Editors Blog

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


  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?

    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.


  6. seingraham


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

    More challenging
    then predicting
    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


    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


    Black spots on warm
    grey paving,
    ever moving patterns pace to and from
    grassy edges,
    where hidden nests lie
    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.


    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
    accepting the thank-yous
    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


    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

    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

    (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
    discovered from
    ev’ry new

    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


    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


    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
    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


    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.

    Or just for the fun of it
    I’m ready for a fight.

    I feel something‘s changed.
    The spark is still there
    Push the wrong button
    And you’ll see.
    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.

  27. DWong

    New Life

    I stood on the edge of the beach
    Low tide was in
    He told me to stay behind
    He would go in

    I couldn’t just stay on the beach
    I wandered in
    He needed his peace of mind
    Low tide still in

    I walked like on grass rock to rock
    Low tide was in
    Something took over my mind
    I was now in

    I sat under the sun on a rock
    put my hands in
    Life caressed so I could unwind
    Low tide still in

    He stood on the edge of the beach
    low tide still in
    He told me to return, words kind,
    surprised I went in

    I returned to the cookie dough beach
    low tide not in
    I could not believe my find
    when low tide came in

  28. DanielAri

    “Murphy’s Caverns”

    Subterranean draft
    with the smell of camphor.
    Shovels fetched, hats doffed, we
    opened the pitch-dark door—

    “—To hell!” yelled Murph. “You’re daft
    to go down there. Not me!”
    The iron salt of fear.
    For woman’s witness, man
    braves the morbid shaft.

    We send our voices down
    in impenetrable
    lightlessness, then follow
    clinging to the cable.
    At last, the ancient floor.

    Our dim flickers dapple
    gold dust upon sable.


  29. Lori P

    Exploring a new tool

    Her granddaughter taught her to use a mouse
    “Point and click, Nana, it’s easy”
    At first she stuck to the email account her son set up
    “We can keep in touch, Mom, its so much faster
    than mail and cheaper than long distance”
    She began to branch out when her friend mentioned Facebook
    “You wouldn’t believe who’s on there, Honey,
    I found my boyfriend from 1959”
    But it wasn’t until she started exploring on her own
    that she began to hear new voices
    A Georgian YouTuber her age who told stories of his radio DJ days,
    and partnered with innovative kids to foster new ideas
    “I have been amazed at the creative and talented people I have met”
    She discovered brother nerds who encouraged their Twitter followers
    “Imagine each other complexly, truth resists simplicity”
    She found a community of British, Bengali and Israeli kids
    and helped inspire them to change their world
    by choosing to bond, to see through each other’s eyes
    “If I can learn to point and click and connect, we can all learn
    to join our voices in demanding a better tomorrow.”

  30. creativemetaphor


    Washed smooth by nature’s caress, the jagged edge is eased. Beside lapis waves which kissed the ocher shores we plucked our wind-worn memories from the sand to leave in our wake a mark of passing. A tenuous journey across time where two paths cross – the wanderer and the placer. It takes a steady hand to find the balance; unsettle even one, they fall. The strength of the offering is in the leaving, and act of faith in defiance of gravity. Poems precarious, they stand as testaments to the impermanence of creation.

    Silent words of stone
    Whisper to the next who pass
    You are not alone

  31. Walt Wojtanik


    “Heart, Sweetheart” embroidered, a pampered sampler
    of sentiments carried. And though Home
    is where the heart is, the converse becomes true.
    You are torn between home and your heart,
    and you start to question priorities for the order is important.
    The Heart IS the home; the dwelling where all love presides.
    Every hiding place and space is full and until you give love,
    you shelves, although appearing stacked, will remain empty.
    Open your heart, for while love lingers her sting is less
    palpable. Feeble, old, stale and cold, the explorations
    will show your determination to be comfortable in love.
    Give the door a shove, it’s always open. Discover love.

    1. PressOn

      This is a heart-warming piece. For me, the prevailing image is contained in, “… until you give love, you(r) shelves, although appearing stacked, will remain empty.”

  32. carolecole66

    A Hymn
    after James Wright

    Somewhere in central Florida
    off the main highway, on a gravel road,
    my car stopped itself beside
    a cow pasture. White egrets danced
    and pecked through the piles of dung. A ditch
    scattered with Dorito bags and Pepsi cans
    lay between me and an old Hereford,
    udder swollen, a white blaze down her nose.
    Flies buzzed. The air seemed to wait, heavy.
    I needed to be home. Dinner pulled me
    but not so much as this foolish cow
    utterly motionless but for a twitching ear,
    her calf poised at the edge of the woods,
    his soft eyes beckoning, his gaze kind.
    I wanted to stroke him, to feel his damp nose
    against my hand, and I knew without thinking,
    he might accept me, let me live here,
    a flower in his familiar grass.

  33. Margie Fuston


    Some sit in the chair.
    Some lay on the leather lounge,
    pretending they’re in a movie,
    using a script.
    They’re not really
    letting me excavate
    Some are more interesting
    than others.
    Like the girl who can’t stop
    opening her flesh.
    I think she may be digging
    for something
    too, when she watches
    her blood trace
    patterns down her arm.
    I can’t figure her out.
    Some are easy to figure.
    Like the woman who stays
    with her cheating husband.
    I just ask her:
    How does that make you feel?
    Over and over,
    until she leaves,
    fixed for another week.
    But then there’s the man
    who dreams his bed is full
    of dying sparrows
    and he can’t seem to move
    without hearing the crunch
    of broken wings.
    He always picks the lounge
    and sweats
    when I push him
    to tell me more.
    What am I digging for?
    I don’t know.
    They all think
    I’m trying to solve
    only them,
    but at night,
    I take all my files out
    and try to piece them
    like a puzzle.
    One day I’ll make them fit.
    Sometimes I’ll look into a light
    and close my eyes,
    trying to decipher,
    the bright spots behind my lids
    like inkblots.
    I am the missing piece.

    1. Cin5456

      I’m not sure if I should laugh or cry. I never thought about the therapist’s need for therapy, but it fits. I knew a woman in school who would become a psychiatrist from her efforts exploring her own neurosis. Good work, Margie.

  34. JRSimmang

    IN 1492

    I sit here on my gilded throne, scepter in my hand,
    looking past the mizzenmast, in search of our new land.

    Three ships, have I, at my behest, flanking either side.
    The sun, the stars, shine up above, the moon, she is my bride.

    It was surely luck, for me, to strike while the iron’s hot.
    Enterprising, yes it was, to reap what I have wrought.

    The Queen was on my side, and using all her wit,
    told the King, “He’s brilliant, darling dear, just let him do it.”

    Less my pride, and short my sight, we plowed into the sea.
    Splashing blue-limed waves, and my mistresses three,

    set in search for India, for our spices added much
    variety to our palettes (and silver by the bunch).

    I’d be a God, you know, and worshipped at my feet,
    which is why I need it all, and the whole damned fleet.

    Surely it won’t be long, before we’ve struck our gold.
    The water’s getting deeper, and it’s getting cold.

    I hope this country shows up soon, the crew is growing mad.
    (Not that I should care about it, but it makes me sad).

    “Hark! It’s land,” said he, and not a spot too soon.
    We’ll disembark onto the land, make the ladies swoon,

    trade for what is rightfully ours, kill those who disagree.
    To each his own his fortune owed, and let the gold flow free!

    This land, so gorgeous, we should take some people back,
    teach them, convert them, and if they should attack,

    we’ve got swords and guns, and cannons accompli.
    It’d be foolish for them to do so, we’ll tell them quite simply.

    This land, so bountied, it feels so great to be a
    God in this land of godless heathens. Hail! New India!

    -JR Simmang

    1. PressOn

      I think this is magnificent. It reminds me of an old joke that I can’t recall exactly, but the gist was a native saying to another, years after the European invasions, “When they brought us their religion, they actually thought they were doing us a favor!”

  35. Connie Peters

    Chase Ketchikan

    Chase Ketchikan until it catches you
    Unlike the harsh Alaska you may think
    No polar bears or snow to your wazoo
    Chase Ketchikan until it catches you
    With temperatures 40 to 62
    A place with nature you can feel in sync
    Chase Ketchikan until it catches you
    Unlike the harsh Alaska you may think
    And everywhere you’re treated to a view
    Chase Ketchikan until it catches you
    Where you can zipline, fish, hike, and canoe
    Where air and sea acts as the transport link
    Chase Ketchikan until it catches you
    Unlike the harsh Alaska you may think

  36. Jane Shlensky


    I send the feline squad ahead,
    a swat team clearing living space
    of crickets, bugs, what crawls or flies,
    sniffing in nooks, each closet place
    a highly suspect lurking ground
    where miscreants could loll around.

    They dream of mice or hope to see
    lost birds or lizards unawares.
    They stalk imaginary fiends
    then test the beds, tables, and chairs.
    Strategic catnap outposts loom
    where they can view each haloed room.

    By end of day they’ve catalogued
    where plush surveillance spots abound,
    negotiating each cat’s place,
    divided chores and scheduled rounds.
    I sometimes have to break up spats,
    but they work for kibble and belly pats.

  37. Jane Shlensky

    Reclining Buddha

    The bottoms of the Buddha’s feet
    are etched with symbols of his faith,
    and massive, he reclines to rest,
    as mudras of his hands process
    a universal power above
    and drop it on the pilgrims there
    who sense a holy humble wraith
    still treads a path without desire,
    eight-fold and noble, through the mind
    where peaks and chasms, ice and fire
    discourage peace, inflame with ire.

    His eyes look inward, finding faults
    to pluck away, make purity,
    and introspection touches all
    who mill around admiringly.
    What courage must we find within,
    tenacious slender sliver lost,
    to solve problems with love and joy,
    to conquer our unruly thoughts?
    What of ourselves must we un-be
    to be a force for charity,
    to tread the soul-scape ‘til our feet
    reflect our love of all, of peace?

    We light a candle, say a prayer
    from many faiths assembled there;
    each humbled heart knows peace can feed
    the masses more than war and greed.
    We solve great problems in ourselves,
    examine our hearts, minds, and deeds.
    So stubborn exploration delves,
    so we must tend love’s precious seeds.

    1. Hannah

      Yes, this digging in to self is so necessary and you’ve gathered it in so well, Jane.

      I love this portion lots:

      “What of ourselves must we un-be
      to be a force for charity,
      to tread the soul-scape ‘til our feet
      reflect our love of all, of peace?”

      The idea of “un-be,” brilliant!

    2. PressOn

      Marvelous and masterful in your rhyming, admixing of forms, and perspective. It’s poems like this that make me feel superfluous in commenting at all. Thanks for writing this.

  38. Hannah

    Call of the Wood

    With the racket of feet pushing through leaves
    and the din of voices and sudden laughter
    our noises disguise thickly, the authenticity;
    the sound of a resident in this forest.
    There’s an expression ricocheting richly
    rebounding through the trees,
    it’s difficult to place the odd echo
    till we cease from moving and halt our speech;
    we wait-with our breaths held in anticipation,
    awaiting the next reverberation
    to ring through the wood musically.
    We watch each other’s eyes excitedly
    and finally it resonates-haunting and deep,
    One single owl calls hollowly through the trees
    and pure electricity vibrates between our gazes.
    This moment is alive with the adventure
    we were given a gift of swamp song
    and then suddenly-silently-soaring overhead,
    faithful and feathered and an expert in its flight
    an ivory and brown Barred Owl swoops
    navigating through the pine-green awning.
    This magical moment will spawn memories,
    such joy-filled wonder-full reminisces;
    we rally forward producing our best replicas-
    inspired to try the cry of this Barred beauty,
    we imitate this most amazing melody.

    Copyright © Hannah Gosselin 2013

    I usually try to request that the boys, (3 and nearly 7), walk with quiet intentions so that they can enjoy nature more fully. It is such a pleasure and blessing to be with them in the woods.

    What a magical experience and gift the Barred Owl was. I’m so grateful for it, the owl, the woods and the moment.

    If you’ve never heard or seen the Barred Owl I have a video in my post today. So amazing. :)

  39. PatNEO

    I often catch a feeling…
    from within our without, I am not sure…
    but whether from restless urge
    or quiet prompting
    I am often led
    to deeper places
    in my little world.

    And I almost see divine fingerprints
    in the way sunlight filters
    through moody clouds.

    And I faintly hear ancient sweet nothings
    as the wind moves through the trees.

    And I soak in the blessed warmth
    of a serendipitous hug from my child,
    or an affectionate lean-in from my cat.

  40. Karen H. Phillips

    Day 14
    Prompt: Write an exploration/discovery poem.

    Local Discovery

    Fairly domesticated,
    I don’t think of myself as explorer.
    Yet I walk the neighborhood hills,
    capturing turkeys, bison, and purple sweet gum
    leaves with my iPhone.
    Inquire on Instagram,
    what is this, what is that?
    I learn to catalog flora and fauna,
    hiking, snapping, posting,
    my own Lewis and Clark sort of way.

  41. elishevasmom

    My apologies that much of my work sees the darker side of things, but I guess I have lived with a lot of darkness.

    November 9, 1938

    Seventy-five years since the Nazis
    performed an exploratory
    surgery on the conscience
    of world humanity.
    The discovery
    only proving
    that nothing
    much has

    Ellen Knight 11.14.13
    write a “discover” poem for PAD 11.13

    1. Jane Shlensky

      Good one, Ellen. What has changed is our discoveries of more lethal and catastrophic methods of destroying one another and our willingness to use them. Perhaps the latter is sameold/sameold.

  42. Nancy Posey


    In love with maps and atlases,
    we toyed with topography, geography,
    like Donne, suggested exploration
    of other landscapes, not terra firma.
    Sometimes, fingers trailing back roads,
    we’d intersect in unfamiliar territory,
    speaking place names like incantations.
    Leaving the obvious to sniggers
    of less discriminating travelers—
    Intercourse, Pennsylvania, Climax,
    Georgia, we traced valleys, rode
    hairpin curves, climbed summits,
    never leaving navigable trails. Now
    years later, unfolding Rand-McNally
    from the glove compartment,
    anachronism rendered obsolete
    by satellite, I feel that polar tug,
    the equinoctial longing to retrace
    my path, unwinding back to you.

  43. Nancy Posey

    Diving In

    Navigating love like a spelunker
    with low batteries in his flashlight,
    a cave diver with insufficient air,
    he moved headlong toward danger,
    never counting the cost, lacking
    provisions, without regard for sage
    advice from trusted friends. The thrill
    of the unknown, like pure adrenaline,
    fueled his heart—or libido. Caution
    thrown to the wind, he advanced
    head first until, by contrast, even
    Romeo seemed deliberate, discreet.

  44. PKP


    she came to me
    in a yellow
    and then
    limbs assunder
    daring me
    with relentless
    and nascent
    innocent desire
    to tell her
    unwritten story
    as though
    I could

    1. PressOn

      My eye and heart are drawn to this. It has the whiff of a phrase I’ve seen, ascribed to Julian Of Norwich: “… all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

  45. PKP

    Looking for Daddy

    Been looking in
    each leaf
    in the drift
    of snow
    in the bloom
    off the rose
    and on
    in the beach
    and in a single
    grain of sand
    in the pounding
    surf and the
    calm of lake
    on land, sea
    and air
    on the
    crimson wing
    of a cardinal
    a herd of elephants
    in the bush
    in the brush of
    kitten fur against
    a bare shin
    back to the
    shimmer shake
    of leaves in
    the trees
    filagreed sunshine
    spilling sparkled
    speckles of his smile
    I look

  46. Clae


    Exploration discovered new continents
    Explorers found all of earth’s lands
    Now every space is uncovered
    Our maps seem to be far less grand

    No more ferocious sea-beast
    No edge of the world to fear
    Maps were once a work of art
    Now they sit correct and clear

    Although we all know earth is round
    Our maps are now doomed to be flat

  47. PKP

    Finally alone

    Unfolds the blanket
    from its taco tie
    reveals in splendorous
    glory ten tiny toes
    ten tiny fingers
    each white
    half moon
    holding her
    new world
    for her

  48. Earl Parsons

    New Waters

    I dove in
    Head first
    With intent and

    I told him
    I could not swim
    Still I dove
    With trust

    The warm water
    Engulfed my soul
    Soothing me
    Comforting me

    A new world
    Bright and loving
    My soul cried
    For me to stay

    I looked back
    One last glanc
    Said goodbye
    To the old

    No regrets
    Now I can swim
    In the waters
    Of His love

  49. Linda Goin

    Family Archaeology

    It’s possible to dig and still unfind
    ancestral hints and larger clues
    used to unravel a person’s past.
    Grandpa broke curiosity’s ground
    when he grinned impishly through
    cigarette smoke, stating his father,
    or grandfather, or great-grandfather
    left home and stayed unsettled,
    unleashing our surname along the way.
    Goin, Goins, Gowan, Gowen, Going,
    but never gone, and – don’t forget
    – G-O-I-N spells it right, like a curse
    that travels alone.

    I unraveled that yarn after grandpa
    died during Samhain’s full moon in ’77.
    Digging through papers in musty archives,
    I felt I was undigging grandpa, unlocking
    a casket filled with bones undead, yet
    scattered in unfinished poses.
    I’ve gathered numbers of stories untold
    in this room, tales scribbled in lists
    of marriages, deaths, and births;
    copies of tintypes labeled with names
    “dad,” “sister,” and “babysitter,”
    fading letters in scripts unalive,
    unciphered only with runes.

    At the end of my life, I offer proof
    like pot shards in a midden, unlocking
    pieces to a mysterious past. Know now how
    a courthouse in Clover Hill burned long
    after the war, leaving evidence in ashes;
    yet, know now how signs remain in Richmond,
    or in someone’s attic, a track untraveled
    in this alphabet soup of D-N-A; oh,
    and forty years or so of telltale leads
    in boxes signed over to Jane Blair’s daughter
    according to Mary’s wishes. My apologies
    in advance, but I’ll do my best to connect
    some dots before I die, like how to spell
    our name McGowan.

  50. barbara_y

    How I Know We Are Not Alone in the Universe

    My father considered “silly” my reading of fantasy
    and fairy tales, preferring histories for himself
    and the newspaper, and The Geographic. Yet.
    He taught me to fish. Not with the empirical fly,
    toward the dimple of a known phenomenon.
    And not so much with a bobber of patient faith,
    but with a straight line, leaded into the unknown
    where I was obliged to map the bottom’s contours
    by bump and slack and snag, blindly, in my mind.

  51. MichelleMcEwen

    Your Body is a Map

    Your body is a map, babe.

    Every inch of you 
    has a place attached—

    a story

    a female.

    You’ve been some of everywhere,

    I could take a trip around you.

    Don’t have to go nowhere, babe,
    I travel through you—

    my vicarious adventure
    my adventurous mister

    Why don’t you tell me again,
    babe, about that tattoo

    near your navel.

    The one you got in Nola 
    for Viola. 

    1. Missy McEwen

      Words can’t explain how much I love this. I love the very start and I am intrigued by the tattoo and Viola.

      Why don’t you tell me again, babe — LOVE that!

      I have no clue what I’m gonna do for an exploration poem. Wish I thought of this.

  52. PressOn


    I danced with you in triple time
    and fell in love at the first beat:
    there was no reason, was no rhyme;
    I danced with you in triple time
    and all the music turned sublime,
    as if it rose from my own feet.
    I danced with you in triple time
    and fell in love. At the first beat,
    passion commenced to stir and climb;
    I danced with you in triple time
    and once again was in my prime
    and you were Venus: gay; complete.
    I danced with you in triple time
    and fell in love at the first beat.

  53. bartonsmock

    -terrible writing-

    he is the father of a child stuck in traffic. he is my father finding this out in the middle of trying to be successfully beside himself. he is all muscle. he is every man kissing a trash bag swollen with stork blood. do the lifting. his friends languish in the availability of their art. who are these people, they are sermons, they are the dogvision greys of a bluesy priest. I am yellow in my mother. his mother is his endeavor. he hits a wall he slaps it. endeavors to magnetize his mother’s orgasm. it pains him. there is a man who writes to himself. people say it is fuck. he takes the terrible writing and turns it into a pity none can feel.

  54. Dare

    The Girl I Never Knew
    (My Mother)

    The back of the closet
    holds a forgotten world
    Soft scents of another time

    A pair of shoes
    Stiletto heels, pointed toes
    I wince just looking at them

    Hats – more than I can count
    crushed velvet and lace
    perhaps a jaunty feather

    A yellow picture
    a beautiful young girl
    filled with life and passion
    embracing her new-found womanhood

    A napkin and matchbook
    momentos of a cherished evening
    hint of future plans

    Exploring the world hidden
    within the back of the closet
    I meet a girl I never knew.

  55. Susan Schoeffield


    on a snowflake
    gracefully spinning downward
    unprepared for the finale
    melting into nothing

    on a seashell
    tossed in self-absorbing waves
    clinging to notions preconceived
    swallowing misplaced pride

    in your comfort
    the purpose of my journey
    to territories unexplored
    revealed in perfect love

    © Susan Schoeffield

  56. PKP


    flickering floating
    up on the screen
    and down in the
    seats another drama
    a scene
    a boy face aflame
    casually tosses a finger
    a quick poke before lights up
    he cannot malinger
    just under the sweater
    buttoned with a pearl stay
    a quick graze of velvet skin
    before she pushes him away
    he sits in the dark
    in the flickering floating
    a grin spread cross his
    face borne by blooming love
    where all’s he expected was gloating

  57. PressOn


    Strangely, because it’s not cold today,
    under forest understory
    the bird goes scuffling away,
    slower than molasses
    in January
    because it must
    check, briefly,
    each new

  58. writinglife16

    Grandma’s attic

    We loved Granny, but she was a mean lady.
    Her friend said she chased a snake
    down when they were kids.
    When I asked what had happened to the snake,
    She just looked at me.

    Granny’s idea of fun was closer to work.
    Rake the leaves.
    Clean the attic.
    The attic had so much stuff.
    So many spiders.
    I hated spiders back then and decided to make my
    peace with them.
    I told the third one I found that if they would
    not bother me, I wouldn’t kill them.
    Maybe he spread the word that the kid in the purple
    was crazy, steer clear.
    I didn’t see any after that.

    We were poking around in the attic.
    Trying on old clothes,
    opening crumbling boxes.
    Granny had one box, wrapped in plastic.
    Kind of weird, but kids like weird.
    We tore into the plastic.
    Opened it.
    There were the bones of a hand,
    as if it had been cut from the whole body.
    We all screamed.

    Granny yelled from downstairs for us to be quiet.
    We all looked at each other.
    Was she the reason the hand was no
    longer attached to its owner?
    We didn’t know.
    We never asked, ‘cause
    Granny was a mean lady.

  59. Tracy Davidson


    The sun appears
    for the first time
    in nearly two centuries.

    We stare in wonder at the sky,
    generations of us
    raised in darkness,

    never having felt warmth
    on our faces,
    never having seen anything

    other than black dust
    and grey ash.
    We see our surroundings

    in natural light,
    we see each other.
    We see the devastation.

    It’s too much.
    I close my eyes
    and hurry back home,

    not opening them again
    until I’m safe

  60. Michelle Hed

    Every Step You Take

    “In wisdom gathered over time I have found that every experience is a form of exploration.” – Ansel Adams

    Only by experiencing new things
    do you realize the truth of your preferences.
    Preferences that may have been jaded
    by preconceived ideas.
    Ideas planted by your parents,
    friends, the news or even your own mind.
    Mind the possibilities
    by opening wide your inner doors.
    Doors will open for you
    allowing you to explore the wonders.
    Wonders are waiting for you
    to come and find each and every one.
    One tiny or big new thing
    at a time.
    Time is in abundance
    but not infinite.
    Infinite steps toward wisdom
    await you.
    You must explore.

  61. laurie kolp

    Long-Term Stay

    An aquarium, the wall
    greets eyes and pacifies
    when elevator doors open,
    but there’s not much to explore
    on the sixth floor–
    your room on one end of the hall,
    physical therapy on the other.

    Midpoint, the nurse’s station
    is abuzz– too much paper work,
    documentation gluing nurses
    to chairs while patients call.

    Opposite, a family room/slash/
    place for occupational therapy–
    kitchen, conference table
    with jigsaw puzzles and books.
    In the corner, a couch and TV
    for visitors to fuel up
    on weak coffee and stale cookies.

    Somewhere in-between
    is the secret laundry room,
    a closet where I washed your hair.
    The wheelchair leaned back
    so your neck could rest
    in the beauty shop-like sink.

    What a fiasco, water
    spraying the shiny floor,
    my aim haphazard, our laughter
    worth the hassle of backing
    you into that shoebox space.

  62. annell

    Lost in Exploration
    The days pass
    I am not aware
    Of their passing
    My focus
    Is on the exploration
    Of breaking up the
    Plane into many
    Small pieces
    And creating
    Of color
    Of value
    Of intensity
    Of temperature

    So much cannot
    Be predicted
    Each step
    Must be completed
    In order to see
    To see what is
    What is not
    How it is working
    What is the vibration
    Between the colors
    Is it pleasing to me

    I look up from my work
    Time has passed
    I am not aware
    Of it’s passing
    It was morning
    Now it is not
    The seasons change
    So much is mystery

  63. taylor graham


    The dog presents me with a bone. Favorite
    old bone from the butcher shop, honed by
    her teeth. She rolls on it and grins.
    Stares at it, at me. Look! The
    leg bone’s connected to
    the knee bone. I kneel
    down, pick it up
    to my eye,
    gaze through
    It’s a
    one spectacle,
    microscope, it’s a
    telescope to what
    worlds? Cross-section of some
    creature’s shank, this white bone glistening
    with stars. I blow through it, breath as wind.
    Scent-music. She has no words but wonder.

  64. uneven steven


    Middle school dance
    school colors
    silver and black
    baggy pants
    can’t hide
    the uncomfortable
    of gender roles
    and regulations
    the shadows behind
    ringing metal bleachers
    until entered

  65. MLundstedt

    “Nordic Nonet”

    Summer’s night appears like summer’s day
    but winter’s darkness is the price–
    in a land where Vikings roamed
    dense woods of birch and pine
    and left in longships
    guided by stars
    in search of
    some place

    1. PressOn

      I love this. We chose the same form, but yours better fits, in my mind, the idea of exploring, especially to infinity, or so it would have seemed in those days. I imagine.

  66. Benjamin Thomas

    Mystique of the Abyss

    The depths of the great sea remains unplumbed and old big blue is largely uncombed. But it seems to discover us.

    Who dare explains it’s demonic tones?
    It’s pendulum poles? Like a woman at ease one moment and stricken with labor the next. Writhing in pain to bring forth.
    Sometimes a child of peace is born, sometimes calamity.

    Who will chase its staggering dimensions? Mood swings from sea to shattering sea? Can we analyze it’s quizzical disposition? The mystique of hidden abyss? Our curiosity prevails but our answers seem to run amiss. Many things we don’t know or understand. Many questions arise concerning that thing we call the sea. But we seem to frequently discover the drama of it’s massive unrest and the unsettling of our souls.

    1. Linda Goin

      Marie — so great! Reminded me of a graphic design professor I once had, who said that our first idea was garbage, the second one, possible garbage, and the third idea was the one worth working on.

    2. PressOn

      You have a Bingo! here, in my opinion. It echoes what a wise old pediatrician told me once: that he thinks today’s kids have lost the opportunity to explore what they weren’t looking for because they browse in cell phones in\stead of libraries.

  67. Jerry Walraven

    “Cassini Looks Back”

    as nothing
    but paint spatter
    in a scene dominated
    by the grandeur of Saturn.
    The space version of the Isla de Muerta,
    a planet which can only be found
    by those who already
    know where
    it is.

  68. Walt Wojtanik


    Cause if you want love, we’ll make it
    Swimming a deep sea of blankets
    Take all your big plans and break ‘em
    This is bound to be a while ~John Mayer – Your Body is a Wonderland

    We fill each others gaps,
    there is no lapse of passion
    on this excursion of discovery.
    I love the way you nose crinkles
    and your eyes sprinkle me with joy
    (making me one lucky boy!)
    This exploration of form has me warm
    and my senses tingle when fingers
    intertwined with mine find their firm hold.
    Your toes are cold, a sure sign that I’m
    as pleasing to you as you never fail to be
    to me. Our banner unfurls and your hair curls
    across your forehead. I am Edison, enlightened
    by your brilliance. I am Bell, calling across the
    vastness of your love. I am Tesla, getting a charge
    from the excitement you bring to me when you
    sing to me in the throes of this love.
    We have come as visionaries, searching
    our horizons for our Promise Land.
    And we will plant our flag and stand hand-in-hand.
    We have discovered Wonderland.
    This is bound to be a while!

    1. Marie Elena


      Walt, this is AMAZING. You have always been a cut above when it comes to sensuality and romance, but the way this one suits the prompt astounds. Who would think to reference the likes of discoverers such as Edison, Bell, and Tesla in a wholly sensual, delightful poem?


  69. Linda Rhinehart Neas


    When the darkness came,
    I crawled through the night,
    knowing deep within
    that there was an end – somewhere.

    The winter of the soul
    is a season of hidden growth
    where the heart grows strong
    under the blanket of hope.

    Crawling along, inching forward
    the first spark of light appears –
    unreal – but then, it grows
    like my blossoming soul.

    Finally, the light of true love
    pours into the hole I dug
    revealing the way out
    to you.