2017 April PAD Challenge: Day 18

Somehow we’re already on our third Two-for-Tuesday of the month; time is flying.

Here are the two prompts for today:

  • Write a life poem. The poem could be about the miracle of life, the complexity of life, the game of Life, or anything else that means life for you. Or…
  • Write a death poem. For most organisms, life leads to death. So this should be as full of possibility as the life poem.

*****

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*****

Here’s my attempt at a Life and/or Death Poem:

“a matter of”

she says it’s a matter of life
& death but i’m skeptical

because i’m a skeptic
& that’s how we roll

she says to drop the inner monologue
because it slows the poetic pace

but i confess that i just can’t
because i’m a confessional poet

& that’s how we roll
& i like refrains

& i like couplets
& i like life & death matters

especially when they don’t concern me

*****

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 realizes nearly everything is life and death.

Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.

*****

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354 thoughts on “2017 April PAD Challenge: Day 18

  1. LCaramanna

    Eulogy

    My dad’s life was
    measured in moments,
    defined by words, actions, and deeds,
    counted in years, with
    kindness and generosity
    the essence of being,
    his life lived with grace and dignity,
    strengthened by faith in God
    on a personal journey through 95 years.
    My dad’s life defined by numbers began at
    4-4-22 a Tuesday in April – a birthday
    10 years a little boy growing up in a family with 2 sisters and 2 brothers
    1940 a high school graduate employed at the Nestle Company
    48 stars on the United States flag he fought to protect
    101st – Airborne division of the US Army
    0 – no motor, no parachute, no second chance in a glider
    3 years spent overseas during WWII.
    Then my dad’s life settled into
    62 years of marriage with my mom
    2 children
    1 granddaughter
    > 200 family members and friends
    286 then 645 Maple Ave – the same home – with a different address – for 57 years.
    Joy, laughter, and love were measurable,
    measurable in numbers that had held great meaning:
    16 ounces in a pound of solid milk chocolate
    27 times the Yankees won the World Series
    9 squares to scratch off on a lottery ticket
    8 blossoms on an Easter Lily
    1 of 4 men at the Catholic Daughters’ special events
    64 sq ft of cement patio frozen for ice skating in the winter
    1 mile walked to work at 5:30 in the morning
    2 weeks every summer for a family vacation to dozens of interesting places
    12 ounces in an ice cold bottle of Miller High Life beer
    66 miles from Fulton to Chaumont to play with a growing-up granddaughter
    2 times to measure in order to cut once precisely when working with wood
    250 calories in a Nestle Crunch bar
    12 days on a Hawaiian island adventure
    2,160 pieces of Mom’s apple pie
    14 days sightseeing in England, Scotland, and France
    6 times Syracuse University made it to the Final Four of the NCAA tournament
    52.9 miles from home to the Turning Stone Casino
    50 dollars in the secret compartment of my dad’s wallet
    6000 nickels in my dad’s biggest slot machine jackpot
    300 a perfectly bowled game
    814 the winning bowling 3 game series
    24 colored pencils with sharp points
    5 pieces of paper
    ½ oz of glue
    12 sprinkles of glitter
    65 minutes to make a Christmas star
    N31 the missing number for bingo
    58 miles from Fulton to Adams, NY
    42 the jersey to watch on the South Jefferson girls’ basketball team
    354 jars of homemade strawberry jam
    2,400 cabbage leaves rolled into galumpkis
    1 forever dog named Tim
    1 forever cat named Bob
    20 years waging war against Parkinson’s Disease.

    34,707 days lived on this Earth with
    1 ultimate goal –
    to be raised on eagles’ wings to live in the kingdom of God.
    34,707
    an impressive number,
    a lifetime of days measured in countable numbers,
    but the loss of my dad is immeasurable,
    the sadness all consuming, with
    1 last good-bye
    I find the courage to walk forward
    his spiritual presence as my guide.
    In the end,
    5 is the number that matters most,
    5 words spoken by God to my dad at the Gates of Heaven:
    “Welcome, Good and Faithful Servant.”
    Lorraine Caramanna

  2. SharylAnn

    COUNTRY SONGS

    Some country singer has a song titled
    something like this:
    “Live As if You are Dying”

    Life …
    Death…
    the two cannot
    be separated

    From the moment
    we are born
    we begin not only
    the process of living
    but …
    the process of dying

    There is another quote
    that goes something
    like this:

    “Live fast
    Die Young
    Leave a
    Beautiful Corpse”

    The older I become
    the more meaningful
    the phrase …
    “Live each day
    as though it
    could be
    your last”

    For me, I plan
    to live each day
    to the fullest
    doing what I
    want along the way
    Should I leave
    the world a better
    place in the process
    so much the better …

    I intend to go
    out with a bang
    not a whimper …

    Copyright © 2017 Sharyl
    Always…I wish you peace, joy and happiness, but most of all I wish you Love.
    As Ever, Sharyl

  3. hohlwein

    Guanajuato

    The pod, as big as my hand,
    had stopped moving.

    It was like paper maché – bigger than my little hand, in the corner of the outdoor washing area
    where we stayed, in Mexico – that summer

    What was inside? It almost scared me
    with its hidden activity, its dark body in there.

    Over the days, something turned, it fluttered and rattled
    I worried over it and the next day the pod was empty – tossed paper cave

    Life had left it there.
    It, not dead, just a shell, a home

    a once-place, for inversion, conversion
    for making giant wings and a future
    from all of the self.

  4. Anvanya

    YER RESERVATION, MISSY

    All I gotta say about life is
    Everything changes
    ALL THE TIME. And –
    Just when ya got it figgered out,
    Zilcho, fuggedaboutit.

    CHECKIN’ OUT?

    All I gotta say about death is
    I was dragged to a lotta wakes and
    Funeral parlors and masses when
    I was a kid. I learned nuthin.

    Then my Ma passed away real sudden-like
    On votin’ day, and I was pretty suprised.
    That was a Tuesday and on those in-between-days
    I sat and thought a lot about what
    Was to be happenin’ on Saturday.

    Thus, I sewed myself a new dress
    Of white linen with a fashionable
    Black embroidered hemline –
    And when the family paraded up
    To the casket, I looked closer and I knew:
    That’s not Momma. Those words were in
    My head, clear as a bell.

    Over the years maybe I got mad at her
    For this or that remembered event
    Or unintended slight, and maybe I
    Missed her sometimes like crazy.

    But I never moaned, or yelled, or
    Beat my chest – as the Pastor puts
    It so kindly from the Good Book, no
    weepin’ and wailin’ and gnashin’ of teeth
    for me –

    I just knew …

  5. Linda Hatton

    Saved by Stardust

    Life has been shooting
    tests my way, threatening
    my mobility,
    emotional stability.
    This morning I arose
    to a fallen star
    and a deceased
    bee on my living
    room floor. I reached
    down to rescue
    his carcass, give him
    a proper burial,
    but he crumbled under
    my touch, turned
    to dust. I couldn’t help
    but wonder, did he fly
    upwards to the sky
    with such force
    that he knocked
    down that luminous
    ball of gas for me
    to catch, save
    myself? Only,
    I missed it—
    lost in-
              stead
    in my every-
    day
    dissatisfactions
    and
    distractions?

  6. Janutty1111

    MISSING THE DOG

    Twenty-year companion,
    you wonder who he was, really–

    Though he didn’t read poems
    he seemed to know their source,
    chthonic mud and rut
    and friendly stinks and love.

    The spirit of the living room,
    in age, curled on the couch
    until you opened the door–
    then solid muscle-quiver, visceral joy.

    If the household god is gone
    what can we home to?
    Talking machines,
    politeness and daily duty?

    The water-bowl still full.
    A dented pillow at my feet.

  7. mayboy

    Breath and Soul of the death

    kiss your lips; the destiny comes against all the odds,
    you want to live, and Matilda doesn’t want, fight,
    when you lose it, you are out on the immortal flight,
    among the souls of Eden, to Hell don’t surrender the hand;
    leave your Spirit now and then, have a Faith which never ends.

    Life

    is beautiful. If you make it through the cruelty,
    it is the only one. If you appreciate it until you die,
    it is irresistible. If others wouldn’t make it tough,
    it is yours. If you take it in your hands until it ends,
    so enjoy in Life until the darkness ever lasts.

  8. Valkyri

    Life and Death

    I cannot count
    between them –
    how many times
    I have wanted
    to die –
    and how many times
    I have wondered –
    to what purpose
    this life is.
    I have no great
    philosophy.
    I am alone in this.
    And yet I know
    one thing.
    We all wonder –
    together.

  9. J.lynn Sheridan

    The Fragile Inn

    The morning clouds scatter over the earth
    like a vapor, chimney smoke hovers then
    grasps the curling tendrils and sets sail.

    Men of dust are moving about with hushed
    voices saying, “the grave is never full” and
    “it’s a sad truth that folks gotta move out to

    make room for babes moving in.”

    The little guy, moaning for a strong hand
    to reach down and save him, runs out the
    door to bury his smile in the vacant flower

    box. His sister sits on the front stoop with
    Goodnight Moon and their mother’s treasure
    box on her lap looking brave in her black dress.

    1. ppfautsch24

      Life and Death
      The life and death that your love breathes.
      In memories of you being able to make me the love of your life.
      Time heals the heart, mends the wounds of a sliced dream when the breath of our love lived
      no more.
      By Pamelap

  10. PSC in CT

    Any Given Day

    Today,
    for instance,

    might be someone’s first –
    a birth, celebration and struggle,
    first steps, first word, first grade

    the start of something beautiful –
    a graduation, engagement,
    somebody’s wedding (something
    old, new, borrowed, blue) or

    mayhap just another typical,
    routine, garden variety,
    run-of-the-mill,
    prosaic day.

    Then again,
    just perhaps,
    it might be

    your
    last.

  11. Michelle Murrish

    I used to be religious
    Until I realized that I didn’t have to be
    Now instead of seeing the world in
    black and white
    wrong and right
    I live each day in a multicolored maybe
    The straight and narrow
    Just one of many options
    And right now, I’m the kid
    Who’s running as fast as she can
    In the revolving door
    Just enjoying the moment
    Until I puke

  12. cobanionsmith

    Life or Death

    Boo-boos and scrapes have become our battlefield:
    his desperate need to survive
    vs. my desire to toughen him up.
    And if there’s blood, well.
    Globs of tears. “I don’t wanna die!”
    So, Good Friday, right outside the building
    full of giant, fossilized skeletons,
    ancient mummies, preserved specimens
    of extinct species, and edible insects,
    he falls a full foot to the sidewalk:
    ill-timed collision of his left knee
    and the corner of the cement bench
    he was hopping across.
    Thin vertical line of blood on the surface
    of his barely broken skin,
    a grave wound and no bandaid.

    As always, my calm yet firm assurances
    that he’s not going to die are cancelled
    with wails of “I need a bandaid!”
    Sigh. My usual thought:
    So how else will I fail you today?
    If death is the measuring stick,
    and some days it is,
    survival of the fittest is a low bar.
    He already knows, sometimes,
    making it out alive
    depends on your what others choose
    not to do to you. “Suck it up,”
    I hear myself say. A mortal blow.
    Limping and wimpering
    all the way to the park for our picnic,
    he does anything but.

    After sandwiches, the boys run
    up and down the big hill
    they call the mountain,
    the injury temporarily forgotten
    just like I knew it would be.
    But being right did nothing
    to soothe my wounded heart
    because there was no victory that day;
    and he remains unconvinced.

    Courtney O’Banion Smith
    @cobanionsmith

    1. cobanionsmith

      Oops! That wasn’t the right one. Here it is.

      Life or Death

      Boo-boos and scrapes have become our battlefield:
      his desperate need to survive
      vs. my desire to toughen him up.
      And if there’s blood, well.
      Globs of tears. “I don’t wanna die!”
      But a band-aid can save his life.
      So, Good Friday, right outside the building
      full of giant, fossilized skeletons,
      ancient mummies, preserved specimens
      of extinct species, and edible insects,
      he falls a full foot to the sidewalk:
      ill-timed collision of his left knee
      and the corner of the cement bench
      he was hopping across.
      Thin vertical line of blood on the surface
      of his barely broken skin,
      a grave wound and no band-aid.

      As always, my calm yet firm assurances
      that he’s not going to die are cancelled
      with wails of “I need a band-aid!”
      Sigh. My usual thought:
      So how else will I fail you today?

      If death is the measuring stick,
      and some days it is,
      survival of the fittest is a low bar.
      He already knows, sometimes,
      making it out alive
      depends on your what others choose
      not to do to you. “Suck it up,”
      I hear myself say. A mortal blow.
      Limping and whimpering
      all the way to the park for our picnic,
      he does anything but.

      After sandwiches, the boys run
      up and down the big hill
      they call the mountain,
      the injury temporarily forgotten
      just like I knew it would be.
      But being right did nothing
      to soothe my wounded heart
      because there was no victory that day;
      and he remains unconvinced.

  13. drwasy

    76 Aspirin

    Like your mother
    you are a consummate
    scientist.

    You planned the time
    & method & based on
    your height & weight
    calculated the LD50.

    School came before
    the pills worked
    their intent.

    You woke bleary-eyed
    & asked if you were in
    heaven & when you could
    not hear us we rushed you
    to the hospital.

    Your hearing came back
    & your kidneys resumed
    filtering toxins from your body.

    We only keep three Tylenol
    in a bottle at a time.

    We prefer headaches
    over losing you.

    1. jennfel

      This rocked me to the core. I survived a near fatal suicide attempt after taking 50 Tylenol PM pills in July 2013. So glad your loved one pulled through as well.

  14. Jezzie

    LIFE

    Come take a walk with me down Cornish country lanes,
    breathe in fine fumeless smells from freshly furrowed fields,
    feel the bracing sea breeze blow through your windswept hair,
    wonder at the wealth of wild flowers the hedgerow yields.

    DEATH

    Go take a walk down any crowded city street,
    breathe in traffic fumes even in the shopping malls,
    feel claustophobic amid towering office blocks,
    wonder at the graffiti on the grim grey walls.

  15. Domino

    Life and Death

    Life and death, inextricably entwined,
    for every living thing must one day die
    from the smallest life, the tiniest kind
    to the oldest bristlecone pine by-and-by.
    But humans have sanitized even death,
    scared to see even a peaceful demise
    let alone watch the sad struggle for breath,
    of someone they love as they agonize.
    No, death is so clean now, most of the time.
    Even crash victims are cleaned and covered
    and made pretty, as if death were a crime
    and the victims had somehow recovered.

  16. Austin Hill

    PAD #18

    Looking at a photo…

    Sunrise or sunset? indistinguishable…
    without a reference to time

    How to tell which one’s up
    and which one’s down?

    Sunrise’s colors
    focus around the sun
    Those of sunset
    hang, draping the sky

    The sun rises
    at an angle to the right
    And sets downward
    in the same manner

    Movie-makers can time-reverse
    a sunset into a pseudo-sunrise
    Only God can turn the sunsets of life
    into genuine sunrises in eternity

    © April 2017 Suzanne S. Austin-Hill

  17. MET

    Ninth Anniversary

    Today nine years ago
    You left by ambulance
    To go to the Rainey Hospice house.
    I remember following in my car
    To make sure you
    Were safely in your bed.
    Your face angry with me then
    For taking you from your home.
    I tried to read to you some stories
    Instead your tears choked my words.
    I bent to kiss on the cheek,
    You pinched my arm in reply
    As I said goodbye.
    I promised you I would
    See you tomorrow, and
    For a moment, you stared then nodded.
    All was right between us.
    I remember when I walked into our home
    How empty it was.
    It was then I knew you would not be back
    And all those who visited with you in the night
    Had left to be with you.
    In eleven days, they would welcome you
    To your eternal home, and
    That banquet you had been planning,
    And the veil would hang between us.
    You had been born at home in a Rainey home;
    It seemed fitting you should leave from one.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    April 18, 2017

    1. MET

      My mother in her had a form of dementia which was like Parkinson Disease in that she lost physical abilities….her last words to me and I knew then that she knew me was “I love you.” But that had not happened yet and this anniversary is particularly difficult for letting her leave was a very difficult decision.

  18. Alphabet Architect

    Incongruity

    So many of life’s necessities
    Mowing
    Cleaning
    Laundry
    Doing dishes
    Straightening
    Are not the things I live for
    While the things I live for
    Making music
    Gardening
    Creating
    Walking
    Playing
    Are crowded out by life’s necessities.

  19. pipersfancy

    Hospice Waiting

    You were dying that night. We both
    knew it and chose not to look directly
    into the eyes of that waiting spectre.
    We cast occasional sidelong glances
    into darkened corners instead.
    We sat and talked into the late hours
    until time ceased
    until all things yet to be
    and memories of all things past
    merged into one lifetime of living.
    You wanted tea and I wandered
    the familiar dark hallway alone
    until I reached the kitchen.
    Death is not silent. I heard it visiting
    in soft whispers and quiet moans
    behind closed doors. I returned
    with your tea
    but you had grown tired
    and closed your eyes while waiting.
    —Christina Perry

  20. nickbutterfield123@gmail.com

    Great Day

    oh happy day when we will all meet
    in heaven when there will be nothing
    left to say, when nothing is what we
    could possibly expect, what I dreamed
    of when my eyes were closed, when
    all was clear and the salt in me returned
    to where the ocean came from, where
    tears came from, where love came from,
    and where I’m going.

  21. grcran

    struggle

    a life and death struggle it was
    bad bully began just because
    it ain’t no good sayin’
    revenge needs repayin’
    sort truth from the grit and the fuzz

    gpr crane

  22. michaelharty

    Life on This Planet

    Some would say it’s all been planned,
    right down to the part where we misuse
    our free will and pay the price.
    In the other story it’s a matter
    of matter, soaking for eons
    in the salt-water soup, a million
    misses, maybe a million million,
    before those stringy molecules
    twisted around each other
    in just the right alignment
    and began reproducing themselves.
    Some prefer the story
    that has all of us playing our parts
    in a master script. I go for the one
    where we’ve won the lottery.

  23. Laura T

    Demigods in lab coats
    Declare their all knowing
    Dictating what must be excepted
    Despair when sent away

    Living is different then life
    Letting go is peaceful
    Languishing to appease is not
    Love is accepting choices

    Medicine treats animals with more
    Respect than human suffering
    Then calls its self holy
    For saving lives to anguish
    In the name of demigods
    With framed certificates of greatness
    Mistaking being curled in humiliation
    With bowing to their all knowingness
    Not willing to understand
    Death is not always the worst option

  24. Ivy_Lane

    I’m steaming
    & scrubbing
    crusted pasta sauce
    off your plate.
    Good & mad at you
    ‘cuz you did it again

    Said you’d do the thing-
    (empty the garbage)
    (rinse the dishes)
    (fix the broken door hinge)
    (pick your underwear up off the bathroom floor)
    -then, per usual, forgot

    Up to my elbows
    in suds & satisfaction
    that you’ll come home from work
    to find your to-do list done
    by me (again)

    Until I look at the clock
    and realize
    you should have been home
    an hour & a half ago
    & you still haven’t
    answered my texts

    That’s when worry
    waters up in my chest & throat
    & I pace the kitchen floor,
    leave my dish on the counter
    sauce crusting over

    I’d give my own life
    To wake up tomorrow
    & find your underwear
    on the bathroom floor

  25. Missy

    Walk-In Services*

    Birth control
    refill pickups,

    birth control services
    without a pelvic exam,

    emergency
    contraception,

    and pregnancy tests,
    are available

    on a walk-in basis
    up to one hour before closing.

    If you need
    emergency

    contraception
    (morning after pill),

    you can walk in any time
    the health center is open.

    Do you have questions
    about abortion services

    at Planned
    Parenthood

    of Southern
    New England? Our caring

    staff will answer
    your questions

    and make appointments
    for the abortion pill

    and in-clinic abortions.

    ———
    *found poem

  26. Linda Voit

    An Innocent Gesture

    A guy at work, who doesn’t know my brother
    killed himself with a handgun two months ago,
    is talking to me about a friend of his who ran
    for local office and won and how he can’t believe
    his friend actually likes it, how he has to deal
    with people complaining about every
    little
    thing.
    He says “If it was me . . .” while he puts his index
    finger to his temple and bends his thumb
    toward his head triggering
    all my energy to stop me
    from wincing.

    Linda Voit

  27. Rie Sheridan Rose

    A Matter of Life and Death
    Rie Sheridan Rose

    It was all so urgent then…
    your phone call in the
    middle of the night—
    tears too thick to understand
    exactly what you were
    trying to tell me…
    “It’s a matter of
    life and death!”
    you wailed at last…
    “I need you—
    to bring me
    Dr Pepper.”

  28. cari.resnick07

    The Day I Said Goodbye

    Summer was coming to an end
    As I dressed to bid you farewell,
    Black dress on, every hair in place.
    Bittersweet feelings stirred in my soul.
    So glad your suffering was over,
    So sad that you were gone.

    Never had I experienced a loss like this,
    Or of any kind, really.
    Death always seemed so distant from my life.
    Now it was here, now it was part of me.

    Shopping for your casket in the basement of the funeral home,
    Shopping for your burial dress, both with my newborn baby in tow.

    You loved his name, but never got to see his face.
    I’m sure you held on for as long as you did,
    Just to know that we were alright.

    For days I sat by your side,
    As you lay in your hospital bed.
    Machines beeping, nurses coming and going,
    Last rights being read.
    By night I waited for the phone to ring,
    Knowing death was near,
    Praying the Lord would call you home.

    Through a lump in my throat,
    I told you about heaven
    That there was no more pain
    No cancer there.

    Then on a sunny August day,
    The phone rang and
    You were gone
    Just
    Like
    That.

    I stood in front of your grave
    Head down, brave face on.
    Until I walked away
    And realized this was the final goodbye.

    And I cried, and I cried, and I cried.
    For myself and the giant empty hole I felt in my heart.
    For my boys, who wouldn’t know their grandma.
    And for you mom, so bittersweet.
    So sad that you were gone.
    So glad your suffering was over.

    1. lsteadly

      So sorry that you lost your mom. But you did get to say goodbye. I am almost in the same place with my dad, who has been in the hospital for 3 months now. Death can be a blessing, though we miss our loved ones oh so much.

  29. Jrentler

    oh duchess

    i hold your flanks
    when you sh__t
    to keep your thighs
    from collapsing
    a countdowns begun
    its there
    its there
    its everywhere
    we all tick
    but yours is loud enough to see

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