2013 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 22

For today’s prompt, write a poem using at least three of the following six words:

  • ideogram
  • remora
  • casket
  • eclipse
  • selfie
  • wretch

Use the words in the title of your poem, in the body of your poem, and feel free to play with them (by which, I mean, make them plural, past tense, etc.).

Here’s my attempt at a poem using three of six words:

“Ideograms for the Melancholy”

Replace the casket with a basket.
Put flowers in it. Have the wretch
that you’ve become transform

to a hammerhead. When remoras
come to attach themselves, let them
think you won’t eat them when

they let go. Turn the flower basket
into a selfie and eclipse
the sun, the moon, and them.


Learn the fundamentals of nonfiction!

Learn how to use detail in your writing, interview subjects, add description, make your point using structure and organization, and more.

Click to continue.


Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and decided to add selfie to the word list after it was announced as the word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries (read about it on NPR). He’s the author of Solving the World’s Problems, which actually includes a number of selfie poems (or autobiographical poems). He’s married to the poet Tammy Foster Brewer, who helps him keep track of their five kiddos and reminds him to eat every so often (because he really does forget sometimes). Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


Check out more poetic posts here:

You might also like:

  • No Related Posts

242 thoughts on “2013 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 22

  1. JRSimmang


    It has begun,
    we agreed,
    the day the
    language was
    “selfie” to the
    lending it the modern
    day equivalent
    of a crown of jewels,
    poor Webster,
    flipping and flopping
    in his

    -JR Simmang

  2. bjholmes

    I poked my head out of my casket
    during a lunar eclipse.
    Feeling rather remora
    just hoping for a glimpse
    of some other poor wretch
    who is in the same situation as me
    stuck in this field with nothing to do
    but stare at some stupid ideogram
    with selfies of I don’t know who!

  3. Glory

    Ever Changing –

    I saw a photo of my selfie
    found it in a casket
    was when my hair was ‘mousy’
    but no more- I’m russet
    but want to be, yes want to be
    a wretch – yes, just a brassy blonde.

  4. hohlwein


    The remora has figured it out.
    Eat shit. Don’t rock the boat.
    Don’t take too much.
    Swim along, attached, unnoticed.
    Go where the host goes.
    Get places that way. See the world.
    Parasitic, but modest, elegant in its way.
    Become part of the ideogram –
    a flourish, like a tail, or a tale –
    that changes the meaning just slightly.

    Regardless what comes,
    – even as the moon
    blocks out the sun,
    stay there and – gently – take what you can.

    No one will even know you’re there.
    This is one way to make it in this world.

  5. dandelionwine


    I keep wanting to say
    it’s a perfect day for

    cloud vaporizing, for
    pouring water droplets

    on cotton candy in clear
    blue while these ashes

    blow past leaving empty
    caskets in the dust of a

    comet and we chase
    our tails up dark stains

    of cave wall ideograms
    eclipsing this dear world

    with what can’t disappear.

  6. Yolee

    Closed Casket

    She stands under the big bean in Chicago’s Millennium Park.
    The Cloud Gate sculpture distorts her reflection. She takes
    a selfie. Satisfied with it she heads to her room at The Drake
    Hotel to upload the pic unto various dating sites. After mulling
    over the ideogram, she posts it and then fills in the blanks
    with versions that eclipse wretched parts that
    has her moving every 8 or 9 months to a new town.

  7. seingraham


    It is the sound gathering
    them into the rarefied
    space that is her undoing
    Expecting “Ave Maria”,
    or even “Amazing Grace”
    to breach the gap

    between she,
    and the wretch laid out,
    white, wimple-perfect
    in the plainest casket available,
    save the Order’s ideogram
    carved—or is it stamped,
    she cannot decide—on the lid,
    instead it’s Albinoni’s “Adagio”
    that clings to her senses

    invades her every pore
    each note a leech, a remora
    eclipsing her promise to God,
    to herself, to create a calmness
    however difficult
    that might prove to be

    Ah, here come the rest—
    such an obsolete group,
    she cannot help thinking—
    as habit-clad figure after
    habit-glad figure glides
    down the aisles like crows
    or, faces framed white
    with wimples,
    perhaps magpies…
    No, so stern looking,
    ravens surely

    She tries to reel her mind
    back to the matter at hand
    As they perch on the pews
    The music ends,
    the priest intones a prayer
    Beseeches all to consider
    the virtue of the deceased

    She feels light-headed,
    remembers it is her time
    of the month
    Wonders anew
    at God’s cruelty
    Why continue the cycle
    yet insist on celibacy
    It didn’t lessen
    suffering, did it?

    She crosses herself quickly
    Says a quick, sincere Hail Mary
    Tries to forget the choice that
    led to the poor thing
    landing in the box…

    However she cannot keep
    from regarding
    Her Saviour on the cross,
    begging him silently
    “Why this dear Lord?”
    Her child was your child
    as was she, was she not?”
    As always, her answer was
    couched in silence

  8. bjzeimer


    I shouldn’t be here watching
    this documentary of the migration
    of swans, cranes, and pelicans,

    the largest birds in the world.
    Like I need to know what a gaggle
    of geese is, what flock of birds is called

    a wedge. The biggest birds
    I ever saw were pheasants lighting in an
    Ohio field of wheat stubble,

    Daddy stalking them with his shotgun.
    We had a pot of pheasant
    and noodles for supper that night.

  9. rosross

    Soul work

    Soul in suckled sense reveals,
    remora-like the flesh, within
    the casket of the Self ;
    Spirit long repressed.

    Created in this human form,
    an ideogram for life,
    the wretch reborn eternal;
    eclipse in God’s bright night.

  10. Mywordwall


    Time brings all to their knees
    in one way or the other
    like the silvery haired figure
    before her love, silent
    in a casket, whispering
    her last goodbye
    as leaves fall
    into a pool of tears
    rising with the wind
    on an angel’s hands.
    Love goes on
    to forever
    lights up her wretched lot
    and eclipses the darkness
    with living memories

    1. seingraham

      This is just to say…I don’t know where comments go for Robert and I wanted to tell him/you that I think “Ideogram for the Melancholy” is one of my favourite poems of yours…ever. I’m not sure why…it just is…and I’m in awe that you were able to use all the of the words. Talk about setting the bar high.

  11. BezBawni

    When you arch your back and gasp

    scribble your love on the walls
    of my aging heart, put it in fine
    calligraphic ideograms, fold it in scrolls
    to be kept in my fleshly shrine;

    shine your love bright on your lips,
    in your eyes, let its light reach
    out beyond all pain and eclipse
    scars of the past, seven lifetimes each;

    leech me with love, let it bleed
    down my spine and stick to me like a remora;
    make love into a casket of shattered dreams,
    whispering to my longings ‘memento mori…’

  12. Broofee

    All this makes me feel like a wretch

    A guy gives a Nazi salute the other day
    Full stadium cheers
    And sings along
    And the first person who says that’s wrong
    Gets branded a traitor by
    Majority of people around us.

    A priest gives an online interview
    Says masturbation is wrong
    Says we should abolish liberal NGOs
    Says he can’t wait
    To be penetrated by god.

    Apparently I’m supposed to
    Accept all of this
    Liberal democracy
    That’s what the media says
    Don’t be upset
    Everyone has a right to their own opinion

    Some opinions are not for
    The good of the mankind
    That’s what I say.
    So you better keep them
    Hidden away
    Or you’ll cause an eclipse
    Or even
    Start another war
    And we’ll all
    End up in caskets
    Like all those millions before us.

  13. Karen H. Phillips

    Day 22
    Prompt: Write a poem using at least 3 of these 6 words:

    Saved a Wretch Like Me

    The cross serves as my ideogram.
    New creation
    find me,
    my sin unlatched like a scared remora,
    laid in a casket, in God’s view,
    so that all I was is eclipsed by who I am,
    who I will be.
    I take a selfie and view a new

  14. Jezzie


    You were always the belle of the ball
    giving your man a very hard time
    but your life on earth finished early
    and last year you left him in his prime.

    As you lie sleeping in your casket
    we are all watching your wretched spouse,
    normally eclipsed by your presence,
    morphing into a man from a mouse.

  15. Lori P

    selfie of a wretch

    from his casket he saw
    the sun rise forever and blind
    the watchers swimming through a school
    of remoras

    he stored the image in his mind
    determined to review it one day
    when eternity got boring and forever
    eclipsed the microsecond he had spent
    on earth

  16. Cin5456


    We, the wretched souls,
    lament against the tides
    of humanity, and wrench
    a life from the sucking sands
    of time; mock us for believing.
    This remora will not hold
    us back forever. Caskets
    await us, not only the wretched;
    the grave awaits all.

  17. Missy McEwen

    Family Reunion

    You come in your oversized Jackie O sunglasses
    that total eclipse your eyes, face, come with your bright
    red lips that can be seen from a mile away. You stay
    selfie ready in a crop top that shows off your flat belly.
    No one would ever guess you just had a baby a few
    months ago although your Instagram bio mentions you’re
    a mother of two. You come without them. You come ready
    for photo ops with family members whose names you don’t
    remember, who talk about all who died and open casket funerals.

    1. PressOn

      I am fascinated by some of the constructs and phrases here: ” total eclipse your eyes” and “selfie ready”, for example. The arresting line, though, is coming to a family reunion without the children. I think this is a gripping picture.

  18. bethwk

    Four o’clock in the morning
    and sleep has dwindled away
    like the last drops of late rain

    and that remora of remorse
    attaches itself so tenderly
    to the soft underbelly of the heart

    feeding on you, feeding you,
    leaving morning’s mark on the soul
    like an ideogram for eclipse.

  19. MichelleMcEwen

    No Swimming

    A “no swimming”

    snapped and posted
    on Instagram

    is better than a selfie
    any day

    Little crooked wooden sign
    even lovelier in lo-fi sunshine

    eclipsing the
    unlovely real danger

    of Lake Lillinonah.

      1. MichelleMcEwen

        On instagram, you can choose filters for the photos you post– like Nashville or Inkwell (which is a black and white filter); lo-fi is one of those filters– kind makes the pic a little darker in mood I guess.

  20. DWong

    Remora’s Message in a Casket

    Old poems,
    old stories,
    old thoughts
    are stored
    simplified for
    the remora
    that hitches
    rides hoping
    that it
    can keep
    its wretched
    away from
    its casket
    realize the
    has left it
    with only
    selfie that no
    one understands
    but the poor
    little remora.

  21. Julieann

    Ideogram of the Self

    We all know one,
    You know, that person,
    Somewhere between a
    Wretch and a total selfie
    Everything revolves around
    Them and when they find a
    Companionable person they
    Turn into a remora, sucking the
    Life from the relationship
    Until the final eclipse that
    Blocks what little good that may
    Have resided inside of them
    And life goes on until the day
    We find ourselves filing past
    Their casket only to see
    A mirror where their
    Head should be and our own
    Reflection staring back at us
    As an ideogram of
    What we could become

  22. Rosemary Nissen-Wade

    Ode to the Remora

    I love the idea
    of this ray-finned
    sucking fish,
    its oval dorsal fin
    with slat-like
    to take firm hold
    against the skin
    of larger mammals.

    They attach
    to some poor wretch
    of shark or whale,
    turtle or dugong
    or mantua ray.
    Holding tight,
    they look like
    little silver ripples
    on its hide.

    That is,
    they hitch a ride.
    I guess it’s faster,
    even though
    they swim well
    on their own
    with sinuous
    or curved

    Many but small,
    they travel together,
    feeding on what
    the host drops.
    Some ride
    in the great casket
    of the host’s mouth

    the host
    eats them!
    It’s a life
    lazy but
    prone to


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.