2015 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 5

I’ve been writing narrative poems this month. It just so happens that Poetic Asides regulars Jane Shlensky and Nancy Posey are assembling an anthology of narrative poems with a February 20, 2016. If you write narrative poems, you may want to have a look at submitting your work. Click here for the submission guidelines.

For today’s prompt, write a festive poem. It doesn’t matter the occasion, and the festivities can just be the backdrop for the poem. Remember that even a sinister story like Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” happened during a carnival time. So no matter the mood, write with festivities in mind.


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Here’s my attempt at a Festive poem:

“Trick or Treat”

Of course, Halloween took on a more sinister mood
in the days after Wilcox went missing. Of course,
parents shadowed their children closer than ever.
Walt could feel it as he ran outside and down the street
to the old clubhouse. Marcus texted for Walt to meet
him immediately, no questions asked–as if he had any.

“Trick or treat; smell my feet; give me something good
to eat.” He heard the song that he once sang, but there
seemed to be a somber silence for tonight’s festivities
as if a ghoul might strike out of the shadows at the first
crack of a smile. Walt ran harder and was out of breath
when he reached the clubhouse to do the secret knock.

Marcus threw open the hatch and said, “Get up here;
I know it’ll sound crazy, but I just had a wild idea.”


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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242 thoughts on “2015 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 5

  1. taylor graham


    You can’t sleep under a full moon.
    All night you lay awake strategizing
    who sits where, how long
    the turkey takes, who loves what kind
    of pie. Now you wonder which
    platter for mother-in-law’s deviled
    eggs. In the distance, on TV,
    the plight of sea otters. The morning
    news was worse, bickering and
    bombs, too much of everything, not
    enough to go around. The kids
    can’t go out because it’s raining. Rain
    is the greatest blessing, but not
    right now. Remember to give thanks.

  2. PSC in CT

    Autumn Cotillion

    It’s a bittersweet occasion,
    the last big fling ’til May.
    Fall bespeaks
    it’ll last for weeks
    and the wind will have her say.

    Ms. Dogwood in scarlet primps and struts
    while Mr. Oak goes a little nuts.
    The Birches ogle in their tight white pants
    just hoping for a little romance
    while the Beech boys cower,
    too yellow to dance.

    Witch Hazel sparkles and Rose’s hips swing
    when that old north wind begins to sing,
    and Bald Cypress really cuts a rug
    while Madame Fir nestles, warm and snug.

    It’s one of the best attended proms
    by the Misses Maple and their helicopter moms
    (who chaperone the reels and jigs
    while their daughters dance their whirli-gigs).

    Sweetgum puts their style to shame
    with her foliage of red-gold flame.

    But all that flashy, splashy color —
    lovely stuff that we adore —
    long before the party’s over
    finds its way to the forest floor.

    The entertainment’s quite unfailing.
    Everybody joins the fun.
    There’s no curtailing the unveiling
    as they disrobe one by one.

    Once the ball is truly over
    throughout Winter’s chill and sting
    all the guests will linger, naked
    unadorned, de-frocked ‘til spring.

  3. RJ Clarken

    Holiday Tree

    I heard a tune in minor key.
    I thought, this can’t pertain to me,
    since after all, I’m good, you see.

    But then, a forest blocked each tree.
    I felt a need to look around.
    Beyond what’s safe and self-served-bound.
    I thought my life was charmed, you see.
    But then, a forest blocked each tree.
    In places I can’t recognize
    there’s people who must improvise
    to stay alive. I couldn’t see
    but then, a forest blocked each tree.
    In festive times, I’ve got enough
    to share with those whose times are tough.
    Give back…it’s not too late to see
    within that forest grows a tree.


  4. parsonparson

    Working a carnival isn’t for everyone.
    It takes a special kind of freak.
    We must know when it’s time to shine
    And also when to hide ourselves.
    Not everyone welcomes our breed,
    But when we get back to Gib Town
    We can relax again
    In that hot Florida haze.

  5. browdd22


    The scene is turned inside out
    Turkey ravaged, ham decimated
    Stuffing diminished, potato, fruit, ambrosia salad distraught
    Cadavers strewn across the ground surrounding the circular meeting place
    Children, men, women
    Massacre; that’s what this is truly about

  6. mlr

    Festival of the Modern Age

    Where’s my rite of passage?
    my sweat lodge
    my vision quest?
    Where’s my sacred alter
    my smudge pot
    my enlightenment
    I want a solstice celebration
    I want to feel the honor of transitioning
    I want a ritual to pass on..
    Fine…I’ll eat turkey
    I’ll open gifts
    But I’ll be pouting on the inside…

  7. hohlwein

    A Festive Poem

    On this night there was so much I missed
    – being pushed,
    like the stuffing of a sandwich!
    in a folded mattress on wheels
    down a hill!

    all those mattresses, folded, on wheels, flying down a hill, such fun!

    Smoking in public

    Being thin

    Skinny dipping, thin

    Being engaged, thin and engaged – in public

    And, cutting in the bathroom
    cutting something


    barely being able to get the cork back onto the whiskey bottle
    trying how many times or –did I miss that?, well

    I missed the orgy

    I missed the meteors

    I missed the dawn

    as I was asleep
    had gone to sleep

    took care of my need to sleep
    and in this way

    my youth slipped by
    and some, not all,
    of my hurt

    was never available to me.

  8. Rob Winters

    My favorite holiday memory
    is not when I was the perfect age
    and received the perfect gift
    with perfect surprise.
    I’m sure that this happened
    on more than one occasion —
    no Grinches, Mom and Dad —
    but it’s a low-lying fog of
    nonspecific good feeling
    with only a detail here or there.

    No, my favorite was when
    the “kids” were all drifting
    into adulthood — too old
    for the rituals, but the rituals
    had to be respected all the same.
    When the gifts were not quite right
    but the effort was understood,
    maybe for the first time.
    When we went on talking
    late into the evening
    under the revolving star,
    probably suspecting that
    the last time was coming soon.

  9. barbara_y

    Playing Spoons

    Leaves crack off and fly–
    hard candy,

    the reds and greens and yellows

    the grape-colored slivers.
    She kicks the drifts, humming,

    a bee of a woman,
    conjunction. The air

    is popping
    with hard lady beetles,

    loud as the first drops of rain.
    She’s gone holy,

    taking in joy in doll-party teaspoons
    too volatile to swallow, sublimed.

    Joy from her mouth and her nose like a song.
    She is possessed. Un-caused,

    her head’s blowing up and off and out
    hers is to do and fly.

    The world is music, is made
    for finger pianos and washboards of rain

    and freedom choirs. She’s vested
    in black lacquer beads, seed

    woman. She is a jug
    band of afternoon stars.

  10. Michelle Hed


    All the glittering decorations,
    twinkling lights,
    and sparkling faces
    seemed wrong to me.

    I’m there,
    wrapped in my barely existing shroud,
    grief and pain the only things
    running through my veins.

    But I sat there,
    the cold mechanism of my heart
    wound so tight
    I wasn’t sure what would break free –
    the tears ready to spring
    or the anger clawing to scream…

    For them,
    I kept myself locked in my shroud…
    for them…
    even though I didn’t want to.

  11. Walt Wojtanik


    It’s in the air, can you feel it?
    The time draws near (it’s almost here!)
    the list was checked twice, so that seals it,
    the preparations are in high gear.

    The time draws near (it’s almost here!)
    the atmosphere is quite pleasing,
    the preparations are in high gear.
    this is my favorite season.

    The atmosphere is quite pleasing,
    up here in Caribou Corners.
    This is my favorite season,
    as it is for all the shop owners

    Up here in Caribou Corners
    the streets are decked quite gaily,
    as it is for all the shop owners,
    they dress in red and green daily!

    The streets are decked quite gaily,
    since the street carnival’s a festive joy,
    they’re dressed in red and green daily,
    every woman, man, girl and boy.

    Since the street carnival’s a festive joy,
    it’s a celebration with a cause,
    every woman, man, girl and boy
    believes I am Santa Claus!

    It’s a celebration with a cause,
    it’s in the air, can you feel it?
    So, believe that I am Santa Claus,
    the list was checked twice, so that seals it!

  12. Tim Snodgrass

    The Death of Aidan Bryce

    The death of Aidan Bryce,
    was a star studded event.
    Thousands of them
    shining down in a clear wasteland night.

    Blinded from sun burned corneas,
    unable to forage or hunt
    emaciated from not having eaten
    in weeks. His leathery skin pulled tight
    against his weary bones.

    Aidan Bryce knelt down
    placing his gnarled walking stick softly upon the ground,
    and laid his head upon the breast of mother earth,
    for one last time.
    Drifting peacefully in to her care,
    and that of the cosmos,
    and the faceless god
    in whom he refused to believe.

    And as he contentedly exhaled
    his last breath, returning it with gratitude
    to the sky. The sand blew gently in, till only
    a tuft of his long grey beard rose through
    to flutter in the evening breeze.

    Now roaming the stars
    As he once roamed the wastelands
    Aidan has found
    at last. The tranquility denied to him
    in his long and tortured existence
    as a mortal being.

    And yet, as civilization encroaches anew
    upon the wastelands that Aidan came
    not only to wander… but to love.
    Some say his voice can still be heard
    reciting his poetry
    upon the wasteland winds.

  13. Janet Rice Carnahan


    In one breath
    all lively colors exploded
    vibrant sensual delights
    freedom of flights and fancy
    rich earthly deep reds
    luscious emerald greens
    sapphire blues
    endless depth of hues
    sparkling streams of water
    carrying beams of sunlight
    bright, beautiful, bountiful
    exciting smells
    beckoning further exploration
    joyful expression of people and children
    thrilled to be present
    actively absorbing the day
    music tantalizing her very cells

    She closed her balcony door
    to rest
    to read
    to write
    to share her taste of the unspeakable
    wealth of festive richness
    right below her open window
    connecting her to the ever constant
    buoyant uplifting world

    1. Tim Snodgrass

      You do a wonderful job of capturing this scene Janet. And I love the contrast between the noisy scene outside and the contemplative one in the room.

  14. seingraham


    A long time past, in another life
    We still joke about you robbing the cradle
    I was too young to drink at my own wedding
    Got married the day before my twenty-first
    birthday … we made light of it – never dreaming
    I was destined not to be much of a drinker, in the end
    But my – how we danced, and celebrated … and …
    and stuff …
    And in the morning – do you remember my card?
    Of course, you do: it had bears and a golden-haired
    girl on it, and inside was this message …
    “Happy Birthday – to the one who’s been sleeping
    in my bed…”
    Oh yeah.

  15. Pat Walsh

    by Patrick J. Walsh

    sometimes when I eat
    in the quiet of
    the kitchen
    the light overhead shines
    like laughter

    the hours swap splinters
    of stories you told
    on holidays
    about those who had
    gone before

    in the early dark
    the days pass quickly
    toting hours
    as if rushing headlong
    toward salvation

    and I still recall
    the way the windows
    steamed up
    every time you cooked
    a turkey

  16. De Jackson

    Aubade in Borrowed Bling

    I hate the world today, and yet you have tried to tie
    a bow on it, wrap it all up in confetti and song. Why

    not a singing telegram, a fruit basket bouquet, some
    blinking lights and a flocked evergreen wreath? Shall

    we carol it into dusk? Please, peel back all this sparkle
    -spangled skin, until it’s back to its old gray husk.


  17. Shennon

    Fiesta Friday!
    My students all shout.
    It’s the next best thing
    To school getting out.

    Juan’s bringing salsa
    Sofía the cheese
    Raquel has the chips
    Everyone agrees

    That a little food
    Equals “mucho” fun
    Everyone’s happy,
    The lessons get done.


  18. James Von Hendy

    Sky Lights

    We speed from sunlight into night and crane
    to look back as we arc to the north,

    the horizon picked out from black in blue
    delphinium on a bed of crimson rose

    afloat a liquid sea of molten orange
    and the yellow blaze of fading sun

    before the world wheels into darkness. We close
    our shades, most of us, and try to sleep

    over the dark reaches of Canada
    where the boreal forest lies black

    below an ocean of cotton clouds.
    Who are we, scattering around the globe

    above batting moonlit white beneath
    this vast net of winking stars, yellow, white,

    ice blue, and palest hint of red? How
    easily we take for granted this willing

    diaspora, the scattered lives we lead.
    Below us, thunderstorms, the sudden, muted

    glow of clouds white gold, then gray, how lives
    light up and fade and light again in some

    other place and time. Far to the north now
    before we bend back, the flickering, veiled dance

    of the aurora, shimmering, ghostly greens
    and silvered blues, as transient as us.

    Soon we are beyond them, racing south
    into the indigo ink of night again,

    and soon the sooty clouds will break
    over the pearled necklaces of light

    at water’s edge, the sharply angled grids of streets
    lined with lamps, the vapor, tungsten, neon glow

    of cities strange and familiar, what we’ve left
    behind or come home to, a pageant of light

    we descend into, the yellowed envelope
    of dreams and hopes that whites out the night sky.

  19. Alaina Dawson

    merry & bright

    your timing was nothing short of impeccable
    not close enough to christmas to be an asshole
    but just close enough for the bruises to still sting

    i couldn’t bear spending the day in the house we use to call home
    so i took a walk in the cold, blustery winter
    streets caked in black ice, begging me to fall

    passed by two chatty women, quietly pointing at the man on the bench
    “how sad it is that he’s alone on christmas!”
    how sat it is, to be alone on christmas

    how sad it is, how sad it is

  20. ppfautsch24

    Harlequin mask put away,
    Scarecrows lined up in a row.
    Candy all given out,
    Children’s squeals of laughter and shouts.
    Crisp clear frosty nights,
    Trees of autumn hues.
    Time to don fur capped boots.
    Dinner with stuffing, turkey, and candid yams.
    Carols played throughout the rest of the year;
    I surrender to the holiday cheer!

    Candy filled advents to count at night.
    Mistletoe hung to kiss with delight.
    Lights atop roof tops gleaming,
    Cherub faces will be dreaming.
    Holiday music from my radio will croon.
    I surrender to playing Christmas carols
    Way too soon!
    By Pamelap

  21. SarahLeaSales

    Picnic at Hanging Garden

    It isn’t quite Labor Day—
    women are still wearing white,
    though many wear dresses that
    compete with the flowers,
    perfume that commingles with
    the clover that sweetens the air.

    There is merry to be made,
    lemonade to be drank—
    tart as the cherry pies that sit cooling
    on Miss Bennion’s booth.

    There are games of horseshoes,
    old pillowcase races,
    and cupcake eating contests—
    each vying for the most participants.

    The young mayor—
    all of thirty-one—
    sweats in his Sunday suit,
    as he shakes hands with the good people
    of Poplarville, Missouri.
    The scene is reminiscent of
    A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,
    except these are simpler people,
    placed in modern times.

    The atmosphere is charged,
    Music from time gone by
    floats on the air from
    four men in red and white,
    crisscrossing with the American Flag in the background—
    like an optical illusion.

    A pile of shoes are heaped at the foot of a tree—
    the tree where half the town has carved their initials.
    The children go barefoot in the muddy creek,
    the boys rolling up their jeans,
    the girls raising the hemlines of their dresses,
    the boys trying to splash the girls,
    the girls trying to run away.

    Rows of tables are arrayed like the lilies of the field—
    fried chicken, corn on the cob, watermelon,
    and fudge that melts in the hot, hot sun.
    Not the finest banquet halls in Cape Girardeau
    are arrayed such as these.

    The smaller children pile into the hayride,
    and men raffle for picnic dates with the ladies…
    and their baskets.
    Miss Lilly White fetches the highest bid
    for her turkey sandwiches and lukewarm coffee,
    for there is always Tapper’s Drug Store
    or Alice’s Diner,
    whose coffeepot never sleeps.

    There is no tent but the leafy shade of the poplar trees,
    and the clouds that float across the blue of heaven unseen.
    The cemetery is just back apiece,
    yonder, towards the rock garden built by the first settlers.

    The mayor’s wife rings the triangle;
    it is like a cattle call.
    All the little lambs come running
    with their rosy, dirty cheeks,
    the women like wilted flowers,
    their petals sagging like wet handkerchiefs,
    the men with their shirts that have darkened with sweat.

    The bandstand is reconfigured,
    and the final star of the night appears—
    like the last blast of fireworks.
    He is accompanied by two men,
    his guards,
    one shoe off,
    one shoe on,
    like Diddle Diddle Dumpling.
    Nothing must happen to him,
    for his appearance is why they’ve come.

    Everyone gathers round,
    the waning sun warring with the waxing moon
    making the faces of the people glow like halos.

    The children are suddenly quiet,
    and everyone is instructed to hold their applause.
    Introductions are made,
    and silence falls over the sheep.

    All that build-up,
    and it is over in a second.
    There is a pregnant pause
    that gives birth to life and animation,
    to clapping,
    to making a joyous noise.

    The Devil had come into their garden,
    and now sways from three neckties
    strung together,
    boneless as a snake.
    His second shoe drops just then,
    but no one was listening.
    No one hears.

  22. tunesmiff

    (c) G. Smith (BMI)
    Pig in the ground;
    Laughter around;
    Hot country sound,
    Hillbilly throw down.

    Mountain night,
    Stars so bright,
    Moon so full,
    What a sight.

    We may not have much,
    But we have more than many;
    Just your gentle touch,
    Tells me I have plenty.

    Lights in the trees,
    Music on the bbreeze;
    You beside me,
    What more do I need?

    We may not have much,
    But we have more than many;
    And just your loving touch,
    Tells me we’ve got plenty.
    Yeah, I know we’re blessed with plenty.


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