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2013 April PAD Challenge: Day 21

Categories: Poetry Challenge 2013, Poetry Prompts, Robert Lee Brewer's Poetic Asides Blog, What's New.

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 senryu. A senryu is like a haiku with less restrictions and different subject matter. It’s a 3-line poem with a traditional 5/7/5 syllable (or sound) pattern, and the poem typically deals with the human condition. But that’s about all. No cutting words, seasonal words, or focus on nature. In fact, many people who claim to write haiku are already writing senryu. Have at it.

Here’s my attempt:


she wakes in a sweat
because her A/C unit
abandoned her too


Workshop Your Poetry!

Writing poetry is exciting, but the revision process can be too, especially when you’re revising with a group of dedicated poets and an experienced mentor. As luck would have it, that can be accomplished with the Writer’s Digest online course, Advanced Poetry Writing.


Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer


Quick note on commenting: Please always save a copy on your computer. There have been moments in the past in which comments have disappeared, and I don’t want anyone to lose their work. Heck, I’ve lost some of my work here in the past, and it’s not a great feeling. That said, commenting here is a lot of fun, especially in April. If you’re completely new to the site, you’ll be asked to register (don’t worry, it’s free), and your comments might not appear initially until I manually accept them. However, after that initial phase, your comments should appear without my help.

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

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About Robert Lee Brewer

Senior Content Editor, Writer's Digest Community.

227 Responses to 2013 April PAD Challenge: Day 21

  1. Nadienne says:

    Him? Coupon clipper
    tabulating exact change.
    Me? Thick-frosted cake.

  2. stepstep says:


    stomach calls hunger
    far beyond a desert place
    time and time again.


  3. dextrousdigits says:

    Do more in less time
    You’re tired matters not
    Tomorrow the same

  4. foodpoet says:

    In forest of youth
    Cedar bursts scents of summer
    trampled by man’s greed

  5. Alpha1 says:

    Love That Feelin

    We really good friends
    so it’s time to recognize
    that’s love in our eyes

  6. PKP says:

    Thought I wrote haiku
    Only to find out right now
    “Haiku” was senyru!

  7. it rings and he checks
    her number just wrecks
    his sanity

  8. vsbryant1 says:

    I do, everything changed

    Old life away in the breeze

    Us eternity

  9. IrisD says:

    Such a waste of energy
    trying to play catch up

  10. Yolee says:

    He used to share plums.
    Now I only get the pits.
    At home prodigal.


    My big little man
    says only small things to me:
    teenage angst and all.

  11. Vacation

    Cockroaches within,
    winter snowstorm yet without—
    new motel next time.

  12. She smells like pop tarts
    and dynamite, tastes like flames,
    sings like the cosmos.

  13. mschied says:

    two-faced visages
    repeating the platitudes
    with false sincerity


  14. LouiseBilborough says:

    twirls hair, bites her lip
    eyelashes flutter, small grin
    her web ensnares me

  15. Some days the world sighs
    like a mom sick of questions
    I can’t stop asking.


    I count calories
    to distract myself from counting
    dollars or mistakes.

  16. Deri says:

    ‘Til Death

    We lie hip to hip
    our breaths all out of rhythm
    I pray for morning

  17. burrhead says:


    Tighten my hat band
    Been spending more than I have
    Shepherd my brain cells

  18. Lindy says:


    As my garden grew,
    so human restrictions too.
    Love, for now, adieu…

  19. tunesmiff says:

    I’m afraid my OCD got the better hand:
    The first Sunday was a seven line poetic form;
    The second Sunday was a fourteen line poetic form;
    Anticipating a twenty-one line form, I was slightly disappointed…

    until I realized 3 goes into 21 seven times~!!!

    So herewith is a 7 SENRYU cycle… more or less

    : )


    He pours his coffee,
    Makes his lunch, wakes her up, then
    Pours her coffee, too.

    Sitting in traffic,
    it suddenly dawns on him:
    He’s going nowhere.

    Flashing lights ahead
    on the right side of the road.
    Everybody looks.

    Not a day goes by
    that she doesn’t make the turn
    and think about not.

    “The thing is,” she says,
    “I don’t like being crowded.”
    Then she turns away.

    He tells stories now
    from his early navy days.
    That’s all he recalls.

    I write and wonder:
    Why does this form lend itself
    to unhappiness?

    (Okay, so maybe it’s not quite a “cycle” – but the OCD has to stop SOMEWHERE~!!!)

  20. Mr. Walker says:

    one could say: people
    talk entirely way too much-

  21. Tracy Davidson says:

    I gave up smoking
    apart from straight after sex…
    my boyfriend’s knackered

  22. drwasy says:

    Say a stupid thing
    words evaporate in air
    the bite stays behind

  23. PowerUnit says:

    Got up late today
    Be lucky to write that first
    Word before seven

  24. mlcastejon says:

    Hi Robert,

    Today’s prompt is very helpful for me because I believe I was writing haikus when I was doing senryu!

    My senryu

    Your words are like you
    Cold snakes who bite me all over
    My hell has your name

  25. After spending an afternoon with my friends’ 16 month old, there’s just one crazy thought on my mind:

    Coo coo

    Her lips curl to smile
    with the baby on her lap.
    “I want one,” she says.

  26. a couple of quick ones -

    Quick – sweep the corners
    before the Earth starts taking
    back what was once hers

    Ah! Spring and farmers
    spreading shit on their fields – Quick
    roll up the windows!

  27. deringer1 says:


    I waited nine months
    now she is here in my arms
    forever beloved.

  28. BDP says:

    “Choice: Taylor”

    He’s sweet, may not know
    many kids with an extra
    chromosome aren’t born,

    that his kind are frost
    paintings, you rarely see them
    there, disappearing

    B Peters

  29. De Jackson says:


    his body will heal
    the inside’s not so simple
    shrapnel of the heart

  30. omavi says:


    his whole body shakes
    as another daydream ends
    of her in his arms

  31. WayneLMurphy says:


    Feeling loneliness
    The condition of my heart
    Emptiness engulfs

    Wayne L Murphy 4/21/13

  32. Sara McNulty says:

    If you start life old
    Age decreases, vigor spikes
    Stay up, watch day dawn

    Poetic Asides
    April Challenge – Day 21
    Write a senryu

  33. Matthewtyke says:


    Beaming widely teeth
    Grinding sounds electrical
    Standing on man’s hands

  34. catlover says:

    She is very sad
    Tears fall from her heart like knives
    The ground is hard to tread

  35. RobHalpin says:

    Pouring wine tastings
    is great for watching people
    who’ve tasted too much

  36. THEGingerSass says:


    the left eyeball swells,
    leaving the right one in tact.
    allergy season.

  37. Ann M says:

    sweet honeysuckle
    fills the city with the scent
    of lost innocence

  38. P.A. Beyer says:

    Tuesday in Nebraska

    John reaps the wheat fields
    The rusted sickle handle
    Burns less each harvest


    He made the first move.
    Pondering, She made the next,
    Capturing the King.


    Two little rascals
    Run like the wind tumbling
    Discovering life

  41. EbenAt says:

    I would love to not
    love Bourbon, but truth be told
    It ain’t happenin’

  42. priyajane says:

    I heard a rumor
    That warm weather has shown up
    Was wondering where ??

  43. carolecole66 says:

    Three Senryu

    She walks restlessly
    all night down dark city streets
    searching for the moon.

    She puts on purple
    lipstick, tights, and dancing shoes,
    hopes that’s all she needs.

    She writes poems all night
    in a wild frenzy then sleeps
    till noon, till dreams freeze.

  44. Rachel Blake says:

    you are forgiven
    do not mention it again
    because I love you

  45. Linda Voit says:

    Sunday afternoon
    missing old neighbors as they
    leave our new driveway

  46. I comment; you like
    We touch as in the photo
    Across time and space

    Can so few keystrokes
    Whittle away all the years
    Stroke our wond’ring hearts

  47. Amy says:

    wrapped in newspaper
    memories packed in a box
    we begin again

  48. LCaramanna says:

    his game changer fall
    from kitchen stool fractured hip
    surgeon said he’s screwed

  49. julie e. says:

    poem with few words
    found to be oddly freeing
    this new form I try

  50. vjohnso1 says:

    Slept in misery
    Missing who I use to be
    What a price to pay

  51. julie e. says:

    unloved empty home
    filled with dust and old whispers
    waits for new laughter

  52. julie e. says:

    Above her, nested
    beneath garden hat on shelf
    babies yell for food

    mother father birds
    dart with beaks full of nourish
    answering their call

  53. profal29 says:

    she sparks like the sun
    coronal mass ejections
    have me on the run

  54. julie e. says:

    i’m pretty sure i’ve taken liberties with this senryu style, but if that’s the worst thing i do today i’m good…. ;-)


    And when she is down
    she’s sure the sun can’t save her
    from those weary thoughts

    she really does try
    to hear what people tell her
    if she just got up

    she’d be much better
    why won’t she just go outside?
    dragging herself to

    shut down the voices
    she lays back on the porch swing
    and hears the soft chimes

    singing a minor
    song in the key of breezes
    and she smiles softly.

  55. On a happier note…this is to celebrate the memory of my Mom

    Early morning riser -
    remembering days gone by
    spent in Mom’s garden

  56. After all that has happened this week, this was waiting to be written. May all those touched by the tragedies of Monday be blessed with healing and love.

    Feet pounding pavement
    cheers explode into terror
    ending glory’s dream

  57. bxpoetlover says:

    Sometimes It’s A Good Thing

    Jealousy makes me
    reflect. What else do I
    need, aspire to be?

  58. lionmother says:

    I just wrote 4 senryu’s and think they’re fun.:)

    The air filled with pain
    as we hashed out the weeks events
    and love overcame all

    My heart demands you
    but your focus is not me
    you are in baseball time

    Not able to make sense
    of the crime-filled week we had
    glad peace has arrived

    macaroni and cheese
    for dinner and not as is
    often, made by me.

  59. vickiejohnstone says:

    I love haiku, but I think I’ve been writing this form without knowing !! :) Here are mine -

    Mindless he strays, far
    From the heart strings that pull so,
    Imagining light

    Sinking in the dark
    Where the gutter sucks him up,
    He tries on a smile

    She wakes in the morn
    Wanders to the shower, sighs,
    Stops and cannot start

    Chasing the deep bark,
    He throws the stick wide, laughing
    Where the lake invites

    He takes the plane where
    A hundred signposts signal
    The hunt for freedom

    Pegging the clothes she
    Stares into the ache beyond
    As the days wear thin

  60. mich says:

    receiving blanket
    preserves the new baby scent
    pure love ev’ry sniff

  61. Jane Shlensky says:

    I form attachments
    to poetic forms, follow
    recipes, taste words.

  62. Michelle Hed says:

    shades, wind – flying with
    the Valkyries blaring loudly
    transported away

  63. Michelle Hed says:

    sometimes getting off
    the rollercoaster is all
    you need for relief

  64. JRSimmang says:

    Some say you build a
    house where you rest your tired bones.
    His rocks fall like bricks.

    The little droplets
    dribbling down the rounded face
    remind him to welcome

    with a jute welcome
    mat his new friends, inscribed with
    encouraging words.

  65. Michelle Hed says:

    rogue agents invade
    destroying cells needed to
    live – death to cancer

  66. The poem below results both the prompt from this site for a senyru and the one from NaPoWriMo.net to re-write Frank O’Hara’s “Lines for the Fortune Cookies.”

    Fortune Cookie Lines in Senryus
    (A la Frank O’Hara)

    You’ll inherit much.
    The sun will rise in your heart.
    You will bless others.

    Fortune smiles on you.
    Your beauty glows like the moon.
    You give happiness.

    Your tears will be dried.
    Your gifts outnumber the stars
    Fill the world with joy.

  67. Dini says:

    grasping at slim strand
    self-imposed dedication
    frayed not yet broken

  68. RJ Clarken says:

    Tir na Blog

    The computer world
    has its own tiny wee folk:
    they’re called the Pixels.

    The Pixels’ powers
    are determined by magic
    and pantone colors.

    You can find Pixels
    if a Vector Inspector
    gives you a bitmap.

    But please be careful.
    Pixels are shy, and hide if
    closely monitored.


  69. Domino says:

    I wrote a few – hope I’m doing this right. LOL

    Love, loss, bliss, pain, joy;
    no, the human condition
    is never boring.


    I may still love you
    but that doesn’t mean I will
    be your bitch, you jerk.


    Just one touch, is all
    Somehow that changed everything
    Now what do I do?


    Tender kisses from
    slobbery childish lips. This
    is what I live for.

    Diana Terrill Clark

    • PressOn says:

      I have no feel for what’s right or wrong in this form,. but your third piece strikes me as getting near the essence of it. At any rate, the final line is compelling.

      • Domino says:

        I wanted to hit at several emotions, since it is supposed to be dealing with the human condition – the angry one doesn’t feel right, though. Will have to work on this form some more. Thanks for your comment, PressOn, because

        sometimes it really
        does feel a lot like flailing
        around in the dark

  70. Jane Shlensky says:


    “If you give money, spend yourself with it, and do not merely abandon it to [the poor].” HD Thoreau

    It happens daily
    Somewhere someone reaches out
    feeling lesser than

    Can we spend ourselves
    in helping others rise up?
    Is money the key?

    He watches beggars
    work busy streets, collecting
    alms, pity, prayers.

    Can we distribute
    service, self-esteem, kindness?
    And does our help help?

  71. Jane Shlensky says:


    beeping monitors
    hissing pulse of oxygen
    a single pink rose


    hot tea with honey
    warm bagels, fruit with cheeses
    my thin hand in yours

  72. shethra77 says:


    Thought I would be back,
    but she seized and fell again.
    The tea chilled outside.

  73. Angie5804 says:

    Swimming in the dark
    The Rock of my salvation
    Makes the waves as glass

  74. I loathe and detest all syllable counting especially Japanese poetry – quite simple because I can’t do it!!!! I do, however, really admire those that can. Some feeble attempts:

    material greed
    over looking life’s treasure
    from cradle to grave


    late night discussion
    words far better left unsaid
    the truth spilt through wine


    Inquam nimium
    tardus nox noctis sermo
    vinum veritas

    (I know I’m weird!)

    Found senyru – from a song by Dory Previn:

    well, ain’t that something
    ain’t that wild, my daddy says
    that I ain’t his child

    Hah! Ain’t that something wild?


  75. RJ Clarken says:

    Come, Bob

    implies at least once you’d been


    Look Out Below!

    I just found this out:
    When throwing stuff from above,
    shout out, “Gardyloo!”



    So, these Donnybrooks?
    They’re not about some water
    or a guy named Don.


    Didja Know…

    A cow’s first stomach
    is known as a fardingbag.
    Kind of makes sense, huh?

  76. I really want to get on my soapbox and complain about the West’s fascination with trying to squeeze into 17 bare syllables the resonant, culturally rich depth of the Japanese haiku (today’s prompt being a modern variation on the haiku called the senryu) that routinely manages to convey so much more because it’s based on a heritage western poets don’t share, but I won’t. Heh. Too late again. I’ve always thought that western haiku is mostly a training exercise for poets learning to excise all but essential language from their poems.

    All that said, today’s effort on my part: a senryu/haiku sequence.


    Once ideograms
    Conveyed more than seventeen
    English syllables.

    But summer roses
    Trellised skyward also speak
    More than words convey.

    Pictograms, given
    Tongues, burst into song.

    Basho though: winter
    Descends, sky’s quiet Kanji,
    White chrysanthemums.

  77. DanielAri says:

    Instead of packing
    the nail clippers, I always
    clipped before travel.

  78. Because of the letter’s own form some liberties have been taken!

    Dear Moosehead,

    Heart set on clean sweep
    Mind full of doubt and questions
    Life’s great adventure

    Pick ya up at 12 – I’m buying!

    Yours, clutching a metaphysical rabbit’s foot.

    Ringo the Howler

    • JRSimmang says:

      I’ve been reading the Ringo series (or would you prefer the Moosehead series [or neither]?), and I have to ask if it is indeed a series. I think these are all fantastic one-sided conversations.

      • Thank you, kindly….it is indeed a series that I have been doing for six years. The very first was in response to a “Rant” prompt in April 2008, the following November I did 30 days of them and have done the same every April since. To be honest his life has grown so complex that even I have trouble remembering all the details. Strangely, I do affectionately refer to them as “Mooseheads”. Moosehead has only ever written back twice, as I recall but there is a mystery in play this year so, who knows?

  79. ewdupler says:

    My First Senryu

    Please give it a try.
    Senryu is easy Haiku,
    Without all the rules.

  80. Sally Jadlow says:

    One man on corner
    holds sign, “Want Work.” Behind him
    sign says, “Help Wanted”

  81. Never2L8 says:

    Loss of Innocence

    Kohl lines eyes too young
    sultry eyes, sexy, jaded
    Cleopatra eyes

  82. Melanie says:

    The Runner

    He runs through the rain
    Counting each marathon mile
    Dismissing the pain

  83. Brian Slusher says:

    The wind chimes jangle
    As nearby a goldfinch feeds:
    Perhaps I’m happy?


    Lost their home after
    the mill shut down. So now they’ll
    try the lottery.

    Eyes dim from the smoke,
    and spin of the jackpot wheel –
    one win, she’ll see straight.

    He walks his small plot
    of land, not knowing what eyes
    and lenses watch him.

    Eight chances in ten
    she’ll get what killed her mother.
    Living with numbers.

  85. tonijoell says:

    winged words fluttering
    like butterflies between us
    so much unspoken

  86. Earl Parsons says:

    I’ve always had cats
    They are man’s best companions
    Spoiled little fur balls

  87. identity says:

    She watches the pot
    brew her Human Condition
    in torturous drips.

    Her good intentions
    visit the gym frequently,
    leaving her at home.

  88. Earl Parsons says:

    It’s a condition
    That all humans should endure
    But far too few do

  89. Julieann says:


    Dreams float away on
    Cold, traitorous clouds, letting
    Desires remain

  90. Bruce Niedt says:

    A perfect fit today: NaPoWriMo’s prompt is to write a fortune cookie poem. Robert, didn’t you use that prompt some time ago? I remember writing a poem called “Cynical Fortune Cookies” once. Anyway, here’s my poem. (Note my upbeat messages are probably influenced by the beautiful day outside and the baby shower for my daughter-in-law about to begin at my house.)

    Fortune Cookie Senryu

    Don’t measure success
    by how high you climb, but what
    you do where you are.

    No matter how stressed
    and busy you are, add one more
    thing to your list: rest.

    Take a walk today,
    observe your environment,
    report back to you.

    Pessimism loves
    a vacuum; optimism
    thrives best in fresh air.

    Your marriage account:
    investing hard work and some tears
    will yield dividends.

  91. alana sherman says:

    The last senryu had to not be a senryu so the chain could end

    From Point A to Point B

    Why go to when you
    can go under or around?
    The shortest distance

    is a straight line. She
    can never do it that way
    except for the stairs.

    At two, when you are
    learning locomotion every
    thing is an adventure

    especially stairs—
    “DOWN!” she shouts, bumping along,
    “Down and Down! and Down!”

    pausing on every step
    to laugh and identify
    each picture—the framed

    horses and horsemen—
    comments on cracks in the wall
    and her progress. From

    top to bottom (on
    her bottom) this journey is
    an escapade
    to revel in and share.


  92. Jennifer O'Connor says:

    My heart is heavy
    My soul is lost without you
    Baby please come home

  93. Spring Sun raining down
    lifting spirits and flowers
    both from under ground

  94. Margot Suydam says:

    Senyu Fortune

    Poem a day #21 is a response to prompts from NaPoWriMo and Poetic Asides: (1) Write a poem that is lines for a fortune cookie, and (2) write a senyu, a three-line poem with a 5/7/5 syllable pattern, which deals with the human condition.

    You will join pilgrims
    traveling through scenery
    you avoid in dreams.

  95. pmwanken says:

    surrounded by stuff
    she realizes just how
    empty her life is

    P. Wanken

  96. Glory says:


    stretched arms, hands upward
    heads erect as pulled by string
    to meet heaven’s sky

  97. Tracy Davidson says:

    whatever he says
    will not explain or excuse
    their evil actions

  98. MsGenuineLady says:


    You made a mistake
    Anger will not consume me
    I will still love you

  99. last night is a blur
    as I wake up next to her
    what did I do now

  100. Opel D Hell says:

    swelling leather purse
    shifting wealth of free markets
    comes with strings attached

  101. missjoyce says:

    his mind runs away
    fictitious situations
    his eyes closed resting

  102. Amy says:

    Innocent questions
    breed complicated answers
    children see too much

  103. ValerieO says:

    Cracked pavement and trash
    Outlines her apartment door
    Life in the city

  104. PoM says:

    Evil hearts so dark
    Outer darkness they’ll abode
    Forever distressed

  105. Jezzie says:

    British Sundays

    Splendid hours we pass.
    We sow, mow, weed, seed and feed.
    Splendour in the grass.

  106. Widowhood feels bleak..
    She savours the nutty bread
    bestowed by her friends.

  107. From books to Kindle
    Addicts switching pills to shots
    Straight to the bloodstream

  108. priyajane says:

    A little red wine
    let the entangled words
    Slip easily out

  109. Jezzie says:


    I’m stiff as a board.
    I’ve been out digging all day.
    Boy, it was so hard.

  110. Raina Masters says:

    Sunday reflection

    Infertile ground sits
    just above her waist, leaves her
    gutted and hollow.

  111. happys says:

    ~Divine Will~

    Though man proposes
    Ultimately heaven rules
    Since God disposes

  112. Larry says:

    My life is fulfilled
    When they show up at my door
    God I love my kids.

  113. PressOn says:

    The eyes of a child
    see the same vision as I,
    but the child recalls.

  114. PressOn says:

    The old gentleman
    still chases after women
    but forgets what for.

  115. This sleepy writer
    Requires caffeinating
    To make any sense.

  116. Nancy Posey says:

    On Friday, I kept up with the events unfolding in Boston through the Facebook posts of a former student just a couple of blocks away. I landed on a series of senryu:

    Lockdown in Watertown

    SWAT team on her porch
    she post pictures for her friends
    from behind closed doors

    she left the small town
    where she had lived all her life,
    wanting excitement

    more than she’d asked for
    peeking through her window blinds,
    she watches and waits

    all day long, the scene
    playing on the news she sees
    just outside her door.

  117. PowerUnit says:

    My sun shines brightly
    But there’s ice is in the garden
    So planting will wait

  118. missjoyce says:

    A senryu (5-7-5)


    her mind is screaming
    wanting to communicate
    but she’s paralyzed

    PS, I hope I got the senryu description right.

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