2013 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 17

Whew! These are the dog days of the challenge, right? The middle wasteland, but remember: “The Wasteland” is like a pretty incredible poem (for some folks anyway). As we wander in the desert of the November PAD Chapbook Challenge, be sure to let your mind wander and maybe a mirage or two will spring into a keeper.

For today’s prompt, write an element poem. Maybe an element from the periodic table (hydrogen, oxygen, etc.). Maybe an element of surprise?!? Or a missing element, which could refer to a person, tool, or poem. Run wild with it.

Here’s my attempt at an Element Poem:

“Silver City”

Almost mythical, it should surprise
no one Silver City is where Billy

the kid cut his teeth. Famous
as a stop for Butch Cassidy

and Kit Carson, it was built
on an old Apache campsite.

Geronimo and Cochise haunt
the valley first mined for copper,

but silver purifies and conducts,
and eventually time moves on

so that the only thing left mining
are the stories left behind.


Workshop your poetry! Click here to learn more.


Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and has never been to Silver City, though he thinks it sounds like a great place to take a hike. He’s the author of Solving the World’s Problems and a former Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere. He’s married to the poet Tammy Foster Brewer, who has been writing some incredible poems this month. If you haven’t read any of them, you’re really missing out. No, seriously, you are. Friend her on Facebook and see for yourself. Follow Robert on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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160 thoughts on “2013 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 17

  1. hohlwein

    For today’s prompt, write an element poem. Maybe an element from the periodic table (hydrogen, oxygen, etc.). Maybe an element of surprise?!? Or a missing element, which could refer to a person, tool, or poem. Run wild with it.

    The Element of Sleep

    I came up with this title
    whenever it was I awoke
    and however I did I thought
    that sleep is only knowable
    in the return from sleep
    in the reconstruction of the self
    using wanweed and the cry of an egret

    and from this and fabric
    the touch of fabric

    you put together your entire

    and when you stand on your feet
    cold, little,
    and separate the blinds
    and see no one there
    not one soul stirring
    you know you are back

    because the sidewalk is wet
    and it is real and for awhile
    you, yourself, were not.
    or you were
    and now you are not.

    but the tree is there
    and that means a lot
    and everything
    – all of it –
    is okay.

  2. Susan Schoeffield


    lightly cascade
    in soft, shimmering splashes
    off the shoulders of a mountain
    to shallow pools below.

    As clouds
    obscure the sun,
    temperatures quickly drop,
    the wet shoulders of a mountain
    wearing an icy shawl.

    © Susan Schoeffield

  3. bjholmes

    Lost & Found

    I lost my mind
    just the other day
    it just shut down
    and walked away.

    I wonder where it went
    if it got to go somewhere warm
    or did it choose to go North
    and find a cabin in a storm.

    My mind tends to wander
    I have absolutely no control
    it takes of when it wants to
    going of for a nice little stroll.

    I hope my lost mind
    will find its way back
    because I know without it
    a form of knowledge will I lack!

  4. seingraham


    She shimmers in dusk like shattered stars
    Her hair a nimbus glowing brilliant, outdoing
    Luna’s sad sheen; she fills space with elemental
    airs and breaths metallic…
    To look on her is fatal
    Her mission is unclear to all but she…
    as she stalks earth on limbs of tungsten searching
    for atomic children long abandoned…

    *(Symbol Hf – hafnium – atomic number 72 – Hafnia, Latin Name for Copenhagen, Denmark)

  5. cholder

    Legend of the Storm

    When thunder rolls
    and lightening strikes,
    the warring gods
    give quite a fright.
    They battle and rage
    throughout the night.
    The wind and rain
    fuel their strife.
    Sword to sword
    they clash and fight
    until dawn brings
    the glory of light.

  6. alanasherman

    #17 elements
    Wu Xing

    Under ground
    in WuHai, miners
    hear water
    winding down
    stone walls. They search for diamonds
    Instead, they uncover

    paintings: People
    arms raised, legs wide apart
    the sun god’s
    human face in a deep pit
    in stone. Discover

    in a sphere
    around him, the sky
    full of stars
    comets noted on mundane
    things—animal bones,

    And, buried further
    down, even
    on shells—the constellations
    perfect, familiar.


  7. Cin5456

    (This was written in September)

    Out of My Element

    Concrete, this unsteady stone beneath
    feet stumbling toward a fickle future.
    Can’t find my footing in this city.
    So much time spent looking
    for work to buy survival,
    goals benched for substitutes.
    I yearn for solace, a secret valley
    hemmed with mountains peaks.
    Deer graze the yard and garden;
    otters dive for salmon and play.
    Days slide blushing into night.
    Sunsets, like late daughters,
    sneak past unseen. In silence,
    vibrant colors explode across western
    peaks, silhouettes of tree furred ridges.
    Often surprise by sudden dark,
    I watched stars gather
    like sand grains tossed high,
    the winking, crystallized dots
    salting a sky feast; they sing,
    and sail seaward on wind’s wistful sigh.
    The river breathes; its moisture
    spills into these grateful eyes.
    My secret valley paints my soul-song
    with a brush dripping wildflower colors
    across this vision of peace.

  8. BezBawni

    Elemental Song

    who can’t admire earth?
    its solid womb engenders life
    and takes it back into the depths;
    it suffers and endures all,
    without prejudice absorbing blood or rain;
    it welcomes all: whatever race or faith;
    its skin is cracked and callused to the touch
    in deserts where the sun has no heart;
    but in a green field on a summer night
    it suddenly feels like a mother-land…

    where can one hide from fire?
    its scorching tongues speak Death;
    it eats away at life, licking the plate;
    the Hell is its eternal host,
    while on a festival fire commutes to heaven
    where it works a shower of sparks;
    once tamed it shares light and warmth,
    it saves, it feeds, it comforts,
    and with its magnetic dance it fascinates;
    its freedom runs uphill in glowing red poppies…

    has anybody ever seen the air?
    yet we can never find an airless shelter;
    it seeps through life, it’s life itself;
    and even death lets air come to its aid;
    air travels through and over generations;
    no time it fears, no distance feels too far;
    it shapes the mountains, and smoothes edgy cliffs;
    and blows apart whole cities without effort;
    it carries ice, and snow, and rain, and withered leaves;
    it holds the earth in its secure embrace,
    and touches our face in gentle reassurance…

    what are we but a splash of water?
    and what are we without its saving grace?
    it blesses spring with blossom, fish with home;
    it bores into the flesh of land to be its soul;
    up to the sky it rushes with the heat
    only to fall again, to crash and bleed through streets;
    its mighty waves play the eternal tag
    till they are stilled by frost and put to rest;
    and in the rising sun over the tops of trees
    it’s born from air on the waking leaves…

    …you are a summer field
    ablaze with crimson flowers
    that are caressed by gentle breeze
    and cleanse my skin in dew…

  9. Hannah

    Enlightenment (a tanka)

    Earth feels eclipsed
    until she begins to see clearly;
    peering through her third eye
    she contemplates stardust,
    a golden bloom of rose.

    Copyright © Hannah Gosselin 2013

  10. Missy McEwen

    Brown Baby


    hits your skin


  11. Karen H. Phillips

    Day 17
    Prompt: Write an element poem.

    Weightless as Helium

    Like the feather in Forrest Gump,
    I long to float and drift through my days,
    not earthbound by stress and cares.

    And I find the answer: casting
    all my cares upon Him, Who
    cares for me.

  12. Earl Parsons

    The Elements of Life

    Carbon, Hydrogen, and Oxygen
    Are said to be the basic
    Elements of life

    Without them
    Life would be impossible
    At least as we know it

    I fully believe
    There are more important
    Elements that make life
    Worth living

    Love, Grace and Forgiveness
    Caring, Understanding and Love

    And God

  13. LeAnneM

    In a Good Cause

    Hydrogen to Helium to Carbon
    To Neon to Oxygen to Silicon
    To Iron

    Then –

    Elements spread throughout the heavens
    For the taking

    They joke and say your frying pan
    Killed a star

    But the star was already dying
    And we needed all that stuff

  14. Sara McNulty

    The Surprise

    Once a fleeting thought,
    now a written-in-stone
    plan. If he did not leave
    now, at age fifty, when
    would he gather courage
    enough to go. Whispers
    on the phone, abrupt
    endings to phone calls,
    and evenings after dinner–
    those errands she had to run.
    He was positive; she was cheating
    on him, meeting someone else
    whenever time allowed. In front
    of his house now, he takes
    a deep breath, turns the doorknob
    to darkness. Then, lights flood
    the room, people yell, “Surprise,”
    and there stands his wife proudly
    beaming at him.

  15. cbwentworth

    The question arrives,
    solve the mystery
    Dig deep for the truth,
    purposely hidden
    Watch the obvious,
    for clues, Dear Watson
    To find the error,
    of a perfect crime
    We look no further,
    than deduction’s proof
    A simple theory,

  16. bjzeimer


    In March of 1852 when Great-Uncle Charlie
    got done chopping wood that day,
    he sunk the sharp blade of the single-bit
    axe deep into the tree stump,

    carried an armload of cut logs to the house
    where Grandma was peeling
    potatoes for supper,
    and fired up the old cast iron cook-stove,

    got himself a dipper of water
    from the galvanized water bucket at the
    back of the stove and sat down
    at the kitchen table where he ate

    beans and potatoes, and rolled biscuits
    for the last time in Ohio,
    took his roll and went to the train station
    and went west.

    That’s how it was during the gold rush.
    Struck by gold fever,
    a man just up and left his home and family
    and was never heard from again.

  17. DanielAri

    “Bills in a breeze, September 2008”

    Who left the money
    for the breeze to steal?
    Now the rosemary
    fills with torn, wet bills,
    and Grant gets mushy

    in sprinkler spray. “Ill
    winds,” the neighbors say.
    But the sun still shines
    on Sunday’s yard sale
    where the many things

    we’ve said our thanks for
    get price tagged and aired.
    But little is sold
    to the neighborhood.
    No one’s selling wool

    blankets or wrapped food.
    Money’s in a mood.


  18. Benjamin Thomas

    Elements of Love

    Elements of love
    Always go together
    Like electricity and magnetism
    Defying the laws of gravity, logic
    Powering humanity
    In a mysterious current
    Of unknown magnitude
    From person to person
    Lighting the world
    Energizing the earth
    As if it were the materials
    Of the very universe
    Invisible forces
    Like matter itself
    Residing in our hearts


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