2015 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 3

Sorry for the late start today. I’ve been struggling a bit with my poem, but that happens from time to time, right? Let’s get poeming!

For today’s prompt, we’ve actually got a 2-for-Tuesday prompt. You can pick one prompt to follow, do both separately, or combine into one prompt. Your choice.

  1. Write a United Poem.
  2. Write a Divided Poem.

Remember: These prompts are merely springboards. Interpret them as you wish.

*****

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Here’s my attempt at a United and/or Divided poem:

“Speculation”

At school, everyone was divided over what had
happened to Jesse. “Personally, I think he’s dead,”
said Eddie Click between bites of his soft roll
in the cafeteria. “Of course, you do,” said Barbara
Bane. “You’re always so morbid. What do you think,
Marcus?” “Well…” “I’m not morbid,” Eddie interrupted,
“Just being real.” “A real jerk,” replied Barbara.
“They haven’t found the body yet,” said Walt Waters.
“Or the car,” interjected Eddie. “So?” “Well, think
about it, Barbara,” continued Walt. “Maybe nothing
happened to him. I mean, he could just be on the run
or something.” “Or maybe,” said Eddie excited.
“Maybe he killed someone.” Barbara slapped Eddie.
“Whu? Why’s it always gotta be about death with you?”

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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 and Writer’s Market, in addition to writing a free weekly WritersMarket.com newsletter and a poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine.

This is his eighth year of hosting and participating in the November PAD (Poem-A-Day) Chapbook Challenge. He can’t wait to see what everyone creates this month–not only on a day-by-day basis, but when the chapbooks start arriving in December and January. Fun, fun, fun.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

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202 thoughts on “2015 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 3

  1. Pat Walsh

    United
    by Patrick J. Walsh

    “Untied we stand,” Eric called out,
    his voice rising unexpectedly
    as he answered the question
    and tried not to look
    at the other kids

    Only a few of them caught it
    at first, but the laughter
    slowly building billowed
    like the sensation of a tidal wave
    in his stomach

    In that first instant of flame
    and flailing it was only the
    sweetness of the expression
    on Mrs. Johnson’s face
    that saved him

    So now all these years later
    he found it easy to smile again
    as his fingers brushed lightly
    against the brightly colored flowers
    at the casket’s edge

  2. seingraham

    ETCHED ON THE WINGS OF THE VIETNAM
    WAR MEMORIAL

    I don’t know what I expected from this memorial,
    but it wasn’t this
    Not the mirrored effect of people looking back at
    me as if from behind the thousands of names
    engraved in the shiny black stone
    Not the surreal silence encompassing the area;
    if people spoke, the sound was muffled
    Not the weeping – especially my own – I fumbled for
    sunglasses embarrassed to be crying for war-dead
    I knew not
    Not the overwhelming sense of despair and helplessness
    None of us appeared to acknowledge each other, except
    in the depth of the stone
    United in grief, we were all the same there.

  3. SarahLeaSales

    A Matter of Words

    A theology
    of Gold and Silver Rules,
    uniting us with God,
    dividing us from others.
    Like Solomon’s baby—
    separating us from a false parent,
    reuniting us with our true one.
    It is the Word,
    that delivers peace
    with a sword.

  4. Buddah Moskowitz

    United/Untied

    We are united by blood,
    untied by skin.

    We are united by country,
    untied by party.

    We are united in Christ,
    untied by denomination.

    We are united in wedlock,
    untied by death.

    We are united in cooperation,
    untied in competition.

    We are united by attraction,
    untied by distraction.

    We are united in each other’s eyes,
    we are untied looking past each other.

    We are united at good luck,
    We are untied by bad breaks.

  5. Connie Peters

    Symbiotic

    The way a tree
    Roots into the ground
    Draws nourishment
    Casting leaves in return

    The way its limbs
    Reach to the sky
    Giving, taking
    Thriving

    The way it grows
    Toward the sun
    Photosynthesizing
    Providing shade for others

    We flourish together

  6. Stuart Peacock

    A Valley Unveiled

    The sunlight shifts across,
    Lifting shade from the mountain,
    Shining light on the obscure,
    But also hiding that already seen.

    The two forces divisive in nature
    And yet that balance upon each other,
    One charged by the great fire in the sky,
    The other yielding to tide and earth.

    They both collide upon this rock,
    Changing places with the other,
    The great dance of light and dark
    That endures for all of time.

    In unity, they illuminate
    Yet equally, in darkness divide.

  7. Mariya Koleva

    Here is my Divided poem, I hope it posts.
    #
    Divided in the Whole

    There are small crevices
    In my heart’s feeling of completeness,
    Diving the whole into gentle microscopic particles
    Or just ordinary small pieces
    Which somehow stand together,
    But aren’t similar at all.
    #

  8. Ann M

    divide

    the cake in
    two
    but it still seems
    unfair

    to you
    the shiny-eyed

    and
    you
    oh, second-born.

    one bed
    at the window

    one bed
    by the
    door

    the man downstairs
    says to stop the noise

    and what about
    the blue ranger
    with the sword

    will you tear him
    apart
    until the blade
    snaps
    and the handle breaks?

    careful,
    or there will be no cake at all.

  9. Poet Ariel

    I am here! Sorry – Having some troubles posting here. Log-in keeps looping to my profile. *sheesh*
    Here is Day 3’s NovPAD draft:

    Solidarity

    I feel ashamed at the early hours
    garbage men must work;
    who decided it must be so early
    before the days begun?

    Large lumbering trucks
    shuffle down my street,
    surely driven by drowsy men
    dreaming of their abandoned pajamas
    and missed breakfast.
    Heading out in the unwelcomed dark with metal lunch pails,
    I imagine they must miss their goodbye kisses,
    their sprouting children getting ready for school.

    I feel ashamed that I contribute
    to it, wheeling my husky Three to the curb –
    If people refused, hoarded their trash until
    a reasonable hour, would their bosses relent?

    let them sleep?
    Then I could as well.

    Ariel
    November 3, 2015

  10. Shennon

    United he stands
    with his teammates
    on the 40 yard line.

    Rain is falling
    on a Friday night
    in late October.

    His defensive line
    is impenetrable,
    tenacious to the end.

    Offense drives the ball,
    responds to the crowd,
    continues to score.

    Through collaboration
    a small town Iowa boy
    leads his team to state.

    –ShennonDoah

  11. Nancy J

    Beethoven and Jackhammers

    “Sanctuary Open for Prayer and Meditation
    11:00 to 1:00” Doors are open, a gentle light in
    the sanctuary, classical music drifts softly outside
    and down the concrete staircase to the street.

    The blue dump truck rumbles to a stop joined by
    a skip loader and an odd machine on a trailer.
    Men arrange orange barricades, stretch yellow
    caution tape. One smiles and waves.

    Another starts the odd machine that pounds the
    concrete staircase to rubble. The skip loader flings
    pices into the dump truck. An unholy cacophony
    that would wake the dead, if we had a churchyard.

    “Sanctuary Open for Prayer and Meditation
    11:00 to 1:00” Please step around the barricades,
    mind the yellow caution tape and the scattered
    chunks of concrete. Give me your hand, I’ll help
    you up.

    Would you like a set of earplugs? How about
    a couple of aspirin? Please hold on to the pews
    for balance as you walk through the sanctuary
    to find a seat.

    In the end, no one came in. Perhaps no one wished to
    pray so near to destruction. As plaster dust falls lightly
    from the ceiling I meditate on our abiding need for places
    of peace and quiet in a world constantly divided by progress.

  12. Valkyri

    love divided by alcoholism

    you say we
    are united love
    perhaps your bottle
    tells it differently
    than it is
    your reality hazy
    we are two
    monkeys in cages
    stuck inside together
    throwing the feces
    of your trials
    and life tribulations
    at me incesssantly
    I am bored
    and we are
    much more divided
    than you know
    as you hum
    in your extraordinary
    howling drunken stupor
    caterwauling fate’s calamity
    to the gods

  13. Mariya Koleva

    Oh, so many poems already. This has been a nice November. At least its three initial days. Here is my “United” Poem. The Divided one may come in later.
    #
    Every first school day was like a comeback
    From another life.

    I would shake off the summer glitches and follies
    and unite with my old gang
    of undergraduate intellectuals.

    All of us speaking of literature,
    All of us thinking of languages,
    All of us living in books.

    The total melt-in was usually over
    By mid-October.

    Occasional weekends would sweep me
    Back to my summer time world
    Of coke sipping through a straw
    Now done in smoky bars,
    Everybody wearing leather jackets and long sleeves
    Instead of their denim-shorts.
    Looking way more like real rockers
    Than misguided teenagers playing grown-ups.
    #

  14. tobysgirl

    Outsiders

    It was always us against the world.
    We singled ourselves out of the mainstream.
    We were different, and proud of it,
    even though we wanted desperately to fit in.
    When they chose sports, we chose art
    and when they chose preppie, we chose grunge.
    It wasn’t grunge then, there were a few more years before the label for that came out.
    We were the living epitome of The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton, and we wanted it that way.
    We wanted to be misunderstood,
    too complicated for mainstream.
    Posing a tragic figure was an opportunity to stand out
    and also a way to blend in with the background.
    No one tried to figure us out (like we were THAT complicated)
    and for our part,
    we didn’t want to know them either.
    Our denim jackets were our shields from the outside world.
    One could see us, but they would never know us.
    Not how deep we are,
    not how talented we are,
    not how painful our existence is to us.
    I didn’t know it at the time, but that
    angst never leaves.
    It’s still there, it still whispers in my ear that I am more,
    more than any of you will ever know, and there is tragedy in that.
    The tragedy that will keep you from knowing me
    and the missed opportunity of me
    ever trying to know
    you.

    1. Mariya Koleva

      I really hope that the 5th time I try to post this comment, it will actually post. If it appears 5 times, I’m really sorry. The glitch “You must be logged in to post a comment.” is back. And now, to the comment itself:
      I hear you. I know what you are saying. And from the distance of so many years now, I see exactly the same picture. There is a lot of tragedy in all that, the tragedy of opportunities missed. And you are very right when you say that “that angst never leaves”. Your poem spoke to me personally, tobysgirl. Smiles

  15. Mark Danowsky

    Privacy Wall

    Used to shade
    I do not step into the sun
    without protection

    I am always turning down
    brightness and contrast
    in favor of perpetual half-sleep

    When the locusts
    drop their leaves
    our veil of seclusion is lost

  16. ReathaThomasOakley

    United they stood, divided they still stood

    Mama and Daddy didn’t talk religion
    all that much, Daddy being old time
    holiness, Mama’s beliefs from
    a sterner stream that flowed
    from what I thought was the
    same spring as Daddy’s,
    but I digress.

    The only topic I recall on which
    they disagreed, usually on long car trips,
    was exactly when
    one entered heaven after the last
    breath was breathed.

    Mama thought, “To day shalt thou be
    with me in paradise,”
    shut down all argument.
    “But, “Daddy said,

    “Ella Mae, please explain
    that place in Thessalonians
    where it says,
    ‘…the dead in Christ shall rise…’
    Please tell me how If you’re already through
    those pearly gates,
    please tell me how you gonna rise!”

    On and on it would go,
    bible verses freely floating around
    in that old Ford
    as Daddy drove into the night
    and Brother gently snored beside me.

    I’d fall asleep confident it didn’t matter
    which one was right, if I died before I woke
    one of them most likely had it covered.

  17. Anthony94

    Seamless

    North and south, the forty acres are divided
    by the silt heavy water of Middle Creek,
    slicing the section into sixteenths along the
    county line. Or does it stitch together, wet banks
    binding like child’s glue, until clouds squeeze
    rain to overflow banks, uniting creek to river,
    blurring any divisions into a swirl of cornstalk
    and bean vine, the dead edge branches of
    pawpaw and persimmon, wizened fruits afloat
    like lost flies and bobbers? If divide is to
    separate, can you pull the water back
    through your fingers as you wade the gravel
    bar, sorting through the shells of the Great Blue
    herons nested overhead, pondering their ability
    to balance in the windy aeries of their stick nests,
    to find the spot where sycamores lean over water?
    Watch how the current rushes back to cover nacre
    shining from the mussel’s shell, the crayfish sidling
    in the shallows. How it blurs the very question
    into shards of semantics. Stretch your arms and
    almost touch the sides of both banks that soar above
    your head. You can bridge this divide or simply choose to
    wade downstream to where the channel’s dug out one
    more tree to arch above the beavers’ slide. Mark how
    your feet dragged through the water, wakes splitting
    from your heels, each stride like that of the heron
    behind you. Yet water parted has closed, droplets laden
    with their thousand microorganisms gone back to flowing
    stream, the separated and divided gone back to one.
    Your question follows you in the current, already answered

  18. Jolly2

    UNITED IN MERCY ~ DIVIDED IN FEAR
    by John Yeo

    Many official vessels from different navies
    United in a common cause,
    To stem a very sad tide.
    A tidal wave of unfortunate people.
    Fleeing their homelands
    Through fear and persecution.

    The United forces of the comfortable world,
    Come together to save the lives
    Of the refugees from oppression.
    Crammed into unsafe vessels
    Preyed on for profit by cheats and thieves.
    Led to Death by drowning in cruel rough seas.

    Divided by cause, culture and strife
    The refugees from hard pressed lands
    Arrive to find salvation in a makeshift camp.
    To ask for asylum and begin a new life
    The saviours argue the point,
    Divided by the solution of overpopulation.

    United in mercy and compassion.
    They discuss going to war to stem the tide.
    Of hopeless humanity on the cruel rough seas.
    Divided by the morality of taking life
    To save the lives of the unfortunate few.
    The disunited, divided impossible solution.

    Can this worldwide situation be really true?

    Copyright (c) Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved

  19. G.Wood

    The Decline and Fall

    The auditorium lighting is bad, and the acoustics inferior.
    The smell of square pizza wafts in from the cafeteria.
    The wooden rows unfold for skeletons that ache,
    mouths dry from talking, shoulders hunched
    from carrying the weight of papers and projects.
    They congregate in sections based on subject.
    The seating is not assigned, but it could be. They wouldn’t
    blink at another policy.

    On with it, then. The updates: budget cuts, bigger classes,
    We’re out of dry erase pens again. No field trips this term.
    The test scores need help. The second floor computer lab is out
    of order. Stop taking the toilet paper to use as tissue. Please,
    be on time to your duty station. And upload your grades daily.
    The PTA is bringing soup on Wednesday. You can come get it
    on your twenty minute lunch break. That’s all for today.

    The English teachers look askance for an explanation, a rhyme, a reason.
    The science teachers want to evaluate the problems into pieces.
    The math quadrant squabbles: They are trying to divide us.
    The social studies teachers want to form a public protest.

    But only under their breath. There’s no fight left
    in them. They quietly disperse into the night
    toting home the work they will spread on the kitchen floor
    and study until bedtime. Tomorrow,

    they will open doors with smiles
    and greet innocent faces,
    teach them about tragedies,
    long division,
    chemical breakdown,
    the fall of nations.

  20. Linda Rhinehart Neas

    SPLINTERED LIVES

    Searching their faces, the eyes tell the story
    of lives left behind along with kith and kin.
    They struggle to capture the nuances of a language
    so different from their own, knowing that success
    means a chance to escape the past, to begin again.
    Each word learned, each idiom understood is one step closer
    to the dream, the hope, the desire that brings a smile.
    But, searching their faces, the eyes tell the tale
    that lingers in unforgettable sadness on the edge of freedom.

  21. Janet Rice Carnahan

    Two Fibonacci Poems

    COMING TOGETHER

    Day
    Comes
    Moving
    On our way
    Different directions
    In the quiet night, we unite
    Morning arrives as we rise too
    Determined focus
    Pace begins
    As we
    Move
    On

    DOG DAYS

    A
    Leash
    Unleashed
    And you run
    Happy to be free
    At home we laze by the fire
    United to sleep not a peep
    Until up you creep
    Toward the door
    To go
    Out
    Soon

  22. deringer1

    UNITED

    It says it right here in the announcement—
    “they will be united in marriage on June 21st”.

    At first we were, my love, united.
    We thought as one and planned as one.

    Where is our unity now, my dear?
    One of us left a window open

    letting the dove of peace fly away
    and the wind of disharmony flow in.

    When did the atom of our oneness
    split in two and explode in anger?

    Now there is no more one, but two.
    Once united, now divided.

  23. Walt Wojtanik

    (IN)SECURE

    Locked out.
    Access denied.
    I’ve tried to enter
    your heart is boarded up
    and down and out am I.
    I thought love would be the key,
    but between you and me,
    I keep you close to mind.
    I find you offer all
    that my heart desires;
    you are my treasure.
    Locked in.

  24. taylor graham

    CHAINING WORDS

    In last night’s dream I pressed forever north,
    a land of windswept peaks, of sky on snow
    and ravens’ wings still beckoning “go forth” –
    to what? But in the dream I’d never know.

    I’ll find a feather raven-black as ink
    for writing on the cold, blank sheet of white.
    The chain of time swings day from longest night,
    and of that chain, each word’s a single link.

  25. Jean Kay

    AFTER THE FOREVER

    United in holy matrimony
    with dreams of forever after.
    A partnership in every sense
    filled with love and laughter.

    Then reality settles in,
    different needs and wants arise.
    Why was this not apparent before?
    It was hidden in young love’s disguise.

    Divided now, on separate paths;
    not easy to go through divorce,
    dividing time with children
    and splitting possessions, of course.

    fast forward forty years…

    United now, on special occasions,
    overcoming events of the past,
    better knowledge of each other, and
    why ‘happy ever after’ didn’t last.

  26. Jane Shlensky

    Beneath

    He is relentless with his morning talk,
    his satchel at his feet, his lecture planned.
    He’s warming up for grinding teenaged minds
    with the blunt tool of boredom.

    Are you listening?
    he asks, eyeing her face for signs of lapse.
    My attention is undivided,
    she says passively, almost saying
    affection, Freudian slip.

    I’m listening, she says. Please do go on,
    she says, and smiles.
    She even tries to look into his eyes
    to prove her presence is entirely his,

    but outside she sees the sky
    is wondrous blue
    and she is distracted
    by a tweeting chickadee,
    a chucking squirrel,

    the sun full on
    a morning glory’s face,
    the cat wrapping his tail
    around her leg
    in solidarity.

  27. Jane Shlensky

    Sometimes you just wake up with a rhyming mind.

    Unity in Adversity

    Three children stand like stair steps at the door,
    ragged and dirty, skinny, haunted eyes,
    while the old man goes in the grocery store
    to buy some bread, some cheese, some small surprise.

    Of course, his clothes are soiled; he smells of streets
    where others throw their garbage and their poor.
    The cashier holds her breath and then retreats
    to tell her boss to watch the monitor.

    She’s almost positive the man will steal.
    She sees this kind of person every day.
    Some fake an injury to get a meal;
    some are so lost they’d give their kids away.

    But soon the man returns with milk and cheese,
    two loaves of day-old bread—the price of one,
    then sets a single grapefruit down with these.
    “We’ll share it,” he explains to anyone

    who listens, lest some people give him guff.
    He sorts change to the penny, counts out bills,
    his heart a knot of fear there’s not enough.
    When two dimes are remaining, his heart fills

    and looking at a charity display
    beside the register, he does his part
    to Save the Children, as he gives away
    his pittance for a cause close to his heart.

    She has a sudden impulse to guffaw,
    remind him that he has no place to live
    and children (not in school—there is a law!)
    but who is she to say he cannot give?

    He smiles and thanks her kindly, hefts his bag
    and goes to feed his children’s hungry stare.
    She wipes her counter down with scented rag,
    relieved to serve the matrons waiting there.

  28. Domino

    Jeanette and Alexander
    Eight when they first met
    Fell in love, no sweat
    in 1927

    Jeanette and Alexander
    Grew up together
    Loved one another
    for 75 years.

    Jeanette and Alexander
    Whose love was so complete
    For each others’ hearts they beat
    for 75 years.

    Jeanette and Alexander
    When Alexander died
    Jeanette was by his side
    She died that very day.

    Jeanette and Alexander
    Apart for just a day
    Buried, so they say,
    Together now forever.

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2015/07/03/couple-married-75-years-die-in-each-others-arms/29660645/

  29. Michelle Hed

    Rocks Rolling Around My House

    They were there for me
    and themselves.
    Sometimes an united shore of smooth stones
    quietly getting things done
    while I was ensconced within the coffin of my grief.
    They barely made a sound
    like the soothing, lapping of the waves on the shore.
    They were there for me
    and themselves.
    Sometimes a discordant mix of grief, pity
    and self-righteous know-it-alls
    who felt I should unbury myself.
    They were like rocks in a tumbler
    rough around the edges
    their beauty hidden.
    I unburied myself
    enough to skip a few stones out the door.
    They were there for me
    and themselves.

  30. Nancy Posey

    Dividing Lines

    It never was as simple as two sides to a fight.
    Ask folks in the Free State of Winston, some
    seceding from the Union, while others seceded
    from the South. In Kentucky, even the Hatfields
    and McCoys fought over more than a stolen pig.

    Some still call it Bloody Madison, that stretch
    where more fought for land and pride than
    some rich man’s slaves. Look for graves
    around Shelton Laurel, some of the dead
    mere boys. Go to Cataloochie. Find the stone
    marked Mitchell Coldwell where one box
    holds three men. Find the tree where one man
    died cursing, one smiling, one fiddling. Listen
    close. Perhaps you’ll hear the Dead Man’s Tune
    that most call Bonaparte’s Retreat.

  31. PressOn

    PITFALLS

    Whenever I prevaricate,
    I try to get my story straight
    but nonetheless I estimate

    that often, when I try disguise,
    too many parts can yield surprise.
    So I have learned, when telling lies:

    united, they stand; divided, they fall.

  32. DanielR

    FADED GLORY
    The wilted life of a former prom queen
    eroding like the daises she once wore
    faded smiles and empty waves
    trailer parks and drunken husbands
    four of them, still counting
    the cradle is full again
    crying
    hers and theirs
    they knew her then and know her now
    watched her decline
    like it was a Hallmark movie
    she’s sure they laughed about it
    but not today
    pity words leave puncture marks
    in supermarket checkout lines
    small towns divided
    by railroad tracks.

    Daniel Roessler

  33. Sally Jadlow

    United or Divided

    11/3/15

    We are united by the indwelling Holy Spirit
    because we drink of the same Well,
    feed on the same Bread,
    and hear the same Voice.

    Division creeps in when we choose
    to obey a mocking voice,
    feed on moldy bread,
    and drink filthy water.

  34. Bushkill

    Day 3: and in the spirit of the minute day poem from earlier this year:
    1. Write a United Poem.
    2. Write a Divided Poem.

    I see the light within your eyes
    It gleams, it shines.
    Embraced we be
    Others can’t see.

    Yet duty calls, away you leave
    At home just me
    Children bemoan
    Where’s daddy gone?

    Till night does fall and home you come
    Workday is done
    Children be gay
    With daddy play.

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