2013 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 14

Two weeks! We’ve made it two weeks into the challenge. I don’t know why I ever doubt it, but this month is flying by as it usually does.

For today’s prompt, write an exploration poem. Maybe you’re exploring a new land, the depths of quarks, outer space, the mind, the soul, etc. Your call. In fact, it could be said that most poems are an exploration of one sort or another. So get at it.

Here’s my attempt at an Exploration Poem:

“North American Cities”

Dig a little deeper and see a door
held open in Lincoln, an umbrella
offered in Seattle. Then, a whole

meal purchased for a family
in Albuquerque after their four-
year-old daughter sang songs

for the entire restaurant. In West
Lafayette, a college student tutors
children for free. A single mother

in Minneapolis coaches a youth
baseball team when no one else
has the time. In Birmingham,

a black woman protects a biker
with a swastika tattoo from angry
protesters. A man in Savannah

plays his trumpet and accepts
tips that he donates to homeless
shelters. Everywhere, throughout

this country, in every large city
and small town, there is so much
beauty it hurts to look at it too close.

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Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer is a Senior Content Editor for the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and a person who believes there’s more good than evil on the planet. He’s the author of Solving the World’s Problems, a book that examines both good, evil, and the blurred lines that exist between both. 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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238 thoughts on “2013 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 14

  1. hohlwein

    Turn out all the lights.
    There is no light.

    Grope up a surface, there cold,
    there colder.

    In the dark, the mind knocks out the back wall.
    A wind doesn’t rush in, but a space is then there available.

    You are on the floor, kneeling. You feel the tile and know exactly
    when it turns to ice.

    You know there will be no door here ahead.
    The door is behind you.

    But what there is now is sky. So much of it –
    the possibility of being lifted

    from the surface of the world
    into a dimension

    that is as close as a hand brushing your cheek
    that is the same in all aspects

    as the real, but

    there is something.

    Don’t ask.
    Be lifted.
    Turn into the new field.
    Understand light as something

    invisible.

  2. Jezzie

    Losing Time

    I searched for my watch.
    It had been lost for months
    and then I found it.

    Who would have guessed it
    would have been in my husband’s
    dressing gown pocket?

    Who would explore
    the pockets of one’s spouse?
    especially if
    one was afraid of what
    one would find?
    Me!

    I wasn’t looking for evidence.
    A love letter, perchance?
    All I found that time
    was my watch!
    Good job I found it
    before I washed it!

  3. Yolee

    After the Rain

    We went inside and closed the red
    door. There’s more us to get to know-
    more dishes to bed sustenance –
    more internal shores to reach
    with the stroke of time- more
    places hands haven’t seen.

  4. bjholmes

    I never got to hold you
    never got to say good-bye.
    Your life cut so short
    only tears to comfort as we cry.

    What was your purpose
    in such a short space in time
    that you came and left so quickly
    no chance for a nursey rhyme?

    I wonder what you look like,
    your mommy or your dad?
    Would your eyes have a sparkle,
    a dimple when you’re mad?

    Would you want to be cuddled
    quiet and so shy,
    or busy and so curious
    always reaching for the sky?

    We may never know the answer
    to the questions we hold inside
    until the day we finally meet
    in that heavenly divide.

    So rest safe in Jesus’ arms
    while you wait for us to come.
    You’ll always be in our family
    always be our little one.

  5. alanasherman

    exploration # 14

    On Exploration

    I take exception
    to the man who says
    so much
    beauty hurts to look at too close.
    Pain should not
    make us look away, but look harder.
    What we learn may be so beautiful
    (or horrible)
    it causes tears, but
    what moves us
    must embolden us
    to understand
    our world. For example, children
    who shoot and kill
    other children in a classroom.
    Looking too closely
    may make us afraid. Beauty is truth
    and truth beauty
    a poet said. And the truth is
    we should never
    turn away from either.
    Perhaps when we explore the hurt
    we can find the way to make things change.

    alana

  6. seingraham

    IT’S NOT LIKE CSI

    After the death
    she thought
    she’d explore,
    attend to details
    find out
    what happened
    How hard
    could it be?

    More challenging
    then predicting
    weather
    More difficult
    then quieting a
    baby with croup

    When parents
    murder a child
    The evidence is
    scant to none
    she learned

  7. Rosemary Nissen-Wade

    Exploring My Childhood Garden

    The garden of my childhood
    was green jungle.
    I crawled underneath
    the berry bushes,
    behind pittosporum hedge
    and massed bamboo,
    and deep inside the geraniums.

    The wild creatures
    I met in this jungle
    were fierce ants
    that fought each other:
    orange-bodied and long-legged,
    caterpillars with furry spikes,
    and secretive spiders
    hiding in curled leaves.

    The fairies, whirling points of light,
    would sometimes stop
    and show me their tiny faces.
    Mostly they flitted about
    in and out of the plants,
    quick flashes of colour.
    I could tell that they liked me.

  8. BezBawni

    Finiteness

    I looked into a human body;
    into the spirals of our essence,
    the sequences of letters, codes –
    life spoken into our vessels.

    I’ve learned we carry generations,
    so many genes are still suppressed,
    and we are just a combination
    of genes not read and genes expressed,

    which means we could be all Shakespeares,
    Lorcas, Garniers of beaux arts;
    we could be geniuses or heroes
    or play the piano like Mozart;

    we could run marathons for hours,
    or sing like angels, dance like swans;
    if only all the genes of ours
    could be miraculously switched on.

    We could know wisdom of the yore,
    or have the bluest eyes of Newman’s;
    but even though we could be more,
    we never could be more than humans.

  9. Glory

    Ants

    Black spots on warm
    grey paving,
    ever moving patterns pace to and from
    grassy edges,
    where hidden nests lie
    undisturbed,
    baked in the warm sun
    workers heavy
    with summer’s replete.

  10. Domino

    I am

    . . . on a trek across the sea
    with young Jim Hawkins
    and a mutinous crew.

    . . . in a quickening garden
    with Mary and Dickon and
    Colin and a baby lamb.

    . . . in a balloon flying (among other
    things) around the world with Phileas
    Fogg and Passepartout.

    . . . down a rabbit hole with
    Alice, being introduced to a
    Hookah-smoking caterpillar.

    . . . in India facing down a tiger
    and skinny dipping with a bear
    and with my friend Mowgli.

    . . . trekking down a narrow trail
    atop a burro named Brighty, trying
    not to get sea-sick or saddle-sore.

    It may just be that I have been
    far more widely traveled than any
    who’ve never read a book.

    [In order, this poem refers to “Treasure Island” by Robert Lewis Stevenson; “A Secret Garden” by Frances Hodges Burnett; “Around the World in Eighty Days” by Jules Verne; “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll; “The Jungle Book” by Rudyard Kipling; and “Brighty of the Grand Canyon” by Marguerite Henry.]

  11. Missy McEwen

    Basement Daddy

    In the basement, things belonging
    to my father: car manuals for cars he owned
    before the kids were born, old soul
    records, rock and roll records, jazz
    records, books on how to build things like
    desks, workbenches, and plant holders, calculus
    books and English books that look more
    like novels than college textbooks. I open
    them, look through the pages, trying
    to imagine my father doing the same. I see
    his scribbled notes, see him at Fisk
    hunched over these same books, studying
    and later maybe partying, drinking, smoking
    like college kids of any generation do, his hair
    in cornrows like I’ve seen in the many pictures
    of him that I’ve found in boxes in the basement,
    the name Jim, not James, scrawled on the bottom
    of them. There are pictures, too, of Jim with
    nameless men that look too cool for school.
    I imagine this is his crew, guys with names like
    Yusef, Smitty, Leroy, and Youngblood, from
    cities like Chicago, Brooklyn, Pittsburgh, Detroit.
    City guys, the kind my father talks about
    when he tells stories about his college days and
    the good old days. He says those guys were
    slick, smooth could smooth talk any girl,
    even the girl he wanted, and he envied that. Even
    though he was an English major he never
    had a way with words, just knew the proper
    words to say and the correct way. But those
    guys, no southern drawl in sight, or maybe
    just a hint, rapped to those college girls,
    those Nashville girls, those southern girls,
    all the girls, like they were poets, using similes
    and metaphors, slang and colorful language. My
    father makes them sound like gods, makes me want
    to know them, makes me want to know, too,
    the daddy I find in the basement whenever I go
    down and have a look around.

  12. bethwk

    More from Aunt Eliza

    It doesn’t always have to be so,
    but it seems to be the way things go:

    When the sunny trail ends at that dead ash tree,
    when the sweet-scented grasses turn to brambles,
    when the radiant butterfly flits into shadows
    and out from behind the tree pads the wolf–

    That is when the story really gets started.

    Epiphany can be those shiny angels,
    those glittering kings bearing gold,
    but it also comes in shadows and cobwebs.

    One day you are sleep-walking
    through your dreamy life,
    not paying attention to where the path leads,
    and epiphany comes in the form of a crow,
    calling your name from the topmost branch
    of a lightning-struck oak.

    Or you find the sweet cottage
    but wake up surrounded by bears
    or tossed head-first into the furnace.

    Or an old woman in tatters and rags
    swoops into the clearing, chattering,
    demanding to know who you think you are,
    demanding your service, your heart.

    And that’s the key, isn’t it?
    Who do you think you are, meddling in this story?
    Can you give your whole heart to the process?
    What are you doing here, in the heart of this forest,
    this landscape of your life?
    What is your real name?
    Are you ready to fight for it?
    To go on a quest, answer the riddle,
    do the three impossible tasks,
    risk your own dissolution, your death,
    just to claim it as your own?

    You thought you were so brave,
    following the path to explore the woods,
    though you’d been warned,
    though your skin prickled,
    though you knew the stories
    of those who never returned.

    Now is the time for bravery.
    Now is the time for fierce
    uncompromising joy.
    Now the real exploration begins.

  13. Cin5456

    Late Summer; Desert Terrain
    by Cynthia Page

    This searing heat stops me.
    Fervent about nothing, I want
    to lie still and silent, be aware
    for air stirred by rare breezes.
    Lassitude permeates tired limbs beneath
    damp long sleeves, jeans, and desert boots.
    They cling, a burden on this weary frame.
    Hike on to the next ridge, a vantage point
    for gauging distance, form, and color
    of landforms. Ancient history is revealed
    by color-coded outlines on maps. Pain
    in ankles, knees, and head, conspire
    to delay this geological survey.
    I am determined to finish.
    In a copse of three cacti,
    small creatures gather for shade
    a mere five degrees cooler than
    this Inferno under punishing sun.
    A coyote in boulder shadows
    scratches her fleas; she sniffs
    the air in my direction. Cold-
    blooded lizards need cooler climes.
    Snakes hide; jack rabbits burrow;
    flies do not stir before sundown.
    I am the dumb animal, still active,
    still moving about. One cool
    soaring soul lends life to the sky.
    The circling hawk screeched once
    as I stumbled over loose rocks.
    The predator measures
    what hint of life I still hold,
    and decides I am not meat yet.

    1. Cin5456

      BTW this was written months ago, but it fit this prompt better than anything I could come up with in the few minutes before midnight that I had left after being gone all day.

  14. De Jackson

    Unfamiliar Territory

    My son is stabbing himself
    with words, and I don’t know
    how to remove them, can’t find
    how to stop this crimson spill of
    ache, fill him full enough that he
    won’t leak this way. We say all the
    right things and call all the right docs
    and talk and walk and fall to our knees
    and pray. We search for answers in this
    barren, brutal sky and wonder why his sullen
    heart hurts this way, sudden and shuddered by
    some unseen foe. I hardly know this child before
    me, flesh of my flesh ground low to bone, moaning
    for something he cannot yet see. Hope hides, and we
    flee into the arms of the One who made him, hold him
    out fully and fight to see there are brighter days yet waiting.

    .

  15. julie e.

    EXPLORING SIXTY.

    When I was young
    I believed that by the time
    I’d lived six decades on this earth,
    wisdom would glow
    from every pore
    and I would impart said wisdom
    willingly, lovingly, graciously
    for the betterment of all.
    (Picture me
    poisedly
    accepting the thank-yous
    humbly,
    sage-like smile playing about my face.)
    And now I’ve arrived
    at that landmark of sixty years, old
    enough to be the collective ages of
    an entire preschool class,
    as stumblingly, falteringly
    I continue my life
    pretty much like I have the rest of it,
    discovering and exploring,
    and learning something new
    each day.

  16. bxpoetlover

    Exploration

    We just met a few weeks ago.

    His shoulders are broad
    smile is strong and white
    voice is deep, imbued with the music of Jamaica

    but
    texting is only good for reminders to pick up a loaf of bread
    or to say you’re running late and
    my fingers are not nimble enough for all I have to say.
    I wish he would just pick up the phone
    and call.

  17. elishevasmom

    Discovery
    (A View of Alzheimforer’s)

    As my dad’s Alzheimer’s advances,
    and his memory retreats, there
    are territories waiting
    at ev’ry turn to be
    uncovered—explored—
    discovered from
    ev’ry new
    exposed
    place.

    Ellen Knight 11.14.13
    write an “exploration” poem for PAD 11.13

  18. LeAnneM

    The Cosmic Microwave Background

    Discovered by accident,
    Light from beginning of time,
    Still with us, pervasive, benign

    A baby picture of the universe
    The start of everything big

    The underlying structure before
    There was structure

    Imperceptible ripples
    Of density

    Which gave gravity a chance
    To build everything we know

    1. PressOn

      I like this very much because it captures for me the poetry of science, or at least that aspect of science. Your phrase, “baby picture of the universe,” is striking.

  19. Bruce Niedt

    Excellent poem today, Robert.

    The Find

    When the Great New York Glacier receded
    at the end of the last Super Ice Age, we began
    to explore the terrain, and found many unusual artifacts.
    One in particular intrigued us – a sphere of animal hide,
    bleached white but stained by time and wear,
    bound together with a hundred and eight red double stitches.
    When we took it apart, we found hundreds of feet
    of tightly wrapped string and a small cork center.
    We theorize that this was a sacred amulet,
    a symbol of power. The stitches, twelve times nine,
    had some numerological significance we can only surmise,
    but we think that nine was the important number.
    The string indicated that distance was of some value
    in the use of this object – perhaps it was meant to travel.
    Finally, the cork center represented resilience –
    an archetype of durability and a desire to rise to the top.
    We believe ancient tribes competed for possession
    of this sphere, with the victors celebrated as champions.
    One of our researchers even posited the theory
    that this was essential to an activity called a “game”,
    though the true meaning of that word has been lost to us
    through the five millennia since this relic was made.

  20. Mywordwall

    THE SEARCH

    He ran, wild-eyed
    through the debris–laden ground
    calling out a name
    drowned in the wailing
    of the grieving crowd
    He overturned a rusty roof
    peeked under a fallen log
    each empty spot
    gave him hope
    that his mother was alive.

  21. bjzeimer

    GIVING IT UP TO MY ART

    Like Christopher Columbus
    who gave it up to his art,
    sails set high in search
    of coral and gold, island and isle
    and to understand nature
    here below the
    azure skies he sailed beneath—
    the black clouds,
    the white clouds,
    the stormy seas and his sufferings,
    I sail through childhood
    rivers and streams,
    search the backgrounds
    in black and white photos
    of shacks in the
    Appalachia hollows—
    not that I find a shining harbor
    but that I find words
    like bright corals and nuggets of gold
    give it up to my art.

  22. Julieann

    Exploring Cemeteries

    I used to love to explore
    old, old cemeteries
    headstones giving clues
    as to who the person was
    or his trade
    often the saddest ones
    are family plots behind
    an old farm house
    the resting place for
    entire families wiped
    out within a few days
    of each other
    many cemeteries
    are dedicated
    to war dead
    or to those dying
    from diseases
    barely imagined today
    or worse still to the
    those killed senselessly
    or the paupers
    dates of births
    and dates of death
    prominently displayed
    I am amazed at how old some were
    and saddened by the babe
    dying at birth
    my imagination runs wild
    wanting to discover
    what life was way back when
    or what happened to the
    rest of their family
    or was he the last
    until the day I discovered
    a lady’s grave with my
    exact birthdate
    that had died
    two days before

  23. Cameron Steele

    God Save The Queen

    I rub my back against
    slick grass and wet dirt
    taste the loamy earth
    on my own tongue
    and open my eyes
    to explore that heavy sky
    where I find cloud-shaped
    dreams grayer
    than the regal
    curls licking my
    soft chin. All the years
    I lived afraid and
    cross-legged,
    primly blotting
    my coral lips after
    tea. I can barely
    remember them here
    on the ground,
    bellying against yard
    and rain, exploring
    the messiness of the world
    with eyes as wide
    as my wrinkles will
    stretch. How wrong I
    was, believing I needed to
    cross rivers without
    touching water or
    eat a scone without
    peppering my lips
    with crumbs. How
    wonderful to find that
    ruling means rollicking
    in the mud like a dog,
    trading crumpets for
    the sponginess of creation,
    watching every raindrop slap my
    skin, and wondering at the way
    my heartbeat, as if in answer, rises up
    to kiss my own wet wrist.

      1. bclay

        feeling ya, i havent even been able to compose anything in over a week, was looking forward to this november and now a major case of writers block, guess i need to go exploring for a new muse …

  24. cbwentworth

    The obvious path
    leads to simple truth
    For those who want more,
    bring courage and heart
    Hunt on rugged slopes,
    defy the steep climb
    Search through lively leaves
    bear the wounds of thorns
    What truly matters,
    finds shelter in roots

  25. Sara McNulty

    Who Me?

    Investigating all options
    open to him,
    Irving decided–with time
    being factored in–his best
    bet would be to rip up
    the toilet paper; they always
    hated that. When they came
    home, he would be curled
    up with his fuzzy ball,
    and when the accusations
    began to fly, he would look
    up slowly, with that sorrowful
    face–eyes downcast, ears
    droopy, mouth turned down–
    they usually fell for, and nod
    in the direction of the cat.

  26. Broofee

    Change

    The first sign of rudeness
    And I’m ready
    To argue.
    Give me a bad word
    And you’ll get hammered down
    With bunch of them in return.
    Start an argument
    And I won’t rest until I pound
    My arguments
    Into your head.
    Just try it
    And you’ll see.

    Religion,
    Politics,
    Football,
    Or just for the fun of it
    I’m ready for a fight.

    Yet
    I feel something‘s changed.
    The spark is still there
    Push the wrong button
    And you’ll see.
    Still
    It seems like I’ve
    Grown a shield
    You can say what you want
    And I’ll stay calm.
    Seems like I’ve
    Managed to grow inside
    Psychologists would say.
    Seems like I’m
    Becoming a better person
    Ever since I met you.

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