2017 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 18

Last night, I asked people on Facebook to share songs for writers, including songs about writing, that make literary references, etc. Not related to today’s prompt, but be sure to share with your poems below if you have a favorite or two.

For today’s prompt, write a good for nothing poem. The poem doesn’t have to be good for nothing, though it’s fine if it is. But maybe it’s about a good for nothing so-and-so, or a good for nothing situation. Or maybe the narrator of your poem has a dark outlook on the world in general.


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Here’s my attempt at a Good for Nothing Poem:

“when you said he was good for nothing”

when you said he was good for nothing
did you mean he was good
for nothing or did you mean
nothing was good for him

or were you just frustrated?


Robert Lee Brewer

Robert 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 music in general, so he has a lot of favorite songs for writers. Included in that mix are “Paperback Writer,” by the Beatles; “Army,” by Ben Folds Five; “Holding on to You,” by Terence Trent D’Arby; “The Engine Driver,” by the Decemberists; “Everyday I Write the Book,” by Elvis Costello; “Autobiography,” by Sloan; and “Box Full of Letters,” by Wilco. But there are so many more great songs for writers.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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158 thoughts on “2017 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 18

    1. ingridbruck

      “Good for nothing poem  #18

      it was good for nothing
      yet I kept it
      it sat on my desk
      like something that I had forgotten
      to throw away
      I look at it sometimes
      remembering the day I found it
      beside the blanket, we lay naked on
      where we joined our hearts together
      for our shared march into the future ©

      Michael Peck”

    2. ingridbruck

      “Here is my Day 18 poem for good for nothing prompt. What was day seventeen?
      Michael Peck

      Good for nothing poem  #18

      it was good for nothing
      yet I kept it
      it sat on my desk 
      like something that I had forgotten 
      to throw away
      I look at it sometimes
      remembering the day I found it 
      beside the blanket, we lay naked on 
      where  joined our hearts together 
      for our shared march into the future ©

      Show original message”

  1. seingraham


    Most days, she wakes and doesn’t think
    Just gets up and gets going, has breakfast
    Takes her meds, reads the paper in bits
    and pieces, turns her computer on
    But still tries hard not to think, just puts
    one foot in front of the other and tries
    not to think about why she’s trying not
    to think about anything – But every
    once in awhile, usually at least once
    a day, she remembers – She feels that
    she’s good for nothing. She remembers
    that her life used to have purpose but
    she can’t for the life of her remember
    what that was – just that it’s gone
    and she doesn’t know how to get it back.

  2. Walter J Wojtanik


    “A strange device for sure!” I thought to myself. What did Wellington call it? A GPS? Unfathomable rot, I think! Here, in Ismay’s behemoth, his “Titanic”… we are traveling at a good clip. The North Atlantic is vast in its openness. It is a rather bit of a nipper, I must admit.

    I’ve retired to my cabin for the night. It was a right jolly day, and tomorrow should offer nothing newsworthy, in my estimation. I, Captain Edward John Smith, have grown tired of the sea after all these years. A permanent retirement after this voyage is a grand plan.

    But what of this GPS gizmo? Ismay called it a global position something-or-other. A navigational chart without maps, *seckstons (sp) or compasses! It could even spot bloody icebergs from a safe distance. “Who needs to be star guided with this marvel of wonder in this yet undiscovered ‘electronic’ age?” Bruce brags. (Ismay calls himself a visionary; I say whack-job!) Well, I’ll play with his new toy on the morrow! Half a cup of tea, and it is lights out for me!

    In the need for speed
    one loses their perspective,
    objective unclear!

    * spelling changed to allow poem to post

  3. Holly

    Good for Nothing
    after Emily Dickinson

    No more multitasking: I’m
    retired and there’s nobody
    to say my syllabus is due, who
    needs to know when my office hours are.
    So now I have time for you.

    From what was my office, my books are
    gone. To find me doing nothing, you
    can come to my house. Nobody
    does nothing. I’m good at it too.

    1. ingridbruck

      Modern Art

      A muscle man flexes his muscles,
      sends shirt buttons flying.

      That’s what a sycamore does when it grows,
      sloughs of hanks of flesh like buttons.

      The tree casts off old for new.
      An artist picks off the ground

      the good for nothing skin of the outer tree.
      He soaks the bark in a bucket of water,

      mounts it inside a shadow box,
      and presto, it’s a work of modern art.

  4. RJ Clarken

    Cauliflower and Other Thoughts

    “Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.” ~Mark Twain

    What is good-for-nothing? Just no good?
    You can ponder this so far.
    What might seem dope, can give some folks hope.
    Why else would we oft wish on a star?

    Just no good? What is good-for nothing?
    There’s a reason for most stuff.
    that gives some folks hope, even if dope.
    But important? Or merely all fluff?

    Cauliflower, cabbages and kings…
    So, who determines their worth?
    What might seem dope, can give some folks hope.
    Of worthless things, there isn’t a dearth

    What is the definition of
    good-for nothing or no good?
    What gives some folks hope, even if dope?
    Oh how I wish that I understood!


  5. headintheclouds87

    Beast of Rage

    Rage against everything
    Is probably good for nothing
    But it still feels good,
    We become addicted to the anger,
    The fleeting high rushing to our head
    When finally telling someone off
    Or shouting them down
    From their smug little pedestal
    Proves far too hard to resist,
    So we give into the savage beast
    Just to get this fire released,
    But its hold over us is never ceased.

  6. bmorrison9


    Do you ever
    look in the mirror?
    Maybe when you shave
    or brush your teeth?

    Do you see the spots
    from years of reckless sun?
    Do you see the thinning hair,
    the wattled neck and pinched lips?

    Or do you see the boy
    the one who wanted to grow up
    to be Robin Hood with his bow
    or maybe a cowboy like Shane
    bringing justice to the west?

    Do you see yourself
    as you are now?
    How do you bear
    the loss?

  7. KM

    Don’t let them tell you the moon is good for nothing. Its full, shining face used up, like any actress over 40. Don’t let them tell you that birdsong is Top 40, overplayed and boring, background din. Don’t let them tell you the rain is washed up. That the strange coziness of cloud cover, the way the petrichor freshens not just the air, but the feeling you’ve been carrying for weeks, is not something worth documenting —if not for history, then for your own hardening heart. Don’t let them tell you the flowers have been overwritten, their unexpected colours and fragile petals as common as a definite article. Don’t let them tell you every good ode to the sun has already been written. They’ve forgotten to appreciate morning, take the gifts of a day for granted. How can anyone who makes light of the sun call herself a poet?

    – Kim Mannix

  8. Jacqueline Hallenbeck

    good-for-nothing poem

    i saw us making history
    how dare you embarrass me?
    you-good-for-nothing poem!

    i thought (at last) struggle was over
    and pretty soon i’d be discovered
    i saw us making history

    i read you in front of a tough crowd
    who threw tomatoes and laughed out loud
    how dare you embarrass me?

    i wrote you so you’d make me rich
    got absolutely nada! zilch!
    you-good-for-nothing poem!

  9. De Jackson

    Scoundrel Dragons

    You’re no good, you’re no good, you’re no good,
    baby you’re no good. – Linda Ronstadt

    Too much is still
    rearranging. Changing.
    Are they breathing fire
    or cotton candy fluff?

    Wasn’t it enough that
    they had teeth, and
    talons? Where did the
    scales come from?

    They’re no good, these
    gossamer winged things,
    these skysong warrior

    They ponder too much
    sting. They defy the laws
    of gravity. They take too
    much wonder, sun.

    And before I can erase
    them myself and pretend
    I don’t crave their gaze,
    they’re gone.


  10. De Jackson

    She Might Just Ask You If You Can Spare a Dollar

    This poem is up to
    no good. She’s a dirty rotten
    scoundrel, a mangy mongrel

    She’s been on the streets for days
    and days without a shower or a

    Frankly, she’s got nothing left,
    and nothing left to

    Nothing ventured,
    nothing borrowed,
    nothing gained.


  11. MET

    The Inheritance II

    They are good for nothing.
    Yeah, that is one way to see them.
    A bunch of feral cats
    Whom I have spent enough
    Money to buy a new dish washer or
    Recliner or many things,
    And looking that way
    I see your point.

    But my perspective is
    They get me up to feed them,
    And get me out to buy their food.
    They make me think
    Of more than me.
    Besides I made a promise.
    I will keep it.
    Besides they keep snakes away
    Well, most of the time.
    That is my point of view,
    It is mine that counts.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    November 18, 2017

  12. MET

    Love Letters straight from the heart

    That record drove me nuts….
    You played it from the time you got home
    From school until you fell asleep.
    What did I know, I was ten,
    And never been in love
    Except for Zoli,
    Whose father made wonderful spaghetti…
    And I think that was my real love.
    The love of your life
    Lived miles away
    In a town called Cincinnati,
    And just like those words
    Of that song…
    Those letters were straight from the heart
    And you knew every line
    Because you read them over and over.
    I was your pest of a little sister,
    Who just wanted that song to stop.

    I heard the song somewhere
    The other day,
    And wished your love
    Could send you love letters
    To heaven…
    I am sure you would read every line.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    November 18, 2017

  13. tripoet

    Johnny Cash “Tear Stained Letter”
    Beatles “Paperback Writer”
    Paul McCartney “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter”
    Simon and Garfunkel “A Poem on the Underground Wall”

    Winston Churchill
    Reduced to despair
    he felt like a good for nothing
    when his “black dogs”
    had him by the throat.

    The same man during England’s
    hour of need entreated
    the free world to
    “Never, ever ever ever ever give up.”

  14. ReathaThomasOakley


    The big thing, with the sad thing,
    the tiny thing, and the strange thing,
    the lost thing, plus the found thing,
    made these past twelve hours
    good for writing no thing.

  15. Sara McNulty

    Empty Gestures

    Grand gestures
    Of love are not love. Declarations
    On depth of your love for her to others,
    Does not mean a thing if she does not see or

    Feel this undying, unselfish endearment.
    Old hurts do not dissolve in ticking of time,
    Rather stay in back of brain, bothersome voice

    Nagging and nagging at her ragged heart. She is
    Outgrowing your needs, noticing
    That she is a person with needs as well.
    Hell, she never has put herself first.
    It is time to end that relationship that
    Nibbles, gnaws away at her flesh–bit by bit. She says,
    Go find yourself another sponge.

  16. tunesmiff

    G. Smith
    Good for nothing,
    Good for free;
    Good don’t cost much,
    At least not to me.

    Kind for no reason,
    Kind just because;
    Kind is as kind does,
    Don’t want no applause.

    Love is patient,
    Love always rejoices;
    Love is a verb,
    It’s the choicest of choices.

    Good for nothing,
    Kind for no reason;
    Love is a verb,
    Always in season.


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