants to
    visit his cousin. He grins
    in excitement, and slowly,
    steadily rises to is feet.

    At the next staff meeting, you
    ask management about it,
    and they laugh at you
    and say, “R. will never walk again!”
    And that is when
    you decide to write the letter.

    Before you can get it sent off,
    someone in-house intercepts
    it—the agency nurse is suddenly
    interested in in what you have to say.
    She chides you that passing rumors
    is unprofessional behavior.
    You inform her that what you witnessed
    was no rumor.
    After a long pause, she
    promises to speak with
    the physical therapist the next day,
    and R. begins shortly after.
    Within a few weeks, you are injured
    on the job and end up out
    on disability. Permanent disability.

    Four weeks later, you hear
    from a friend that R. is
    ambulating with a walker.
    He no longer needs the
    wheelchair, and he finally
    gets to visit his cousin.
    The house manager takes
    him there, and in response
    to his family’s excitement,
    she explains about how she
    never gave up hope—that
    it was her idea to get him
    back into physical therapy.

    Six months after that,
    you get a text from your friend.
    It is a picture of R.,
    walking with his cane.
    You had always said that
    there were insufficient riches
    in this world to compel you
    to repeat your childhood
    and adolescence.
    But for this picture, you would do it
    all again.

    Ellen Knight

  15. taylor graham


    I’m fixing breakfast – whole-grain
    fiber toast for us, kibble
    sprinkled with milled flaxseed

    for our dogs – if they’ll come back
    in from play. But look out the window,
    such a strange pink-gold light

    through cloud. It’s going to rain.
    That light demands a poem.
    And look, the dogs flashed by, all

    silver in the light, backlit by morning.
    I should be out there
    running with the dogs. The toast

    is burning. What’s my real
    job in this once-in-a-lifetime
    moment, anyway?

  16. Mike Bayles


    People camping around the financial district must be heard.
    Grievances about unfair practices must be acknowledged,
    implore the majority, the lower 90%.
    They want to tell bankers and investors,
    although the message is undefined,
    that they own the country too.
    This is their message,
    and they will not go away this time.
    This message cannot be ignored,
    acts of fairness must be taken,
    and faith must be restored.

  17. DanielAri


    and in a toxic valley, I tended six score
    nut trees. At noon, crop dusters would
    blanket the adjacent orchards and me.
    I bought a gas mask at the Army Surplus.
    When I heard engines, I’d strap it on, run
    for the barbed wire edge of the grove
    and hit the deck, but when I returned
    to work, I’d be dizzy. After the third night
    vomiting, I called my boss the next day.
    “Do you know anything about old maps?”
    “What?” “I found this weird map” (which
    Alice made for me). “It was in a knothole
    in an almond. I was on the ladder or I
    wouldn’t have seen it. It’s got dotted lines
    and one part has a bunch of dollar signs.
    Looks like the creek is on there, too.”
    “Hang on.” He arrived before noon and
    asked to see it. I unrolled the map. He
    wasn’t convinced it wasn’t a hoax, but
    he also turned his body to align with
    the compass rose. He paced east, fifty
    times. The engine sounds started, and
    in a minute, a white cloud engulfed us.
    He turned northeast at the oldest tree
    in the grove and began to count steps,
    but when he got to four, he started
    coughing until he doubled over for air.
    When he finally straightened up, he
    looked at me and said, “What the hell
    are you wearing that for?” Through
    the gasmask I told him, “No reason.”


  18. Sara McNulty

    Poetic Asides November Challenge – Day 28
    Write a poem illuminating how it feels to stand up
    for what is right in the face of adversity in the workplace.

    Color Codes

    Little codes on backs
    of applications. Never saw
    them before I filled in
    for receptionist that day.
    What did they mean? Asked
    the question; got the answer.
    They denoted race. Infuriated,
    I refused to use them. At least
    one day, in one firm on Wall Street,
    things were kept honest. Not
    keeping this dirty practice
    to myself, but letting it slip
    whenever I could, made me feel
    I was working toward
    changing inequalities.

  19. shellaysm

    “Only Losers Lose”
    (Sestina Poem)

    I tell my child, “For you I wish
    always that no matter
    what, you won’t lose
    when challenged by some thing
    new, for the reward
    will be greater than you’ll know.”

    Even when outwardly you lose,
    if you can say this one thing:
    “I did what’s right/I know
    I stood up for what matters,”
    You will reap ample reward:
    Self-pride, a hidden wish.

    I’ve learned what I know
    from personal matters
    where I truly wished
    for the very thing
    of which there’s no reward;
    and for that, I did not lose.

    I may stand alone, I know,
    standing up for what matters
    –perhaps the single most thing
    I’m most scared to lose.
    But in the end, I only wish
    for a higher power’s reward.

    “I don’t wish
    any reward
    but to know
    I have done the right thing,”
    wrote Twain. Words not to lose
    about what really matters.

    Remember: a heartfelt wish
    is a treasure, a grand thing
    of which you should never lose;
    rather, have faith and know
    that wise masters reward
    those whose life work mattered.

    My final wish will be my greatest reward
    In this one thing, this one matter
    I know: only losers lose!

  20. Marianv

    Such Enthusiasm

    Weary faces looked up.
    An undercurrent of whispers
    Men clearing throats
    You look around. Some people
    Are getting to their feet. Any one
    You know? Oh, Mrs. Fuddle-Duddle.
    Of course. She loves to speak. Listen
    To her now. Our young people!! When
    Was she ever young? N!o, stop that now.
    Other people are speaking. Pay attention
    To what’s being said. Taxes might go up.
    That can stop anything in its tracks. Wait —
    It will stay here – it’s for our locality. Not
    Too much , either. Listen to Mr. Small-
    Businessman. Anything to keep people
    In the neighborhood. But that’s a good thing,
    Isn’t it? All right – a preliminary show of hands.
    You raise yours. To our neighborhood. What
    Was that word they used to say? Oh, yes -Solidarity!

  21. Jane Shlensky

    Standing Room

    The meeting is long and wearying
    as she repeats the question over
    and over, waiting for her own answer
    to be mouthed back to her. She
    lives on such capitulations, and so
    we sit and wait for weak links to reveal
    themselves. I state the obvious, that
    repetition does not breed acceptance—
    drawing fire and a warning that I have
    become awfully talkative and should
    not be so negative. We all understand
    the code for achieving silence in the
    ranks. I bite down on pointing out
    that she need not be so obtuse, but
    I smile and meet her eyes, hoping
    there is yet shame in her.

    I daydream remembering my mother
    asking me why I take on lost causes,
    and I answer that someone has
    to stand up, someone has to volunteer,
    someone has to voice other ideas.
    Someone has to face down bullies.

    Eventually, her lackeys motions and second
    one another, where no vote is taken,
    to put into place what we know is wrong,
    what we do not approve, and we go away.
    In the hallway, a group of teachers
    applaud my ‘courage’ and express
    concern that I may soon be leaving,
    joining other colleagues who questioned
    or suggested or protested or researched.
    One young teacher says, “It’s simple.
    If she says the sky is green, just reply,
    ‘it certainly is, so very green.’” Agree
    publicly and disagree privately. Keep
    my convictions in my pocket where
    I can thumb them like worry beads,
    like shiny aggies of morality, and
    pretend that I am worthy deep down.

    But we are teachers, with the power
    to cultivate inner lives, improve the world
    one student at a time, lovers of ideas.
    We are worker bees of citizenship and
    learning. I don’t want to confront,
    but I don’t see a choice remaining.
    I tell these fine educators I’ll do
    as they suggest, if they can help me
    befriend my own cowardice, if they
    can tell me how I am to look into
    my students’ faces and teach about
    American freedoms and their costs,
    about sacrifices made by people
    of conviction for the betterment
    of those just like us who sell out
    because we’re afraid to stand up for
    what we know in our marrow is right.
    Tell me how to go along with wrong
    and still teach my students right.
    Please, teach me to capitulate. I mean it.

    One teacher begins to cry and walks away,
    one squeezes my arm, one pats my back,
    and one compliments me on my eloquence.

    I am retired now.

  22. Yolee

    Stand and Deliver

    For years, my co-worker was treated unfairly
    by our supervisor and her apprentice: like being
    chastised in public for socializing during her coffee
    break, and other things jerked out of context
    to build a case and justify write-ups.

    It bothered me. It bothered me a lot that thumbs
    with jagged nails were pressed into my workmate’s
    psyche almost daily. She was also my good postured
    friend whom marched in shoes that barely whispered.

    I felt as if I botched friendship. Weren’t there
    things I stood up for that vanished like a bad fad?
    How could I allow the definitive essence of what’s
    right be chipped away as if that period of time had
    better things going for it? Did justice hinge
    on my pay grade?

    Nervous but single-minded, I dragged conviction
    into the supervisor’s office. It ran like a track
    star around pale gray walls. I went back
    to my cubicle with the urge to write a Psalm.

  23. claudsy

    This was more than interesting as a prompts.

    Labyrinth of Guilt

    Honesty hums within
    Many hearts today,
    And when right meets
    Wrong, one must lose.

    When Right tells truth
    And many lose jobs,
    Wrong still wins some,
    Leaving Right humming guilt
    For not righting wrong’s
    Total nefarious act.

    When wrong triumphs
    Through legal channels,
    Right screams from stab
    Wounds of personal
    Guilt reflex for not
    Fighting harder on the line.

    Solace come to Right
    Only in knowing that
    Battle has been waged,
    Regardless of outcome.

    Guilt’s labyrinth ebbs or
    Flows with a heart’s song.

    © Claudette J. Young 2012

  24. Miss R.

    Talk It Out (A Harrisham Rhyme)

    I guess it matters enough.
    It matters enough for me to unleash these difficult words,
    To actually start getting tough.
    Oh, you and I both know we would rather these words not be heard.
    Hear me out. I know it’s rough.
    Realize this discussion is the only way for us to be cured.

  25. DAHutchison

    “Buzz Off, I Quit”

    The boss is spewing hot coals, again, you could probably hear him for miles.
    Was the coffee too strong? Did the printer get jammed? Did he lose his mind or his files?
    Perhaps that package to corporate HQ was supposed to get overnighted,
    But he’s yelling again, brow beating the staff and I’m guessing he’s none too delighted.
    Maybe the quarterlies didn’t come in… on second thought maybe they did.
    His pressure-cooked brain, goes through fits of insane and he tantrums just like a bad kid.
    Sometimes he needs some real crisis control, but mostly it’s all self-created.
    If he weren’t the rich son of that muckety-muck, I’d insist that he get medicated.
    Maybe someday, I won’t take this abuse, but for now I’m in need of the pay,
    For now I’ll just keep playing Russian roulette, guessing what’s going to irk him today.
    Will I ever stand up to him? Who’s got the nerve? I, for one, know I do not,
    But I might scrawl a note, like “buzz off, I quit,” with my tires in the parking lot.


  26. bluerabbit47

    Down the hall
    two women
    whisper. Then
    they glance
    up and dart
    off like birds
    in different
    In the break
    room, everyone
    an urgent
    somewhere else.
    In your office,
    the coffee
    is cold.

  27. Buddah Moskowitz

    The False Accusation

    A year and a day
    after I received my
    Certificate of Excellence
    (signed by the College Chancellor)
    I was hauled before
    the Vice Presidents of
    Human Resources and
    Administration and Finance
    and was threatened
    with termination
    because a
    female co-worker made
    the false accusation
    that I raped her,
    when all I’d done
    was have consensual sex
    with her
    and then have the temerity
    not to beg her
    to leave her husband
    for me.

    Obviously, a lover spurned,
    classic and predictable,
    but when the person making
    the false accusation
    possessed a vagina,
    she was believed
    without a critical thought
    (ironic for a college,
    I know).

    I looked at
    Walt and Jim
    and said
    “Both of you
    have female assistants.
    Don’t you see
    how easily
    the false accusation
    can bite you too?”
    They wouldn’t
    look me in the eye.

    I had to bring in
    notes she’d sent
    from the college
    email server,
    which used her own words
    to contradict and discredit
    her story,
    and then
    the false accusation
    of rape
    magically went away.

    While honesty
    is usually the best policy,
    in personnel matters
    with Human Resources,
    email evidence
    sometimes trumps
    the false accusation.

  28. Domino

    Happiness in the Workplace
    (Or: It’s not Always Where you Work)

    At first, the hardest part
    is learning everyone’s names.
    And then, finding out how to
    navigate your way around,
    be you in an office or a forest;
    becoming at home in your surroundings
    is key.

    Of course, things are always
    much more difficult
    when there are challenging people
    that you must work with
    or report to.

    Kids in school think that having
    a harsh, strict, or unkind teacher
    is just not fair,
    but in reality,
    those types of people really do
    help prepare one for
    working with or even
    simply dealing with
    certain other people.
    One must learn
    to deal with that kind of challenge

    And in all honesty, challenging people
    aren’t that difficult,
    once one learns what motivates them.

    My challenging boss only wants
    things to be right, and so do I,
    so we see eye-to-eye most days.
    I had another boss in the past
    who really only wanted to
    mess with me and upset my world.

    Of course, that is why he is in my past.

  29. De Jackson

    Worrier Poet

    See, the trouble is, our workplace
    is the heart and we all know what an
    inhospitable environment that is. When
    doubt screams and inner critic steams,
    we stand tall and begin to fall and we hold
    our breaths and wait for the stars to
    align just right, wait for the caffeine to
    kick in, wait for rain or bow or sorrow or
    the scarlet scrim of sunset or the ebony
    of death’s whisper, or for the moon
    to glow in such a way that
    the words are knocked
    loose…and then we
    shed our salt to the sound of indifferent
    crickets. We kill our trees and channel
    breeze and hope there’s more
    to this than word drops that fall as they
    may, rebel phrase that wants to hear it
    -self sing. We fling our skins, drink deep
    our ink, starve ourselves silly and get
    desperate and sell out and come
    crawling back smelling like new money
    and regret. We fret over period or comma,
    climb stanzas in multi-syllabic slatherings
    of fingerbeat and tongue. We love it well,
    and it rarely loves us back, but we clack
    that black because our heartbeat tells us so,
    and we fight and fly and wrestle and write
                          …because it’s all we know.


      1. De Jackson

        Awwww. Thank you, elishevasmom. I, too, am the wearer of many hats. Take them off as you please, but please don’t bow…unless it’s to help pick up one of the many balls I’ve dropped. 😉

        Thank you so much, Marie and Hannah. Your support and poetic sisterhood mean the world to me.

  30. Jeanniner

    Working is a poor mans job
    Living is a dream
    Living the dream is only what ever it may be
    Tell ur boss u r the best and do what u can
    If hes a jerk then turn ur cheek and find another man
    It isnt always easy but dont we understand.
    Thats right. Stand up for you..its all u have
    Not ever gonna change.
    Live the dteam… Once u know.. U can rearrange.
    Dont hurt people… Not to gain but some will still feel pain. Be good and smart..slow your pace. Thank god for all u gain. Patience.

  31. Marie Elena

    Writing new chapter:
    “How to Approach Holidays
    Gifting a Pink Slip”

    Jonathan, your timing for this prompt is amazing. Someone I love dearly has been given the duty of firing a coworker today. He has suffered immensely over this task at hand. My prayers and heart are with him, as with the one he must let go.

  32. Andrew Kreider

    Name withheld

    It was our secret. Once a week she would
    take me into the windowless back room,
    shut the door and stand there till the air blazed.

    Clear eyed, she reveled in the silence. First,
    the invocation: “We have a problem…”
    She said it like a priest blessing an ox.

    Then came the spit, the fire, the apple,
    the devouring, limb by bloody limb.
    like a praying mantis with her lover.

    Afterwards she would wipe her sated lips
    and go back on the floor smiling softly
    while I lay in the dark afraid to sleep.

  33. JanetRuth

    The Truth about Lying

    Honor or money
    Which will it be?
    For I can fool others
    But I can never fool me

    The plaque on the wall
    Will mock me with truth
    If I succeed through a lie
    What truth could not do

    I want to look myself
    Straight in the eye
    Not blush because
    All I see is a lie

    Money can never
    Buy out regret
    Or clear the conscience
    Of its debt

    Bills will keep coming
    Words slip with ease
    But guilt is an albotress
    Money cannot appease

    To suffer the truth
    Or spill pretense?
    To keep my job
    At honor’s expense?

    What can we say
    To our children and youth
    If we choose to lie
    Then try to teach truth?

    The cost of a lie
    Is hidden from view
    To keep a lie covered
    Requires at least two

    God forbid
    I should lie so much
    That I no longer feel
    Reproach’s touch

    A lie is a shackle
    Of misery
    But the truth will always
    Set you free

    Money or sacrifice?
    Fortune or trust?
    Riches in heaven?
    Or treasures of dust?

    Guilt or peace?
    Honor or shame
    What will they remember
    When someone speaks my name?

    Today we live
    Tomorrow we die
    Nothing is worth
    The price of a lie

    SO many wonderful poems here today…
    SO many attempts to post just one thing:)
    For today, as with every day this month…THANK-YOU!

  34. RASlater

    Double Standards

    I reaped the benefits of his sexism
    Favored because of my gender
    But I grew tired of it after awhile
    A line I would not cross
    Men were crapped upon
    As were the less endowed
    He couldn’t even be consistent in that
    Knowing others had spoken before
    And failed in their attempt
    The truth fallen unheard
    So I bided my time as I searched
    Then gave my notice with glee
    They tried to screw me even then
    Dismissing me before my time was done
    They gave me a sop
    Hoping I’d just go away
    But I took great care
    Filling out my exit papers in detail
    Finding out later
    Thru the grapevine
    That I had made his life at work
    Too hot for him to handle
    And he beat them to the punch
    Quitting and leaving the state
    What joy I felt was coupled with my shame
    At not speaking up sooner

  35. Connie Peters

    Hats and Shoes (a harrisham)

    Invisible hats line up in my house
    Each hat representing a job I do
    Homemaker, caregiver, writer, mom, spouse
    Responsibilities quickly accrue
    Sometimes I feel like a rebellious louse
    Simply to relax and kick off each shoe

  36. barbara_y

    how does it feel
    to stand when it makes more sense
    to hunch down
    it feels dumb
    it feels like raising your hand,
    admit it, you have an answer. like
    taking responsibility when you
    aren’t ready. it feels solitary
    and obvious, a
    in the movies to a roof that must be
    –yards away–impossible, just to save someone’s life
    (maybe they aren’t really in danger at all)
    and adult
    and exhilarating

  37. Ber

    Removing the Blind

    Feel the need
    to fill the greed
    leting in
    leting out
    on the ball
    hearing the shout

    Hairs on the back of her neck
    pulling in place
    all of her fears
    bringing her almost to tears

    Learning to stand her ground
    as open mouth
    shouted words
    that did pound

    Red faced
    vein pulsing
    anger in despair
    emotions were high

    Finally learning to stand back
    watching what moves to take next
    if the situation wasn’t difficult enough
    it was about to get more complex

    Knowing that one day
    the penny would finally drop
    knowing all the pain and anguish
    could be swept away like an old wet mop

    Living every day in hope
    knowing that it would finally come
    that the truth would finally come to the fore
    the lessons learned
    like many of her before

  38. uneven steven

    It’s sophomore year in high school

    and my father asks me to mow the lawn.
    I quickly argue against it on moral grounds
    and he replies.

    “I don’t want to!”
    If you cut a thing too short too quickly
    you keep it from developing
    and building a strong foundation –

    “Damn neighbors must of mowed again”
    Doing a thing simply because
    others are doing it and you don’t want to stand out
    is a subtle acceptance of tyranny
    and a self imposed servitude –

    “It’s fine the way it is!”
    Imposing an old European estate model
    on a foreign landscape is the height of hubris –

    “Don’t make me ask you again, boy.”
    You’ll do well in life, son,
    just as soon as you learn to finish
    what you start.

  39. Linda Rhinehart Neas

    Budget Cuts

    Opening the email, you hardly expect
    that the world as you knew it would suddenly
    crash down around you in a series of slashes
    cut deep into the heart of that which breathes life
    into a small corner of the community –
    a community rich in color, custom and consequence.
    But, there it is, straight from the mouth of the monster –
    “effective immediately blah blah blah –
    no longer needed blah blah blah –
    thank you for your understanding blah blah blah.”
    You stare at the screen as if some alien craft
    had landed on your desk, trying desperately to comprehend
    the meaning of such callously placed terms,
    which essentially mean that your students
    don’t matter to those in the front office who
    play dominoes with the lives that enter the classrooms.

    1. Andrea Heiberg

      Hello fellow teacher. I tried to reach you on your blog and on FB but I didn’t succeed and please know that I would love to get in touch with you. I don’t hope your poem here today represents a real incident – it’s so sad.

  40. Andrea Heiberg


    She stopped saying
    good morning
    long ago.
    She just slips inside
    the large, dark
    avoiding the whispering,
    slips into her office
    reaching for her chair
    so comfortable placed
    far behind
    her impressive desk.
    She’s handles national complaints.
    She reads the mail and
    whispers yes from time to time
    but marks them all “read”
    before adding the date and
    filing them somewhere
    until one Friday late
    she opened her door
    Is anybody here?

  41. Jezzie

    As a youngster I was called a ‘blackleg’
    because I worked hard when the others slacked
    but I got on with the job anyway
    hoping I’d have a job when they were sacked.

    But I had my first hard lesson in life
    when I was laid off and the slackers stayed.
    The ‘last in, first out’ principle was applied
    even though I was the least to be paid.

    Nothing had changed during my working life –
    I got promotion, but my ‘friends’ I lost.
    They called me ‘brown-noser’ cos I worked hard.
    I might have done well, but oh what a cost!

    There are years of good deeds left in me yet.
    Now I am retired I’m still keen to work
    but do bosses want me? No they do not.
    They want pretty youngsters who like to shirk!

  42. Walt Wojtanik


    Everyday we face our demons
    no matter how or where they vex us.
    But we wake up daily to handle it.
    It’s not always easy.
    It is life (it’s not supposed to be easy)
    Our job is to get through by whatever means.
    This labor of life gets harder every day,
    There’s no dealing with bad feelings;
    you either deal or die.


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