Editors Blog

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.

  26. Mike Bayles

    The window square
    Whitens and swallows its dull stars.
    Sylvia Plath

    The Day after You Were Gone

    Stars fade in dawn’s light
    outside the kitchen window,
    now clear of the gasses
    that killed you.
    Your children look out the window
    and cry for you,
    for you are no longer a star in the sky,
    no longer the light,
    only a dark shadow of your demise.
    Every morning for them
    promises to carry a degree of sadness
    about the morning you executed your demise,
    when you sealed the kitchen,
    turned on the gas
    knelt in front of the oven
    and said your last prayer,
    while you acted to accept the fate
    you always felt you deserved.

  27. Buddah Moskowitz

    Dear Dorothy

    With your unsentimental eye,
    and that firecracker wit,
    I would’ve been a goner,

    especially as I prize
    brains and humor

    I would’ve followed you around,
    as would a puppy dog,
    waiting for you
    to see me as more.

    Were that the case,
    I might’ve broken through,
    and with my feelings
    you might’ve changed
    and all the classic verse,
    the tales of unrequited love,
    might have gone

    It’s best
    that we never met,
    except in the
    pages of a book,
    for if you loved me
    way I loved you
    there’d be
    no need
    for your
    longing and poignant

    and perhaps
    as you entertained
    my petitions,
    I might’ve even
    made you laugh,
    and that would be
    a gift
    only the cosmos
    would be able
    to summon.

  28. JRSimmang

    -e.e. cummings

    I have to say,
    I have no words.
    Apparently, neither do you.
    What did you mean when you
    ran words and letters together
    like a torrent of liquid water?
    Are words to be written to be understood
    or does some of your pleasure
    come from knowing that
    the next person who picks up your books
    will be doing so hanging from the ceiling
    and holding your book upside down?
    Brilliance, they say,
    is a spark of recognition that the
    world is one big equation.
    We are the variables while the breeze, the
    seas, the wonder of the sky
    are the constants.
    You touch the chaos
    that wants to escape from the tip of your pencil.
    You hold it at arm’s length
    just to show it you can.
    And yet,
    when I try,
    we (star)e at the
    words wrITten (10) on your page,
    it spills out in a way only a mother could love.
    Put that one on the fridge…
    Just simply chaos.

  29. Misky

    “Is there no way out of the mind?” – Syliva Plath, “Apprehensions”

    She breathed in nevertheless dust,
    demon fingers plaiting cloven sorrow
    through her thoughts but she
    could see the bread crumbs
    through the forest, and they tugged
    and begged her calmly back home.


  30. Andy Brackett

    A Candle In the Dark,

    In response to The Door In The Dark: Robert Frost

    A candle lit would have shown the way
    Or better still, Tom Edison would say
    Find the switch, that’s on the wall
    And light the way on down the hall
    And save your head from jarring blow.
    And things would pair again, you know.

  31. shellaysm

    “Tell Me, Mr. Frost”

    I thought I would give this poem a go
    by chatting with Henry David Thoreau
    yet found my mind stuck on your fateful road
    pondering consequence we can’t forego.

    So now, in place of a Walden talk
    I find myself with you on a walk
    traveling through another lush wood
    to contemplate how choices unlock.

    Did you ever, in days of old
    wonder how the story’d be told
    if you made a different opt
    and down the other path you strolled?

    Have you since this crossroad revisited
    and to yourself honestly admitted
    you truly wouldn’t change a single step
    even if second chance was permitted?

    Oh tell me, won’t you please, Mr. Frost
    do you think something could’ve been lost
    or do you consider fate leads home
    and remain unconcerned of its cost?

  32. julie e.

    i write this with only the utmost fondness for my fellow PADsters, the PADmasters. ;-)


    To Walt and others, Marie Elena,
    Robert (of course) what the hell’s a sestina?
    Daniel, of me you’re miles ahead
    since Dr. Seuss (I THINK he’s dead)
    is pretty much the only “poet”
    freely found where my brain might know it.
    I’d love to share the kindred smiles
    you Real Live Poets share in styles,
    like tantric—NO, TANKA!—(my face is pink!)
    so many more than I can think.
    Of course I’ve heard of sonnets, haiku
    (that I’ve no idea of how to do)
    so I’ll show my ignorance instead
    by answering what the Doctor said
    and skip the box and fox and such
    since Sam’s answers don’t matter much,
    and take them, green or blue or red,
    I’ll have my eggs and ham in bed.

    Thank you.

        1. julie e.

          i’m just trying to be okay with my ignorance, as i didn’t understand many of these having not studied poetry beyond my “high school in the 70’s” era. You two are definitely part of what i affectionately think of as “The PADmasters!” LOL!

  33. Walt Wojtanik


    “I’m not a car, I’m a person,
    A man-god, a god-man
    whose days are numbered. Hallelujah.~ Yehuda Amichai “What Kind of Person”

    You are a good-man;
    not a god-man
    possibly a man of God,
    but good as much as good
    is not bad.

    You are a kind person.
    The kind of person
    that is kind to all mankind,
    with a mind for forgiveness,
    and forged in the fires of truth.

    You are a blessed person.
    The receiver of many great gifts
    given by Him who has made you
    the kind of man, the kind of person
    He always expected of you.

    You are a loving person
    who by the nature of your love
    is loved in return. A yearning to be
    what hearts and souls aspire to be.
    Bonded in the love of love.

    You are a giving person,
    a generous man who offers
    his time and mind, his logic,
    his cents (in lieu of dollars)
    and ask for nothing in return.

    And as such, you are a respected man.
    A man who has earned his bread,
    the manna of self worth offered
    to a good man, a kind man,
    a blessed and loving person,
    a respected person in all eyes
    until the day he dies.

  34. Jane Shlensky

    Daniel, I love the prompt. What a clever way to get us to reread and share some of our favorites.

    Fresh Thoughts on Leafmeal

    “It is the blight man was born for…”
    Gerard Manley Hopkins, “Spring and Fall, To A Young Child”

    No doubt your kindly sympathy, so sweetly coupletted,
    expressions like an aged warm hand that patted the head
    of young Margaret by the window who insists on weeping
    about (so you would tell us) a light wind sweeping
    gold leaves from the trees in a pile on the lawn.

    Oh, how well you explain being stag to a fawn,
    how our yearly encounter with autumnly seasons
    can dull every sense we possess with good reasons:
    we know we must deal with those leaves, blow or rake,
    chop them all into mulch for our lawns’ greening sake.

    It might have been useful to Margaret and others
    to warn that their futures in leaf management bothers
    the shoulders and back, raises blisters on hands—
    maybe those tears would prove that the child understands
    that nothing so beautiful, blushing or golden,
    exists without labor, for hard work can embolden
    the lord of the manor or the digger in dirt,
    ‘the blight man was born for’ is grinding hard work.

    There’s no doubt that young Margaret needs now a friend
    to explain how to grow up, be true to the end,
    but today as I passed, I heard Margaret’s nurse shout,
    “Miss, you’re naughty and sneaky and need a time out!”

  35. RJ Clarken

    CYNICUS TO W. SHAKESPEARE (James Kenneth Stephen, 19th Century)

    You wrote a line too much, my sage,
    Of seers the first, and first of sayers;
    For only half the world’s a stage,
    And only all the women players.

    Perhaps that’s so, but I can only speak
    for myself, and not for all my gender.
    But ‘ere J. Stephen gives such sly critique,
    he thus should ponder, who’s the pretender.


  36. claudsy

    My rebuttal is as follows to Stephen Crane’s ‘Do not weep, maiden, for war is kind.’

    Weep Maiden for the Fallen and Those Who Return

    Unpopular was its kindest description,
    That outrageous conflict so far away,
    With its jungles, guerillas, and death
    That came from pits, spikes, and traps
    Unseen until a false step took its toll.

    Weep, maiden, for the fallen, given little
    Choice but to proceed, to follow orders
    Or risk all by ignoring commands.

    Boys with homes, families, lovers
    Fought conditions and enemy
    To their last breaths or, like some,
    Their last freedom before disappearing
    Until release years later for return home.

    Weep, maiden, for the fallen, given little
    Choice but to proceed, to follow orders
    Or risk all by ignoring commands.

    Soldiers fighting for freedom of others
    In places they’d never known before
    Fire bombed, defoliated, ambushed,
    Airlifted, swamped under, ridiculed,
    Or left behind to find a way home.

    Weep, maiden, for the fallen, given little
    Choice but to proceed, to follow orders
    Or risk all by ignoring commands.

    Weep, maiden, more fully for those
    Returned to dispassionate reception
    Or tirades, unsympathetic doctors,
    And misunderstood emotional distress,
    For these are ones who suffered the most.

    1. Marjory MT

      This is a fantastic piece of writing Claudsy, and too, TOOOOO true. So many broken men and women have returned and then left to rot further, because we just do not care enough to reach beyond the one or two individuals we know. This should be required reading in every school, workplace and home. Thank you for sharing this.

  37. RJ Clarken

    On A Magazine Sonnet (Russell Hilliard Loines, 19th Century)

    “Scorn not the sonnet,” though its strength be sapped,
    Nor say malignant its inventor blundered;
    The corpse that here in fourteen lines is wrapped
    Had otherwise been covered with a hundred.

    I would not for the world a sonnet scorn.
    A sestina is a much crueler beast,
    and ‘though a fourteen line corpse one might mourn,
    ‘tis easier than thirty-nine, at least.


  38. DanielAri

    “..don’t overexercise.
    sleep until noon.

    avoid credit cards
    or paying for anything on time.

    remember that there isn’t a piece of ass
    in this world worth over $50 (in 1977).

    and if you have the ability to love
    love yourself first…”

    -from “How To Be A Great Writer” by Charles Bukowski

    “Talk to Chuck”

    Hearing you.

    Would say how lucky
    you got, famous,
    and all,

    but I know
    about the medical drills,
    horrendous hill to jog
    in the rain,
    overtime robot work,
    and the storms of hair
    and hose,
    chemical swayed—
    you braved it all

    and behind that:
    the progenitor
    (take all other
    words from him
    because I couldn’t begin
    to summarize your ties).
    Famine set the clock
    of your life,

    but see:
    you got permission built in
    to talk
    as though not even a rusted penny
    was at risk
    and years later,
    your rain dance howling
    cut the ribbon
    on the highway
    of my life’s
    work. Here I’m
    twenty-five years later
    still shedding
    the timidity from my words,
    letter by letter.

    Yet, Chuck,
    so you know
    I’d give up
    the key you gave
    me if you’d have just
    your work

    with counseling,
    with debt consolidation,
    gym membership,
    and chiropractors
    instead of prostitutes,
    endorphins instead
    of alcohol.

    Is a Dog
    From Hell—
    it changed my life,
    but if you’d been
    at peace,
    I’d give up
    the key.

    1. Andrew Kreider

      Oh, man. So much to savor in this one. Famine set the clock of your life… Love is a Dog from Hell made a huge impression on me. His unflinching choice of words, arrogance, insight… all tied up in an incredibly messy life. If only I could write like him, but I don’t think I could pay the price of the life he lived. My loss, perhaps. In the meantime, I join you in shedding the timidity of my words, letter by letter. I’m rambling here, but obviously your poem hit home for me. Your compassion at the end names it so well. Thanks.

  39. Andrew Kreider

    Writing back at Wendell Berry (who isn’t dead, so I’m already behind the 8-ball)…

    “It may be that when we no longer know what to do
    we have come to our real work.” (The Real Work)

    Our real work

    Our real work puts on a hat and knits
    outside a café, takes a drag and spits
    into the wind, grinning like it can see
    something we don’t – about mortality,
    futility, about the shoe that fits

    so perfectly we love it while it splits
    our soul like weathered skin, until it hits
    us in this stranger’s gaze – this cannot be
    our real work!

    And we are empty, scared out of our wits
    by ticking clocks, by love, by snake-filled pits
    we never chose. The figure strikes a knee
    and we both laugh at our absurdity,
    and then trade hats, while on the table sits
    our real work.

  40. DAHutchison

    Made two attempts… first two poems that sprung to mind.

    I Am Someone

    No! I’m someone, this I know,
    My mother even told my so.
    Where two are gathered in my name,
    It’s just the start of my great fame,

    How dreary to be nobody,
    As similar as frogs,
    So what makes me, a somebody?
    Just check out all my blogs!

    Plastic Tree Revenge

    This plastic tree is splendid,
    All the birds come to my yard,
    Woodpeckers say, “Since when did,
    Maple tree bark get so hard?”

    Their woeful bird expressions,
    are a source of endless laughs,
    As I spray a coat of Sevin,
    On the real trees and the grass,

    Then all the ants and termites,
    Use my woodwork for their chow.
    I’m going to raise a sure fight,
    Watch the bank foreclose me now!

  41. Marjory MT

    Reverse Etheree (Satire) my answer to
    George P Morris’s poem

    am the
    new woodsman,
    the contractor,
    project manager
    planning best your future.

    Here to cut down trees, clear land,
    cover it with roads, shops and man,
    blot out the sun. You really must know
    that a tree is just a tree, it must go.
    Its wood could help house a family.

    Slash burns will blacken sky and lungs.
    Skyscrapers will give you shade.
    Lamp post –place for bird’s nest.
    Dirt lots for child’s play.
    Who needs trees, grass?

    “Progress” we’re

  42. Walt Wojtanik


    “Set all your mind upon the steep ascent,
    Upon the broken” ~William Butler Yates “The Dialogue of Self and Soul”

    We stand above the abyss and sealed with a kiss
    we take our love for others to another
    level. No angel is right, or devil wrong
    that in our conscience strong prevails, one
    with our hearts and thoughts and the real
    sense to listen to the voice inside.

    There is no one at your side
    to assist you. It’s as if they kissed
    you off, another wretched soul with a real
    desire to ignite a fire under his brother.
    You stand alone, the silent one
    with much to say, but you’re wrong

    if you think they’ll hear you. Wrong
    to feel that all you hold inside
    of you is the one
    thing you cannot articulate. Your heart has been kissed
    by the words of poetic sisters and brothers
    who stand clear of the cliff, poised to reel

    you in if the decision to leap is made. A real
    tragedy when what is right, proves to be the wrong
    choice. Lost within your voice is the chorus of others
    who lift your selfless soul and resides
    within the depths of your caring. A heart kissed
    by the tender refrain of these poetic ones.

    Offer your solution so that every one
    knows your intent. Do not lament or feel
    the need rebel. You know darn well that you’ve been kissed
    by fate’s tender lips. There is nothing wrong
    with standing your ground. Reach inside
    and give from all you have for the sake of others.

    Hold this truth above all others.
    You begin the process; you are the one
    who will share the life you keep inside
    of your loving heart. You can feel
    things changing, and know that right or wrong,
    the abyss cannot consumed what love has kissed.

    The kiss of true love is given to another,
    it is not wrong to offer your heart to one in need.
    The real deed dwells inside the truth you offer.

  43. taylor graham

    Oops, lost the last line.


    I have simply ordered a box of maniacs.
    – Sylvia Plath, “The Arrival of the Bee Box”

    Black cat, Possum, adopted from the shelter –
    we brought her home, she disappeared through a slit
    in the box-springs lining. I would have taken her back
    but she emerged to curl in a purr on my lap.
    Years later she disappeared of old age, to return,
    sometimes, as shadow.

    Then there was Piper, little bitch
    puppy who chewed out of her crate in cargo,
    Sacramento to Maine; who placed a map
    of that flight on our bed, as reminder. Impossible
    dog who still visits my dreams, so I wake up
    calling her back.

    And now this impossible puppy, Loki – all
    leap, grinning teeth, grabbing paws. She understands
    every word we say. Lying on her back now,
    offering me her chest; quieting as I stroke the fierce
    heart under fur. Isn’t it the difficult ones who
    teach us the most?

  44. taylor graham


    I have simply ordered a box of maniacs.
    – Sylvia Plath, “The Arrival of the Bee Box”

    Black cat, Possum, adopted from the shelter –
    we brought her home, she disappeared through a slit
    in the box-springs lining. I would have taken her back
    but she emerged to curl in a purr on my lap.
    Years later she disappeared of old age, to return,
    sometimes, as shadow.

    Then there was Piper, little bitch
    puppy who chewed out of her crate in cargo,
    Sacramento to Maine; who placed a map
    of that flight on our bed, as reminder. Impossible
    dog who still visits my dreams, so I wake up
    calling her back.

    And now this impossible puppy, Loki – all
    leap, grinning teeth, grabbing paws. She understands
    every word we say. Lying on her back now,
    offering me her chest; quieting as I stroke the fierce
    heart under fur. Isn’t it the difficult ones who

  45. Marianv

    “Recuerdo by Edna St. Vincent Millay

    We were very tired, we were very merry
    We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.

    Ah, yes, the merry ferry where some guy starts playing
    An accordian and some other folk share a gallon of wine
    So when you arrive on the other side you don’t want
    To stop dancing because everything is so merry on
    The ferry and it’s just back and forth until no one
    Can remember which side they wanted to get off on
    And you can’t remember the side you started from
    Either. Yes, you all are getting a bit tired but that
    Guy with the music keeps on playing and the wine
    Hasn’t run out yet so back and forth you go until
    The darn boat runs out of gas.

    1. DanielAri

      Love this, Marianv. Millay’s is one of my favorite poems, too, and it feels like you’ve really expanded that roaring 20s sense of abandon she sparks.

  46. Domino

    Love and an Answer
    in answer to Robert Frost’s “Love and a Question”

    A stranger came to our door last night
    He bespoke my husband true
    His stick in hand, he was a fright
    What he wanted, well, I had a clue
    He looked weary and so footsore,
    needing shelter from the storm
    That’s why he came then to our door
    where we were safe and warm.

    My husband went outside to speak
    to the stranger by and by
    I saw the weather, dark and bleak
    I saw the darkened sky.
    I saw the yard with branches strewn
    and leaves and litter cluttered
    on this the night of our honeymoon,
    our windows fast and shuttered.

    I went to tend the fire then
    and bent to add some tinder.
    The fire warmed my face again
    and the fresh wood caught a cinder.
    Outside my husband looked about
    considering the heather
    And I could see his lingering doubt
    about the stormy weather.

    I knew he might consider it right
    to send the stranger onward
    with food and coin to ease his plight
    and then feel sorry afterward.
    I called them both to sit by the fire
    and take a warming meal
    Compassion can true love inspire
    and all misgivings heal.

    Diana Terrill Clark

  47. Paoos69

    To The Daffodils

    It comes as no surprise
    Such wonderful imagery
    From a country so beautiful
    The grass so green,
    The country roads meandering
    The majestic oaks and willows
    Adorning roadsides and the
    Gently rolling landscape

    And then a sudden host of golden daffodils
    In dance along the margin of a bay
    Adds to the glory of the imagery
    Makes me fall in love with the words,
    The never-failing blessing
    Of enjoying the daffodils
    When they flash upon that inward eye
    Bringing up sweet memories
    Of a by-gone day or
    By-gone people even
    Some more loved than others
    Creating ripples in the mind
    Of joy and sorrow
    Both the gist of life.

  48. bluerabbit47

    Mar-ga-ret, Gerard Has Just Forgotten

    the man has
    been inside
    too long
    to remember
    the joys
    of running
    barefoot in dewy
    July grass
    under the long
    sun or swimming
    in a mild pond
    with laughing
    friends who
    don’t want anything
    but fun. He
    sees you crying
    as leaves
    fall down
    and tries to stop
    your tears
    with a flood
    of verbal invention,
    but he even
    makes your name
    fall a syllable
    at a time
    like leaf-meal
    flutter. Go ahead
    and grieve, child.
    Then, stand
    outside, open
    your mouth
    catch snowflakes
    on your tongue.

  49. Michelle Hed

    Hi everyone,
    Just a note – not sure if this matters or not, but I use Firefox and the maximum amount of attempts I have had posting is 5. Today they are going on the first try. Just thought I would share in case it makes a difference. Have a great day everyone. Michelle

    1. pmwanken

      I honestly don’t understand the frustrations. Most times, it goes through on the first try. If I get the “posting too quickly” message I just hit refresh and resend and it usually goes through on the 2nd or 3rd time…using Internet Explorer as well as Firefox.

  50. JWLaviguer


    Your seven part oration
    takes too long to read
    so a standing ovation
    with Bruce singing lead
    will suit me just fine.

    The Rime of the Ancient Mariner – Samuel Taylor Coleridge

  51. Michelle Hed

    Homeward Bound
    “Where Go the Boats”? Robert Louis Stevenson

    You sent them down the river
    when you were young of heart.
    Pass mill, valley and hill,
    thinking forever to be apart.

    Thinking other children
    would bring them ashore.
    Did you know you were right?
    I once had four.

    I wondered where they came from,
    what stories they could tell?
    I shared them with my friends,
    we fell under their spell.

    I reach for your little boat,
    now I’m old and bent.
    Heading home together
    after a life well spent.

  52. Walt Wojtanik


    “if you like my poems let them
    walk in the evening,a little behind you”~e.e. cummings

    edward, your works inspire,
    but they move too slow for me
    to keep them in tow.
    why must they tarry?
    i will carry them if you’d let me,
    but that’ll get me in trouble
    if i double up too many poems.
    they have to be in front of me
    so i can see that they stay
    out of the fray. they offer
    persistence in their resistance.
    i carry your poems.
    i carry them in my heart.

    **”if you like my poems let them”~ e. e. cummings

  53. RobHalpin

    Conversing with Robert

    Sir, I’ll agree that leaves
    no longer on trees
    are still wonderfully light,
    though not quite as bright,
    but one must be obtuse
    to say they’ve “next to nothing for use”
    if ever one has watched children play.

    Gathering Leaves by Robert Frost

  54. RJ Clarken

    Chasin’ Dreams

    From The Black Riders


    I saw a man pursuing the horizon;
    Round and round they sped.
    I was disturbed at this;
    I accosted the man.
    “It is futile,” I said,
    “You can never – ”

    “You lie,” he cried,
    And ran on.

    ~Stephen Crane (1871 – 1900)

    “Wait!” I cried, “It’s just surprisin’.
    Think that you can reach horizon?!”
    But that man continued chasin’
    all those dreams he’d been embracin’.

    If I coulda finished speakin’,
    woulda told him, “Keep on seekin’,
    even if it’s all out-pacin’
    all those dreams you’ve been embracin’.

    Instead, he told me that I lied.
    He coulda took my words in stride
    and not have thought I was debasin’
    all those dreams he’d been embracin’.

    To chase horizons? Heaven knows.
    I much prefer to chase rainbows.
    You can never…know what’s facin’
    all those dreams we’ve been embracin’.


  55. MeenaRose

    Hope, Wings and Flying Things
    By: Meena Rose

    Oh, sweet Emily, would that I can
    Summon you here to mankind’s
    Hellish future – the stuff of nightmares.

    Oh, sweet Emily, how I cling to
    Your myth of hope forever flying
    Upon wings of eagles – the skies of possibility.

    Can you see mine? – tarred and feathered and
    Coated by an oil slick from Gaia’s hemorrhaging scar;
    Wounded and depleted – humanity’s progress explodes.

    I looked for it the other day
    That thing you call hope,
    All I found was resignation – a wounded spirit’s scar.

    Sometimes when I am raving mad and
    Lucid enough to forget,
    I offer a breeze to this airborne hope – a willful soul’s amnesia.

    In the end, Emily, I rise
    Not lifted by Hope’s winged flight;
    I rise because I must – a mother’s promise.

    In Response To:

    “Hope is the thing with feathers
    That perches in the soul,
    And sings the tune without the words,
    And never stops at all,”

    Hope Is The Thing With Feathers, Emily Dickinson

  56. JWLaviguer

    The road less traveled
    a mysterious adventure
    a journey few have taken
    there might be a reason
    why no one travels
    on that overgrown path
    it may lead you astray
    or send you in circles
    but the point of a journey
    is the trip
    and not the destination
    you have GPS.

    The Road Not Taken – Robert Frost

    1. viv

      ESPECIALLY if you have GPS! which once took my son East to Rouen by back roads when he should have gone West by motorway! He took 4 hours for a 90 minute journey. Fortunately, there were no traffic jams!

  57. Nimue

    “Kiss me and you will see how important I am.” – Sylvia Plath

    If only you would let me,
    or I could have you here,
    I would tell you in as many
    words,as I could spare,
    how ridiculous I felt,
    saying this to that guy there,
    who kissed me deep,
    like its a life-death matter
    and yet walked away.

    Well then,thanks for the
    kiss ! I guess.

  58. JWLaviguer

    Sometimes we offer
    too much information
    about strangers and friends
    and their sickly obsessions

    So please stop me now
    if you’ve heard this before
    many have tried this
    all ending up sore

    There Was a Young Man From Nantucket – Anonymous

  59. PowerUnit

    This poetry business is new for me.
    I don’t know your names.
    I don’t understand your words,
    but I feel them,
    if that makes sense.

    Do you send messages with your images?
    Were you trying to light a flame with a little spark?
    Did you care if your reader suffocated in the fumes
    you created with your pen?
    Can you hear me?

    I don’t know
    what you tried to say.
    Should I care?
    Will listening you stifle my own creativity?
    Does it really matter?

  60. Walt Wojtanik


    You gonna catch your death of cold!
    How many times have you been told,
    you gonna sink if you think by the river.
    Ain’t nobody gonna hear you holler,
    I don’t care how many times you yell!
    That water cold! Are you high?
    You have a lot of living to do,
    ain’t you thinking about your baby?
    I don’t care how fine that wine!
    I’m gonna cry if I see you die,
    so get outta that river or your ass is mine,
    and your life won’t be so fine!
    You drunk, fool!

    **Life is Fine ~ Langston Hughes

  61. Walt Wojtanik


    It hasn’t started yet and you can bet
    the soft, white grass has lost its hue.
    the sun is right, red and bright
    and the birds bask in the balmy breeze.

    Things may not stay just so,
    Asphalt flowers surely grow
    And Shel my friend, you’re walking
    Too damn slow for my taste.

    We’re wasting time; this measured pace
    Has gotten me all in your face.
    We’ll have to cross the road ahead
    And walk that path a while instead.

    Over where the dark road had bended,
    on this stroll which we’ve befriended,
    the road crew has the street all mended
    but we can’t walk there, the sidewalk ended!

  62. Linda Rhinehart Neas

    Emily Dickinson asked, “I’m Nobody. Who are you?” I answer…


    Who am I? I am the unseen —
    I am the woman who cleans your house
    I am the man who cuts vegetables for your favorite meal
    I am the child too afraid to speak
    I am the old man picking through your trash
    to garner your waste – subsidy for life
    I am the old woman jostled by the crowd
    with feet too feeble to resist

    Who am I? I am the unseen —

    1. Robert Lee Brewer Post author

      At the end of the thread, there’s a Post Reply button that allows you to leave a comment (in the Forum). It’s not a mandatory to use the Forum–it’s just another option, since I’ve heard several complaints about the comments for this blog (for a while now).

      I just want to offer as many options as possible, while helping people not pull out their hair (too much). :)

      1. viv

        But you can’t attach your reply to the poem you are commenting on. I put mine there, but wonder if it should be here? Do you think the WordPress gurus could help with the reply/post/nesting problems. It is such an awful time-waster.

        A Clarean Sonnet to a dead Poet, written with tongue very much in cheek

        Dear John Clare, a nineteeth Century Poet,
        whatever made you think you could improve
        on sonnets of Petrarch or Will Shakespeare?
        Punctuation, essential if we want
        to understand each nuance of a poem,
        is sadly lacking in so much of yours –
        a bad example set to ee cummings.
        Seven rhyming couplets unadorned don’t make
        a perfect sonnet, so I hesitate
        to imitate your own peculiar style

        And then there is the tale of your conceit,
        in thinking that you were a late repeat
        of Byron, Shakespeare, others of that ilk:
        You lack their inbuilt beauty and their lilt.

  63. Michael Grove

    lets try that again without the errors…

    Let Me Count The Ways

    Oh Elizabeth, I counted all the ways.
    Now my mind is in a daze.
    I’ve finished adding up the score.
    I really thought it would be more.

    So here’s to having better days…
    How do I love thee?
    Three , different ways.

    By Michael Grove

  64. Michael Grove

    Let Me Count The Ways

    Oh Elizabeth, I counted the ways.
    No my mind is in a daze.
    I’m finished adding up the score.
    I really thought it would be more.

    Do here’s to having better days…
    How do I love thee?
    Three , different ways.

    By Michael Grove

    1. DanielAri

      LOL, MG. Reminds of an old comedian, I can’t recall who, reciting,
      “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. One, two, three, four, five, six….”

  65. Marie Elena

    Oh.My.Word. SUPER prompt, Daniel, and outstanding examples from Robert and Walt. Robert, this is one of my all-time favorites of yours. WOW.

    Off to an extremely busy day. Can’t wait to get a break to peek back in to read and hopefully write.

  66. Walt Wojtanik


    It had been a good day which has eased into an equally decent night.
    The skies have taken their pall and is covering all;
    a cloak to cover you until the morning arrives.
    But, you insist on this clamor with the pounding and yelling,
    there is no telling what the neighbors will think,
    such a rage. You’re tired, we’re all tired but this din
    must be stifled. You’re being a trifle dramatic aren’t you?
    Shut the bloody hell up, you’ll wake the children.
    Go gently, it’s been a good night. Don’t spoil it now!

    1. viv

      Walt that’s brilliant! He was quite a hell-raiser, wasn’t he?

      11th attempt: it doesn’t get any better! I’ve put my poem on the new link, and yippee we get to use bold and italics and who knows what goodies. And it posts straightaway without making us go through hoops!

    2. uneven steven

      a work in progress – response poem to At Fifty by Eric Rawson

      “At fifty: they run a scope up your ass…”

      just what I need
      with my birthday coming up –

      in 4 years and 27 days
      I’ll be 50

      and I know you know
      your poem hits like a gut punch
      through the ass,
      viscerally, like a tube in your
      quite literally
      and yeah I know it’s a little too
      late to cram for that kinda test
      hard to uncram all those
      Little Debbie’s I enjoyed way too much
      But really
      I can go against all my natural
      and make nice nice with the doctors
      and convince them to give me more
      than the therapeutic dose of the forget
      about the tube
      we just stuck up your ass
      and blood, age spots, bad skin
      I can blame on genetics
      or at the very least say
      I look better than
      my brother,
      or phil, the fat neighbor,
      for sure
      that homeless guy living by
      the courthouse
      yeah, yeah, I know
      you’ve got me feeling oh so
      in my own skin
      which according to you
      is gonna start deserting me
      bit by itchy bit
      in less time than it takes to swear
      in a new president
      4 years and now
      26 days
      So damn smug aren’t you
      about this test
      you keep going on about-
      I imagine your little Rorschach analysis
      of the first line
      of my poem-
      just what I need
      with my birthday coming up”
      was that sarcasm or a healthy thankfulness ?
      way too much tone and interpretation
      for me
      No, no mr. tube up the butt poet,
      in the end, our end, it doesn’t really matter
      what we think,
      the only real choice we had
      is who we chose
      to grade this damn thing –
      this life we all call
      some great
      test –
      4 years and 26 days away
      we’ll see
      I guess

      got a little carried away – uh he’s not dead as the prompt asked but…

      At fifty by Eric Rawson

      At fifty: they run a scope up your ass
      and snip out the precocious pretumors.
      You bleed a little. It’s a kind of test.
      By then you have had minor surgery
      on an elbow or eye, and at least one
      pharmaceutical dependency to
      remind you, having lost your religion,
      that the body only barely belongs
      to you and is easily corrupted.
      You find hard patches and soft patches and
      red new patches on your shoulders and scalp.
      You can picture your bladder convulsing,
      or if you can’t, they’ll show it on a screen.
      The equipment is mostly silent, which
      gives a feeling of floating in water.
      From now on you’re something between salvage
      and experiment. Everything hurts.
      You bleed a little. It’s a kind of test.