Editors Blog

2013 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 15

After we finish today’s poem, we’ll have crossed the half-way point in this challenge. Congratulations for making it this far! It’s all downhill from here, right?

For today’s prompt, take the phrase “What (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible titles might include: “What Luck,” “What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas,” “Whatever You Say,” and so on.

Here’s my attempt at a What Blank Poem:

“What Happens”

Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings.
Every time a gun is fired, people buy more guns.

They spread like kudzu across the landscape, and there’s
no way to stop their advance. Like insects, like black

rats–they return and return stronger than ever
as if they never left. As for me, I won’t bend

to their will, whether for protection or a thrill.
Every time a gun fires, an angel joins the choir.

*****

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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 understands the complexity of the gun issue. While he’s not interested in taking anyone else’s guns, he doesn’t believe in owning them himself (to each, their own). After the Aurora shooting, gun sales increased in Colorado, Georgia, Washington, Florida, and California. There was also a spike in national gun sales following the Sandy Hook shooting. Robert is the author of Solving the World’s Problems and can be found on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

*****

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259 thoughts on “2013 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 15

  1. Susan Schoeffield

    THE PLACE IN BETWEEN

    Half-way
    ‘tween there and here,
    one heart’s muffled orchestra
    echoed in an empty chamber,
    a song no one could hear.

    Half-way
    ‘tween then and now,
    one heart sang a capella
    to melodies not yet written,
    a song it would not share.

    Half-way
    ‘tween you and me,
    two hearts created music,
    a chorus blending together,
    a song only love sings.

    © Susan Schoeffield

  2. hohlwein

    For today’s prompt, take the phrase “What (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible titles might include: “What Luck,” “What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas,” “Whatever You Say,” and so on.

    What I Knew

    I was an odd child who was in love.
    This I knew and I knew
    I loved the distressed mess of oak leaves
    that a peacock brushed through during the night
    that ochre field greyed shuffled under electric blue, night-greyed
    that the rain was love, was in love
    with the leaves under the leaves
    that the worms
    and the spiders under the snapped and fallen branches
    were as perfect as the words
    “I love you”
    and that no words were needed
    not ever
    there when I was ten, silent,
    acknowledging each piece of color
    as I could, arranging them in my lap,
    in the bowl of my cotton dress,
    with care according to how much
    for them I felt.

  3. Jezzie

    What a woeful week it was.
    What more will we all do?
    We will not wangle
    the weather which
    wastes the world.
    Why not?
    Well?
    What now?
    We’ll just wait
    while we wonder
    what will happen and
    when or whether we will
    depart this woeful world
    this week or will we survive

    What causes a whirlwind
    to wipe out homes and lives?
    What wicked wars will wrench
    men from their weeping wives?
    What will we survivors
    do to show that we care?
    What worse is there to come,
    we worry, and where?

  4. Yolee

    What Is Going On?

    That which does not kill me
    makes me want to eat. But
    I’m tired of codfish still
    stuck to the bone,
    needling between
    my teeth and testing
    things I need to say.

  5. deringer1

    WHAT BEAUTY!

    Oh see it with me !
    Mountains blue, misty, or rosy,
    sunsets red and gold and pink,
    forests green, tall trees reaching up
    into blue, blue never ending skies.

    But wait–there’s more than that–
    there’s beauty in a friendly smile,
    a caring touch,
    a wrinkled face and snowy hair,
    a little child with trusting eyes,
    a table set with thanks and love,
    or a baby’s coo.

    And oh ! There’s beauty in
    well-written lines,
    in deep emotions spilled on paper,
    in marvelous music that moves to tears,
    and in your face as
    you look at me with love.

  6. bjholmes

    What’s Wrong

    Words quickly spoken
    with so very little thought
    tend to wound and hurt and sting
    with every little shot.

    With bitterness and hatred
    words are thrown carelessly out
    to fall on our victims
    and cast on heavy laden doubt.

    With every angery word
    of ridicule and blame
    the hearer only crumbles
    in pity and in shame.

    Words used to hurt
    that make one look so strong
    only tend to backfire
    and show the world what’s wrong.

  7. Rita Ackerman

    What If?

    What if the world ended today?
    What if the shootings never go away?
    What if there’s no end to every highway?
    What if no one took time to pray?
    What if our ancestors didn’t labor night and day?

    There’d be no hope to keep us alive,
    Or dreams and visions,
    To lead the way.

  8. seingraham

    WHAT WORDS MIGHT SAY

    In moonlight the scavi is alive with ghosts
    waltzing between eras, sharing secrets
    not normally mentioned during daylight hours
    Luna smiles enigmatically, her knowledge
    as ageless as the silver streams of light
    beaming through the atmosphere
    to the ancients down below

    Shrouds, usually wound tight or tattered,
    flutter like butterflies, shimmering
    surrounding individual skeletons setting
    each apart from the others, giving each
    an individuality not unlike their human
    selves, no longer living

    The thing about archaeology is how the bones,
    the shards, the buried cities
    Unearthed one spoonful of earth at a time
    speaks as eloquently as the most intricate poetry
    the stories passed down through the ages
    The words are not words as such, and they
    don’t need to be, they’re understood
    just as they are

  9. seingraham

    WHAT WORDS MIGHT SAY

    In moonlight the scavi is alive with ghosts
    waltzing between eras, sharing secrets
    not normally mentioned during daylight hours
    Luna smiles enigmatically, her knowledge
    as ageless as the silver streams of light
    beaming through the atmosphere
    to the ancients down below

    Shrouds, usually wound tight or tattered,
    flutter like butterflies, shimmering
    surrounding individual skeletons setting
    each apart from the others, giving each
    an individuality not unlike their human
    selves, no longer living

    The thing about archaeology is how the bones,
    the shards, the buried cities
    Unearthed one spoonful of earth at a time
    speaks as eloquently as the most intricate poetry,
    the stories passed down through the ages
    The words are not words as such, and they
    don’t need to be, they’re understood
    just as they are

  10. Rosemary Nissen-Wade

    What Is That Music?

    What is that music
    leaking over the horizon?
    Full of longing, where does it come from?
    I want to understand. I want it to stay.

    What is that music
    murmuring on and on?
    How can it be both clear and dim?
    What is the message it means to convey?

    What is that music?
    It is a secret, but one
    that others hear too — although for them
    it may have something different to say.

    What is that music?
    What is that half-heard tune
    that I can almost catch and hum …
    that makes me want to weep and pray?

    What is that music?
    Does it waft from the moon?
    I know it haunts me for good, not harm.
    I know it needs to come out and play.

    What is that music?
    And where has it gone —
    dwindling gently, gradually dumb?
    It was here, and now it has gone away.

  11. Glory

    What Happened

    I didn’t take to her at first
    why, I wasn’t sure,
    just something about her
    had me feeling . . . insecure

    How wrong can one person
    be? As time passed by
    she was, as it turned out
    a very good friend to me

    And now, although we’re miles
    apart, I find her often
    within my heart, a lasting
    friendship shared,

  12. bxpoetlover

    What Is It Made Of?

    Just before they straggled in, I was halfway through
    my dessert, vegan chocolate cake. Kevin asked,
    “Does it taste like grass?” They laughed.

    Jamyk said, “Miss, you don’t eat cheese? No meat?
    What do you eat?”
    I rummaged through
    my file cabinet for a plastic fork encased in plastic. All gone.

    I took the end of my fork and lopped off part of an end piece.
    Here. I haven’t touched this part. I dropped it gently in Kevin’s hand.
    He sniffed it. Twice. All eyes on his face as he put it in his mouth.
    He paused, then chewed.

    “Miss, what did they put in this? It tastes like regular cake.
    Where did you get it?”
    The vegan joint on the corner.
    “No you didn’t.”
    It’s good, isn’t it?
    “There’s no milk or eggs in it? What did they put in it? This is regular chocolate?
    “I am going to get some after school.”

    I winked and opened the book.

  13. Broofee

    What a day

    Morning starts
    With you in my arms.
    You’re finally here!
    After all those days
    Apart
    After all those nights.

    I write this poem
    While you’re still asleep
    Thinking
    About how we’ll spend
    Whole Saturday together.

    The lunch
    The book fair
    The dinner
    The evening out

    All those things
    Still ahead
    And another night

    And another morning.

    All those moments I need to catch
    And remember
    So they can keep me
    Sane
    While I wait to see you
    Again.

  14. MichelleMcEwen

    What’s Going On

    The dirty south 
    say what it do

    O.G.’s say 
    what it is

    Uncle Freddie 
    say what it be

    Rerun say
    what’s happening

    Boys on the street
    corner say what up

    gangstas say
    what’s crackalackin

    brothas in the hood
    say what’s good

    Marvin Gaye
    say what’s going on

    but you can’t answer that
    with dap. 

    1. MichelleMcEwen

      Oops, left out a sentence. Here it is again. Sorry:

      What’s Going On

      The dirty south 
      say what it do

      O.G.’s say 
      what it is

      Uncle Freddie 
      say what it be

      Rerun say
      what’s happening

      Boys on the street
      corner say what up

      gangstas say
      what’s crackalackin

      Rastas say
      wah gwan  

      brothas in the hood
      say what’s good

      Marvin Gaye
      say what’s going on

      but you can’t answer that
      with dap. 

  15. Walt Wojtanik

    WHAT DOES THE FOX SAY?

    She stands at the end of the bar,
    far off in thought, she ought not
    drink when she’s thinking, she’s
    be stinking drunk before she had
    made her rationalization. Her
    station in life is rife with uncertainty,
    Swilled to the gills, this girl raises
    her head and appears ready to
    crow. “BARTENNER, GUMME
    ANOFER SHAMPAIN COCK-
    TAIL” You wondered “What does
    the fox say?” Now you know!

  16. bethwk

    What Is My Name?

    This time it wasn’t angels riding
    up and down their golden escalator.
    No happy hallelujahs,
    no floodgates of heaven
    opening for my vision alone.

    This time the angel took on gravity,
    grabbed and held me,
    wrestled me to the ground.

    The angel’s grip was like steel,
    like iron, like feathers, ice cold air.
    But I’ve been running my whole life.
    I wasn’t about to let some angel
    keep me from getting away
    and getting my way.

    I have been limping ever since,
    from the touch on my thigh,
    but still I wouldn’t let the angel go.

    “Not until you bless me.
    Not until you tell me,
    until you tell me my name.”

    And here I am,
    building altars in the dawn,
    and tasting those new sounds
    in my throat, on my lips.

  17. Margie Fuston

    What’s on the Other Side of the Mountain?

    I think there might be
    fields dotted with daisies dipped in sun,
    trees with tangled, untrimmed, branches,
    streams that slip around glossy stones,
    flowers never flattened by wayward footprints.
    If only someone would help me
    tunnel through.

  18. julie e.

    WHAT SAY WE PRETEND WE CAN DANCE

    I’ll be your Ginger Rogers
    you’ll be my Fred Astaire
    we’ll pretend we’re light as feathers
    on our feet.
    Imagine I’m not clumsy
    I’ll imagine you’re debonair
    You lead, I’ll try to follow in
    pretend heels.
    Let’s make-believe we’re younger
    you spin me a time or two
    and laugh when I get dizzy
    like I do
    I’ll be your Ginger Rogers
    you be my Fred Astaire
    but I’ll grab our reading glasses
    before bed.

  19. Nancy Posey

    Whatnots

    Breaking up housekeeping after their parents passed
    one right after the other, as if part of a secret plan–
    If you go first, I’ll be right behind you—they met
    one weekend to clean out, purge, then figure out
    how to divide anything of value—Mama’s dishes,
    the spindle bed in the front room, the mantle clock.
    Long ago, they’d been warned not to let belongings
    come between them, not to stain their memory
    with quarrels over things, just things. Instead,
    he told his sister which of her children needed
    the corner cabinet, and she remembered, without
    his asking, that Daddy’s tools belonged with him.
    One by one, they celebrated the love, the lives
    that shaped theirs own, until only Mama’s shelf
    remained—her whatnots, she called tiny glass
    poodle, salt-and-pepper shakers with Nassau
    written in gold cursive scrawl, a crystal bell,
    the hand-painted china plates Mama painted,
    a hobby learned late. Treasures once mocked
    now held new worth. Suddenly they needed
    to handle each piece, telling stories, confessing
    to breakage they’d denied for years. Laughter
    mingled with tears as their loss felt new
    and love, their true inheritance, felt real.

  20. Julieann

    What’s For Supper?

    The local pizza place
    And hangout is
    Fifteen miles from
    The nearest town
    It is sits across the highway
    From the east-west
    Train tracks
    Suddenly the still,
    Cool night air is broken
    By the sound of
    Air brakes squealing
    Boxcars clanging, rattling
    To an undignified halt
    The freight train stops
    Stone cold dead still
    On the track
    A flashlight shines down
    The steps leading
    To the ground
    We all watch as the
    Engineer exits, locks the cab
    And crosses the highway
    To enter the pizza place
    And pick up his preordered
    Pizza to go

  21. Bruce Niedt

    What My Baseball Card Would Say

    Bruce Niedt – Philadelphia Phillies
    Position: Fan

    Career Stats:
    1960 – Failed to make Little League team

    1960-1965 – Occasional sandlot games
    Usual position – right field

    1970’s-1980’s – A few office softball games
    (averages not available)

    1990’s-2010’s – sporadic involvement in
    computer games and rotisserie leagues

    Career highlights: Watching his team win
    the World Series in 1980 and 2008

    Team’s winning average when he attends
    games at the ballpark: about .300

    BCG (beers consumed per game): 1.40

    FELA (Fan Enthusiasm and Loyalty Average):
    1.000

  22. Cameron Steele

    What Dream

    Whatever it is
    that’s got her has her
    good enough to leave
    her twitching under
    those cotton sheets,
    a whimper caught
    against the back of her
    tongue that almost
    hooks my heart enough
    to wake her.

    I hover over the small bed
    and wonder what I
    always do: why
    she insists I leave
    her in the dark of her
    own disordered mind,
    why she makes me suffer
    the frenetic seizing of
    her limbs when all I want
    is to clutch her fine fingers
    against my cheek and
    kiss her eyelashes.
    I stare at them when she
    shakes for fear I
    will lose touch with her
    softness.

    She says she needs
    to sleep through the dreams
    even when it looks more
    like suffering. She believes
    it’s better to get it all out
    when the sun is down
    and she’s not afraid
    of seeing her own shadows.
    I used to be scared
    of them but now I’m just tired
    and threadbare, worn down
    like one of her socks
    from too many nights
    trying to protect her twitching toes.

  23. priyajane

    WHATEVER HAPPENS
    They say-
    Whatever happens, is for the best
    Sometimes ‘best’ feels like
    having your heart ripped up
    and stomped on
    with high heels, and
    buried, deep in dirt–
    But I guess that’s where
    The best lotus grow —-

  24. DWong

    What I See You Don’t

    I lost my mom
    when I needed her most.
    His wall of steel caged her in.
    His chain, made of hundred pound links,
    was fused to her legs
    and shortened by two
    links
    each time
    she dared
    approach
    me.
    Now that she’s gone
    her spiky chain lies on the ground
    between me and my precious child.
    I look in those young eyes of hers.
    The chain is starting
    to fuse
    with
    my own
    skin.
    It will force me
    to
    lose
    her
    like I lost
    my mom.
    What I see is you don’t see
    any of this
    from your world of
    perfect
    righteousness.
    If this chain is
    to be a part of me,
    I will take it,
    I will use it,
    rip it from my skin,
    baring flesh,
    shedding blood,
    and wrap it round my neck,
    shortening it myself,
    crumpling the links
    like the paper
    it is
    not.

    1. PKP

      This poem is so powerful – that I have read and re-read it three times – I admit that I thought that I was seeing this literally through the eyes of perhaps a pit-bull or other fighting dog – but I believe it cuts far deeper.

  25. cbwentworth

    A change in weather,
    from sun to dust
    The heat of summer,
    is laid to rest
    Life is rewritten,
    the season new

    After pain and loss,
    that stole my breath
    The ground releases,
    my anchored step
    The wide horizon,
    brightens my view

  26. taylor graham

    WHAT’S TO FIND?

    In my email: a cat is lost in town
    near Locust Street, a long block past the T.
    I print the flyer so I’ll know him: brown
    tabby, Mister. It’s Friday so I’m free
    to follow hunches, look for windfall, roam
    with open eyes; peer into every tree
    along the way. Check crevices. Where’s home
    to a lost tabby? Here’s an old rock wall,
    snapdragons still in bloom. A fringe of foam-
    white flowers; foliage red as autumn-fall.
    A penny pressed in earth by passing feet;
    the plainest gray-bird with the sweetest call;
    a sunny wooden bench where friends might meet.
    So many things I never knew of Locust Street.

  27. Cin5456

    What About My Heart?

    What about my heart?
    What about the love –
    Was it fake, a ruse to use
    against me? What gave you
    the right to test its beat
    against your drum? Must you
    thump it about, thumb
    your nose at sincerity?
    Tossed aside, then chastised
    for leaving you, I can’t
    make up your mind for you.
    Either you want my love,
    Or my heart is your toy.

    The rhythm is gone,
    gone from the dance;
    this tango is too tangled.
    You, dancing a caper about
    my prone form from
    dawn to evermore. I danced
    to your piper, followed
    your lead, but stumbled,
    sensing scorn poorly hidden.
    I’m stuck here, bewildered
    in the twisted lines
    of a trap you laid.
    I’ve paid, and played
    your games for too long.
    What about my heart?

  28. Lori P

    What should I do today dot com

    WTF should I do today?
    The computer will tell me.
    Build a stoneage telegraph.
    I don’t want to do that.
    Post cheesy chat up line through people’s doors.
    I don’t want to do that.
    Kiss Jack Howard.
    I don’t… who’s that anyway?
    New tab, Google Jack Howard.
    Wikipedia says he could be a Canadian hockey player,
    a Micronesian sprinter, or an Australian musician.
    I doubt all three.
    Back on Google I find a more likely candidate:
    YouTuber, Twitter celebrity, filmmaker.
    One third of the comedy duo Jack and Dean.
    On second thought maybe I do want to do that,
    Especially since the next thing is just a link to Tumblr

  29. bjzeimer

    WHAT WOULDN’T I GIVE

    What wouldn’t I give
    to see inside
    that house again
    to see if the winding stair
    is still there,
    the picture of a doll
    cut from a newspaper ad
    my brother
    pasted on the ceiling,
    to be five years old
    and rolling down
    the grassy hill
    in the sun

  30. Domino

    What Voice

    What voice is loud enough/
    rude enough/proud enough
    to waken the world?

    Individually, humans are selfish.
    But with maturity (as a person/
    as a species/as a race)
    we can learn to look within ourselves,
    deep enough/thoroughly enough/
    intensely enough
    to see that we are all
    one.

    What one does effects all.
    When one is filled with joy,
    all are uplifted.
    When one is brutalized
    all are brought down,
    multiplied by a factor of
    the brutalized times the brutalizing;
    one cannot do harm without
    harming oneself.

    People can learn that the bad
    day/week/year/life
    they are having
    can only be improved by calming/
    ignoring/rejecting
    the anger/hate/rage/selfishness
    and letting loose the
    love/love/love/love.

    1. elishevasmom

      It is easy to point at what ails our culture, our society. But you go the further step of not just pointing the way, but by leading it. Absolutely love it!

  31. uneven steven

    The history of history and the story of religion in 33 words

    What a guy
    what a story
    what a show
    what a crock
    what a goddamn
    butt fucking astrophe
    for all
    this load o’
    what a … what a … what a …
    whichever way
    you turn

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