2014 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 1

Wow! Is it really time for another poem-a-day challenge? Feels like we just finished up April. Well, all I’ve got to say is…bring it on! Let’s poem!

For today’s prompt, write a game over poem. Our family spent a couple months putting together a haunted house in our garage for Halloween, and now that the holiday passed, I’ve got a bit of that game over feeling. People who play video games know about game over. And people who play other games, whether baseball, Monopoly, or poker. There’s a moment in every game at which it is game over–except maybe Minecraft, which may be why it’s so popular for so many.


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Here’s my attempt at a Game Over poem:

“Game Over”

He read the screen, hung his head, and departed
the arcade feeling defeated and buyer’s remorse
because those were his final quarters. But then,

he remembered what the screen asked after
informing him the game was over. It requested,
“Play again?” And darn it, he thought, if I won’t

play again. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow,
but I’ll be back, and I’ll be better than ever. I’ll play
until the game doesn’t end, or if it does, it will

have to say, “You win! You win! You freaking win!”


roberttwitterimageRobert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of the poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He edits Poet’s Market, Writer’s Market, and Guide to Self-Publishing, in addition to writing a free weekly WritersMarket.com newsletter and poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine.

This is his seventh year of hosting and participating in the November PAD (Poem-A-Day) Chapbook Challenge. He can’t wait to see what everyone creates this month–not only on a day-by-day basis, but when the chapbooks start arriving in December and January. Fun, fun, fun.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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278 thoughts on “2014 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 1

  1. Mark Danowsky

    Shamed Defender

    known for his ability to do backflips
    once backhanded me
    on the basketball court

    I guarded him, post-game
    when our teacher questioned

    No different
    (then a stranger)
    pantsed me in the pool

    I told the camp lifeguard
    he was just joking around

  2. Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    coup de grace
    by juanita lewison-snyder

    all year long
    the vine maple outside our office window
    underwent the usual seasonal changes ~
    from stark mossy limbs
    to small ornamental wonder,
    shielding delicate tendrils of maidenhair
    and brackenfern beneath her tresses
    like young nesting chicks.

    autumnal leaves
    in serrated shades carousel her canopy
    in a gradient splendor of ball gowns ~
    emerald to scarlet,
    pumpkin to ivory
    with just enough cadmium yellow variegation
    to marry the colors,

    before quietly returning to umber
    under the steel blade of pape cat
    now leveling for the next new edifice ~
    and just like prophecy
    outliving her beauty
    our maritime helen-of-troy
    returns home.

    © 2014 by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

  3. Kasey

    Hide and Seek

    He counted aloud
    While I ran to hide.
    In fields freshly plowed
    Instinct was my guide.

    I dove in a cloud
    Of dust and I sighed,
    Relaxed and quite proud
    In the hole that I’d spied.

    I knew he’d be wowed.
    My smile was so wide,
    Beneath the weed shroud,
    I had time to bide.

    The sky got dark. Cowed,
    I knew that he lied.
    Game over, I vowed,
    And my love for him died.

  4. deringer1

    Game Over
    One day Sam tripped and fell.
    They said he couldn’t carry the ball anymore.
    He had to go away.
    Game over.

    Then Sara fumbled. She sat down
    on the field and couldn’t remember
    how to play. So they locked her away.
    Game over

    It’s not much fun now.
    The lights are getting dim
    I don’t much want to play anymore.
    Game almost over.

  5. Connie Inglis


    irrational thought
    from lack of sleep,
    of food,
    of water,
    of social contact
    and weed

    develops into:

    spilling out of fear from
    kill or
    be killed
    and weed

    develops into:

    raging demons
    pouring out of
    twisted mind,
    twisted words,
    clenched fists
    of weed

    develops into:

    flashing lights
    red and blue
    uniformed men
    restraining the
    wrists and
    feet and

    game over

  6. Michelle Hed

    Good Night Halloween

    Night is done
    the sun peeks out
    ghost and goblins sleep.

    Chocolate smears their tired cheeks
    and wrappers line the floor.

    No more knocks at the door
    as jack-o-lanterns fall.

    Webs begin to sag
    and trees begins to snore.

    Halloween is over
    don’t worry, there’ll be more.

  7. stepstep


    No more sparkle in your eyes
    Spontaneity took a back seat to
    Shut down communication while
    Bitterness invaded sweetness.

    No more listening, wheeling and dealing
    No more watching late night movies
    No more laughter to fill the air
    After a long stroll, holding hands.

    Time passes, we grow older
    Our bodies no longer work to full capacity
    We wonder what happened when we weren’t looking
    The answers ——- where are they?

    The years become blurred
    We meet each day with wonder
    Wonder of it all
    What, when, where, how and why did it happen?


  8. MsGenuineLady

    November PAD Challenge

    You ran the same play
    over and over again,
    Your Plan A became very predictable, Your main focus was offense
    And my defense stopped you –
    every time,
    You never scored any points,
    Winning was never an option anyways,
    You only wanted to play,
    Now there is –
    no more periods,
    no more quarters,
    no more rounds,
    your time is up,
    the game is over.

  9. JanetRuth

    No Game-over in Love

    Slip over me, the company
    Of memories is bittersweet
    I liked it when that Yester-then
    Was more than echoes on the street
    Before the air growled like a bear
    and you are there and I am here
    Slip over me, the company
    of you is like a game, my dear

    For while I vow to let you go
    the heart endeavors to hold on
    This tug-of-warring ebb and flow
    of yes and no and dusk-to-dawn
    places its pawns in manners such
    that I am easy to persuade
    to play another round; taste-touch
    and thus new memories are made

    Slip over me, ah, the romance
    of you is bittersweet, for oh
    love is no game, rather a dance
    of holding close while letting go
    There is no game-over in love
    for hearts out-played there is no grave
    Darling, you win, slip over me
    and play the strings I let you have

  10. icandootoo

    Game Over
    naomi poe

    I am staring at bills,
    red ink dripping,
    from fingers frayed to bone.
    I tell myself it is okay,
    you’re not alone;
    but thoughts keep slipping
    back to those glaring bills,
    white hands gripping
    six overdue notices, one
    student loan they won’t defray,
    a foreclosed home —
    then I’m tipping,
    chest tight, face-down, on bills.

  11. Doakley

    All for the love of the Game

    Leap for the sky
    Reach for that brown worn smooth ball
    Sweaty bodies bumping you
    Hands swatting at yours
    Reaching higher than the rest
    Long fingers curl around the sought after orb
    It is yours, slow motion sets in
    Turn your head, look to see
    Who in your colors is racing out front, up the court
    Wait, white hot excruciating pain in my foot
    Falling, the hardwood floor caresses my sweaty shoulders
    The ball is forgotten there is only the burning pain
    From my ankle to my knee
    Surely it is broken
    Sweaty hands lift me to the side
    For the others, the game goes on

  12. horselovernat

    When it Begins

    An inkling
    Rests near
    Still unclear
    It dares me to find it

    From nowhere
    It lands
    In my hands
    The floodgates burst open

    Once nothing
    Lost thought
    Now great plot
    Born’s the story within

    I wonder
    When done
    Who has won
    Me or the universe

    I’m writing
    With haste
    For it’s late
    The pen must rest till dawn

    Game Over?
    No way
    Not today
    There’s much left to be said
    Endless more to explore

  13. Hannah

    Fragrant and Just Fine

    Lost time is never found again. – Benjamin Franklin

    Flowers wilted…
    won’t return
    petals to stem
    blooming full again…
    time’s passed.
    Petal by petal –
    beautiful unfurling
    graceful release…
    stems wade pools
    color fades
    stark remains.
    crushes question
    leaves no wondering
    whether season’s ended.
    Time for next phase…
    naked blooms nod in unison.
    Time we move on
    become again…
    transform again….
    it’s agreed.

    Copyright © Hannah Gosselin 2014

  14. shethra77

    Cherry Orchard Is a Crummy Game

    I know a man who, once upon a time
    enslaved himself to his assembly line.
    He built a machine, fed it
    massive rolls of neoprene,
    cosseted it all day and into the small hours.
    He worked hard, made great stuff,
    sold it when he’d had enough—
    enough of all those years of
    nothing but working.
    Then he had some fun,
    though awfully frugal…but that was then.
    Life sucked off too much principal.
    We’re older now and he’s not as well, so
    the carefully husbanded stash is gone,
    and the little properties he bought cash down
    are bleeding.

    One house of three, sold as is,
    would pay the back taxes and discharge his bills.
    It would preserve his butt.
    But no. He can’t move.
    He’s doing that damn
    Cherry Orchard thing.
    He waits. For what?
    This otherwise supremely rational man
    waits for great magic to happen.
    Mired in carefulness, he takes no chance—
    no day trader song and dance, can’t
    sell, can’t do what needs to be done before
    the ball snaps back,
    cracks glass, drops
    and the
    neon lights flash
    “Game Over”.

    Shethra Jones Hoopes

  15. Karen H. Phillips

    Day One
    Write a game over poem.

    After the Wedding

    We’ll have come full circle:
    our own wedding,
    all the years of waterproofing our daughter
    so she wouldn’t drown,
    worry that she’d cobble a marriage that wouldn’t last,
    unconscious relief that she survived high school and college
    and didn’t get pregnant–
    only to be ambushed with that outburst of news,
    three years prior.

    Last summer, Disneyland fireworks lighting her face,
    her baby’s dad proposed.
    Ten months to plan a wedding, we plunged our elbows in,
    bills and disagreements littering the bridal path,
    also confettied with toddler smiles and bride’s laughter,
    and the radiant smile a woman wears when she’s found

    Her two-year-old daughter and the matron-of-honor’s son
    create a sensation sauntering down the aisle as
    flower girl and ring bearer.
    In front of guests and a two-century-old house,
    bride and groom give the rings and receive the blessings.
    We are all relieved it comes off with only one hitch.
    Old joke. Corny. Appropriate.

    Now that she’s danced with her dad and hugged her mom,
    the DJ’s packed up and the tables come down,
    I lean on my husband, and we smile at each other.
    “Good party,” he says, with a smile. “Now who’s going to
    finish paying for this?” We laugh.

    This is how I envision the end of the wedding game,
    on April 26–only one day short of the perfect date.

    1. Hannah

      You’ve captured both the story and the emotions well, Karen and funny coincidence…I was married on April 26th with a toddler and all after being with my husband for ten plus years…finally decided it was time!

      Wedding stories, for me, feel like the kind of story that’s carried on…it’s lovely what you’ve captured here. 🙂

  16. Bruce Niedt

    All I could think of was that quote from “Aliens” that kept running through my head, so of course I had to write about it.

    Game Over

    Bill Paxton is Hudson, the hysterical Marine, in Aliens.
    When the rescue ship crashes right in front of their eyes,
    he wails, “That’s it, man. Game over, man! Game over!”
    But it’s not a video game, and we all know it’s not over.
    There will be more folks eaten and torn or blown apart
    before this game is over. That’s just the way it’s played.
    You can’t creep down a dark corridor alone in a story
    like this and expect to emerge unscathed. Those creatures
    have teeth inside of teeth. They don’t want to kiss you
    on the head goodnight. So man up, Hudson. Truth be told,
    you will be meat for the monster. But before the game is over,
    give us a good show.

  17. Doakley

    All for the love of the Game
    Leap for the sky
    Reach for that brown worn smooth ball
    Sweaty bodies bumping you
    Hands swatting at yours
    Reaching higher than the rest
    Long fingers curl around the sought after orb
    It is yours, slow motion sets in
    Turn your head, look to see
    Who in your colors is racing out front, up the court
    Wait, white hot excruciating pain in my foot
    Falling, the hardwood floor caresses my sweaty shoulders
    The ball is forgotten there is only the burning pain
    From my ankle to my knee
    Surely it is broken
    Sweaty hands lift me to the side
    For the others, the game goes on

  18. seingraham

    After publishing the first poem, came up with something that I think I might be able to use as a theme…so here’s the first of those


    In the morning, every morning, I wonder what happened
    Were there some rules I didn’t know about so inadvertently
    ran afoul of
    It must have been something huge, I can’t help thinking
    To cause such a cataclysmic upheaval in our lives, their lives,
    all our lives

    And no one to consult about this, that’s the real kicker – one
    of the most frustrating things
    There’s only one other person, and she’s significant as she’s
    run afoul of these same invisible, arbitrary rules
    Or whatever they are – I really don’t know, I swear
    But she has been just as effectively banned, restricted, left out
    Of the lives of the others – those who would normally make up
    the rest of our lives

    Feeling foolish, I’ve begun researching sites on the internet—in the
    old days I would have spent hours at the library—
    Poring over articles, essays, doctor’s opinions—on the topic of
    estrangement—adult children who estrange themselves
    from their parents —I can hardly write it down, it seems so alien
    I wonder who I’m talking about and then it washes over me anew
    As it does at least a half dozen times each day: it’s us, it’s our family
    We’re estranged from our daughter and her family, and we have
    not the slightest reason why

    From everything I read, I know I must acknowledge that this is
    not something that she has done lightly
    I do realize that; she has been even longer away from her sister,
    her one-time closest best friend
    The advice is not only to acknowledge the fact of it, but to take
    full responsibility for her pain
    If I want her back in my life — at first this seemed beyond the pale
    After all, if I don’t know what I’ve done wrong, how to perform
    the mea culpa

    Now? I don’t care. It’s enough that she’s hurting as badly as she is
    I will beg her forgiveness, and ask what I can do to relieve her pain
    I don’t know about the other people involved in this mess, but I
    do know that I am ready to throw myself on her mercy
    And do whatever it will take to end this – for me it, the agony is
    too much, the game is over.

  19. larrywlawrence


    With the change from lunch we’d head to the arcade.
    Usually it was air hockey, Space Invaders, or Galaga,
    but one summer, a talking pinball machine came out
    with a red devil monster who growled as your quarter
    dropped, and his heartbeat pounded faster and faster
    as you played on, as you hit the flippers and kept going.

    In the summer of ’79, we heard- Gorgar. Me got you.

    Silver balls bounced off targets, lasers blasts, and
    crazy numbers added up on the digital scoreboard.
    vibrations from bumpers, throwing your hip into it
    made the machine tilt, if you got rough- Me Hurt.
    Into the Snake Pit the ball dropped, a huge bonus,
    racking up the points, hoping it’d pass the high score
    from whoever was before. Bang those side buttons.
    You hurt Gorgar. Hit the flippers some more. Beat Me.

    In the summer of ’79, we heard- Gorgar. Me got you.

    As the last ball slid past, you knew not to walk away.
    In the corner a two digit number sat, waited while the
    window next to it cycled through random numbers before
    stopping and if they were the same, you’d hear a hard knock.
    You had a “Match” and got to play again or it was “Game Over”.
    But if you had another quarter you could always play again.
    Years later in college, I’d spend plenty of money and time
    playing pinball and I’d think back to when I became hooked.

    It was the summer of ’79 and I can still hear- Gorgar. Me got you.

  20. Yolee

    Games People Play

    The girl left one of those soupy little notes on his dirty
    windshield where part of her soul slipped thru her
    fingernails. It blended with the blue ink that made

    the white of the paper come undone.The flirtation
    reached a scratchy nest; she was ready to test
    their wings. Before heading home from work

    he went to the arcade to put his twenty something
    hands on objects that when he walked away they did
    not have the sense to know for better or worse. His wife

    walked in with the crumbled note she snatched from his
    car parked under an oak tree that had leaked sticky stuff
    on it just as Pac-man got trapped by a flock of ghosts.

  21. Melahlah

    Her memories are playing cruel games with her
    Ghost of long ago appearing at random fresh & unbidden
    While cherished faces of recent days masquerade as strangers
    They are lured away one by one by some force that is surely malevolent
    At times they steal back to her in fleeting, flirting moments of rebellion
    Until slipping away again into the shadows of hide and seek
    Where they do all the hiding and she doesn’t remember what she seeks,
    Or even to seek at all. How can she play the game anymore
    When she’s slowly moving to a different world than all the other players?
    It’s a world where the present isn’t allowed.
    In the meantime, we hope, pray for a miracle chance at a rematch
    In the face of the slow abandonment of an unwilling forfeit,
    As silence steps toward the announcer’s mic to whisper, “Going. Going. Gone.
    Game over.”


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