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2013 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 12

It’s that time again. Time for another “Two for Tuesday” prompt. Do one, do the other, do both, whatever keeps you poeming this month:

  1. Write a poem about your happiest moment. Well, doesn’t have to be yours actually. Just a moment that is someone’s happiest.
  2. Write a poem about your saddest moment. Conversely, take happy, flip it, and make it the saddest moment.

Here’s my attempt at a Happiest and/or Saddest Moment poem:


That moment
you first hold
your first born

followed close
by that moment
he turns blue
and is rushed
from you.


Write poetry like it’s nobody’s business–and get feedback on it. Click to learn more.


My son Ben solving the world's problems.

My son Ben solving the world’s problems.

Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and remembers the first two weeks of his first-born son’s life vividly. As mentioned in the poem above, he experienced his highest and lowest moment on the same day–and days afterward in NICU. Good news is: The story had a happy ending, and Ben is now a 12-year-old with a healthy appetite for books, a saxophone, and girl problems. Robert is the author of Solving the World’s Problems and a former Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere. He’s married to the poet Tammy Foster Brewer, who helps him keep track of their five little poets (four boys and one princess). Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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226 thoughts on “2013 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 12

  1. hohlwein

    Catching up…all of ‘em. Ooops. Better late than never??

    The Happiest Moment

    Before we got wet
    or after we got wet
    or as we thought of it – without saying –
    or before we thought of it.

    Dinner with friends. Wine
    and what did we speak of
    for hours all of us at the height
    of our beauty
    and before failures,
    fallings away, before devastations
    or was that true?

    Between them anyway.
    Dressed. Lovely. Each loved
    and funny. All well. All there.
    Every morsel shared. Savoured.

    We walked out afterwords over the cobblestones
    over the canals to the park.
    I remember evening, but it must have been night.
    I remember my dress brushing my body
    and everything everything perfect.
    My laughter, ours, our delight filling the evening
    settling on the lake.

    Our family whole – or whole enough.
    Our friends: family

    all of us at the height
    of our beauty

    Fully dressed, finely dressed
    We wanted to run, to run and jump
    into the lake, fully dressed, finely
    And, in there somewhere,
    in the air somewhere perhaps,
    was the happiest moment of my life.

  2. dandelionwine


    She sunk as blackstrap molasses
    making her way to the bottom
    of oil, then water– an element
    with rules to follow and no way
    to know the news she received
    would not settle as the final word.

  3. cholder


    a friend is coming
    I am told
    so I wait
    he sits down
    smiles at me
    I do not know this man
    who calls me mother
    my mind seeks pathways
    it cannot find
    memories buried deep
    in catacomb passages
    I weep, I sob
    I should stay but
    I want to leave
    this stranger
    who calls me mother

  4. Rita Ackerman


    Layered in memory
    Filed through the heart
    Moments in time
    Fight their way to the front.

    Sad moments of loss,
    My own or another’s
    Happy ones that burst with a smile

    They’re all worth digging for
    They are who I am.

  5. bjholmes

    Happiest Moment

    The sun was out
    the wind was light
    no clouds above
    the world was right.

    My dress was ivory
    sparkles abound
    no veil was needed
    with curls all around.

    My girls, all beautiful
    in long silk dresses
    stood nervously waiting
    no want for the stresses.

    The candles all lit
    the music begins
    the walking down the aisle
    all happiness within.

    The vows quietly spoken
    as tears gently shed
    lyrics were sung
    the announcing we were wed.

    Many years later
    the beauty of this day
    now captured in pictures
    forever to stay.

    Saddest Moment

    I feel te burden of sorrow
    when two souls no longer need
    to share their lives
    the vows now forgotten.

    I feel the sad anger
    as two souls part
    their ways
    not remembering
    their promise
    on their wedding day.

    How could they not care
    how the other one feels?
    How come they don’t fight
    for the marriage than can be saved?

  6. Jezzie

    Doing Nothing

    I’m sad when the day
    is damp, drizzly, grey
    and I’ve wasted away
    my precious hours
    just sitting indoors
    doing nothing.

    I’m glad when the day
    is dry, balmy, May
    and I’ve wallowed away
    admiring flowers,
    just sitting outdoors
    doing nothing.

  7. Glory

    I’m Happy

    Sitting, maybe dozing
    in the sun,
    with the sea softly
    whispering its tune
    carried on the breeze
    that lifts my hair
    that kisses my cheek.

    And should those
    lapping waves
    that crawl across
    golden sand brush
    against, then climb
    to tickle my toes.
    I’m happy.

  8. seingraham

    SHE IS…

    She is poetry, words wrapped around other words
    like pigs in a blanket, like babies in sleepers
    like dolphins spinning in Japanese nets
    She walks winter into the dark, descending, pulling
    snow out of clouds climbing low on the horizon
    She smiles morning back into the sun for more
    hours of sleep, admonishing Sol
    And she laughs life in the face of death
    Hers is the house hallowed full of happiness and hope
    And she sends sadness sailing…

    HE WAS…

    He was the happiest child
    Everyone said so, commented
    to his parents
    about how happy, contented he was
    how he never cried, or rarely anyhow
    so placid, they said, no trouble really

    When did his Mama first notice
    he wasn’t looking back at her
    when she spoke to him
    Wasn’t it odd for a baby not
    to meet his mother’s eyes?
    He was her first so she didn’t
    really know
    Besides, he was just so pleasant
    Surely that was normal, she told
    herself, watching her husband
    as he tried to get the baby
    to make noises, to look at him

    “Hey Robbie” he sounded desperate
    she realized, “Hey buddy, it’s Daddy!”
    He blew raspberries on his son’s
    tummy – it used to make him giggle
    wildly, but lately?
    He didn’t even squirm…just stared off
    Like a…his Mommy couldn’t think…
    Like a deaf person?
    Oh, God no…was their son deaf?

    Days later, Mom and Dad took the babe
    to their pediatrician
    And in a “good news, bad news” gruff kind
    of way, he assured them
    that the baby was not deaf and that he was
    actually developing
    quite normally – physically – he was in the
    90th percentile, in that respect
    And he went to great lengths to explain how
    good that was, how healthy
    their strapping six month old boy was…
    But…and his voice got very quiet then
    And they knew, there was bad news coming
    He did have some concerns

    Robbie wasn’t reacting to some stimulus the
    way he probably should be by now
    “Like what?” the parents said in concert, their
    voices accusatory, worried, disbelieving, but
    knowing it was true
    The doctor was patient, tried not to be alarming
    but also tried to be thorough

    It bothered him that Robbie didn’t respond to
    hearing his name called
    that he didn’t lift his arms for either of them
    to pick him up
    They protested at that, saying he was probably
    just worn out from the exam, until
    the doctor asked
    “Does he ever make a noise to get your attention?”
    “Ever raise his arms so you’ll pick him up?”
    They both slowly shook their heads.

    The doctor was gentle as he gave them a best
    case scenario
    He believed that Robbie was autistic, but from
    all signs, at the mild end of the spectrum
    He told them that because they were “catching”
    the condition so early
    There was a good chance of helping their boy
    and the condition would improve
    Might even reverse, although he couldn’t promise
    that of course
    He commended them for bringing the baby in so
    So many parents wait until the child is too old,
    the patterns too set
    “And then it’s too late to do much,” he told them.

    The parents spoke little driving home
    and Robbie slept silently in his car-seat
    When they got back to the house,
    they sat in the driveway for long moments
    after the car was shut off —
    Finally, the father heaved a huge sigh,
    took his wife’s hand in his:
    “Things could be so much worse…”
    He leaned his head against hers,
    “I know, it’s just…” she choked on her tears,
    “He’s our baby, our perfect boy…”
    “I know, I know…”

  9. bjzeimer

    1 of 2

    Before my first baby
    was born, I’d packed
    all the items
    my big sister, Betty
    told me I would need–
    a housecoat, slippers,
    and two gowns
    faded from too many
    washings and bleachings
    on the clothesline.
    With the Candy Stripers
    from Mt. Carmel
    helping me along,
    soon someone
    was saying, “Its a boy,”
    placed a soft
    little bundle in my arms.
    Then like the mother
    in a romance magazine
    I once read,
    I counted ten little fingers
    and ten little toes.
    Then, Mommy came
    with two nylon and lace gowns,
    one pink and one green.
    Perfect baby!
    Perfect grandma!
    The happiest day of my life!

    Poem 2 of 2

    The saddest I have ever been
    or ever will be–
    was when my baby died.
    And although he was an adult
    he was still the baby
    in the picture I took
    when I spread a blanket
    out on the grass
    by the old rose bush.
    And when his brother
    offered to buy carnations
    I said, ” No, I want roses.”

  10. Yolee

    One Day Happiness Procured Me

    It came without the usual colors, pictures,
    sounds, textures or suspects. Can’t compare
    that kind of happy with the birth of my children
    or the day I married. It was a sweet lullaby
    I’m sure my mom sang to me as a babe-
    one that transcended words, and it opened
    a portal to a new knowing.

  11. Missy McEwen


    Where we live, sometimes, most times despair

    hovers over us heavy like smog like the smell of cheap

    booze, cigarettes, and weed in the breeze that’s blowing

    our dreams down the street like old newspaper, it seems

    that way to us, where we live. Where we live, we live

    in houses crowded with three, four generations– grandmothers,

    mothers, sometimes fathers, sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts,

    uncles, grandchildren, everybody and screen doors bang

    shut in frustration like throwing their hands up along

    with the rest of us who live here, where we live. But sometimes,

    though, when it seems like this is all there is and hope is nowhere

    to be found, just hard luck and sorrow, sometimes happiness creeps

    up on us: a ray of sunshine through a curtain on a sleeping baby’s

    face or a ray of hope shining on all of us that day a brown man

    was sworn in as the forty-fourth president of the United States

    of America. We were happy as can be, that day, suddenly smiling,

    like change was coming, like a new beginning, like we finally


  12. MichelleMcEwen


    You ever been 
    so happy

    your smile 
    was your whole body?

    You felt it 
    in your fingertips

    almost like you could
    play piano

    almost like you could
    have a green thumb

    & could grow
    anything you wanted 

    offa all that happiness…


    I was happy
    in that way once

    on a back porch
    in North Carolina

    with a boy 
    outta Fayvetteville

    telling me
    how I be

    sweet like
    his mama’s tea. 

    1. Missy McEwen

      So much feeling here! LOVE! Love “…your smile was your whole body…”
      love the “…offa all that happiness…” and love the WELL. What a transition :)
      and what comes after the transition — love!

  13. Broofee


    I walk out early in the
    Work all day
    Before ending up
    On a beer

    Saturday comes
    And She comes along
    Sunday follows
    With a family visit.

    A concert here,
    A book there,
    A funny sketch on TV,
    A French comic book
    And some tasty spicy food.

    When am I the happiest?
    As long as I’m still


    We had a good time, didn’t we?
    He asked me once.
    Yes, I said, we did.

    The time he asked
    He was very sick.

    A day here, a day there
    Five and a half years
    Have passed
    Since he’s gone.

    Saddest moment?
    Every time
    I remember.

  14. Karen H. Phillips

    Day 12
    Prompt: Write about your happiest or saddest moment.


    The bleeding and cramping wouldn’t stop,
    even as I lay so still and prayed.
    I was right at twelve weeks.
    We had endured long infertility,
    two laparoscopies for me.
    You rushed away from work and held my hand
    as our hoped-for baby perished.
    We spoke of God’s plan and didn’t feel hopeless,
    just very very sad.


    In the days pre-cell phone
    my husband couldn’t track me down.
    I’d been shopping.
    He sent an employee to our house to tell me,
    “Steve really, really needs you to call him.”
    I could hear the joy in his voice,
    lilting with his love for me:
    “We’re going to the agency tomorrow, to meet
    our son.”

  15. Lori P


    They always catch my eye
    those road signs that direct
    you to the next big city on the interstate
    like a sign in Phoenix that says
    take this exit towards Los Angeles
    as if you just have to cross that
    big dotted, exit only line and
    be transported to the angels’ city

    but I’m glad it doesn’t work that way
    or I couldn’t be on my way to work
    and just keep going
    feel the road under me
    connect with my traffic cohort
    find the right place to stop
    and go to sleep knowing that
    when I mess up the covers
    someone else will put them back

  16. Cin5456

    The Moment That Lasted Too Long

    Her saddest moment lasted four months
    dragging her down by increments.
    Spring proved a cruel season that year.
    She lost for her best friend, a feline
    whose love helped her through hard times.
    Her friend succumbed
    to a feline cancer
    during a February thaw.
    Saying goodbye at the clinic,
    holding her gently while
    the shots put her friend past help
    was the hardest thing
    she had ever done.

    One month later to the day, March
    proved crueler than February.
    In one moment, her life changed
    with a phone call. Her mother
    choked up before saying
    her younger brother
    was gone.
    Harder to bear
    was the news that he died
    alone in a hotel while working
    for a client out of town, and
    was not discovered for three days.
    His wife and mother worried for him
    when he did not answer his phone,
    or contact them over the weekend.
    Monday morning his client called them
    to enquire on his absence.
    They called his hotel manager
    who entered his room with police.
    The funeral and memorial brought
    the family together for the last time.

    Spring was in full bloom when
    it happened again, this time closer
    to her home. Her roommate, whose
    battle with breast cancer was going
    on three years, passed away,
    surrounded by family, friends and herself.
    Though they knew the time approached
    it took all by surprise. The doctors said
    they could do nothing more, but she
    told no one. Her roommate said
    one day she seemed fine,
    and the next she could no longer speak.
    Frantic calls to family half a world away
    brought son and daughter together
    for the first time in ten years
    to say goodbye to their mother.
    For the woman who lost all three
    of the best beings in her life, she endured
    over four months of mounting pain,
    so saying goodbye was difficult.
    She spent the next weeks
    dealing with her grief alone.
    She vowed to never get that close
    with anyone, friend, family or pet, again.

    She stuck to her vow for five years. Until
    one day a roommate in a house of
    four strangers, told the woman
    she no longer wanted her cat. She
    had a dog now, and the cat,
    given to her by family, was
    not her choice of pet.
    She was moving out, and
    The girl planned
    to take the cat
    to the pound.
    the woman said,
    No, you can’t.
    They will kill the poor thing.
    I’ll take her and keep her safe
    for the rest of her life. That decision
    changed her life again. She found
    a new friend, a source of joy and love,
    who gave the woman a new reason to love.

  17. cimonique


    Wind beneath my skin
    Touch against my hurt
    Eyes upon my shadows
    Kiss quenching my thirst

    Strength inside my cave
    Patience ringing brave
    Promise on my fears
    Heart drinking my tears

    Breath tickling my mind
    Every flaw divine
    Love loving my doubts
    Peace drowning my shouts

  18. BezBawni

    Wishful Thinking

    The dress was perfect.
    I thought I saw an angel
    when you walked the aisle.
    We kissed, and of all my life
    it was the happiest day.

    The dress was perfect.
    You were the perfect bridegroom,
    and I think I smiled.
    It might have been my best day,
    had it been me in that dress.

  19. Mywordwall



    Tears mingled with blood – laced waters
    wailing rent the air
    for lives and dreams gone
    orphans roamed the streets
    mothers held their lifeless young
    fathers could only clench their hands
    where is hope
    what is life
    when all their world is gone
    and tomorrows shine
    upon the devastation.

    Yet this tragedy that caused tremendous agony
    has also awakened wells of kindness within
    each person who witnessed the loss
    who in his humble way helps carry the victims’ cross.
    Amidst all the pain, it is consoling to see
    how people and nations give a helping hand
    and set aside any differences there are
    (even for short while)
    to give hope and relieve
    their suffering brother’s pain.

  20. Rosemary Nissen-Wade

    Birthday Moments


    The most unhappy moment on my birthday
    was the moment I noticed I’d lost my shawl.
    The weather was neither hot nor cold
    but warm, with short spurts of rain.
    I took my black woollen shawl ‘just in case’.
    It was the perfect weight for between seasons.

    After lunch I stood to leave the café
    and saw I didn’t have it — nowhere at all.
    I consoled myself: ‘It was twelve years old’,
    still I went back over the terrain
    I’d walked before. Of course, not a trace.
    I supposed the Universe must have its reasons.


    I recalled being told, a year ago,
    ‘You should stop wearing so much black.
    Get into light colours —pink , blue, green.’
    This was said in the course of a healing
    so I should have paid it closer attention,
    but that shawl was a gift from a dear friend.

    The happiest birthday moment, you know,
    was kind of the same one, turned on its back.
    With my old shawl nowhere to be seen,
    clearly someone had found it and decided on stealing.
    I went to the cop shop and made a mention —
    then I bought me a present, a pink shawl. The End.

    Form: rimas dissolutas.

  21. De Jackson

    The Quiet Whoosh of a Window Opening

    “And he turned around and he left…That’s my best day.”
           “What was your worst day?”
    “Same day.”
                – from the movie City Slickers

    The door slams.
           She stands.
    Mourns who she’s been.
                     Begins again.


  22. alanasherman

    day 12 happy moment
    I really hope my happiest moment is still out there somewhere but this one was as happy as I’ve been in a long time

    An Ordinary Happiness

    This morning
    the sun barely up
    over hills
    yellow tinged.
    We discuss bird tracks in snow
    how the ice crackles

    as Hannah,
    four, makes her own path.
    Breath rises,
    the school bus
    waits, everything awaits her—
    the common, the strange.

    Blue Jays land
    in the apple tree’s
    twisted arms.
    At wood’s edge
    mystery and wonder pause
    until she comes home.


  23. Sara McNulty

    The Game

    Winter on Montauk,
    logs lit, and blazing
    in the stone fireplace
    of our shared cabin
    on the hill. Four friends
    sitting, sipping wine,
    and playing a game
    my husband created,
    consisting of hypothetical
    situations in form of questions
    to which there were no
    right answers. We were
    astounded by each other’s
    replies. I can still hear
    us laughing.

    Dad’s Last Moments

    We hunch over his bed,
    holding his hands, as his eyelids
    flicker like bad reception
    on a television screen. Upset,
    we question nurses; they tell us
    to come back later, after they hang
    up another bag of nourishment.
    Foolishly, we listen. Ten minutes
    later, we get ‘the call.’ The screen
    was dark, reception gone. A wrong
    decision that we can never right.

  24. deringer1


    she is mine
    her struggles all done
    sleeping here
    safe with me
    please God, let her grow up strong
    I will keep her close


    God is good
    She is beautiful
    leaving now
    leaving me
    oh what can I do?
    I cannot hold her

  25. Nancy Posey

    I spent about 18 years as a…

    Lamaze Instructor

    After seven or eight weeks of forced intimacy,
    them waddling in with pillows, blankets,
    and their partners—husband, boyfriends,
    their own mothers sometimes—me, instructing
    with barely a glance at my notes, readying them
    for the big day—the one they awaited eagerly,
    anxiously. I breathed along with them—pant,
    pant, pant, blow—practicing for that day
    when the pains were real. They called me,
    some of them, perhaps just for reassurance—
    Should we go to the hospital yet? Should we call?
    A few asked—hesitation in their voices—if I
    would go with them, my presence calming,
    just in case they forgot everything they’d learned.
    And so I did—helping young men, first-time
    fathers to fall into the rhythm, reading her
    eyes, her moods, her contractions building
    like hills, then mountains, offering comfort.
    Each time, I worked myself out of a job,
    showing him where and how to touch,
    how to hold her up, to rally her spirits until,
    at last, with a push, a cry, a gush—a child
    emerged red and wrinkled, bawling
    at the shock of this strange new bright world.
    I edged back into a corner, an observer now,
    my job complete as I bore witness to joy
    that comes with each birth as if for the first time.

  26. erifnosmirc

    “We Pray For”

    We pray for
    the summer rain
    to water
    our crops,
    our livelihood.
    Our rice paddies
    in their
    dirt cakes.
    Our banana
    and mango trees
    to their roots,
    the shriveled
    fruit they have
    We work,
    toil across
    the earth,
    hacking it
    with our spades,
    and hoes.
    We cut,
    our plots
    into patchwork terra.
    Between each line
    of plants
    lay rows
    to collect
    the blessing rain
    we pray for

    we pray for
    the sun
    to evaporate
    the rain
    and the wind
    to blow it
    towards the
    shores of
    our islands.
    Our rice paddies
    curdled into
    quicksand mud
    that swallows
    our homes
    inch by inch.
    Our banana
    and mango trees
    shred into
    and spears
    that crucify
    our families
    the rubble.
    We work,
    toil across
    the earth
    the piles
    of rotting
    and elderly.
    We cut,
    our plots
    into six-
    before we
    our dead
    and curse
    the rain
    that blessed

  27. bethwk

    I’ve wandered a little far afield with this one. The idea for a Passion/Calm poem started to work on me this morning as I was headed to work, and I decided to follow that rather than the specific happy/sad prompt.

    Now I realize that I must fling myself
    into the center of my life
    with a fierce intensity
    and passionate joy
    or risk dissipation.

    And all while holding the center,
    while wearing a mantle of calm.
    This, too, helps to hold it all together.

    That still small place cannot exist for me
    without the passion that feeds it.
    Nor can I maintain the fire
    without the quiet and glowing core.

  28. DWong


    Tears filled my eyes
    while I smiled
    at the sound
    of the kitten cry
    at the sight
    of those tiny hands.

    Tears drowned my heart
    when I learned
    that she would
    never learn to read
    that she would
    never graduate.

  29. hohlwein

    The Happiest Moment

    Before we got wet
    or after we got wet
    or as we thought of it – without saying –
    or before we thought of it.

    Dinner with friends. Wine
    and what did we speak of
    for hours all of us at the height
    of our beauty
    and before failures,
    fallings away, before devastations
    or was that true?

    Between them anyway.
    Dressed. Lovely. Each loved
    and funny. All well. All there.
    Every morsel shared. Savoured.

    We walked out afterwords over the cobblestones
    over the canals to the park.
    I remember evening, but it must have been night.
    I remember my dress brushing my body
    and everything everything perfect.
    My laughter, ours, our delight filling the evening
    settling on the lake.

    Our family whole – or whole enough.
    Our friends: family
    all of us at the height
    of our beauty

    Fully dressed, finely dressed
    We wanted to run, to run and jump
    into the lake, fully dressed, finely
    And, in there somewhere,
    in the air somewhere perhaps,
    was the happiest moment of my life.

  30. cbwentworth

    Through all the mistakes,
    learning and laughter
    The mirror reflects
    a face I know well
    No doubt, no question
    I am who I am
    That golden moment,
    of finding myself

    Slowly, each piece slips
    taking my spirit
    A stranger stares back,
    unfamiliar eyes
    Scared and insecure,
    I fade into black
    My mind is broken,
    lost in the shards: me

  31. bxpoetlover

    The happiest day of my life

    was rife with pain so I felt no guilt
    when I begged for Demerol. Four hours of
    heavy breathing was enough.
    Lamaze is for Warrior Women.
    I was 22 and broke
    squeezing my mother’s hand and unapologetic
    about my profanity.
    It was nothing like what I saw
    on TV, sweaty screaming and then
    a few quick pushes. They gave me
    an enema and petocin to force my contractions.
    They had to break my water, and it
    looked like anything but. I vomited.
    I slept and pushed, slept and pushed. When
    I heard his cries, I reached out and said, “My son.”
    I held him for a minute. Felt heat down below
    as they sewed me up. I babbled then fell asleep.
    Four hours later I arose, found the nursery,
    and held my miracle, uncertain of how to proceed
    but certain with all the love around me
    I would figure it all out.

    And on the saddest day of my life, I looked down
    at the body of my father. His eyes
    were closed, his tongue hanging out of his mouth.
    My son was eleven. Eight years later
    he still has Daddy’s journal and books.
    When my sister and I laugh about
    swinging on his arms, pillow fights, his jokes,
    the backseat beatings during our arguments in the car,
    he mourns the loss of his best friend.

  32. carolecole66

    Half Way to Always

    It took years to get the house ready,
    to clear out closets, scrape out corners
    I’d ignored for years. The back closet
    alone: old t-shirts, flare bottom jeans,
    black light posters, photos of me
    in bells and beads. I cleared
    old luggage I’d hauled around
    for decades, then stripped the skin
    of grime that tried to hold me hostage still.
    Old bottles, decanters, mugs, and flutes,
    old papers, old lives, it had to go down
    to the last layer, a cellular purging. It took
    half my life to get ready to meet you,
    to prepare my home, to pry open the doors,
    to welcome you in.

  33. Julieann

    Upon His Knee

    He was so very sick
    When I was born
    The doctors sent him
    Home to die
    He said, I have a brand
    New baby, Doc,
    And I will live, to rock
    My grandkids upon my knee

    When I was young
    He rocked me upon his knee
    He taught me to skate, ride a bike
    Use a hammer, change a tire
    Act like a lady
    He watched me grow
    He bought into my dreams
    While his, he did deny

    He dreamt of crossing
    The country on Route 66
    And driving down the
    Alcan Highway
    He dreamed of a full life
    And a long, happy retirement
    He dreamed of enjoying his grandchildren
    And rocking them upon his knee

    Many things he did accomplish
    A robust and hardworking man was he
    But as for his fondest dream
    To rock a grandchild upon his knee
    He was suddenly denied
    The Lord needed him up in heaven
    To rock the littlest angels
    Upon his knee

  34. Rosemarie Keenan

    This one
    here, now.
    this one.

    The ever-present now

    But when I’m not feeling so zen
    I’d say
    the day we sat in his crappy car
    with the broken A/C
    with the roof lining sagging down
    and he kissed me.

  35. bartonsmock


    ten men beginning to show outward signs of starvation are standing shoulder to shoulder on the other side of the small window my son is looking through while balancing himself on an exercise ball in a room I am convinced expands. I am not allowed to have this dream. when my wife whispers, I whisper back and god continues to be here by choice. repeating myself means I’m here when I wake up. son, ball, room, window. ten masturbating minimalists. I am not supposed to admire the travel writing career taken on by my son your surgeon. I am saddest knowing my wife’s dream is not the same. ten women and the chance I haven’t done it. were it the first year of my probable eleven, god is the lie I’d pick to get out of the room.

  36. RJ Clarken

    For Gideon

    watched your
    bright balloon
    rise in the early morning sky. You smiled,
    and in that moment, the clouds disappeared
    and brilliant



    For Steve

    still can’t
    why you chose that train for your destiny.
    There should have been more stops along the way:
    journeys can
    end too


  37. Hannah

    Early in the Temple
    Written silently
    sand drawn secrets,
    peer inward He suggests;
    hindering stones-
    these thrown threats.
    Utter embarrassment
    transforms instantaneously
    as she stands afield alone now;
    accusers have slinked away,
    one by one as slithering snakes.
    Where fear and ridicule resided
    grace has traced a new design,
    acceptance fills her
    and forgiveness floods in.
    Copyright © Hannah Gosselin 2013
    Based on John 8:1-11

  38. Walt Wojtanik


    The phone rang.
    It was early enough that I hadn’t had
    time to get squirrelly from work.
    The voice on the line perked me up.
    Sleepy. Peaceful. Warm. A port in the storm
    that life sometimes provides. Cuddly.
    Wishing for arms long enough to hold
    and brace me from the bitter cold
    of the day. But it went away; replaced
    by the warmth of a loving heart. A good start.

    Tender good-day wishes
    and sounded kisses for goodbyes,
    my eyes can envision her. Still snuggled at rest,
    the best place she could be (except there with me).
    And a smile forms, just as warm as her well-worn comforter,
    Her respite is much needed; deserved. A rest long over-due.
    Head throbbing, robbing thought, throat sore and scratchy,
    patchy aches and pains attack, an achy-breaky back
    place her smack dab in the middle of another need for relief.
    It is their belief that’s its crazy to call her lazy; she’s fatigued.

    I have her for lunch.
    I had a hunch she’d call.
    For all the wondering, I’m still under her spell.
    It’s hard to tell if the feeling is renewed, or brand new,
    but few sensations bring such elation as the sound of her.
    But, I can be sure that she holds my thought kindly, a reminder
    that I find her to be every bit as special and beautiful; a dutiful heart
    caress of two souls so blessed to share moments of life’s parade.
    Discarding the charade, we give each other joy freely, a really nice way
    to spend this extremely happy day.

    There’s work to do,
    me in the foundry and you with laundry,
    getting your sundry outfits clean, but we find the time
    to unwind with laughs and poke, guffaws and jokes and photos
    of clothes dryers and puppy dogs taking a flyer in heavy traffic.
    But the pic of the bluest sky catches my eye; a reminder of what I find
    when I look south, and my mouth slack jawed at the beauty, a duty of nature
    to boost the stature of mere mortals who are blessed by such glimpses.
    And as the day winds down, we clown around laughter in major doses
    medicine for what ails me. It never fails me when I need a lift. A real gift.

    And night falls.
    And these four walls close in
    bringing us closer in heart and mind.
    And again I find that this adventure would not play
    if you were not a part of my day. Say what you will, it is a thrill
    to be spending quality time in quantity and all the loving wannabes
    should gather quotes and take notes on how it is done. Battles lost and
    won in the clenches, are tempered in gentle caresses and touches and as much
    TLC that we can muster. Believe it buster, I am blessed at the behest of she.
    We had a wonderful time in our own little way and it’s as if to say “Oh Happy Day!”

    1. Hannah

      To live and especially love in such a complete way… *sigh* I’m sure that He smiles.

      Beautiful poem, Walt and the image of the jaw-dropping sky…I can totally relate, nature has such a way of impressing!

      :)’s poem neighbor!

  39. JRSimmang


    I’ve been told,
    is a virtue.

    So is courage,
    and compassion.

    At the end of the path,
    I stood,

    Until the leaves settled
    around their hands-

    Until the peacock giggles

    Until the wind finished
    singing our song through
    the reeds-

    Until the last tear fell
    from inconsolable happiness-

    We stood,
    staring at the darks in each
    others’ eyes, expressing

    You’ve built this
    with my hands,
    and I yours.

    It’s a step, they say,
    into the shadow.

    I say,
    it’s a step out of
    the shadow and into
    the blinding light.

    Used to be, that solitude was
    affirming. Mistakes, to be sure,
    were best spent from my wallet.

    Only in this way, can I truly
    embrace your

    Nothing we’ve said
    can be

    Every winter, when the windows are left open, we find ourselves curved in the deepest parts of our blankets, layered high on the floor. Rolling, crumbling, reconstituting, we rise. I found a new meaning for the term love, right there, in the middle of you. I found that it had to be with your hand and head and heart and other “h” things that exist on and in our bodies, where I truly found my own h things.


    -JR Simmang

    1. Hannah

      I love the bold words within and your closing lines, “Every winter, when the windows are left open, we find ourselves curved in the deepest parts of our blankets, layered high” beautifully visual writing!

  40. Cameron Steele


    They don’t ask me,
    Ready to go home or
    are you feeling better and
    will you sleep through the night?
    Dad slings my suitcase
    into the truck, Mom clears
    her throat from the cab,
    and I shrink against the backseat
    the way I learned to years ago.
    If I look up into the rearview
    mirror I will catch her eye
    and see worry snagged
    like a lost lure.
    Instead I stare at my wrists
    and pretend to find
    the answers to questions
    they won’t ask:
    I don’t know.

  41. Ber

    In My Arms

    There they are
    those shooting pains
    pushing and pulling
    like horses reins

    Fast and furious
    galloping away on me
    please make the pain stop
    i’m really not ready

    Oh no i shout out
    please get me there
    i’m so scared and vulnerable
    my friends they haven’t got a care

    Off go the sirens
    they finally have arrived
    i clasp the nurses hand
    she wipes my forehead
    with a cloth
    like a sweatband

    Breath in and out
    are her words to me
    what would you know
    please leave me be

    Barely in the door
    no time to ignore
    you have arrived
    my beautiful baby boy

    With eyes looking up
    your skin so soft and fair
    your head full of thick
    dark brown hair

    I know from this day forward
    my life would never be the same
    as i sat watching you graduate
    these thoughts
    i did contemplate

    My handsome son
    i’m proud
    you have never let me down
    your beautiful big smile
    you never ever frowned

    Now your a grown man
    i know that your okay
    the day that you were born
    you took my heart away

  42. Margie Fuston


    On her wedding day,
    Anna wore clouds
    sewn into the folds
    of her gown.

    On her wedding night,
    Anna wore her husband’s
    desires, written on her skin
    like commandments.

    On her first anniversary,
    Anna wore her husband’s
    fingers, tight around her wrists
    like manacles.

    On her last anniversary,
    Anna wore a turtleneck sweater
    to hide the bruises branded
    on her flesh.

  43. elishevasmom

    Can You Hear It?

    When she called,
    it was clear she had
    good news to share.

    That kind of excitement
    you can’t fake, even
    from a distance.

    She related the whole
    background, filling in
    every sweet detail,

    to make the outcome
    all-the-richer, like a
    fresh, out of the oven

    pecan pie. I have to
    admit now, all of those
    honey-filled cracks in

    the hows and wherefores
    of the journey did make her
    arrival much sweeter.

    And yes, I could hear her grin.

    Ellen Knight 11.12.13
    write a “happiest/saddest” poem for PAD 11.13

  44. elishevasmom


    There are many
    sounds that escape the body
    as various emotions
    engage our
    conscious and subconscious.

    Most are expressed
    in different ways, but
    many are even
    the complexity of
    the autonomic reflexes.

    There is one that is unique—
    having its source in a
    place so dark we have
    fortified our psyches against
    it. And so, it is wrenched
    out into the open—it is the
    mourner’s wail.

    Even if heard
    from a distance, the sound
    finds recognition deep
    within you, makes you uneasy,
    leaves you slightly

    Part of you begs to
    run, offering comfort.
    The other part, firmly rooted
    in the fear
    that some day
    that utterance will be torn
    from your own fragile self
    councils against such puerile
    Only you
    can provide the answer to
    that decision.

    Ellen Knight 11.12.13
    write a “happiest/saddest” poem for PAD 11.13

    1. Marie Elena

      Ellen, this is an amazing piece. I’ve never read a poem about the mourner’s wail.

      It came from me, once. From a place so deep in me, I couldn’t face it except in my sleep. I scared my husband to death, and my throat hurt for days afterward.

  45. DanielAri

    “El Cerrito Del Norte Closed Due to Medical Emergency”

    Yesterday was Veteran’s Day,
    and I parked on the third level
    instead of the roof. Today, it
    was business as usual, but
    the station looked like Saturday.

    A worker was spraying the rails
    With water, and the coroner’s
    van was still parked below. It made
    us want to talk, we strangers.
    The shadows of the holidays

    dropped from the columns, the danger-
    third-rail signs, and our opinions
    of pharmaceutical answers.
    We spoke as though among tombstones
    then exchanged our cautious farewells

    as we boarded the delayed train.
    Did he pay his fare, I wonder.

  46. Clae

    The Rise and Fall of Pleasure

    Once you were here
    I was elated
    You disappeared
    I was deflated

    So life goes As we spin
    On the globe I can’t win

    Here you come

    Here we are

    There you go

  47. elishevasmom


    No parent should ever
    have to stand in front
    of a pine box.
    Especially one that is
    shorter that their arm.

    Ellen Knight 1.12.13
    write a “happiest/saddest” poem for PAD 11.13

  48. Domino

    Loss and Release

    (Selfishly) stricken with grief
    (and relief)
    I’ll miss you the rest of my life.
    As bad as I feel,
    simultaneously, I am glad
    for you.

    Your last wish was to pass
    when your body gave out;
    no grave, grand measures.
    (It still felt like betrayal
    to not try to save you.)

    And though my tears
    still flow,
    I can withstand the blow,
    For I simply know
    you are somehow okay,
    you are still you
    even if you can’t stay.

    I weep.

    You sleep, eternally.
    I cannot yet imagine
    life without you in it.

    But your life beyond?
    You get to begin it.

  49. Susan Schoeffield


    For me,
    camping is the
    best way I know to unwind,
    to prepare for what comes next
    and be ready for it.

    This trip
    would not fail me.
    A night of a thousand stars.
    A campfire’s flames brushed heaven
    and heaven touched my heart.

    Back home,
    a ringing phone
    greeted me on my return.
    Daddy suffered a massive stroke
    and would not recover.

    Two weeks
    later, I thought
    there were no more tears to cry.
    When I felt the worst was over,
    my mother passed away.

    © Susan Schoeffield

  50. writinglife16

    Angie went to camp

    Angie had been away at camp for two weeks.
    She was scared to come home.
    She hadn’t wanted to go but it had been planned.
    The day before she had left, her mother had brain surgery
    to repair an aneurysm.
    She wanted to see her mother.
    She was so happy Mama had survived,
    but she was scared.
    The bus pulled up to the delivery point and
    she got off.
    She saw her parents car and ran to it.
    Mama really was sitting in the front seat
    and she smiled at her.
    Angie burst into tears.
    She was so happy.

  51. Nancy Posey


    Midway through my day, I sought the source
    of my grief, that ache lodged in my chest,
    that dark cloud–stock comic strip scenery–
    hovering overhead. I recalled no encounter
    leaving home, arriving on the job
    beyond trivial morning greetings,
    a shared cup of coffee, a joke or two.
    Why so sad? I wondered, probing my brain,
    my short-term memory for explanation.

    Then I remembered the last minutes
    of my commute: listening, as always,
    to a book. The hanging tension riding
    with me through my day was not mine.
    I’d left behind a carload of suspense,
    stopping as my hero lay battered,
    disappointed—his broken heart,
    lost dog, lost love, lost hope—
    mine to carry through my day, his pain,
    his suffering, real to me, a purpled bruise.
    No cure remained but to turn the page.

  52. Jane Shlensky

    Pursuit of Happiness

    She wisely knew that
    happiness is relative.
    We need some pain
    to help define

    stress and relief,
    betrayal, faith,
    great love and loss
    erode pursuits.
    We do our work.

    We tire of chasing,
    searching, prayer,
    give it to God
    and grab a chair—
    and then it comes.

  53. uneven steven

    The heart breaks in
    mysterious ways
    multiple small cuts
    maiming you for life.
    The many small kindnesses
    making up for it –
    when you are
    blessings beyond all reason
    and expectation
    in middle age,
    all that you can see
    making it all
    at the end
    of you
    and all

  54. Jane Shlensky

    Cold War Wedding

    She married us with dollars in her eyes
    and all your friends and family nearby,
    and I was happy in that photograph
    and happy at the feast, its aftermath
    until the fathers’ toasts became the fare,
    and my father was far away, not there—

    no family or friend of mine on hand
    to see me happy, know and understand
    how much it matters on a special day
    for loves to see us give our hearts away.
    Your uncle rose and took my father’s place,
    a kindness that spilled tears across my face.

    I have felt happy all alone and glad,
    and I have celebrated being sad,
    but bitter-sweetness touched our wedding kiss
    with happy absent faces that I missed.

  55. Earl Parsons

    Happy Days
    (a series of Haikus)

    ‘Twas a happy day
    Graduation set me free
    Now what would I do

    ‘Twas a happy day
    Basic Training was complete
    I’m an Airman now

    ‘Twas a happy day
    Took the matrimony vows
    Thought that it would last

    ‘Twas a happy day
    Saw my son and daughter born
    Happy family

    ‘Twas a happy day
    Freed from misery and pain
    Marriage didn’t work

    ‘Twas a happy day
    Found the one God made for me
    This time it was right

    ‘Twas a happy day
    Blessed with two more daughters dear
    God is great, you know

    ‘Twas a happy day
    All my children trust the Lord
    Angels praise on high

    All are happy days
    Growing old with my true love
    Thank God every day

    Still the happiest
    Time will come when life is done
    In eternity

  56. Misky

    No One Smiles When the World is in Tears

    no one
    deserves to be
    as happy as I feel,
    not with children starving
    in Africa, people dying
    in Cebu, and elderly forgotten
    and freezing in their homes,
    so I keep my expression
    steady, and try not
    to smile the breadth
    of the happiness
    I feel.

    1. Jane Shlensky

      Hello, guilty sister. I’ve felt this same thing until I’m not sure I can define happy without thinking of a spectrum, happy relative to what. This is wonderfully worded and true. Thanks.

      1. Misky

        This week I’m finding it difficult to strike balances. And now there’s another tropical depression forming off the Philippines. They had a major earthquake in October, and now this. My heart is just about breaking, and yet I think of my grandchildren, and I beam with delight.

        1. Jane Shlensky

          My mama used to tell me when I couldn’t be happy because someone somewhere was sad, “Be happy enough for them until they can be happy for themselves.” I understand you, believe me. Hug your grands, be happy, girl, and help if you can. What else?

          1. Marie Elena

            Very wise, Jane.

            Misk, first let me say that I adore your poem. And I can relate. I think it is a female thing. I received a little news pamphlet in the mail years ago from one of our area hospitals. In it there was an article that stated that if a woman makes a decision that makes 9 people happy and one unhappy, she will worry over that one unhappy person. So very true.

  57. taylor graham

    (a Dorsimbra)

    Mountains beyond miles of Mojave sand.
    One smoke-tree. He’d twist his face in a squint,
    mixing colors, then take his brush in hand.
    Shade, distance, desert-haze, the exact tint.

    “Happiness? not the point,” he’d say
    as cars sped by at 80
    going somewhere else.
    “Driven; never satisfied,” but painting.

    Dead now. How sad he’d be, to know that place
    is a housing tract. Sand paved over. But
    his desert hangs on our wall, just as he
    saw it. Sky-colors the shade of his eyes.

      1. Jane Shlensky

        Love the title. It has that knee-jerk quality of the poem. You wonder why a person would stand before others to say No when it would be bad enough in private.

  58. Bruce Niedt

    This is about my happiest and saddest moments as a baseball fan:

    Why I Don’t Ride Roller Coasters

    I don’t need to, because I’m a Phillies fan.
    Because they cranked me up the rise
    in ’64, only to drop me into free fall
    when they lost a six-game lead
    in the last week of the season.

    Because they got me to the top in ’80,
    when Tug made the final out and leapt
    from the mound, but Joe Carter
    made me scream at the drop-off
    when he hit that walk-off homer
    for the Blue Jays in ’93.

    Because we had a wild ride in ’08,
    but since then it’s been less exciting
    every year, more disappointment.
    Now the bar is up, the park is closed
    for another season,, but I won’t try
    another coaster. Creature of habit,
    or faithful fan, I want to go around again.

    1. Jane Shlensky

      The title and first line pulled me into reading you and I’m so glad. Here in Duke-State-Carolina sports hell, people are up and down all the time. This made me chuckle.

    2. writinglife16

      Whoa, do I understand. This is in-you-face writing that makes the reader feel the frustration too. And I can empathize to a certain degree. I am a Michigan Wolverine football fan and this season has been…not what was expected.

  59. annell

    With Paint/Without
    It doesn’t take much
    To send me over the moon
    I am happiest
    At work
    Splashing red, yellow and blue

    When I have squeezed
    The last of the paint
    From the tube
    The sky is grey
    I am miserable

  60. Connie Peters


    In a land
    Called Ketchikan
    With boats along the docks
    Then up a hill
    And steeper still
    A tram car like a box

    That’s where he
    Proposed to she
    As they looked out on the town
    Happy going up
    More so going down

  61. Walt Wojtanik


    This is the day the Lord has made,
    and in it, He has given a voice to our wondering,
    and a choice to find happiness or wander
    aimlessly and without much purpose.

    But, this moment… this right now
    is meant to be cherished and embraced
    a happy place where love lives without
    barriers. The scarier scenario places us

    into spaces we think are beyond our scope.
    But against all hope we know that we are given
    all than we can handle… He gives us the
    candle to light our way, today and everyday.

    No moment is greater that the one we’re in.
    It would be a sin to waste it on past indiscretions.
    Through the intercession of Love we find our happiness.
    Let us rejoice and be glad in it!

  62. Jerry Walraven

    “All of these moments”

    You can identify
    these grand moments
    of happiness
    by how they color in
    the rest of your life.
    how I know
    autumn leaves
    skittering across
    an over-night snow
    will light
    my daughter’s eyes
    and so my eyes

  63. Benjamin Thomas

    To the Wind and the Awe of Life

    To the Wind

    Squealing through the Flagstaff mountains meandering through outstretched roads of anguish that vehemently mocked my course as I traveled steadily descending into the lower parts of sunbaked Arizona, a parched desert of hell. But I was already there, burnt to a crisp, baking in the heat of my own distress. My soul had no rest, knowing that my father just lost his to the wind. And I was still snowballing down the mountains missing his last breath. Never to see his chest rise again.

    The Awe of Life

    He was the issue of arduous labor,
    Chilling pains that rode our senses for miles. “It’s a boy” he said, came to fruition sealing our joy that day. The sight of him brightened the room squandering the night’s toil. At that moment the nurse splayed him across my chest. He sat there peacefully, at ease. Our eyes greeting for the first time. We traded breaths equally, as I stared at him in awe of life.

  64. barbara_y

    Night Fishing #1

    Is it happiness? My teeth click-clacking
    like a train, so violently awake with too many
    summer stars to name I can’t get the answer out: Yes
    I’m getting dressed. So Mama stomps quietly in
    –not to wake the house. Sees me
    in the moon, shaking so my hands can’t button.
    And just waits.

    I would say, now, companionably.

  65. JanetRuth


    After travail
    A newborn wail
    And the first breath
    Of motherhood
    She kisses with joy
    Wee girl or boy
    And whispers,
    It is good,
    It is good

    …and she does not yet know
    As she cradles
    and cuddles them so
    That with that first kiss
    Begins the lifelong
    Bittersweet bliss
    Of holding and
    Letting go

  66. Linda Goin

    Happiness is a Buttered Noodle

    In a kitchen
    at Eagle Rock,
    two brothers whoop it up
    over a story
    about a pinched chicken,
    roasted and shared
    with sidekicks
    seventy years ago.
    The younger brother,
    Billy, remembers
    eating dinner
    every evening
    with neighbors
    after previewing
    his own meager meal.
    My dad crows,
    Oh it showed!
    Billy was meatier
    than all six siblings

    Those men claimed
    little loyalty
    to the family
    table, laden
    with buttered
    noodles, more
    buttered noodles,
    and butter,
    with noodles.
    Depression era fare,
    to be sure,
    unwitting grit
    that finally feeds
    these two brothers
    in a kitchen
    at Eagle Rock.

  67. MLundstedt

    “The Balloon”

    It was bluer than her eyes
    And lighter than the clouds
    And she toddled with new focus,
    Through the festive crowds.

    I nearly cried myself,
    Seeing tears upon her face,
    When she stumbled just a bit
    And it flew up into space.

  68. Linda Rhinehart Neas


    After the long battle towards the end –
    After passing through the darkness to light –
    I held you so close to my heart
    feeling the gentle breath of your life
    caressing my breast. Looking down
    into your eyes, I became lost
    in the reflection of generations
    of women holding their first born.
    Like two mirrors reflecting each other,
    we both go on into infinity.