2017 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 29

Today and tomorrow are the final days of this challenge. We’ve got this!

For today’s prompt, write a response poem. The poem can be a response to anything–a piece of news, some art, a famous (or not so famous) quotation, or whatever. However, I thought it might be a cool opportunity to respond to a poem that you’ve written this month. If both poems work, it could make an interesting dynamic to have two (or more) poems that interact with each other.


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Here’s my attempt at a Response Poem:

“if you say”

something i have to take it
at face value whether or

not meanings are hidden
beneath the surface are

beyond me & if you
disguise your intentions

prepare for me to fall
for them & don’t wonder



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 decided to respond to his Day 2 poem.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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144 thoughts on “2017 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 29

  1. tunesmiff

    G. Smith
    Who’s that sitting ‘neath the hickory tree?
    ~ Don’t think twice, it’s only me.

    How long you been sitting in the sun?
    ~ I guess since maybe ’bout half past one.

    What in the world you gonna do?
    ~ Guess I’ll go back to work about a quarter past two.

    Where’d you come from with that load?
    ~ ‘Bout a mile and a half just up the road.

    Why’d you have to stop by here?
    ~ I thought you’d think the reason’s clear.

    When you gonna stop back again?
    ~ Don’t know, but I’ll call you then.

    Are you out of your ever loving mind?
    ~ And here I thought you’d still be kind.

    ~ Adios.

  2. Sara McNulty

    Color vs. Texture

    (In response to my poem for day 17, “What I Meant To say”)

    Can it be the color that puts me off
    when eating veggies like lima beans?
    I think it is texture, mealy and soft
    for limas, and slimy for okra, also green.
    Unpalatable kale is an unwelcome cuisine.
    Yet I love broccoli, peas, and sprouts,
    so concerning color, I have my doubts.

    1. MET

      love this…. the only place I use Lima beans is in my Chili… Ma could not chew kidney beans… but she could lima beans.. and it makes a nice color display with carrots and celery… which I love…. but as for okra… it is an acquired taste… and I love steamed okra… but I think it is texture… for me oatmeal, humus, and such just gross me out.

    2. tunesmiff

      Sorry, but I love ’em all~ well, maybe not quite sprouts (of the Brussels variety) & if y’all’ll fry up the okra, even better~!
      But I do ‘preciate the “tasteful” way in which you expressed your preferences and fondnesses…

  3. MET

    Another poem about the character….

    Message to my EX

    Ex-who… Fill in the blank!
    I certainly have.
    I can’t believe you called me
    Once again… bail you out
    Due to some drunken bar brawl
    You started- of that I am sure.
    I am here to show my new tattoo…
    On the finger you
    Should have put that ring
    You pawned…
    Right here…see those initials
    LLPH… life, liberty and
    The pursuit of happiness
    Something I should have done
    A long time ago…
    You see on the way to the bails bondman
    I saw this tattoo parlor and chose
    That instead of paying your bail;
    By the way I got off cheaper.
    Don’t worry I called your Mama…
    She was none too pleased.
    I am heading home to pack my bags… and
    Heading off to “See Rock City.”
    Don’t bother to call me…
    I won’t answer to Jamie
    Or any other name you might call me…
    By the way you owe the rent
    Since it is in your name.
    I was stupid… just not anymore.
    So goodbye…I am off
    To for adventure or two.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    November 29, 2017

    1. MET

      besides being a tourist attraction…. and painted on so many barns…. Kate Campbell wrote a great song called “See Rock City” of which I belt out and sing when I am in the car…

      and last line should have started For an adventure or two…

  4. taylor graham

    in response to an overheard conversation

    Bent into his computer, screen upon screen
    of replacement parts, and what it would cost this
    old customer – a friend after all the years –
    to fix her evaporative system. She asks about his
    surgery. He lights up like the Check Engine
    on her dashboard but smiling. A long saga,
    how his heart caught up with him, clear across
    the country on the road from his great-grandpa’s
    battlefield (Civil War). Triple by-pass and he’s
    had to change his life more than just an engine
    overhaul. He lives better now, younger,
    he says, and looks it. His helper re-linked my
    linkage and he doesn’t charge me a dime.
    But that’s not why I come here all these years.
    Forget the car, it makes me new. Glad
    I live in this town. Like Mike, glad to be alive.

  5. taylor graham


    That switchback dirt-track down to Rocky Bar –
    a one-lane bridge across, and nothing more –
    we hiked from top to bottom, plenty far
    in freezing rain that soon began to pour.

    Down and back again, to see
    what’s on the other side of nothing
    much, just around the next
    bend. No cause but pure curiosity.

    Our dogs ran on ahead, a dog’s great joy
    while river ran in darkling cold, a flood
    and we could say in honesty, we hiked
    that switchback dirt-track down to Rocky Bar.

  6. robinamelia


    After the ski lesson, my instructor sent me a postcard:
    “life,” it said, over a picture of mountains, “begins
    at the end of your comfort zone.” I stuck it on my bulletin board
    and tried to embrace the concept, took more lessons, faced
    the dizzying steeps, rode the famous trams, bore the cold.
    My husband praised my progress. But one day, after yet
    another adventure, I opened my front door,
    was greeted with purrs and meows, and I realized that this,
    this is where life begins. The rest is illusion, the stuff
    of postcards and Instagram posts. Home, with my cat,
    stoking the wood stove: that is all the life I need.

  7. Kiri


    It happened immediately
    when I paid fifteen dollars
    for one line of poetry;
    Miss, do all poets have crazy hair and big black boots?

    There I was; wearing the shoes
    pushing back the crazy strands
    and reading all my wars
    laid away in the pages of her book.

    Lines 4 & 7-8 are from Sarah Kay’s Mrs. Ribiero and My Wars Are Laid Away in Books by Emily Dickinson, respectively.

  8. MET

    In Response to smoking lover I left…

    There were many reasons
    I told you goodbye…
    Heard you told people
    I hated your smoking, and
    That was the reason you were dumped.
    It was not the only reason.
    You would show up
    Expecting me to drop my life
    And pick up yours
    For yours always needed picking up.
    I left you because I remembered
    I was too smart to stay, but
    If you want to tell people
    That you were dumped cause
    You have an addiction to nicotine…
    How difficult it was for you to quit.
    That is fine with me…
    I have not wheezed since you left, and
    I have an addiction to breathing, and
    That I can’t quit.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    November 29, 2017

    written about a character I am developing

    1. MET

      those unfinished endings get you every time… I have pondered over this one… and that is a good thing… I don’t ponder over things that do get my attention.

  9. KM

    Tried posting this earlier and it didn’t work. Maybe because I had a link. This is a response, or kind of an ekphrastic take, on a photo of a sand sculpture I saw on Twitter this morning. The link to the photo is on my blog if you’re interested.


    World Peace is carved into the sand, with Gandhi’s hooded, hopeful eyes, looking out through his round frames. An award-winning sculpture, as much for the craft as the idea. Care and detail evident in each clean cut and smooth line. I’ve never built more than simple castles, molded from blunt pail shapes. Never etched more than imperfect square windows, or added detail beyond a flag made from a stick and a leaf. I’ve never considered the message of the medium, tenuous sand. Moved with the whim of water or wind. Or done in by a heavy foot, tired of the display. Threatened by the allure. I’ve focused too long on the fragility. Overlooked the composition, a billion tiny rocks as old as the world. Each grain a small word in a developing story.

    – Kim Mannix

  10. De Jackson

    Dear Silent Moon

    While you’re weeping
    blood is seeping
    While you’re dancing
    no one’s answering me.
              – Pete Townshend

    This poem has grown weary
    of your quiet glow,
    the way you know
    things and won’t

    You’re full of your
    -self, you know,
    for someone without
    her own bright enough

    I dare you to shun
    that sun, and answer
    in flashlight Morse
    of your own

    something smaller
    from the earth than these
    stilted syllables
    and fading song.

    I dare you to tell us
    where you go when
    your darker side
    fails us,
    leaves us flailing
    in our own inky sky.


  11. Jezzie


    The phone rings. I ease myself out of my comfy chair
    but when I pick up the phone there is no-one there.
    The phone rings again. I tear myself away from my work
    but when I answer it’s not to me they want to talk
    or it’s someone who wants to help me claim PPI
    or it’s about the accident I had recently. Did I? No not I.
    Or else they’ll say there’s something wrong
    with my internet. Now I know that is a con.
    If they get no response they’ll try again another day
    so what on earth can I do to make them go away?

    When I ring someone all I get is a mechanical voice
    listing what I might have rung for and it’s my choice
    of numbers to press to get to speak to someone
    but then do I get to connect with an actual person?
    No, I’m given a whole lot of other options I should try.
    “I just want to speak to a human being!” I cry.
    I slam the phone down and use the internet instead
    thinking that I might just as well have stayed in bed.
    To prevent all this aggro to which I am subjected
    I’m now thinking of having my phone disconnected.

  12. SarahLeaSales

    How I Will Remember Them

    I will always remember my paternal grandmother as a woman who epitomized grit and femininity–all while being a stay-at-home mom. I will remember her for saying (about her son, my uncle Bill), “If you’re not grinning like a jackass, he thinks you’re mad.” I will remember her for the way she’d say, “Now Cher—Bran—Sarah,” finally getting to my name (Cher and Bran being my aunt Cheryll and Cousin Brandi).

    I will always remember my parents as always being proud of me. To me, a parent’s pride is different than a husband’s—it’s personal, for you are a part of them. We worry away our childhoods trying to make our parents proud (even though they, in turn, often embarrass us). I will always remember how my mom worried, which made me feel smothered. Now, with a daughter of my own, I understand.

    I will remember my brother as a gifted musician who should never have hid his talent under a bushel.

    I will always remember my peers in high school as smaller than they seemed all those years ago. High school isn’t the real world, though we never figure that out until it’s a long ago memory.

    I will remember my Mormon acquaintances as changeless—kind of Godlike. My life, in contrast, has looked like an erratic heartbeat, theirs, a flat line, marked only by their first (and only marriages) and the births of their children. I don’t think I’ll ever know a life like theirs, so structured in religion, so unstructured with so many children.

    My first real boyfriend: You were proof that chemistry could thrive without love or friendship. You showed me that the right person isn’t just about how you feel about them, but how they make you feel about yourself.

    My second boyfriend: You were a rebound romance, doomed to fail because you weren’t what I thought I wanted. Now I know you were so much more than I could have ever dreamed.

    My third boyfriend: You showed me how passion that’s all-consuming can almost destroy a person.

    My husband, you have been as patient with me as I have been with you. For better or worse, our marriage is what it is. Like God, you have been right there with me through the best and the worst; I am patiently waiting for the better. You haven’t given me the best, but you’ve helped me become my best.

    Hannah, my only begotten thus far, you have been the sun, the moon, and the stars—every kind of Mormon Heaven, every degree of glory. But I realized not long after you were born that “I Love Lucy” did not prepare me for parenthood. There was no Mrs. Trumble at the ready and in this world, I could never turn you loose to play elsewhere. But I am better than what I was because of your very existence. I say, I love my family as I love myself, but you are the only one I love even more than that.

    My husband’s family, I was such an idealistic bride, hoping we could be friends like my mom and dad and aunt and uncle were when I was a little girl, but I know now that will never happen. The only connection we have is that you happen to be related to my husband. That alone doesn’t make you related to me.

    And my friends, well, you know who you are, even as I am still getting to know who I am.

  13. MET

    Oh, what will I do on December 1st

    There will be no poetry prompts come Friday…
    And I am at a loss to what I will do…
    I may send out a Mayday,
    But many may be glad
    And shout aloud to say
    “Thank goodness she is done,” for
    I have asked those to stay
    And let me read for them,
    When they really wanted to play.
    Alas I will be sad, for a moment, but
    At least it is Friday;
    Let the weekend begin.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    November 29, 2017

  14. De Jackson

    This Is Still to Say
    {in response to William Carlos Williams}

    I am sick
    of plums
    and that damn
    empty icebox

    which never
    has anything worth
    for breakfast

    Forgive me
    I am also
    not much
    worth saving


  15. MET

    Ah, but there are other smells I love
    (in response to my 3 AM poem to yesterday’s prompt “Love of ordinary smells”)

    I love the smell of clean sheets
    As I lift the covers
    That smell invites me to sweet dreams, but
    Reminds me of a cousin who fussed
    At her mother crying,
    “Why do I have to have clean sheets
    When she comes to visit?”
    Begging the question,
    Did my aunt never change her sheets?

    Whenever I come upon fresh
    Asphalt, I roll my windows down
    To catch a whiff of Da
    For his clothes smelled of asphalt
    At the end of the day when
    I ran to greet him, and he would grab
    Me up and toss me in the air, and
    And as I fell into his open arms
    I would smell that balm
    That he was safely home.

    The smell of vapor rub
    Brings back images of Ma
    Standing by the stove
    Warming a cloth to place
    On my chest to end
    My nights of coughing, and
    Often meant she would
    Gather me into her arms
    Rocking me back to sleep, and
    Worrying until the morning.

    The smell of a wet dog,
    A disgusting smell…
    Until that dog still loved is gone,
    For even disgusting smells
    Remind the soul of what is lost.

    The burning of popcorn
    Reminds me of a coworker
    Who would forget it popping.
    I missed her so much
    When she was gone.

    They say the odors we smell
    Linger longer than we smell them.
    They get trapped within our memories
    Waiting for the day a whisper of scent
    Invites those memories to release
    Into our existent.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    November 29, 2017

  16. Sally Jadlow

    This poem is in response to my “Day Before Thanksgiving” poem on 11/22/17.
    Six Days After


    Thanksgiving turkey
    became sandwiches
    then hash in the leftover gravy.

    Cranberry sauce
    melted into nothingness
    on Sunday night plates.

    Mashed potatoes
    became potato pancakes
    somewhere along the way.

    Lone piece of chocolate cake
    leans mournfully
    to one side.

    But the precious memories
    will last forever—
    grow sweeter with each review.

  17. Walter J Wojtanik


    Poor me.
    I get this sick feeling
    that I’ll be reeling in melancholy,
    a not-so-jolly way to give
    the bride away.
    Our daughters have both grown
    that is known, but Daddy
    still holds sway & on that day
    I’ll be a blend of glad/sad.
    She’s found a good match
    and naturally I see his gentle
    way as something I did
    in my day. & before December ends,
    they will have married their best friends,
    & it will send her mother & I
    sky high & we’ll cry/sigh until
    the New Year is nigh.
    Emotions are mixed & I will
    fix my gaze on the days
    I’ll have to ponder & wonder.
    Where did this time go?
    Poor me.

    **A response to Robert’s Day 12 poem, “In December”

    1. Janet Rice Carnahan

      You summed up the wedding day experience for our children very well, Walt. It is such a moment as you already know, too. The ‘glad/sad’ and ‘cry/sigh’ is right on! Yet that joy, overpowering and so, so good! Well done and you’ll be great! Just another moment in the grand ‘holding on and letting go’ of life! Best wishes on the big day, by the way! 🙂

  18. Janet Rice Carnahan


    Back and forth
    Word for word
    South or North
    How absurd

    Expounding love for you
    I’ll turn and walk away
    You’ll show love the way you do
    Leave us and go play

    You go ping
    I’ll go pong
    You will sing
    I’ll move along

    Words and meanings
    Hang in the air
    Well-meant leanings
    Left on a chair

    What is the real news
    What is considered fake
    Can’t we openly choose
    Is that a clear mistake?

    You are your views
    I see my stand
    You respond to clues
    I don’t understand

    Let’s take our words and let go
    Throw our mental games to the wind
    Sit back and watch it snow
    And slowly begin again

    Just put down opposition
    Regroup each through the heart
    Shift and change our position
    And call it a good start

    1. ingridbruck

      I can’t believe the poem-a-day for November is almost over. I am sorry for your sad news, Robert. Today I respond to sad news about a member of my writing group:


      Sam Bauman, suicide,
      young talented student,
      mathematician and musician,
      his pain gone,
      pain just begun
      for you, Stephanie, his grandmother,
      and for saddened family and friends.

      Family, friends, teachers
      sit shiva for Sam,
      some friends of the family
      share the pain from a distance.
      Stephanie, the writing group learned
      about your grandson’s death from June,
      our teacher heard it from one of our group
      who read it in the New York Times.

      Our teacher, June, asks that we draw
      a circle of support around you.
      A chaplain in our writing group reports
      she whispers Sam’s name to the universe,
      stars whispering the name Sam shines
      in the hearts of all who loved him.

      We care for you, Stephanie,
      you are not alone in the universe
      which has so recently taken your husband
      and now your grandson
      while you ask, “Why not me instead?”

      Some hurts are too heavy for any one person,
      we whisper Sam’s name, dear writing friend.
      May the light that shines in your words
      help guide you through this darkness
      and may the song of a million stars
      singing the beloved name Sam
      comfort your wounded spirit.

  19. taylor graham

    response to Caschwa’s “Felony Fauna Faux Pas”

    Remember that burst of winter-bloom
    in a tiny triangle between canyon
    road and vacant lot graded for development?
    Coyote-bush all in white, pre-Christmas
    dazzle before I drove down the grade.
    Coyote-bush in bloom for early-winter –
    they say, bees come out of
    hibernation for the nectar. Coyote-
    bush otherwise non-descript,
    chaparral-dull, you might not notice.
    For me, a bit of doldrums-cheer
    in winter-dark on the canyon grade.
    You know the story. The road
    was widened – safer, but somehow
    the old one cheered my soul. And that
    ready-graded lot got developed, wiping out
    coyote-bush. How about the bees?

  20. tripoet


    Response to the shakeup on NBC’s “Today” Show

    When I asked,”Why?”
    You responded, “Why not?”
    Even the walls pretended
    they could not hear,
    worried only about
    the next painting
    being hung.

    But today I’ve done my own pounding
    Watch the nails come out.

  21. PowerUnit

    I no longer respond to the news
    the lies in the faces
    pleas of good gracious
    the subject’s world views
    and unbelievable basis
    no longer of interest
    fake hair and big nose
    at the clown the world laughs

  22. tripoet

    Response To My Alarm Clock Ringing at 5:30 This Morning

    It’s a shame you can’t take a joke.
    Couldn’t you tell I was only kidding
    When I set you last night?

  23. MET

    Every year since 1977 I have made my own Christmas cards… I painted them all until 1998 when I lost two brothers and just could not do it… I added a story in 1995… and that has grown to four pages… five pages ups the postal cost… but due to issues with my blood … I just did not mail them the last two years…in fact I did barely anything… so this is something I had wanted to write to explain to all those who gets a card from me why I have been absent the last two years…

    In Response to Why my Christmas Cards Did Not Come…

    A disappointment…
    I have been told,
    Those who expected a card, and
    Did not get one…
    Two years they did not arrive.
    I painted the card
    Delivered it with the verse
    To the Printer, and wrote a wonderful story.
    I even addressed some cards, but
    I never sent them…
    Except to a few in March.
    The energy just was not there.

    Then last year,
    I knew my Cassie was not well, and
    There I slept her last days
    Too weak to help her.
    Such an exquisite cat
    Deserved more than I gave her.

    My recovery has been slow,
    And some days I fear
    I will slip back, and
    Fail again to what
    I should do.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    November 29, 2017

  24. Nancy Posey

    Response to the Poet Who Has Taken a Day Off from Love

    How gracious of you to ask
    rather than presume I won’t notice
    your brief exit from the pattern of our days.
    Don’t you know that the frequency
    of our love words, their sameness,
    in no way diminishes their truth.

    And though I rarely remark
    on your little absences—
    all the while present in body—
    please know that I crackle in the distance.

    Forgive me when I ask too much,
    too many small endearances,
    but I feed on your love,
    your words, your touch
    as much as I crave air
    and water.

    And though I may
    seem determined to collide
    into you like an asteroid
    on course,
    most days I’m content
    simply to exist in your orbit,
    within the pull
    of your gravity.

  25. JRSimmang

    (in response to Day 25, Remix poem)

    There were only the Sun and Earth
    that first sunrise,

    And abundant silence.

    Is there music without lyrics?
    There must be,
    the voice of God.

    A whisper of intent,
    a bribery of whisper,
    an intent of bribing

    nature with infinite sweet-
    so full of music

    the orchestra will never

    we have only to
    tilt our heads
    to hear
    the susurrus
    of simplicity.

    -JR Simmang

  26. Misky

    A White Demise

    I watched a single white star fall from the sky.
    Should I be sorry for your whitened demise,
    Falling through darkness, flowing like spilt milk.
    I shed tears for you.


    Form: sapphic ode 3×11+1×5

  27. ReathaThomasOakley

    Response to November 4
    Whosoever prompt.

    Mama’s brother my
    Uncle Roy shouted
    with the best of them
    when the spirit moved
    or when they sang
    Whosoever Meaneth Me

  28. KM


    World Peace is carved into the sand, with Gandhi’s hooded, hopeful eyes, looking out through his round frames. An award-winning sculpture, as much for the craft as the idea. Care and detail evident in each clean cut and smooth line. I’ve never build more than simple castles, molded from blunt pail shapes. Never etched more than imperfect square windows, or added detail beyond a flag made from a stick and a leaf. I’ve never considered the message of the medium, tenuous sand. Moved with the whim of water or wind. Or done in by a heavy foot, tired of the display. Threatened by the allure. I’ve focused too long on the fragility. Overlooked the composition, a billion tiny rocks as old as the world. Each grain a small word in a developing story.

    – Kim Mannix

    ** A response, or kind of an ekphrastic take, on a photo of a sand sculpture I saw on Twitter this morning. Link here if interested: https://twitter.com/ukkaravaliutsav/status/935407827975204864

  29. MET

    To Tennyson and Locksley Hall

    In Westminster Abby
    Panicking I stood
    Closed in by a crowd of strangers,
    Fighting the urge to scream.
    Then they cleared, and
    Looking down,
    I stood on your grave
    On the day of your birth.
    A strange happening
    On a strange journey
    I was to embark.
    It seemed fitting
    It should begin
    With me standing on your grave.

    I remember the words
    Of Locksley Hall…
    Not the ones about love, but
    The ones about fiery navies in the sky.
    What did you see Tennyson
    That the others could not see?
    Did you see the future
    A nightmare or a blessing?
    Did that vision make you stutter
    And hide those lines deep
    Within a poem that spoke of love?
    Did you travel a strange journey
    One that poets often travel?
    Those lines I often ponder
    Hidden in Locksley Hall, and
    Often wonder if we had listened
    To those words you wrote
    So long ago.
    Would war been avoided, and
    Would we stopped from raining
    Destruction from the skies?

    I remember when I read
    Locksley Hall, and how the words
    Made me think…
    What visions that poets today speak
    And that we still do not listen.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    November 29, 2017

    1. MET

      Locksley hall is a very long poem… but in the midst of it starts this passage that begins “I dipped into the future, as far as the human eye could see…”

  30. grcran

    (this poem is a response to my own poem from day8 “crazy little thing”)
    Big Sober Thing

    This thing called responsibility, it belongs to you.
    You own both good and bad you do.
    When choice you make breaks incorrect,
    rethink that thing, rue, reinspect.
    Grow up, apologize, be small.
    Don’t boast as if you never fall.
    Won’t show in selfies, won’t win bling, but
    it’s big, this responsibility thing.

    gpr crane

  31. annell

    We Traveled Far To Gather The Bittersweet

    we journeyed far     to gather the bittersweet     prized for its orange berries

    marked the season     highlighted the table     an autumn tradition

    patchwork of blue     when i think of you     your return so sweet

    a bittersweet time    it was the spring of the year     a time of butterflies

    and honeysuckle    i lowered the blinds      adjusted the light in your room

    i remained by your bed      watched the monitors     your heartbeat steady

    you slept peacefully     you held my hand     tight in yours’s

    the time was short     yet the hours crept by slowly     i was helpless

    you disappeared     in the early morning     the chamber empty

    i wanted to scream     i wanted to run     instead/ paid the cabby

    caught the flight     laid over in denver     returned home

    November 29, 2017

    Note: This could be a response to the poem I wrote November 27, 2017.

  32. Melanie

    The Death of Rudolph

    They had a plastic reindeer head
    And put it on the wall
    Beside the twinkling Christmas tree
    Inside the shopping mall

    “Does Santa kill his reindeer, Ma?”
    A tender lassie said
    A-weeping and a-wailing as
    She spied the reindeer’s head

    Ma tugged the little lass away
    And said, “There! There! Wee soul”
    She marched up to the man in charge
    And grabbed his button hole

    “What’s this you’ve done, you horrid man?
    Poor Rudolph’s met his end
    A trophy mounted on the wall?
    And act sure to offend

    “My poor wee lass is so upset
    She’ll never sleep tonight
    The head of poor old Rudolph is
    A grim and grisly sight”

    He quaked, the man, at Ma’s cold ire
    And made a judgement call
    The reindeer’s head had caused distress
    He took down from the wall

    The wrath of mothers everywhere
    The power that they wield
    And men in charge, with button holes
    To all such women yield

    The lass wrapped in her cotton wool
    With Ma to fight her foe
    With every plastic reindeer head
    When will her courage grow?

    There is an ugly side to life
    Those “reindeer heads” to face
    Resilient hearts refuse to flinch
    Life, light and shade, embrace

    This is a response to a newspaper article about a plastic reindeer head, the child and the mother’s distress and the swift response to take the head down. The journalist wondered whether taking the head down was the right response. He suggested that parent are growing up the next generation to lack courage and resilience.

  33. taylor graham

    for B. True who moved away

    Episcopal bell ringing as I knocked –
    summoned to tea and worship-words,
    mortification of the phrase, revising.

    Why did you leave the neighborhood –
    skunk, the crow, the cost of noise?
    I don’t drive that street anymore.

    Two old sneakers dangled from a line.

  34. Walter J Wojtanik


    Imagine my surprise when I felt the need to sit and write a letter to YOU!
    Normally, I am the receiver of such mail.
    But you have posed some fascinating questions
    I felt the need to set you straight…

    Of late, this place has really kicked into high gear.
    It is here that some of our best work comes into play.
    All in preparation for that special day.
    It is approaching much to soon, I fear.

    You are afraid my age will finally deter me
    and keep me from my sworn duty.
    You worry that the fur on my tunic will get all sooty.
    Such fears for one so young, dear me!

    How do I do it all in one night?
    We are well prepared before we go,
    to venture out in the ice and snow,
    (or the sandy beaches) when we take flight.

    Yes, the elves are real people; they rock!
    Their knowledge and experience is top notch,
    There’s not a single task that they botch.
    They work extremely hard ‘round the clock.

    We do all live here in what people call the “North Pole”.
    But the pole is just a landmark in what is Caribou Corners,
    The real name of the place; I was born here!
    A wonderful hamlet of peace and goodwill, bless my soul!

    Reindeer really do fly as well, you know.
    Their diet is especially light and airy,
    It helps them on our flight (no dairy)
    And they get us where we need to go.

    Mrs. Claus is a beautiful lass,
    a friend, a confidant, a cookie baker,
    a delicious holiday meal maker.
    She gives Santa his big, jolly… er, smile.

    Now, we both know your behavior’s been rotten,
    I’ve checked the list, you’re naughty not nice,
    As a matter of fact, I’ve checked the list twice.
    Just think of the presents you might have gotten!

    I worried you for a second there, didn’t I?
    No child’s gift will be left behind.
    I was having some fun, I hope you don’t mind.
    I didn’t mean to make you cry.

    I saw the gifts that you’ve requested,
    But I’ll choose something special, just because.
    Now, I’ll get to work and I must be rested,
    Merry Christmas to you!
    Signed, Santa Claus.

  35. headintheclouds87

    So this one is a response to the poem I wrote for Day 1 (see link) – an interesting take on the prompt to try!

    New You, Before a New Day

    I know this ‘new day’ you speak of,
    The fabled time when everything
    Falls effectively into place
    And life is all tidily arranged,
    But these ‘old worries’ of yours
    Will surely follow you there
    If you don’t begin anew as well.

    Perhaps I should more clearly explain,
    You see, this so-called stress and strain
    Has grown from your own brain,
    It is your response to life’s difficulties
    That has stifled your creativity,
    Because of your constant proclivity
    To allow anger to ravage you so intimately.

    I do not wish to dispirit you,
    But merely make implicit to you
    That the root of this perceived ruin
    Lies somewhere deep within you,
    And that change must occur
    For this ‘new day’ to be a solid reflection
    Of a truly unclouded mind and intention.

  36. De Jackson

    Continued Triolet Play with Walt…

    In Response to Piglet’s Nervous Heart

    Pooh sez: “Oh bother, why bother?”
    The world’s full of blustery days, and worries.
    It’s not like it’s solvable, my anxious brother;
    so Pooh sez: “Oh bother, why bother?”
    There’s no need to beg, fret, or barter.
    For fear will still come, in fits and flurries.
    Pooh sez: “Oh bother, why bother?”
    The world’s full of blustery days, and worries.

    1. Walter J Wojtanik


      The world’s full of blustery days, and worries.
      Especially at this time of year you see it.
      The way the masses rush and scurries,
      The world’s full of blustery days, and worries.
      But this jolly gent is in no hurry,
      I’m spreading some cheer, so be it!
      The world’s full of blustery days, and worries.
      Especially at this time of year you see it.

      1. De Jackson

        Response Times May Vary

        Especially this time of year, you see it.
        Folks are busy, distracted, and worn.
        Though we all strive not to be it,
        especially this time of year, you see it.
        We all must unanimously agree, it’s
        easy to feel overwhelmed and forlorn.
        Especially this time of year, you see it.
        Folks are busy, distracted, and worn.

        1. Walter J Wojtanik


          Folks are busy, distracted, and worn
          with miles to go before they sleep.
          From the day that they’ve been born,
          folks are busy, distracted, and worn.
          So from late at night until early morn
          these sheeple emit not a single peep.
          Folks are busy, distracted, and worn
          with miles to go before they sleep.

          1. De Jackson

            In Response to an Unlikely Savior

            With miles to go before they sleep,
            the wise men travel wide, and far.
            With tidings joyful, gifts to keep,
            and miles to go before they sleep,
            o’er valley wide and mountain steep
            they follow only one bright star.
            With miles to go before they sleep,
            the wise men travel wide, and far.

          2. Walter J Wojtanik


            The three wise men have traveled wide, and far.
            They’re in full caravan mode, I guess.
            lead by a Global Positioning Star.
            The three wise men have traveled wide, and far
            to see in a manger a Child, they are
            there to complete their astronomical quest,
            The three wise men have traveled wide, and far.
            They’re in full caravan mode, I guess.

  37. Anthony94

    Sr. Seraphine Responds

    Oh we knew well enough
    to leave you alone since
    you wouldn’t talk after
    those long weekends home

    even when your brother died
    your junior year there didn’t
    seem to be any words you
    would listen to from anyone

    so I let you stay in the sewing
    room and hem the other girls’
    formals, a quiet space with those
    floor to ceiling windows looking

    out over the fields, birds in the
    roof high pines grown up with
    girls’ thoughts for some hundred
    years and I figured they’d hold yours

    I’m not sure we knew how much
    you kept inside, senior class president
    next year, yearbook editor, rallier of
    the downtrodden imagined or real

    but at least when you sewed you seemed
    happier than most times so I sent those
    sleeves and zippers your way from the
    disasters around you, showed you how

    to cut off almost a half a yard from what
    the pattern called for so you could walk
    to Scott’s or Kress’s and buy something
    to wear besides your uniform. You spent

    most days learning Spanish from the girls
    from other countries and I let it go, didn’t
    ask you to take class as I knew you’d shy
    away again, never mind I learned you

    ended up teaching it years later, sewing
    for you and your girls on the treadle Singer
    in that attic room. Maybe the only gift we
    could give was resiliency, was it enough?

  38. candy

    An Inconvenience

    A neighbor cut down
    an old Black Walnut tree
    it was inconvenient –
    dropping walnuts in the fall
    as walnut trees are wont to do

    And then another cut down
    a Red Maple
    it was inconvenient –
    shedding all those leaves in the fall
    as maple trees are inclined to do

    Yet one more is contemplating
    three tall pines behind his house
    they are inconvenient –
    scattering pine cones in the fall
    as pine trees must surely do

    Now the birds and squirrels
    search out another perch
    it is inconvenient –
    finding seeds and nuts elsewhere
    I think that I will plant a tree

  39. Eileen S

    I tried to post this a minute ago but I realized that I had to doctor it to bypass the censor.

    Response to Current Events

    Se**al harassment allegations
    are news topics these days.
    It’s not easy being an
    educated female and
    wanting professional success

    I was in a male dominated office.
    I overheard a conversation
    where a male supervisor
    told a male employee that
    he should make me submit.
    I didn’t stay.
    Later, I heard neither did he.

    It’s corporate culture that
    if a woman wants to be
    promoted, she must be
    willing to do things outside
    her professional duties
    lest she gets labeled,
    “Not a team player.”

    Being se**ally harassed
    is an indignation and
    it should be stopped.

  40. Walter J Wojtanik


    No one will be more surprised than I
    if life turns to give me just what I want.
    I’ve given up on wishing to
    become famous before I die.
    Even in closer circles, I am in
    absolutely no hurry to face my
    Maker; I’ll continue to take my own
    sweet time before eternal sleep offers a bed.

    A Golden Shovel response to Yehuda Amichai’s “I Want to Die in My Own Bed”

  41. Walter J Wojtanik

    (The House With None of Us In It)

    I do not venture there anymore.
    The old homestead near the Erie track
    stands in an unrecognizable state.
    The tales I’ve been told of our old house are tragic.

    The house is empty, a haunted house bears more life.
    The sharp contrast cuts like a serrated knife,
    shredded, tattered edges and shards of memory
    laid to waste and leaving a bitter taste in our mouths.

    Generations stacked three high would cry
    a collective tear if they went near the Erie track.
    In fact, many more would shed when the fact enters their heads
    that there’s nobody in the house worth a mention.

    I cringe with a strain; a tension winding my spring
    until I release and cease to be rational.
    A right and traditional home; a suitable sanctuary,
    it is scary how quickly it has fallen. It is hard

    to imagine a manicured yard and bountiful garden left barren,
    I wouldn’t care if the years of my making weren’t taking
    their toll on my memory. There is nary a day that goes by
    that I do not try to recall her as our domain. All that’s left is pain.

    Indeed, she offered us all that a house should, it was good
    that warmth and shelter were felt in her embrace.
    We played no part in her disgrace; this place is no longer
    ours to concern over. We’ve grown stronger in our absence.

    I do not venture there anymore. That place,
    that house with none of us in it. I do not look back.

    Written in response to:
    “The House With Nobody In It” by Joyce Kilmer

    1. MET

      this made me sad and it is so beautiful… the sad part is my Aunt Vennie’s house stands empty because her three children opened war on each other when she died. so this grand lovely old house stands empty and in repair.


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