2014 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 21

For today’s prompt, pick a direction on the compass, make it the title of your poem, and write that poem. North, South, West, and East are easy directions. Then, there’s Southwest, Northeast, and so on. Then, there are the directions that are completely invented.


Today Is Seriously Your Last Chance to Enter!

Writer’s Digest has extended the deadline to their Writer’s Digest Poetry Awards competition to November 21. And 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, though only if you enter.

Click to learn more.


Here’s my attempt at a Direction on the Compass poem:


i was born in an ice fort
guarded by snow men

without the luxury of
a princess to let it go


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 loves all the directions on his compass, but one his all-time favorite moments was when one of his boys said, “Daddy is my compass.” That thought guides him to this day.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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252 thoughts on “2014 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 21

  1. Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    Due West
    by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    My father’s line were from the old country,
    Scandinavians from the upper Midwest states
    (Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa)
    proud, stoic, salt of the earth Protestants
    with farming and dairy in their blood.
    Grandpa’s branch broke off and left
    the cold winters, humid summers of
    America’s Heartland for the milder
    temperate climate of the Pacific NW
    (Oregon, Idaho)
    where he settled down to a life
    of dairy farming not far from
    an dormant volcano boasting of
    the deepest lake in the Americas
    (Crater Lake @ nearly 2000 ft).
    Years later his internal compass
    would point East again, leading
    he and his brother back across
    the Idaho russet border,
    and back ultimately to
    the family fold.

    © 2014 by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

  2. Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    Due West
    by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    My father’s line were from the old country,
    Scandinavians from the upper Midwest states
    (Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa)
    proud, stoic, salt of the earth Protestants
    with farming and dairy in their blood.
    Grandpa’s branch broke off and left
    the cold winters, humid summers of
    America’s Heartland for the milder
    temperate climate of the Pacific NW
    (Oregon, Idaho)
    where he settled down to a life
    of dairy farming not far from
    an dormant volcano boasting of
    the deepest lake in the Americas
    (Crater Lake @ nearly 2000 ft).
    Years later his internal compass
    would point East again, leading
    he and his brother back across
    the Idaho russet border,
    and back ultimately to
    the family fold.

    © 2014 by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

  3. Mike


    Remembering summer road trips
    with my father, short trips
    to the next town over,
    running errands for his job.

    We’d talk about school,
    the news, what I might
    do If I’d ever grow up.
    But the part I liked best
    was when he would get
    us lost, heading south
    when he was sure we
    were going east.

    But Dad would never admit
    to his directional challenges,
    instead he’d say,
    “My radar is a little off.”
    Then he’d adjust some
    imaginary antenna
    with the sweep of one hand.

    We’d eventually find
    our way, grateful
    for the unplanned
    detour and the
    extra time together.

  4. seingraham


    The gibbous moon fled the sky flinging clouds farther
    than would be thought possible on most nights
    But this moon, this deadly cream-coloured orb, had
    risen in the south – no moon had ever risen there
    No wonder it hurried to depart the heavens before
    too many realized its mistaken presence

    North by northeast, that would be one way to get
    there, she thought, staring at her compass
    But only if she hurried and took the wind into account
    and if it didn’t change direction
    She knew the wind was as fickle as sunshine and could
    change on a whim
    But she also knew her whole reason for living was to
    get there, no matter what it took
    Before anything else happened…

  5. bluerabbit47


    I was born
    in a city
    for all its life
    to the western
    verge of the
    most western
    of western
    worlds, and,
    were that not
    enough, beyond
    our cliffs and sands,
    source of mysterious
    glass fishing
    floats that decorated
    beaches after storms,
    lay lands long labeled
    the Far East. On
    sandy lots and quiet
    canyons among
    the foothills, the Wild
    West, of goldrush
    desperado fame,
    lived again on silvered
    film and old
    rodeo riders came
    to sing to the stars.

  6. hohlwein

    East, then, I guess.
    East then.
    It was to be north.
    So far north you couldn’t believe.
    I couldn’t believe.

    Why, even?

    And then it was
    straight into the dark, molten center of the earth
    and I held my mother’s hand there
    in the Trauma ICU as we, miraculously,
    kept living through
    the night

    but the girl
    – Heather –
    behind the curtain did not,
    even though all her family was there,
    certainly all of them, their bodies
    making funny lumps in the curtain, their conversation
    at three and at four thirty keeping us awake or alive.

    And then, we found ourselves more consistently alive,
    okay, for a time,
    okay, so
    too late to go North – so far North –
    I go east.

    She now, therefore, is west.
    We both, at this moment, still live.
    And everyday I can consider–
    do I paint my way back to the center of the
    earth or of to the center of the sky or
    do I go west, or east,
    north or south

    – what is it to be near
    or far –

    or do I just
    and hear the wind
    and have no way of knowing
    what direction it comes from?

    Sometimes it seems evident
    that I will die next.

  7. annell

    Finding A New Direction

    for long I have traveled without compass map or instructions

    picking a direction each day

    does the past give a clue to each day’s new direction

    is it in the bird’s song the one at the feeder

    does the direction of the wind that moves the wind chime hold a clue

    where is one to get the answer

    perhaps travel along the river listen to her whisper as she lies in her bed

    …or follow some dusty trail long forgotten

    …or watch a dust devil as he tears across the mesa

    perhaps one can get along without a compass map or instructions

    November 21, 2014

  8. Bhumphreys

    East by West

    From humble beginnings
    I learned a way of life
    Much different than you
    A slower pace to my day
    Respect for others
    An appreciation for grammar
    An understanding of manners
    An acceptance of the toil
    That leads us to success
    The eastern shore runs
    Through my bloodlines
    The winds of time
    Carried me to the Pacific
    A new world
    A new life
    A new beginning
    With ethics engrained
    A world without pause
    A sense of self over community
    Now an anomaly
    For a “traditional” mindset
    Enjoying an alternate ending
    After such a trying start

  9. TeriBeth


    Red gingham curtain,
    twirls in the open window
    Summer in the South.

    Lightning bugs glowing,
    wee lanterns in the night sky.
    Summer in the South.

    Bare feet in the grass,
    toes spread out in happiness.
    Summer in the South.

  10. shellcook

    The Four Directions

    I have followed the four directions.
    West across the shadowing plains
    Guarded by mountain sentinels
    To the ocean there,
    Where I sank my feet in the cool wet sand
    And knew I would go on.

    I have followed the four directions.
    East across the mighty river,
    crossing the lands my ancestors
    knew as a trail of tears.
    I did not die, nor was I born anew,
    but the sun did rise
    when I thought it might never, again.

    I have followed the four directions.
    North beyond the wide Great Plains,
    where winter wind cuts to the heart
    of all things great and small.
    I did not lose my soul there,
    but found the courage to carry on,
    when I did not want to do so.

    I have followed the four directions.
    South along the border lands,
    where the sun is warm and spirit glows.
    You learn of yourself in the land of shadow,
    and you embrace it, or you die of thirst,
    while staring at your own reflection
    in a pool of clear blue water.
    I met my shadow and we embraced.

    There is yet above and below
    and I follow these in dreamtime.
    I live now to learn
    what lessons await me there.


  11. Danielle Wong

    South South West

    Wind blows melting snow
    like a glass blower
    into a mirror of ice,
    making me wish
    I had not moved
    south east
    and wishing
    I had moved
    south south west.

  12. Nancy Posey


    My inner compass fails me
    as I second guess old familiar turns,
    and long before I knew the word
    feng shui,
    I failed to take to heart advice
    my mother gave
    about the best direction
    for my marriage bed.

    North to south?
    East to west?

    But every morning,
    I feel a tug toward the eastern sky
    as I drive south,
    turn west,
    head north

    and fight the urge
    to pull over to the side of the road
    and watch the sun rise,
    painting the clouds.

  13. Xairos

    Weather Vanes, Which Direction Is the Wind Blowing?

    Put some
    folks atop your
    barn to spin, they’d just turn
    to the hottest air from the big

    would just sit, pleased,
    smirk puffily, and nod
    knowingly: the wind always blows
    their way.

    You do
    remember ones
    who yelled “You don’t need a
    weatherman to know which way the
    wind blows”?

    And me?
    Put me up there,
    maybe I’d show you which
    way the wind was blowing last it
    went past.

    The Rev. Alger-
    non Sidney Crapsey, priest
    (Episcopal), “Last Heretic,”
    hinge of
    an age,
    opening us forward to see
    what our eyes had closed to,
    because he loved
    The Wind.

    [With thanks to PressOn for mentioning Adelaide Crapsey in his comment to me on Day 20 — I was inspired to learn a bit more about her family background.]

  14. James Von Hendy

    West to East

    She was Shaman, come out of the sinking sun, red with fury. Her, the sun, does it matter? Rags and the torn feathers of crows, a crooked stick more like antlers than wood. I might have knelt if not the maggots crawling from her eyes. You think you need no help. Call it fortune, I’m here. Made everything sounds like hissing. This is not Buffalo, prayer of abundance. I whispered thief. The air reeked of decay. You are chosen, cannot claim it yourself. I gambled, high in the hills, and Mountain Lion brought his problems, the problems of others. No, your own tricks fool you, this is your magic. Am I a trick of your eyes? No, I said, dreamer of auroras. She was Shaman, darker than the night sky, stars piercing through her skin. She was invisible in her ragged shawl of snakes, shaking her head. Seductress. Coyote. A trail of blood, do you see entrails? The antlers are mine. But it was bones sucked of marrow she rolled. The dinging of the slots, starlight the gltiz of casinos. I crossed the desert at night, the eyes of scorpions my guide. Rivers, the flashing of scales. Rain in the maples. Shaman, she could not touch my hooves when I leapt through the blackberry brambles into the sky at dawn.

    1. PressOn

      This piece evokes a camp fire, preferably high in the mountains, and a storyteller there with hushed listeners all around. So compelling in its use of images and associations. Wonderful.

        1. James Von Hendy

          Thank you, Janet and William. I’ve been experimenting here and there with prose poems, this one cobbled from a dream, recent travel, a conversation with a former colleague (part Native American), and the Coyote Medicine card.

  15. Jolly2

    by John Yeo

    Blind fate spins the arrow on the compass,
    The needle spins and twists and turns
    We head in the direction of the result.

    South West across a burning desert,
    Sand as far as the eye can see.
    We have money to buy our direction
    The North star is in position.

    We continue to follow the blind fate compass
    Until we reach a rough salty sea.
    South West is over an ocean of dreams.
    We fearlessly follow the fateful compass
    Searching for the answers to life
    South West on a blind fate compass.
    The North star is in position.

    Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved

  16. Pat Walsh

    by Patrick J. Walsh

    my compass points North
    toward the magnetic pole

    while unexpectedly delayed
    in the warmth of the woods
    summer shuffles
    somehow into autumn

    the path seems strange
    in the gray of twilight

    but at ease with the night
    the seasons pass secrets
    as Polaris blinks into place
    in the soft canvas of sky

    the streetlamp scatters
    the uncertainty of the trail

    and at first hint of coolness
    the wistful season retreats
    ambling off true north
    with only stars to light the way

  17. MichelleMcEwen


    down south

    Going in and
    out the house

    Georgia peaches
    in my mouth

    Country boys
    hanging about

    Grandma tells me,
    “button your blouse.”

  18. Bruce Niedt

    North by Northwest

    Be careful if you’re headed in that direction
    (almost due north, but not quite),
    especially if you’re a handsome guy,
    innocent but wrongly accused.
    Not everyone is who they seem.

    Be wary of that sexy blonde on the train,
    look out for evil crop-dusters
    in the middle of nowhere,
    and watch your step if you’re being chased
    by baddies on a stone president’s face.

  19. m_deane

    Rhe Fifth Direction

    North, South, East, West,
    a modern compass has no room
    for the fifth direction, the great axis on which
    the universe spins, but

    The World Tree still stands,
    ancient roots twisted deep around
    the foundations of skyscrapers and fracking pits,
    its branches scraped by satellites.

  20. Sally Jadlow


    When northern winter winds blow
    cold waves under my threshold,
    I think I hear soothing south breezes whispering
    her siren song in my frigid ears.

    At last, I yield to the temped temptress,
    call my travel agent,
    and book a western Caribbean cruise.

  21. bxpoetlover


    and east of here lives
    the pink-throated twinspot
    in Mozambique

    It is pretty and shy.
    Like me.

    I don’t dig cages
    but part of me wants to
    hold one for a few moments
    caress my cheek with its feathers
    and have its song ring in my ears.

  22. Sara McNulty

    North, South, East, West

    I’d much rather lefts and rights
    than north, south, east, or west
    Just base it on the local sights
    I’d much rather lefts and rights
    Turn left at gym, than right at Dwight’s–
    that place where burgers are the best
    I’d much rather lefts and rights
    than north, south, east, or west.

  23. Meriadoc


    and we did fly
    so far above
    on Moonlit Skies


    and we did Sing
    of better things
    to Bloom in Spring


    Sacred White
    Fleur de lis

    in Pure Delight

  24. LaraEckener

    I’ve sewn myself up
    the spine
    of the east coast,
    dipping my toes
    into the ocean stations:
    St. Augustine
    Hilton Head
    Going forward,
    doubling back,
    to make sure the thread
    is anchored tight.
    That leaves nothing
    but the braille of canyons
    peaks and desert dash
    waiting to be felt
    north and west,
    as I spread myself wide
    to inherit the earth,
    my father worked
    his whole life
    to teach me to read.

  25. BDP

    “I Took Direction From My Parents’ Attic”

    Its stairway widened to my dormered nest.
    The schoolyard stretched due north beyond a stand
    of hipped white pine. Up high, I’d tiptoe-spin
    to peer past slanting roofs both east and west.
    South windows spilled upon a switch grass ditch
    entwined with cattail puffs my eyes would scan
    across, and there, an infield spread an outfield fan.
    I spied on games from t-ball to fast pitch.

    At first, no males allowed, but soon came Pooh.
    I graduated to Rapunzel’s rope
    then Carroll’s looking-glass—tales changed through grades.
    I practiced kissing on my arm in hopes
    of boyfriend, moved to scary novels, grew
    past them, and left for college, unafraid.

    –Barb Peters

  26. grcran

    Spinning Compass

    They wagered, the drunks of the town
    One fellow spoke, his money down
    The north souse eats, wets
    Who knows which is bets?
    We’ll smell him or see him aroun’

    by gpr crane

      1. cbwentworth

        I’ve had the word “constellation” written in my journal since the first week of the challenge. I was so excited to finally get a chance to use it! It’s like it was sitting there waiting to play with “whimsy.” 🙂


  27. LeeAnne Ellyett

    North Pole Santa

    As I watched and waited at the mall,
    in the food court, taking in all,
    across from Santa’s village,
    At 6, munching on fries,

    The parents lined up,
    with children of all ages,
    anticipating the close up,
    with the man and his beard,

    Some were shy,
    He coaxed them in with his grin,
    some cried, the parents sadly said good bye,
    all were dressed in their Sunday best,

    The first Christmas, a special moment,
    my grand daughter in his arms,
    there were warnings, but I snapped away,
    Picture perfect, special day,

    He winked at me, gave a thumbs up,
    so I approached, to thank him,
    his smile warm as he asked,
    “did you get some good pictures”

    My eyes filled with tears,
    I softly said, “this was so special to me”
    He whispered back for me to hear,
    “that’s the magic of love, caring and sharing”

  28. shellkaysm

    North Star

    This closest bright, visible star
    with virtually fixed position,
    our stellar navigator leads
    the lost, trustier than compass.

    Ending Little Dipper’s handle,
    this closest bright, visible star
    only looks serene and peaceful
    from our far away perspective.

    Up close, it’s wild and dangerous,
    a pulsing, plasmic burst of awe,
    this closest bright, visible star
    which guides due north in each night’s sky.

    Though oft’ mistaken: the brightest,
    Polaris won’t be the North Star
    many moons ahead of our time,
    this closest bright, visible star.

  29. uneven steven

    North South West East

    Never Shit Well Ever
    Overestimate Over Established After
    Ruff’s Under Stinky Shit
    Hardening There Territory Tomatoes
    Turds Here

    My dog likes to eat poopsicles
    which is sad cause she’s cute
    and everybody lets her lick
    their faces
    and poopsicles, in case you didn’t know,
    are frozen pieces of shit she picks
    up out of the dog pen
    and takes into the garage
    to gnaw on
    and slowly thaw out

    When people ask,
    I say that smell is cause she
    was probably just outside eating
    poopsicles and everybody
    kinda laughs

    But in summer when I say
    she’s a shit eater
    nobody ever laughs at that

    After that first good
    single digit degree day
    I swear she smiles, anxious
    to get out in that dog pen
    and I like it too cause
    frozen shit is so much
    easier to pick up
    than regular shit

    And I don’t know exactly where
    I am going with this
    but shit is shit
    and it always seems to stand for
    something else
    and if somehow we can make
    it more palatable or
    cute it is so much
    easier to take

    I think what I really mean is
    that this shit is poetry,
    no, no capitalism
    or maybe christmas with
    the family

    All I know for certain is
    there are certain shoes
    I wear
    to clean out the dog pen
    and I am sure this must
    mean something more than it
    really means

    And those shoes are always gonna have
    shit on them
    and stepping in dog shit
    especially someone else’s
    in new shoes
    when you don’t expect it?

    Well lookee there,
    Lucky my dog just found
    another poopsicle.
    Isn’t that cute?

  30. shethra77

    All Directions Home

    He stood at parade rest,
    facing south, into the sun,
    because that way he faced the cars
    leaving Walmart shopping center.

    He stood at parade rest,
    straight and tall in the sun.
    His neatly-lettered sign said
    Homeless veteran needs work.

    He stood at parade rest,
    facing south, unmoving,
    and that was hard work that day.
    It was eighty-nine in the shade.

    He stood at parade rest.
    Determined, facing south
    Into the endless line of cars turning out,
    hoping for better work.

    We had no job to give him, although
    we wished we had. Ri gave him some bananas.
    He smiled, took them, and said thanks, then again
    he stood at parade rest.

    Shethra Jones Hoopes


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