2013 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 28

For those of you living in the States, Happy Thanksgiving! For those of you living outside the States, Happy Thanksgiving! I am thankful for everyone who’s been poeming along this month, whether in the comments below or silently at home (I see you standing over there in the corner). Thank you!

For today’s prompt, write a bird poem. Pick a bird, any bird, and write a poem about it. Or just write a poem that happens to have a bird somewhere in it. Or, well, you know the drill by now–use your imagination!

Here’s my attempt at a Bird Poem:


The thing about a balloon
is that it doesn’t last. No

matter how much joy it brings
there’s the inevitable

pop, or slow letting loose of
helium, or that moment

when it breaks free of its string
and lifts away like magic.

But then, it returns, a new
balloon. Once blue, now it’s red

or yellow–the color not
as important as that quick

rush of feeling, forgetting
what is inevitable.


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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 author of Solving the World’s Problems. He edits the Poet’s Market book, writes a poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine, and speaks around the country on publishing and poetry-related topics. 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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243 thoughts on “2013 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 28

  1. seingraham


    Where are you my faithful friends?
    Everyone says you’re just common
    house sparrows, just plain brown
    birds that fill the hedge outside
    my window with your fat feathery

    But you are also steadfast and brave;
    you stay hunkered down, puffed out
    for warmth, hiding from the heaviest
    snows – you are still in the hedge, but
    far inside
    As close to the main part of the bush
    as you can get, you are generating
    what little heat you can, lowering
    your heart-rate too, I suspect

    I imagine I can hear them, your little
    hearts, thump-thump-thumping,
    keeping time with winter’s
    harsh metronome
    Dosing in the white-out that is daytime,
    sleeping long and deeply through
    each cold, dark night

    Do you store each note of springtime
    music somewhere within
    your downy chests
    I like to think you do and picture
    them all stacked in there
    just waiting for the sun to warm
    you through and through
    Then, like popcorn, they’ll explode
    out your wee beaks and this
    icy season will be a thing of old.

  2. Yolee

    Bread, Land & Double Edge Freedom

    When in his teenage years, Papi had to flee to the mountains
    to escape the hammer of his father’s wrath. He survived off
    the land’s rich produce and generous banana leaves to blanket
    nights, cold by air and by the loneliness under its trench coat.
    Encouragement came by way of jibaro songs. Like the painted
    bunting, he sang alone as independence stacked jagged stones
    from which he would stand or take cover.

  3. Domino


    Light as a feather,
    small and urgent and quick,
    lithe and happy.
    everyone called her Birdie.
    She would be up and down
    at the dinner table,
    pecking a few bites,
    then up to fetch something
    or run to the other room
    or flit from one person to the next
    making sure everyone had
    what they needed.
    Speaking in twitters
    and cheeps,
    caring diligently for her young,
    the name was fitting.

  4. DanielAri

    “Learning how to ask”

    Learning how to ask is like chasing birds
    into an annoyed chaos of flapping,
    a chorus of pigeons who cut looping
    infinities aroundandarounding
    until they transform into anchovies.

    Learning how to ask is like sculpting smoke:
    you forget what figure you were trying
    to form; then a stray tickling wisp chokes you
    and you cough–and the sculpture sings away
    as quick as finches–and just as fast you’re

    happy to be hapless, with not a thing
    but your face to show, which is disarming
    how earnest your face goes when you’re asking
    waves to speak in words, the wind to make rhymes
    and blow in a semblance of answering.

    Learning to ask is like tending a farm
    where pumpkins become flamingos–and dance!


  5. Karen H. Phillips

    Day 28
    Prompt: Write a bird poem.

    Red-Tailed Hawk

    You appear free,
    loosed from earthly bonds,
    able to soar, to dip, to surveil
    from treetop lookout.

    What if your reality resides
    lonely, too proud for companionship,
    joined only to your solo self,
    filled with power,
    lacking love?

  6. RJ Clarken

    Solo Flight

    “If I could come back as anything – I’d be a bird, first, but definitely the command key is my second choice.” ~Nikki Giovanni

    of a
    feather don’t
    always flock together. Sometimes, one bird
    will take command of its own destiny,
    and fly off
    on its


  7. bartonsmock


    bear with me, a man was going house to house. a big handed hunch of a man. he was wanting to know if anyone in the immediate area had seen the bird he was talking about. his enthusiasm was off-putting and in the back of my mind downright scary. the look on a face when a door is opened is often the look of one to whom the lord has reappeared. I don’t think the man knew he was ruining the rareness of the day’s clarity. the bird itself was not his fault and the bird sighting could’ve happened to another. on a normal day a suspended woman sings above us. there is a before and an after and a bit of mystery to the meal obsessed.

  8. JRSimmang


    In the oak in our neighbor’s yard,
    in the limbs obscured from sunlight,
    sits an old box, nailed to the bark,
    complete with a circle cut out.
    Inside, the warmth of feathers warms
    the eggs and there’s no question that
    families can live anywhere
    a roof covers their hungry heads.

    -JR Simmang

  9. Sara McNulty

    Soaring Smoke

    Blue-gray cloud soars
    a puff of smoke,
    turning, searching for
    landing spot. Giant fanned
    wings flap as it glides
    toward a duck-filled
    pond, gracefully assuming
    a posed posture, beak
    seeking out scents
    of surroundings. The great
    blue heron has landed,
    new lord of the pond.

  10. laurie kolp

    The Messenger Bird

    A messenger bird
    visited me today.
    He neared from nowhere,
    landed on my shoulder.
    I wondered what
    he was doing here,
    when from deep within,
    I heard a whisper
    urging me to let go
    of old resentments,
    let the bird deliver them
    up to the sky, and wait–
    however long it might take–
    for another whisper
    from deep within.

    So I knelt down
    and thought about
    my feelings toward you
    all those years,
    sometimes hatred
    for what you’d done.
    The guilt and control
    pushing me away,
    pushing me to the bottle
    where I found comfort
    an illusion, the excuses
    I hid behind, buttons
    I thought you pushed
    only to find
    it was me all along.

    And when at last
    I looked up, I watched
    the messenger bird
    fly away, the weight
    that was mine now gone.

  11. Benjamin Thomas

    Barbarian Style

    Some say we were a little barbaric
    Because we threw a slain pterodactyl
    On the table. What could we say? He was fair game, simply the spoils of the blessed day.

    We wrestled mighty nice with that big ol’ bird from high noon to meal. Salivating while he cooked over the fire, hoping to steal a bite.

    Eventually, the attack commenced. Hawks swooped from every direction. Clinging and eating voraciously, like a starved pack of piranhas coming off a diet…only squeaky clean pre-historic bones remained that were ready for the museum.

  12. MichelleMcEwen

    No Bebop

    Have you ever
    gotten your 

    heart broken

    while it was 
    already broke?

    If so
    then you know

    I really don’t
    feel like writin

    bout no sun
    bout no trees

    bout no butterflies 
    bout no breeze

    bout no flowers
    bout no leaves 

    bout no autumn
    bout no goddamn 


    I damn sure
    don’t wanna write 

    no bird


    it’s Charlie Parker

    but then I’d
    have to write

    about jazz

    and I really don’t 
    feel like writin

    bout no bebop

  13. Benjamin Thomas

    Bound Bird

    The appointed time had come
    To gladly devour the beast.

    It stood no chance against
    The ravenous hunger of man
    Woman, wanton child.

    Once a boundless bird roaming as free as the open sky. His wings now clipped, drumsticks gripped tightly, wet with homemade gravy.

    Savoring the preciousness of the moment with the family.
    And we’re thankful for the bird bound in our bellies. Without regrets.

  14. Cin5456

    Murmuration Maximus

    In the park across the street
    from the house where I lived
    ten enormous black oak trees,
    naked in a cold December twilight,
    came alive with chatter and chirping.
    Upper branches writhed with black wings.
    Starlings claimed every branch, twig,
    and limb for their flocking family roosts.
    A few dozen fluttered from tree to tree,
    rising in duos or trios and settled
    a few branches away while others
    took their place in twig hierarchy.
    Agitated energetic adolescents,
    other birds protesting displacement,
    the chirping grew strident, like
    parents scolding children,
    squawks calling for unison.
    A hundred or so trade trees,
    shooing others off top branches,
    and another dozen or so rise to find
    other perches. As the black-winged
    birds trip from tree to tree,
    one group flies above, freewheeling
    like beads on strings whirled about.
    The noise grew louder as
    mischief erupted among the oaks.
    I was reminded of teens taunting
    tired old men on park benches.
    In a flash one tree emptied, exploded,
    with starlings rising high, joined by more.
    It seemed as if elders lifted off
    to chase laughing teen wings. The birds,
    numbered in the hundreds of thousands
    took off together. The starlings flew, joined by
    dozens of flocks from nearby, taking over
    the sunset-sky in tightly coordinated
    black starling storm clouds as
    a starling murmuration began.
    The cloud turned about on a center,
    divided, dived, reversed, rose, and reformed.
    The unbelievable great black troop
    of aerial acrobats swirled, a twisting,
    roiling microcosm in the sky.
    Estimated at five hundred thousand starlings
    in December 2009, this phenomenon drew notice
    as they formed an undulating line, a twisted rope,
    a funnel cloud, and black blanket over the park.
    For more than an hour those starlings owned the sky.
    Starling murmuration is a beautiful sight to behold.

    Poet’s Note: Video available on YouTube, key words:
    Starling swarm (or starling murmuration) in Sacramento

  15. Missy McEwen

    Grandparents’ House, Highway 5

    Though no one who was there in the house
    on Highway 5 in Thomasville, Alabama in ’85
    when my family visited—a family trip to see
    my father’s side of the family, his half-aunt/mother
    Dora and Alphonza, the man he called and saw
    as dad, the man that owned the house—is still alive,
    I want to go back, want them to come back
    to life, want to get back that carefree feeling
    I had whenever I was there, sitting on the front porch,
    barefoot, eating watermelon, watching the clouds,
    watching the hummingbirds hover, listening
    to the flap of their wings that sounded like bees,
    that lulled me to sleep in the hot haze
    of the afternoon.

  16. DWong

    Forgotten Sightings

    Cold air lingers.
    Frosted air refuses
    to leave.

    Cold air wraps
    around me trying to
    hide it.

    I search above,
    hunt the frigid blue sky
    for sounds.

    Once long ago
    we would look, we would know
    when, why.

    But now we hunt
    not knowing the reasons,

    When warm air slips,
    once more I start my hunt
    in skies

    for lovely sounds
    that fill my heart, my soul.
    Hello. Goodbye.

    How many came?
    Count how many left,

    has all been lost
    thanks to technology
    and to

    broken houses
    losing old traditions,

    I search the skies
    twice in every year
    for sounds.

    Majestic geese,
    that calm my heart and soul,
    bring smiles

    in great numbers,
    bring worries when numbers
    all wrong

    and I wonder
    why it is important,
    but can’t

    stop searching for
    their comings and goings.

    If you believe.

  17. bethwk

    Laughter hovers like a bird
    in the listening air around us.
    Chuckles like feathers
    float around the room,
    and all is well for this breath.
    And for this one.

    The air crackles and rustles
    with the winged ones watching.
    And all is well.
    All is well for this moment.

  18. Linda Goin

    Grandma’s Rules for Hanging Laundry


    Never air dirty laundry.
    That rule’s a given; also,
    don’t air your imperfections.


    Always use three lines or more,
    and use the middle line to
    hang your unmentionables.


    If you don’t have room to hang
    your unmentionables, drape
    them only where God can see
    them, floating on the hedgerow.


    Don’t waste. Leave no room between
    sheets and shirts, use one clothespin
    to hang them all together.


    Note the blinding dry birdbath
    and its unblemished cherub.
    Birds don’t roost on rolled-up lines.


    When you finish gathering,
    folding, and trudging up/down
    stairs, you can rest, but not long.


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