Editors Blog

2013 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 13

For today’s prompt, write a self-help poem. It can be written in the style of a self-help article or book. Or you can take it in a more subtle self-help direction.

Here’s my attempt at a self-help poem:


What happens here stays here
except for what doesn’t and

besides a city hides
beneath the city lights

in the sewer system
misplaced people find homes

tossed to the side they know
self-help means help thy self.


Get your poetry published! With the 2014 Poet’s Market, loaded with listings for publishers of poetry. Click to continue.


Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and was completely captivated by the Las Vegas “tunnel people” story (click here to read). While the story has been out there for a few years, he just discovered it a few months ago. 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) and who’s been doing the challenge herself. Follow Robert on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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233 thoughts on “2013 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 13

  1. Jezzie

    Start Anew

    We’ve had some problems (haven’t we all?)
    but now it’s time to call an end
    to it all and start again.
    Today is our first day.
    Forget all is past
    and start anew.
    It’s up to
    me and

  2. alanasherman

    #13 Self Help

    I Can’t Help Myself
    “Dread Sets In And Stays”
    Cormac McCarthy

    The deep sense of unease
    begins in my gut—what my doctor
    used to call free floating anxiety—
    by noon I’m shaking from head
    to toe. Life is short and brutal
    they say and I can’t figure out
    why the images of illness
    and the end of the world
    are so relentless. Disaster
    after disaster comes, tragedy after tragedy.
    How many can I take in a year?
    By two o’clock I’m desperate, fighting
    my own landscape, looking for the monster
    I long to control before it rips
    my head off. Every day it comes.
    I recognize it. No matter
    what story I tell myself, I know
    it isn’t even a good story—Who
    gets stuck with pain— Alone in the dark
    I know there is only wish (and luck)
    between ourselves and hurt.


  3. bjholmes

    Help My Self Help

    My self needs help,
    but how do I help my self?
    I can think to my self,
    or I can read to my self.
    But does that help
    my self or
    is it self help?
    I think my self needs more help!

  4. seingraham

    How to Regain Your Bearings

    When dark deserts you as it must
    Don’t fight the light, breathe it in
    and swipe leftover nightmares
    from the cavernous space
    that stands in for your mind now

    Let your feet find the floor with that
    automatic thing feet do and stand,
    start moving without thinking about it
    Just get going: bathroom, breakfast,
    meds, get dressed, coffee,
    Do the crossword, no thinking more
    than this, but yes, more coffee

    By this time, check outside and if
    it’s nice enough;
    Go for a walk — same place every day
    Around the lake near your house
    You can begin thinking now
    Consider how you feel…
    If it’s not nice enough for this,
    get in your car and drive to a mall;
    walk there…
    The thinking should commence there —
    same deal

    Every day will be the like this
    for as long as it takes
    Once you’ve been out of your mind,
    it takes a certain amount of organized
    ritualization; a commitment to
    regaining your equilibrium
    that is almost militaristic
    in its regimental severity.

    But it only takes once or twice
    around the block of non-observation;
    once or twice of ignoring the voice that tells
    you that this is wrong,
    that you need to follow a certain order
    and it’s not the natural order of things
    then you know — or that is, if you’re lucky,
    you know…
    that there’s only one route back to sanity

    If you’re not so lucky, you’ll be a long time
    finding this out
    This self-help manual will be denied you
    and you will spend inordinate amounts of time
    inside a place that will keep you safe from yourself
    but won’t help you in any other way…so try
    to learn the procedure, yes?

  5. Glory

    A Lesson Learnt

    How you lied
    broke my heart,
    and never did act contrite.

    How I grieved
    how I sighed,
    at your many hurtful lies

    How you laughed
    at my woeful face
    turned away, showed no grace.

    And now I smile
    forget those lies,
    find new love, in another’s eyes

  6. bjzeimer


    When you go by yourself
    to your feature
    and there’s no one
    to take pictures for Facebook
    and all you have
    is your Straight Talk
    slider phone
    that takes pictures,
    you try to strike
    the best pose you can,
    count on getting
    more than just your eye
    or a lopsided grin,
    hope no one’s watching,
    post your selfie on Facebook–
    that’s self-help.

  7. julie e.


    Remember to trust your instincts
    and wear clean underwear
    Remember when the signals change
    to check from side to side
    before proceeding onward
    let your conscience be your guide
    and always make good choices
    and never forget to laugh.

  8. Rosemarie Keenan

    “Posture is more important to the tall girl than to any other type. The tall girl should live up to every inch of her height to make it an asset.” Beauty column, 1937

    5’ 10”

    I get my advice from the newspapers
    from female relatives
    from Mrs. Roosevelt

    Stand up straight
    Don’t slouch
    Be proud of my altitude

    And if I can’t help myself
    from making myself
    than I am

    my Aunt Helen,
    her knuckle digging
    Into that tender spot
    between my shoulder blades,
    will set me straight.

  9. Missy McEwen

    Natural Hair

    Bring me water/for these flowers/growing/
    out my mind – Erykah Badu

    use the waters
    of lake victoria
    &/or the nile
    &/or lake minnetonka
    to wash yo hair
    you don’t need

    next dry it
    in the sun
    if there ain’t none
    (or if it ain’t warm)
    then go to a place
    where there is some
    cuz sun
    gives it shine

    fo the best
    results do this
    once every month
    & watch
    yo hair grow
    & grow
    like flowers
    in due time

  10. Dare

    All It Costs Is Some Change

    I read books
    filled with good advice
    that was
    Very Wise
    Very Practical

    I heard talks
    filled with great insight
    that was
    Very Wise
    Very Practical

    I attended groups
    Filled with brave souls
    Who were
    Very Wise
    Very Practical

    Theory was
    a piece of cake
    I choked on

  11. gl86

    Your fervid laughter fools no one;
    much less the inspirational words
    that cover your walls and buttress
    Your Broken Home

    A fortress of self-help books can
    tumble at the slightest breeze.
    And the moat is being drained by
    Your Selfish Craving

  12. BezBawni


    people always age
    time would stop for no one
    people never change
    casting every stone

    whether trained or not
    people grow tired
    people grow hot
    always have desires

    people always need
    freedom, water, air
    wounded people bleed
    kind people care

    miles always last
    lost is more than found
    people clutch their past
    go and come around

    people love and hate
    people can’t be holy
    wisdom’s always late
    pain is always early

    there’s a time to thrive
    there’s a time to wallow
    help yourself to life:
    suck it up and swallow

  13. Lori P

    Self Help

    everyone gets better
    sooner or later
    keep on doing
    what you’re doing
    put in the time

    always learn
    learn from your mistakes,
    others’ mistakes,
    others’ triumphs,
    your triumphs,
    accidents that worked somehow,
    ignorant know-it-alls,
    and if you have to—books.

  14. Rosemary Nissen-Wade

    How to Be a Cat

    You may be fat, you may be lean,
    or even something in between.
    It doesn’t really matter what;
    it’s not the waistline makes the cat.

    But you must learn to move with grace
    and be inscrutable of face.
    You need to undulate and slink,
    while not revealing what you think.

    Your deepest thoughts I mean, of course.
    The urgent you’ll convey with force —
    like, ‘Let me out!’ and ‘Feed me now!’
    ‘Purr!’ is reward; chastisement ‘Miaow!’

    You have to train your human pet.
    You must be firm. Don’t ever let
    them really have the upper hand,
    though they may think so — understand?

    But there are limits, I’m afraid,
    to how much headway can be made.
    They’ll never learn to hunt and kill
    although you demonstrate it well.

    But you can show them where you itch
    and teach them proper ways to scratch,
    and how much room you need in bed,
    and let them stroke you when they’re good.

    Your fur and whiskers and your claws,
    you will clean them — they are yours.
    And you will keep both yard and house
    free of lizard, bird or mouse.

    So you establish boundaries,
    and can create a life of ease.
    And if you will do all of that,
    it won’t be hard to be a cat.

  15. Karen H. Phillips

    Day 13
    Prompt: Write a self-help poem.

    The Self-Help Section Is Empty

    I can’t help myself.
    Nobody can help himself or herself.
    All sheep, all gone astray.
    Needing redemption, beyond hope, except–
    the blood, the cross, the forgiveness of Jesus
    the Christ.

  16. Sara McNulty

    Help Yourself

    Help yourself, they say,
    setting down a bowl, bulging
    with miniature chocolates
    wrapped in gold foil.

    He knows he should be
    watching his weight,
    and at present is flanked
    by two thin, animated
    people who seem uninterested
    in the chocolate mountain.

    If he helps himself to a few
    choice morsels, he will
    not be able to stop. Also,
    a pragmatic problem arises–
    how to pile up the wrappers.
    Imagine if someone counts
    them. No, that would not do
    at all. Politely, he excuses
    himself to the skeletons
    on either side of him,
    and moves to a seat
    across the room.

  17. Cameron Steele


    It’s really as simple
    as eating and believing
    that even though
    your face has lines
    and your legs
    don’t stretch for miles
    you are worthy
    of belonging
    to someone who will
    pour over your
    body —

    the way
    you flick through pages
    of magazines
    hungry and scared
    that you will never be
    good enough
    to wear silk
    stockings and
    gold-toed boots
    or even a hint
    of red on your cracked lips.
    Really it isn’t
    easy at all
    trying to be a
    woman when
    every glossy
    pages shows
    you what you cannot
    be unless you
    deny your body
    and starve
    your soul. But
    it’s never as
    complicated as
    you believe.

    1. PressOn

      Your title and the long, think appearance of the poem accentuate your summation, or so it seems to me. The key phrase, as I see it, is “worthy of belonging to someone.” I think this is excellent.

  18. De Jackson


    Pull yourself up and out and on
    -to something much less fragile.
    Tie them loose, though, for bare
    -foot is best in these shifting

    sands. Help yourself to second
    helpings and thirds and fourths,
    if that’s your thing. Pay no atten
    -tion to the starving man in the

    corner; he’s been here awhile.
    Wait. Maybe ask him one quest
    -ion, tell him one lie. Has he
    been to hell and back yet? Have



  19. LeAnneM

    California Drumbeat

    Spirit Rock, or

    Sweat Lodge

    Shadow Yoga
    Soul Retrieval
    EFT, or

    Circle Walking
    Triple Goddess Magick

    Drum Circle

    Soul Collage

    Deep Writing
    Singing Bowl
    Bodywork, or

    Byron Katie
    Pema Chodron
    Don Miguel, or

    Joshua Tree
    Morro Bay
    Sebastopol, and

  20. bethwk

    Aunt Eliza’s Advice for Lost Children

    Once upon a time there lived a golden child
    who followed a trail of bright flowers
    deep into the heart of the forest.

    That’s you, in case you hadn’t picked it up,
    and the forest is the life you are wandering in.
    This is the story you chose for your own
    in those rainbow days before you were born.

    Oh, for most of us, and much of the time,
    the forest is fairly navigable, and not too scary.
    But sometimes we get caught in the brambles,
    overwhelmed by the shadows, befriended
    by suave and creepy fellows in wolfskin.

    We forget how to find our way,
    forget that we are the main character,
    the child of the glorious day,
    forget our identity,
    forget our destiny, our star
    forget how to follow our guides,
    forget who they are.

    So step into the clearing, Dearies.
    Have a seat by the fire.
    Here’s a little advice:

    Keep following the flowers,
    the butterflies, the little birds,
    whatever drew you in here in the first place.

    Go ahead and flirt with the wolves,
    but don’t give them Grandma’s address.

    Breaking and entering is still
    breaking and entering, Sweetie,
    even if it’s a cute little cottage.
    You never know what’s in the oatmeal.

    Listen to the doll your mother gave you.
    Your mother’s voice inside yourself
    will always lead you true.

    Beware of riddling with old women.
    Always remember your manners,
    and always be kinder than necessary.

    There’s a happily-ever-after
    right around the bend,
    but you might have to travel
    half a lifetime and complete
    three impossible tasks
    to reach it.

    1. PKP

      This made me cry with the beauty of it all – and the synchronicity with a larger piece I’m working on now… Thank you – it is a wonderful poem and the last I shall read on this prompt <3

  21. Cin5456

    Creativemetaphor’s poem, “Leftovers” reminded me of this poem from some time ago. I think it fits this prompt because this family definitely needs some self-help. (Exempt from the competition because it was not written this month. Picture this centered, like the food on the table.)

    Refried Conversation

    Our family dinner became refried conversation,
    old arguments reaching new insignificant levels.
    Crisp beans of consideration
    shelled with inspiration,
    rehashed with mushy reasoning,
    served on the wilted lettuce of wimpy ideation.

    Moments once fresh, full of anguish,
    now formless sauces of regret,
    hollow shells of memories squished,
    substance remade to bare portions of paste,
    amid this poorly sustaining dish.

    How sad that our graces
    are reduced to this mess:
    unfocused trailing phrases
    stirred with sharp forks,
    and shoved in each other’s faces.

  22. PatNEO

    (Yeah, it’s kinda crappy, but I’m tired. Submitting anyway.)

    How to Have a Birthday

    Wake up at 6 a.m.
    (because the alarm goes
    beep, beep, beep).
    Wake up again at 6 a.m.
    (yeah, it’s alarm again,
    plus a full bladder).
    Get up. Kiss children.
    Do the morning routine.
    Go to work. Pretend that
    the people don’t know
    that it’s your birthday.
    Because they don’t.
    Do work. Eat at desk.
    Work, work, work.
    Come home when the sun sets.
    Eat ice cream Write poem.
    Go to bed.
    Easy peasy.
    Birthday had.

      1. PatNEO

        Oh, thank you. I have been so tired lately — still recovering from the car crash, and trying to work more while incorporating physical therapy, et cetera. The world just keep moving ’round, regardless of the day. I’ve even missed a few days here (but I intend to catch up!). I take a little comfort in my courage to post something raw and…a little crappy. :-)

  23. Cin5456

    Help Yourself – to All the Advice You Need

    Much good advice
    invented in times of need,
    guaranteed to raise one’s spirits,
    have the flavor of clichés.
    I’ve applied many
    with temporary results.
    Self-help runs in my family; Mother
    is finishing her second book.
    Calling home means an hour
    or two listening, and if she could
    see me, (she won’t Skype)
    I would nod sagely, and
    take notes to reassure her need
    to help me help myself.
    Her advice includes all of the following:
    Nutrition, meditation, self-talk,
    and effective entreaties
    to the proper entities,
    usually inhabitants of heaven,
    or their assigned representatives
    on Earth. Mom knows them all,
    personally, (the angels, at least,)
    and developed new advice,
    rituals, prayers, affirmations
    and cleansings, in addition to
    plain common sense for her books;
    mantras, mandalas, emollients,
    small sayings that trick the brain
    into thinking positive about negatives.
    Math tells me two negatives
    make a positive. It does not
    work out that way in life.
    I’m partial to feline therapy.
    She got that one from me.

  24. creativemetaphor


    Sauteed sorrows with a dash of guilt
    And topped with crispy, baked depression slivers
    Served on a bed of promises of I won’t cry.

    A glass of numbness to wash it down,
    Then dessert of ice cream and caramel
    To finish off my meal of feelings.

    Follow up with a midnight raid on the fridge
    Where I help myself to seconds of self-help.
    Good thing I made plenty.

    1. Cin5456

      I like this. Reminds me of some evenings.
      I wrote one, similar to yours, about failed family dinners called “Refried Conversation.” I think I’ll post it above rather than usurp your venue with my words. Nice work.

  25. Julieann

    Physical Therapy

    A wise doctor offered this self-help advice

    Work with therapist
    Scream, cry, and cuss
    Do the moves
    Hold the position
    Pain and agony
    Use of limb returns

    Exercise by yourself
    Scream, cry, and cuss
    Do the moves
    Hold the position
    Pain and agony
    Use of limb returns

    Excuses, too painful
    Don’t scream, cry, and cuss
    Don’t do the moves
    Don’t hold the position
    No pain and agony
    Lose use of limb

  26. DanielAri

    He stocks his wheelchair basket and sallies
    forth, joysticking down the numbered blocks.
    Who will he meet in his flight path? Salaam
    to the man wearing shoes with no socks
    in cold weather. Now he will make a sale.

    He calls to the man now unlocking
    his car’s door. “Young sir. Do you like honey?”
    The jar catches the winter light, sparks
    and bubbles caught in sunny amber sweet.
    It arrests the man. “I am Saleh.

    I live on forty one. This is my own,
    from my garden, from my honeybees.
    You taste! See? Smooth from the comb. Not runny.
    He stands up—it’s suddenly easy—
    to open and offer the golden ark.

    The man touches it tentatively
    though Saleh would have him drink it like tea.


  27. Broofee


    Just go ahead
    And start telling people
    Your jokes.
    Doesn’t matter
    If it’s about sex or horse manure
    While they’re having lunch.

    Just go ahead
    And tell people how stupid they are
    For not admiring your words.

    Just go ahead and yell
    At a clerk in a hospital
    Or a lady at the bakery.

    As long as you want to feel good
    About yourself
    Who are they
    To stand
    In your way of happiness.

    Go ahead and let it all out!
    After all,
    It’s their fault
    You’re a miserable little worm.

  28. Jane Shlensky

    The Cure

    For years, I was so lost, alone, and scarred;
    I didn’t have a clue what I could do.
    Then one night, he approached me in a bar,
    said he had read my face, my problems too;
    said he had what would cure me. He was cute.

    I see you shake your head like you’re amused,
    and I know what you’re thinking—stupid girl.
    But when you’re down and out, sad and confused,
    you’ll give most any life-style change a whirl
    (and to be frank, you just don’t give a hoot).

    He helped me fall as far as I could go,
    one of the steps to death and getting help.
    See, I was reaping things I didn’t sow,
    until I learned that I could help myself,
    that I’m the one that has no substitute.

    I haunted book stores, knew all the gurus
    advising me on problems large and small.
    I’ve given that a shot and now I choose
    to guru others, pack large meeting halls
    (the more messed up I was, the more the loot.)

    I want my life to be a testament
    to using what you’ve got to change and grow.
    I’ve learned to offer value for what’s spent,
    to give the folks like I was a good show.
    I’ve got a cure. I’m sure. You look astute.

  29. Susan Schoeffield


    There’s something appearing on late night TV
    meant for taking advantage of you and me.
    Appealing to everyone’s vanity
    are words nothing short of insanity:

    “This one little pill will quickly erase
    your need to keep shoving food in your face.
    Don’t think of this thing as a bungee cord.
    It’s a toner for abs that will make you adored.
    For all you men who are losing your hair
    is a simple procedure that’s meant to scare
    the living bejeebers from everyone.
    For hiding your wrinkles, there’s this little gun
    filled with undefined goo that will stick to your hands.
    And you will eat better with these pots and pans
    that make healthy food in a lovely motif.
    And a hundred more items beyond your belief.
    But you must act fast, so please don’t delay.
    We’ll send you some vitamins tasting like clay.
    Now, don’t walk away (or be on your guard).
    You only need give us your credit card.”

    Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got lots to improve.
    There are muscles to tighten and fat to remove.
    To do that, I must look inside of me
    and not at the salesmen on late night TV.

    © Susan Schoeffield

  30. DWong


    When you feel the need
    to stomp your feet
    to throw your head
    in the nearest
    to tear your bones
    away from the
    rest of
    to bite and claw
    at everything
    that surrounds
    because you can’t
    deal with their eyes
    deal with their energy
    deal with their words
    because you don’t
    understand how
    or even why
    it’s clear
    just remember


  31. JRSimmang


    I found myself back at
    that ratty diner somewhere close
    to closing time,

    and he was there,
    without a care, cigarette smoking,
    and poking at his mashed potatoes,

    lost in throes of swimming butter.
    “Howdy, partner,” his weightless
    words finding only my ears.

    “Hey,” I respond, noticing
    the spent butts, wondering
    if the Lenten Dreams are filtered.

    “You have a problem,” he starts.
    “Partly,” I respond, ordering a cup
    of coffee, bordering on embarrassment.

    “And you’d like my help,” he offers,
    his fingers drifting mindlessly over
    cream, lifting lily-white on his spoon.

    “You’re doomed.” He said, blunt
    as usual. “In front of me, I see
    a man, free to his own devices,

    driven by near- misses, upsets, and yet…
    here you are, getting coffee with Jesus.
    No one sees us, friend, without judging,

    begrudging us for our abilities to do
    what only few have dreamt.
    You’ve spent your time regretting,

    forgetting to see that the light around you
    won’t fight you, but nourish you.
    You got problems, sure. So do I.

    So do they, and they’re like fingerprints,
    since no two problems are exactly the same,
    as lame as it is to say…”

    I hadn’t spoken since I sat down.
    That’s how it was with him, but my frown
    was no longer fixed with the points to the floor.

    “You were saying I’m doomed,” I offer,
    sensing the lull in the conversation.
    In imitation of two old friends,

    I ask, “why do you say that?”
    He stitches his brows, puckers his lips,
    and dips his donut in his coffee.

    “I don’t know what else to say
    if you won’t pay attention. The moral
    is that your problems won’t be

    solved if you keep expecting
    everyone else to solve them for you.”
    He blew out a halo of smoke

    and spoke, “but that doesn’t mean
    you shouldn’t ask.” He leaned in close,
    mostly so I could hear him mutter,

    “A stutter just means that your mind
    has trouble finding the right words to say.”
    With that, I paid my bill, two bucks, and shook

    his hand, which I took gladly.
    Sadly, I had to meet up with some older friends,
    who were waiting on me.

    -JR Simmang

  32. Margie Fuston

    How to Live a Happy Life

    1. Get out of bed.
    2. Put your feet on the carpet.
    3. Wiggle your chilly toes.
    4. Wonder if your heater is broken.
    5. Decide you don’t care.
    6. Thank God for another day.
    7. Go do something.

    1. PKP

      This one reminds me of my grandfather’s line… “A good day is one where your feet hit the floor” (he may have lifted that from George Burn’s- lol) Thanks for the smile – Lovely :)

  33. elishevasmom

    I know this is cheating, but it fits better for this prompt than it did for the one when I wrote it last Nov. PAD. I’ll
    try to come back later w/ another.

    How to Forgive Yourself (a fib)

    front of
    a mirror
    in all your you-ness,
    look yourself in the eye and say,
    “I give you permission to be human. I love you.”

    Ellen Knight 11.17.12
    Written to the prompt…write a “how to” poem.

    Used with self-permission 11.13.13,
    for the “self-help” poem, PAD 11.13

  34. Domino

    Graduate of the School of Hard Knocks

    The torture begins promptly at 9 am
    every day, the name calling that
    seemingly goes with getting glasses
    or wearing unfashionable clothes
    or not knowing anyone at this school.
    The teacher tries not to interfere,
    presuming that the children
    will work it all out on their own

    Home is no better,
    step-father number three
    (or four)
    (or five)
    is not pleased having so many
    children (not his) around.
    We must look insolent or
    rebellious to his eyes

    Time goes slowly for a lonely child
    and middle-school
    high school blend together
    in a blur of education
    interrupted by angry people,
    always implying that the
    rage is well-deserved

    Working at whatever place
    will hire a kid with
    low self-esteem,
    again, the target seems
    inevitably painted on the back
    of the cheap polyester fast-food uniform.
    Trying to please, always trying,
    not always succeeding, maybe someday
    things will be better

  35. uneven steven

    How to open a stuck window
    by treating it like something stuck
    inside yourself

    First, is opening that window really that
    I mean what is out there that you want to
    let in,
    and more importantly
    what is it in here you feel the need
    to let out so badly?
    You can still see out the window, can’t you?
    A little Windex application in a
    skimpy two piece pressing
    up against will surely
    get you some views
    whether you are a female
    or not
    and temperature regulation sounds all
    fine and dandy
    but the rain and snow soiling
    your carpet –
    everyone who’s everyone
    already has some kind of indoor
    heating and cooling.
    Sure use a hammer to pound on it,
    get rid of all that pent up anger
    why don’t you,
    go ahead, break it
    see where that gets you –
    bugs and nasty spiders,
    always too cold or too warm
    never comfortable.
    Do you know how much it will
    cost to replace it?
    Would you pluck out your eyes
    just to see better,
    isn’t it better to save yourself
    all the trouble
    and never let the world in
    in the first place?

  36. Mywordwall


    You’ve cried enough
    your tears pool around your feet
    you’ve worried enough
    your pacing has worn the pavement
    stop! Take a hold of yourself
    gather your strength
    you may think that you are down so low
    that you cannot stand
    but when you’re at the very bottom
    remember, there’s nowhere to go but up
    so –
    pull yourself together
    stop tearing yourself apart
    think about what you can do
    to improve your allegedly dismal lot
    wait not for other souls
    to change your miserable state
    help comes to him
    who helps himself
    blame not the world
    for all of your misfortune
    after all is said and done
    your life is your responsibility
    and yours

    1. Julieann

      We can all learn a lesson from this. Because as the saying goes “nothing is so bad it cannot get worse;” so pick yourself up by your bootstraps and get a move on. Absolutely wonderful!

  37. barbara_y

    Advice Taken

    There were myths among the books. Paperbacks
    whispered they rip off your covers and you burn.
    Old, old books went on about the worm, the worm.

    The Beautiful Issue waded from the Stream of Tepid Thanks.
    wasting no pity on the scrap of silk batik moaning
    under the wadded wrapping: but but but I belong

    She had learned things, living among remainders, blanks,
    fad diets, one-of-a-sets. The thrift shop reeked with songs
    of separation and legends of loss and returning.

    The self-help New You In Thirty-Two (Hours: It’s True) stank
    of desperation but her “You are a Survivor and That is Winning”
    philosophy urged Beautiful Issue: “Win. Day One is the Hard Won”

    and this human failure who set her aside to the stack
    of largess gifts and gags, the population
    of unwantedness could not have been more wrong.

    She was set by hand. She was numbered. In thick black:
    Seventy-Nine/One Hundred. One of a kind.
    More than the sum of her words, she was designed.

    There would be no more abuse. “Lost”, her jacket
    was returned, but violated with phone numbers, torn,
    and silent as a paper bag, numb and brown.

    And never again months in the dark. Kicked
    under the recliner with cat toys and crumbs.
    The chair moved, there was the sun on her spine.

    She was a Beautiful Issue, goddamn it!
    A builder and a doubter, not made to lie supine
    until the next re-gifting!

    And then she was gone.
    The hat with ears and a moose face waits
    for the inevitable question.
    It’s true, he says. I saw it happen.

  38. Earl Parsons


    Freezer not so cold
    What’s up with that?!?
    Only 8 years old
    I’ll troubleshoot

    Dishwasher acting up
    What’s up with that?!?
    Only 6 years old
    I’ll troubleshoot

    Lawnmower won’t start
    What’s up with that?!?
    Only 2 years old
    I’ll troubleshoot

    Brakes feel mushy
    What’s up with that?!?
    Just had them replaced
    I’ll troubleshoot

    Laptop won’t boot
    What’s up with that?!?
    Just had an upgrade
    How can I troubleshoot
    If it won’t boot?

  39. Linda Goin

    Myself Help, or
    for the Mirror

    Today I help myself to violets,
    lavender in the hallway light.
    Today I help myself to the heart
    of a sticky bun as big as my head.
    Today I help myself to spicy,
    smells that built roads
    to the Orient and beyond.
    Today I help myself to hands
    that offer firm affirmations,
    and hold me warm.
    Today I help myself to clear
    skies, and marvel how an orange
    sun shouts defiantly
    against all that blue.
    Today I help myself to me,
    a dance as passionate as you.

  40. bartonsmock

    -self messaging-

    the wind overturned our trampoline which pinned the wild white pup named Fossil. the storm passed and was our father. our mother dragged a broom behind a small brain. two things that are both cognitive dissonance took root in the dead twin that once bit my arm before going back to eating crayons. one of the children I wasn’t was thought to be unlovable but later succumbed to an adorable Holocaust survivor. are we trash? as the pup relays itself

    to god’s headache.

  41. Misky

    As It Were – As It Was

    I once gave myself
    a bit of advice,
    self-help you might say,
    as it were,
    as it was.
    I said, Self,
    yes, that’s me,
    Self, don’t flatter yourself
    thinking anyone
    gives a damn, they don’t.
    And really, neither should you.

  42. Connie Peters

    Self Help in Ketchikan

    You’re wounded and broken and sad.
    Let Ketchikan repair
    you with its waters and wild life,
    its mountains and fresh air.

    Make Misty Fjords your therapist,
    the Narrows your wise guide.
    The Tongass woods wait when you need
    to run away and hide.

    Let kayaks be your counselor
    on dark and dreary days.
    Let hiking play psychiatrist,
    and fishing always pays.

    If that is not enough, let go,
    please pull out all the stops!
    And get your retail therapy
    at local tourist shops.

  43. NomiWrites

    The Price of WIsdom

    We are broken
    And the glue for
    Putting ourselves back together
    Lies in the pages of a book
    That begins
    “You are not broken
    You are perfect
    Just the way you are”

    If you would only oractice


    I spend my
    Time, Money, Energy
    Seeking answers on how to become

    While the ailing Guru
    Proferring Wisdom
    Grows Wealthy
    In a villa on Bali

  44. writinglife16

    My thoughts went in a weird direction with this one.


    Son, if you want a job
    you’ve got to believe in yourself.
    Climb whatever mountain there is.
    Remove any barrier.
    You can do whatever you
    set your mind to.
    You’ve got lots of experience.
    But first, you’ve got to make the effort
    to get out of bed.

    Just think, you can be a mattress tester.

  45. Bruce Niedt

    Not my most “poetic” effort this month, but sincere nonetheless. Maybe something more creative will come along later:

    How to Be a Good Fan

    Come to the park early, for the mechanics
    and camaraderie down on the field.

    Don’t come hungry, except for the win.

    Say hello to your neighbors in the stands,
    even if they wear your opponents’ cap.

    Cheer your team, but don’t jeer the visitors
    just because they are here.
    There wouldn’t be a game without them.

    Boos are like the F-word.
    The more you use them,
    the less they mean.

    Cursing helps no one, especially not
    the object of your rage. They can’t
    hear you down there anyway.

    Getting drunk doesn’t make you a better fan.
    It only makes you a loud, sloppy jerk.

    A good play is a good play, not matter
    who makes it. Acknowledge that.

    Win or lose, appreciate your team.
    Wear the hat, the jacket, the bumper sticker.

    Revel in this year if they’re good,
    hope for next year if they’re not.

  46. Michelle Hed

    Don’t Mind if I Do

    Feeling a bit under the weather
    I looked around and wondered whether
    I could ignore the dust, dirt and hair
    or if I should be breathing clean air.
    I decided all of it could wait
    the best thing to do was meet my date.
    My date is short, ‘bout five inches tall,
    takes me on journeys, I bring my shawl.
    I grab my blanket and claim the couch
    today I’m sick, I will be a slouch.
    I’ll sip hot tea and ignore the world,
    rooted to this spot my feet our curled.
    Enjoy your day, whatever you do –
    today is for me, goodbye to you.

  47. JanetRuth

    Walt, Pearl and all of you, wow! Super-inspiring:)

    If I help myself to the colors of love
    and touch with awed reverence the gift of new day
    If I pause to ponder the wonder of God
    Spilling from heaven to thrill this meek clay…

    If I stop to savor the air that I breathe
    and drink from The Fountain we simply call grace
    If I bear with honor the cross I receive
    to ‘fight the good fight and to finish this race’

    …if I stoop to study the art of God’s word
    Forming the flower and filling the air
    as over and over, each season is stirred
    and over and over we gobble its fare

    If I kiss the tender-warm face of a child
    to touch the reminder that hope is not dead
    If I slowly turn to see art dripping wild
    From The Artist’s paintbrush somewhere overhead

    If I help myself to the whispers of Love
    Not disregarding the things that I see
    But knowing it spills from God’s palettes above
    Then I am a humbler and more thankful me

    1. PKP

      JanetRuth – first of all I am humbled by your words – they mean a great deal to me especially when I’m pushing hard in many directions and not sure exactly where I’m going. Having said that – I admit that I usually skip poems with references to G-d or religion – but dear JanetRuth this gentle lovely poem of yours is so much a pastel picture word – that I could not resist saying BRAVO!

  48. Cin5456

    A Few Key Words for Success

    According to successful people
    a few key words make the difference
    between doing a job, filling a position,
    and creating the life I want.
    Bright and bold makes you shine.
    Audacious and adamant help you advance.
    Conciliatory and accommodating
    gets you over the rough spots.
    Invent and innovate – create your future.
    I noticed there isn’t a single word
    in this advice that helps
    when one has stepped
    on someone else’s toes.
    I’ve added a few of my own words
    that help when things go wrong.
    Apologize and ask forgiveness
    when you make mistakes, because
    mistakes are inevitable in life.
    Listen and reserve judgment
    when complaints prove the rule
    instead of the exception; you are
    probably doing something
    that is easily corrected, if you
    take the time to learn from others.
    Having a plan helps,
    even when plans goes wrong.

  49. annell

    A Good Day
    Here I sit
    My head in the clouds
    Not sure of my

    Get up off your duff
    Get to work
    There are no promises
    Only the joy of exploration

    As you work
    Perhaps the muse
    Will appear
    Your head will clear
    And at the end of the day
    You will say
    It’s been a good day

  50. Hannah

    Hannah’s Handbook, (for Motherhood)
    (akin to a disclaimer)
    this is not a remedy
    nor will it promise a life of longevity
    it’s just a lot of jotted practicalities,
    a list of wishes if you will
    and a hope for survival;
    a simple soul-guide
    to take along for the ride.
    Foremost, one must abide,
    accept your part in the body.
    If you’re the chosen maternal thighbone,
    why then, proudly-powerfully strut that magic;
    after all this is one of the strongest-
    most solid structures in the frame.
    Request the fame that you deserve,
    serving endless shifts of mother and wife
    is a life most worthy of at least a few gold stars.
    Remember that humor and compassion will bring you far.
    When you’re on the edge of madness,
    sadness, (and/or sleep deprived),
    strive to be firm yet gentle
    endeavor to be emotionally level.
    Remember your rebel days
    it’ll pay off in the end;
    you’ll have the secrets to their plots,
    an in to all their deepest thoughts.
    Sought after.
    Yes, plan to need to seek free YOU time,
    chase it
    like a kite-missed string,
    fling yourself at stillness and silliness-
    try not to be too serious
    or furious
    that’ll eat you alive.
    Stride strong and happy,
    be rapt of laughter.
    Hold up,
    bond with
    and bring strength
    to this organic-familial-form.
    Be proud of your motherly luster,
    some may call this feeling being worn
    but I like to refer to trying-times as being polished.
    Abolish the idea
    that you must let go of your dreams
    for those are the gems
    that gleam from within,
    that is your spirit-
    the driven passion that lights up your eyes.
    Fasten your heart to this fantastic-flight,
    hold on tight
    and smile.
    Copyright © Hannah Gosselin 2013

  51. PKP

    A small strong package

    delicate yet strong
    able to bounce
    If needed can snarl
    programmed to pounce
    one of a kind
    wrapped up in
    blood bone and skin
    always ready to bloom
    activate and begin

  52. PKP

    Self! Help!

    Above the fray
    of fragments
    shouted, whispered
    and sung
    spilling from
    well intentioned
    barrels and ones
    with rotten apples
    Above and beyond
    Stands the only
    True voice

      1. PKP

        Oh my – high praise indeed – thank you – sometimes it may seem because I dump so much stuff here that I don’t need to here anything at all… So not true – I am as delighted as when Marie Elena wrote her first comment (before I realized that people “could” comment on poems) and long before anything was published. Thank you – you made my evening :)

  53. taylor graham

    HIMSELF (a Paradigm)

    Shall he analyze?
    In himself he lies a-bed.

    What does the sun say?
    Who cowers in unshaven
    rooms will shut himself alone.

    Tuesday is haunted
    by Mondays and Saturdays,
    old friends departed.
    What calendar carousel
    of days and faces?
    One white horse, a golden ring.

    She placed before him
    pumpkin-butter on brown toast.
    Shall sweetness call him
    in his dreams then disappear?
    Wife, an apron kitchen-warmed.

    What cry taunts the street,
    its song refrain returning?
    Red squirrel outside the window,
    next-door boys camped under stars
    giggling for ghosts.

    Above gutter-strip
    a mockingbird’s old alarm.
    Must it sing arise?

  54. Nancy Posey

    A Dummy’s Guide to Love and Happiness

    Step One: Don’t be a dummy.
    Brush up on world affairs.
    Read good books, share them
    and then talk about them.
    Learn to cook something new.
    Turn off the television. Now.

    Step Two: Don’t fall for a dummy.
    High expectations yield better
    results than low. Good looks fade.
    or else require high maintenance.
    A good mind sharpens like flint.
    Courtship should begin with talk
    not cuddles and kisses. Sparks
    ignite; some flames turn to ash.

  55. PKP


    Start with the “self”
    Size irrelevant as
    Long as you can
    Hold it solidly
    Feel its shape
    This is the only
    difficult part
    Once you have hold
    Of the self
    Season to taste
    Serves as many
    Or as few as you chose

    1. Walt Wojtanik

      I was hoping you’d post early (and often – you still have time for that). You’re the “go-to girl” in this regard. And I just love reading your wisdom, glad I came back at this moment to have this poem in screen. Thanks for your words, Pearl. Love that last line. Good advice.

        1. Cin5456

          I’m trying to figure out how to set up a blog. I’m a little bit chicken about getting started. Please drop me an email so we can say hi.
          mtndsn@cwo.com. I love your blog, so I’ve been checking it every now and then for the last couple of months.

  56. Benjamin Thomas

    Self Help Madness

    Unfamiliar with self help madness
    I learned to give thanks in bitter valleys
    Where appreciation came at a cost
    That was over-inflated and I was empty handed

    The rigid notion of helping my hapless self was strongly detested by my conscience who once said “help thyself by helping others, shepherd the flock, go see your brothers” Was the best help for me

  57. Cin5456

    Cure for the Doldrums

    There is one thing I’m certain
    will always raise my spirits,
    and you can do this too.
    This is my cure for the doldrums:
    Get a cat; a lap cat is the best
    but a kitten will do as well.
    Cuddle with her, play with string,
    and sleep with her
    curled up at your shoulder.
    In the morning she
    wakes you by purring
    and tickling your face
    with her whiskers.
    Every day will be sunnier,
    even if it rains, snows, or
    the wind howls at your door.
    A cup of hot tea, a good book,
    and a purring feline in your lap
    will fix almost anything,
    or at least, she will chase
    the doldrums away
    with claws bared, hissing.
    You can’t help laughing when she does.
    If you don’t like cats,
    try it with a brand new puppy.

    1. Cin5456

      P.S. With a puppy, replace string with ball or stick, and purring and whiskers with puppy breath and a cold nose. Don’t try drinking tea with a wiggly puppy in your lap.

  58. Jerry Walraven

    “In Spectrum”

    It is only a trick of light,
    this moment at dawn
    as the Earth rolls in
    the light of the Sun,
    but this shadow play
    this time
    with time before
    and allows my mind to see
    what in full daylight
    might cause concern
    in tangerine and alabaster
    and allows me
    to strip away
    and see
    bare truth
    it is only
    a trick of light.

  59. Walt Wojtanik


    I’ve been given a wonderful gift,
    I have been presented with an extraordinary
    opportunity. And in the unity of a writing
    community, I am bolstered to holster
    all fears and trepidation and feed on the
    elation of this moment. I am a poet.
    A writer who’s gift had been left in it’s
    plasticine covering for fear it gets ruined
    like grandma’s divan in the room
    only used for important company.
    Or wakes. It takes the support of like
    cohorts and believer to stave off deceivers,
    purveyors of doubt and negativity of sort
    as you cavort through blank pages to pen
    that which, again and again haunts you.
    Now the chance to flaunt your talent
    and you word skills that will make or break you.
    It’s taken you forty years to become
    the overnight success you’ve dreamed of being
    and now you’re seeing the forest AND the trees.
    But she’s determined to break you, to take you
    from what you love and shove it up your ass.
    Her style and class were checked at the threshold.
    She’s sold you on the idea that your worth
    is worthless in your pursuit. But you refute it.
    You know one fact to be true. A writer writes.
    All the battles and fights waylaid and splayed
    in spatters across your life has prepared you
    for nothing but this: The only way to fix it, is fix it.
    There are people who believe in you and won’t
    leave you hanging to gain nothing. Friends love
    your work and you. You’re through with
    being kept down. That perpetual frown needs
    an upturn; you live and learn. No more left
    on dusty shelves. Writer, Heal Thyself.

  60. Linda Rhinehart Neas


    There is no yellow book
    addressed to those who are unsure
    of how to do myriad things, like
    fixing cars or yoga or navigating
    the ins and outs of Microsoft.

    There is no how-to manual
    written by experts who are certain
    of how to do complex things, like
    cooking quiche or driving or maneuvering
    through the Amazon.

    Everyone’s unsure.
    No one is an expert.
    The truth of the matter is
    the only one who can make you happy –
    is YOU!