2015 April PAD Challenge: Day 29

I’ve had a few people ask if it’s OK to play catch up on prompts, and yes, it’s totally great. In fact, today is an optimal day to play catch up.

For today’s prompt, write a what nobody knows poem. It’s easy to write a poem about what everybody already knows, though it may be difficult to write an interesting poem about such things. Still, use today’s prompt to explore things people may not know–secret stories, locations, and so on.


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Here’s my attempt at a What Nobody Knows Poem:

“deja vu”

the dishwasher was a metaphor
illuminated by a cold-blooded moonbeam
quantifying truths & dares

call it love or a code or ohio
these words broken like dishes
broken like dishwashers

you are always a poet
seeking to shine a light
on the world that matters to you

this broken metaphor
shifting with scientific emotion
i am the moment you forget

but somehow know you miss.


Today’s guest judge is…

Marge Piercy

Marge Piercy

Marge Piercy

Marge Piercy is the author of 17 novels, including Gone to Soldiers, Braided Lives, The Longings of Women, and Woman on the Edge of Time; 19 volumes of poetry, including Made in Detroit, The Hunger Moon and The Moon Is Always Female, and a critically acclaimed memoir, Sleeping with Cats.

Born in center city Detroit, educated at the University of Michigan, the recipient of four honorary doctorates, she has been a key player in some of the major progressive battles of our time, including the anti-Vietnam war and the women’s movement, and more recently an active participant in the resistance to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Learn more at MargePiercy.com.


Poem Your Heart Out, Volume 2

Poem Your Heart Out, Volume 2

Poem Your Heart Out again!

The prompts from last year’s challenge along with the winning poem from each day ended up in an inspired little anthology titled Poem Your Heart Out. It was part prompt book, part poetry anthology, and part workbook, because each day includes a few pages for you to make your own contributions.

Anyway, the anthology worked out so well that we’re doing it again this year, and you can take advantage of a 20% discount from Words Dance by pre-ordering before May 1, 2015.

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Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems. This has been one of the most exciting Aprils he can remember.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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774 thoughts on “2015 April PAD Challenge: Day 29

  1. gloryia

    Nobody Knows –

    Daddy’s favourite colour is blue,
    not red, or green or yellow – it’s blue.
    His shirts, slippers and his ties
    are blue,
    and everything he buys – is blue.
    Sometimes he gets angry,
    Mummy says, not to mind
    he’s just feeling blue, but I do,
    and I get frightened.
    I don’t want a blue daddy, do you?

  2. hannahmarie

    “nobody knows”

    a box
    under her bed
    houses words
    she can’t say
    out loud
    -er than her
    notes and napkin scraps
    define her
    for her-
    self esteem to low
    to believe
    in the power of
    her words
    are over-

  3. lawrencek


    girl gils gorges.

  4. lawrencek

    Title: 7 Up

    Envy fornicates.
    Greed &
    Gluttony hoard & hunger incestuously. Jesus kneels.
    Lust masturbates naughty orgies.
    Pride quakes ravenously.
    Sloth trudges uninspired. Violent
    Wrath explodes; you Zuck! Abominations beget catechisms. Deadly

  5. Darla K

    The Separated Man

    nobody knows him
    only his
    carefully practiced

    everybody loves him
    his outer-coating
    shielding the deep

    God knows him
    from far away
    on the other
    side of

  6. Maxine

    Nobody Knows

    They say they do
    but loss of words like language,
    creates its own reality.
    We who hear you learn
    the messages your eroding nerves
    deliver with waves of emotion
    crashing through crest and trough
    and tears.

    Your diagnosis implies helpful protocols,
    a foot hold watery yards beneath my reach
    as if I can hold both our heads above cold,
    changing currents calling for Nobody to hear.

    Caring for you in your confusion
    I feel I am treading water
    without convincing proof
    I can float. It’s good to kvetch,
    to admit the disconnect
    between online descriptions at alz.org
    and the exhaustion I feel as we battle
    to get you into the bath.

    “To Be of Use” is my favorite poem.

  7. StephanieMiller

    Satis House

    A little engine
    Ticks away in my head
    Not enough. Not enough. Not enough.
    This imposter’s mansion
    If not comfortable
    Is certainly familiar
    Like a tune I can’t get out of my head
    Knock at the door
    Ask impersonal questions
    But don’t come in
    I need no witness
    To the disorder
    I have already weighed, measured, assessed
    Found all that is lacking
    So don’t ask me to raise the mask
    Skeleton and marrow
    Is my own tender hardness
    My fictional estate
    And confinement
    To preserve or burn
    At will

  8. Xairos

    While we’re in town for the wedding
    before we take him to the bus station
    we wander around Berkeley

    cross the People’s Park
    where what looks like piles of litter
    giant fallen leaves
    are people, homeless folks
    who’ve made it their home

    he wants to change the world
    make it a welcoming place for all people
    all creatures all life

    I want to warn him, don’t do anything stupid,
    that is, don’t do anything that will get you hurt
    we both know that would be like saying
    give up your faith, live for yourself,
    and neither of us believe that’s the way

    what he doesn’t know
    is how much it hurts
    to bite my tongue.

    ~ Margaret Lee Ferry

  9. KatieHolmes2

    Secret Story Of Me and Him

    Long ago I still recall
    When you approached
    my every wall
    Fearlessly you melted them all
    Then tenderly you caught my fall

    You heard the language of my heart
    Speaking it fluently from the start

    You claimed my soul for your own
    Which forbidded another
    To make it their home

    I’ve tried with all my will power
    I’ve put up one hell of a fight
    Still I’m unsuccessful
    Though I’ve used up all my might

    Trying to rid myself
    of your embedded seal
    You branded me
    Then stranded me
    While sharing what I feel

    So much I wish I’d not remember
    This love between us
    so sweet and tender

    It’s magical and magnetic
    The way it lures us in
    Sometimes no words are spoken
    But yet so much is said

    Both of us can hear it
    And oh what a beautiful sound
    Wanting so much to stay and to play
    But reality brings us down

    It drops us like the highest high
    While the bitterness creeps in
    There we chose to lose
    As we stand back and let them win
    Here we are…
    on hold again…
    This is the secret story
    Of me and him.

    -Katie Lynn-

  10. Linda.E.H

    just a quick one to play catch-up

    Nobody Knows Why You Did It

    but my brain keeps
    tinkering around with it,
    trying to solve the problem.
    It’s like one of those math equations
    where you are X and I need to figure out
    Y. But it’s algebra and I am suddenly five again,
    just trying to grasp the concept of 2-1= 1
    and I don’t like being the one leftover.

    Linda Hofke

  11. Azma

    Catching Dreams

    I know that I felt good
    I know it was nice
    But I don’t know
    what it was that
    woke me up satisfied
    I don’t remember who
    it was to whom I spoke
    A cousin? A friend?
    Someone who is good with jokes?
    I don’t know where I was
    It couldn’t have been at work
    Perhaps it was a party
    since I could feel the perk
    Wait! There were no people!
    Or were there by my side?
    I just remember that
    I woke up satisfied

    -Azma Sheikh

  12. mmarie

    (In addition to the daily challenge, I’ll be using an all-encompassing theme of “self-

    acceptance” to link all my poems together this month)

    Pen Name
    by M. Marie

    I write
    under a
    pen name
    with the hopes
    that my
    ‘real identity’
    will not be
    or betrayed
    there are
    parts of me


    that I can
    only appease
    through writing,
    but I’m not
    to share these
    parts of me
    with my friends,
    my family,
    or my coworkers.

    In truth,
    at times
    I can hardly bear
    to admit them
    to myself.

    It is only
    the anonymity of
    that I can
    be truly
    and at ease


  13. Jane Shlensky

    Nothing’s Ever Done

    A great oak fell after a storm,
    its root ball’s fist raised to the sky,
    a crater where its feet once stood,
    but still birds nest in its boughs,
    a pond saves rainfall where it was
    drawing animals and plants.

    Nothing’s over and done, even
    memory evolved to new angles,
    focused on forgiveness as we
    ourselves acknowledge error.
    Life reforms, takes different
    names, redemption in rot
    and root, in funk and foliage,
    in anger turned understanding.
    Perhaps nothing ever always is,
    but nothing ever truly dies,
    ever ceases to be one thing
    or another, changed for growth.

    Bark catches seeds dropped.
    Termites burrow into rot, making
    soil. Moss, fungi, fern, and acorn
    root and grow along a spine
    of trunk newborn and worthy.

  14. Hyork

    Secret shortage

    We have only so many words
    I fear that
    one day I’ll run out
    and be from then on silent
    no more to rhapsodize
    over an early morning jog
    past Paris cafės
    as waiters set the chairs around the tables
    under a sparkling low angle of sun
    and the corner boulangerie
    its warm-crusted fragrance a presence
    many meters before baguettes appear
    behind my reflection in the window.

    Holly York

  15. Vince Gotera

    A mashup of Robert’s what nobody knows prompt with the NaPoWriMo suggestion of a review poem.

    My Father Reviews My Hair Style

                                —a hay(na)ku sonnet

    nobody knows
    looking straight on

    I’ve got
    a baby ponytail

    bantam swashbuckle
    serpentine of black,

    how iconoclastic —
    rebellious! — I am.

    Papa, long dead,
    shakes his head.

    by Vince Gotera


  16. tobysgirl

    Thought to Action

    When he died I thought “Oh shit”,
    I did it.
    All those years, I had been saying I hoped he would die,
    life would be so much easier.
    I wondered if I could make it happen, like I did when I was 17, and just kidding around,
    spoke those words several times, “I hope you die a violent death”.
    Just kidding at the time, never meant it, I loved them both.
    Then at the beginning of summer they were gone, dead in a tragic car accident
    – or was it?
    An accident, I mean.
    Did I cause that?
    And then he died, nearly twenty years later, my mantra echoing in my ears
    – life would be so much easier if he would just die.
    It is my secret power,
    to wish someone dead,
    and for it to come true.

    –Jennifer McCann

  17. laurie kolp

    Artistic Escape

    A lemon drop, the sun appeared at noon
    surrounded by white cotton candy clouds
    sky blue, the upper half; in corner, moon
    beneath a forest green and trees, a shroud.

    She drew this picture time and time again
    escapement but a landscape brought to life
    on knees with prayerful hands, chanting amen
    amidst the deer and birds no sign of strife.

    Locked in a bedroom, painting helped her cope
    with demons breaking in throughout the night,
    his kneading fingers up and down, his grope
    a tongue shoved in her mouth without a fight.

    Two weeks until release and she’d be gone,
    no longer would she be her father’s pawn.

  18. Frith


    in the transference
    of spring woods

    when the leopard
    slugs nibble their way

    to sublimity
    suspended in midair

    by a glistening filament
    as the pileated woodpecker

    jackhammers the dead
    hickory tree

    entwined with vine
    and climbs to meet

    a rain
    that doesn’t feel like rain

    so much as ancient
    ocean and the bats

    race the tide
    and the owls cast their nets

    and the ants man
    a tyrant’s oars

    and the dangling blue
    electric flower

    pulses to the tune
    of a pink translucent moon

    and an unforgiving eye
    scans a vast expanse

    engrossed in sea
    and habit-forming clouds

  19. barbara_y

    …how it works

    Tragedy is fixed. It’s not the outcome: it’s the fulcrum.
    Properties of elements,
    rules of pawns, rooks, and castles; scissors, paper, gravity.
    Desdemona will and must die,
    and so will the sun. Chaos is the mutant god. Without
    his banana peels, who would play?

    I believe that
    intentions lose
    all importance
    upon contact.

    It’s all in the variables.
    Nothing will illustrate this like an old pinball machine,
    a crowded bar, two or three beers.
    Paint flakes, humidity, metal fatigue; somebody bumps
    against the bellicose clown
    with the gun. Birds bring down planes. Squirrels. Satellites. Life careens.

    Barbara E. Young

  20. Scott Jacobson

    The lights don’t come on. You
    can’t use a microwave. Time
    gets suckered into watching
    television. The stars keep
    entering and never exiting.
    Love gets squeezed by gravity.
    Positrons search for a parachute.
    Gamma rays make French toast
    for dinner then disappeared
    into a cloud of chocolate milk.

  21. Shennon

    No one knows
    That you were my first love
    Now that you are gone.

    No one knows
    That you were my only love,
    That I love you still.

    No one knows
    That I break down in tears
    When I remember you.

    When I think about
    sunsets you’ll miss
    music you loved
    your cryptic sense of humor
    kindness in your smile and
    in your eyes.

    Since no one knows,
    It feels surreal,
    This ache in my heart
    That I share with a stone

    Jutting up from the land
    Where you walked and you lived.
    Now others walk and live
    On your eternal blanket.

    So I drag myself away
    Caressing your name one last time
    Whispering your name to the wind
    Loving that I can say it aloud,
    With no one to hear,
    Wishing to bury my sorrow
    In this graveyard.
    No one else knows.


  22. Linda Lee Sand

    What Nobody Knows

    Take me for instance
    for one instant
    and instantaneously you
    have a snapshot of
    what I am but also am
    (NOT that it matters,
    in these matters) but what
    you don’t see is so much
    more than what you
    do and what nobody
    seems to grasp
    is that nobody
    (deepily down) knows
    the half about

  23. dmdaniel

    What makes a heart flutter
    One cares not for the other
    clutter is the absence of respect
    for a clear mind can’t misdirect
    genius is a state of mind
    What you’re looking for you won’t find
    What is it that you think he owes
    This is what nobody knows

  24. Fanny Pad

    ‘A woman on the edge of time’ devoid if rhyme or reason
    It was treason what they did to her
    Sure she was crazy but she had a soul
    She was cool but he would not listen
    Her eye glistened
    As she poisoned his morning coffee.

    He had no chance to wonder why she did it.

  25. seingraham


    is the reason for it all
    the mystery that propels each life
    each breath and heartbeat, each quest
    toward every inexplicable goal
    those named and those unnamed
    that take all of a life to search out.

    Nobody, when asked, has the answer
    for the why and the how, and what
    are we doing here, and afterwards
    what were we doing while we lived
    there will be attempts to say
    but really? nobody knows
    not truly, no, nobody does.

  26. han

    In the backseat with music in the background
    and clothes across the carpet
    His skin is on mine and I don’t know why
    but I’m whispering
    “Don’t be nervous” I say yet I am the one who is trembling
    I want to make him moan and I just want him everywhere
    The song changes and I smile into his skin
    Nobody knows this moment except for him and
    our clothes

  27. AC Leming

    The Book of Me

    What nobody knows could fill a book,
    if I only knew how to write it all down.
    The ineffable vacuum between protons and electrons,
    the vast space between your heart and mine,
    though we lay spooned tight
    on the full-sized bed
    in my 800 square foot apartment.

    What nobody knows is how I feel about you,
    excited and giddy though you now lay down
    half a continent away.
    I can still feel the hug you gave me last week,
    the press of my unclothed body into yours.
    My foot hooked around your calf,
    as you nuzzled soft kisses behind my ear
    while we talked way past the time you should have left.

    What nobody knows is how free I finally feel,
    disengaging from sixteen years of slow oppression.
    Compression into a box too small
    to contain my body and my creativity,
    my eye honed in a lifetime of darkrooms
    and a pen sharpened on paper’s smooth surface.

    What nobody knows is where I’ll be
    or what I’ll morph into
    in eighteen months’ time.
    My future seems limitless.

  28. BDP

    “Memoir: Children In an Occupied Town”

    Fireflies exclaim against your laptop screen,
    full stops on sentences where happiness
    felt rare, where days ended with hyphening,
    if fortunate: now chaining last to next.

    Come midnight on your dad’s Wisconsin stoop,
    your secrets tapped in keystrokes, children rise
    with dust of soldiers, theirs a skip-and-loop,
    you’re on patrol. Ya, Sayyid, they call, eyes

    give Arabic translation: can I play?
    Attention getters, knots surround-up-down,
    they draw a bead on you, your orders: Stay
    your weapon—don’t shoot even if fired on.

    How many elders knew? Some soft settlings of dusk
    a villager would bid you, “Come, break fast.”

    –Barb Peters

  29. A.R. Bonner

    No one:

    No one knows love until love is lost
    No one knows hate until they’ve been discriminated against
    No one knows happiness until sadness occurs
    No one knows karma until she comes back around, full circle
    No one knows their future like their present and their past
    No one knows, until they’ve read it, witnessed it or asked.

    ~A.R. Bonner

  30. Jane Shlensky

    Nobody knows how much I hurt, she says.
    Nobody tries to help me past the pain.
    I tell my doctor every single day,
    but he just shakes his head and looks away
    as if I were a hypochondriac.

    He can’t ignore me long, I have him know;
    I’ll camp out in his prissy waiting room
    and read his magazines and suffer loud
    and long until he takes my pain.
    That stuff he gave me didn’t help me none.

    Nobody understands how hard it is
    to bear such pain alone and weak and sad,
    alone with nothing glad to claim your mind.
    I tell my children every time they come.
    I call them every day to let them know

    I’m suffering, but they don’t seem to care.
    What is it I can do? my daughter says.
    I don’t know what to tell her. She’ll soon see
    when her children are grown and let her go.
    But she can’t know yet what I know so well.

    My only friend is Jesus, him who died
    and suffered like a beast nailed to the cross.
    I reckon he might know the lonely truth
    that minds and hearts can ache just like a tooth
    when we’re so lost and there’s nobody there.

  31. Diane Laboda

    by Diane M. Laboda

    When do we write what we don’t want others to read?
    Say in whispers what we don’t want anyone to hear?
    Are those the words that come from the deepest
    crevices, fearful; hide in the darkest shadows, ashamed;
    read from the foulest book of sins, unrepentant?

    I often find I’m afraid of disappearing
    if I divulge too much, tell too real a story,
    come too close to the heart—slowly become
    fainter and fainter like fading in direct sunlight—
    until there is no more of me left.
    A husk. A whisper—no more.

    And yet here I sit and write word after word,
    spilling forth exhaustion and disappointment,
    heartache and terror. And let the reader take
    one more snapshot of my expression,
    knowing as I do that I may disappear, no longer be
    the one and only me. Swallowed whole
    inside the belly of Mother Earth

    I think I take with me all my deep sea training—
    relax, breathe evenly, move gracefully, use
    hand signals, don’t come up too fast—but then
    panic sets in. How can I relax when fear takes my breath away?
    How can I breathe when words clog my mouth?

    Hands freeze wide and panic, push against
    my troubles to try to reach the surface of
    the molehill before it becomes….
    Claw deep scratches in the gesso I’ve layered
    over tears and cries for help. Almost cover
    the prayers I mean to say, the empathy I mean to show,
    the comfort I mean to give.

    Should I too write with invisible ink—deny the real,
    the truth, the lesson I’m to learn, the meaning I’m to derive?
    I keep waiting for this ink to disappear, for my embarrassed
    confessions to recede into the shadows of this page.
    But they don’t.

    Neither do they shout, but whisper ever louder
    the words I need to say, mean to share,
    put out into the world as my reality.
    Speak until I can say my Self, write until I can
    give words to my Self. Allow that others too may be
    full of words of healing ready for me to listen to, hear,
    and hold to my heart.

    It may be that instead of disappearing
    I’ll be able to open anew,
    a blossom enticing a honeybee.

  32. Diane Laboda

    by Diane M. Laboda

    I am an invisible woman
    though I possess a mind,
    some say a soul, but
    I’ve never found her.

    I am invisible because
    even though I see eyes that focus
    coming toward me, the heads
    that carry them refuse to know I exist.

    I speak and no one hears, I cry
    tears that never hit the ground,
    I grasp for a hand that shrivels,
    repulsed without knowing why.

    I stand
    but never cast a shadow,
    I listen
    but no sound reaches me—

    I am invisible.

    Other beings come near
    but only see the chair I sit in,
    reflections of their own pride
    or specters of their past.

    I am an invisible woman,
    only the moon knows my
    old woman’s heart
    sprung open.


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