2013 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 23

We’ve only got a week of November left. Let’s roll up our sleeves and make the most of it.

For today’s prompt, write an “I shouldn’t be here” poem. You can decide where you shouldn’t be: maybe it’s a place, maybe it’s a time, or maybe (just maybe) it’s a state of mind. Shake yourself loose in a poem.

Here’s my attempt at an “I shouldn’t be here” poem:

“Dearborn Heights”

I didn’t know you,
and you didn’t know me.

It was late,
and I needed help.

Maybe I picked the wrong
neighborhood to have

an accident,
and maybe you had

an accident,
but I shouldn’t be here;

I shouldn’t be here,
but here I am.


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Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and still gets upset over unarmed people being killed, especially after a car accident. Of course, all the details probably aren’t out there, but this poem is from the perspective of Renisha McBride who was shot and killed while asking for help after an early morning car wreck (read about it here). Robert is the author of Solving the World’s Problems. 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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211 thoughts on “2013 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 23

  1. DWong

    I Shouldn’t Be Here (PAD 23)

    A mistake,
    something unplanned,
    by unspoken
    I was brought to
    this dead world.

    A mistake,
    I stood in the
    wrong place wrong
    time every day
    the door closed
    on my neck that
    gasped for breath.

    A mistake,
    something unplanned,
    I try hard
    to be loved by
    someone, but I
    should not try
    because I
    should not be here.

  2. bjholmes

    I Shouldn’t Be Here

    Fog crept around each stone in the ground
    each step crunched under my feet.
    A wild wind blew my hair all around
    whipping and twisting each little strand.
    This was not where I wanted to be
    but this was the place to make my stand.

    Clouds covered the brightness of the moon
    as it loomed up over the hills.
    Streaks of lightning and rools of thunder were soon.
    This is was not where I wanted to be
    but cowardice was not an option.

    Trees began twisting and thrusting about
    scaring the fog from my sight.
    Shadows were dancing as the moon tried to shout
    as the clouds scurried to shatter its light.
    This was not where I wanted to be
    but what choice did I really have left.

    A quiet voice from the east, no the west, came softly to my ear
    turning in circles to every little sound.
    trying to catch the voice of the whisperer to hear
    my heart racing and jumping and ready to bound.

    That voice drawing nearer, ever nearer, so clear,
    I knew that I shouldn’t be here.

  3. Glory

    No I shouldn’t –

    I shouldn’t be here
    No, we shouldn’t
    be meeting like this,
    although my heart beats
    with joy, and my hand
    slips slowly into yours
    I know in my heart
    where conscience clings
    I shouldn’t be here.

  4. Amy

    Inner Demons

    I shouldn’t be here
    at the foot of your shadow

    My roots are deep as
    the secrets you keep

    I shouldn’t be here
    underneath your pride

    I’ve grown so far from
    the seed you planted

    I shouldn’t be here
    behind your charming mask

    My own face longs for
    the warmth of the spotlight

    When you aren’t here
    I am here, regardless.

  5. Yolee

    Advertising Sales

    The half glass, half empty
    cubicle contains essentials to get some work done
    until the office movers bring in all the other hoopla.

    Nearly 13 years is a long time to be under the knife.
    And the company ran out of anesthesia 3
    years ago. She has a law degree beneath her skin,
    unlike her co-worker whose gauze across
    the mouth is beginning to fray.

  6. hohlwein

    For today’s prompt, write an “I shouldn’t be here” poem. You can decide where you shouldn’t be: maybe it’s a place, maybe it’s a time, or maybe (just maybe) it’s a state of mind. Shake yourself loose in a poem.

    I Shouldn’t Be Here

    Here I am again.
    Right back in the same damn spot.

    Every thing I own was touched, packed, unpacked, settled back east.
    Then touched, packed, unpacked, settled right back here.

    Should I be there?
    Vice President of Something.
    Inventor or Artist or Wife or Mother.

    Then again, maybe I should be here.
    In November, leaping upstream.

    Right back where I started.
    Thicker. My expression settled.
    Possibilities abandoned.

    Maybe I should be here.
    An imperative of some kind. Unclear, but firm.

    It has to be good enough that I made it
    – once –
    All the way out to the open sea.

  7. seingraham


    As used as I am to extraordinarily fine music,
    the voices filling my space tonight
    are enough to bring me to my metaphoric knees
    —no pun intended, although I can see how it might
    be construed as irreverent, given my architectural
    station in life—

    The winged ones in the balcony — they’re not supposed
    to be here, you know — cannot bear to fly off
    So enchanted are they by the sounds reverberating
    within my walls.
    They are no strangers to heavenly songs themselves,
    so that should give you some idea, how special
    this group, accompanied by one pianist alone, are…
    There on the risers, at the front for all to witness.

    I barely know where to begin, enumerating my ecstasies
    without coming off like some sort of religious zealot
    Oh my! That came out all wrong…one look at my stained
    glass windows, the flying buttresses that grace my roof,
    and the glorious brass pipes glowing, and growing like
    long-stemmed plants reaching for sunlight, they take
    up almost the whole front wall,
    Announce the holiness the organ’s place holds here

    My interior is warmed by shades of oak – the walls,
    the floor, even the seats…all the pews
    Every part of me is hand-crafted and perfect and
    to have the hallelujahs filling the air tonight
    No wonder the haloed ones are a-twitter…the maestro
    lifts his baton and the voices blend
    It is a blessing indeed to have the opera’s chorus caress
    us with such love tonight

  8. Benjamin Thomas

    Healing Balm of Argument

    I shouldn’t be here
    In this deadly mix
    Of mind, emotion

    Contrary stance
    Will of no romance
    Combustible tone

    Rapid fire statements
    Of ill-feeling

    Across the room
    Shattering windows
    Of opportunity

    Little room left
    For love, peace
    And forgiveness

    Let’s stop
    The inflammation
    Careless swelling

    We could use
    Some rest, ice
    For our hearts

    And elevation
    To a higher level

    The healing balm
    Starts now

  9. whatevertheyaint


    I’m on the wrong side of the line,
    Shouldn’t be here
    Having this conversation
    Or giving you this
    Undivided attention
    Look, you’re so fine…
    Did I mention you been on my mind?
    This is a bad decision.
    Being here,
    Engulfed in daydreams that
    Happen to follow me into night
    Every thing you do is so right
    Really, you don’t even got to say a word
    Even still, I can’t be here. And neither should you.

  10. 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.

  11. MichelleMcEwen


    I should go

    Should not be here
    wrapped around you

    like you are some prey

    It’s too dangerous,
    babe— you bring

    out the animal in me,
    make me remember

    I was a lion
    in a past life

    You return to me
    my roar as though

    I’m back in Africa

    A king

  12. Mywordwall


    I heard it
    the opening notes of Ode to Joy
    and I walked, tracing the sound
    my feet as though growing wings with each step
    the music lifted me up
    bit by bit
    until I lose sense of my ground
    and my soul floats into the heavens
    rides the waves of joy
    and sorrow
    and triump
    the music embraced me
    flowed through me
    through its beat
    I saw
    life’s possibilities
    There I stayed
    among the stars
    but the applause
    and rolling drums
    called me back
    to where I should be –
    in that place of grit,
    my reality.

  13. Rosemary Nissen-Wade

    I Shouldn’t Be Here

    But I am,
    in the gap between
    the back of the couch
    and the wall.

    This is my secret place.
    Now I mustn’t move.
    There are voices
    and I know whose.

    They are saying
    grown-up things.
    I don’t understand, but I know
    I’m not supposed to hear.

    I’m listening
    with wide-open ears
    and keeping
    very quiet.

  14. Michele Brenton


    Out through the window
    or out of the door
    quietly, quietly
    pads and sheathed claws.

    Softly creeping,
    drawing near
    if I move very slowly
    they won’t know I’m here.

    Freeze on the spot
    so I can’t be seen.
    Invisible, invincible
    predator queen.

    This is the way I
    sneak up on the birds
    to catch them and eat them
    without being heard.

    The guards of the garden
    cause me no fear.
    But the birds flee at,
    “Shoo cat,
    you shouldn’t be here!”

    Michele Brenton

  15. DanielAri

    “I shouldn’t be here.”

    and once when I was 25 and temping,
    I got assigned to the San Francisco Mint,
    a stiflingly rote workday in the building’s
    gray sub-basement. I used the time to perfect
    sleight of hand tricks with rubber bands and desk things.

    One day I pondered (this is how bad it got)
    whether there was another men’s room down there.
    I got up to have myself a walkabout
    and wandered into a hallway where the walls
    were plexiglass. Then with a sinking feeling,

    I heard doors lock decisively behind me.
    From a P.A. a voice demanded to know
    what I was doing in the mint’s treasury.
    And then I recognized what was going on
    in those rooms full of bins, tables and bright light.

    “I’m a temp,” I cried to the overseer,
    the unseen guard clicked his tongue and let me go.


  16. Cameron Steele

    Milling for Morning

    You asked me to meet you
    by the windmill near Badger.

    Even if it’s freezing, you begged,
    even if the lake is iced over

    please come before light
    steals the sky.

    We both grew up East River,
    we knew the ground would

    be tough under the cut corn,
    hard enough to hurt. But

    still I went to you, easing
    out of the farmer’s bed

    like a sigh or the ghost
    of a breath in the dark,

    hiking through muck
    and frost to the red truck

    by the barn, rattling
    through the last of the soybeans

    and pretending it was too cold
    to even cry. We didn’t take off

    all of our clothes, but later –
    after my lips were blue

    and your mouth was red –
    We shed our gloves,

    held our bare hands. We’re
    waiting for wind, you said,

    Milling for morning.

  17. Margie Fuston

    The MBA

    She should be
    building portfolios,
    merging companies,
    charting stock prices,
    balancing assets and liabilities.

    Now she uses her MBA
    building Lego castles,
    merging peanut butter and jelly,
    charting potty trips,
    balancing the checkbook.

    But she
    wouldn’t trade


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