2014 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 19

I’m not sure how November always gets away from me so fast. Maybe it’s the beginning of the Market Book cycle; maybe it’s this challenge; but November often seems to be nearly over before I get my bearings on the month.

For today’s prompt, write an excuse poem. People are full of excuses–I’m no different–and sometimes they’re valid; other times, not so much. Write a poem about making excuses, listening to excuses, or hey, maybe excuse someone for making them.


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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 Excuse poem:


i used the last one an hour ago
on my homework that did not
materialize when i had hoped

it would and now here you are
asking me where i was when
you waited all night & avoided

dancing with the guys who
asked & there were many
because you were saving

your dancing feet for me &
me alone & i know i’ve used
them so often in the past

but i’ve completely run dry


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 knows all about excuses from first-hand experience and realizes they’re often lacking. His five little poets often remind him that excuses are not the same as making good choices and performing the right actions.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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168 thoughts on “2014 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 19

  1. Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    by juanita lewison-snyder

    postcard arrived
    along with the millionth reason why
    you can’t come, this time
    the time before
    the next time yet to come.
    i wish you would just say it
    own the words
    own your soul
    own up to what we’ve become.
    this hurt you think you’re avoiding
    already took root long ago
    when i was naive
    and you weaker than
    the original

    © 2014 by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

  2. seingraham


    It was the family motto, a legend almost
    and they all knew it, and abided by it
    “There’s no excuse for bad behaviour”
    Whether it meant treating someone
    discourteously, or less than charitably
    Or in a manner, you knew you would
    not like to be treated yourself

    Then came a day, when one of them
    began to feel a creeping malaise
    That something just wasn’t right
    And she didn’t know how to express
    her feelings without sounding
    whiney so she never said anything

    Until something happened, something
    minor, so minor – no-one knew what
    it was…
    And the one feeling slighted, the one
    feeling that things weren’t right
    Fell off the map, went somewhere dark
    and from there, shot invisible nets
    of steel around herself, and
    everyone she wanted to protect

    The others, having no idea about what
    was going on – were flummoxed
    They wondered if the one upset had lost
    her mind; the change was so unexpected
    and radical
    And she was not responding to any of their
    overtures to discover what was wrong
    In fact – quite the opposite
    She was putting up stronger and thicker
    walls, daily.

    There were no excuses for this kind of
    behaviour, some of her family thought,
    and said
    But as time went on and there was no
    way to get to this person
    Some of them began to wonder…

  3. Yolee

    My Excuse

    Because I was on a road trip wanting desperately
    for the cornflaked, burnt-orange and blood
    red leaves to show me their to sense.

    I wanted to be a first draft
    of a whimsical day; cruise by the scenry
    and mislead expectation.

    I wanted my head-out-the-window
    to feel the cool whispers of dawn,
    and let musings grab a coat
    from evening’s well-lit closet.

    I wanted my bones to ache
    from the absence of writing;
    hold up for poems
    the way I’m supposed to wait
    till after supper for chocolate pudding.

  4. Danielle Wong


    I tell you I’m waiting.
    You tell me you’ll give it
    tomorrow. Tomorrow
    comes and goes.
    I tell you I’m waiting.
    You tell me it’s done.
    So where is it?
    It’s not important to build, you say.
    Not important to give what you know
    is what I’ve been waiting for?
    OK. Sure. Not the first time
    you and the others
    have performed this blatant
    You leave me no choice.
    Goodbye to you all.
    Why? you ask.
    Why would I commit such a heinous crime?
    Why would I leave their exciting world of internal power struggles?
    Oh, if you haven’t caught on,
    I am leaving
    your office is just
    too far away.

  5. Walt Wojtanik


    Pinch me.
    It’s been one week,
    and you haven’t run away.
    You’ve had every chance to leave,
    But every subway car comes
    full circle. Starting where it ends;
    ending where it starts.
    Just like lover’s hearts.
    She’s on time, and I’m
    stuck in the old apartment.
    A call to her that she
    wouldn’t answer. I saw it coming.
    Another postcard. A boxed set.
    A book of regrets that gets
    painful to read. Indeed,
    if I had a $1000000,
    I’d buy her love; make her the one!
    Lovers in a dangerous time…
    it’s all been done!

  6. Bruce Niedt

    10 Reasons Why I Haven’t Been Writing Poetry Lately

    Because I’ve been playing Candy Crush and binge watching Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.
    Because my work will never meet the impossible standards of the great poets of our time.
    Because I have to focus more on that novel I’ve been writing for twenty years.
    Because I have bills and child care and a regular job and chores and….
    Because I’m waiting for my muse to come by and kick me in the butt.
    Because I ran out of metaphors and have to order a new box.
    Because my dog ate my rhyming dictionary.
    Because my computer’s on the fritz.
    Because I’m out of ideas.
    Because I’m lazy.

  7. angieinspired

    “Sonnets Should Be So Easy”

    But sonnets are hard.
    That’s why I
    Don’t write them.
    Iambic pentameter,
    A structure, a meter,
    da-Duh, da-Duh
    A dummie am I.
    Or is it, a dummie am I?
    Yes and yes!
    The syllables count.
    Rhyme the lines
    Unstressed then stress.
    I’m under duress!

    There’s a little white
    Dog breaking through
    Snow. Go, dog, Go!
    Ah– but that looks easy.

  8. deringer1


    So what excuse is it this time?
    You cannot concentrate?
    or cannot find a rhyme?

    I want to write–it’s true,
    but, pen in hand,
    I find it’s all that I can do

    to find ideas in my head.
    How strange that what I love
    is what I seem to dread.

    The hard-drive that I call my brain
    seems very full just now,
    and simply will not entertain

    the thought of thinking any more!
    Tomorrow I will write–for sure!

  9. Xairos

    This morning the motley-faced kitten
    sat by my bed and mewed,
    “I’m sorry I stank up the litter box,
    it just seems to happen that way.”

    Coffee-break time, a winter-drab Goldfinch
    clutching the thistle bag twittered,
    “I’m sorry I look so dull, no clear yellow and black.
    It just seems to happen that way.”

    After lunch I bumped the Orbweaver’s web,
    spun below the light. She scuttled down and waved,
    “I’m sorry my web’s got in your hair —
    it just seems to happen that way.”

    At dusk as I went for the mail, a gray fox yipped,
    “I’m sorry I ate all your grapes last month.
    I was scratching for bugs when I smelled them;
    it just seems to happen that way.”

    I study the winter moon rising,
    soft blankets pulled up to my chin,
    imagine I’m praying, “I’m sorry,
    it just seems to happen that way.”

  10. MichelleMcEwen


    I’m sorry
    I couldn’t make it
    to your wedding—
    it was on a Saturday
    and on Saturdays
    I like to pick my ‘fro
    and water my plants
    and cook my grits
    and write some poems
    and call my folks
    and paint my toes
    and fantasize ’bout my own
    while they dry.
    Plus, my sinuses
    always be bothering me
    on Saturday—

  11. JohnLY

    NO EXCUSE???
    by John Yeo

    My excuse for living today,
    Rests firmly in the here and now,
    My partner and very best friend
    Is here sharing every step of the way.

    We face the rigours of age and decay
    With no other weapons but faith.
    Faith that my friend and I
    Will overcome anything in our way.

    Our families touch our lives,
    Entwined and part of us both.
    As we gracefully age together
    With love and acceptance to all.

    My soulmate and I together,
    We built our lives with care.
    I look and I smile whenever
    I turn round and she is there.

    We tackle the rocky path together
    Without regret or despair.
    We need no excuse for each other
    Acceptance is always there.

    I turn and I look at Margaret
    We will always be happy together
    Without a single regret to share,
    No excuse required.

    Copyright © Written by John Yeo, All rights reserved

  12. shellcook


    Can you excuse me?
    I cannot seem to write today.

    I cannot tell you why.
    I have put it off all day.

    I could give you some excuse,
    but it would be a lie.

    So I can give you nothing,
    just the truth and how things lay.


  13. Karen H. Phillips

    Day 19
    Write an excuse poem.

    No Excuse

    Yes, it’s stressful,
    sure, I traveled four out of the last
    six days;
    but that doesn’t allow for snapping or yelling,
    on the way to a wedding planner appointment.
    Thank You, Lord, and thank you, hubs,
    thank you, daughter, for forgiveness of this tense tired
    momzilla of the bride.

  14. Sara McNulty


    What a sorry human being,
    narrow vision – what’s he seeing
    except himself always fleeing
    from situations, from people needing
    a helping hand–they might be bleeding,
    but he walks right by, hears no pleading.
    Too afraid his time is fleeting
    so on he goes, and keeps repeating
    the same behavior, so people read him
    as a poor excuse for a human being.

  15. Sally Jadlow

    Indulgent Motherhood

    “He’s an innocent victim,”
    she said as she patted his arm
    and smiled.
    Another, in a long litany
    she constantly rehearsed
    to excuse his obnoxious behavior,
    his insolent tongue,
    and his boorish habits.

    Perhaps he IS a victim—
    of her incessant excuses,
    her blind eye,
    and her lack of discipline.

  16. Heather


    When you go home at night
    think upon your day
    do you ask yourself
    if you made a difference?
    I’m not talking about
    meeting basic needs
    performing to a
    minimum expected standard.
    Did you go above
    and beyond?
    Did you push yourself,
    your client,
    your team,
    to really go for broke?
    Or did you let
    something insignificant
    get in the way?
    What’s your excuse
    for hiding in the shadows?

    ~also published on http://heatherbutton.com/2014/11/19/excuse-a-poem/

  17. Bhumphreys

    Your bitterness smears across
    Our daily interactions,
    Another day standing by the copier
    Waiting for someone to approach.
    Never before has
    “”How are you doing today?”
    Been such a harrowing
    And unwanted politeness.
    Regale us of your struggle;
    How perfect things would be
    If they would just fall your way!
    A miserable monotone
    Lathering spectators in
    Your insecurity and injustice.
    It pains us all to hear you
    Not out of sorrow for your plight;
    But because of our inability to get away.
    Your reasoning?
    “You asked me how I was doing.
    That’s on you.”

  18. PKP


    She found them in the basket
    Right behind the laundry door
    A smiling teensy thong waiting
    Dropped winking on the floor
    Nothing too unusual
    Nothing too bizarre
    But for sagging post-baby
    bouncing belly large above
    Her still red C-section scar

  19. bxpoetlover


    as a little girl on
    Saturday mornings
    I sang along
    with the theme song
    to Fat Albert
    so glad to see
    kids who looked like me

    as a teen I was transfixed on
    Thursday nights–
    a prosperous family
    that fought for justice
    valued education
    and loved each other.
    I wanted to be Clair.
    again, they looked like me

    And now with
    story after story being told
    of rape
    I have to wonder
    what is Cosby’s

  20. shethra77

    The Excuse

    I did not write this poem, and
    I might not write it tomorrow.
    Why? I don’t know.
    I think it is because
    many years ago
    bits of my brain trickled out my ears,
    and the beans I replaced them with rolled out,
    so I put in the rocks because I figured
    Hey! Rocks are rough, and they’ll catch
    on everything and stay.
    Wrong. Now
    I have to go through life with
    a complete insufficiency of brain,
    desperately trying to do what I could do
    easily in third grade but is
    freaking hard right now. Oh,
    how I miss my
    little brain.
    Oh, and by the way,
    don’t even get me started about
    my muse.

    Shethra Jones Hoopes

  21. Mike

    You were busy.
    I forgot to turn on my phone.
    You didn’t notice the time.
    I didn’t realize you were still talking.
    You didn’t remember the grocery list.
    I forgot you were allergic to spinach.
    You didn’t set the alarm.
    I neglected to tell you I’d be home late.
    And here we are.
    This isn’t getting us anywhere.
    Can we start over?
    Wipe the slate clean?
    Let’s declare an excuse truce.

  22. Hazel_Mist

    She Needed A Ride Home

    You lie
    and cheat
    You smile
    and wink

    You claim that you didn’t
    want to go to the bar
    You claim that you didn’t
    flirt and take it too far
    You claim that you didn’t
    take her in(to) your car

    No, you had to go for your friend
    No, you had to be nice to her
    No, you had to drive her home

    You lie
    and cheat
    You smile
    and wink

    Am I once again falling for that grin?
    That horrible trick always lets you win
    I don’t find it fair, I don’t find it kind
    But maybe… Sure, I don’t mind

  23. uneven steven


    Sophocles still

    Antigone hiding her brother’s
    hamster in the microwave
    wanted to be pretty, idealistic
    and brave

    Who turned it on
    she thought she knew

    Poor Ismene
    having to pick between
    her father the dolt
    or burying her brother –
    wealth, prestige,
    her pick of the boys
    or digging in ditches,
    in prison, a slave

    They always thought she protested too much,
    that chorus of repetition singing in her ears

    Be a bit player in a raging throng
    or a persecuted heroine on a funeral pyre

    There’s no excuse for not taking a side, she thought
    choose or some kingly writer will surely choose for you

  24. taylor graham


    Ancient poet, words encrusted
    like scaled skin, carapace ringing ever
    wider, the keratin crevices,
    moon rising between,

    or a saint armored by faith
    that lost its words ages ago, eyes
    nictated shut to look inside

    measuring the world by
    increments, each toe-hold in time,
    without excuse.

    (on “Turtle,” a pastel in the EDAC Gallery)

    1. Meriadoc

      Just being myself, Hannah.

      Can’t cry if it happily turns itself into a theme.

      (I notice many of the most seasoned on here tend to do just that.)

      If anything I said touched you, I am most pleased. After all that is what we are here for.

      But to be perfectly Honest, I do nothing of myself.

  25. Hannah


    Bloom turning inward
    her seeds don’t seek an excuse,
    readying for rest
    Queene Anne bows her graceful head –
    crowned beauty of summer breaths.

    Copyright © Hannah Gosselin 2014

  26. tunesmiff

    G. Smith (BMI)
    Everyone, it seems, is full of demons;
    Sometimes you’ll find an angel or two.
    And I’ve got feelings I don’t have the names for;
    But I never knew about them until you.
    I never knew about them until you.

    Now mine is a scared and wild heart;
    Scared and scarred,
    From a life lived hard.
    And yours is a mystery to me;
    How can it be,
    You want me to see,
    You want me to see.

    So won’t you excuse the excuse?
    You know I could use
    A little break,
    I made a mistake;
    But I’m just a man,
    Doing what I can;
    Doing what I can.
    Is it not enough?

    I learned not to set my heart on anything,
    Just to take things as they came;
    Never linger on the name,
    Or let the ember flare to flame;
    Let the ember ffare; let the ember flare.

    Joy can be joy,
    Sorrow can be sorrow;
    Today doesn’t cancel yesterday,
    But it colors our tomorrows;
    All of our ttomorrows.

    So won’t you excuse the excuse?
    You know I could use
    A little break,
    I made a mistake;
    But I’m just a man,
    Doing what I can;
    Doing what I can.
    Is it not enough?

    Sometimes it’s best to keep things to yourself;
    But you know you can’t,
    You know you can’t!
    You can’t, you know?
    You know you can’t.

  27. victoriahunter

    My Excuse for Being With a Jerk

    Much too deep to be alone, and easily bored in my own home,
    I’m use to having someone to hold at night, that’s bigger than me
    my heart is really turning black, and barely beating
    he said things to me, that I’ve only said to me,
    when loneliness started to kill me
    something like a sweet little demon,
    that’s sitting on my shoulder, would say to me,
    like “You can do it, I know you can. Do it for me”

    — Victoria Hunter

  28. shellkaysm

    The Inexcusable Excuse
    (a Cascade poem )

    Excuses are sugar-coatings,
    to cover uncensored truths.
    Like an oxymoron spoken by a true moron,
    excuses are not excusable as proper apologies.

    Just as faux bandages
    manufactured to entice the mind
    from what lies underneath,
    excuses are sugar-coatings.

    Excuses (valid or not) are deflective
    and thus are not excusable,
    but defective, as apologies
    to cover uncensored truths.

    There’s no worthy excuse worth
    making excuses for what was done
    or said, failed to do or say:
    like an oxymoron spoken by a true moron.

    If you didn’t really mean it (at least
    on some level), you wouldn’t have said
    or done it in the first place, now would you?
    Excuses are not excusable as proper apologies.


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