2017 April PAD Challenge: Day 8

Wish me luck! I’m going to run a 10K later this morning in Austin, Texas (not affiliated with the Austin International Poetry Festival). If I go silent for Day 9, something went horribly wrong during the race.

For today’s prompt, write a panic poem. There are any number of things a person can panic about, including severe weather, military invasions, or what to wear to an event. And while some may be more life or death than others, that feeling of panic is just as real for a person who has to get up and speak in front of a crowd of smiling strangers as it is for a person hiding in the basement of their house as a tornado approaches.


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Click to continue.


Here’s my attempt at a Panic Poem:

“never slowing down”

she says slow down
& to quit running around
like a chicken with his head cut off
but i can’t help it

there are times when i feel
deep down in the depths of my soul
that i am in fact
a chicken with his head cut off

& it does no good to say
everything will turn out fine
because panic is personal
& this panic is mine


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 has often been called a rock, someone who keeps his head, but he has his panic moments the same as all human beings.

Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.


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315 thoughts on “2017 April PAD Challenge: Day 8

  1. BDP

    Sijo #8: Panic

    The woodpecker on the snag rings anxiety over marshland—
    an old-time wall phone. I dash to answer, sound thrashing my heart.
    Why I prefer concrete magic: the waving lupine wands.

  2. kathyk671

    Day 8 – Panic

    Little boy
    White shirt with orange sleeves
    Playing in the park.

    And then
    He’s gone.
    Parents looking around in terror.

    The face of every child.
    Fearing the worst.

    A glimpse of orange sleeves.
    Mother breaks into a run.

    Scooping up
    Her boy, holding him close,
    Streaming tears of relief.

    A little boy
    Back where he belongs.
    Panic subsides, for now.

  3. bookworm0341


    So enclosed
    Throat clutched
    Can’t breathe
    Stale air when
    One is stolen

    Too many trials
    Too much at
    Cannot stop spinning

    How can one work
    When the chest
    Is about to explode
    Head caving in
    Panic Attack

  4. mayboy

    No delivery

    Packing words with swords
    to deliver them to whom deserves,
    to feel the sharpness of the verse.
    You flatter yourself to be immersed.
    Pull the floss trough the needle,
    sew the tissue with surgical routine.
    Don’t panic; stitches help the growing
    skin, the best medicine is in the row.
    Panic grabs you to the lowest point,
    the mail is sent to the unknown.
    Even then you got your chance
    in the place with no address.

  5. _Kirk_

    Bread and Cup

    I sweat into the black sheets, hot from drying,
    clutched, and crying for the ninth day straight
    soaking skin and cloth and air
    with wet chokes in wanting,
    rolling bones through flesh,
    underweight and waiting for spontaneous erection
    that never comes anymore, on display
    heavy, a trophy, this lowness hanging
    over me, over me, over me
    like the lamp cord swinging, pulled off,
    and always dark in every room; better
    to catch sight of any shimmer, however dim,
    lighting the way out from even the loss of this,
    my body, broken for you.

  6. cdonnelltx@yahoo.com

    Lost In Salinas

    I found the way.
    The map was clear.
    Straight south, then left and left again,
    and you were there.
    No problem, in daylight, that is.
    A snap.

    But getting back
    was not the same.
    No right, then right, and turn to north.
    One-way street, dead end there,
    circle back to where I started from.

    No other way
    was on my map.
    Lost in darkness, stir in swirling fog and mists,
    and brew to panicked tears.
    Alone in a new universe.

    Police cars screaming by, to where?
    Can’t stop in this neighborhood.
    What may lurk in this unknown?
    Consumed with fear I turn around,
    just to get away from here.

    My compass says I’m going West.
    That’s not right. Oh help!
    Finally – a street I’ve seen,
    leads me back to bright North Main.
    Sweet safety puts her hand in mine.
    At last.

  7. J.lynn Sheridan

    Burning Panic

    Twenty years ago a shed was burning.
    Twenty years, four months, three days.
    A boy, twelve years old, brown eyes,
    brown hair. He loved the Chicago Bulls,
    Michael Jordon, camping, horseback
    riding, animals. I once sewed him a
    superhero cape. He wore it everywhere.

    Twenty years ago he ran into the burning shed
    and scooped up the baby kittens and their
    mother nursing them in her panic.

    Yesterday, he told me The Great Gatsby
    is the best novel ever written. But that is in
    jest because the best novel ever written
    will be written by him.

    This is my prayer today
    as he lay bloodied and unresponsive.

    The ambulance driver tells me not to be
    surprised if he’s in a coma.

    Twenty years, four months, three days.
    A boy, twelve years old, brown eyes,
    brown hair saved the kittens from burning
    death. This is all I am thinking.

  8. Margot Suydam

    Controlled Chaos

    A ballooned slash straps
    A buttoned mask straps

    A slashed balloon masks
    A buttoned strap masks

    A slashed mask buttons
    A strapped balloon buttons

    A buttoned balloon slashes
    A masked button slashes

    A slashed strap balloons
    A masked slash balloons

    So slash a strapped balloon
    or strap on a slashed mask

    button a slash with a balloon
    or strap a mask with a button

    button on a ballooning mask
    or strap on a slashed button

  9. SharylAnn


    There was a time not so long ago
    when I panicked at every turn.
    Five days a week …
    I sucked-it-up and made
    myself go to work

    Yet …

    would still panic when
    my office phone rang
    Spending my days counting
    the hours … then minutes …
    when I could escape to the
    safety of my car for the
    drive home

    HOME …
    My refuge …
    Where I could control
    everything …
    Never answering a
    ringing door bell or phone

    HOME …
    where I didn’t have to talk
    to anyone for a blessed
    eight hours before having
    to make myself get up
    and go to work again
    the following day

    HOME …
    where the weekends were
    my time to recharge and
    tell myself …
    You can do this one more
    day … one more week

    HOME …
    where I could calm
    my fears of people
    and their intrusions
    into my life …

    For years …
    this was my life
    One of daily panic
    Avoiding people at
    all cost

    But …

    That was long ago …

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

  10. Karen

    by: Karen Wilson

    Tires screech on asphalt
    we are up and running
    Hearts pounding!
    Where are the kids?
    Please, please, please
    Let them be okay.
    We round the corner
    of the house
    they have to be okay
    dear god let them be okay.
    There they are
    an irate driver yelling
    their kickball flattened,
    who cares!
    They are okay!
    I hold them for as long as it takes
    for my heartbeat to return to normal.
    Fear for their safety lingers.

  11. Joy Stock

    So Not…
    At the risk of sounding petulant,
    It’s so not right.
    At the risk of sounding childish,
    It’s so not fair.
    At the risk of sounding pessimistic,
    It’s so not good.
    At the risk of being myself,
    It’s so not me.

  12. PSC in CT

    No Room for Panic

    She sees his unease,
    a disquietude rising,
    sneaking, creeping in,
    the twitch, tremble,
    tremor of unsteady hands,
    the wobbly, doddering gait.
    He’s having another attack.
    Consternation’s kicking up,
    slipping into agitation. Soon,
    there’ll be no reasoning with him
    as all sense is lost to sensation.
    Surely, something must be
    He’s certain he’s dying,
    a stroke, a heart attack –
    take his temp, listen
    to his pounding heart,
    check his BP –
    something real
    something deadly.
    There’s no source to cite,
    no trigger to fault,
    no rhyme or reason
    and nowhere to run.
    When pressed for wherefores
    he can’t tell you why and
    (no matter what you say)
    you can convince him
    why not.

  13. Asha1000


    On hi def screen the image is sharp
    Clear-seeing eye focuses on my home on the rock

    Do not panic, stay calm and prepare
    Met Office warns, satellite view confirms a Cat Four

    In the dark of night, the winds start wild
    No electricity, no phone bars, I’m wide awake

    Shutters lash out, door pushes open
    Arthritic fingers grasp hard on handles long enough

    House rattles, bed is damp, cannot sleep
    At dawn, the wind shifts and rain flies horizontally

    Plug the windows with any soft clothes
    Leaks spring from floor to floor, we spiral up and down stairs

    Two days later, the winds become still
    Panic subsides at last and the aches begin anew

    – Lelawattee Manoo-Rahming

  14. Anthony94

    Panic Attack

    It starts in the pit
    of your stomach
    the center of your being,
    so physical, you know
    it’s coming, can’t avoid
    lightning shooting down
    your legs and out your
    arms to tremble your
    fingers until your whole
    body is a victim of some
    merciless visitation.

    You are familiar with these
    manifestations so you try
    to apply all the mantras,
    breathe, drop your shoulders,
    think positive thoughts that
    will allow you to be healed.

    In its sudden onset it is like
    some slashing villain leaping
    from the pages of a book that
    appeared merely entertaining.
    Little by little it makes its way
    to the window and slips between
    sill and sash, leaving you weak
    in its wake. You are damaged
    but will survive to fight again.

  15. ToniBee3


    Intrepid Limbs,
    you’re a vision of grandeur
    stretched out sturdy and wide
    lopsided and composed;
    but surely every now and again
    you must break sweats
    and hide your anxieties
    beneath the bark
    when friends depend on you
    because Mama Bird settles
    herself and her chicks
    in the nest that she
    built upon your
    support and refuge;
    and Little Gigglers
    tap dance on top of you
    almost slipping but never do…
    they hang from you
    to flip over and swing
    and turn you into
    tightropes and balance beams
    and step across you
    from earth to space
    and Buddy the Squirrel
    scurries through your leaves,
    scratches your bark,
    and dangles upside down
    like a buttonball;
    he hugs you tightly
    because you need one
    then he slips inside
    your hollow den
    to sleep for the night.

  16. DaveIst

    Okay – solved it
    Here it is:


    The night and the judge
    The trial
    The witnesses
    The verdict
    The sentence

    The fire and the onlookers
    “You are familiar!”
    “You’re one of them!”
    “You were with him!”
    The c o c k crows
    Jesus looks:

  17. DaveIst

    So it’s the second stanza
    I’ll space the only word I think
    Is iffy

    The fire and the onlookers
    “You are familiar!”
    “You’re one of them!”
    “You were with him!”
    The c o c k crows
    Jesus looks:

  18. DaveIst

    I’ll try the first verse
    Process of Elimination


    The night and the judge
    The trial
    The witnesses
    The verdict
    The sentence

  19. drwasy

    Modern motherhood

    My worry comes
    not from my kids’
    school grades or goals
    or proper clothes
    (or lack) but from
    the lines traced on
    her inner arms
    & thighs & the
    Miller empties
    ditched deep in his
    bathroom trashcan
    & the missing
    bottle of aspirin

  20. leatherdykeuk

    Public Restroom

    The usual panic
    experienced by all non binary people.
    Will I be ejected because I don’t look right?
    Because my voice is deep
    or my biceps, strong enough to lift a car
    are too masculine?
    Do I threaten people with my queer politics,
    my outspoken viewpoint,
    my advocacy for gay, queers, blacks, muslims
    (and, perversely, for christians
    and pin-suited white men.)
    This is the fear that transwomen feel,
    and transmen,
    and masculine-of-centre women
    and feminine-of-centre men.
    This is the fear felt by gay men
    faced with homophobic staight folk,
    by muslim women in white cities
    by black men in white pubs.
    “They prey on our children”
    scream the daily rants
    but the paedophiles and rapists;
    the pushers of drugs and hate,
    the agents of violence against strangers
    are almost always straight white Christians
    preaching hate in the name of their straight white god.

  21. Laura T

    Parental Panic

    Contents of bag spewed across the remaining two-thirds of the backseat of the mini-van you swore you would never drive, but now sing of the glory of the good sense you had to buy.
    Two scratches from reaching between the highnesses royal carriage and the easy cleaning, plastic seat covers; you settled for practicality over appearance. One broken nail, that you would care about if the other nine looked any better.
    “It’s not here!” you scream over and over. “What time does that store close?” Ugh, you should have listened to your mother, never started this business to begin with.
    Contourting your body into spaces it no longer fits,
    reaching into the unspeakable depths of dropped cereal pieces, something slimy, and junk mail; you hope it’s all junk mail.
    How will you get through this night? Shrills climb your spine like a trapeze artist ascending a ladder to swing from your last nerve.
    Panic feeds frantic frenzied frustration.
    “I FOUND IT!” songs of triumph fill the air like a mighty chorus.
    “Where,” you need to know what you had missed, “Where was it?”
    To the victor goes the spoils of smugness, “It was under the baby.”
    Sliding the binky into the wailing orifice, you resolve it doesn’t matter what the cost of peace is, so long as it comes.
    All are pacified.

  22. DMK

    grabbing f E-pen and phone for possible 911 call
    all this attention from a bee drinking from the community pool water
    they can smell the fear she fears anyway
    they should not be able to fly if you looked at the aero- dynamics
    but they can and I am
    worried about a sting
    can put and end to an allergic mother
    she and I enjoy honey if not thinking
    of the killer bee thing

  23. Linda Hatton

    The Panic of Non-Action

    Perhaps you’ll plant
    something lovely
    in your life today
    instead of going about
    useless routines
    like tracing Orion’s Belt
    in those dot-to-dot
    age spots
    on the back of your hand.

    Perhaps instead of wondering
    what life had been like
    if you’d been born
    someone else,
    you’ll trundle out your door,
    say hello to a stranger,
    pluck a leaf from desert
    scrub oak, be amazed
    how anything
    can stay alive in Death

    Perhaps instead of scratching out
    each day you have left,
    you’ll spend tomorrow
    in awe, marveling
    at things like the forked tail
    and the rapid wing
    beats of Lucifer’s
    Hummingbird, decide
    if this is your end,
    it isn’t so bad.

    Still, perhaps you’ll stay grafted
    to your seat, rock your life
    using only those two
    dog-eared feet, panic
    at all the things
    you didn’t have the nerve
    to get up and do.

  24. briehuling

    a little bit closer to lightening

    married in an UFO
    this is it

    the sounds pots and pans
    and all the humiliations of your life
    stickered and glued into a diorama

    hammerheads and stubbed toes
    antennas electric on everything
    who cares

    What does it mean?
    A silky chicken
    A bottle-fed lamb
    The darker the yolk… the???

    I am yours
    you are mine
    forever & ever

    The comma in the wrong place ,,,,,
    might make all the difference?

    The way you can love someone
    with a paper heart and moon-rock blood
    and how those things behind
    closed eyelids transform

    into the silent movie of your mind
    tubes of sunlight
    an aerial view– we are super-glued

    I do
    I do.

    Brie Huling

  25. Domino


    Oh no, please, I’m not absurd,
    I know you won’t believe a word
    I swear the world is falling down
    around our heads, I’ve ripped my gown,
    but don’t panic, don’t you fret,
    my tortured needs will soon be met.
    What I put up with, you won’t believe
    how much I bear, oh please don’t grieve
    to hear the trials of my life
    I so despise dramatic strife,
    but I’ll bear with it, this I vow,
    I know I’ll last if saints allow
    If only you could feel the pain
    I suffer, it is such a drain.
    But don’t be sorry for me, please,
    forgive my aching back and knees,
    they’re so painful, I must go
    and life’s so hectic, don’t you know,
    so, see you soon, must say adeiu,
    next time we’ll talk all about you.

  26. Alphabet Architect

    Panic: A Bystander’s Perspective

    Her powerful kick
    Sent the soccer ball
    Far downfield;
    Sent her onto her back.
    In breaking the fall
    She broke her arm
    And lay there calmly
    Waiting for help –
    Coaches first
    (a brief assessment)
    Then Mom…
    “Oh my God! Somebody Help!
    Find a doctor! Call an ambulance!
    Help us! Help us!”

    Rarely does panic
    Improve a situation.
    This was no exception.

    Hysterical crying,
    Erupted from the once calm girl.
    But a doctor was found,
    One who reassured
    And appeased
    The panicked ones
    (Mother, daughter),
    Now intent on absorbing
    Her instructions.
    Then came the ambulance
    That whisked them away
    Without any more ado.

    A collective sigh and
    A tighter hug than usual
    For our own little soccer players.

    1. ppfautsch24

      Panic Room
      Try not to panic and get myself distraught;
      hyperventilating to think I can’t slow down, realize and stop.
      To discover that I am good enough, unique, and beautifully designed.
      Enlightened smile, melted chocolate brown skin, and angel sweet voice to calm the panic room in my head.
      By Pamelap

  27. Shennon

    My love, let’s go, take a stroll in the woods
    It’s perfectly safe, there’s a trail
    Many people enjoy the fresh air for a walk
    There really doesn’t need to be a reason
    My dear, no need to panic
    But for protection, I’ll bring this axe.

    You never know when you’ll need an axe
    Although there are many trees in the woods
    A fallen tree’s no cause for panic
    Even if it completely cuts off the trail
    Turning back won’t be a reason
    We won’t have to terminate our walk.

    I can tell I’m going to enjoy this walk
    Despite the weight of this heavy axe
    Even though it may be the reason
    I walk more slowly through these woods
    Yes, love, keep following the trail
    If we stray, we’ll have reason to panic.

    I don’t understand your panic
    Over a common thing like a walk
    You’re scared because there’s a fork in the trail?
    Or are you more afraid of my axe?
    Yes, my dear, we are deep in the woods
    There most certainly is a reason.

    You’ll soon understand my reason
    There is a chance you’ll panic
    I’ve never been to this part of the woods
    We’ve come a long way on our walk
    I recently sharpened my axe
    My dear, why do you trail?

    I warned you, don’t step off the trail!
    You could run, but there’s no reason
    What’s this? You’ve hidden your own axe?
    I just felt momentary panic
    So much for our delightful walk
    Dark deeds are done in the woods.

    In the dark woods at the end of a trail
    Began a long walk, for each partner, a reason
    One succumbed to utter panic before receiving the blade of an axe.


  28. carolecole


    So when the house alarm began to beep
    because I forgot I had set it when I left, and
    I fed in the wrong code, twice, and the security
    person called and I couldn’t remember the safe word
    or my password because my brain was exploding and
    she said they were sending the police and I knew
    what that would cost for the false alarm not to mention
    the embarrassment when the blue and red flashing lights
    lit up my house (and the neighbors’) and then,
    scrambling around in my memory, thinking of all the possible
    combinations of words and numbers, I remembered and
    she was finally satisfied that I was just a brainless fool, not a thief,
    when she said “anything else we can do for you?” I said “please
    call off the police” and she said “ok, we can do that” kindness
    in her voice, as though she wasn’t going to until I could
    pull myself together enough to ask.

  29. Marie Elena

    Me? Panic? Pshaw!

    Panic is for amateurs.

    Prior to the possible point of panic,
    I prepare.
    First, I attain awareness
    of an imminent (or unrealistic) predicament.
    I purposely ponder it for a prolonged period.
    Next comes concern.
    Concern quickly converts to trepidation,
    which trips disquiet. I dwell in disquiet
    It’s a gift.
    Now when it comes to worry
    (and it ALWAYS comes to worry),
    well, I will willfully wallow unwaveringly in worry,
    wonderfully warding off

    © Marie Elena Good, 2017

  30. Imelda


    The ground rocks
    the night terrifies me
    Tremors rise
    from beneath the floor
    into the walls
    straight to my soul

    my hands are clammy
    my heart thunder within
    every sound I hear is
    the ground caving in
    every shadow I see
    is a crumbling wall
    piling on me
    lying on my bed
    abandoned by sleep
    to wait
    for a morning

  31. Ivy_Lane

    Looking Out from the Fishbowl We Tried to Avoid

    Metal cookie cutters
    cut out the walls of my house
    and yours
    and the ones down the street

    and the cookies we had baked for
    my first kid’s first birthday party
    and your kid’s
    and the ones down the street

    Of course, my walls are gray
    and your cookies brown
    and the ones down the street
    are a healthy mix of both

    Our goal is not to match
    per se
    You’ll be a lovely complement
    I’m sure

  32. Sara McNulty

    Moving Frenzy

    We will never be ready to move,
    a task that is overwhelming.
    Which things are a must to take?
    Which things should we donate?
    Are all closets cleaned
    out? Boxes taped?
    There’s the truck!
    Where are

      1. De Jackson

        Hilarious. Well, here it is, then:


        -Icarus falls from sky on
        waxen wings, and we wonder
        just how close we can get to fire,
        to the

        man with the flute,
        to the pixie dust
        of Never