2017 April PAD Challenge: Day 16

If we were running uphill for the first half of the challenge, we’d be running downhill from here on out. I know writing is a different process, but yeah, we’re getting through this month. Let’s keep it going!

For today’s prompt, take the phrase “(blank) System,” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible titles could include: “Weather System,” “Solar System,” “Writing System,” “Ecological System,” or any number of other takes on systems.


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Click to continue.


Here’s my attempt at a Blank System Poem:

“i don’t have a system”

i don’t have a system that works for me
at least i don’t have one that always works
but i don’t think you can blame the systems

i try sure but i can’t deny that i’m
consistently inconsistent with them
despite my best intentions i’m just not

a person who works well within systems
you can blame it on the rain my lousy
childhood or the ever changing market


Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He spends about 5-10 minutes on each of his example poems, and sometimes it shows more than others.

Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.


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247 thoughts on “2017 April PAD Challenge: Day 16

  1. Jane Shlensky

    Irrigation System

    When I am dry as ash
    my throat and soul
    my thoughts and eyes
    I find I need a gash
    in heaven’s dome
    and seek the skies
    for rain but lacking cloud
    a pond or lake
    sprinklers and pump
    and pipe to raise aloud
    the mist to slake
    my thirst, to jump
    like fountains in broad sun.
    Rainbows descend
    fallow fields drink
    and my drought is undone
    hopes flush within
    and I can think.

  2. mschied

    Fight the system

    Rigid rules and endless orders
    seek to define and
    regulate our world
    but often it is the
    subversive use of color
    the pulsating rhythm
    of underground nonconformity
    that has the most lasting
    effect – down
    with the man power
    to the
    people – but when
    the man is gone,
    where will the people

  3. lily black

    Nervous System

    Messages racing from my heart
    calming me down
    getting excited
    sweating from heat
    just keeps plugging away
    every day
    without me
    or caring

  4. Laura T

    (because life and death happen, and you think you’re keeping up, but it turns out you’ve lost a week, so now you write a lot to finish, hopefully strong, but finish, because something has to feel complete, when you don’t) 3 of 10 in one day.

    Time Management System Failure

    It is obvious
    My time management system
    Sucks like mosquitos

  5. artifiswords


    I watched
    While others
    Ignored it
    As politics became
    A rich man’s game
    Gaming the system
    Taking away rights
    And leaving only
    But not for them
    They feed off us
    Reward themselves
    At our expense
    Government of,
    For and by the rich
    Little people
    Need not apply
    The system is broken
    Only two choices
    Fix it or smash it
    Don’t worry if the machine
    Screams “TILT”
    They didn’t

    © 2017 Robert Mihaly

    Posted to:

  6. LCaramanna

    Dewey Decimal System

    A journey by the numbers
    through library books galore
    leads readers to categories
    accessible to explore.

    Books organized by numbers
    consistent and true,
    the glory’s in the decimals,
    making topics easy to pursue.

    Begin, of course, at 000s
    with general information.
    Pour over periodicals or encyclopedias
    for factual clarification.

    Move right on up to 100s
    where philosophy sits refined.
    Psychology and logic
    test the workings of the mind.

    The books in the 200s
    have a religious point of view.
    On a shelf sits the Bible and
    Christian doctrine to wade through.

    300s hold social sciences,
    all topics quite extensive,
    economy, law, education, folklore,
    cause readers to be pensive.

    Spoken languages congregate,
    400s keep them all in line,
    English, French, Italian, Greek,
    Hello, bonjour, the pleasure is all mine.

    500s contain math and sciences,
    Physics, Earth, Life, Botanical,
    so much to read about,
    the knowledge is astronomical.

    Technology and applied sciences sit
    with 600s on their book spines,
    Medicine, engineering, agriculture,
    all topics a professor might assign.

    700 leads to books about the arts.
    where drawing, painting, photography,
    give avid readers super power
    to develop artistic ability.

    Literature owns the 800s
    here’s the place to curl up with an old book.
    And poetry lovers, don’t pass by,
    give the 821s a lingering look.

    Geography, History, Biography
    settle together in the 900 section,
    places, people, events that happened,
    all can be found in this collection.

    The Dewey Decimal System,
    an ingenious creation,
    classified library books
    and set the standard for organization.
    Lorraine Caramanna

  7. hohlwein

    Limbic System

    It is here that I know this thing beyond words

    That dimension
    are more like an onion, onions
    and less like a box
    or a box opening, flattening with time
    Four dimensions, as we know them: height, width, depth, change

    Here – the scent of the tiny, plucked jasmine
    is a skin of a world
    in which there are creatures
    procreating and shadows. from a light somewhere,
    next to a skin of something
    like water
    like memory
    and one, or many,
    transparent dimensions,
    a millimeters distance from each other
    that ripple, each, with laughter
    with the physical tremor
    that comes
    with a kiss.

  8. RJ Clarken

    Equations System

    A system of equations is
    a puzzle for this non-math whiz.
    In solving for the unknowns, I
    have no clue what will satisfy.

    No matter whether linear
    or not, I’d need a djinni or
    some magic intervention to
    just solve for x or y or q.

    But ‘they’ insist there’s value in
    the matrices. O such chagrin!
    Blast Gaussian! I hate to graph!
    And substitution? What a laugh.

    There’s madness in each method, right?
    But no way to just expedite
    the ways to answer. Think I’ve missed ‘em.
    Lord, I loathe equations system.


  9. DMK

    prayer system

    cast my cares
    cast your cares
    throw cares at him
    like a hot rock
    prayers for today
    prayers for tomorrow
    prayers for relief of all
    the world’s sorrow
    prayers to become part of
    the healthy marrow

  10. Michelle Murrish

    Nightly System

    First the front door
    Then the back
    Open the back door because I forgot to lock the screen
    Is the bathroom window closed? Check
    Now all the other windows too
    Was the back screen really locked? Check
    Then the back door
    Last the front

  11. Linda Hatton

    Provisions for a Disorganized System

    In my pantry where cans
    of green beans dated
    1989 have been kicked
          into place
    underneath dried lentils
    and other leg-
    and held prisoner
    by some vile,
    salad dressing, and questionable
    soda crackers
    in a box with one torn corner,
    you’d agree that I never
    managed to become
    I am not
    part of the living

  12. ToniBee3

    natural hair care system

    beauty and love and rhythmic care of…

    cucabugs, naps, and snaps in wraps
    sky-high ponytails; twists in gel
    flocculent whirls; coarse curls and swirls
    roller-set fros, locs, braids, and cornrows

    is critical, spiritual, and political…

    at times insane and hard to maintain
    the diverse and brittle… part it down in the middle
    scalp-crust on chronic… needs some aloe and tonic
    barely there or long… finger-comb the dome

    explore in the toil… tightly coiled in oils…

    jojoba and tea tree and sage from the pantry
    honey-myrrh moussed… hang lush and loose
    no need for dryer-blow… just sport the wash and go
    in whatever style whether wild or mild

    mastered hair sessions are artistic expressions…

    celebrating shapes, textures, and napes
    asymmetrical lines that can’t be defined
    the movement and prance-dance that beckons a second glance
    a natural system that encompasses freedom

    1. ppfautsch24

      Beauty System
      At my vanity early morning
      putting on a good face.
      Lips pouted naturally from
      my diverse heritage.
      Brown butter skin, almond shaped eyes
      contoured cheekbones from my
      Big Momma’s Native American side.
      What do I need to take off at the bewitching
      hour when all the makeup holds no candle
      to my natural beauty; it only hides.
      My family beauty system comprised.
      By Pamelap

  13. Catherine Conley

    Fool-proof Filing System

    Each cog in the machine must
    Fit smoothly and cleanly into the next
    Or the gear grinds to a halt.
    So too the desk must be a clean space
    With files neatly organized and in reach,
    Or the work grinds to a halt.
    Each item has its place, each file its purpose,
    Neatly labeled, well thought out
    To find again on a moment’s notice
    A fool-proof system with one draw back:
    I am no fool.


  14. Connie Peters

    Religious System

    Religion is a systematic way
    to approach God
    like a vending machine.
    You put the change in and hope
    for the blessings to pop out.

    Christianity is an adoption
    into a wonderful family
    that brings change and blessing.

  15. Connie Peters

    Security System

    My daughter has a security system
    that makes me feel insecure.
    I never can remember the number
    or what buttons to push
    and I don’t know if I can leave the house
    without setting off the alarm
    fetching and annoying police
    and costing an extra fifty.

  16. Connie Peters


    S o you have a routine, So
    Y ou have a procedure
    S o you have a logic you can’t shake. Your
    T echnique of living gets old. You
    E xpect more in a day, but practice makes perfect. There is a
    M ethod to this madness. Having a system makes sense.

  17. J.lynn Sheridan

    Tying a Bonnet on the System

    They’d have you believe that they never slumber
    and the glossy tears they almost shed are only for you

    and the faux blood they sweat in labor at a desk
    is just for you and when they pull the paper rabbit out

    of their biased top hat groaning with effort, it’s all for you.
    When they sign with a flourish and smile for the cameras,

    that too is all for you.

    To soften the hit, they tie
    a frilly bonnet on their newly-birthed babe

    and wait for the cheering.


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