2016 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 16

For today’s prompt, take the phrase “Play (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then write the poem. Possible titles include: “Play Nice,” “Play Fair,” “Play Hard,” “Play the Guitar,” etc.


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Here’s my attempt at a Play Blank poem:

“Play the Air Guitar”

Play the air guitar if it helps
you feel better about your life;
dance in front of a mirror if
it will carry you through this night;

don’t let anyone else tell you
how you should move along from here;
someone else’s eye prescription won’t
help your nearsighted vision clear;

play the air guitar if it helps
you feel better about your day;
if the others don’t like it, close
your eyes and continue to play.


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.

He loves playing the air guitar, especially when he’s listening to bands like Queen, Muse, and 80’s hair bands.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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114 thoughts on “2016 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 16

  1. Beth Henary Watson

    Playing House

    I’d say we’ve done pretty well at
    playing house,

    Despite completely inadequate

    And an absence of on-the-job

    There are conventions, yes, and

    They work, but at others they
    aren’t really

    A good idea, such as taking any of it
    Too seriously,

    Like whether the carpet shows

    Or the walls get colored on. All that

    Is that somebody had a good time,

    Which is what it means to play,

  2. Jane Shlensky

    Play Date

    We meet some Mondays to sing and pick,
    him just learning, and me, addicted
    to seeing what an instrument will do.

    We start with the old favorites
    to stretch our hands, warm up our voices,
    then see where sound will take us.

    Sometimes he sings the lead,
    high tenor like a ringing bell
    and I sing harmony then trade.

    He says he needs a kindred mind;
    I say music can heal our hearts.
    We are both right.

    Some folks call it rehearsal; some, practice.
    We call it a play date, play, play
    to stay alive by every definition.

  3. Jane Shlensky

    Play Your Heart Out

    The worst days, the unkindest acts
    can only reach so far in me
    as I allow them to. The facts
    are altered by my attitude
    as I step down time’s cataracts
    and let sweet music handle me.

    I pick a hard piece and relax
    into the fingering and sound
    and lose myself. The day’s impacts
    just waltz away, and I am found
    within the song. Music transacts
    with heart and mind, with hand and eye,
    and all that plagues the mind contracts
    as I play my heart out—or try.

  4. SarahLeaSales

    Play Here

    Safe is Mama’s house,
    with its four walls,
    fenced in with four more,
    the windows shut and locked,
    the doors, as well.
    For I’ve seen the taken,
    whose frozen smiles
    light up the set that
    lights up the room.

  5. DMK

    Play on Johnny Bones
    by Dawn Kvernenes

    they called him Johnny Bones
    came with the wonderful tones
    from the shinny trombone

    I liked it when he played the flute
    fit me like a well tailored suit
    unless the trombone had in its mute

    sad for someone with such a gift
    gave those who made it the show a pleasure lift
    the horn is not all you did blow leaving your life boat a drift

    from the big stage to playing in Europe
    thinking the music comes from the dope
    left me: someone who loved you without any hope

    So Play on Johnny Bones
    Hope you find a home
    you were a fool to have left me alone

    found you on you tube the other day
    said you would not ever with them play
    now I know you threw it all away

    left me sad with the wasted gift
    no longer giving people a lift
    hope it is not a permanent drift

  6. Walter J Wojtanik


    I hear the music in my head,
    a loop of melody rolling around
    and around this sound a lyric forms,
    the sound deforms to fit my mood
    and it is all-good the way I hear,
    sing the song; play it by ear.

    The rhythm needs a little fiddle
    to help me solve this music riddle,
    Don’t let it fool ya, it’s kind of cool, yeah
    and it can school ya if you let it.
    Don’t forget it, just write it down,
    this loop of melody rolling around.

    The bridge will get you from to here
    to the next bar, it’s really not far,
    just a skip and a jump and a thumping
    bass line. A little face time and a chorus
    between us,. This song could’ve been us
    if we could carry a tune. Or rhyme with June… or soon… or croon…

    But it’s not broke so don’t fix it,
    just take a sample and mix it,
    but don’t break no rules, yo(u)
    I can glue ya, if I do ya like a melody,
    it is all good. The way I hear it,
    that’s the spirit , play it by ear!

    © Walter J. Wojtanik – 2016

  7. Walter J Wojtanik


    You gather words, amassing
    a vocabulary surpassing
    all the words you knew before.

    Your nuance is pleasing
    and your carpe is seizing,
    before the day gets off the floor.

    You dally with forms,
    In your poetic windstorm,
    wondering what your words have in store.

    For no matter the season,
    your rhymes will have reason
    and make you all warm to you core.

    You’re a wordsmith and you know it,
    and you love to [play] poet,
    though your friends think that makes you a bore!

    © Walter J. Wojtanik – 2016

  8. tunesmiff

    G. Smith (BMI)
    Play something country,
    Play something true;
    Play something bittersweet,
    Lonesome and blue.
    Play something heartfelt,
    As sad as can be,
    Play something country,
    And play it for me.

    I’ve been in this city for too long, it seems;
    Chasing a future that’s killing my dreams.
    Hard work and money are bending my soul,
    And the joy of my youth has quickly grown old.

    Play something country,
    Play something true;
    Play something bittersweet,
    Lonesome and blue.
    Play something heartfelt,
    As sad as can be,
    Play something country,
    And play it for me.

    There’s a girl in Kentucky I knew long ago,
    How I got lucky I may never know;
    But I lost her hand when I played my last card,
    Though I got what I wanted, that getting was hard.

    Play something country,
    Play something true;
    Play something bittersweet,
    Lonesome and blue.
    Play something heartfelt,
    As sad as can be,
    Play something country,
    And play it for me.

    Now I spend my evenings in this happy hour bar,
    With a view of the freeway and its rush-hour cars.
    I hear all those songs you play every night,
    All alone on that stage under red neon light.
    Could you…

    Play something country,
    Play something true;
    Play something bittersweet,
    Lonesome and blue.
    Play something heartfelt,
    As sad as can be,
    Play something country,
    And play it for me.

    Play something country
    And play it for me.

  9. Janet Rice Carnahan


    What a dancing, dandy thing to do
    Why not play, what fun for you
    Just think a bit and find one word
    Off the wall, perhaps absurd

    Make it match with something new
    String words together, that will do
    Sing on with colors or make them rhyme
    Play with them now and over time

    Dr. Seuss made it work
    It was his style, it was his quirk
    Children laughed all over the place
    Great big smiles on their face

    Words can uplift and bring out joy
    Giving us a pause to fully enjoy
    Yes, they are marvelous and fun
    Who doesn’t love a wondrous pun

    Just look out your window
    See what’s there that you know
    Grab onto that very first word
    Fly on the wings of that dazzling bird

    Climb up that tree and go for a whirl
    Give your made-up words to a squirrel
    Go for a walk and giggle and laugh
    Trust me you’ll carve your own playful path

    Words can express so much of our self
    Why put them up high on an unreachable shelf
    Bring them on down and share them out loud
    They’re sure to be heard in any crowd

    Short and succinct or terribly long worded
    Clearly stated or creatively well herded
    Make sure and use every vowel and letter
    Along with great fun and you’ll feel better

    They’re always available and they like to play
    Especially helpful on a cold snowy day
    Gather just one or another word
    They can make your day or haven’t you heard!

  10. taylor graham

    6 days past Thanksgiving

    For weeks of acorn-fall
    eight wild turkeys paraded every morning,
    mist or shine, across our poor excuse for a lawn;
    patrolling perimeters of house and brink
    of driveway, so our Shepherd dogs
    had to detour the big birds.
    A week before Thanksgiving, the turkeys
    were gone. No more morning visits.
    In that bumper wild-turkey year,
    they disappeared from roadsides, fields
    and oak edges. Gone.
    You said turkeys keep calendar.
    I said, they’re playing the odds. Now,
    Thanksgiving’s history.
    Introduced here half a century ago,
    turkeys have prospered, learned to live
    among us, playing by their understanding
    of the rules. Of Thanksgiving.
    I miss our turkey parades in late November,
    their head-forward plug-along march
    of survive and thrive.

  11. Jolly2

    by John Yeo

    Red and golden autumn leaves, fluttering wildly in the breeze.
    Kick them into piles and laugh, pile them up and play castles.
    Yellow and brown leaves mingling freely, together with golden red.
    Help to pile them higher and higher, tomorrow we’ll light a bonfire.

    After breakfast we sit on a log as Daddy prepares the bonfire.
    “Jenny suddenly shouts “Stop! Please wait, move the leaves away.”
    Surprisingly underneath the heap a baby hedgehog has made a home.
    Jenny says, “Can we keep it Dad?” cuddling the soft spines closely.

    Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved

  12. Jolly2

    by John Yeo

    “You’re Fired! Get out!”
    “Security, show him the door.
    Call the police, throw him out,
    We can’t afford him anymore.
    We hired him to work on trust
    To secure our reputation.
    We needed a profitable thrust
    Without financial complication.
    He played the market recklessly
    Defying warnings along the way.
    Living a financial fantasy,
    Gambling past futures away;
    The bank could come to grief
    We will never recover completely,
    The man is a foolish lying thief
    Playing the market with our money.

    Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved

  13. Ann M

    note to publisher

    pay me for my work
    pay me for my time
    pay me for my talent
    pay me for my book
    pay me what i’m owed
    pay me what I earned
    pay me like you pay yourself
    pay me, crook

  14. Anthony94

    Play the Bones
    Listen to the wind sough
    through the bleached ribs
    the fan of tail, the wide flat
    head, where he’s hung these
    forty pounders in the woods.

    He never wasted anything
    after the perfect white fillets,
    entrails to the coons on the bank,
    then these skeletons threaded
    through with monofilament

    where they swung like primitive
    windsocks from a burr oak, bones
    going white as mother of pearl,
    pieces breaking off in the gales
    when they danced like puppets,

    a riverman’s windchimes.

  15. grcran


    strolled down to the sweet auburn curb
    market for meals books food & herbs
    playdates with my wife
    high points of my life
    as together we find the superb

    gpr crane

  16. grcran

    playing with string

    our cats did play today they don’t
    play every time they won’t
    always play nice keep claws
    pulled in feral because
    they live outside were born
    there rescued from forlorn
    sad scowl this string they chase
    a mousy tail escapes
    from view fine feline brats
    attack string end our cats

    gpr crane

  17. writinglife16


    Every time I
    crumple a piece of paper
    the cats come running.
    They sit waiting for the throw.
    It is high and off they go.

    **expensive toys are wasted on them 🙂

  18. Bushkill

    Play It

    “Play it.” You chuckled,
    Though my ball’s in the rough.
    A swing way out here
    Is beyond hard and tough.

    There’s a tree and some bushes
    Scattered leaves, sticks, and stones.
    Not a chance in the world
    I can drive this shot home.

    Still I address the ball proper
    As is only polite
    My back swing’s in a thicket.
    And there isn’t much light.

    When I pull the trigger
    On a swing of despair,
    My arms quake and they shiver
    There’s dirt in the air.

    And launching forward
    In a graceful long arc
    Is the head of my club
    And some pieces of bark.

    Seems I missed the wee ball
    In this intricate game
    Yet you stand there in awe
    All just the same.

    “Try again,” you muse
    And I’m tempted sore true
    But if it’s all just the same
    I’ll take a drop and -2.

    And the next shot is prettier
    And near fells you with wonder.
    While you worry about par
    I just finished one under.

  19. tobysgirl

    Play It Cool

    I try to play it cool, really I do.
    My motto is live and let live.
    Not so much the people around me
    and sometimes I get so frustrated
    I just want to make them realize that
    their agenda
    down my throat
    is not the way to do thigs
    so I fire back in
    and blast them.

    And then I step back,
    rub my face,
    lean into the corner and shrug.
    That’s how I play.

  20. headintheclouds87

    Play That Song Again

    Play that song again
    The one you first heard
    From Dad’s car radio
    During that long summer drive
    All those years ago.

    Listen now with older ears
    To travel back there again
    To sounds of simpler days,
    Learn the lyrics once misheard
    Or stubbornly keep your own words.

    Play that song again
    To turn back the clock
    When the world goes too fast
    And stop a minute to soak in
    The comfort of music past.

  21. angieinspired

    “Play Dumb With Me”

    play dead with me tonight

    like some play footsie

    cavort & do things in the woods

    play nice with me tonight

    like some porcelain pleaser

    taking & thanking & thanking

    play dumb with me tonight

    like some who don’t know how

    to open their mouths, lift their tongues

    play like you mean it tonight

    like someone groping blindly

    madly fondling for the dazzling void

  22. ReathaThomasOakley

    Play Nice

    My mama loved to give advice for
    every situation I might be faced with
    in childhood or beyond.
    Stand up straight, she’d say, close
    your mouth when you chew, answer
    yes please or no thank you when offered
    fried chicken or a treat, don’t take rides
    from strangers, or from Jimmy On The
    Corner’s daddy, ’cause he’s a little odd.
    And, what ever else you might encounter,
    she’d say so seriously, don’t you ever
    never forget to always play nice. Even
    if others act ugly, you must play nice, if
    they steal your toys, your homework,
    or your boyfriend, remember to play nice.
    Mama’s gone, but when I rail against
    unfairness or liars or elections, I still can
    hear her voice telling me to play nice.

    1. Bushkill

      A mother’s words do tend to last and linger, longer perhaps than a father’s though that isn’t always true. I thank God for my own mom and also for the mom my kids know. She’s done it right, no mistaking. Great little piece, Reatha.

  23. Michelle Hed

    Play the Show

    play like a movie
    running on the projector of
    your mind, zipping around in a chaotic order
    some in color, others black and white or even sepia toned, causing you to snicker
    to yourself in amusement, knowing the thousands of
    photographs you’ve taken over
    the years translated

  24. Kayla

    Play Music

    Melody sweet
    A rhythm beat
    Hearts desire
    For musical fire
    Louder or softer
    The meaning grows stronger
    Flow for us to hear
    Push away or hold it dear
    Understand meaning
    Or have no feeling
    Ask the question
    Or don’t even mention
    Invisible reach
    Ability to teach
    Keep it around
    Simply for sound
    Feel it grow clearer
    Think deeper and deeper
    Why was it written and played
    Does it matter nowadays
    Think or leave it alone
    Love it and make it your home
    All the thoughts music brings
    Sometimes it just makes me want to sing

  25. De Jackson

    Play Me Something Smooth, with a Little Kick

    ’Cuz I’m about to go out fightin’,
    go out writin’ somethin’
    that just might stick.

    Play me some blues,
    some funk,
    some rattled junk –
    and all that jazz.

    Play me for a
    fool, school me
    in the ways of
    wine, and song.

    Let’s play that crazy
    like a banjo with our
    own heart strings.
    Let’s sing the way
    we used to, with
    our whole raw

    Let’s shout our
    (the secret ones)
    into this cobalt sky. Let’s
    crown ourselves in clouds
    and wayward trees.

            You play kazoo.
    I’ll praise this breeze.


  26. deringer1


    I remember you sitting at the piano.
    As a child I loved to hear you play.
    I wanted to have your talent,
    to play so easily, with joy.

    As a child I loved to hear you play.
    Snuggling under a blanket, I dreamed
    of playing just like you. Then you went away.

    I wanted to have your talent,
    but you took it with you
    and put it down somewhere along the way.

    To play so easily, with joy
    was never my forte to embrace.
    Please come and play again for me.

  27. PowerUnit

    Go! We’re through
    No choice, no option
    No money for a cab home
    My dice fail to monopolize
    Fives and tens, a lone fifty
    No hope of consolidation or peace

    B&O and Water Works
    The corner store supplies my food
    Chips and soda
    I can run water
    But not was my clothes
    Life is no fun
    With cards stacked against

    A community bailout
    My only chance
    A gift from the man
    A lucky seven
    Skirts disaster, again
    But all I get is a ban
    And do not get to pass Go!

  28. MichelleMcEwen

    Play in my Hair

    Play in my hair,
    tell me that you don’t care
    that you can’t run your fingers through
    it— the kinks, the knots, the almost
    ‘locs. Tell me you like it better
    when it’s wild/wide
    that you don’t mind the taste
    the roundness
    the roughness.
    Say you hate it straight
    say don’t even braid it.
    Tell me to leave it alone
    tell me you don’t need me to
    even run a comb through it.
    Play in my hair,
    tell me that you don’t care
    that you can’t run your fingers through
    it, tell me that you prefer
    to pull
    to grab
    to get
    caught in.

  29. Walter J Wojtanik


    Workaholics Anonymous has turned me away.
    “You’re beyond all hope” is all they would say.
    It’s the way I was raised; there is no other way,
    so I’ve resigned myself to keep working.

    So, time and again, and time and a half too,
    fingers to the bones is the way that I do,
    and I never punch out ‘til the work is all through
    though my trigger finger keeps jerking.

    There’s money in the bank and still I’ve got bills,
    the alarm clocks’ trill is the least of my thrills,
    and the company’s turning me into their shill
    as the “Big Boss Man” keeps on smirking.

    But my social life is declared D.O.A.
    “You’re beyond hope” is all that they say,
    There’s just not enough “jack” to make me go astray,
    so I’ve resigned myself to keep working.

    © Walter J. Wojtanik – 2016

  30. uvr

    Playing the role of her life

    She said yes
    He said no
    it hurt

    She listened to her heart
    He followed his mind
    it stung

    She used his rejection
    to build a fortress
    he labeled her
    the ice queen

    But he never saw her melt

  31. tunesmiff

    G. Smith (BMI)
    Play that old song that we used to sing,
    Play that old song from back in the day,
    Play that old song that means only one thing,
    Play that old song, just play, play;
    Play that old song, please play.

    Play that old song that once made us dance,
    Play that old song, and I’ll know what to say.
    Play that old song and give us a chance,
    Play that old song, just play, play;
    Play that old song, please play.

    A few simple notes,
    A light melody,
    Will make all the difference,
    Listen, you’ll see.

    Play that old song that will quiet my heart,
    Play that old song – I forgot how to pray.
    Play that old song so I don’t come apart;
    Play that old song, just play, play;
    Play that old song, please play.

  32. Bushkill

    Play Book

    I didn’t know it
    Never read it
    Couldn’t find it
    Was gonna blow it.

    Without its instruction
    I had limited deduction with
    Regrettable production
    In the fine Art of seduction.

    I had no game.
    My lines were lame.
    The outcome became
    Always the same.

    I’m certain I gawked.
    When in she walked
    And beverage stalked.
    I repeatedly thought, “Do not balk.”

    We’re together now,
    ‘Tis a mystery how,
    But I am happy all the same.

    Because lines left unread
    Left me instead
    To be just myself in this game.

  33. annell

    Play For Keeps


    all in    play for keeps     roll the dice

    sometimes you win    sometimes you don’t    take a chance

    dance to the music    the music only you hear     sing your song

    roar like a lion    howl like a coyote    sprinkle it with love

    or sparkling stars    gathered on a starry night     remember your mommy

    and your daddy    play for keeps    make it count

    you only have so much time    when we look at the big picture     it ain’t long

    we are but fireflies    sparking off and on    in the forest clearing

    fairy dust shimmers    the path is lit    we have but to follow

    pick up your hand    the cards are dealt    no two hands alike

    bounce the ball     pick up the jacks    or pick up sticks

    board games     pin the tail on the donkey      blindman’s bluff

    the day comes to an end    children gather    red rover/red rover

    life is a game or a stage play    from the first act to the last    play for keeps

    November 16, 2016

  34. PressOn


    It used to be, before a baseball game,
    the umpire used to grab a megaphone.
    “Play ball,” he’d call to players one and all
    and to the fans: the hale and frail and lame,
    and then the game would start. He set the tone
    that fun would then begin, from spring to fall.
    These days, the umpires often still will shout
    at players who display hubris or gall,
    but never will an umpire holler out,
    “Work ball.”

  35. barbara_y

    Play Like It’s Real

    I can’t call this place home.
    The house: yes. But not the whole.
    A joy ride sunk in the river
    my engine still running in neutral.
    Location. Location.


    The sun here clears the horizon quickly
    and lights the tall fence row oaks
    suddenly as a switch. Amber.
    And one half-polished brass, summer
    still green in its hard-to-reach heart.

  36. Pwriter10

    PLAY THE VICTIM by DeAndre Oolong

    When life beats you down,
    (It’s safer that way)
    Getting up would mean
    you accept responsibility for yourself
    even though we all know the world is biased
    (against you).
    You want to succeed. You want to strive.
    If only succeeding and striving
    didn’t involve jumping through hoops
    you never wanted in your way
    (So unfair).
    When I or others mock you,
    you rightly call us on our error.
    We could surely see your greatness
    if our shadows didn’t block the view.

  37. Pat Walsh

    Play It Loud
    by Patrick J. Walsh

    turn it up turn it up turn it up
    waddya mean it won’t
    go any further
    it needs to be loud
    if they’re gonna hear it

    all the way across the lake
    forty years ago
    and out there in space
    where we broadcasted all
    those black & white memories

    and up there in the quiet
    where your true love waits

  38. Jezzie


    If my dog plays the fool
    and won’t behave at my call
    she’ll be put in the kennel.

    If my kids and I play it cool
    everything will be boxed and all
    packed ready to travel.

    If we all play our move
    and solicitors don’t stall
    it should easy prove.

    If my buyers play for time
    our house move might fail
    and up the wall I’ll climb.

    If lorry drivers play it fair
    we will have a removal
    van to take us there.

    If we all play it right
    we hope to be in Cornwall
    before Christmas night.

  39. DMK

    Play Hannon
    by Dawn Kvernenes

    My piano teacher had me learn Hannon
    learn Hannon you can play anything
    anything you want to play
    play it all you will get a trophey
    a trophey for completion in one sitting
    one sitting takes about an hour
    an hour I can not consentrate or memorize, play Hannon
    play Hannon everyday your hands will remember
    will remember hours of practise now lost
    now lost Stanly passed away never found another
    another who could put up with me. but,I did do his funeral
    his funeral might have gone viral. but I lost the pictures
    I lost the pictures;Stanly was in the Santa Union
    Santa Union with real beard laid out under a red blanket with white trim
    red blanket and white trim very much suited him

  40. DMK

    Play hard
    by Dawn Kvernenes

    a woman the captain
    she was an all-american
    I can’t remember her name
    I remember what she said so have no shame
    “play hard, do your best
    play to win it is a test”
    if you win and the crowd gets loud
    you can hold your head up be proud
    if you do not you cheat everyone
    winning that way isn’t any fun
    when your opponent makes a good play
    congratulate them then go on your way
    play your best hope they do too
    then it is a true win for you
    don’t pray people get hurt or foul out
    a win like that is nothing for which to shout”
    the next day the game came both teams had been cheated
    for the national championship most of us rather heated
    I am not tall I blocked her out sat on her lap
    we won the game we got the crowd clap
    I played hard for my last game
    did not have any shame
    or come up lame
    a good win no one to blame
    wish I could remember her name
    we were just better with aim
    thanks Moody Bible
    for being our rival