2014 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 18

It’s a Tuesday, which means we’ve got two prompts today:

  1. Write a sweet poem.
  2. Write a sour poem.


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 a Sweet and/or Sour poem:


I love to eat Thai food,
because it tastes so good.

I love the sweet and sour
chicken with the sauce poured

over veggies and rice.
Mmmm. Thai for lunch sounds nice.


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 really does love eating sweet and sour chicken at Thai restaurants. He also favors writing rhyming poems when he’s not sure what to write. The rhymes get his brain turning, especially on cold November mornings.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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241 thoughts on “2014 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 18

  1. Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    Sweet and Sour
    by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    I’m in love with Cantonese,
    the hubster prefers Mandarin
    but it seems we can’t agree
    on the best sweet & sour din.

    Is it white or rice vinegar,
    apple cider or balsamic
    that gives that sour an edge
    and acidifies with a kick?

    And is it white sugar or brown
    and pineapple vs. plum
    that best sweetens the sauce
    with that familiar signature yum?

    I think it’s the Worcestershire
    hubster swears it’s the soy
    that throws it’s sodium weight around
    like a bully rocking a toy

    Some sauces are thin and watery
    others honey comb thick,
    some the color of amber
    others the scarlet of Nick.

    Beef, pork, chicken, or fish
    all it takes is a toss
    baked, broiled, battered or fried
    all is better with sauce!

    © 2014 by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

  2. seingraham


    Say you could order only
    that which you truly desired
    The same way you might
    when ordering take-out
    Chinese food

    Say you would only get
    the sweet things,
    suggesting you would
    like to pass on the sour

    But really, does anyone
    ever only get sweet
    Don’t we all want a bit
    of sour to take
    the edge of all that
    sugary sweetness

    One could overdose
    on too much goo
    and goodness
    Become diabetic
    if you think about it

    Throw in some sour
    Or how about this
    Sweet ‘n sour
    chicken balls….
    Then you have it all

    Isn’t that what most
    of us want –
    To have it all…

  3. Yolee

    Aug 1 2014

    After we waited nearly 24 hours, after the nurse
    warned us that they might ask 1 or all 4 of us
    to leave, after we ate healthy salads and then turned
    to junk food, after we paced new green carpeting
    with restless legs and old flooring with twitchy
    thoughts, after we played silly games, after she
    went blue because her head got stuck, after
    the-large-and-in-charge mid-wife pulled
    and stretched her tender neck and tiny head,
    after they whisked her away, after the heart
    stopped and started again, after we heard
    her first cry came the sweet,
    the oh so honeyed sweet.

  4. Bruce Niedt

    Sweet and Sour

    Sugar and vinegar,
    pepper, pineapple,
    these are ingredients
    with which I grapple.
    Making a recipe
    or divining your mood,
    I proceed gingerly
    with love or with food,
    to get the right mix
    and the ultimate taste,
    because if I can’t fix it,
    it all goes to waste.

  5. James Von Hendy

    Rose-breasted Grosbeak

    When my mother died a kind of mercy
    flew down from the trees.
    By then her feeders had long been empty,

    and she lay in a nursing home unable
    to move save her eyes
    and a finger, her voice and dry wit gone.

    It had been a long time coming, a slow,
    atrophy, her body locking away

    her untouched mind a muscle at a time,
    a full withering,
    near the end, wracking her wasted muscles

    against the unyielding bones of her slight
    frame, an agony
    to see her body arched in pain, her eyes

    darting frantically toward the clock,
    counting the minutes
    until her next dose of morphine, the white

    vapor that curled into her tracheal tube
    like smoke, what she was
    becoming before our eyes, tenacious

    vacancy already gone, but unable
    to let herself go.
    Before her voice left her she told me once

    she dreamed she rose from her bed and could walk,
    that she crossed the hills
    to home and sat by her window to watch

    as the rose-breasted grosbeaks flew down to feed.
    She wondered how
    birds so brightly hued flew up and vanished

    like smoke into the willows. If she could
    she would have flown up
    with them to see, but on the gray, wet day

    we buried her on a Pennsylvania hill
    we didn’t think of birds,
    but how, the body gone, one disappears.

    Still, when I flew back to California,
    a kind of mercy
    flew down from the trees: below out feeders

    for a day, far beyond its normal range,
    a rose-breasted grosbeak
    graced our deck, tenacious, so like my mom.

    1. BDP

      Jame: breathtakingly lovely and achingly heartbreaking. I like the form you’ve used here, the longer, shorter, longer three-lined stanza, like breaths and heartbeats, like surging pain or medication slowly helping as pain is still there but ebbs, too. And the rose-breasted grosbeak, ‘for a day, far beyond its normal range” gracing the deck tenaciously–a tribute to your mother. So well done. Barb

  6. shethra77


    Lemons and vinegar flavor my life,
    memories tarnished where you used to shine.
    Remembering those times now corks the wine.
    It adds a new cut, again twists the knife.
    I never knew it when I was bereft:
    did not see your heart move slowly away.
    But you made it clear you were done, and left.
    Never did know why, and you wouldn’t say.
    Memory someday will lose its ache; then
    honey and sweet wine will flow once again.


    the only sweets
    people could have were
    fruits and honey.

    Then there were
    sugar beets, sugar cane,
    and sweet potatoes.
    Tree sap.

    Later on, folks discovered all the
    lovely flavors to add sugar to.
    Things like:

    Just imagine a peasant enjoying
    her first chocolate,
    almond nougat,
    licorice whip, or

    I was that peasant, and
    you were the most
    wonderful candy

    You are always
    my sweetest

    Shethra Jones Hoopes

  7. Sally Jadlow

    Sweet Poem


    The scent of a newborn,
    new-mown hay.
    The air after a rainstorm,
    the gentle breath of a lover.
    “Grandma” spoken with joy.
    A fireplace on a cold winter day.
    Each season has a special sweetness
    to be savored.

  8. Bhumphreys

    Spend some time with me
    Learn my favorite food
    Cuddle with me under a blanket
    Laughing out loud
    At the newest Lonely Island;
    Where has our time together gone?
    Why won’t you do what I ask?
    Where do you spend your evenings these days?
    Are you not entertained?
    Why won’t you just Tweet me one more time….

  9. grcran

    Purrty Sweet Versus Sourpuss

    Three cats I came to know o’er these last six years or so
    And two are sweet: Meet Nemo, Doctor Dobbs
    The third is Bin… last name: Laden… no, it’s not a game
    My daughter named him that… well, just because
    Bin tortured other two, when she named him, well, you knew
    He would visit horrors on fellow felines
    When it came around to that, you might say he’s just a cat
    If y’all think it’s allegoric, raise your steins
    How it happened at this time, we moved out of there and I’m
    Taking Dobbs and Nemo halfway across town
    Call them sissies call them wuss but they ain’t no sourpuss
    And Bin Laden’s left alone and feeling down
    Maybe bullies should take heed, live the let live, not the greed
    Let the sweet ones to their decent civil ways
    And so Nemo yes and Dobbs will go on to proper jobs
    Killing mice and making purr ti-doodle-days

    by gpr crane

  10. LeeAnne Ellyett

    the smile on my grand daughter’s lips,
    a dimple on one side,

    the pout on my grand daughter’s lips,
    a tremble into a cry,

    Sweet and Sour Smiles,
    Grand daughter style.

  11. Pat Walsh

    Sweet and Sour
    by Patrick J. Walsh

    on the TV above the bar
    in the Chinese restaurant
    the President took questions
    from members of the press

    they seemed uncertain
    whether or not to laugh
    when he showed them a photo
    of himself as a toddler in the tub

    he just smiled sweetly
    appearing genuinely sincere
    in what seemed an attempt
    to put the reporters at ease

    the press for its part
    seemed utterly without guile
    in its deference for the office
    if not for the man

    yet however sweet
    their interaction seemed
    there was some sour note
    of tension in the air

    as both sides hinted
    that each were possessed
    of that great American vice
    the lack of toughness

    and when the waiter arrived
    to take my order
    I absentmindedly replied
    sweet and sour, chicken

  12. JohnLY


    by John Yeo

    An apple tree stands in seasonal splendour
    Starkly denuded in Winter.

    In Spring young buds appear
    Bursting into small green leaves.
    A sweet heady smell of blossom,
    Attracts insects and small birds
    Feeding off sweet tasting nectar
    Pollinating neighbouring apple trees.
    A delight to the eye and the senses

    Birds sing sweetly building nests
    Bees with sweet honey in hives below.
    The blossom falls swirling, sweeping
    To the ground under the branches.
    Mixing with Spring flowers creating
    A sweet smelling floral carpet below.

    Small green apples begin to form
    As late Summer merges with Autumn.
    Soon full grown apples, sour to the taste
    Are harvested and distilled with oceans of
    Sweet, sticky gooey sugar blotting out
    The natural sharp sour taste.

    The leaves begin to fall with Autumn winds
    An apple tree tree stands starkly denuded
    As wild wet stormy Winter comes again.

    Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.

  13. tunesmiff

    G. Smith (BMI)
    Now I love your country cooking,
    Ànd the way you whomp things up;
    And destroy the entire kitchen making one-dish dinner;
    Southern fried and sweet iced tea,
    There’s no beating your home-made grub;
    But Chinese is heaven for this dining sinner.
    Sweet and sour will always be a winner,
    Chinese is heven for this dining sinner.

    Now I can eat Italian,
    And Tex-Mex is up there, too;
    Cajun’s alright most of the time,
    (If it’s got the perfect roux).
    I don’t much care for French food,
    Though the dressing’s not that bad;
    But sweet and sour is just about
    The best thing I’ve ever had.

    Sweet and sour chicken,
    Sweet and sour pork;
    Wanna try the chop sticks?
    Or wanna use a fork?

    Lo mein, chow mein,
    Egg too young;
    Shrimp toast, egg roll,
    My song’s about sung.

    Chop suey, pepper steak,
    Mongolian beef;
    Wontons, fortune cookies,
    (Something’s in your teeth).

    While I love your country cooking,
    Ànd the way you whomp things up;
    And destroy the entire kitchen making one-dish dinner;
    Southern fried and sweet iced tea,
    There’s no beating your home-made grub;
    But Chinese is heaven for this dining sinner.
    Sweet and sour will always be a winner,
    Chinese is heven for this dining sinner.

  14. BDP

    “Why Choose Sour?”

    A woman who’s self-banished from your town,
    you paint each portrait perfectly: the shed
    attached to house, worn shiplap, barn red
    wood knots. Correct in each stroke, hue, and now,
    the umpteenth visit, you’ve come back to vow
    to never come again. Stare at the wide
    front lawn, the attic’s dormer windows. Hide
    all you want from the three floors, you’re alone

    in your head. Draw Dali drips. Melt those scenes,
    emotions are unsteady counter eggs,
    change bitterness and round your anger out.
    Your long dead pup’s alive and peonies
    turn sweet with blooms. Life: what to keep on pegs
    is your choice, what to use for healing grout.

    –Barb Peters

  15. bxpoetlover

    Sweet and Sour

    One morning on my way to work
    I boarded a bus, quickly sat,
    glad to be out of the cold
    when the sour odor of old urine
    assaulted my nose.
    I looked around for its source–
    it was a woman

    she sat several rows in front of me
    in dirty clothes.
    She looked straight ahead
    the whole time and
    kept smoothing down her hair.

    We passengers complained
    covered our noses
    wished the bus to plow through traffic
    faster and wondered why the driver
    didn’t call the police

    After 10 long minutes we arrived.
    I rushed off the bus.
    Fresh air is sweet.

    I asked myself where that woman
    would ultimately go
    I would have inquired
    except my train was coming and
    I had to get to work.

  16. Karen H. Phillips

    Day 18
    Write a sweet poem and/or a sour poem.

    Sweet Music

    Whether traditional wedding march,
    “Trumpet Voluntaire,” or Stevie Wonder,
    nothing’s sweeter than whatever’s playing
    when the bride bursts into a radiant smile,
    puts her arm through her dad’s,
    and makes that charming stroll down the aisle.

  17. Sara McNulty

    Sweet and Sour


    Dark chocolate
    covered marzipan–
    almond paste
    fills your mouth.
    Still, nothing is sweeter than
    cuddling with your dog.


    Have you ever crunched
    a kosher
    dill pickle?
    Briny juices spill on tongue.
    Yum, your lips pucker.

  18. De Jackson

    Pondering Broken

    She is still holding together
    the jagged edges of her own
    breath, savaging pieces
    of her song.

    But this morning the sky
    was just a little fuller,
    and the strawberries she sliced
    into her Cheerios
    tickled her tongue.


          1. Meriadoc

            It’s only the Truth.

            I don’t usually critique here in any way, because I am not qualified; but your work is Astounding.

          1. Meriadoc

            Completely changed the tenor.

            Like when I first read one of Robert’s where the “Bells became Stars?”

            I read bench wrong, I thought it said beach.

            It completely transformed the beginning Verse.

          2. Meriadoc

            I think if I had participated in the Remix Challenge, that’s all I would have done. Just the first Verse, with only the one change.

            Just One Letter.

    1. De Jackson

      Boooo. Wrote in actual pen today, and typed in quickly to post. Typo.
      Proper poem is:

      Pondering Broken

      She is still holding together
      the jagged edges of her own
      breath, salvaging pieces
      of her song.

      But this morning the sky
      was just a little fuller,
      and the strawberries she sliced
      into her Cheerios
      tickled her tongue.


  19. De Jackson

    the inevitability of kissing you goodbye

    at some randomly chosen
    (unbeknownst to me)
    point in time,
    my name
    a sourball
    on your tongue.

    now i’m just sitting here,
    thinking it’s
    about time
    I spit


  20. taylor graham


    A skull-shaped cloud floats
    changing as clouds do

    but so slowly,
    I can’t see it happen.
    White as sheep

    yet sweet with a hint
    of rain to
    water this parched land-

    scape, a cloud
    soft and porous as bone-
    casque absorbing moisture

    from earth, breathing in
    and out with
    the wind, the spirals

    of weather and
    evolving sky. I think it
    became an angel.

  21. Hannah

    Bedtime Story-Journeying into Narnia

    Eyes peer ears listen…
    through wardrobe doors into furs,
    snow-laden land – lamp –
    Faun’s dropped parcels, tea and toast,
    tales, flute song and a secret.

    Copyright © Hannah Gosselin 2014

    1. Meriadoc

      Once my Niece and my Son went into my closet.

      I asked what the heck they thought they were doing in there.

      There were certainly no fur coats, but you can probably guess what they were looking for…

  22. LaraEckener


    The tartest cherries, most prized
    for their color and taste, and the juice
    that drips down men’s chins,
    grow in the deepest woods
    at the knife’s edge where
    the canyon wall meets emptiness.
    Women are not supposed to collect
    them. Women are supposed to have them
    brought to their doors, already
    cleaned and baked into
    something safe.

    Rose has thorns of her own,
    doesn’t believe in safe,
    and so she throws on the cloak
    her grandmother made her
    that reflects her quarry and her name,
    goes in search of the fruit
    that will elevate her from apprentice
    to virtuoso. With worry
    the men warn her away, tell her
    the woods are deep and dark.
    None of them ever thought to notice
    that so was she.


    It wasn’t her color,
    but the commotion of the others
    that gave her scent away. Helpless,
    they lamented. Dangerous,
    others intoned. We won’t be held
    , went up the cry.
    And his mouth watered as he imagined
    taking all of that responsibility
    onto himself. It was the place
    of the darkness to bring the light
    back down to a respectable,
    learned glow.

    He stalked her
    up and down the ridge,
    trying to make himself harmless
    and small, and licked his lips
    as she tried the fruit, imagining
    what the juice would taste like.
    In reliable dark
    he attacked from the side,
    hoping the comfort of her cape
    would obscure her peripheral vision,
    and learned too late that
    even an obscene light
    was sharp and dark at the edges.

  23. Danielle Wong

    Sweet and Sour

    Sweet is the day I started.
    Sweet is the day I came.
    Sweet is the day of desire.
    Sweet is the day of claim.

    Sour is the day you departed.
    Sour is the day of shame.
    Sour is the day of retire.
    Sour is my heart renamed.

  24. still nights

    Strawberry Sweet

    Lately I cannot get enough strawberries
    their aroma
    their flavor
    so divinely sweet
    so evocative of summer
    hot sun on my skin
    birds singing
    and the smell of the strawberry leaves
    as I move through the patch
    finding the tiny treasures
    and reaching up for a languid stretch
    under the bright blue sky

    strawberries reminiscent of children playing
    tickling giggles
    hide and go seek
    and birthday parties with angel food cake
    strawberry Dairy Queen sundaes
    licked off a spoon slowly
    to savour the syrupy strawberry sweetness

    a bowl awaits me on this cold November night
    I will taste the sweetness
    and return to summer
    forgetting the howling wind
    and icy air
    forgetting the greyness
    as I look at the bring pinky red berries
    and taste the sun

  25. shellcook

    Sunshine And You

    Sweetness incarnate,
    you sit across from me
    wearing a blue plastic headband
    with a card stuck smack in the middle

    of your forehead, unwrinkled,
    above dancing brown eyes.
    Mischief ensues as they
    crinkle up in the corners and

    glitter with unshed tears
    brought on by gales
    of six year old hilarity.
    You have changed my life.

    Though you will not know this,
    You turn bitter into sweet
    and push away my fears.
    You are my sunshiny day.

    That’s an awful powerful force
    for one wee little man.


  26. ina

    Sharing today’s earworm with you-all….


    This one pink dress doesn’t have
    spit up stains or snags.
    My husband is wearing a tie.
    The breaded calamari is a hushed color,
    as quiet as the tables and candles,
    They’ve served it with a wedge of lime,
    bright green, sharp on the tongue,
    unnatural in its clarity,
    a focus for eyes
    while we relearn one another.


    “Don’t judge motherhood by its pies,”
    she says as she unboxes the coconut cream.
    Marie Callender’s is fine when
    you’re role modeling : bringing home
    the bacon and frying it,
    making the dresses and wearing the pants.
    The pie might be boxed,
    but the taste becomes the taste of home,
    just like any other.

  27. anna4now

    Canned Sour-cherry In the Setting Sun

    I have to open the canned sour-cherry
    the last one my favorite delicious dessert
    sharp-edged leaves sprout out of the glass
    as wrought iron travesties breaking themselves
    out from the mirror-sediment I turn the glass
    and my fingers foul into the feral stolons
    I jerk it back with a shudder it shines on without a lurch
    though I’ve protected it from the dust I’ve kept it for
    wheat-golden moments for the most precious memories
    it’s infected now with mishappen and monstruos
    roses thorn- and mulberry-bushes sibyls and harpies
    they all suck away the lush from the sweet body of cherries
    I wouldn’t dream of touching it if I weren’t poor
    as a church mouse and famished for friendship
    I take a deep breath and start weeding with an
    urban weakling’s laziness but with a true survivor’s
    vehemence and perseverance I pull out the slender
    vermins from the glass-wounds one slimy root after another
    no mercy but it’s no use my hoe brakes I take the diamond one
    still no result this crooked glass is too solid and thick the weeds
    too tricky I’m bleeding I still don’t give up start pulling with my
    teeth and nails no time to argue this glass is only mine
    my only pleasure by the time I’m done the sun is going down
    the glass reflects the one-eye of the panting sunset with the
    city’s smoke-cloud and all that it enlarges my loneliness as
    a magnifying glass I’m blinded by the quintessential composition
    I take off the can’s lid with a scrunch I shield my face from the
    stench of the festering tatters I wouldn’t taste it for all the money
    in the world I’m standing in the footsteps of the setting sun
    behind my disappearing shadow holding with a fake sweet smile
    in my hand the cherry can that’s rotten from your betrayal
    I had to open the canned sour-cherry I had to I had to
    the last one my favorite delicious dessert our strong friendship
    now decomposing of your treachery it was my only treasury
    and now I let it slip down down down from my hand
    I let it be smashed into a thousand pieces on the gray tiles
    and I’m panting for the yet sprinkling light fearing from the night
    when my insomnia would fall asleep and new weeds would grow
    out from these loathsome splinters and cursed pieces of hope

  28. Consuelo Montenegro


    I sit here at this hour,
    Feeling rather dour,
    An accident I almost had,
    And the gym went rather bad.
    I’m just sitting here as sour.


    Right now I can’t relate to sweet.
    It sailed away in fleet.
    I know it’s there,
    I do not know where,
    I’m not ready for its saccharine treat.


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