2016 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 4

For today’s prompt, write an imagined life poem. The imagined life could be your own, or imagining a life for someone else–like a person you see at the bus stop, grocery store, or library. If for yourself, the imagined life might be another possible parallel outcome or a possible future (for better or worse).


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Here’s my attempt at an Imagined Life poem:

“If I Had Said No”

If I had said, “No,” I’m sure, I might’ve cried
far less often, and there’s a chance I’d have
found fewer opportunities to second guess
myself, and maybe I’d even be way closer
to the normal person I know I am not, but

if I had said, “No,” I know, for one hundred
and ten freaking percent, that I would’ve
found fewer opportunities to laugh and
surprise myself, and maybe I’d be closer
to the normal person I know I am not, but

if I had said, “No,” I’m not sure that I’d be
any happier or more full of life; in fact, I’m
darn near certain I’d be miserable, which
is why, I continue to always say, “Yes.”


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 is more of a “yes man” than a “no man,” and he’s super cool with that.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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109 thoughts on “2016 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 4

  1. ToniBee3

    The Porch

    let’s see…

    five generations of Cooper queens
    (two beyond a century old) together
    in harmony and home-sewn aprons
    with rolling pins rolling dough; and

    sprinkling flour and wisdom into
    the rain and the breezes and the
    tea cakes and catfish baked in
    dutch ovens on the front porch; and

    sipping on spirits on that creaky swing
    and admiring green thumbs; and playing
    spades and rummy and old maids –
    our favorite pastimes – especially for

    our eldest: spry and spittin’ snuff ‘cross
    the flower beds in a fine trajectory
    while holding a winning hand.
    this life I often imagine…

    …harmonizes my everything.

  2. tripoet

    I’m Imagining the 2016 Presidential Election Over

    I’m imagining life under Hiliary and I see
    e-mails pouring down the chimney like
    the letters in Harry Potter Book One.
    I weep.

    I’m imagining Trump has won and I
    see walls I can’t climb surrounding
    words that can’t be taken back.
    I cry.

    I want to bring back Harry, and Ronald
    and Teddy and George. I see Abe’s soulful
    eyes when I ask , ”What do we do next?”
    He doesn’t know.

  3. MeenaRose

    I people watch for sport:
    Entertaining enlightenment or enlightening entertainment;
    The jury’s out on this one
    As I project onto these people a full narrative;
    Back story – their sole crime was to catch my muses fancy.

    That woman there in haute couture and shabby shoes;
    Glazed eyes and twitchy lips, fingers tapping nervously;
    Oh wait! It’s anticipating – a smile cracked her face open;
    Light flooded in and worry washed out as he hugged her;
    His embrace fills in the blanks.

    I came as soon as I could;
    Of this I am now convinced. A universal hush descended;
    “I am here for you. That’s all that matters now.”
    His urgent whisper and fervent prayer is witnessed by all;
    For a moment, we all bear witness.

    Time unfreezes, each of us blending into the backstory of life;
    Our fabric frayed – loose and fluid;
    A tapestry of coincidence and observation:
    Master Weaver, Grand Coordinator, Heavenly Father;
    Life’s greatest mystery – may it never unravel.

    ~ Meena Rose

  4. Julieann


    I always pick the safe,
    The comfortable,
    The tried and true path
    But what if, I’d followed
    My passion, my music
    I’d not be writing this poem
    I’d be playing concert halls
    Be a well-known recording artist
    Writing music with notes
    Floating across the page
    A new melody here
    A bridge there
    And then teaching
    Spreading the joy and love
    That comes from music
    Next time around no more
    Easy, tried, and true
    I’ll follow my passion
    And see what turns out!

  5. JRSimmang

    When You Were Young

    Watermelon cool dripping from
    our chins, our change, our dreams
    loose in our denim jean pockets
    lost in the ripped brass seams.

    Withering Sunday sunflowers
    and parched lemonade tongues
    sang to the neighbors down the street
    sweet quarter-spinning songs

    while preachers preached their voices hoarse,
    and horses whinnied psalms,
    the men all sweated through their shirts
    and women fanned their palms.

    Wonder, he thought, where simple went,
    when days were numbered right.
    The solace of inhibition,
    and putting up a fight.

    -JR Simmang

  6. KieraS

    “Away From the Concrete Abyss”

    Living in an earthen home,
    Children having room to roam,
    Driveway lined with fruit trees,
    Goats grazing which provide the cheese,
    Lawn ablaze with wildflowers,
    Fed by the Spring showers,
    Greenhouse is where I take my tea,
    To this wonderland I wish to flee,
    Far away from the city,
    To the countryside so pretty,
    Collecting my own water,
    Raising a couple cattle for slaughter,
    Two horses pull the carriage,
    For a newly weds marriage,
    From the garden I gather the herbs,
    To some this life utterly disturbs,
    For me it is pure bliss,
    Compared to this concrete abyss.

    1. LadyBug5162

      What If…
      I live in a prison I helped build
      These shackles are by choice
      Or are they?

      What if???

      What if I had listened
      To God
      To others
      Married my childhood sweetheart
      Had four children
      Served as a pastor’s wife
      Finished college

      For better or worse
      Here am I

      Would I have been any happier?
      Did I know how to be happy?

      Would I have become as strong as I am now?

      For better or worse
      Here am I

      Purified by the fire
      As iron is strengtheded by the pounding of the blacksmith

      As I contemplate what could have/might have
      Should have? been
      I know one thing
      I am me
      Regardless of either path

      For better or worse
      Here am I

  7. Nancy Posey

    I’ve been without access to post this week, so here’s to catching up!

    Another Girl, Not Anne

    Another girl hiding
    in another attic
    or another town,
    feels fear and hunger,
    scribbles in her journal,
    longs for light.

    No one knows her face,
    her name, the particulars
    of her story, a life
    lived out of sight,
    wary of sounds, tired
    of secrecy, silence.

    She too has a sister
    or brother, grows weary
    of fights with her mother.
    She’d love to turn back
    time, to notice the sky,
    to sit in school and lern
    for learning’s sake.

    Maybe she lives, marries,
    has children, grandchildren,
    takes the first ship
    to anywhere else
    at war’s end, where
    she’ll spy the numbers,
    evil tattoo on the arm
    of another and feel
    that mix of guilt and relief.

  8. jgweber1221

    A Mother in the Supermarket

    She holds a baby in her right arm.
    Stands tired beneath harsh lights
    of the produce section, no hunger leftover
    for brightly colored fruits. Still her left hand
    reaches out, gently squeezes one orange after
    another. Thinking about diapers, thinking
    about bottles. She explores the curves
    of red-green apples and determines
    the firmness of bananas, remembering
    the joy of tiny heels in her hand. She walks
    home, maybe a block or three, humming
    James Taylor. Weighed down by fruit
    and baby, moving slowly in late afternoon
    sunlight. Up one flight of stairs to fumble
    in front of a white door for the right key.
    Inside, two deep breaths with the lights off
    as she empties her hands of their burdens.
    Her wrists are soothed, tension is released
    from her shoulders. And in these moments
    of relief she bends down to lift her baby
    up to her chest once more.

    1. ppfautsch24

      Imagine if we recognized our own beauty. Ones own identity of acne teenage years, twenty’s drunken stupor of thinking we were indestructible, 30’s questioning; am I good enough, and 40’s thought; this is as good as it gets.
      Imagine if we could see love through closed eyes, as dreams take shape in our minds. Living life effortlessly, reckless, and free. Bounds of joy like heirloom Christmas ornaments hung a tree.
      Imagine if we could trust ourselves and others too, to see our beauty and accept our love; tried and true.
      By Pamelap

  9. PSC in CT

    Mother Earth Imagines a Life

    She dreams of a day,
    a decade, an epoch,
    when every single being
    claims an equal space,
    an equal place in her heart;
    when what she has to tender
    is untainted, unspoiled
    by anyone’s hand
    and all she offers up
    is enough.
    A time of no need,
    no greed, no borders
    or lines in the sand;
    only lifetimes – generation
    upon generation –
    partaking in peace and prosperity
    without war or pain or fear,
    sans hunger and sorrow
    and she hopes
    it might begin
    or tomorrow.

  10. taylor graham


    Against the canyon-dark of oaks,
    wild-grape is turning brilliant yellow,
    festooning trees along the creekside.
    The forecast’s predicting storm.
    He’s left his winter parka hanging,
    and sits down on a mossy-damp log.
    Imagine him lost in parts unknown.
    The flitter-bird feasts on wild-grape.

  11. PKP

    In the BMW convertible

    He’s driving
    silver hair
    glinting top
    down – her
    face beside
    him hidden
    beneath a
    straw hat
    shot through
    with gold
    strands shimmering
    in the sun – and
    behind them regal
    ecru and perfectly
    upright – sits a
    perfectly groomed
    large poodle eyes
    straight ahead –
    I cannot imagine
    the vote they will
    cast – this Tuesday
    Truly – I cannot
    imagine – they
    drive off into a
    world of their
    own – where
    wedges of Brie
    wait to be served
    with chilled green
    grapes and two
    glasses of some-
    thing crisp and

  12. Pat Walsh

    Joshua by the Water
    by Patrick J. Walsh

    one day down by the water
    as he walked praying
    for having been born as he was

    a sudden squall raged
    rising furious up out of the sea
    to knock him to the ground

    flattened like a reed pelted by rain
    he imagined a voice
    whispering at his ear

    Joshua! would you be born other
    if this wind never rose
    and this rain never fell

    and folding himself quietly inward
    he drifted into sleep
    until the storm ran its course

  13. Jane Shlensky

    Beach Dad

    He passes muscle men and stops
    to stare at well-oiled hills and valleys
    hard and tight, pumped up and
    slick and golden as Christmas turkeys,
    a bright sun glazing big men
    in tiny trunks oblivious to bevies
    of bikinied ladies buffing fantasies.
    Bodacious babes and monstrous
    muscled men lifting barbells as
    foreplay for them both. Dazzled,
    a kind of instant porn spikes in his
    brain, himself the star, flexing
    ghost muscles, flirting as if he’s
    nineteen with hair and laser eyes,
    not what he has become, beach dad,
    his chest below his waistband,
    his white legs and feet already burned.

    Festooned with chairs and bags,
    a seaside mule, he slogs down the sand
    his cap askew on his balding pate,
    his shoes flip flopping through grit.
    Still in the moment, he sucks in his gut
    and pushes out his chest for twenty
    beats before reality and a snippy voice
    urge him to set up the chairs, to pull
    out the toys, to curb the kids and slather
    sunscreen on his heavy wife, who,
    when she smiles, can still rival the sun.

  14. Sara McNulty

    The Straight And Narrow

    He pumps his arms, and looks so stern,
    his mustache neat and trim.
    A nod of head,
    could it be meds
    that makes him seem akin

    to a robot? Did they program him?
    Precision stride, I’m led
    to think he might
    have gone to fight
    a war, that’s left a thread

    unravelled. He cannot stay in bed,
    his routine hard to unlearn.
    He runs, his chin
    juts out, determined
    to keep his demons from return.

  15. Terri Lee

    Imagined Life at Fourteen if
    Imagine Life
    if your childhood had not been stolen
    if you had not been taken, beaten
    into thinking your abductor
    became your savior, your king

    Imagine if you had not been
    enslaved for sex at fourteen

    (This is a short hard read and unfortunately real. while researching for a story I’m writing, I coincidentally received a email at work for a talk about human trafficking and the health industry. My day job is in healthcare. Topic on my mind)

  16. Pwriter10

    IMOGENE by DeAndre Oolong

    She rarely spoke
    (as if speaking mattered).

    We all hear what we want.

    She stopped everyday to give a dollar
    to “Red Scarf” Anthony for bus fare.

    You see, he left his wallet at home…again.

    She wore high heels because
    fashion drove her passion.

    She also felt closer to God.

    She lost her way somehow in one sharp turn.
    She thought she heard a horn blare.

    We all hear what we want.

  17. candy

    Imagine If

    The moon has gone to the dark side
    Leaving only stars to light the night
    Battles break out between Orion
    And The Sisters about who will rule
    The Milky Way curdles
    The dippers spill out the space junk
    They’ve been collecting while
    The Bull charges madly across the sky
    And we are left spooning by the
    Light of The Swan

  18. Kayla

    I Imagined A better Life For You

    You wake with a smile on your face
    You live in a pleasant non-violent place
    Your Knuckles are not stained with scars
    Because you never take an argument too far
    Your face does not portray anger
    Towards life you feel no rancor
    You achieve great things everyday
    Into the dark you never stray
    It saddens me that for you,
    My dear brother this simply isn’t true
    You don’t wake with a smile on your face
    You do live in a violent place
    Your knuckles have yet to be stained with scars
    Because you always take the fight too far
    Your face portrays your sadness and anger
    And towards life I know you feel rancor
    Into the darkness you sometimes stray
    For this to change I pray everyday

  19. lsteadly

    If We Stayed in the Desert

    Before dawn, we step upon the trail
    kicking our boots into the frozen snow
    while our breath turns to clouds hovering close.
    You are barely more than mere shadow
    traipsing steadily before me
    testing the footing, your voice buried
    in the quiet
    save for our footfalls.
    We dreamed of this together,
    our climbing the mountains, skis on our backs
    all for a sunrise at summit
    and first tracks after dawn.
    This only gets harder as we get older
    but still
    each winter we soldier on.
    I wonder if we had stayed in
    the desert two decades before
    would we even know how to long for this
    climb up “our Everest”
    this test of our bodies, our wills
    to be weightless, our hearts to be free.

  20. RJ Clarken

    Imagined World

    ‘The lunatic, the lover, and the poet, are of imagination all compact.’ ~William Shakespeare

    Many kinds of folks reside
    inside my head. That’s not bromide,
    but rather, real because I find the world
    has hurled them through my mind.

    Jane Ballerina finds a clue.
    She solves a mystery pas de deux.
    Tom Astronaut’s an oenophile. In space
    his taste is Riesling, while

    Chef Joe who pens my poems proves
    that those who cook and write have moves.
    And speaking of, would you believe Rembrandt
    (my plant) has one pet peeve,

    which is, he much prefers Van Gogh
    for nicknames, painters and, you know,
    for what some peeps call lunatics sans ears.
    Appears I’ve some odd cliques

    inside my tête, cabeza, skull…
    my kopf is capo. Never dull.
    Will Shakespeare’s ‘learing’ like a king. I’d say
    this play is just the thing.



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