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2013 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 6

Categories: November PAD Chapbook Challenge 2013, Poetry Prompts, Robert Lee Brewer's Poetic Asides Blog, What's New.

Here we are six days into the challenge. I hope you’ve been getting some good material so far; I’m looking forward to playing with what I’ve written so far. Before the prompt today, I want to mention a challenge I’m running with a $500 prize and no entry fee (Click here for the guidelines). The challenge involves remixing poems from my debut collection of poetry, Solving the World’s Problems.

For today’s prompt, write a poem from the perspective of a person who either works at and/or visits a place you like to visit (that’s not yourself). For instance, a fry chef at the Krusty Krab, a bouncer at a nightclub, waitress at a restaurant, etc.

Here is my attempt at a perspective poem:

“Aurora”

I left just before they started
running out of the building. I
went to bed the same as always

and woke up to phone calls and friends
crying. I was in shock, sure, but
the Jessica Ridgeway stuff hurt

me more. The theater is not
the same, and others left with
PTSD. Nice customers

ask if we’re okay, but others
make jokes. Most don’t come for the films
anymore, but it’s better than

pretending it never happened.

*****

Want to improve your poems? Consider working on them in an online workshop environment. 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 watches about half-a-dozen films each year in the theater (usually at the “dollar” cinema). He still hasn’t seen The Dark Knight Rises. While I fabricated parts of this account, I did use a lot of specifics from a real account (click here to read an interview with an Aurora theater worker). As mentioned above, Robert is the author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). 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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About Robert Lee Brewer

Senior Content Editor, Writer's Digest Community.

269 Responses to 2013 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 6

  1. “Perspective” / Caffeine Dealer

    Tall, grande, venti, now even trenta
    Such is the Life when you’re dealing caffeine
    A dub, a gram, an eighth, a quarter, or a pound
    Not much of a difference when customers are addicts
    If ya know what I mean

    Morning (daily customer aka Ms. Regular)! Will you be having
    your usual (of course she will, Please God, get me through this shift without
    something truly unusual)?

    “183 degree, Double-shot skinny, vanilla, latte, with extra whip,
    hmmm, it goes to my hips but today I’ll just grab a bit of (insert that something
    new health craze here that is good for you here) because it is whole grain.”

    “Coffee of the day with room for me.”

    “No room if I may opine.”

    “And for me, I’d just like a spot of tea.”

    And so on until the specialized fix has been had, at least for this day and time. Many of these suckers I’ll see you addicts tomorrow, and some of y’all my crew of Caffeine Dealers will see you come back around (later in the day).

    The Life and times of a caffeine dealer is
    its own experience and legit
    I feel this! Knowing without me
    you’ll get sick in the head

    with an ache perhaps make you
    groggy while you’re at it.
    See you later, alligator cause after while crocodile
    relax, can’t you see you’re just like my addict.

  2. mrvanessarose says:

    I’m behind! Must play catch-up. Thank goodness for Saturdays.

    Think of Me

    A small speck
    In your night
    You may notice when I’m there
    Though hardly when I’m not

    A swift change
    Repeated cycle
    You get shade every night
    I need some shade, too.

  3. Yolee says:

    Miss Independent

    These people aren’t like me. They look clean
    and goody goody.If they knew what I’ve done,
    where I’ve been, they would probably throw me
    out with the trash. But this polyester dress two sizes
    too small don’t seem to choke hold the men’s eyes.
    4 of the women hugged me before I sat on this awful
    purple-velvet pew, and they smiled wide as the Grand
    Canyon like I was their kid or something. This is weird- I think
    someone is whispering my name, but when I look around,
    I don’t see anyone staring or waiting to wreck
    into my eyes. I’m almost scared to let a thought
    roll out into this red-carpet of what feels a lot like like
    love. I must be going nuts like mama did before she
    pilled away her life. Omg, if she’d felt this different
    kind of strange, I probably wouldn’t be an old orphan.
    Preacher hasn’t even gone up to sermonize things
    and already my face is soaked.

  4. bjholmes says:

    For the First Time

    Carried over the rocks and reeds
    sounds of cawing overhead over me.
    White birds circling,
    floating on the breeze.
    This is the first thing that I see.

    My shoes are off
    then come my socks.
    The wind blows gently in my face.
    I start to stand only to sink in
    I wriggle my toes not sure if this is real.
    This is the first thing that I feel.

    I toddle forth, carefully watched
    stepping and bending to catch this stuff.
    Tiny handfuls, again and again,
    slip between my pudgy little fingers
    but some stays stuck, so it must not go to waste.
    This is the first thing that I taste.

    There’s a funny sound and it’s not the noisy birds from nearby.
    I move ahead, one hand held secure
    stepping closer to the growing noise.
    Water crashes in, rushes and foams near.
    This is the first sound that I hear.

    One last thing, as the sun goes down,
    and the watery sand is gently brushed off.
    Socks cover my cooling feet, my jacket sipped up tight.
    Wood starts to crackle and burn with a glow.
    This is the last thing that I smell as I drift off to night.

  5. Andrew’s Mt Warning Climb

    When I went up the mountain,
    I took it slow.
    My wife was away.
    I knew she wanted to climb it too
    but I heard a friend was going up
    with her two little kids.
    I grabbed my chance.
    They, I thought, would surely
    take an easy pace.

    The friend had done her research,
    told me what to wear,
    and what to bring
    in the way of food and water.
    We started nice and early.

    The way up was easy enough.
    We didn’t rush.
    Only the last part,
    steep, with a chain,
    was a challenge –
    but if they could do it, I could.
    And we did.

    Not much view from the top.
    There was mist.
    This is a mountain
    often surrounded by cloud.
    But I was glad I got there.
    It was the achievement,
    something to cross off my list
    of things to do while I still had life.

    And you know, if I’d waited,
    I might never have done it.
    My wife never did.
    The time was not quite right
    or she was too busy, or …
    and one day she realised
    she was too old, too arthritic,
    she’d missed her opportunity.

    Coming down was the real challenge.
    Hard on the old legs.
    Before we were even half way,
    my thighs had turned to jelly.
    The others were feeling it too.
    I suppose we should have trained
    before we did it, but oh well,
    we did get down eventually.
    It was already getting dark.

    (I feel this is a pretty bad first draft – but with a busy week ahead, I need to press on, so it’ll have to do for now.)

  6. “Exchange”

    Suspicion looms as I approach

    salesman behind the counter, broached.

    Bubblegum plenty

    changes my twenty.

    Eyes squinty:

    I’ve encroached.

    Clogyrnach (Welsh form) 88,55,33. rhyme: aabbba.

  7. cholder says:

    Standing here on hallowed ground
    remembering the day the towers went down.
    It happened on a morning clear
    the day America was wrought
    with 767 bombs
    a diabolical plot
    by fanatics who don’t possess
    regard for humanity.

    911! America cried
    the day an assault was brought
    upon our nation’s icons
    as rescuers bravely fought
    to save the lives of innocents
    who never would have thought
    that terror could invade our shores
    and threaten freedom’s song.

    America did change that day
    our precious liberty was caught
    in a crossfire of ideology
    by an enemy who was taught
    to conspire against our country
    in cowardly aggression.

    Though our nation was wounded
    a viliant unity was sought
    to bring America together
    in the face of patriotic onslaught
    of our beloved democracy
    United We Stand
    Amen.

  8. rosross says:

    Garden

    Soil speaks in whispered tones,
    calls to fingers green,
    subdues the sorrows and the mind;
    reveals a world unseen.

  9. No White Knight (High School Bully)

    Ugly. That’s what you are. I’m getting sick just having to look at you. Red blotches on your face and pimples on your chin. And don’t even get me started on your weight. Fat. Fat and lazy. You ate a whole cake for dinner. Why don’t you try getting off your ass and doing something instead? Stupid. Are you too stupid to realize that your fat is your fault? It isn’t a medical condition, it’s stuffing your face until you want to throw up, you disgusting pig! You can’t do anything right. Oh, you’re crying now? Pathetic. You won’t get any sympathy. Don’t deserve any. This is why no one will ever love you. Worthless. Useless. Why don’t you just kill yourself.

    She let her tongue fly
    Rapier sharp words, striking
    At the mirror’s face

  10. DWong says:

    Oh No

    I went in today
    and sat quietly,
    but focus on my games
    wasn’t meat to be.

    She’d get up and run
    ’round come back again
    breathless and quite harried,
    workload never lessened.

    They’d stand in circles
    discuss their progress,
    but it sounded to me
    more like ghostly address

    of tasks given out.
    It was evident
    that they all tried their best,
    but failed as they went.

    I sat at the desk.
    Then it dawned on me.
    Mom was trapped in a school
    of ceaseless homework it seemed.

    She’s graded each year
    on homework not done
    ’cause they never finished
    with tasks that weren’t fun.

    She cries deep inside,
    it wasn’t her fault.
    She depends on their tasks
    to build up her vault.

    I went home today
    and sat quietly.
    “Oh no!” in my head,
    “Is that the future for me?”

  11. foodpoet says:

    The Arakesh Scrolls

    Baking

    Up at dawn stars still sinking
    Sun not yet rising,
    Flour in hair, eyes, breath.
    I watch the ease of the scribe,
    Strolling into morning.

    What a life to write
    And think.

    Ah well back to stone and pounding
    Todays
    Loafs are ready
    Bakery open
    My daily song finished
    I watch the waking line.

  12. Mywordwall says:

    Oops, I am sorry. I posted my poem in the wrong page. :-)

  13. Mywordwall says:

    Here is my silly take for this prompt –

    BRUSSELS SPROUTS

    Layer by layer I peeled their skins
    to see for myself what lurks within
    aphids and bugs and caterpillars, too
    all those extra protein? Eeew!

    So I washed and rinsed and peeled some more
    until my hands are a little sore
    until those jadeite heads got so small
    there’ll be no trouble cooking them at all

    Though Brussels Sprouts are truly delicious
    preparing them can be quite tedious
    So I wonder if they’ll be in the garden
    once the planting season rolls in again.

  14. Tracy Davidson says:

    The Sentry

    “They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace…” A A Milne

    Another tourist
    pulls faces at me,
    trying to make me smile.
    He makes fun
    of my busby,
    says I’m not a real soldier.

    If only he knew
    half the things
    I’ve seen and done
    on tours of duty.

    If only he knew
    that these legs
    I stand so still on
    are not the ones
    I was born with.

  15. hrtaylor008 says:

    Used Bookstore

    He watches readers come and go
    bearing boxes, bags and armfuls
    of used books
    to be sorted, priced and shelved
    for sale to readers.

    Here comes the romance novel addict
    stocking up on a stack of her delicious fix.
    Here browse the new age hippies
    knowing they will attain mystic enlightenment.
    There the mystery buff puzzles over
    which puzzler will resolve itself
    and unlock the character who
    needs to be locked up.
    You can’t not see the gaggle of giggling girls
    flitting through the store
    LOL-ing @ any pretext, or none.
    Now the lit chick and her dutiful beau
    perusing classics and poetry.
    All he wants to read is her.
    Then comes the browser
    who may or may not buy a book,
    but has to browse.

    He finds comfort in ancient wisdom,
    a solace for man’s sorrows;
    his pleasure is precious and mouldering
    to meet an antique book;
    and he’ll gladly bear the weariness of much study
    even though he knows
    that of the making of many books
    there is no end.

  16. BezBawni says:

    OF RUDE PEOPLE

    It happened on the bus I always take to work.
    I didn’t mean to elbow my way to the rear end,
    I surely didn’t mean to say those words I said
    or use the tone of voice I had not even known I had.

    I’m standing outside now with a heavy heart
    replaying in my mind the way you looked at me,
    considering if now is the time to start
    smoking again or if a drink would later save the day.

    I don’t know you at all, I wonder why I care
    It wasn’t the best start of your day, I suppose.
    The morning gives me chills with its accusing glare.
    You surely think I was insane, I would if I were you.

    You must be telling all about ‘this crazy wench’
    who acted like she was the center of universe
    and who for no reason yelled like hell on earth
    when all you did was brush her leg in passing with your bag.

    I can’t turn back the time, nor do I care that much,
    you will forget me soon. I only wish you’d known
    that I woke up today in my cold bed alone
    the first time after twenty years, first out of many more.

  17. Phileejo says:

    Small Town Bookstore

    All types of people come in here,
    looking for books on marriage to
    motorcycles. Sometimes I watch them,
    wondering what their lives must be like.

    From old widows with nothing to fill
    their time, to lonesome children looking
    for a friend, I see them all. Often, I’m caught
    staring, I quickly look away. Some smile, some do not.

    It’s hard to keep a bookstore going anymore. Everyone
    wants everything now. Small town bookstores like these are from
    days gone by. This bookstore has seen many faces over the last eight
    decades. I guess I better start filling out applications, closing day is next week.

    • PressOn says:

      This is well penned, but sad to read just the same. As this poem hints, these places are sanctuaries as well as places of business, but there’s no poor-box at the door.

    • Julieann says:

      From the standpoint I love a bookstore what you’ve said is so true. It’s a terrible thing when the hometown bookstore (or any bookstore, for that matter) closes. So sad.

  18. mjdills says:

    (I love to watch the crows roosting in trees, on wires, lampposts on my way home at night. They must watch us and wonder where we’re all going.)

    As The Crow Flies

    We fly home across the lake
    And stop for a little rest to watch
    you beneath us
    On shiny roads
    In your cold metal bugs that roll along with big gleaming
    Lights that dangle from the
    sky and flash
    Red Green Yellow Red Green Yellow Red Green Yellow Red Green Yellow
    We talk amongst ourselves and complain about the way you
    CAW
    CAW
    CAW
    To one another
    And rushrushrushrushrush
    All wanting to go the same way at once

    No need for us to be in such a hurry
    We preen and cackle and fight a little, too
    And then
    In our own smug way
    We fly home across the lake

  19. Janet Rice Carnahan says:

    A CUT ABOVE THE REST

    Sophie races around the shop,
    Broom tucked under her arm,
    Hair thrown over her shoulder,
    In a mad dash,
    Cleaning all her beauty supplies,
    Preparing for the door,
    To fling wide open!

    A new hair styling client,
    Makes her hesitate,
    Will it be a good experience?
    Leave a good impression?
    Will they return?
    If so, it is a good day!

    A sudden flash of a smile,
    As they greet each other,
    Easy conversation,
    Discussing a simple trim,
    Quick shampoo,
    And a surprising conversation,
    Out of the blue,
    Exciting, invigorating, uplifting, stimulating,
    Topics about life, love, dreams,
    They never shared with anyone . . .

    Until now!

  20. bxpoetlover says:

    On Detail

    Every day of every month each year
    They come by the thousands
    to pitch pennies in the fountain
    pose for pictures on the marble steps
    ask for directions as they walk in clusters, in circles
    pointing at exhibits reading plaques and conversing in dozens of tongues
    as I stand watch over the treasures of antiquity.

  21. Fortune Teller

    Most of the time people
    want me to pretend
    to read lines on their
    open hands.

    They find it easier to
    believe my lies than
    ones they say when
    they bow their heads for grace.

    When I’m not busy staring
    at heartache masked as skin,
    I often think about fortune
    and faith.

    I wonder if people would have
    more of both if they learned how
    to forget all their lines.
    Pray with palms to the sky.

  22. rdpater says:

    Without it they’d all
    never start their day
    and have change
    to lend.
    My Styrofoam
    neighbors would
    finally get their rent.
    My last landlords were
    probably your morning croissant.

  23. dandelionwine says:

    Anonymous Donor

    I walk this street, follow the sidewalk
    on my way home from work. Don’t

    often notice the individual cars that pass.

    I can’t say who
    sees me, if any-
    one appreciates
    my adherence
    to schedule
    or my gait,
    who would
    ever worry
    on a day I
    wasn’t there.
    How many

    actually notice the individuals they pass?

    But often,
    for no apparent
    reason,
    regardless
    of wind
    or weather,
    a palpable sense
    of balance and
    happiness
    accompanies me
    for a stretch as

    I walk this street, follow the sidewalk
    on my way home from work. Don’t

    really notice just where it comes from.

  24. Sara McNulty says:

    MOMA (Museum of Modern Art)

    On day shift more often
    than not, I tend to blend
    into corners dressed in blue
    uniform. My eyes dart
    about, alert, wary to wandering
    visitors pausing to gaze
    in awe and admiration–art
    students, school groups, adults
    of all ages, ethnic backgrounds,
    and places of residence–at
    the creations of Claude Monet,
    in my favorite room of this museum.
    There is a hushed atmosphere
    as people tip-toe through, or sit
    for long spells absorbing the colors
    and sense of these wondrous works
    of art, which never fail to mesmerize
    me. Still, I keep my eyes roaming,
    my body alert. It is a serious position.

  25. Cin5456 says:

    Grocery Cashier

    I see the worst of human angst
    in my grocery checkout lane.
    While running their groceries
    over the scanner, I watch
    life’s miseries cross their faces.
    Too many have too little
    to spend on too much need.
    I see it in children’s thin faces,
    and in small hands clutching
    a package of bologna like
    that is all they will get
    for the rest of the week.

  26. Margie Fuston says:

    Cinderella

    “What’s it like living in a castle?”
    A little girl with cotton candy
    stuck between her fingers
    holds my hand in hers.
    “I couldn’t ask for anything better,” I say.
    I part my perfectly painted lips
    and smile,
    wondering if my landlord
    fixed the heater.

    “What’s it like being married to Prince Charming?”
    A little girl with blond pigtails
    pulls on the side of my 20 pound dress
    as I kneel down for another photo.
    “It is absolutely wonderful,” I say,
    standing up, smoothing the creases in my dress
    with a smile,
    wondering if that guy from two nights ago
    will call me back.

    “I wish I had hair like yours.”
    A little girl looks up at me,
    wearing an exact replica of my gown.
    Her brown hair curls around her baby cheeks.
    I pat my platinum blond wig,
    smoothed into a perfect bun.
    “Maybe you will one day,” I say.
    “A dream is a wish your heart makes.”
    I can’t tell her my own hair is brown too.

  27. De Jackson says:

    Siren

    These waves are mine,
            wench.
    Stick your toes in all
        you want, swirl a spell
    or two from these sacred
              sands, then stand back
    up and walk away. It’s
          my sway to bend to
    breeze and tell these
       trees their tallest tales.
    By the time my sun
           hums his morning song,
    the last of your footprints
                    will be gone.

    .

  28. De Jackson says:

    Closing Time
    (a shadorma)

    When I have
    married the ketchups
    and filled (spilled)
    the salt, night
    falls around my feet. Neon
    blinks soft; you don’t call.

    .

  29. Ber says:

    Driven to Distraction

    As the fast metal body
    pushed it’s way through the night
    fast was the pace
    almost like something in a race

    Driven with order
    everything in it’s place
    knowing one fowl move
    could bring it all to a halt

    Noise and whispers
    filled the air
    tiredness and hunger
    filled his lonely despair

    Thundering rolling wheels
    gripped the tar of the freed
    shuffling of movement
    tired worn souls

    Each one running and rushing
    to fulfill their own goals
    Fast is the pace
    this is nothing like a race
    fatigue driven
    enclosed space

  30. seingraham says:

    THE VIEW FROM UP THERE

    Every Friday and Saturday night it’s the same thing
    The regular crowd stumbles in (hey, isn’t that part of a song?)
    He stands, all six feet seven of him, arms folded across his massive chest
    At the top of stairs on the way, before doors into the oldest saloon on the prairies
    And weeds them out – right and left

    Too drunk to come in, then back out they go…He gets asked now and again
    how many people he’s had to forcibly eject; he takes his stance, grins
    good-naturedly, says something about being the head-bouncer
    but really, “I persuade them, that’s all, that they don’t really
    want to come into the club, and they don’t”

    He knows it’s good practise while he waits to be approved for his
    real career…He’s been on the police recruiter hot list for almost two years.
    His god-father (read – contact on the force) told him recently he should get his eyes fixed;
    He wears contacts, but, he’s a healthy, fit, Caucasian male –
    “But, you didn’t hear this from me…” He was quick to add — “It’s just that it’s getting
    obvious — take look at the latest hirees — if you’re not a woman, or a minority –”

    He’s not going to buy into that line, so he tells himself that laser surgery is not
    a big deal, and he gets his eyes fixed
    He is a smart man, and one with integrity and he’s beaten many odds before;
    had a bit of a learning disability
    But is a natural athlete…was offered a basketball scholarship to numerous universities
    in both the US and Canada, but he’s a hometown boy
    Did a dual-degree; education and physical education here in Canada, lived at home,
    and got help with his exam anxiety

    His real dream? To be an elementary school teacher
    He loves kids and is extremely good with them
    A gentle giant, he relates well to the tiniest of children
    He graduates and finds, there are no jobs for men
    In the elementary school system, or in the public school system period
    They don’t come right out and say that – but his female friends
    graduating that year are getting hired

    He looks to his next dream…he’ll become a police officer
    It’s a noble profession, and maybe he can eventually
    Become a resource officer; they work in the schools
    It’s really the best of both worlds, he thinks

  31. seingraham says:

    THE VIEW FROM UP THERE

    Every Friday and Saturday night it’s the same thing
    The regular crowd stumbles in (hey, isn’t that part of a song?)
    He stands, all six feet seven of him, arms folded across his massive chest
    At the top of stairs on the way, before doors into the oldest saloon on the prairies
    And weeds them out – right and left

    Too drunk to come in, then back out they go…He gets asked now and again
    how many people he’s had to forcibly eject; he takes his stance, grins
    good-naturedly, says something about being the head-bouncer
    but really, “I persuade them, that’s all, that they don’t really
    want to come into the club, and they don’t”

    He knows it’s good practise while he waits to be approved for his
    real career…He’s been on the police recruiter hot list for almost two years.
    His god-father (read – contact on the force) told him recently he should get his eyes fixed;
    He wears contacts, but, he’s a healthy, fit, Caucasian male –
    “But, you didn’t hear this from me…” He was quick to add — “It’s just that it’s getting
    obvious — take look at the latest hirees — if you’re not a woman, or a minority –”

    He’s not going to buy into that line, so he tells himself that laser surgery is not
    a big deal, and he gets his eyes fixed
    He is a smart man, and one with integrity and he’s beaten many odds before;
    had a bit of a learning disability
    But is a natural athlete…was offered a basketball scholarship to numerous universities
    in both the US and Canada, but he’s a home-town boy
    Did a dual-degree; education and physical education here in Canada, lived at home,
    and got help with his exam anxiety

    His real dream? To be an elementary school teacher
    He loves kids and is extremely good with them
    A gentle giant, he relates well to the tiniest of children
    He graduates and finds, there are no jobs for men
    In the elementary school system, or in the public school system period
    They don’t come right out and say that – but his female friends
    graduating that year are getting hired

    He looks to his next dream…he’ll become a police officer
    It’s a noble profession, and maybe he can eventually
    Become a resource officer; they work in the schools
    It’s really the best of both worlds, he thinks

  32. cimonique says:

    “Hold my hand”, her eyes plead
    Heart bleeds, “Tell me again that you
    heard. Every word.”

    / I stare at her…
    Forgetting, already… But still, I pretend,
    all the way, to the
    end. /

    “Did you hear me say, how he drove his
    purple Mustang, every
    Wednesday
    To buy my caramel ice cream from
    the market?”

    “Tell me you listened, to how he called me
    ‘Kitten’
    as he gave me a little tap-tap
    on my
    bottom.”

    “Remember his first picture show?”

    / “Mmhm. Sure do,” I nod. Silently groan, smile tacked, pupils glossed. /

    “That’s right! The Nevadan. His favorite!
    And remember his old dog,
    Sniffles?! The little terrier
    mix with spotted
    paws, and–”

    / Alright, that’s enough. I sigh, and wonder
    why, I ever chose this
    path.

    I walk to the shelf,
    Ignoring her
    big
    teary blues, and palm
    the heavy silver
    vessel.

    I place Henry in her hands,
    Eshewing
    her quaking trance, and scoot her
    right out through
    the door. /

    / “Well, thank you for your business. You have yourself a good day,
    Okay, now?” Then I flick the stray
    ashes
    from Henry-Whoever off my
    fingertips,
    Snickering…
    Jeering..
    Thinking…

    I’m just a mortician.

    Not a very good listener. /

  33. randinha says:

    Only the soft whine of electricity
    and the thrum of conditioned air can be heard
    here, in the dark, when the students
    with their phones and jokes and agendas
    have gone, and we are left
    here, with our charts, with our stars.
    The mirrored tubes and the eyepieces glisten
    and the night is loud and luminous
    in ways we alone perceive.
    The colleague sits back and yawns, glances
    at me through thick lenses that wink
    with the eyepiece.
    This lab, a microcosm
    of the heavens which wheel and expand
    in light and tumult and passion
    yet appear to the rest
    to rest,
    silent, still, and cold.

  34. MichelleMcEwen says:

    Me & Ferlinghetti

    The Pennycandystore beyond the El
    is where we first
    fell in love— me & Ferlinghetti

    he wrote a poem about it—
    tried to make it about
    leaves & unreality & jellybeans
    and how they “glowed in the semi-gloom
    of that September afternoon”

    that was my favorite part

    but it was me doing the glowing
    with my rainy hair and breathless
    breasts— he said my skin was jazz, crowned me
    queen of the licorice
    sticks

    & Oh Boy Gum.

  35. MichelleMcEwen says:

    Ferlinghetti & Me

    The Pennycandystore beyond the El
    is where we first
    fell in love— me & Ferlinghetti

    he wrote a poem about it—
    tried to make it about
    leaves & unreality & jellybeans
    and how they “glowed in the semi-gloom
    of that September afternoon”

    that was my favorite part

    but it was me doing the glowing
    with my rainy hair and breathless
    breasts— he said my skin was jazz, crowned me
    queen of the licorice
    sticks

    & Oh Boy Gum.

  36. bethwk says:

    I walk when grey dusk is upon us
    night–grey as my fog-colored fur

    quietly creeping
    stealing so silently
    through the dried grasses
    over the hill

    Dusk, when the day-folk have gone away
    out of the fields and away from the woods edge

    night-folk come foraging
    searching for sustenance
    gleaning the harvest
    left in the fields

    What is that? Scent of cat
    up a tree, suddenly
    whisk foot, white foot
    I stand frozen in moonshadows

    The owl is hunting over in the oak grove
    raccoon rustles through the last field of corn

    eyes agleam in moonlight
    silver fur like starlight
    sniff and scratch and nibble
    homeward I wander

  37. cbwentworth says:

    Pristine coffee cups
    beans roasted and brewed
    Espresso delight
    foam and rich mocha,
    My apron cinched tight,
    in this old café

    The regulars smile,
    strangers find comfort
    Readers turn pages,
    tutors help students
    Afternoon haven,
    in this old café

    Empty coffee cups,
    crumbs and used napkins
    Washing the tables,
    resetting the stage
    Just another day,
    in this old café

  38. Missy McEwen says:

    Nadine’s Beauty Salon

    These women,
    they waltz
    up in here like we
    got magic,
    like a ‘do
    is voodoo,
    help them
    get a man,
    keep him.
    We got Black
    Magic Oil
    Sheen
    if that’s what
    they mean, need–
    in African Cherry
    and Coconut.

  39. DanielAri says:

    Fair warning, I channeled a bit of a potty-mouth today.
    DA

    “Crappiest Place on Earth”

    Believe it: there were rat turds in the kitchen.
    Looked like Mickey and Minnie had a par-tay.
    We killed ten in April. They were back by June.
    Meanwhile, the Mars Café sold a hundred trays
    of fries each day, sanitized in canola.

    One door down from Journey Into Inner Space
    was a rat hole big enough for us. We’d go
    about in under-park tunnels making days
    magic for the marks. We un-mustachioed,
    teenage-wizard-supporting-cast peons waltzed

    to the pay office, shucked the suits and went home.
    Some pissed artist in the sixties drew them all
    shooting up, street fighting, pimping and whoring.
    I Xeroxed it sixty times, papered my wall.
    We would get baked and hysterical. Daisies

    Spreading for Goofies, Donalds fanning the bills,
    Plutos lifting their legs in a wet salute.

    *
    * As a teen in Southern California, I had friends and families who worked at the world famous theme park, and like any job, it was a mixed bag. Facial hair was verboten. In the poem, I included a secret hint about the identities of the “pissed artist in the sixties”: “Wall. / We would” –> Wally Wood.

  40. julie e. says:

    WELL DONE.

    I don’t know why she always comes
    and orders a well-done burger
    and pushes it ‘round with a serious face
    like it might stampede right
    off her plate. And the man and the
    child order somethin’ Chinese
    and happily chat while they eat
    but she always comes in and orders
    that same damn burger–

  41. shann says:

    American Housewife Haiku 6 (perspective poem- the Whole Foods beer&wine guy)

    You don’t see who stacks
    the front door wine box display,
    It’s art, I tell ya.

  42. bjzeimer says:

    Garden State Plaza

    On Monday night we closed up shop
    at the mall
    thinking about going home

    to be with the family
    who are coming to meet me
    Instead, I’m hiding in a bathroom

    with my cell
    and 911 operator
    who keeps asking the same question.

    Shots have been fired,
    I tell her
    Yes, the Garden State Plaza

    Yes, there are others in her with me
    There are three
    Yes, there ha been a shooting.

  43. julie e. says:

    Okay, pure silliness abounds in my head today with nary a single deep thought. For whatever reason Patricia Belcher who plays the sassy Caroline Julian on the tv show “Bones” popped into my head. And again, for whatever reason, I could see her standing outside the window of a restaurant talking to someone waiting to get in–but this time, she’s a lusty “cougar” (older women who go for younger men.) Such is my brain. Call me whatever you want, I just went with it. ;)

    DINNER TIME.

    Mmmmmm honey, have you seen those sharp knives of his?
    I’d like to have him slice me up a little somethin somethin,
    if you get my meanin. Have you been here before? Oh girl,
    I’ve had everything on the menu, but there’s some OFF menu
    items I’d like to taste. That boy can do some magic, I tell ya!
    An’ if he can cook that good I’d like to see what else he could
    do fo’ me in other rooms o’ the house….
    Oh no, you go on in, there’s a little somethin silly called a
    restrainin order, an’ this is as close as I can get. But I’m workin
    up a mighty appetite for when it runs out, you know it….
    *deep chuckle*

  44. Julieann says:

    The Bank Teller

    They always said I’d know
    What to do when the time came
    Whatever “the time came” may mean

    Well, Officer, let me tell you,
    The time came today, and I knew,
    I was teller number five, right over there

    And in he walked, just as calm you please
    Except he was dressed all in black
    Including the black hood over his head

    He sauntered up to my window,
    Real suave, like he didn’t have a care
    In the world, and no other place to be

    He leaned over, asked his question real quiet,
    The shock must have showed on my face,
    I shook her head, and reached below the counter

    At the same time he reached into his jacket
    Pulled out a revolver, pointed it directly at me
    And pulled the trigger, with a sad grin on his face

    I screamed and jumped when the pistol misfired,
    He turned away, waving the gun at the others, I raised
    My pistol, too, and that took care of the problem!

  45. LeonasLines says:

    Today for my perspective poem I decided to challenge myself to do a Triolet with 10 syllable lines. It is titled “Who Am I?” and is posted on my poetry blog at http://leonaslines.com

  46. pmwanken says:

    A BARISTA’S BLUES

    I
    find
    that I
    keep looking
    at the clock, waiting
    for her arrival at seven.
    I wonder if she knows she’s the bright spot of my day.

    Each
    day
    I get
    another
    piece of her puzzle.
    New information is added
    to what I already learned about her yesterday.

    She
    used
    to be
    a stranger.
    With each cup I’ve filled,
    she has filled me with pieces of
    her life—the person hiding behind those baby blues.

  47. Mywordwall says:

    Here is what I came up with which, unfortunately, may not be too faithful to the prompt. I guess, I missed some of the instructions. :-)

    THE DEFENSE

    The news reports say
    “he’s as guilty as hell.”
    What do they know?
    They’ve not examined the evidence well.
    Of course there are those who claim
    they saw him fire the gun.
    How could they be so sure
    when they were all scared
    and on the run?
    Yes, yes. Granted. Many people died.
    It’s really tragic, even I cried
    especially when I saw those little children
    I saw in them my own beloved child.

    BUT, to pin my client
    for this terrible crime?
    No! I’m a servant of the law
    I’ll make sure he will have his time
    to defend himself. It is his right
    given to all like him by legal might.
    Of course, he is innocent
    until proven otherwise.
    Prosecution sure has evidence
    to hang my client’s head
    but good old Reasonable Doubt
    will tear that into shreds.

  48. Broofee says:

    Job

    A cup of coffee,
    A pen,
    A notebook,
    And I’m ready.

    In front of a screen
    Another night,
    Thoughts
    Trying to come out
    While I end up working
    My second job.

    The one I love better.

    Not always easy,
    Not always sure what to do,
    But something that
    Makes me feel good about myself.
    Gives me a chance to consider myself
    A poet.

  49. Hannah says:

    Thank you for the prompts and your responses thus far, Robert! I’m enjoying this challenge!

    Here’s mine…please feel free to visit me!

    http://wordrustling.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/love-fully/

    Smiles and kudos to everyone that’s writing!

  50. Jezzie says:

    Ladies who Lunch

    Just an orange juice they want,
    a cup of tea for Mable,
    oh, and a jug of water
    for the rest of the table.
    And one wants and extra plate
    to share her lunch with her friend,
    and another wants to swap
    her chair and sit on the end.
    They want to know if they can
    have a “pensioner” amount
    included in the “specials”
    or if we will give discount.
    Lunch only costs a fiver
    but they will sit there for hours,
    moaning about their ailments,
    boasting about their flowers.
    They’ll argue over the bill
    and I have the slightest hunch
    that we won’t get a big tip
    from these Ladies who Lunch!

  51. Lori P says:

    Captain’s Log, Supplemental

    Lonely heads with crowns aside
    I know who looks up to whom
    And who sees what, when I’m not watched

    Loyalty is those who would follow you to the death
    Fully aware you don’t always know what you’re doing
    But correct you when you start singing the wrong songs

    Capitalists: invest in yourselves
    Warriors: honor will take you so far
    Drugies: We’re metaphors for everything
    Some more strained than others
    But it sure is pretty out here

  52. PKP says:

    The Non-Poet

    She sits there
    eyes adrift
    finger flashing
    words float
    from her lips
    as she watches
    me eagerly
    for a response
    and I
    do not have
    a flippin
    idea what
    the heck
    she’s talking
    about

  53. bluerabbit47 says:

    I never wanted
    to be grounded
    in the Podunk town
    where I grew up.
    Watch what you wish for
    cause now I spend my days
    with nothing under
    my shoes but a thin skin
    of metal and 30,000 feet
    of very thin air. Hang on
    to the cart, there’s no
    telling who’s sitting in those
    seats and what will happen
    if we meet geese
    on the way down.
    Hell, I guess that
    Einstein guy said
    everything was relative
    anyway. What’s ground
    and when will we meet it?
    I wish that baby
    in 7b would go to sleep.

  54. ina says:

    I don’t even know if this counts as being prompted. It just kind of happened.

    Life as we don’t know it

    Is it a dogwood, confusion-blooming
    in the mild winter? It might be a postcard
    from Titan, with a picture
    of an ethane lake,
    reflecting thick, gaseous waves: Had fun, rode a
    methane wind, slid the ice pebble plains,
    swam the swamp aquifer. Even saw a sunbeam.
    Having a great time,
    wish you were here.

  55. Kauai

    Picnic table by the beach
    feral roosters at our feet
    one skinny gangster looking guy
    throwing horseshoes
    over hand, overhead,
    giving us sideways
    glances,
    he and his buddies sitting around
    getting ready for what looks like
    their regular redneck ritual picnic,
    a big Hawaiian
    at most 25
    sits next to us
    asking us how much our shaved ice costs
    and grimaces when we tell him,
    the distance between tourist and local
    palpable
    but he must want to talk
    cause he says he’s never been off the island
    with its reef frame and window ocean,
    he’s like some big tatted Emily Dickinson
    wondering about the world
    from her open attic window,
    he says he was in Seattle once,
    a couple of months ago
    but the snow
    almost killed him,
    at least here, he says,
    when you don’t have a place to stay
    nothing’s gonna kill you
    and all his friends mutter in agreement,
    another buddy comes by looking for band aids,
    he says, one open cut in that water
    and a nasty infection will get you
    but the big Emily D Hawaiian doesn’t
    seem to be listening,
    he’s off looking into the distance,
    daydreaming maybe
    of islands and snow and
    strangers from cold lands
    who keep appearing and reappearing
    on his beach
    like some mirage on the sand

  56. LeAnneM says:

    I need to stop going
    To the Thursday night meeting (in Milpitas)

    Dave and Jeff and Eli and Warren
    Are adding to my load of crazy

    Can they not recite “The Promises”
    Without a change in intonation or an arch aside?

    Their intrusions of personality into our ritual
    Remind me how much attention baby addicts need

    My resentment is surely a symptom
    But clawing through the scrim of Dave’s and Warren’s egos –

    It’s too much for my Thursday night resolve

  57. dbrether says:

    Gardner to his plants

    I tended to you each day
    with tender loving care
    for you only began as a seed
    and today i see the fruits you bare

    I have learned to take the time to gaze
    upon your simple intricate beauty
    watching you open in early morning light
    gently closing at the days end
    leaving me filled with wonder
    for that is you duty

  58. Nancy Posey says:

    On Passing a Student Weeping in the Hall

    As I approach she turns to face the wall,
    as if afraid I’ll see her weeping there,
    her shoulder hunched, her hands across her face.
    Her stifled sob escapes. How can I pass
    without a word? I know it’s not my place
    to ask what’s wrong. This student isn’t mine,
    although she could be, might have been before.
    But I know more of heartbreak and of loss
    that she’s had time to learn at twenty-one.
    What’s more, I know the healing touch of time.
    What causes her to weep? A boy? a grade
    much lower than she hoped? Was she betrayed
    by friends—or former friends? Has she mislaid
    her purse, her keys, her phone? Is someone ill?
    If I don’t stop to ask her, no one will.

  59. Glory says:

    Unkind Heart

    He was a kind man
    thinking always of others
    and he loved his children
    especially Janine,
    his only daughter.

    Sorry to say, Janine,
    did not give back
    what she had in abundance,
    no she did not give back
    at all, rather she took,
    and, until left with
    nothing, she took that too
    when she broke his heart.

  60. Clae says:

    Librarian

    In the world of libraries
    Two sorts of librarians exist
    One is a kind helpful being who enjoys being at their desk
    Always ready to recommend a book to encourage a reader
    The more common type is a displaced bridge-troll
    Who finds book-borrowers an offense
    Always ready to scowl at those who dare approach the desk
    Causing readers to wonder why
    Of all possible careers
    Such a person chose to be
    A librarian

  61. Nancy Posey says:

    Bookstore Encounters

    I’ll bet you chat up the butcher too,
    hoping for the inside track on choice cuts
    and I imagine you at the corner hardware store\
    buying your trays of pansies for fall,
    getting a little plumbing advice
    from the owner, who’s glad to come out
    from behind the register to lead you
    to just the pipe or board or caulk.

    And you must rearrange your music too—
    compact discs and albums—by genre, then date,
    then artists’ last names, confirming
    your ownership by personal contact.

    When I see you in our bookstore
    I imagine I’m seeing myself as you
    handle the books, almost tenderly,
    touching the old favorites you spy
    on the summer reading list table at the front.

    You cozy up to the clerk perched on her ladder,
    read her name tag and ask about her choices
    on the Staff Recommendations shelf.
    If you don’t strike up a conversation first,
    I will, recognizing in you one of my kind,
    most at home in this little downtown bookstore,
    there to buy books, not scented candles,
    lattes, funny hats and tee shirts.

    Like me, you shop for gifts here too, not Target,
    Belk, or Bed, Bath and Beyond, for reasons
    just a wee bit selfish, hoping for the chance
    to talk about a well-loved book
    with a well-loved friend.

  62. UNSOCIAL MEDIA

    My parents begged me to beware
    but they’re not here, and I’m not there.
    Inside a lonely, corner booth
    I read what my “friends” call the truth.
    Addicted to my Facebook page,
    I’m haunted by these people’s rage
    directed at my biggest flaws.
    Before they post, why don’t they pause
    to think how words they type will maim
    and bring me unforgiving shame?
    They say I’m ugly, fat and dumb,
    a worthless piece of human scum.
    I’m far too young to think it through,
    or understand their words aren’t true.
    I question, from the things they’ve said,
    could they be right? Should I be dead?
    But my next class has just begun.
    I grab my stuff and off I run
    to stumble through another day
    pretending everything’s okay.

    © Susan Schoeffield

  63. Bruce Niedt says:

    Groundskeeper

    I cut the diamond
    with the precision of a jeweler.
    I mow crisscross patterns in the outfield,
    the grass to uniform height.
    I make sure all facets of the field
    are perfect – the foul lines, the batter’s box,
    drawn meticulously in chalk paint.
    I rake and level infield dirt with the patience
    of a Zen gardener. I protect my gem, too,
    when it rains, pulling the vast tarp over
    with my cohorts, a huge black cloak
    against the weather. I want it to look pristine
    at game time, so all of you in the stands
    can admire its geometric simplicity,
    so all eighteen or more of you on the field
    can kick it up, dig out divots with your cleats,
    slide big commas into the sand,
    and rough up the lines at home plate,
    while I sit stoically out of the limelight,
    waiting to polish it all over again.

  64. Domino says:

    Joe’s Diner

    I’ve been watchin’ ‘em for months,
    dis couple. They come in real regular,
    every few nights. I find myself askin’ for shifts,
    for nights when they come in because they’re so damn sweet.

    Young love is rare, not like you’d think I knew
    anything about dat, a wiseass like me.
    But it is. Some kids tink they’re in love, but real love?
    Nah, they ain’t got it, it don’t last long enough with dem.

    But dis couple. Yeah. It’s almost painful to watch ‘em.
    But it’s a good ache, ya know?

    She always orders pie. Pie and hot chocolate.
    He gets coffee and shares the pie.
    They sit across from each other, heads close,
    talking about serious stuff no doubt.

    But last night it was different. I was wiping down the counters,
    keeping an eye on ‘em like I do. She was cryin’ and pulled somethin’
    out of her pocket-book. It was one o’ them sticks fer a pregnancy test, ya know?

    He was stunned for a minute, but then got this grin.
    I thought, how great for dem, they got a baby on the way.

    She stood, threw the stick down, didn’t even touch her pie.
    The whipped cream on the cocoa was drippin’ down the mug.
    She started walkin’ out, but he grabbed her arm. With God
    as my witness, he was cryin’ too. See, real love does dat to ya.
    She shook her head and left. Real sad.

    He sat there for along time, drinkin’ his coffee, starin’ at her pie.
    Finally, I went over to him, asked if I could clean the table.
    His eyes were bloodshot, and he just nodded. I told him not to worry,
    he and his wife would make up sooner or later, just to be patient.

    He just stared at me. They weren’t married, he said, well, they were,
    he said, but not to each other.

    Don’t dat beat all?

  65. Someone Else’s Dirt

    She stepped across the threshold
    Into a land of laundry mountains and
    Cat-hair grass
    Dishes piled in jagged rocks at the edge
    Of a sea of soapy water gone cold
    And unfamiliar odors which warred against her senses

    She tried not to notice the carpet of grass
    Creeping in the back door
    Or the canopy of webs with polka-dot flies
    Which hung gracefully over every window
    But the mildew vines growing up the shower curtain
    Were just too much.

    It wasn’t that the house was dirtier,
    It was just someone else’s dirt.

  66. hohlwein says:

    He has his skis on
    New Years Eve’s full moon glows peach
    cresting the blue peak

  67. priyajane says:

    The Sidewalk Flower

    And I peek through the cracks
    with yellow cheeks
    and a button nose
    Squeezing my passion free
    This is where I need to be–

    Breathing life into this joint
    Striving hard, to make a point

    Mostly ignored–
    And then, one comes along
    Flapping wings so lovingly
    searching for some mystery
    Secrets of eternity

    If only you had paused your stride
    And seen the sunshine in my eyes–!

  68. Amy says:

    The Trolly Man

    There’s a window that gapes,
    inviting the late season in.
    The cold seeps into my bones
    like a wound that won’t close.

    I move from seat to seat,
    looking for pieces of travelers
    lost to the in-between
    of my domain.

    Once, there was a
    photo of a sweet little girl
    sitting peacefully in the
    third row, waiting

    for me to find her.
    She must be grown, now,
    her curls dragged taught
    by the strife of winter’s chill.

    I polish the wood,
    leaving a sheen that will
    dull with dust in my absence
    as the river clouds with ice.

    Before I descend,
    I ding the bell one last time.
    It rings through the valley
    and bounces off the trees;

    a tolling farewell to
    the season of smiles and
    portraits; striking shades of
    gold and ginger, rust and auburn,

    that leach into winter
    and then fade to monotone;
    children bouncing in laps
    and fingers pointing out

    the window at relics of
    a logging town. All these
    I will take with me into
    a dormant, lonely winter.

    The key is heavy in my hand
    as it turns and clicks in the lock;
    a weighty souvenir that rusts
    in my pocket all winter long.

  69. In case your wondering, my nanowrimo novel is set in Ketchikan, Alaska and I’ll be using November poems as word count.

    Tourists

    They descend on us like a plague of bees
    doubling our quaint town of Ketchikan.

    They ask us
    if the Inside Passage is a river,
    why we built the docks so low,
    why we built the docks so high,
    why someone doesn’t clean the glaciers,
    which road they should bring their RV in on.

    They ask us
    where we live in the winter,
    if it gets down to fifty below,
    when we turn the Northern Lights on,
    why the islands don’t run into each other,
    if we all made crafts to fill the souvenir shops.

    They ask us
    why salmon jump,
    if we speak English,
    if it rains in Ketchikan,
    how many hours there are in a day,
    why someone called their Chihuahua eagle bait.

    They ask us
    if Alaska is as big as Texas,
    if we still use kerosene lamps,
    if we accept American currency,
    where they could see a Woolly Mammoth,
    if they should apply the pepper spray before their hike.
    (Here, let me apply it for you.)

    I would wish them to go the way of the honeybee
    if they didn’t produce the honey.

  70. Jane Shlensky says:

    Squeeze

    She’s squeezing produce,
    sniffing it, obsessed
    with finding what
    she used to grow at home.
    I’ve tried to tell her nicely
    don’t be rough
    your fingers make bruises
    no one will buy
    but she just calls me sweetheart
    pats my hand, explains again
    relationships with fruit
    and how to tell if ginger is too old.

    She asks about a wife
    I do not have. I’m not a catch.
    I’m married to potatoes,
    melons, squash. I polish
    garden fare to make it shine
    arranging it by type
    with tender care. Fresh things
    have skin, like people, and
    have needs—respect or love.
    She says she understands,
    squeezing a plum.
    She says real food smells
    like its patch of earth, its
    flavor should not be
    of grocery store. I edge
    her to the door. She does
    not buy, but comes to visit
    bounties of fresh things.

    She says I look so like
    her son she wants to take
    me home and cook a meal
    I won’t likely forget.
    I sigh—I’m not the one
    to change her ways.
    Her hands are frail, with
    bruises here and there
    where she has bumped
    sharp cornered life unawares.
    She’s tender as an aubergine
    and needs some special care.

  71. Michelle Hed says:

    Do They Love Their Job or Do They Hate It?
    Disney World

    Time to go to work –
    (Heading to work)
    another day of screaming kids,
    (another day of helping a kids’ dream come true,)
    their parent’s don’t watch them, they run wild!
    (love seeing these kids running around having a good time!)

    Those little kids are always touching me,
    (So fun to see the kids expressions when they hug me,)
    wanting hugs, wanting their pictures taken, gosh that gets old.
    (and the pictures, really enjoy being a part of their special day.)

    Ug, I can’t wait till this day is over,
    (Ah, I love my job,)
    I’m so ready to move on…
    (where else in the world can you be a part of so many happy memories?)
    I need to find a new job.
    (I’ll still be doing this when I’m Ninety!)

  72. bartonsmock says:

    -keeper-

    my son will never walk.

    it is not unbearable
    but it is also
    not
    still.

    he rolls from one display to the next.

    the beatnik Lucifer
    using a fork
    to make a ripple
    in the second
    bathroom’s
    mirror.

    the spider’s immaculate web in the open mouth of the baby Jesus.

    Gatsby’s gay lover working a hook from a woman’s lip

    a day before going blind?

  73. candict says:

    6 Visitor

    selling secondhand clothes-
    outside the window
    tourists on the beach

  74. A WALK IN THE PARK

    The season fades and I’ve evaded these tasks,
    masking the reality that the park will shift focus
    from picnic lunches to bunches of bundled snow-bunnies
    in funny get-ups, in cue for the toboggan runs.

    Summer’s fun is gone and one-by-one, people
    come in homage to the season’s demise.
    As I wrap the new young saplings in canvas,
    I canvas the area and still see some signs of life.

    Mr. Jones stands by the lake, a bag of kernels
    to feed the ducks that remain. His heart is stained
    having lost his mate late in the Spring. Her spirit
    brings him here to continue her mission, a permission

    granted out of love. Near the trails, it never fails…
    teenage boys and girls seeking adventure in
    most mischievous ways. Gone are the days of
    gentle carousing, hell bent now on violent rough-housing

    profanity laced, and all other humanity placed out of
    their consideration. They have none for anyone
    but themselves. A selfish lot. I’ve got nine more trees
    to appease before the season is officially over.

    And then, looking over… I see them. A woman
    and a man stand near the park bench on the edge
    of the trees. He’s a mensch. The man spreads a blanket
    upon the seat to offer a cushion; a comfort from the cold

    hardness of enameled wood. It should protect her from the buffets
    of early November’s ire. In a grand sweeping gesture, he waves his arm
    as if to say, “After you, M’lady!”. There under the “shade” of the trees
    barren branches, the chance that she will find compassion in these

    moments of peace are enhanced. She glances at him with eyes
    that have felt pains he had inflicted, but has picked this moment
    to not forget, but to forgive and live fully in the time ahead.
    The dead leaves in hues of browns, and gold, and orange umber

    do not encumber his feelings. He is happy to be stealing precious
    seconds to offer her in love and protection; all past rejections are history
    and their mystery is still a revelation in the making. Sitting, he is taking her hand
    in his own, and it is shown in the tenderness displayed that this day was made

    for this exact moment, at this exact time. His arm wraps around her sagging
    and tired shoulders and you could see the boulders of life lift from her
    fragile frame. In the name of compassion, he pulls her to him
    Closerthanthisclose and closer still. Her head finds rest against him, his upper chest

    her pillow for the time they have allotted. A tender kiss lands on her head, soft
    and gentle; comforting and comfortable. In this place they can breathe the breath
    of love’s lingering lament. Whatever emotion is sent by Him to placate their hearts,
    it all starts in this heartfelt caress. Her arms encircle him as well, and I can tell

    there is more to this tryst than meets the eye. The skies take on a crystal hue,
    a blue he had only seen reflected in her eyes at the surprise of their first meeting.
    A greeting without words perhaps, but a million thoughts exchanged in the space
    of this blessed grace. And she sleeps. A needed respite from the stresses of life

    a solemn solution from the thought pollution they bring. The birds sing; a soundtrack
    meant for every day’s step they will take. Odds are, they never even saw the lake,
    they failed to take their eyes away from their glances. Romance in degrees frees the soul
    to love long and strong. They belong to this moment. The breeze wafts through the trees

    and in an instant they were gone. As suddenly as they had appeared, they were
    no longer here. Not on the trail, not sailing on this lake of dreams. Not amongst the fragile
    young trees that desire the warmth these coverings will provide. It is hard to hide the fact.
    I hope these lovers come back to learn and teach their love. The clouds above shed tears.

    Autumn is truly here!

    Pardon the length. I was truly inspired. ~W

  75. Earl Parsons says:

    Surviving

    She works for near minimum wage
    At an establishment under attack
    By the well-to-do who misunderstand
    The need for any work she can get
    Work that is less than fulfilling
    Still rewarding in one sense or more
    It barely keeps food on the table
    But it keeps her off the welfare roles
    And that alone keeps her pride intact

    She is punctual and ready for every shift
    Even if asked to work overnight
    Her work ethic is an example for all
    Though many around her slack off
    And chide her for making them look bad
    But even more daunting are the customers
    Some that so arrogantly look down on her
    Because they think they’re so much better
    They have no idea of her needs

    Still she smiles at customer after customer
    Sincere in her quest to provide the best
    Representation of the establishment in which
    She strives hard to make a life for herself
    And her infant, fatherless, innocent son
    Thank God her mother helps take care of him

    When her shift is over she makes her way
    To her old, in-need-of-repairs pickup truck
    Off to her second source of income
    Part-time she works cleaning condominiums
    Then it’s online to work her college classes

    She knows life is tough and times are hard
    She’s doing all she can to make it through
    Determined to reach her goals on her own
    And make a better life for her little one
    She presses forward on the road of survival
    A road that she chose
    A hard road
    But holding tight to God’s hand
    A road to success

  76. JRSimmang says:

    ALL WHO WANDER
    -Inspired by a conversation on a park bench

    It certainly was nice of the city
    to redo the benches along
    this walkway.

    I’ve been telling them for years that
    what draws people to the parks
    is the moment where they can
    still down for just long enough
    to hear the bird-brides in the trees
    and the lake nymphs sing-song
    making the waves kiss our feet.

    You can’t catch it if you’re running.

    You have to sit, and close your eyes,
    and take in breeze like an old lover’s ash.
    That’s why the benches are the draw.

    That’s why I don’t leave.
    Some people tell me I’m lost.
    I disagree.
    I’m waiting for the perfect moment
    when someone sits down next to me
    on these perfect benches
    and hears the story the trees
    and the lake,
    and the rushing rain,
    and the grimacing dogs and cats
    whisper to me when I sleep.

    -JR Simmang

  77. barbara_y says:

    The counter man at Mitchell’s: some toymaker
    put him together (like my uncle Jim
    and his bootlegging brothers) out of cypress knees
    and cedar barnwood, not sanded down so much
    as hammered into shape and oiled. He does nothing
    till you wind him but express the gene of twang
    and that poverty where muscle has all been spent
    but no one would buy long bone and sinew. Set
    into jerky patiently impatient motion, he’s
    Woody Guthrie’s dustbowl saint; Hank Williams’
    long apology; the sign painter who controls
    his tremor into strokes like letter press. He rocks
    back from his toes to his heels while you decide.

  78. Dare says:

    Bronze Statue

    The pedestal suits me
    A grand view of my visitors
    Speaking hushed tones of
    Adoration, gratitude and
    (Dare I say it)
    Awe!

    Good God, I was magnificent!

    Oh, No…Not again!
    Damn pigeons.

  79. Earl Parsons says:

    Smile, Regardless

    Clean uniforms
    Costumes lint free
    Make-up perfect
    Food prepared
    Rides tested
    Streets spotless
    Store shelves prepped
    Actors practiced
    Instruments shined
    Smiles ready
    Everyone in place

    Let the day begin
    Open the gates
    Let them in
    Smile, regardless
    It’s the number one rule
    Straight from the Mouse

  80. Misky says:

    A Madman’s Love of Fire

    There’s a madman on the moor
    and he wants to dance.
    He wants to strike a match
    and feel its heat.
    He wants to taste its salt,
    inhale its ash, and lick
    its length as if it were a snake.

    He wants to be Lord of Creation,
    to feed life a hungry spark.
    He wants to feed insanity
    with a lick of a whip,
    splatter writhing red
    like pressed pomegranates
    crushed into a greedy hand.

    He wants to regale himself
    in a stinging blanket of smoke,
    deep sooty flannel, carefully
    woven and luxuriant – soft
    to touch, singeing his senses,
    and he slides into anticipation.

    He want to orchestrate fury,
    hear symphonies of sirens,
    tyres pressed against roads,
    roaring urgency and speed.
    He draws up voices, a chorus
    high toned and hot pitched,

    a sulphur-tipped baton inviting
    flutes and violins and oboes,
    beating forward, marching
    a race on skin-taut drums.
    Red splatters orange, yellow
    swallows heat, as the wind’s
    throaty growls chase clarinets.

    The air stirs strings into staccato
    screams as fire and wind
    embrace, and dance pirouette
    with the madman on the heath.

    .

    [I love a welcoming log fire in the fireplace during the winter. Some people prefer their fire unrestrained.]

  81. Linda Goin says:

    The Neighbor Remembers

    Merry’s riding a donkey sidesaddle as he’s crossing
    into Craig’s Creek. He’s meeting Carrie, he’s marrying
    Carrie, he’s buying lumber and building a house
    in Amsterdam outside Fincastle. He’s buying
    a Singer sewing machine and a tie for his brother Ben.
    His brother’s dying, his father’s dying, his uncle’s dying,
    his daughter is born, his son is born, and he’s buying
    more lumber and building that house next door. He’s moving
    his family to town, he’s buying another house
    across the street for his girl. He’s wearing
    long Johns all year long, even in summer
    for his long John bones. He’s running
    a dry goods store, he’s running for local office
    and losing, he’s running in and out of town,
    and we don’t know where he goes. He’s working
    for the railroad, and he’s working to keep
    his nose clean, he’s working to build family.
    The first Model T in town? Merry’s driving
    it, he’s driving the family to the mountain
    for reunions with Carrie’s kin, he’s turning
    away his own family at the front door, saying,
    I’m not related to them. He’s growing roses, he’s building
    a shed out back over the creek, he’s signing
    up for the war with his son, who’s still living
    at home. He’s wanting to be known as Taylor
    as his son is marrying and bringing his own wife home.
    He’s building another family with six grandchildren.
    They’re all living in that house, watching as Carrie’s dying.
    She’s sitting at that window upstairs, watching
    the grandbabies grow up around sidewalks and hedges
    as the cancer’s eating away at her face. Taylor’s buying
    ten grave sites, he’s selling them for a profit, he’s buying
    ten more grave sites in a better location, on a hill
    that overlooks town. He’s keeping watch over Carrie
    in her casket in the front room, he’s cutting
    black lace from her dress for the bible, he’s burying
    Carrie, and he’s still running in and out of town.
    He’s sharing sleeping space with the grandboys
    in the front room upstairs, and he’s slowly losing
    his mind. He’s ambling, rambling, and the grandkids
    are watching. He’s dying three years before
    his first great-grandchild is born. We’re knowing
    that he’s Merry, that he’s Taylor, that he’s building,
    still, that family from his space on that hill.

    • JRSimmang says:

      You’ve left me breathless. This poetic story just careens alongside a life spinning out of control. High energy. Quick pace. I liked the internal rhymes peppered throughout.

      • Linda Goin says:

        Thanks! I’m trying to build on a “family” theme this month, and the prompt threw me a bit. But, I decided I could use a neighbor’s perspective on my great-grandfather. The story is true, built on information I found in courthouses and that I gleaned from his kids, including my dad.

  82. writinglife16 says:

    Potato Talk

    She asked me about the potatoes.
    What different types we had.
    Which ones were better for different
    types of cooking.

    I was stunned.
    People usually ignored me unless they wanted to
    know the price of something or to complain.

    I sensed she needed to talk and as I told
    her about the white potatoes and the sweet potatoes
    and the russet potatoes,
    she mentioned that her husband had died
    and he had done the cooking.

  83. ACROSS FROM THE HANGMAN’S TREE

    When I lock up the store at night, sometimes I hear music like breath vibrating strings. A harp? I know it can’t come from the instruments I just put to bed, inventing their own songs. Yesterday a boy came in, joking about how could I stand to do business here, practically in the shadow of the old hangman’s tree? Said it would give him the creeps. But that tree was cut down ages ago, and they built a saloon over the top. Of course people talk about ghosts, but I’ve never seen one. And now that building’s condemned as a safety hazard – not earthquake safe. It’s true, walking past in the evening I’ve felt tremors under the sidewalk. I figure it had just been a long hard day.

    the roots as if still
    alive reach through soil, branches
    lift to touch a breeze

  84. Memphis Gold

    It’s three a.m. and my phone wakes me up.
    I’ve given him his own ringtone – Blue Moon
    of Kentucky – but, really, why bother?
    No one else is up at this time of night.

    Throwing on a sweatshirt, I head to the
    kitchen. A pound of bacon is ready
    in the fridge. While the bacon is frying
    I grab a loaf of Italian bread

    and slice it, end-to-end, making twin shells
    to be loaded with peanut butter and
    grape jelly. When the bacon’s done frying,
    it goes in the middle of the two halves

    and I deep-fry the entire thing. Sweet.
    After all these years, I could do this job
    in my sleep. A Mountain Valley Water
    and a Pepsi go in the bag as well.

    The Flamingo Motel is like a grave.
    His room is on the upper floor, facing
    the freeway. He comes to the door and drawls
    “There’s my Fool’s Gold!” and hands me a twenty.

    One time I asked him how old he was.
    He just laughed: I’ve been here since seventy-
    seven. Wow! I said. He grinned: Uh-huh! Seen
    Rebel Without a Cause a thousand times.

    On the way home, I make a stop at the
    Piggly Wiggly on Winchester
    for bananas, bread and peanut butter.
    The Browns are playing later on today.

  85. Day 6
    Prompt: Poem from the perspective of a person who works at/visits a place you like to visit.

    Bluegrass Grill

    My jaunty hat or long braid keep me feeling young,
    when the hours of running a crowded breakfast place
    and chasing nursing shifts
    wear down my joints.

    My son Greg has the knack for waiting tables,
    easy white-toothed grin and olive skin
    give him customer appeal,
    not to mention he’s attentive,
    even knows Mrs. Phillips’ biscuit’s to go.

    Beth is still learning,
    but she’ll catch up. She’s younger,
    but her winsome smile wins over the patrons
    as she serves crab bisque or Mediterranean frittata.

    Retired priest husband Jonas cranks out orders from the kitchen,
    luring in more folks with Glorious Grits, cheesy,
    packed with spinach, peppers, and topped with avocado.
    He’s recovered from his broken ankle,
    cooking for the crowd willing to wait in our high-ceiling brick-walled space.

    Ben comes in when school’s out, and I recall when his aunt
    came in to help while visiting us,
    and he showed her, though he was ten,
    how to ring up a check.

    Yes, we play bluegrass music in the background,
    from Alison Kraus to the track from “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”
    You walk in to face a mural over the counter seats, of the mountains
    where the songs started, the mountains that embrace us daily in this town.

    The joys of a family business:
    writing the lunch specials on the white board,
    joking with the regulars,
    staring over my glasses at the lingerers, because there’s no
    time or space for dawdling here,
    my heart smiling when a family steps in and says, “Hi, Joan Marie.”

  86. tammyfbrewer says:

    Hi everyone! I’m the host’s wife (so I’m not in the running to win anything here – whatever that may be), but for the first time, I’m trying to play along. :) Here’s my poem for today:

    “Bus Driver”

    ‘Bout the only thing you can do
    when you drive a bus is

    stuff in your head. Before, I drove
    a tank in Afghanistan. I was

    a turtle, or at least pretended
    to be. Now each day is a way

    to keep the engine going. It starts
    in a parking lot. Ends in a garage.

    I listen to its low hum. Wait for fog to lift
    away from its windows. You are always

    strangers to each other. Every day
    you emerge from the back, become a click

    on my number machine. There’s only
    so many ways to imagine yourself

    outside of a box. I want you to know
    when you sleep, my eyes never leave the road.

  87. “Aisle 14″

    She responded
    to my
    how are you today
    with
    an answer
    and a smile
    then asked
    the same of me
    and waited
    for me to answer
    and looked me in the eye
    and this moment
    connected
    me
    with the human race

    thank you
    for shopping

  88. Marie Elena says:

    24/7

    In her little 3-year-old heart,
    The future was a new frontier
    In which days had no edges.
    She aspired to be a pediatrician,
    A mommy of thirteen,
    And a jazz piano player at Tony Packo’s
    (part time).

  89. PatNEO says:

    It’s Mine, Really

    It’s cold outside.
    No other excuse is needed
    to sink under her covers,
    into my warm fortress,
    pillow walled.
    Here are no worries, no hurries,
    no homework, no obnoxious boys.
    Mom will be in soon, vying for room.
    She thinks she owns this place.
    I will pretend not to notice,
    wait for her to settle,
    then press my cold feet
    into her back.

  90. EMERGENCY ROOM

    Busy night in the jungle,
    It seems every bungled
    Suicide attempt and
    Accident picked today
    To play out their dramas.
    Street punks and pistol
    Packing mamas and pops.
    Everything stops when they
    Wheel the shooting victim in.
    It’s a sin, they got him in the back,
    His jacket soak in his outpouring
    Of life’s force. In the course of such
    Events life takes a front seat,
    We meet it head on. That Beatle
    Guy was dead on. But, “Happiness is a
    Warm gun”? Tell that to this guy…
    He looks like… Lennon?

  91. RJ Clarken says:

    At Bauer’s Bakery

    I
    sorta
    remember
    you…weren’t you the little girl who would
    stand in front of the cookie case until
    I would give
    you one?
    Still?

    ###
    Bauer’s Bakery in NE Philly is sadly no more. They had the best bakery cookies, butter cake, cinnamon-chocolate donuts, etc. However, if Bauer’s was still here, and I walked in, I would like to imagine that the above is what old Mrs. Bauer would say. :D

  92. IN THE CORNER

    For years now, at least three,
    there has been an old man
    sitting in the corner seat of the cafe
    each day when I come to
    grab a quick cuppa.
    By his attire, I have assumed
    he may have been a
    wise professor, dispensing knowledge
    to sullen students bent on
    parties rather than studies,
    Or, perhaps a writer of sorts –
    a poet, who had lost the years
    to addictive words that ran
    uncontrolled through his veins.
    Lately, we seem to look for each other,
    our eyes meeting, smiles and a nod.
    Not exactly a commitment, but yet,
    I worry –
    today, his chair is empty.

  93. MLundstedt says:

    “A Space Between”

    Against a tall black fence, I lean,
    Standing under a gull’s cry,
    Peering through a space between.

    The Harbor offers much to glean,
    And that’s precisely why
    Against a tall black fence, I lean.

    Under foot are tufts of green.
    They battled brick just to try
    Peering through a space between.

    It is lovely and serene,
    Water within reach, but sigh,
    Against a tall black fence, I lean.

    I press against the metal screen,
    Hoping for more to spy,
    Peering through a space between.

    And I am part of this Harbor scene,
    Viewed by all those passing by—
    Against a tall black fence, I lean,
    Peering through a space between.

    Note: In an effort to get as close to the water as she could, my toddler pressed herself against a fence (gate, is probably a more accurate term) at the edge of the Harbor. It struck me that her effort to see as much as she could through this space, was a scene in itselft–which I immensely enjoyed watching. And so, a villanelle was born.

  94. PressOn says:

    THE POSTMAN PONDERS

    I walked my route
    and cast my eyes into the sky;
    I walked my route
    and saw a blackbird in pursuit
    of a crow that had wandered by.
    I wondered if it wondered why
    I walked my route.

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