2014 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 17

For today’s prompt, write an afflicted poem. Someone or something that is afflicted is someone or something that is in a troubled, injured, or humbled state. Or distressed to the point of constant suffering and anguish. In other words, the perfect poem for a Monday, right?


Running out of Time for a Chance at $1,000!

Writer’s Digest has extended the deadline to their Writer’s Digest Poetry Awards competition to November 21. As you may have guessed from the bold statement above, the winner will receive $1,000 cash!

The winning poem will also be published in a future issue of Writer’s Digest magazine. And the winning poet will receive a copy of the 2015 Poet’s Market.

Even poets who don’t win can win, because there are prizes for 2nd through 25th place as well.

Click to learn more.


Here’s my attempt at an Afflicted poem:


I have a bad habit of singing random songs
and making up new lyrics–partly because

it’s fun to do and partly because I have a bad
memory–like the Ultraman theme song might

turn into the Ultraham theme song and “Singing
in the Rain” might turn into “Singing in the Pain,”

and it’s really cool at times, but not so cool at others,
especially when I’m trying to focus or be serious

or care about the feelings of others, but then,
I’m afflicted by the smooth voice of Barry White

singing “I Can’t Get Enough of Your Blood, Baby,”
because he’s a vampire, right? And well, it’s sort

of a pain to have to explain the joke when it’s not
even the day for the explanatory poem prompt.


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.

He doesn’t always know what to put in this paragraph, but he still likes trying to change it up from post to post, because, well, why not? He has a sense of humor that only some get, and he’s fine with that.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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181 thoughts on “2014 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 17

  1. BDP


    All your adult life you’ve been—I hesitate to use sweet,
    for you are not, but your help’s an avatar
    of continuous circle-ripples, the best anti-lament
    our family could know, a lesson not in the nature of retreat
    but in spreading out. Nor would you like me to call you star.
    Not of sky, but earth, body solid, feet planted, and we are
    grounded in your farm-lake constellation, in your element
    of homestead, caretaking, generations, and not by accident,
    though gruff hides it, you work from and at a kind heart.
    A list of what you’ve done for us would fall far too short.
    Some people scroll through their deeds, a catalogue
    titled “I’ve Done, I Did, I’ll Do.” How we preen over the sum!
    But I remember the day you brought dinner out of the fog
    that had hung tedium at my elderly father’s door. Your resumé
    says nothing of these small things looming large as answered prayer.
    There are too many specifics to name, but each is a stone,
    pyramidal, to stack one on another, fitting with little air
    between, and whatever you think you need forgiven,
    think no longer, all we want is your cancer gone.

    Kindness is hearthstone:
    fires of missteps shriven,
    warmth by the windows.

    –Barb Peters

    * * *

    This poem uses the end words of Robert Penn Warren’s poem, “San Francisco Night Windows.” I suppose my poem’s not exactly a haibun, in that my big poem is not precisely a prose poem. But I wanted to finish like a haibun, namely, with a haiku.

    Also, I wrote this poem today for the November 17th poem a day challenge. The theme is “afflicted.” (I’m not sure if that’s all right, in that I didn’t write the poem in November, but I thought it okay to play catch-up. If not, please let me know.) The theme “afflicted” is the same in my mind as this particular Wednesday’s theme of “difficulties.” So I’m posting my poem in both places.

  2. Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    by juanita lewison-snyder

    she keeps to herself
    in an effort to contain
    fatigued voices within
    barking orders all day.

    she equates it all to
    being locked in a room
    with colorful wires
    and no tool to cut through

    the apathy, helplessness
    sadness and insomnia
    isolation, anxiety
    the anger, the guilt

    she’s drowning in a sea
    of solder and twisted copper,
    ulcers and poor memory
    a blasting cap in her hand.

    © 2014 by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

  3. shethra77


    She can’t hear,
    but you wouldn’t know it
    from what she says.
    “This phone don’t work—I’ve been
    trying to call for a couple of days.”
    I shout into the phone, but she still
    can’t hear what I say.
    Day before yesterday we were there.
    Does she remember? We don’t know.
    She also doesn’t remember stuff.
    Sometimes she remembers things that never happened.
    (Her son says that’s nothing new, though.)
    Lately, it’s phone calls from various people.
    We’ve checked. Those particular people
    have not called. But she is sure
    she’s done something wrong and they
    want her to fix it.
    She makes herself miserable with
    phantom obligations.
    We’ll be over again tomorrow.
    Maybe she’ll remember.

    Shethra Jones Hoopes

  4. Yolee


    He called his sisters
    because he sold his tv.
    There was nothing left
    to peddle for a bag of ugly
    death. Even fragments
    of his soul, or so he thought,
    had been auctioned
    like used furniture.

  5. seingraham


    The sound is unlike anything I can recall
    I try to shut my ears, but there’s no doing that
    so they are inundated with an unholy screaming
    that only tortured dogs can make
    At first it’s just celebrities talking about some-
    thing so heinous, I can’t take it in
    Then, my computer screen shows me these
    videos — even now, hours later — I can’t
    get the pictures out of my mind

    There are all these little Asian men and they
    have long poles with some kind of noose
    on the end
    They are looping the nooses around the necks
    of dogs and throwing the dogs
    onto flats filled with other dogs
    And I do mean throwing – just heaving these animals
    They yank them as hard as they can, not caring
    if they break their necks or legs
    Or hurt them in any way as they smash them
    all together onto a truck

    They stack the flats of smashed together dogs
    Dogs that are literally screaming or whimpering
    or yowling in pain
    They stack them on top of each other – five or
    six or eight flats deep – on the back of the truck
    Then drive, apparently sometimes for days,
    never stopping – they don’t intend to ever
    feed or water these animals again—so why bother
    Many of the dogs die enroute from having other
    dogs piled on them
    Or from dehydration or starvation

    Once they get to their destination, the dogs
    are skinned and used for meat–
    Restaurant meat or supermarket meat
    Often, they are still conscious when they’re skinned…
    so, I guess it’s lucky to die enroute.

  6. Bruce Niedt

    Dr. Salia

    You didn’t have to go back to Africa
    but you did, leaving your family
    back in the States while you fulfilled
    your mission. God called you to do this
    you said, and you helped your countrymen
    get the treatment they needed, until
    that terrible affliction, which has killed
    so many thousands there, found you.
    I don’t understand what kind of god
    would let this happen to you,
    but you came home to the States to die,
    all your good work coming to an end.
    I hope they all remember you,
    those who are still alive and healthy
    and owe it to your sacrifice.

  7. Connie Inglis


    I am afflicted
    by the addicted
    who are conflicted
    in their minds.

    They’re unrestricted
    in being inflicted
    as is predicted
    in the finds.

    Sometimes evicted
    but not convicted
    as depicted
    wearing blinds.

    If contradicted
    or maledicted
    for those addicted
    it blows their minds.

  8. Karen H. Phillips

    Day 17
    Write an afflicted poem.

    Nuptial Assault

    Meetings with planner, designer, and florist,
    Fill in my calendar, a matter of course.
    Hydrangeas, tablecloths, taffeta dresses,
    addresses gone wrong, now to sort out the messes.

    Gift registries, swatches, assaulting my brain.
    At least she won’t need help to hold up a train.
    Choose between meats or pricy crab cakes,
    dotted or striped iced layers the chef decorates?

    How will we know to call “indoors,” for weather?
    How do we transport all flowers together?
    Which photographs to place in what room?
    Her dad and I joke (seriously), “All you need is the groom.”

  9. Danielle Wong

    Who Is Afflicted?

    You sit there proud of what sits
    before you, confused by my
    sideways looks and shakes of head.
    Standards and processes
    are my skin, infused in my veins,
    a sprinkling of logic mixed
    with the encyclopedia
    I carry. No one else has
    accessed it, except my sister
    who shares the first five volumes,
    it seems. The other fifteen
    have been lost to all, save close
    friends who have their editions.
    They also pose sideways looks
    and shake their heads in question
    while you sit there proud of what
    sits before you.

  10. James Von Hendy


    Okay, the time has come to admit it:
    I’m afflicted, too,
    Wanting to spread my wings in wider skies,

    Where “previously published” excludes
    Everything we share
    In this beautiful Asides. I’m conflicted.

    Who wouldn’t be among such a flock of friends
    Whose lovely poems
    Grace each prompt’s page, whose kind words of kinship,

    Appreciation, praise, and gentle words
    Are blessings unfound
    Outside the nest-like bounds of this Asides?

    I flap my wings, a fledgling bird, yet grip
    This warm aerie’s edge.
    Of course I know I can have both things,

    So if I’m missing days here and there
    You know why. I’m off,
    But it won’t be long before I return

    To see the magic my friends have wrought,
    To feather their nests
    With my delight, and share a word or two

    Of praise, the gift in turn you’ve given me,
    A kittling updraft
    That has me soar and joy that you soar, too.

  11. bluerabbit47


    I am afflicted
    by avoidance.
    a direction
    and steadfastly
    vowing to
    head there,
    I find my compass
    aiming me
    toward every other
    quarter, simultaneously
    and the more
    I struggle with the helm,
    the more my craft
    yields to the push
    of an alternate breeze.
    The port is still there,
    just within sight.
    Gulls are circling,
    puzzled, overhead
    wondering about
    the fish I ought
    to be catching,
    meandering as I am
    out here. I am
    conflicted about
    my affliction because
    the sun is still
    a little warm
    and the air
    is soft.

  12. hohlwein

    It is minor but familiar
    as I ask myself, “Now what?
    What’s bugging you now?”

    And if I have time
    I make a list.

    This morning it took me a drive of
    twenty miles to get through the list,
    not to think of ways to manage
    or deny or tamp down but just to list.

    Minor things, minor
    but I won’t tell you a single one of them

    except that he …
    and she not me
    and the other he …
    and she ..
    and not me
    oh, he, not mine, never
    and another they they
    they? oy ve
    and another I don’t even know her she
    and many he’s and the nature
    of our nature and the failure throughout
    of love

    and me and another giant question mark
    something about
    the rest of my life
    with one answer
    or others
    but one
    at least
    I know

    as I wander the surface
    of the world

    always trying to learn to love

    at least

  13. Bhumphreys

    You wear your shawl of shame
    To mask a silent sorrow
    Your actions a beacon
    Showing the world a vision
    Taking the path ofte traveled
    Choosing to become something
    Rather than be seen as someone
    Your facade is crumbling
    The many nights adding
    To your resume of pain
    No longer is it just enough to hide
    Your heart has asked for respect
    And your mind wallows in absentia
    How many times can someone
    Be used as a pleasant device
    Before their existence
    Becomes one that they despise?

  14. Domino


    When, as a young girl of eleven,
    spelling was truly a trial,
    Focusing on my affliction
    it was best not to live in denial.

    So, with the help of a primer,
    I made myself learn how to spell.
    (Practice: the heart of all learning,
    and not letting oneself just rebel.)

    Then, taking classes in grammar,
    and learning the structuring ways
    of sentences, paragraphs, pages
    and on to work wording for days.

    Soon I became a grammarian
    who cared so deeply it hurt
    when wounding a sentence (in public!)
    could put me in crisis alert.

    I try not to hurt someone’s feelings
    when truly, they are hurting mine
    by hacking and thrashing the language
    and then acting like everything’s fine.

    Don’t tell me that “you just seen it.”
    Don text “R U ready to go?”
    Don’t tell me that it doesn’t matter.
    It matters to me, don’t you know?

    In a world where folks seem uncaring
    about how to speak and to write
    it truly becomes an affliction
    to live in a world with such blight.

    Diana Terrill Clark

  15. shellcook

    Value Measured

    I feel the pain beneath my skin,
    a thousand needles pushing in
    to tender spots on hands and feet
    I tiredly watch as speeds decrease.

    The amounts of time it took before
    to complete a simple task or chore
    increased tenfold the day we met,
    this virus and I so aptly merged.

    A workaholic, my appointed vice,
    whatever art, I could find to place,
    to build, to draw, to paint, to write,
    a deep seated desire to articulate.

    That person lives, but slow,
    stepping in enough to show
    my measure of dedication
    when the signals are crisp

    and the way is clear.
    Each project, now weighed,
    it’s value measured

    against the heat from my body
    and the fire in my soul.


  16. tunesmiff

    G. Smith (BMI)
    There are things that people struggle through each day,
    Shuffle the deck, let the cards fall where they may.
    There are many things they bring upon themselves;
    Me? I’ve got my own private hell.

    I’m afflicted,
    Addicted to your love;
    I’d stand convicted,
    If you took me to the judge.
    Given the choice,
    I’d raise my voice;
    Nothing I’d rather be instead of

    I don’t know if you know how much that I still care,
    I just know that there’s no way this is fair.
    He’s no good for you, deep inside you know it’s true,
    Yet there doesn’t seem there’s anything that I can do.

    I’m afflicted,
    Addicted to your love;
    I’d stand convicted,
    If you took me to the judge.
    Given the choice,
    I’d raise my voice;
    Nothing I’d rather be instead of

    If there’s a cure, I don’t want it,
    Rehab? I’ll twelve step by it;
    Won’t take parole,
    You have all control,

    I’m afflicted,
    Addicted to your love;
    I’d stand convicted,
    If you took me to the judge.
    Given the choice,
    I’d raise my voice;
    Nothing I’d rather be instead of Afflicted.

  17. JohnLY

    by John Yeo

    The liquid smooth and sweet,
    Slides down to lower the inhibitions to a relaxed state.
    I have another, then more,
    The mellowing effect has tinges of sadness and anger.
    The world has it in for me.

    I enjoy the company of friends, we explore new tastes.
    Different liquids mix and mingle, heightening the effect.
    I sleep, then wake to a warm friendly situation.
    I still feel the effects of the liquid
    My mind is not in control.

    I sense an easy target.
    I explode screaming, hurtful, the damage is done.
    I try to rationalise my sad angry reaction,
    My outburst to a an unconditional love.
    I feel deflated like a hot air balloon.

    I cling to stupidity,
    Irrational, individually interpreted rationality.
    Too late, the perpetual damage is done.
    Other minds took the situation in.
    I feel heavy inside, my moment has left and gone.

    Silence made a mockery of the effect.
    The backlash to my unintelligent thoughtless attack,
    Regret is pushed to the back of my mind.
    I will drown the situation in more liquid.
    I am sure the love is unconditional.

    Copyright © Written br John Yeo ~ All rights reserved

  18. Xairos

    “Th’ newspaper does ivrything f’r us. It […] comforts th’ afflicted, afflicts th’ comfortable […]”
    Observations by Mr. Dooley, by Finley Peter Dunne

    So who are the afflicted, who comfortable?
    Dunne denied the newspapers’ right to such
    lack of objectivity, or to meddle in our lives.

    In seminary, afflicting the already comfy,
    playing the prophet, and being with those in pain,
    was living Christ, like grabbing the world
    by both lapels, one to shake and one caress.

    But listen to Job’s friends, talking at him
    of his afflictions, secretly glad it is he who suffers,
    not they. Listen to them babble, afraid
    his anguished life may be contagious,
    yet pleased they have lived well enough
    to avoid such horrors, have not reached
    for too great a faith, too joyous a love.

    “See,” they say, “God has justly punished you
    for loving and striving for greatness beyond
    what you are cut out for, you’ll remember now
    not to stand out, not to seek the sacred
    so wholeheartedly, Job. Come back to
    being one of us, muddling along. Here,
    let’s see a smile, old fellow, and we’ll lift a pint!”

    “Do you not see these hands shake with tremors?
    Will you admit you hear the tremors, my voice
    betrays my illness. Will you admit my truth?
    Or are you here, blind, just more hallucinations?
    Be silent then, you pretentious prigs.”

    “Now, Job, you must not go on so.”

    Power, Source of all Being, booms. Lightning
    strikes Job’s comfort, his surety that the world
    was created for him alone. “Who are you Job,
    to assume horse, hawk, the world, circle you,
    created to repay your goodness? Did you,
    in your wisdom and delight, create the rhinoceros?”

    I pray only that my comfort be afflicted by truth,
    that my afflictions be comforted by love.

  19. MichelleMcEwen


    Some women,
    like me, just have the blues
    no matter what.

    Even with a good man
    at home and a warm house
    and a full belly

    and a new refrigerator
    and a washer and dryer
    in the basement and a pantry

    like your ma used to have
    in the country and cable
    television and wi-fi

    and books
    and books
    and books

    and fashion magazines

    and yellow wallpaper
    and a juicer and a garden
    full of bell peppers, tomatoes,
    and cucumbers and

    a porch swing
    and screen door

    and two baby boys
    who are as pretty as


  20. Sara McNulty

    Evil Kills

    The families make statements
    to the press,
    or on television
    while their insides
    are torn
    to shreds.
    Son, husband, father,
    one whose presence radiated,
    touched many other lives. Gone.
    Brutal, senseless acts of evil.
    Acts whose consequences
    will remain as suffering
    and pain, every day
    in the minds and hearts
    of those families
    who give statements, and die
    a little more each day.

  21. bxpoetlover

    What Pains Us

    Stepped off the bus
    saw crowds of people
    lining up for the express bus into Manhattan,
    frowning when the announcement was made:

    There is no 6 train service at this time.

    Somebody said someone got hit by a train.

    I called into work to say I wouldn’t be
    coming in and walked the half mile
    home while I talked on the phone
    with my sister, fuming
    about people who keep
    standing close enough to the platform’s

    In searching online for news stories
    about the incident
    somebody wrote a comment
    that what happened was
    the victim had a heart attack,
    fell onto the tracks
    and was run over.

    And I had been ranting, raving.
    Urban inconveniences can turn hearts cold.

    Two days later, on a subway platform
    a man pushed another
    onto the tracks
    the conductor hit the brakes hard
    as he saw the victim flying through the air
    but it was too late to stop
    two subway cars from rolling over him

    With tears in his eyes he stepped out
    to find the body under the third car
    as witnesses screamed and cried, even
    grown men

    The perpetrator, still at large
    His affliction, a mystery

  22. grcran

    stink-eye times two

    afflicted by the stink-eye, that she was
    you might ask why, I might say just because
    she taught fer forty years all her hopes an’ all her fears
    some whiskey helped to ease the pain I guess
    she had it in her eyeballs nonetheless
    ended up legally blind, did the pun’shment fit the crime?
    afflicted by the stink-eye that she was

    *note: my mother-in-law taught and retired, so did I, sorry if we might’ve directed any stink-eye upon any of y’all

    by gpr crane

  23. Tandac

    Pukey Green

    The sea is blue
    But rolls into a
    Pukey green
    As soon as the sun
    Comes out.

    The sky is blue
    But turns into a
    Charcoal grey
    As soon as the smog
    Rolls over the hill.

    My shirt is blue
    But turns into a
    Blotchy brown
    As soon as I spill
    My first cup of coffee.

    My poem is blue
    But turns into a
    Blotchy brown, Charcoal grey, Pukey green
    Poem as soon I speak it aloud.

  24. De Jackson


    She’s only got four walls
    and one of them has bars.
    Not the kind she got busted
    in, drunk and stupid and
    lost again; the kind that
    make the world sort of
    striped. Black and white
    again, not quite so
    muddled gray. She’s got
    this worn Bible in her hand
    and a full-enough belly,
    these four walls
    and a tiny ember in her
    heart that shines bright
    at night on the marks
    on the back wall that say
    she’s only got a few more
    inside these four walls,
    one of them with bars
    wide enough to let in the


  25. krh6496

    His Next Death by Katie H.

    His eyes held such animalistic awareness,
    As if the sentient being had been knocked, shocked out of him,
    And rather than expecting to turn and see a love,
    He saw his next death.

    He saw his next death in front of him at all times,
    Like some misty smoke screen, a watermark on his vision.
    His face glazed burgundy with mud and blood
    Which at this point had become one and the same.
    One as plentiful as the other.

    The hollow creature had once been hallowed.
    The strange creature had once been strong.
    The crippled creature had once grappled with things much larger than he.
    And now how he stares.
    How fragile.

    That is all that comes to mind: how fragile he is.
    What will his next death be? And will his next death be enough to kill him?
    Will he be strangled, shot, drowned, crushed, poisoned, shocked, burned, stabbed, cut in half, blown into bits?
    Will his heart stop of its own will because it cannot endure any more?
    Will his mind betray him and lead him to an early coffin, to be entrenched in the whims of man that has leached into this land?

    How easy it is to kill.
    What innate lack of skill
    Does it take. No creativity.
    Certainly a tedious activity,
    No doubt. Couldn’t be bothered.
    Because I am not, altogether,
    Sure that it achieves ANYTHING.

    When all is said and done,
    A man killed in the name
    Of God or country or valor
    Is no different and quite the same
    As a man with empty veins
    Over food or water or shelter:
    He is gone.

    And you who stand and stare above him,
    Yes, you.
    What are you when you see all the inner workings of man spill out like mud onto the blood?
    What are you when you await your next death every moment?
    What are you when you take a life that was not yours to take?
    You are not a man.
    You are an animal.

    But I suppose you are not to blame.
    I suppose it is the ‘manliest’ of them all we must address.
    The priggish sprigs and outgrowths of our three-boughed tree,
    Which strangle it to resemble a bare coat rack.
    Those predators who attack and attack and attack and attack and …

    Rabid animals all.

  26. Consuelo Montenegro


    From sleep,
    I hear the joy,
    the playful yelp,
    I smile.
    There is fun in the other room.

    I wrestle out
    from under sheet
    to go and play around.

    And I see the upturned butt
    ending at stubby tail.
    The posture of my dobi girl
    when life is at its best.

    And as I turn to see the grin
    I think she’s made a friend.
    But all I see is the wiggling tail
    hanging out her killer mouth.

  27. Consuelo Montenegro

    She Rocks

    Too young.
    Not married.
    And mom cannot let go.

    A picture.
    Shrine really.
    A life-sized daughter portrait
    rocking, rocking, rocking
    in the living room chair.
    She sweetly smiles
    for twenty years
    though dusted every day.
    What she smiles at I cannot tell.

    Mom would gladly follow.
    An the deathly pallor
    in the parlor
    to the ghostly vigil.

    Mom’s leukemia
    taking, taking, taking
    sure to take her,
    what’s left of her,
    And daughter child reaches out
    creaking, loving arms.

    But mom, she fights.

    Yet in the end,

    She rocks no more.
    Her mom has made it home.

  28. Doakley

    An Afflicted Cat

    She was on the lanai as the first thunder crashed,
    sneaking past my chair, looked at me as if she had said,
    don’t worry about me as this storm thrashes about,
    I’ll be checking on something I left under the bed.

    Oh Lacey, you know that thunder won’t get you,
    stay here by me, let me hold you instead.
    Over her shoulder, a furtive glance back,
    then on to that something left under the bed.

    Hours later, the house getting dark
    I turn on a light so that I can see.
    she marches in like she’s never been gone,
    it’s time for you to feed me!


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