2013 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 4

Hope the time change hasn’t been messing with folks too much (in places that have it–like here in Atlanta). Somehow I get an extra hour, and it still feels like I lost one. How does that happen?

For today’s prompt, take the phrase “(blank) Sheet,” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then write the poem. Possible titles might include: “Rap Sheet,” “Blank Sheet,” “How to Fold a Sheet,” “I Look Like a Ghost Beneath This Holey Sheet,” etc. Feel free–as always–to bend and break the prompt to your will. The poeming is what matters.

Here’s my attempt at a “(blank) Sheet” poem:

“Lost Sheet”

The next American city with a violent crime
reported. I don’t want to know if it’s Denver
or DC, don’t want to know if it involved a gun

or bath salts. I’d rather turn off the television
and burn my atlas. I’d rather go to a diner,
hold the door open for someone, and tip

my waitress more than she’s been tipped
all day. I’d rather take a walk in the woods,
but then, I hear shots in the trees and wonder

if it’s hunters or target practice for the next
American news story to file across my
media feed. Honestly, I’d rather not know.


Publish your poetry! Click here to learn how.


Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and a published poet with three new poems in the latest issue of Otoliths, an online poetry publication out of Australia (click here to read the poems). He’s been writing poems with city names in the titles, but had to modify that plan today (oh well). He’s also the author of Solving the World’s Problems, which has a poem or three about American cities and the people who live in them. He’s married to the poet Tammy Foster Brewer, who helps him keep track of his five little poets (four boys and one princess). Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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264 thoughts on “2013 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 4

  1. Yolee

    Death Sheet

    The cardiologist wrote it on a white sheet of paper with blue lines.
    He did what was required to brace the family for the looming certainty
    that Papi’s heart would give out on him. When he spoke about it,
    somehow language took a turn for the worst because none of us understood
    the prognosis of a death warrant for our patriarch: but black ink
    made it clear on that warm November day. Sheer truth hung on the irony
    that Papi’s birthday was days away. Oh but prayers, a shift in resolve
    and the opinion of another doctor renewed hope’s license to challenge
    and eventually help Papi cheat death.
    I just wonder who braced death for Papi’s miracle.

  2. Lori P

    No More Sheets

    Weird title
    it split the difference
    between those of us who
    were children
    trying desperately
    to grow up despite our self-inflicted
    cages of immaturity
    and those of you who
    were no longer children
    trying desperately to regain
    what they had so carelessly
    thrown away before
    they had grown up
    enough to know it mattered

    (No More Sheets is a Christian education video on “Recommitting to abstinence before marriage”)

  3. julie e.

    here at least, but roughly–


    In the fifties
    greeting my small hesitant feet
    as I rose from blankets finally warmed
    from my nighttime body
    lay a “rug” of linoleum printed in a
    pattern, roses on gray with delicate border
    icier than the wood floor beneath it
    on those frigid Winter days.
    I remember my mother extending
    on evenings before
    a snack (stay in bed please)
    and words (sleep sweet)
    that tasted warm to me
    before retreating to the
    kitchen table to silently smoke
    leaving me to wonder in later years
    what lay beneath the linoleum of her.

  4. abbylikesyou

    “I slit a sheet
    a sheet I slid
    And on this slitted sheet I sit.”

    My father used to say this tongue twister.

    If he were alive today
    Maybe we’d slit sheets
    and talk sheiks

    but most of all,
    I’d tell him

    “I love you.”


    The most difficult
    tongue twister of all.

  5. hohlwein

    Warm Sheets

    For four nights now I have dreamt of loving
    of being fully, truly loved.

    In the first, he had made a new world for himself,
    had moved and now occupied the full bend in the river.
    His grounds were peopled with friends and it wasn’t odd
    that he had a temple there by the water
    and was in a ritual of himself, of his living.
    He was beautiful, golden in effect.
    Alive and clear.
    And he loved
    and I had to believe it
    because he came to me
    and declared to me
    He was exactly him
    and he said, looking right at me
    and meaning it,
    “It’s you.”

    On the next night
    in a busy market or alley
    or corridor of a kind. A blousy woman
    selling antiques
    noticed my ring.
    “Yes. I am married,” I announced. “To him.”
    I said his name.
    And the him was different from the one in the first dream.
    He was there. He turned to see me, astonished at what I said.
    As was I.
    Though we both have always known.

    The third night there was a woman – who?
    I’ve lost it – only a scent of hair remains – but the warm sheets
    held me close and gently
    and it was sweet
    And that she and this she and
    the sheets, warm, were indistinguishable
    feminine, caring, kind and lucky,
    together, together and near.

    And now I try to recall
    last nights’ dream

    I remember love, loving
    a vagueness of loving

    I was setting up a new studio.
    I was building a new table.
    The dream was populated with partiers
    some orgy with a golden egg caught on film
    – so many people I knew

    and one who understood me
    who was busy but near
    who cleared the room for me
    who built a table for me
    who kissed me on the back of my neck
    and shone a light on the blank wall before me
    and on its canvas
    and it was clear what he meant when he told me,
    “This is love, my love. It always will be.”

  6. foodpoet

    I stretched the prompt a little to be blank scroll not sheet

    Today my mind is blank,
    With sad heart and lonely I cannot face the scribe
    With words of longing, when I cannot see your face.
    Today I am blank, I will pay the scribe tomorrow
    When the air is softer.

  7. bartonsmock

    -chore sheet-

    like failed
    or crushed

    the hill houses
    of poorer

    worry me like weather
    and put in me
    of large
    called away
    to feed

    at a trough

    by a family
    of flat chested
    who sell

    one can later
    dot with glue
    and give
    to the mother
    who has

    quote unquote


  8. Cameron Steele

    Bare Sheets

    She wears flannel sheets like a scarf
    balancing carefully on the edge
    of a daybed, phone in one hand
    and clothes on the floor. There’s
    a man, of course, out there somewhere
    maybe on the next street over
    or years away, huddled
    in some cubicle, chewing his lip
    and waiting.

    She used to pretend she was a superhero,
    her checkered cape wound round her neck
    fanning out her dreams and attaching her
    to every girl who ever felt she could fly
    off some thin mattress and leave her sheets
    on the floor.

    But it’s easy to give up on saving
    the world when every man says
    the world is too cold for a child who
    has only flannel dreams. It’s easy to believe
    she must bare her body and
    even her soul for the chance to become a woman.
    If only she could untie the knot on her throat.

  9. Benjamin Thomas

    Smooth Sailing

    Amidst rippled sheets
    Splayed across the bed
    Filled out with your love
    From the toes to the head

    Languished in a lap of luxury
    Betwixt and between
    Wading in a lake of satin sheets
    Purpled passion yet to be seen

  10. Bruce Niedt


    Score Sheet

    A guy I know, a baseball fan,
    self-proclaimed ladies’ man,
    has taken the baseball metaphor –
    “first base”, “second base”, et cetera –
    one step further, keeping score sheets,
    sabermetric pages, filled-in diamonds
    of all his conquests.

    This one is labeled “Jill”:
    he got a stand-up double,
    but was stranded without another hit.
    With Alyssa, he says, he got to third,
    then stole home. And Jennifer
    he describes as a “grand slam” –
    I don’t even want to know what that means.
    He brags about his perfect games,
    how he blew them all away with his fast ball,
    and his line drives up the middle.
    “I’m the free agent of love,” he says.

    But the other team
    has kept box scores on him too.
    They’ve recorded all their sacrifices,
    but also tallied up his strikeouts, errors, losses,
    his foul balls, and a bat that isn’t big enough,
    as well as why he never made the playoffs,
    and all the times they sent him to the showers.

  11. bethwk

    Tell the poet to write
    about the Blank Sheet.

    The Blank Sheet is the yawning chasm
    we stare into, the poet’s dark
    and treacherous Void.
    It draws me in like a moth
    to the challenge and the danger.

    Tell me not to think about the elephant
    and suddenly everywhere I see an elephant.

  12. BezBawni


    I woke up when
    the morning seemed to be
    asleep, creeping in
    my open window like a warning
    of cold and damp, street lamps
    were rendered useless,
    worthless fireflies drowned in milk.
    Still closed eyes, silk clothes still on,
    I put my hand out to touch
    the chill, to feel
    the misty spill that on my fingers lingers,
    the way it sways the air.
    The streets slept soundly
    shunning sunrise,
    kept wrapping drowsily tighter
    around them the
    cloudy quilt spread on the roads, wound
    between the houses, woven
    into drives and alleys.
    And when finally
    the ethereal white sheet lifted
    peeling off, the city
    got up, reeling,
    and I
    knew the feeling.

    inspired by De Jackson

    1. De Jackson

      This is stunning, BezBawni. If in some small way I did inspire it, I’m touched, and honored.
      This, especially, pulls at me:

      “I put my hand out to touch
      the chill, to feel
      the misty spill that on my fingers lingers,
      the way it sways the air.”

  13. ina

    Instructions on Hanging Sheet Rock

    You have to score the drywall
    with a razor, he tells you. But once
    you do that, you can make a clean
    break by putting it over your knee.

    You can practice hanging drywall
    over and over, and still sometimes
    you’re fooled by a misplaced joist
    or a stud not made out of what it
    should be.Holding the sheet up to the ceiling
    and driving the molly bolts in
    is a two person job that reads
    like the instructions of one of
    those trust exercises that
    corporate retreats rely on.

    By the time the ceiling is laid,
    you’re both in a sweat. You feel
    like a gladiator, you vs. entropy, in
    the arena you’re trying to call “home,”
    though the thought burrowing in your
    mind, is that dry wall is just
    a way of admitting that there
    have already been jagged cracks,
    repairs and patching, that
    defeat has long since been living here,
    and no amount of instruction can set it free.