2012 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 8

Quick note: I realize quite a few of you are having historic posting problems with this blog. If you fall under this category, I hope I’ve found a (hopefully) short-term solution by using the Writer’s Digest Forum. Beginning with today’s prompt, I’ll start a new thread for each day’s poem. Click here for the Day 8 prompt thread.

Today’s prompt comes from Daniel Ari.

Here’s Daniel’s prompt: Talk back to a dead poet. Choose a poem you like by a poet who is no longer living and offer a rebuttal. Dickinson’s line, “I’m Nobody! Who are you?” is just begging for a response. Maybe, unlike Shakespeare,  your lover’s face is EXACTLY like the sun. And don’t we all have something we’d like to say to Sylvia Plath?

Robert’s attempt at a talk back to a dead poet prompt:

“Before the Light”

“Traveling through the dark I found a deer/dead on the edge of the Wilson River road.” – William Stafford “Traveling Through the Dark”

And you stopped, not for the deer, but other
folks you hoped to save. The dead doe waiting
to roll or be rolled, you lowered your lights
and felt the fawn, not alive and not dead–

not yet. Yet, there was nothing left to be
done but push them both into the river,
and maybe we’re all faced with these moments
alone, afraid to ask God what to do

until after everything’s been done.


Thank you, Daniel Ari, for the super prompt! Click here to learn more about Daniel.

And remember: If you have trouble commenting here, check out the thread for Day 8 on the WD Forum to avoid the frustration of trying to post multiple times.


Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer


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173 thoughts on “2012 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 8

  1. Karen H. Phillips

    Day 8
    Prompt: Talk back to a dead poet. Choose a poem and offer rebuttal.

    Reply to Emily D.’s “I’m Nobody”

    You wrote those words believing
    you were nobody and would remain
    such, obscure and safe.

    What a fuss would surprise you
    if you showed up today and your name
    rolled off the tongues of everyone

    seeking to impress you at parties
    where anybody who was somebody
    gathered in admiring clumps in your “bog.”

  2. Casey

    Oh, William!

    Oh, William, metaphor is gone from view
    Your sonnet is with snickers lately sent.
    The Moderns now make mince-meat out of you.
    Computers now make ‘summer’s day’ a vent.

    Oh, William , where must soulful poet step?
    The Moderns have no heart for thoughts of love
    They know not of pentameter, those shleps
    or how to rhyme expectant like the dove.

    Now, rhyme, they say must be a gambler’s chance.
    And all the words, wired, juxtaposed through air;
    the line is not conditioned for romance.
    Egalitarian, each poet shares.

    “There’s nothing new beneath the sun”, they squawk.
    As each bard copies other like a hawk.

  3. foodpoet

    Come on now, a
    I think you could have given more
    Thought to originality.
    I mean your other poems shout
    Quality. On the other hand the form is
    Uniquely well poeish,
    Each line dripping darkness.

  4. Eleanore D. Trupkiewicz


    From what I’ve tasted of desire / I hold with those who favor fire. – Robert Frost, “Fire and Ice”

    You think earth and all its
    impressionable people will
    end in flames of passion,
    something insurmountably
    precious, forged like a steel
    blade in the furnace of
    want. I disagree, and here
    is why: fire cannot burn
    forever, and when it smolders
    cold, in flickering embers
    and suffocating ashes, then
    the chill will come, the
    inevitable icy cold that
    freezes any hope of passion
    or remembered warmth far
    into the blistering future
    and prevents even the most
    determined little embers
    from burning, living, again.

  5. Sally Jadlow

    In Answer to Dickinson’s line, “I’m Nobody! Who are you?”

    I am a child of the King,
    bought back from the slave market of sin.

    I am a servant of the Most High God,
    created in His image, for His good pleasure.

    I am known and planned
    long before I breathed my first breath.

    I am loved beyond measure,
    kept by His power.

    I am His beloved
    and He is mine.

    I am looking for His return
    on that great and glorious day.

  6. Sara McNulty

    Poetic Asides November Challenge – Day 8
    Talk back to a dead poet

    Written to Matsuo Basho
    “Oh! skylark for whose carolling
    The livelong day sufficeth not”

    Sing Into Dreams

    Oh! to keep writing
    Filling pages with my thoughts
    Persisting through dreams

  7. po

    Left Behind

    Moonlight tumbles beside
    the ancient road in China.
    A child left by her parents
    by the river to die is crying.
    Why didn’t you stop to help
    this young girl, Basho?
    So many times it is hard
    to decipher another’s land,
    another’s tragedy.

  8. Kimiko Martinez


    “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
    – e.e. cummings

    I have sprouted like a wildflower
    in a summer patch of green,
    stretching tall in the happy sun.

    I have wilted and drooped,
    a sad, forgotten weed in the
    midst of a dry, lonely winter.

    And I have shriveled to dust,
    a speck in the breeze that carries
    away what is left of me.

    And still I remain – weed and wildflower,
    ash and seed, underfoot and in the air
    as you breathe in a lung full of hope and promise.

  9. Ann M

    “I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky.” John Masefield “Sea Fever”

    the sea’s come up,
    swamping dock and pier
    lashing road and foundation
    covering us in salt and foam.
    it’s torn off rocks, beams,
    walls and pillars
    from anchors, roots,nails,
    and all that’s held us down.
    soon we will be loosed, too,
    uprooted and set free,
    and into the sea we’ll go;
    to the gull’s way,
    the whale’s way,
    pushed by a wind like a knife.

  10. Yolee

    Excerpts from Ted Hughes’ Lovesong

    “He loved her and she loved him ”

    “His kisses sucked out her whole past and future or tried to”

    “Their little cries fluttered into the curtains”

    “In the morning they wore each other’s face.”

    Mr. Hughes

    Was that the height of your heart’s existence?
    Was your future bitter like vinegar as it rolled
    in your mouth? Did the past come in separately
    like eggs, flour, baking-powder and milk
    later blended to bake sweet-bread?

    Did the room’s frame also quiver
    in the light of morning, like an inmate’s
    body out of solitary confinement?

    Did the afternoon return your countenance
    with a sly smile as straps of shadows
    hung off daylight’s shoulders
    like a ruffled undershirt?

  11. aviseuss

    “Truth needs no colour, with his colour fixt”

    What colour is your elusive history
    As centuries pass, scholars squabble
    To what are you privy

    Have you offered hints in your furtive prose?
    You remain a mystery
    Of whom, nobody quite knows

  12. jared davidavich

    ‘With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.’

    From “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus

    Colossal Deception

    The masses huddled beneath
    Her mighty gaze,
    Looking out
    At the maze of streets and wires,
    With hope
    As the dream of the New World,
    A new life,
    With new desires,
    Is dangled just beyond
    Their fingertips,
    Bringing a slight quiver
    To those once silent lips,
    Guarding the masses
    While they shiver at their reception,
    A callous introduction
    To new sights and sounds—
    Machines pounding on every floor,
    Power just out of reach,
    Whistles and horns and bells—
    This is simply another hell
    In a new place,
    Similar almost to the tyranny
    Just escaped, but more invasive,
    And faceless,
    Unlike the deceptive statue
    That so eagerly welcomed them
    From foreign shores,
    Only to turn her back
    Once they reached hers;
    A cruel ruse played
    On those who seek refuge,
    But crueler still to the lady,
    An artifice of forced performance,
    Made a fool by those
    She represents

  13. Mary Mansfield

    A Message from the Owner
    a response to Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

    I know you know I own this wood,
    And yes, the view is awfully good
    When snowflakes fall on wintry nights
    On land where birches long have stood.

    If you had only looked, you’d find
    A wooden “No Trespassing” sign,
    Hung in plain sight upon the fence
    That serves as my dividing line.

    From this day forth I would prefer
    To keep my privacy secure,
    So find another road to take,
    But first, clean up your horse manure!

  14. Melissa Hager

    “No Reluctance, Mr. Frost”

    Hell, no, I will not acquiesce and
    see my life with reluctance.
    The view from the hill is still fine,
    quite clear now with leaves off the vine.
    Dead leaves may dance on the path you wend,
    but I shall crush them to spice the dish I tend.
    “Whither” your feet have carried you away?
    My feet will dance and rejoice in the day.

  15. Dan Collins

    Firenza (for Gaspara Stampa – Italian Sonnet)

    What if this fire be straw and flame?
    Should we say this flame was wasted,
    now these remains of loves we’ve tasted
    whose lips burned and turned to blame?
    By these embers, we’re not the same
    as when this blaze is stoked and naked
    and by its tongues we’re licked and tested.

    If virtue should be born from torment
    then virtue be your robes again
    The memory of bonfire is not sin.
    with ash we wash our bodies clean.
    Never spend one night’s lament,
    nor repent the burn you’ve earned, so keen.

    Gaspara Stampa (1523 – 23 April 1554)

    1. Dan Collins

      (small typo corrected)

      What if this fire be straw and flame?
      Should we say this flame was wasted,
      now these remains of loves we’ve tasted
      whose lips burned are turned to blame?
      By these embers, we’re not the same
      as when this blaze is stoked and naked
      and by its tongues we’re licked and tested.

      If virtue should be born from torment
      then virtue be your robes again
      The memory of bonfire is not sin.
      with ash we wash our bodies clean.
      Never spend one night’s lament,
      nor repent the burn you’ve earned, so keen.

      1. Dan Collins

        Wow, I left out an entire line on the first stanza – oops!

        Firenza (for Gaspara Stampa – Italian Sonnet)

        What if this fire be straw and flame?
        Should we say this flame was wasted,
        now these remains of loves we’ve tasted
        whose lips burned are turned to blame?
        By these embers, we’re not the same
        as when this blaze is stoked and naked
        and by its tongues we’re licked and tested
        and by each test the flesh laid claim.

        If virtue should be born from torment
        then virtue be your robes again
        The memory of bonfire is not sin.
        with ash we wash our bodies clean.
        Never spend one night’s lament,
        nor repent the burn you’ve earned, so keen.

        For Gaspara Stampa (1523 – 23 April 1554)

  16. PKP

    Embrace the softening of that good night.
    (with love for my own father who stepped from this world beyond and with enormous honor for the great Dylan Thomas as I encourage him to rewrite his reflection on his leave-taking)


    Do go gentle into that good night
    Old age should bank and calm at the gentle close of day
    Embrace the softness of the quieting of the glare of light
    Though wise men at their end know dark is right
    Because their words had forked righteous lightning they
    Can and must go gentle into that good night.

    Good men, the last wave bye
    Sighing smiling how strong their deeds danced in a green bay
    Embrace, embrace the softening of the light.
    Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight
    And learned early on they savored each sunbeam on its way
    Run to embrace the softening of the light.

    Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight.
    Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay.
    Embrace, celebrate the softening of the light.
    And you, my father there on that magnificent height.
    Sing to me now with your moist eyes, I pray.
    Help me let you go gentle into that good night
    Embrace embrace the coming of the gentle arms of dying light.

    1. PKP

      After fourteen attempts to post this paltry offering – I was bounced back to the first poem by Walt … OMG as our young’uns might say. Firstly that of course, as so often happens, Walt and I tune into the same frequency … but oh my goodness Walt your take was sheer genius – while frustrated with the attempting posting and in a bit of a funk from the day – you put a huge smile on my face… So dear sir – I apologize, but you shall not suffer a wit from any comparison. Brilliant work. Bravo! and thanks for the smile! Now if I can post this….I will be filled with gratitude and call it a good night!

  17. Miss R.

    Forever, John?

    “A thing of beauty,”
    You say, John,
    “Is a joy forever,”
    But when it’s gone,
    Where are you left?
    What do you do?
    Is the beautiful
    Always true?
    Say it’s fickle
    And darts away.
    What then? Do your
    Affections stay?
    And what if forever
    Is just too long?
    Can you hear
    The same old song
    The same old way
    Year after year?
    It loses beauty,
    John, I fear.
    Perhaps the beauty
    That you saw
    Can’t be seen
    By eyes so raw
    And mean as mine.
    Perhaps yours are
    More pure than these
    By large and far.
    Did you mean those
    Words you wrote?
    Are they true
    For me to quote?
    Eternal beauty
    And joy without end
    Seem far away,
    John, my friend.

  18. tunesmiff

    Richard Brautigan wrote “30 Cents, 2 Transfers, Love”
    I reply with:

    (A Haiku for Richard Brautigan)
    (c) G. Smith
    Bus fares have risen
    Twenty-fold, but the cost of
    love remains unchanged.

  19. Bruce Niedt

    The News

    “It is difficult to get the news from poems,
    yet men die miserably every day
    for lack of what is found there.”
    ― William Carlos Williams

    Doc, it’s even worse today
    when some of us get
    our “news” from sources

    that tell us we are
    the bee’s knees,
    and everyone else is scum,

    that art is for
    women and faggots
    and we should buy

    the latest pickup truck,
    home security system,
    prescription drug.

    We’d rather watch
    housewives behaving badly
    than study the nuances

    of the veins on a leaf,
    or the brushstrokes
    of a late Van Gogh.

    And poems – well,
    they’re just too hard,
    aren’t they?

    You have to dig
    to get their news,
    the deeper message,

    the cellular charges
    of connections,
    opening the senses

    like a barn door
    swinging out on
    an autumn morning.

    But so many walk on by
    not becoming richer
    for the revelations,

    unaware that “news”
    means what is truly new,
    a fresh perspective,

    a metaphor dancing,
    a lovely alliterative,
    an image to stop the breath.

    We need news that says,
    not “Close your eyes”,
    but “See”.

  20. Jerry Walraven

    “Some day, when John Berryman meets Graffiti 6”

    “Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so.”
    – John Berryman, Dream Song 14
    “With a stone in my heart, I stood up and I got strong.”
    – Graffiti 6

    This battle,
    waged so plainly on paper,
    finally lost,
    echos | echos
    into this world,
    my world,
    blown apart by loss,
    and eyes
    which had become bored with color
    somehow seemed to notice

  21. Nancy Posey

    Be My Guest, Mr. Frost

    By now you know these woods are mine.
    I watched you from not far behind
    as you were pondering the snow
    and I, the county easement line.

    My village isn’t far from here,
    but there I see no foxes, deer,
    no horses stopping just to rest
    at this or any time of year.

    Next time you stop, may I suggest
    you walk to where the view is best.
    The air is clean, the climb is steep,
    the sights breathtaking. Be my guest.

    I come here nightly in my sleep
    into these woods so dark and deep,
    so beautiful I almost weep,
    so beautiful I sometimes weep.

  22. Jacqueline Hallenbeck

    Rebuttal to Emily Dickinson’s “I’m nobody! Who are you?


    A poet-in-transit is my self-proclaimed label.
    I go up to the mic every time that I’m able.
    My poems are not deep; in fact, they’re quite funny.
    I won’t be terribly upset if they bring in some money.

    I’m not pretty like Taylor or sexy like Britney.
    If anyone stalks me, it’ll be for my kidneys.
    So the problem with fame is an issue deferred.
    I just want everyone to fall in love with my words.

    Kudos for the prompt, Daniel. ^^

  23. sonja j

    I have eaten
    the plums…

    you were probably
    for breakfast…

    William Carlos Williams

    You Are On Notice

    I was keeping
    those plums
    which you ate
    last night

    to slice
    thinly and place on
    the top
    of a tart

    In an hour
    we will be having
    tea with
    your mother

    Thanks Robert, this is an especially fun prompt! So many great responses!

  24. Marie Elena

    “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

    ~and on her marker~

    ‘twas ink that flowed through every vein –
    the doggerel that bled, urbane.
    From love and life she did abstain,
    a narcissist, and all in vain

    a narcissist, and all in vain.

  25. seingraham

    Be sure to go fiercely toward this evil day
    (Can You Guess to Which Poem This One Is the Rebuttal?)

    Be sure to go fiercely toward this evil day
    Young ones shouldn’t tarry or yawn as night ends;
    Cheer, cheer for the dawning of the ways

    Fools at the beginning are unaware the light is grey,
    Since they have struck on some dullness still it sends
    Be sure to go fiercely toward this evil day

    Bad women, the first wave by, laughing now all the way
    Their strong works may be crawled to if one only bends,
    Cheer, cheer for the dawning of the ways.

    Tame women who lost then lamented the moonbeam’s ray,
    Knew soon to cheer the orb wherever it wends,
    Be sure to go fiercely toward this evil day.

    Jolly women, quite young, blind with insight grey
    Clear eyed saw steadily like children or peahens,
    Cheer, cheer for the dawning of the ways.

    And I, my mother, here upon this glorious clay
    Bless, cuss, you now with my gentle chuckles, you say.
    Be sure to go fiercely toward this evil day.
    Cheer, cheer for the dawning of the ways.


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