2012 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 9

First off, click here to go to the Day 9 thread in the forum if the blog comments are too crazy for you.

Today’s prompt comes from Sally Jadlow.

Here’s Sally’s prompt: Use the phrase “When he’s gone…” for your poem. The phrase can be in the title. It can be the opening line–or the closing line. It can show up somewhere in between. Just use it…somewhere.

Robert’s attempt at a When He’s Gone… Poem:

“Man in Rocking Chair”

When he’s gone, he don’t want nobody
to visit him who didn’t visit him
when he was here. In other words,
he don’t want a funeral service
for people to wail and moan and
check their watches. He sits alone
most nights, because he’s bitter
about everything. Suits him fine
enough. When he’s gone, he thinks,
there won’t be no one to miss him.


Thank you to Sally for the prompt! Click here to learn more about Sally Jadlow.

Also, most poets prefer to share comments directly to this post. However, if you’re having crazy issues, feel free to use the WD forum. Click here for the Day 9 thread.


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163 thoughts on “2012 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 9

  1. Karen H. Phillips

    Day 9
    Prompt: Use phrase “When he’s gone” somewhere, anywhere in the poem.

    Without Him

    When he’s gone
    who’ll make those tired trite jokes we’ve come to expect
    rolling our eyes and laughing with indulgence?

    When he’s gone
    who’ll flip through channels seeking “Everybody Loves Raymond”
    and scroll the guide for info on which episode he’s watching?

    When he’s gone
    who’ll watch Georgia replays and recall exactly what Larry Munson
    said when Herschel or Lindsay made UGA history?

    When he’s gone
    who’ll worry about the leaves getting raked or stopping up
    the gutters or making algae on the pool cover?

    When he’s gone
    who’ll tease us and make us feel endeared not ragged
    tossing out the one-liners not at expense of hurt feelings?

    When he’s gone,
    who’ll eat cereal in bed with the TV and light on
    when I’m trying to sleep, then snore beside me?

    When he’s gone–
    I don’t like to think of it.
    I’d rather go first than be without him.

  2. tunesmiff

    (c) 2012 – G. Smith
    She’s not sure what to do
    When he’s gone.
    Is it for good? Or just an hour or two?
    She’s not sure what to do.

    She knows she’s tired of feeling lonesome and blue,
    And she’s not sure how long this can go on.
    She’s not sure what to do,
    When he’s gone.

  3. foodpoet

    When he is gone

    My life is on hold
    I wonder what I will do
    Once he is gone

    I won’t be chauffeur
    Bottle washer, feeder
    For now my life is on hold.

    Family, absent now will gather
    To bicker over money.
    I wonder what I will do?

    Fight back or
    Turn away toward peace and pen.
    Once he is gone.

  4. Nancy Posey

    Better late than…you know.


    When he’s gone, she marks his absence by unfilled spaces,
    his slot in the carport nothing but a spot of grease,
    his chair sits cold, the indentations of his rump intact,
    his pillow lies waiting, his water glass waits empty,
    the silence throbs, and she thinks she hears the click
    of toenails of a dog long buried in the back yard,
    his ghost in the upstairs hall, pacing, wary. The moon
    plays peeping tom, one eye on their window,
    beams reaching across his side of the bed, lighting
    her hand resting there, saving the place for him.

    When she’s gone, he paces, rummages through the closet,
    the dryer, stands and stares into the pantry, gives up,
    calls and orders takeout. Every question justifies a call
    just to check, to ask how to work the remote, the timer
    on the oven, where she put the number he gave her to file.
    He rearranges the chairs, stacks and unstacks the books
    she keeps beside the bed, flipping through, reading
    the last pages of a couple. When she gone, he forgets
    to check the mail, leaves the papers piling up in the drive.
    He waters her flowers just before she’s due back home.

    When they’re home, they sometimes sit for hours, quiet,
    comfortably aware of the other’s presence, within reach.
    The silence is benevolent, asking for nothing from either
    but cozy companionship as they move through their days,
    like old dancers with the dance steps in their bones.
    When they’re home, bathed in lamplight, engaged
    in the call and response that is love’s language,
    as the house embraces them, as night caresses,
    they sometimes wonder why they ever left.

  5. Eleanore D. Trupkiewicz

    When He’s Gone

    When he’s gone, I sit
    staring after him, as
    if something in me
    wants him to come
    walking back to me,
    across the bridge,
    like that ethereal,
    heartbreaking, lovely
    scene in Pride and
    Prejudice when Mr.
    Darcy returns at last
    for Elizabeth. This—
    this kind of tortured
    thinking—is why I
    still see a therapist
    over him, because
    if I were thinking
    clearly, I know that
    I know that I would
    never want him back,
    not after what we
    shared together, most
    of which was heart-
    breaking and unlovely.

  6. Sally Jadlow

    When He’s Gone

    I’ll wipe the computer free of porn,
    burn his little black book
    hidden under the seat of his truck,
    and collapse his Face Book account.

    When silent voices call
    I’ll tell them he’s dead.
    Tell them to find a new lover.
    Wish them well
    in a quick moment
    before I hear a click.

    Take flowers to his grave on Memorial Day
    and remember to forget the past.

    This poem is NOT autobiographical; just the observances of my job as a Chaplain. I am so impressed with the quality of poems to my prompt. Thank you everyone for your excellent sharing.

    Sorry I didn’t respond sooner. I’ve been helping to host the Heart of America Christian Writers Conference here in Kansas City for the past three days.

  7. shanitaja


    Found out
    Being left alone is no fun
    As I waited to hear
    The drag of his feet
    His strong heart beat
    Him opening, closing the refrigerator door;

    His strong, masculine voice
    As it traveled throughout the house
    And I waited, longed
    To reach down and hold his hand.
    Found out, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be
    When he’s gone…away from the house.


  8. po

    When He’s Gone

    Guess what?
    He’s gone.

    When he’s gone
    we jump on
    the cabinets.
    Go places we’re
    never allowed.
    We scratch every
    place with a solemn
    aplomb. Then run
    from the basement

    When he returns
    we’re fast asleep
    in our kitty condo
    with one eye
    always slit to see
    when he’s gone.

  9. Dan Collins

    When he’s gone, I’ll have no friend in Rome.

Priscus, my friend, we shall see 

    which one of us will survive. 

    Whether it’s you or it’s me 

    only one will be left alive.

    Which one of us will survive?

    Titus has chosen our names. 

    Only one will be left alive

    We fight in the opening games.

    Titus has chosen our names. 

    Verus, remember your brother? 

    We fight in the opening games 

    as we did in the quarry together.

    Verus, remember your brother? 

    The gods are unhappy I’m told. 

    As we did in the quarry together 

    We must fight as only the bold.

    The gods are unhappy I’m told: 

    It’s Titus they wish to blame.

    We must fight as only the bold,

    though gashes may make us lame.

    It’s Titus they wish to blame.

    Vespasian we cannot exhume.

    Though gashes may make us lame,

    Pompei is encased like a tomb.

    Vespasian we cannot exhume.

    The Emperor’s luck we must turn.

    With Pompei is encased like a tomb,

    Rome slowly heals from its burns.

    The Emperor’s luck we must turn.

    Neither one, by honor can yield.

    Rome slowly heals from its burns.

    We’ll fight even without a shield.

    Neither one, by honor can yield.

    Blades broken, then it’s hand to hand.

    We’ll fight even without a shield.

    We’ll spill out our blood in the sand.

    Blades broken, then it’s hand to hand,

    until Titus sends two swords of wood.

    We’ll spill out our blood in the sand.

    Rome will honor what we’ve withstood.

    Until Titus sends two swords of wood,

    Priscus, my friend, we shall see.

    If Rome honors what we’ve withstood,

    or whether it’s you or it’s me.

  10. SharoninDallas

    When He’s Gone
    Tomorrow the sun will rise,
    Just like every day.
    Coffee will perk,
    News heads will bobble,
    Workers will be on their way.
    Urchins will go to school,
    The current Congress will rule,
    Life for others will go on.
    But tomorrow he’ll be gone.
    It will be life alone.
    It will be life for one.

  11. andreabadgley

    When he’s gone
    will he be okay?
    Will he remember to sort lights from darks,
    to thaw poultry in the fridge,
    to floss his teeth?

    When he’s gone,
    will he decorate his place?
    I wonder if it will be light or dark,
    if he’ll hang photos or paintings,
    if he will have a fireplace.

    When he’s gone,
    what will his work be?
    Will he eat anything but cereal?
    I hope he exercises.
    I hope he will laugh a lot.

    When he’s gone,
    will he miss me?

  12. sonja j

    Food Security

    Never mind Whole Foods,
    there’s nothing so comforting
    as a stocked root cellar. He
    goes down sometimes just
    to count the harvest, to see
    if it will take him through to
    the hungry month. He checks
    the rat traps, because food
    is food, and they want it too.
    Bins of potatoes line the cool
    floor, boilers, bakers, mashers.
    Cabbages are confounded
    upside-down in bushel baskets,
    wrapped in layers of scarcer
    and scarcer newspaper – soup
    in February, coleslaw for now.
    The carrots sleep layered
    in sand. Squashes huddle,
    warmer on the high shelves.
    Pumpkins and acorn squash
    are sweet now, but go bland,
    so he’ll eat those first. When
    he’s gone through the pepos,
    he’ll hit the buttercups, trying
    for all they’re worth to be sweet
    potatoes. The smooth, buff
    butternuts will last well into
    the summer.

    Sorry so late; the posting gremlins were bedeviling me!

  13. Glory

    “When he’s gone…”
    (Day 9)

    Funny how each day dawns
    through a mist of fog,
    dies when daylight disappears.

    Funny how each moment
    drifts as if there is no tomorrow
    just days full of nothingness.

    Funny, how all the world
    is void of love, yet I live on
    in this empty space
    waiting – when he’s gone.

  14. Linda Hatton

    Oops. Long day and I almost forgot to post my poem here.

    When He’s Gone

    When he’s gone, I’ll wonder
    why he said that, but not the other,
    the space inside my heart can’t endure
    another hostage. He’ll pack me
    in a suitcase, slip it under his arm, easy
    as a sidecar, foot-steps owning
    the ground they walk on, stepping
    all over the diamonds
    in my eyes. When he’s gone,
    the madness inside will be
    set free. If only he could be
    gone without me.

  15. Bruce Niedt


    When she’s gone
    we will come outside again
    and find our world thrashed and splintered.

    When she’s gone
    we will come down from higher ground
    and find new lakes and rivers.

    When she’s gone
    we will live without conveniences
    for days or weeks, millions unconnected.

    When she’s gone
    we will restring the wires
    cut up the fallen trees.

    When she’s gone
    we will pump out the basements
    collect whatever can be saved.

    When she’s gone
    we will hug and cry with our neighbors
    sad for our losses, glad for our lives.

    When she’s gone
    we will retire her name
    and we will recover.

  16. jared davidavich

    Man v Machine

    They will gather
    When he’s gone,
    No longer able to keep pace
    With the away of things

    They will gather
    At a brief service
    Held for those left behind
    To discuss how to move on

    They will gather to talk
    About his past, about their future,
    Trying to make the most
    Of this opportunity to improve

    They will gather,
    But not to mourn his loss;
    Rather that it did not happen

  17. Walt Wojtanik


    The house is empty
    where once we thrived.
    And when he was alive
    the house held love.
    The decline was gradual,
    but it seemed to happen
    in the blink of an eye.
    I try to imagine that place
    without our faces in it,
    but the task is daunting,
    he is haunting my nights.
    So many reminders find
    there way into my soul
    and I start to relive that
    life so distant, yet so close
    to my heart. But he had
    departed, the last bastion
    of our home left standing.
    Our anchor and beacon,
    a man to be admired.
    When he was gone we all
    suffered from his absence.
    He is truly missed.

  18. Sara McNulty

    Poetic Asides November Challenge – Day 9
    “When he’s gone”

    Life Without Him?

    How will I live
    my life when Dad is gone?
    Dwelled upon it; tried
    to not think about it,
    and, at one point
    farther back in time,
    I convinced myself
    that he could never
    be gone. And he never is.

  19. Benjamin Thomas

    Old Man Winter when He’s gone

    When he’s gone
    and the last flake
    takes a final breath
    slowly exhales that old man Winter
    loosening his death grip
    on a frozen mother earth

    When he’s gone
    all roots tingle and teem
    for they’re all happy it seems
    at another chance to dance

    When he’s gone
    and the weather is quite tamed
    all the sleeping beauties
    waken wiggle wash unashamed
    winking wiping their blurry eyes

    When he’s gone
    all the flaming buds whistle
    and all the living things chime in chorus
    humming with great green synergy
    displaying life’s hidden
    gem of potential energy
    announcing Spring’s illustrious
    dazzling song

    Yes, and only yes
    when that old man
    winter is gone

  20. seingraham

    When He’s Gone

    The house felt incomplete, the walls
    Wept, the breakfast nook was querulous
    But she knew he would be home soon
    After all, it was only kindergarten
    She mused over endless coffees
    Trying to remain calm, wondering
    At the foreboding that coloured her thoughts

    Eventually, she learned to cope, if not well
    At least in a way publicly passable
    And privately in a way that did not alarm
    Her boy – that was the hardest,
    Raising him to be the wonder she knew
    For which he had the potential while all the time
    Living in terror at the thought of his leaving

    Maybe it was their being alone that made her
    So paranoid, so worried all the time
    She refused to take it out and look at it
    Too closely – afraid if ever she did, she might
    See truths so untenable she would lock him up
    And throw away the key, and then what?
    She couldn’t bear going anywhere near that …

    By the time he was ready for university
    She had herself almost under control – truly –
    Was finally seeing someone about her issues
    Was even contemplating the idea of him going
    Away during the week to school as long
    As he came home on the weekend
    It looked like it was going to work out after all

    Oh but then came that fateful Tuesday morning
    A week before his classes were to start
    When those damned towers came down
    And before she knew quite what had happened
    Her boy came home dressed in a soldier’s uniform
    Deferring school, he said, until he’d done his duty

    In shock, she couldn’t tell him not to go
    She could barely tell him anything but that she loved
    Him so, so much – and then, he was gone
    Just like that – on a tour of duty to Iraq
    Or Iran or someplace in the middle east
    That had to do with the towers coming down

    Now, she sits alone in her darkened house
    A thick flag folded on her lap, heavy with irony
    Remembers that when he’s gone
    The house feel incomplete
    The walls are weeping again, but in the tangle of thoughts
    Seeping like poisonous sludge through her mind
    She senses, he won’t be coming home this time
    Knows the finality of not caring will take her this time
    Knows that when he’s gone …

  21. Jacqueline Hallenbeck

    When he’s gone… (is not in my vocabulary)

    He dies at 90 and me at 81…
    …that’s how it’s got to be.
    I cannot live without my man!
    He dies at 90 and me at 81…
    …and when our time is done,
    we’ll die spectacularly.
    He dies at 90 and me at 81…
    …that’s how it’s got to be.

  22. Kimiko Martinez


    When he’s gone,
    you’ll miss the smell of
    cologne he used

    too much of;
    the mess of his room
    and the socks

    on the floor.
    You’ll wonder if he’s eating
    or studying enough;

    if he’s using
    a condom or smoking too
    much cheap weed.

    When he’s gone,
    you’ll be glad he’s off
    exploring the world

    as young men
    eventually must, but wish he
    would call home

    once in awhile.

  23. PSC in CT

    When He’s Gone

    (everything runs like clockwork,
    days wax productive, progress
    persists, efficiency endures
    spawning more action,
    less distraction,
    fewer inter-
    more slowly,
    hours looming longer,
    singular smiles mooring
    nights filled with emptiness,
    music masking silence, then it must be)
    he’s gone.

  24. shellaysm

    “When He’s Gone” (a Tritina poem)

    Amid the sweetness of the early days, I worried I’d be too much
    An anxiousness followed each weekly exit
    When he was gone, beyond the clutch, fear he wouldn’t return

    Now, even in the midst of our chaos, I believe in his daily return
    Though often, yes, I still worry I’m too much
    When he goes, a contented peace seals each exit

    Someday, one of us will first make this life’s exit
    In faith and due time, the other will return
    Side-by-side again, we’ll be so much

    When he’s gone, I’ll reap the returns as much as treasure, promising to meet where exits don’t exist.

  25. Domino

    Second try today:

    When He’s Gone

    When he’s gone, I think,
    I’ll be able to get that dog
    I always wanted.

    When he’s gone, I think,
    The kids and I can just go out
    to McDonalds if we want.

    When he’s gone, I think,
    I won’t need to go to sleep alone,
    wondering why he isn’t home yet.

    When he’s gone, I think,
    I won’t have to put his dinner down the
    garbage disposal because he never came home at all.

    When he’s gone, I think,
    I won’t be quailing in the living room
    while he rages in the hall, and is heading my way.

    When he’s gone, I think,
    I won’t have to do terrifying (communications),
    (interventions), confrontations, when he disciplines the toddlers by
    holding them against the wall and screaming at them.

    When he’s gone, I think,
    I won’t have to wonder where
    that long, blonde hair in the shower came from.

    When he’s gone, I think,
    I won’t have to make excuses for him
    at church, to my family, to my practically non-existent friends.

    And then one day,
    I got tired of thinking about him
    and I thought,
    I’m gone.

    And I left.

    Diana Terrill Clark

  26. DanielAri

    “Filling in”

    When he’s gone in a transport of pounding,
    my heart leaves the duties of his station
    to a substitute entity. He’s found
    several who can sustain circulation
    for a dozen pulses, or there around—

    the entire blood vessel network, for one.
    The heart’s in good hands as they coax the blood
    and soul en masse onward while he’s undone.
    Drums also stand in for my heart, their thud
    stoking and choking my fire with low sound.

    And sometimes an unpredictable flood
    drives my heart to grab a far-flung back up:
    an ear of corn, in husk; The Iliad;
    the thought of quartz; a chipped, China teacup;
    or an overripe fuyu persimmon.

    Nearly anything can work as a pump
    when my heart takes it and screams “Whassssup?!”

  27. elishevasmom

    When He’s Gone

    He has this way
    of sidling up behind
    you—you not noticing his arrival.
    That little smirch
    on his face, and just the

    touch of a wink.
    And already you are
    reeled in by
    the way any party lights
    up when he makes his

    appearance (as if he
    didn’t know that he
    could cast his spell
    from behind the curtain
    just as well.)

    But when he really turns
    on the charm, he
    can play the room
    like a Stradivarius. And as
    you long for him to

    look your way, he does.
    When his eyes catch yours—you
    cannot bear to pull away—he
    beguiles you with
    epic stories; you not

    noticing that his attention
    has already begun to wander.
    And just as you are ready
    to fly away with him
    among the stars

    you look over your
    shoulder and realize that
    he is gone.
    So you walk the beach
    awaiting his return—while

    working on a
    potion to capture him
    forever when
    sneaks up on you
    next month. Ellen Knight 11.9.12