2013 April PAD Challenge: Day 8

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 an instructional poem. Your instructional poem could list instructions. Or it could capture an instructional moment.

Here’s my attempt at an instructional poem:

“how to spin”

she watches the birds tweet
but can’t stand their singing
songs that sound so happy

while she in misery
twists into a bottle
like a miniature boat

assembled with tweezers
never touched never held
always left on display


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.


Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer


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

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386 thoughts on “2013 April PAD Challenge: Day 8

  1. C.

    Sheets of cotton cover
    Shadows of a head
    Eggshell white twisted
    Exhumed body instead
    Fragrant smells plague
    From filthy kicked off socks
    All the while laughing
    Freshly bouncing locks
    Pulling down chairs
    Ottomans roll aside
    Happy gaily playing
    In forts where we hide
    A fort for play A fort for games
    Playing make believe, And
    sharing secrets In summer’s eve
    Come and play Or just lie inside
    Since today they say The rain won’t subside
    ……………Voices peaking, flash of light…………….
    Tells us it’s time
    To say goodnight
    Gaslight always on
    Child wondering
    What went wrong
    No more playtime
    Always dark
    Forts of another kind
    Built deep within our hearts.

    1. C.

      Sorry. Got it now. Not that it’s super important…

      Sheets of cotton cover
      Shadows of a head
      Eggshell white twisted
      Exhumed body instead
      Fragrant smells plague
      From filthy kicked off socks
      All the while laughing
      Freshly bouncing locks
      Pulling down chairs
      Ottomans roll aside
      Happy gaily playing
      In forts where we hide
      ______A fort for play______A________fort for games___
      ___Playing make………………………………….believe, And_____
      __sharing secrets …………………………………..In summer’s eve__
      _Come and play…………………………………….Or just lie inside_____
      _Since today they say………………………….The rain won’t subside___
      ………………………Voices peaking, flash of light…………..
      Tells us it’s time
      To say goodnight
      Gaslight always on
      Child wondering
      What went wrong
      No more playtime
      Always dark
      Forts of another kind
      Built deep within our hearts.

  2. dextrousdigits

    think they know so much.
    Yes they can do evaluations,
    run tests, make Diagnoses
    and dictate reports.

    They may know hemoglobin 8.1, O2 88%, WBC 15k,
    yet haven’t learned that patient is effected more
    by the tone of your voice,
    facial expressions,
    eye contact,
    body language,
    your ability to listen and actually answer
    questions in a way the patient understands.

    When you walk away
    the patient, their family and you
    feel like you’ve known each other a long time.
    When this happens, you create a team
    that trusts each other
    and work together to get the patient well.

  3. Marjory MT


    Before attempting to operate,
    locate instruction manual.
    Open manual – page one.
    Identify machine
    and various parts.
    Turn to page two.
    Locate list.
    Okay, now

  4. bookworm0341

    “How to Donate Blood”

    Know that you want to
    Call your local donation site
    Mark your calendar

    Eat well the night before
    Drink a ton of water
    Good night’s rest

    Potty break.

    Wake up refreshed
    Devour a healthy breakfast
    Guzzle more water
    Munch a healthy snack

    Potty break.

    Drive to donation center
    Show I.D.
    Wait to be called

    Potty break.

    Screening questions
    Sit in the comfy chair
    Lend them your arm
    Relax while you save a life!

  5. Jezzie

    Keep in Shape!

    Body, keep in shape!
    I know that your joints all ache,
    but an effort you must make,
    now you’ve got more time to take.

    Brain, keep in gear!
    You’ve not been active for a year,
    but if you don’t use it, I fear
    you will soon lose it, my dear.

    Heart, keep on beating!
    Don’t let it be defeating
    to get up early for a meeting.
    And just watch what you’re eating.

    Boredom, go away!
    Do something useful each day,
    if not, join your friends at play.
    There’s plenty to do in U3A.

    Time, turn the clock back!
    Give me the energy I now lack
    like when I was running down the track.
    If I ran now I’d have a heart attack!

  6. Mel Lewis

    How to Kill a Witch

    Just add water
    and slowly stir,
    or drop a house
    on top of her.
    A stake and a match
    will do just as well;
    there are myriad  ways 
    to send her to Hell.
    Chop off her head.
    Try a drowning.
    Or just give her a hug
    and forget the whole thing.

  7. Sharon

    How to Think

    Clear your mind
    Let it unwind,
    Don’t make it a grind
    You’re sure to find

    More in hour head
    Than you’ve ever said
    Thoughts a boil when you’re in your bed
    Ideas hang on you cannot shed.

  8. Nadienne

    [another sci-fi poem]

    Minister, you’ve instructed them
    in the ways to bend and twist
    a person’s little fingers,
    in the ways of shame, the shame
    of kneeling to accept piss,
    the shame of gags, of sticks
    tied between the teeth
    while ants crawled in.
    Essentialist, you measured skulls,
    spectrographed their green skin
    to proclaim their difference,
    to excuse yourself from sin,
    the horrible sin of torture
    of another human being.
    They recovered—
    a testament to resilience
    borne of a drive for revenge.

  9. vsbryant1

    How To Fall In Love

    Step 1: you meet
    Step 2: you fall head over feet
    Step 3: you talk about the future and all that came to be
    Step 4: you kiss for the very first time
    Step 5: you realize this is what it all really means in life
    Step 6: you commit
    Step 7: half way to heaven
    Step 8: here’s the special day
    Step 9: no turning back you have crossed over the line
    Step 10: you smile and remember; these were the steps to loving the love of your life.

  10. Margot Suydam

    How to Find Love, an Ottava Rima

    Find something right in peeling back tight skin
    to reveal the sanguine thoughts swept within.
    Scratch surfaces too long made to toughen
    so that even placid hearts can loosen
    that soft beats travelling too well hidden
    are free to pulse, take a wild spin.
    Forgiving fear seems such a simple step
    yet tough minds want their secrets kept.

  11. tunesmiff

    Here’s how you write you a country song:
    Start with how somebody done done you wrong;
    Tell how the nights’re lonely and long;
    And don’t forget the steel guitar.

    The second verse tells how you first met,
    On some special night you’ll never forget.
    Remind us again you ain’t over her yet,
    And Son, this song’ll go far.

    You can mix in a little drinking,
    Your Mama or your truck or a train.
    Add a dash of Johnny Cash,
    A pinch of prison or your dog and some rain.

    Remember to show off twin fiddles,
    Somewhere around the middle,
    And if you can get folks to cry just a little,
    Then Boy, you’ll be a country music star.

    Yeah, you’ll be country music star…
    Playin’ the Grand Ol’ Opry,
    You’ll be a country music star.

  12. Jezzie

    The Iron Lady

    one strong
    Grantham girl
    with high moral
    principles a great sense
    of right and wrong, and who
    wants to put her country to rights.
    Raise her in her family grocer’s shop so
    she can understand how to make ends meet.
    Educate her well and give her the confidence to make
    her voice be heard among a host of simpering, arrogant men.
    Let her choose a faithful, understanding and supportive husband.
    Get a strong team of party canvassers to ensure she wins a local election,
    so that she becomes a politician, so powerful and astute that she gains the respect
    of most of her party as a Minister, and proves that her ideas can lick our country into shape.
    Hold a General Election when the country is on its knees and have her return as Prime Minister.
    Let her have the courage to send our forces away to protect a British Island under threat.
    Have her deal firmly with the Unions who have been holding our country to ransom.
    Let her influence put some long-needed backbone back into our country.
    Make sure she does not lose heart when all around her ridicule her.
    Give her the strength to make difficult decisions, and not be
    dissuaded by weaker men from making the right choices.
    And when the country turns against her, give her the
    wisdom and strength to turn the other cheek.
    And finally when she has departed from
    this mortal planet, let her soul
    be reunited with
    her beloved

    Written on the day of Maggie Thatcher’s death 08.04.13 – my tribute to a once great Prime Minister

  13. Rain200

    *My Old English Teacher*

    No slouching. Chin up.
    No sneezing because
    No blessings will follow
    Allow the words you see
    to penetrate your little mind
    Upon first reading

    Read a second time to observe
    Rhythm and miss spellings
    With a birds eye view.

    Choke up on the word choice and syntax
    And swipe the black ink red using foreign symbols
    This makes things easier

    Read again and then submit
    Your poem.

  14. identity

    He follows the signs
    Upturned lips under vacant eyes
    Words left dangling on hesitant breath
    Eyes that dart to avoid his questioning gaze

    He presses on til the fatal shot is fired
    Organs removed and blood drained
    Breath straining under the weight
    He packs out his heart

  15. DMHB

    How to be a Big Girl

    It doesn’t start at your first period,
    No, much earlier than that, like maybe
    The first time a tooth comes in, sharp,
    Through your gum. You scream
    And scream, but nobody can take
    Away the pain. The pain is yours.

    But so is the tooth. It gives you bite.

  16. Tracy Davidson

    How to start a family

    find a loving mate
    insert part A in slot B
    (see Appendix II
    for labelled diagram) and
    wait about nine months or so

  17. LouiseBilborough

    It was once me,
    who held your hands
    as you toddled
    and wobbled
    and stumbled
    until your legs
    grew fast and strong.

    my wrinkled hands
    close around yours
    as you help me to stand
    and take shaky steps
    from the armchair
    to the bathroom
    and back again.

  18. Melanie

    How to Pray

    Begin your prayer with silence
    Resist the urge to speak
    Too many words can hamper as
    The Father’s face you seek

    You need no holy phrases
    Or hallowed thees and thous
    The spirit stirs the tongue to speak
    The words your heart allows

    Don’t wait for days of sunshine
    Or days of storm and cloud
    Your presence is His throne room
    Is every day allowed

    Remove the masks and make-up
    The things you hide behind
    God sees the heart within you
    Your naked frame designed

    Prayer must not be one-sided
    For God has things to say
    Concerning how you live your life
    Before the world each day

    Seek out that quiet refuge
    Where spirit bows undressed
    In sharing joys and sorrows
    Your soul finds needful rest

  19. drwasy


    You think you know how
    to breathe, like riding a bike
    or kissing a boy
    for the first time.
    “Automatic,” you say.
    But breathing
    is more difficult than
    you might think.

    To really breathe
    yourself, air must enter
    the deepest part of you,
    past mouth and throat,
    stomach and hips,
    knees and toes.
    Inhale slow enough
    to fill every cell,
    every organ,
    extract every atom
    of goodness from the space
    and day around you.
    Inhale until you cannot
    and then—this is key—

    In this instant life beats.
    Your life.

    Then exhale. Not
    Rushed blast, a relief.
    Let the pent-up breath
    tremble out and through you,
    past toes and knees,
    stomach and lungs,
    heart and head,
    wash out the angst
    and sturm hidden between
    vertebrae, in corpuscles,
    in ligaments that
    bind muscle to bone.
    When you are sucked
    dry of breath,
    pause—and live.

    If you are lucky,
    you will inhale again.

  20. Misky

    How To Star Gaze

    When night swims in the depths of dark,
    go out in warmth, so be you dressed,
    and find a field that yields no light.
    Take one sweet of heart beloved
    and stroll with fingers linked. Climb
    upon a grassy knoll where scents
    of green and soft earth do mould
    downy pillows on which to rest.
    Be far from city lights shone bright
    so that every chilled ice-ringed
    diamonding star sings out
    hallelujah from heavens far.

  21. Rosemary Nissen-Wade

    Instructions to the Bereaved

    Many things are just the same.
    You still need to get on
    with the physical business of living.
    Eat, pee, sleep, wash, and so on.

    Do the dishes, put the dishes away …
    observe the normal routines
    that made the household function
    for two — as it must for one.

    You’ll notice you still cook dinner,
    still read, watch television, feed the cats,
    sit at your computer, write … do all
    that you did before with company.

    There is basically only one difference —
    and the many small changes
    which follow from that. Some you like,
    some not. They may be the same.

    You spread out in the double bed (you
    and the cats). That can be luxurious
    or bleak. Taking the other chair, not
    to see it empty, you find it better placed.

    No-one (except for those cats)
    will nag you now for meals, or when
    to come to bed. Be thankful for the cats!
    You too need food. You need sleep.

    At first you may decide and plan
    activities your Other would have liked,
    things you believe they wanted.
    At this point heed the wise advice

    your son the other day returned to you,
    which he says you gave to him
    decades ago, after his father died: ‘Don’t
    live someone else’s life; live your own.’

  22. Jackie Casey

    “Instructions for a Friend with OCD”

    Consider now the glory of the rose
    so short her moment in the throes of life.
    I wish for her disorder not proposed
    to bloom and bloom in thus repeated strife.

    She could be vain and pose as does the tree
    but nature gives her one, small moment’s pride.
    She calms the chatter heard among the bees;
    she smooths the wind so soft, her petals glide.

    But, now that rose love gifted once to bloom;
    once glorified, her pause is sure and sweet.
    The beat of time’s illusion for a tune
    in silence, she finds no need to repeat.

    Oh, what a rose! that mystery so free
    that in her being is her constancy.

  23. P.A. Beyer

    Ode to a Sorority Sister Bridesmaid

    Doesn’t Clarissa just look stunning on the dance floor

    You put your right hand in

    She’s absolutely radiant, I’ve never seen her so happy

    You put your right hand out

    Yes, you’re right I mean, Carl is a good man, a good man indeed

    You put your right hand in

    Still, I always thought she’d end up with, well you know

    and you shake it all about

    I know, she was devastated, it took her three years to get over him

    you do the hokey pokey

    She never forgave him and, well, I kinda have a little secret

    and you turn yourself around

    Well, that night, he wasn’t with Shelia, he was with me

    That’s what it’s all about

    That’s what it’s all about

    1. P.A. Beyer

      Well, I tried to use HTML tags and that obviously didn’t work, so here it is in a slightly more readable format:

      Ode to a Sorority Sister Bridesmaid

      Doesn’t Clarissa just look stunning on the dance floor
      You put your right hand in
      She’s absolutely radiant, I’ve never seen her so happy
      You put your right hand out
      Yes, you’re right I mean, Carl is a good man, a good man indeed
      You put your right hand in
      Still, I always thought she’d end up with, well you know
      and you shake it all about
      I know, she was devastated, it took her three years to get over him
      you do the hokey pokey
      She never forgave him and, well, I have a little secret
      and you turn yourself around
      Well, that night, he wasn’t with Shelia, he was with me
      That’s what it’s all about
      That’s what it’s all about

  24. JoAnn Jordan

    How To Write 365

    First you commit to
    Accomplishing something each
    Day you have not done
    Before artistically
    With great creativity.

    You make the effort,
    Do your very best writing,
    Keep effectively
    Working outside your limits
    Until you make your success.

    You continue to
    Do the work despite feeling
    Like skipping a day,
    You dedicate yourself to
    More than you think possible.

    You find a few to
    Support your endeavors with
    Their encouragement
    You build up your confidence,
    You do it over again.

    You do not ever
    Stop until your labor is
    Vindicated in
    Tremendous victory that
    Covers the whole of a year.

    Jo Ann J. A. Jordan
    Monday, April 8, 2013

  25. seingraham

    How to Learn Grand-parenting

    Realize right from the start
    You will feel a need to protect
    These children the like of which
    You never expected but, back off
    They are not yours
    However, you can let it be known
    You will always be available
    Just in case – not to be used and abused
    But pretty much as often as needed

    Remember, there is no way to spoil
    A baby, especially one you don’t
    Live with, and pick up your grandchild
    Every single time you hear it cry
    After all, there is no way you want
    Any grandchild of yours to fuss
    Needlessly when you are right there
    To soothe and console, right?
    And be sure and buy the self-same
    Child every indulgence you can think
    Of and afford, and even some you can’t
    They’re tiny for such a short time…

    As they grow into toddler-hood
    Be sure to be the one they can count on
    To be the goofiest in their lives
    The one to fool around with and to laugh
    The one to tell their secrets and their fears
    But be sure they also know that in the end
    You will be the one who will always know
    Just what is the right thing they should do.

  26. Kriz Talladen

    Remembered one of my previous poems with this prompt. It’s my personal way on how to cry beautifully. 🙂

    “How to Cry”

    To cry is to let go

    So let go

    Let the tears fall
    Let them stream, storm,
    Form a river
    Down your cheeks.

    Don’t block them
    With a hanky
    Nor your hand
    Nor your pillow

    Cry while sitting or standing,
    Not while lying down
    For the rain not to form
    Clouds that create puffs

    And when the tears have
    Given up,
    Relax, be calm
    Get your cleanest hanky at hand
    Pat your cheeks and your
    Eyes, don’t rub
    There might be
    Redness bit a little while
    It subsides

    Then smile
    As if nothing happened

    And the bright burning sun
    You will clearly see.

  27. bxpoetlover


    As I sit here twirling fingers around hair
    I wonder if I can learn to
    quit pointing and clicking
    before watery-eyed restlessness hits
    and ease under covers each night
    trusting that joy will be found in each day.

  28. identity

    Rose Charmer

    She charmed the rose
    As if it were a cobra
    Humming hypnotically
    Weaving her shears
    Among the thorns
    Avoiding their bite

    With a skilled clip
    She claimed the prize
    The subdued rose
    Spread wide its
    Soft, supple neck
    In regal splendor

  29. Benjamin Thomas


    How to keep you close

    Slip you a kiss

    Sport your countenance

    let all things run amiss

    Clutch you tight

    Listen to your cry

    Efface each tear

    And tell you why

    Because of dire love

    To thee I wed

    Our hearts inflamed

    And the embers fled

    Your love covers me

    Just as mine covers you

    Multiplied, reproduced

    Kid one, kid two

    Can’t stop the madness

    Nor quench this craze

    Simply content with gladness

    Hung on your gaze

    Only to keep you closer

    Soak you in slowly

    Til permeated

    And slip you a kiss

  30. ValerieO


    An English teacher
    Elevates one hand
    Modeling the silent signal
    Most ignore it
    One mimics the gesture
    Another walks to the trash can
    Spits out gum
    Someone is wiggling now
    They chatter loudly
    Her eyes sing the blues
    Waits to educate
    Broaden urban minds with knowledge

    1. PressOn

      This haiku works for me. Haikus are difficult for me, and most don’t “work,” in my limited understanding anyway. This one does, though, and would do so even without a title. I’m impressed.

      1. Amy

        Thanks. I have never written a haiku before so I wasn’t sure if this one would be any good. I struggled with the title and still don’t really like it but someone pointed out to me that I rarely title my poems so I left it. I like your idea of no title though for this one.

  31. Carl

    Lessons on Madness and Flow

    Rolling back, go gentle,
    pray with the blackbirds
    as they scatter to the soft

    trees, trees bending graciously
    with bright air, and remember
    the leaves are moving for you,

    so move with them and when
    particles of evil come after you
    fast and hard, duck down on a

    slight bend and feel the energy
    as yours, and if someone greets
    you, smile at the beauty of being

    there and remember those knives
    from people who don’t know you
    are false, and dig with integrity

    to live as you wish, and this I tell
    myself, each day, trying to be
    the man I want to be someday.

  32. DanielAri


    Imagine The Three Stooges’ Larry Fine,
    the curly haired one, as a loveable
    gentleman with enthusiastic eyes.
    Even when I was a kid and babbling,
    he’d look at me like the shiniest dime.

    I can see the mensch now, unshakeable
    in the fertile bedrock of family line—
    and his seven kids, equally stable,
    so that when I talked, they paid attention;
    and when I grew I recognized the signs

    of traditional Jewish compassion,
    the transplant’s sensed duty to share the bread.
    Pre-nuclear family American
    head of a larger household wherein heads
    put together the meals on the table—

    food for the city, haven for the child.
    Whatever I said, Uncle Mickey smiled.

  33. Catherine Lee

    How to Grow Roses

    Throw away the gloves
    and get used to the feel
    of dirt in your wounds.
    There will be blood.
    Why else would
    you plant roses?

    You need the thorns
    to make your toil worthy,
    to mark your very skin
    with piercing significance.
    The beauty of the bloom
    is birthed in the sting.

  34. THEGingerSass

    “How to Write a Job Rejection for a Job You Haven’t Been Offered”

    Step one-
    Are you sure you don’t want the job?
    If there’s even an inkling of potential
    that you may one day find yourself
    wanting this source of employment
    If you are certain you are not meant
    to be one
    with the job, proceed to

    Step two-
    were you told to call the interviewer back?
    Were you given any indication that he or she
    liked you?
    If not, don’t bother proceeding further.
    You’ve been rejected.
    If they seemed to like you
    even the littlest bit, proceed to

    Step two point five-
    Call the interviewer back.
    If you’re lucky, you’ll get his or her voicemail.
    If not, you’ll have to
    of hiring you at this establishment.
    Either way, it helps to script things out
    before your phonecall, which takes us back to

    Step two and one-quarter-
    Write down what you would say in two scenarios…
    but first make sure you have the basic BS down.
    “Hello Mr. or Ms. So-and-so. My name is (your name here).
    Today’s date is blahblahblah,
    and I interviewed at (the place) on (the date you interviewed).
    You had asked me to call you back today…?”
    Rejection staring you in the face?
    Suck it up, take a shot, and say,
    “Thank you so much for your time and consideration.
    I reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally appreciate it.
    Have a wonderful rest of your day!”
    Kill ‘em with kindness.
    They actually want you?
    Well, now you’re an asshole, huh?
    “Thank you so much for this opportunity,
    and for considering my application.
    (Translates to: I’m about to serve you a bunch of cheesy BS.)
    However, since I spoke to you last,
    an opportunity has presented itself with
    (something something blahhhh),
    and I would like to withdraw my application.
    I really appreciate your consideration.
    Good luck with your search for a (whatever you are)!”

    Step three- read.
    Do not deviate.
    Unless, of course, you get a voicemail.
    Then it is perfectly okay to say,
    “I’m sorry I missed you!”
    while thinking,
    “Thank freaking GAWD”
    because you didn’t want to face rejection
    while serving the interviewer a pile of rejection.

    Step four-
    Breathe again.
    Try not to laugh as you say,
    “If you have any questions or concerns,
    please don’t hesitate to give me a call back.”
    Because, as you might anticipate,
    they will NOT be calling you back.
    This is what you want, right?
    If not, refer back to step one and recall–
    it’s too late to go back,
    instead you must move on to

    Step five-
    Write a poem
    highlighting the ridiculousness
    of this hypothetical scenario
    and continue searching for a job,
    not living in a dream world
    where you get to call the shots
    because, afterall,
    you are owned by The Man…
    whoever the Hell that may be.

  35. cam45237

    The Spreadsheet

    We can fix the formulas
    And calculate correctly
    It’s not hard , just

    First open the program
    Don’t be afraid of all the tiny boxes and
    All the big numbers
    You can magnify if you must.

    Enter data here
    Yes, like that
    Wait, no. No
    Don’t click there
    What are you thinking?
    Did I tell you to click?
    Stop clicking!
    Go back! No, I said back!

    What did you click now?
    What do you mean you don’t know how you got here?
    What did you do with my data?
    Where is my data?
    Please tell me you didn’t hit “save”?
    You hit “save”?
    You hit save.

    Well. You did learn how to magnify.
    You made the problem bigger.

  36. Rora Nyx

    How to be a Businesswoman

    First step is to get a degree
    Then grow some thicker skin
    Put on nylons and high heels
    Then let your life begin.

    Next buy the Wall Street Journal
    Flip through it as if you care
    Buy a watch, shape your nails
    Whiten teeth, spray your hair.

    You’ll be on call around the clock
    So get a Bluetooth and other sleek stuff
    You can use to stay in touch with work
    And your kids you won’t see enough.

    Review the latest slides and SKUs
    Report ROI to the CLT
    Drum up the greatest CTA
    Approve the RFP with SMEs.

    For fun socialize over wine
    Oh yes, it matters what you get
    Talk sports with men, fashion with women
    Take up running if you haven’t yet.

    Smile when you’re at wits end
    Say ‘yes’ when you want to say ‘no’
    Wherever they want to send you next
    Hop on that plane and go.

    Buy a house and then another
    A car that speeds and zooms
    Then leave that all behind at home
    In lieu of lonely hotel rooms.

    Coat your world in a plastic sheen
    Let your spirit cower and hide
    Accept that this is how things are
    Ignore the hollowness that’s inside

    Learn to be a businesswoman
    Yes, you’ll love every bit
    Training is easy, the life is great

    In fact, there’s nothing to it.

  37. maggzee


    Disconnect the blinkers
    You will never use them
    Or leave the left one always on
    To frustrate and confuse them

    Bob and weave in heavy jams
    Text on your phone, drive drunk
    Or draft the car in front of you
    By driving in their trunk

    But if you like to stay in place
    It’s best that you remain
    And drive as slowly as you can
    In the passing lane

    Race to stoplights, drive too fast
    For the conditions of the season
    Make sudden u-turns, pass on the right
    Stop for no real reason

    If you can cut off any car
    And tailgate with no mercy
    You have learned all that you need
    for driving in New Jersey

  38. clarior

    How Not To Write a Sestina

    So, you think maybe you’d like to write a sestina?
    Why? Haven’t you any better way to get it done
    than to drag it through a form considered torture
    best left to university lit profs who know only to
    call it homework? As if it might feel at all like home
    bedding down on a road where it’s easy to lose count
    of your miles, until you realize you’ve gone too far

    to turn around. Except if you’ve made it this far
    then why stop now, right? Alright, then, a sestina,
    if we positively must. These stanzas won’t count,
    we know, which is precisely why we’ll’ve done
    it like this. If nothing else, it’s a good way to
    honor the one who showed us how. She’s home
    now, but not above an unholy spell of tickle torture

    such as we deserve. And what better tool for torture
    than twisted poetics? Superior to rhyme by far,
    more devious than metaphor, hits closer to home
    than sound meter! Like penance, the sestina
    purifies the muse’s tongue of all it’s ever done
    naturally, since poetic nature has a tendency to
    incite the basest passions. So don’t make it count

    unless you’re damned already. OK, then, first count
    out your ending words. No, wait—first off, torture
    your head into a knot, in circles that’ll bend back to
    nothing but mindless muttering, over and over, far
    off from hoping to get anywhere. Your sestina
    ought not expect any more than to have been done
    for the sheer hell of it. Make like that hell’s your home,

    and you’re halfway there. Make that hell your home
    and your ending words come easy. Now count
    backward, upside down, with each ending done
    like each other ending. So exquisite, the torture
    of sound and sense! Wind it tight as high, as far
    as insanity’s own lunacy. Now line your sestina
    up as straight as any shrink would want it to.

    Poof!—like any poetic dogma, that’s all there’s to
    having one of these antiques in your very own home
    like a hollow god. Bless us, O saints of the sestina!
    For you, who knows?—yours might even count
    enough to get read a time or two, so as to torture
    someone other than you. If yours gets that far,
    stop! Put your pen down. Call your creation done.

    Resist the impulse to cry out, “I could have done
    something worthy, something to give attention to,
    something that might last, might carry us far
    beyond our far dreams, then still see us back home,
    something that might not be waste, might count
    for something more.” Has this not been torture
    enough? All else’d be vanity, save the sestina.

    Assignment—Count our endings, on up to
    six, then just as far back. When all done,
    relive your own torture, then bring it on home:
    Give us a sestina.)

    1. Marie Elena

      Mighty impressive! The very word makes my muse run for cover.

      Brings to mind the master of the form, Walter Wojtanik. A while back, I told him he should write a sestina on writing a sestina. He whipped out magnificence in like 30 minutes. Sheeesh…


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