2013 April PAD Challenge: Day 10

The April PAD (Poem-A-Day) Challenge is designed to help poets do one thing and one thing only: Write more poems! The process of revision may go on for weeks, months, and years later, but this challenge is all about getting that first draft. Please poem along with us–either in the comments below or silently at home.

For today’s prompt, write a suffering poem. A person or animal in the poem could be suffering. The poem itself could be suffering.

Here’s my attempt at a suffering poem:


a black night, she thinks, a dead man
reflecting the sun. stars explode
before we see them. stars explode

in a vacuum & burn. they burn
without our permission, she thinks,
unseen until after they’re spent.


Workshop Your Poetry!

Writing poetry is exciting, but the hard work of poeming is working through the revision process. The best way to work through this process is to workshop the poems with other poets, and that can be done with the Writer’s Digest 6-week course, Advanced Poetry Writing.


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Want some more poeming fun? Check out these previous Poetic Asides posts:

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333 thoughts on “2013 April PAD Challenge: Day 10

  1. Nadienne


    (after Cavafy)

    All the country weeps:
    the beautiful, innocent boy Aristobulus,
    the beautiful, beloved, rightful heir
    to Judea’s kingdom dead
    by a horrible drowning, by accident.

    And Alexandra, beneath her veil,
    accepts sympathy with mournful grace,
    with silence, mindful of her position.
    And her impotent rage at Herod,
    at death’s orchestrator: just buried
    with strength from God or ambition.

  2. LCaramanna

    Suffering Tests

    Pointy pencils dull
    Circling answers to
    Sixty-three multiple choice questions.
    Eager minds suffer three days
    Deep read passages
    Forming responses to
    How and why in
    Organized paragraphs.
    Resilient children
    Bounce back to laughter
    On the playground
    Suffering forgotten.
    Only teacher cries.


  3. tunesmiff

    © 2013 – G. Smith (BMI)

    How’s the weather in Wisconsin?
    It’s beautiful here at the beach.
    After the sun goes down
    And before the moon comes around,
    The stars are just out of reach.

    Waves still wash up sea shells,
    Palms still sway in the breeze;
    And barefoot in the sand,
    I miss the touch of your hand,
    And having you walk beside me.

    It’s another painful day here in Paradise,
    Cold rain falls from the clear blue skies.
    Perfect people everywhere,
    I can’t believe you moved up there.
    Don’t why I thought I wouldn’t care;
    I guess I didn’t count the cost.
    Now I’m living,
    In Paradise;

    Sailboats on the horizon,
    Dolphins out in the cove.
    Flowers in bloom
    Outside the little room,
    Tucked back in the orange grove.

    There’s a rainbow over the mountain,
    Where the waterfalls still thunder;
    The days are cool,
    Down there in the pool,
    But I feel I’m going under.

    It’s another painful day here in Paradise,
    Cold rain falls from the clear blue skies.
    Perfect people everywhere,
    I can’t believe you moved up there.
    Don’t why I thought I wouldn’t care;
    I guess I didn’t count the cost.
    Now I’m living,
    In Paradise;

    Our own little Garden of Eden,
    Has become my own private cell;
    The heaven that waited for both of us,
    Has turned into this heartbroken hell.

    It’s another painful day here in Paradise,
    Cold rain falls from the clear blue skies.
    Perfect people everywhere,
    I can’t believe you moved up there.
    Don’t why I thought I wouldn’t care;
    I guess I didn’t count the cost.
    Now I’m living,
    In Paradise;

  4. foodpoet

    Metro Woes
    In the knotted time
    only the back beat of burnt rubber
    runs up the nose as I drift into commuter daze,
    unaware of any joy or sorrow around me
    only smell the horde mélange of day old sweat,
    newspaper print and cloying wafts of too heavy perfume
    and know that tomorrow waits to scent
    its ever repeating numbing sameness
    nothing changes
    not even scents

  5. Eleanore D. Trupkiewicz


    Suffering is like watching as
    your ten-year-old daughter,
    bright-eyed and pony-tailed,
    sips chocolate milk through
    a plastic straw out of a cup
    shaped like a crocodile, and
    knowing that somewhere
    else, there is a ten-year-old
    girl, similarly bright-eyed,
    equally lovely, who can only
    wish for such a luxury as that.

  6. Linda Voit


    I did not know suffering before, but assumed
    it was slow, constant and somewhere else, like
    the distended belly on a hungry child too weak
    to swat the fly from his left eye turned
    toward a camera.

    I was too numb to know I’d met suffering
    when I was told they were both dead
    or even in the foggy days that followed
    full of damp hands, casseroles and tasks
    the living require.

    How could I have seen it coming, then,
    when it buckled my knees as I reached for flour
    that first December, to make the cutouts
    my mom would have made or when it took
    my breath as I held our new baby
    and saw sun on the empty windowsills
    that fifteen months before were sprinkled
    with chocolate kisses from my dad?

  7. Glory

    Fear Unknown

    footsteps sound
    and as I turn
    they stop, but echo
    in the still, dark, dank, air
    of alleyways that hide the
    night, keep it close, until the dawn
    creeps in to distil the fear of strangers

  8. tonijoell

    Oh, the Suffering

    It isn’t theres to say why, when
    or even witch way to turn—
    I two am capable of making
    my own decisions.

    Unless, of coarse,
    it comes to word choice
    or grammar.

  9. IrisD

    Strangled By Sestina

    I labored over which form to use,
    Rondel, ghazal, or poesia de tempa,
    Then decide to write a simple sestina.
    Last week I attempted an etheree,
    I hope this will not be used in my elegy.
    I love nonets, odes, pontoums, epics too,
    But I am still working on ending of my first punku.
    When you mention the word shadorma,
    My breathing becomes labored ,I fear a coma.
    Day after day, I typed , deleted, began again,
    My first and last sestina is in garbage bin.
    I suffer such anguish and headaches you see,
    I think free verse is the form for me.

  10. vsbryant1

    The Voice Within

    You aren’t good enough
    The sound is deafening, suffocating your very being
    You aren’t good enough
    The words suffocates you, closing in on everything
    You aren’t good enough
    The whispers scream so loud, you try to hid but are always found
    You aren’t good enough
    The escape will never come, for your voice will never leave, your feet can never run.

  11. Madison Lee

    “Give and Take”

    Weave me into your barbed-wire crown
    I’ll sit lightly on your brow
    As you stare down and down
    And down.

    I didn’t mean to hurt you
    When you took me in your hand
    And twisted the strands of my heart through
    The loop that bound you, too.

    I didn’t mean to cause you pain
    As you drove my crucifix in with your thumb
    This sacrifice is simply nailed in my nature
    And not an act of love.

  12. Deri


    Borderline Personality Disorder afflicts up to 5.9% of adults (approximately 14 million Americans)
    [and] is more common than schizophrenia and bipolar disorder ~ National Education Alliance Borderline Personality Disorder.

    My invisible pain
    is beyond your reckoning
    as you sit in self-righteous
    splendor of tranquility.

    You know nothing
    of the pin-pricks
    dotting the landscape
    of the future,
    at once tiny and
    Crouching ravenous

    Find your happiest moment,
    and imagine it grey,
    tasteless, as if
    of all detail.
    Wonder at how
    anyone found it joyful
    at all.

    Think to tomorrow,
    next week,
    next month,
    to the end of your life,
    and find it gone,
    a void where possibilities
    should be.

    Can you accept love?
    Friendship, kindess?
    Can you accept
    Can you look at
    your own reflection
    without hate?

    Fear company,
    fear being alone.
    Fear laughter
    and silence.
    Marvel at empty nights
    and the sleep
    that never comes.
    Run away from the nightmares.
    Picture a playground swing
    you can never still.

    Can you imagine all this?
    Now. Can you imagine
    a cure?
    No one can.
    Certainly, not I.

    1. tonijoell

      “Picture a playground swing / you can never still.” Kudos and tears from someone whose swing is swaying right beside yours, Deri. Brave and beautiful.

      1. Deri

        Thanks so much. I’m glad you liked it. The irony of mental illness, in any form, is that we are never alone, but yet we can never quite see that. And those that don’t suffer from it don’t realize what we go through. My hope is the more everyone becomes aware we can at least find solace if not a cure. Hang in there!

  13. EbenAt

    Are We Not Pawns?

    Power lies
    with the one percenters.

    I’ve never met them
    I know
    I ain’t one.

    On any given day
    my fellow humans
    are ground under
    blown up
    left to die.

    Yet here I sit
    writing this line
    on a
    thousand dollar laptop
    in the sun
    on a sofa
    glass of water
    close to hand
    no sound but
    children laughing
    on their way home from school.

    Do you really think that,
    when the spirit moves them
    they won’t come
    for all this too?

  14. Sharon

    Pain Recycled

    I watched you as a child
    stumble and fall,
    tears tracking down
    your round cheeks.
    I suffered with you
    and picked you up.

    I saw the pain of rejection
    when divorce
    separated you from your dad,
    your hurt unleashed as anger.
    I suffered with you
    and picked you up.

    I saw you in jail following
    your rebellious behavior
    full of excuses and lies,
    the other guy’s fault you said.
    I suffered for you
    and picked you up.

    I saw you without work
    needy and lost
    angry and forsaken
    manipulative and hostile
    I suffered with guilt
    and I picked you up.

    When does it stop?
    Have I not paid the price
    for loving you too much,
    not being the dad you never saw?
    I suffer for me.
    Who will pick me up?

  15. Anya Padyam

    Refrain strain
    Repeatedly as I write,
    The pen on paper, I lay,
    My arms are out to spite,
    Making my shoulders pay.

    Gnawing indeed, the pain,
    Carry on, I do with disdain,
    Resolution seems to be in vain.
    Disregard, I continue to feign.

  16. PuffofSmokePoems


    Rich language
    stumbles at the same word
    injured soldiers, slaughterhouses,
    refugees, cancer patients,
    Lincoln’s face, toddler tantrums,
    boredom, thirst.
    No glibness.
    I want to invent words to show
    the vastness of the oceans between.
    Instead, you show me
    a map of the universe
    where all our suffering
    Human, animal, planet
    is so small,
    in all this night sky.

  17. Rosemary Nissen-Wade


    Suffering is what
    he does not have any more.
    Suffering is what I remind myself
    he does not have any more.
    Suffering is what I saw
    him enduring bravely;
    what I found so hard
    to endure seeing. (Trying
    to do so bravely. Trying
    to alleviate, half succeeding,
    but …). Suffering — his —
    is what I have most cried for
    since he died. Silly really;
    it’s all over now — but still
    I weep that it was.
    Well, I’m almost done,
    I believe. Suffering is not
    where I want to keep living.

  18. lionmother

    They suffer in public
    (For the Parents of the slain Newtown, CT children)

    You see it in their eyes
    made up for the cameras
    and in the slight turn as
    they speak of their children
    It’s in the hunch of their
    shoulders as they walk
    proudly through the crowd
    and in the catch of their
    voice when they tell us of
    that day when their world
    fell apart in two minutes

    In the loneliness I can feel
    as they eulogize their children
    bringing their mourning into
    our lives so we can know
    the horror of a childless parent
    of a child brutally torn from this
    world at the end of a madman’s
    gun and it is never ending for them

    They will always see the freshness
    of their child’s eyes and hear the
    innocence of their voices
    Never to see them grown
    Like icons meant for lifelong worship
    And no matter how many times I hear
    the strong voices of these hurting parents
    I catch the pain in their straightforward account
    Now they are soldiers in the cause of their
    children and they march on carrying their
    invisible burdens.

  19. Janet Rice Carnahan

    Just a Feeling

    Standing in line,
    Each family member,
    At the lake house,
    Put food on their plate,
    Chatting about the day,
    Sharing names about,
    Who was up for the summer!
    Where they had wintered,
    Who was dating who!
    Among the upbeat social talk,
    She suddenly and subtly felt his pain!
    Patting her heart,
    A stronger sense of suffering,
    Seized her!
    Sliding in between people,
    She stood at his side,
    In wordless compassion,
    She began stroking his back,
    Quietly he chose his food,
    Blinking quickly,
    As if staling tears,
    She nodded,
    Assuming the love had done the trick,
    Only two seats were left at the table,
    Putting them side by side!
    As the meal ended,
    Her sad for him feeling resumed,
    Again, she silently rubbed his back,
    The matriarch sitting nearby saw the affection,
    Glaring to him as if he had told someone,
    The truth of the onslaught,
    Finally realizing the understanding had arisen,
    On its own feeling,
    Instead of saying anything,
    The older woman sat back in her seat,
    Slowly the back rub ended,
    With a gentle pat!
    Peace among the family . . .


  20. P.A. Beyer

    “But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.”
    ― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

    Sleep Tight Kind Soul

    My eyes shine with your light
    Your light, given as a gift
    Years before the earth took you in
    Years before the aches in your head
    Lost to the pain in your heart
    Years before I became the elder generation

    Though a heart can stop like a timepiece
    The eyes can shine on infinitely and
    Your light is a beacon of brilliance
    A forever flame for the cosmos and the eons
    A guide leading my children’s children’s children and
    For that, I thank you

    but for you
    I still weep

  21. omavi

    “It hurts so good …”

    Knows no peer
    Like joy does
    Only hurts and pain is a voice
    Not even pleasure can dim
    Hurt can bring pleasurable things
    But pleasure abhors hurtful things

    Things long lost still sting when
    Something distance a wound sees
    Memory holds on tight
    To the most debase of feelings

    Heart broken and soul taken to toll
    Thats the legacy of love broken early
    Or slowly decayed by unseen time
    Or unintentional
    Love will die
    That is the way of the curse
    Accosting all passionate kisses

    I hurt
    Over and over again but still
    I love until love is no longer
    A good reason

  22. Sara McNulty

    He Whimpers (a Nove Otto)

    An animal’s pain–naked need–
    is only found in eyes that plead.
    Unable to communicate
    with words, his stillness chills your soul.
    You turn, look at his full food bowl.
    All of his movements indicate
    a visit to the Vet to find
    what is wrong, whether front or hind.
    Is this pain he can tolerate?

    Poetic Asides
    April Challenge – Day 10
    Write a suffering poem

  23. Alphabet Architect

    Culture Shock

    I expected to meet
    Starving children in Africa.
    I expected to meet
    People dying of AIDS.
    I expected astonishing
    tales of survival
    from civil wars, famines
    and cattle raids.
    I found all of these
    Just as I had suspected,
    Considered what remedies
    I could employ.
    Oh, I was prepared
    To deal with their suffering.
    I wasn’t prepared
    To deal with their joy.

    1. Marie Elena

      Architect, what you have penned here speaks to their hearts, and your own. Perspective and the observance thereof … brilliantly penned. Loving your work this month, and getting the feel for who you are.

  24. MeenaRose

    Muffled Whimpers
    By: Meena Rose

    High noon in the desert;
    Stopping for another errand,
    You somehow forget your best
    Friend, your life’s companion,
    In the back seat – sweltering.

    Long forgotten, you in your
    Air conditioned haven never
    Hear the muffled cries – barely
    Audible muffled whimpers;
    Paws feebly scratching at the

    Window futilely trying to climb
    Out of a furnace of man made
    Design and man made negligence;
    You then must understand why
    I shattered the windshield.

    Poet’s Note: The warmer weather is approaching. Please be mindful of those entrusted to your care – animals, children or the elderly – who are less tolerant of the heat.

  25. LouiseBilborough

    platitudes and casseroles
    hushed voices and wan smiles
    shoulder pats and conversations
    that happen over my head
    in your eyes.

    “time heals,” you say
    and then you all disappear
    one by one
    leaving me in the company
    of silence and absence.

    how much time?

    days slide into months
    and your tone becomes brittle
    and impatient
    “think positive”
    “keep busy”

    but you don’t know

    you don’t wake with
    only what is gone

  26. carolecole66

    The Sag

    If only I could get this aging body to move
    like it did when I was twelve and could fly
    over fences or run bases or jump to the hoop.
    If only it could keep up with my head.
    Instead, I sit on the couch, foot propped
    on ice from a simple fall on an age-friendly
    clay court, the other knee skinned and I
    can keep running but that Medicare card
    that came through the mail last week tells
    the truth. I confess, I tire more easily now
    and the young brains at work can sometimes
    out think me. But my heart is strong. Tomorrow
    I will buy new tennis shoes, put on my muscle
    shirt, and deny, deny, deny. The wrinkles
    around my eyes tell arrant lies.

  27. bluerabbit47


    I am
    at the bottom
    of a well.
    I have
    been here,
    I suspect
    I have not.
    When I look
    up, the
    night is
    and I imagine
    The stone
    walls of my
    prison are
    slick with putrid
    moss. I
    can see
    no hope.
    I can see
    no hope.

  28. Julieann

    A Typical Day at Work

    Eight o’clock rolls around
    All is peaceful and quiet
    In comes the boss wearing a frown
    Gone is the peace and quiet

    Do this, do that, do the other
    The phone is ringing, check the mail
    The requests begin to smother
    Before noon, we all start to ail

    Five o’clock we’re all dragging
    Worn to a frazzle, all burnt out
    Our enthusiasm is flagging
    This one has been a rout

  29. Mary Mansfield

    The Bells of Newtown

    I heard the bells ring in the wintry air
    And my thoughts trailed off,
    Not to holiday cheer
    But to innocence stolen
    In a blizzard of bullets,
    The carefully picked presents
    Wrapped in red and green
    Tucked away in closets
    Never to be opened,
    And the families who seek
    Some semblance of comfort and joy
    From angels who rest
    Not atop the Christmas tree
    But in the loving arms of God.

  30. Bruce Niedt

    My writing seems to be veering from comic to tragic this month. Today’s double prompt practically guarantees a downer poem, because NaPoWriMo’s prompt is to write an “un-love” poem (a little different from Robert’s “anti-love” poem prompts).


    She storms in like a jealous lover,
    crowds out all the good in him,
    weakens his resolve, murders his appetite,
    and starts to claim him all for herself,
    while we on the outside fight
    to get him back. We try to force her out,
    but in the end she’s won, and what’s left
    of him is a shadow, a husk.
    He surrenders as she takes him with her,
    leaving us abandoned, useless,
    like broken toys in the rain.

  31. Sally Jadlow

    A Suffering Poem

    A good poem suffers many
    bumps and bruises,
    cuts and contusions
    before the final draft
    emerges from the bandages;
    healed, whole,
    ready to stand strong
    and say to a reader,
    “Consider this idea,”
    or “Behold this image,”
    or “Think on this though.”

  32. Brian Slusher


    Winter drives them from the fields
    into the walls and attics to
    scavenge scraps of warmth from
    shoddy ducts and ill-fit boards.
    My neighbor said they got big
    as cats, but I did not believe until
    I found just down the road
    two huge and dead, tumbled in the ditch.

    How sad they seemed, those soft
    monsters large as drowned runt pups.
    I gently knelt, almost a mourner
    mindful of their graven looks:
    mouths caught keening wide when
    the trap rod snapped or poison choked—
    the rodent Romeo and Juliet perhaps
    unsung in the frozen grass.

    Meanwhile the local wanton boys
    having nowhere else to go but
    to their peeling carcass of a house
    stopped to pay their disrespects,
    snatching each corpse by the tail
    and slinging it into the overcast—
    a game designed to keep them warm
    instead of coats they didn’t own.

    For Trick-or-Treat they wore
    dingy pillowcases with eyeholes
    torn instead of cut, much like
    the hoods condemned men get
    to hide their agonies. They held out
    empty grocery sacks and nodded
    as I gave each a can of chili

    and so the dark bodies hurtled
    down towards government cheese,
    the minimum wage, three strikes
    without benefit of bat. I watched
    the vermin laugh at the falling rats,
    and the frost-burned grass
    rose like the bilge of a sinking ship.

  33. SidraQ

    The Suffering Only a Mother Knows,/b>

    She waits
    watches as the sky
    above the trees brightens
    into the thin, peach blue
    of dawn.

    Even as a baby,
    this was his favorite time of day.

    When the morning finally spills
    into the last dark
    corners and hidden crevices
    She goes to bed.

    Hopes for thick oblivion
    to settle over her like a blanket
    or death.

  34. Marie Elena

    TRAPPED: Antipsychotic-Induced Tardive Dyskinesia






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