2017 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 30

Here we are: It’s the final day of this challenge. Look for next steps sometime between now and Monday. But first, let’s poem one last time!

For today’s prompt, write a “back in the day” poem. You might also call this a “good old days” poem or a “bad old days” poem. To me, back in the day is synonymous with history–but a kind of personal history (even if shared among a community).


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Here’s my attempt at a Back in the Day Poem:

“& she’d always rock in the chair”

we’d get together all the time
the eight brewer cousins & play
while our parents got together
& she’d always rock in the chair

cracking jokes & making comments
about this or that & we would laugh
because we enjoyed each other
& she’d always rock in the chair

whether we were playing football
or listening to music &
sharing sorry made up dance moves
& she’d always rock in the chair

until she wasn’t there anymore
& we noticed but failed to say
anything because we wanted
her to always rock in that chair


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 lost one of his cousins this week, and he hopes she’s found a nice chair to rock in. Also, he wants to let everyone know how much he’s enjoyed another great month of poeming with friends–new and old.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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203 thoughts on “2017 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 30

  1. MET

    I miss the places.

    No one told me that when people died
    Their homes which
    I was in and out for thirty or more years
    Was no longer accessible to me.
    It took me time to realize this.
    I miss getting hydrangea blossoms
    In late fall from my Aunt Vennie.
    She would take her scissors and we would
    Go to pick the best for the church service.
    She would tell me the latest gossip, and
    I would smile because I could count on her for that.
    The last time I saw her was standing on her porch
    With her apron covering her dress, and
    Handing me big softball size blue and lavender
    Hydrangea blossoms. I leaned over to kiss her check, and
    She patted my face and said. “Now go on with you.”
    We were standing before her white house,
    With the grey porch, red door, and black shutters.
    It was November; a freeze was coming
    Before Sunday. In two weeks at the beginning of December,
    She was gone, and memories were all that was left.
    I miss her house. I miss her. I miss seeing her laughing with Ma.
    I miss the places, and life as it was.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    November 30, 2017

  2. robinamelia

    Back in the day, we didn’t say “back in the day.”
    We called it “in the olden days” as in, “Mom, what
    was it like when you were growing up, back
    in the olden days” and she would roll her eyes
    at the idea that her childhood was in some distant
    era, but tell me anyway. They were too poor to buy
    books, so she would get them from the library,
    take them home and read them carefully, turning
    pages gently, never making a mark. She needed
    glasses and so, when it came time to play sports
    in school, she stayed well out of the way
    of flying balls. If the glasses were hit, what
    would they do? They couldn’t afford another pair
    and once, she walked into a tree when she tried
    to go without them, to impress a date.
    She didn’t like to talk about her father, but I got
    one story: he liked to be the clown in the town’s parade,
    and one year, instead of whiteface, he used charcoal,
    and she was so ashamed, though everyone laughed.
    Foxy the dog always knew when he was coming home,
    and would start barking ten minutes before
    they could hear the pick up truck’s rumble.

    Now it’s my childhood that’s back “in the olden
    days”: hard to believe I was alive in that grey world,
    where girls always wore dresses, and fathers fedoras,
    where we sat together in front of the television,
    waiting for our favorite programs,
    after eating dinner at the dinner table my mother set.
    “Leaving on a Jet Plane” was my favorite song,
    and I held a tinny transistor radio to my ear,
    so excited when Cousin Brucie played it,
    which he did at least once an hour. Why
    did the girl (who by this time wore blue jeans)
    from this intact family so crave the sadness
    of “babe, I hate to go,” that she reveled
    in the heartbreak, play after play?
    I don’t know, but it sure made sense
    back in the day.

  3. De Jackson

    The Old Gray Mare

    This poem was a goddess
    once. A Godiva, even. Long
    hair, horse. Now she’s a little

    Stare at her long enough,
    you might see the re
    -semblance of her old song,
    the hum
    -ina humina humina
    in her strum. The old girl’s

    got a few good lines left
    now, maybe. But back
    in the day? She was somethin’
    else. Somethin’ other

    than what she is right now,
    which is a little tired and a bit
    worn. Torn between stretching
    her poetic legs, and cocooning
    those uniambic toes
    in a down
    blanket somewhere
    and watching Netflix.

    Perhaps she’ll fix
    herself a snack,
    and give it one


  4. rmpWritings

    No Matter How Small, Hope Shines
    by rmp

    I look forward to
    “back in the day”
    when I’ll be able to speak
    of a time
    when darkness reigned over me
    before light
    found the oxygen to breathe
    me completely
    back to life

  5. bmorrison9

    New Town II

    There’s a coldness
    that has nothing
    to do with weather,
    an unexpected
    where memories
    used to live.
    Everywhere I go
    in this new town
    seems stale
    and flat.

    nearly all my life
    spent in the same town,
    walking the same sidewalks,
    visiting stores run by children
    and grandchildren of owners
    I knew as a child.

    Lake Roland, for instance,
    with its shimmer
    of the past: hot dog
    cookouts as a child,
    skating on the lake,
    exploring the woods,
    and later years
    of rambling the trails—
    red, yellow, green—
    stepping over
    the old railroad ties.

    I walked a new trail
    here, yesterday,
    by the river.
    I have only
    what I see
    and hear
    and touch

  6. SarahLeaSales

    The Evolution of Movie Renting

    Back in the day, when I wanted to rent a movie, I had to physically drive to Blockbuster and peruse the VHS synopses. Seemed like there were better movies then, but they had to be more selective than these streaming services, with their endless virtual space. Though I was always kind enough to rewind, I was often tardy.

    Of course, my dad tried to do one better—he tried to rewind these suspicious-looking discs called DVDs when they first came out.

    Today, it’s no longer an event to go to the video store, to write a letter to someone, to listen to a professor in person. It’s all done via a screen. Even buttons are becoming a thing of the past.

  7. Walter J Wojtanik


    Back in the day
    I was Nicholas of Myra.
    I hear a lot of tales of my generosity,
    but it was just a joy to see
    the smiles on children’s faces.
    Of all the things I ain’t,
    I certainly wasn’t a saint.
    I just believed in the goodness
    that the innocents possessed.
    I was dressed in my red robes
    And my beard was tell-tale.
    It really was no mystery.
    The rest is history.

    Back in the day
    I became Father Christmas.
    I was a large man who began
    in the Jolly Ol’ town in England.
    My robes were either green
    or red, and the cap upon my head
    matched. I brought good cheer
    here and there hoping to spread
    peace and joy and goodwill.
    (And get my fill of good food and wine)
    I took great pleasure in revelry,
    and the rest of course is history.

    Back in the day
    I was known as Sinterklaas
    to my Dutch believers,
    and as Père Noël in French.
    I was the benchmark for all
    Christmas giving. As long
    as I was living, it was just so.
    Other locations would know me
    by other names but my character
    remained the same. It was a part
    of my hallowed ancestry,
    and again the rest is history.

    Back in the day
    they celebrated mid-winter
    with the Yuletide in the guise
    of Wodan or Odin,
    Jólnir or Langbarðr,
    who all bore a striking resemblance
    to who I would become.
    Some say I was a Christmas Ghost,
    I was not, but as you can clearly see,
    the rest is history.

    Back in the day
    and right to this day
    I have managed to stay
    exactly who I have always been.
    People still say I am Saint Nicholas,
    others still call me Father Christmas,
    and some believe me to be Père Noël and Sinterklaas.
    I carry the mantle of peace and good will
    and will still enjoy a cookie or two.
    With a glass of milk I will take my pause,
    because by any other name I will remain the same.
    I am Santa Claus… and the rest is history

  8. Earl Parsons

    I Remember When….

    I remember when summer vacation
    Meant loading a backpack
    Jumping on my Buzzbike Eliminator
    And peddling away for the day
    To visit friends both north and south
    Play baseball, football or basketball
    And eat whatever their mother’s made
    No cell phones
    No calls home
    No worries
    Just be home for dinner

    I remember when my grandparents
    Who raised me, by the way
    Would load up the car
    Head to town to shop
    Or visit, or whatever
    And just tell me one thing
    When they would be back
    They knew I would do my chores
    They knew I would be careful
    And they knew I would be safe
    Even if I didn’t lock the doors
    Because we never locked them anyway

    I remember when I’d get on the bus
    Before it was known as a cheese wagon
    And take the long ride to school
    How everyone was friendly
    And respectfully quiet
    Lest we might disturb the driver
    And we didn’t want to do that

    I remember when the TV had 3 channels
    But, mysteriously, there was always
    Something good and wholesome to watch
    We had Tom & Jerry, Bugs Bunny
    Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck
    The Andy Griffith Show and Star Trek
    The Twilight Zone, The Munsters
    Gilligan’s Island and the Man From U.N.C.L.E.
    So many great shows when the sun went down

    I remember when life was simple
    No gaming systems or computers
    No tablets or smart phones
    Just pens, papers, books, and board games
    And an occasional puzzle during cold weather

    I remember when we respected the police
    Trusted our pastors to give good advice
    Loved our teachers, even the strict ones
    And kept quiet when adults were talking
    We loved our parents and siblings
    Even the weird uncle at family reunions
    And the kid’s table was way more fun

    I remember when we accepted responsibility
    We didn’t blame others for our indiscretions
    Or for our lot in life, whether good or bad
    We respected the flag and the anthem
    And stood proudly for the Pledge of Allegiance
    We knew when we were old enough that
    We would do something for America
    To pay it back for our freedom and liberty

    I remember when no one talked during a prayer
    We may have peeked, but we didn’t speak
    And we respected the beliefs of others
    Without condemnation or calls for silence
    Christmas was a celebration of Christ’s birth
    Along with Santa and gifts and lots of food
    It was my very favorite time of year
    And it still is

    How times have changed
    Some for the better
    So much for the worse
    Our children are no longer safe on their own
    We no longer accept responsibility for our actions
    We lay blame where blame should not be laid
    Respect for others has gone the way of the dinosaurs
    And we expect so much that we refuse to work for

    We spit on our military
    We burn and walk on Old Glory
    The Bible has become hate speech
    And our government has become a pit of snakes

    I remember when it was great in America
    I pray for that greatness to return once more

  9. Melanie


    There was a day
    A day when we
    Stole ripened plums
    From off a tree

    The tree it grew
    Beside a wall
    Not very high
    Not high at all

    The plums were ripe
    They reeled us in
    We knew for sure
    Theft was a sin

    One then two then
    Three and four
    We stuffed our mouths
    With plums galore

    Behind the wall
    There was a yell
    We left the plums
    And ran like hell

    Days back then
    So long ago
    Where did the years
    And decades go?

  10. candy

    Christmas Pictures

    years caught on film
    yes film
    moments that look
    so golden
    so perfect
    so flat
    with perfect smiles
    and perfect posture
    even the dog seems to smile
    but I know
    as soon as the flash went off
    that little dog bit the little girl’s ankle
    and she cried until snot
    was running out of her nose
    and the little boy
    took off his red sweater
    rolled it up and tossed it,
    like a football so it landed
    at the top of the perfectly
    decorated Christmas tree
    Oh, those Christmas picture memories

  11. JanetRuth

    Thanks Robert, for another fantastic month!

    Looking back to ‘Back in the Day’

    Through haze of days and willow-treed whisper
    Silence plays childhood’s sentimental tune
    Eighth notes kerplop, hands grab for the glister
    Of apple-shaped gold on a hot afternoon

    Summer-kissed darlings all arms, legs and whim
    Dash where the hour entwines starry sighs
    Drawing with nothing but bud to leaf limb
    Dream-blind beginners from youth’s paradise

    Mother calls ‘supper’ and we have each other
    And don’t even know about loneliness
    Five sons, five daughters, father and mother
    A ‘Cheaper by the Dozen’ happiness

    Want, like a match kindles eyes full of fire
    Bellies burn but food cannot satisfy
    Life, like a ladder lures each to climb higher
    One by one, leaving extra pieces of pie

    …and a wide wake of July mornings sparkling
    Like glossy cherries on time’s farthest branch
    Innocence strewn to the dust in a garden
    Planted with echoes where once bare feet danced

  12. Sally Jadlow

    Thanks, Robert for another fun month.

    Back in the Day

    In ‘62
    our marriage new,
    life full of uncertainty
    but with high hopes unviewed
    we embarked on life’s journey together.

    Soon, a daughter joined our clan
    then a son, Trey and, Jennifer Anne.
    Sara came nine years later
    then Josh surprised our plan.
    A home full of laughter and joy.

    Now, after fifty-five years
    weathering good times and tears
    our direct descendants number eighteen
    await the new generation of dears
    as our earth-journey draws near the end.

  13. KM


    There was a boy I needed. Flannel shirt, black glasses, skinnier than his walk and taller than my dad. A boy who kept jack-in-the-boxing into my life, even though he went to a school way across town. A rich kid, probably, but I didn’t hold it against him. He liked drama. He liked Stone Temple Pilots. He liked rye and coke. He liked Anne Rice. This seemed like enough. We danced to Madonna’s ‘Rain’ and said we both hated it, but it’s gilded now. When I hear it, I can still feel the heat of his hand on my lower back, the smell of his Speed Stick, and the prickle in my lips I wanted him to kiss away.

    – Kim Mannix

    Robert, I am so sorry to hear about your cousin. Thank you for providing so many great prompts this month, and so many wonderful poems of your own to inspire us. To the rest of the NaChaWriMo peeps, thank you for giving me such beautiful, funny and memory words to drink up. It was a hard month in the world at large. Spending time here is such joyful respite.

  14. JRSimmang


    Crowded inside my living room train set,
    a child emerged from within the vignette.
    He is a new being.
    Jaws set, eyes wild, pencil in hand,
    his mind a budding imagine’ry land,
    he begins seeing

    the world is more than trains and cars,
    and people carry with them more than scars,
    the only truth is bleeding
    words from his ennobled dreams
    and stitching together those damned seams.
    Thus, commence the feeding.

    What began as a dire need for quenching,
    has become deliberate drenching.
    He still years to find the beauty in the beast,
    and fill his belly with the poetic feast.

    -JR Simmang

  15. Walter J Wojtanik


    Oh, how they “BAH-HUMBUG!” these days!
    Christmas just ain’t like it used to be!
    Everyone pushing for the latest craze,
    oh, how they “BAH-HUMBUG!” these days.
    They’d just as soon trample you into a haze,
    and that was never Christmas to me!
    Oh, how they “BAH-HUMBUG!” these days!
    Christmas just ain’t like it used to be!

  16. PowerUnit

    Dick had a Grand Torino
    A white rocket all show
    You couldn’t get more cool
    Until the Monte Carlos
    Camaros and Firebirds
    Made him look like a fool

    Dave drove a Ford LTD
    Cruised like a battleship
    Rocking down the highway
    Full of sober teenagers
    Because his dad was a pastor
    Had to slow down to make turns

    My dad bought a VW Rabbit
    A car everyone laughed at
    Until they ran out of gas
    And resorted to using their feet
    The Arabian Oil Crisis
    Left mine the only car on the street

  17. Kay Butzin

    Back in the day

    Mom and Dad milked
    Grandpa’s cows after Dad’s
    third shift at the factory.

    Grandma gathered eggs
    from chickens later to run
    headless around the back yard

    before appearing plucked
    on her Sunday dinner table.
    Green beans grew

    in the family garden
    my sister and I hoed
    during summer vacation.

    We picked strawberries
    from a neighbor’s patch,
    husked fresh corn

    from another’s roadside stand,
    ate organic at every meal
    back in the day.

  18. taylor graham


    Back in the day, it was a big country.
    No fences along the steep, rutted one-lane,
    past the white Shepherd who herded our truck
    up the grade – I feared she’d get her teeth
    stuck in the bumper – what a sweet dog, Lady,
    when we got to know her. And Shel
    the faded yellow Lab who’d wander by
    in neighborly fashion. Nobody bothered with
    leash laws. We’d hike our dogs – Sardy, Pepper,
    Roxy – to every high point for views
    over canyon and ridge beyond ridge climbing
    toward Baltic Peak with its abandoned fire
    lookout. We’d scout new routes
    through manzanita thicket and come out
    at the chief-stone standing proud as a ceremonial
    monument to Miwok who summered there
    long before we came. We found their bedrock
    mortars down the unfenced slope
    above Tiger Lily Creek.
    Of course things change. New
    neighbors, fences, community
    solar-powered gate that made me
    feel like a prisoner on my own land.
    It was time to move on.

  19. thunk2much

    Another life

    In another life
    I was made of trust
    my sleeve-heart an easy target

    In another life
    I partied wild-child style
    to take all the sharp edges off

    In another life
    I sat in the dark
    afraid of my own shadow

    In another life
    I rocked a child
    as if I could make that moment last

  20. De Jackson

    Continued Triolet Play with Walt…

    Back in the Day

    We were in full caravan mode, I guess –
    14 cousins crammed into two old Fords.
    We were poor as heck but deeply blessed,
    and in full caravan mode, I guess,
    headed for the hills and nothing less
    than a camping trip full of nature’s rewards.
    We were in full caravan mode, I guess –
    14 cousins crammed into two old Fords.

    1. Walter J Wojtanik


      14 cousins crammed into two old Fords,
      they are heading to the store to shop.
      Only spending what they can afford,
      14 cousins crammed into two old Fords.
      The driver in the Fairlane has his foot to the boards,
      but the brakes on the Edsel won’t let them stop!
      14 cousins crammed into two old Fords,
      they are heading to the store to shop.

      1. Walter J Wojtanik

        The last line stays the same but I’m going with this revision:


        14 cousins crammed into two old Fords,
        they are heading to the store to shop.
        Only spending what they can afford,
        14 cousins crammed into two old Fords.
        The driver in the Fairlane has his foot to the boards,
        but the brakes on the Edsel won’t let them stop!
        7 cousins crammed into an old Ford,
        they are heading to the store to shop.

        1. De Jackson

          Back in the Day,

          When we were heading to the store to shop,
          we needed only a couple of bucks.
          If we only had a $2 bill to drop
          when we were heading to the store to shop,
          we could still get a soda and some yummy gum drops.
          Now we need like a million dollars – well, that sucks!
          When we were heading to the store to shop,
          we needed only a couple of bucks.

          1. Walter J Wojtanik

            A DAY IN THE BACK

            When we were heading to the store to shop,
            my brother rode shotgun, I was in the back.
            We stopped for a burger, some fries and a pop
            when we were heading to the store to shop,
            But on the way there, we got stopped by a cop,
            he said “Hey, what’s your hurry, Mack?”
            When we were heading to the store to shop,
            my brother rode shotgun, I was in the back.

          2. Walter J Wojtanik

            A DAY AT THE TRACK

            We needed only a couple of bucks
            to bet on Jingle Bells to show.
            We brothers were running out of luck,
            and we needed only a couple of bucks.
            If our horse didn’t come in, we’d be stuck
            but we had no more cash to blow!
            We needed only a couple of bucks
            to bet on Jingle Bells to show.

          3. De Jackson

            Back at the Track

            To bet on Jingle Bells to show,
            first you gotta pick your reindeer.
            Dasher’s the fastest, don’t you know,
            but to bet on Jingle Bells to show,
            you’re gonna want to pick a doe
            like Vixen – she’s the most insane, Dear.
            To bet on Jingle Bells to show,
            first you gotta pick your reindeer.

          4. De Jackson

            (I had also just finished writing to the other one. Ha.)

            Summer of ’77

            My brother rode shotgun. I was in the back.
            (We fought over it, every time.)
            He put up his dukes, I gave him some flack,
            then my brother rode shotgun, and I was in the back.
            ’Bout gave our poor mama a heart attack
            (Nigel was 13, and I was 9.)
            My brother rode shotgun. I was in the back.
            (We fought over it, every time.)

          5. Walter J Wojtanik

            So, I’ll use both…

            BACK IN THE SUMMER OF 77

            First you gotta pick your reindeer.
            (We fought over it, every time.)
            It happens this time every year,
            first you gotta pick your reindeer.
            Once you do, your choice is clear,
            and you’ll include it in your rhyme.
            First you gotta pick your reindeer.
            (We fought over it, every time.)

  21. Daniel Paicopulos

    The Last of November

    It’s been an up and down month
    in America’s Finest City,
    where the locals are old,
    the snowbirds are grateful,
    and the poets are all in good form.
    It’s been a month of happy returns
    and thanksgiving,
    of many old friends
    and a new few.
    We live mostly for today,
    knowing the gods will laugh
    at foolish plans beyond
    breakfast or lunch.
    Winter’s not yet here,
    at least not on the Badgers
    calendar I got for the 25th time,
    my annual reminder of
    how wise we were to move,
    yet how much we miss
    our childhood friends,
    our youth,
    now mostly x-ed out,
    just a few more weeks to
    the midnight dance at nine p.m..
    Yes, winter’s not here, but
    don’t tell that to
    my aching legs and
    shoulders at dawn.
    That’s our breath we see
    in front of us in the morning,
    leading the way to the coffee.
    No complaints heard, however;
    not so much that they aren’t made,
    just not heard.
    There’s much to be learned in this age.
    A little loss of sound can be a blessing,
    a chance to return to the
    remarkable self-absorption of youth.
    This month is a time for connection,
    reconnection as well,
    visits, phone calls, letters, cards and
    e-mails, in that very descending order
    of intimacy, and it really is too bad,
    what that e-mail thing has done to
    letter writing, ancient and loving art.
    Visits require some degree of readiness,
    at least a clean bathroom, but
    phone calls, especially the random ones,
    can find you in your pajamas,
    heck, even on the toilet.
    Cards are okay, when one does not
    have time for a letter, but
    letters have more heart, give more time
    to the writer to be reflective,
    like a poet,
    searching, reaching, looking
    for just the right words.
    A writer of letters gets to reflect,
    to muse a bit about the addressee, to
    remember precious moments, to dream of
    better moments yet to come,
    maybe even to plan some, and say so.
    It is a peaceful activity, letter writing,
    perfect for the cocoa and comforter
    days of year’s end.
    We’re older now,
    no longer big consumers;
    rather, giving stuff away,
    the things that have piled up
    in closets and storage units over time,
    so Black Friday means nothing,
    Cyber Monday even less.
    We might still go to the parties,
    ooh and aah over trees and menorahs,
    eat too much cheese,
    drink just the right amount of wine.
    We’ll arrive late, leave early,
    talk about the coming films,
    and wish each other well.
    We’ll tiptoe through
    these next few weeks, and
    soon, the new year will come
    and we’ll make it our peaceful own.
    My sweetie, the cats and me.

  22. RJ Clarken

    Ancient History

    “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” ~ Andy Bernard

    He questions why some pine for old days:
    Was it unproblematic?
    Over too soon? That one afternoon…
    Is memory overdramatic?

    It’s easy to say, “It should have been,”
    and hindsight’s twenty-twenty.
    That one afternoon… Over too soon?
    Longing and poignancy a-plenty.

    Was it really so wonderful, or
    is just easier to muse:
    Over too soon? That one afternoon…
    Does time soften or simply confuse

    a sequence of events. “Wish I knew
    then what I know now, although,
    that one afternoon… Over too soon?”
    Bittersweet, but trying to let go.


  23. Pat Walsh

    back in the day
    by Patrick J.Walsh

    now and then
    when evenings
    are too quiet

    we take old days
    down off shelves
    to listen again

    wearing familiar
    old sounds like a
    warm blanket

    but when I hear
    your voice
    then I am home

  24. ReathaThomasOakley

    For my mother

    I finally threw away
    those frozen field peas
    and butter beans
    they’d never taste
    the same as what
    my mama made.

    For my father

    Careful now, he’d say,
    don’t fall in the creek
    just look for fairies under
    the clover leaves while I
    get water for the new plants
    on your grandpa’s grave.

  25. MET

    I am posting this poem hoping I will not offend anyone…and let me say up front… that was not my intentions, and it is far from a finished piece of work… and when I did social work… I was told more than once that tread where angels feared to go…

    Living in South is Complicated

    The names I have been called
    Are not justified,
    Ignoring doesn’t help because
    Ignorance is rampant.
    I am not saying
    That for some those things are true
    For they are.
    It was the land of carpetbaggers and
    Scallywags after all, and
    Lest we forget it was the Jim Crow South
    The land tainted by slavery, lynching,
    And bigots galore. I don’t deny
    Any of that… it is history after all.
    But the South I love is the place
    Jazz and the blues and country music was born, and
    To tell the truth so was rock and roll.
    It is the people that are called rednecks,
    Slang for a racist, but they don’t know
    That redneck will give you their last dollar
    If you are a friend no matter what your race.
    I had an African- American friend tell me that
    When I looked down on a redneck man.
    It is the place where my family, and
    Have nine who fought in that rebellious uprising
    Known as the revolutionary war.
    Some owned slaves, I can’t change that
    I wish I could, but not all of them did.
    Some fought for the confederacy,
    That’s true, but then there is the branch
    Of Methodist who were pacifists.
    Ma picked cotton as a girl
    Alongside the sharecroppers, and
    Her father was a deputy and her grandfather a magistrate.
    Da grew up on chain gang,
    For his father murdered a colored man, and
    His mother cooked and washed clothes
    For those men serving out their time.
    It was 1920, and Da was five.
    Da was tainted by that murder, and
    It was passed down to me.
    It is the place I visited
    Because Appalachia in those days
    Was not considered the south…
    We were the backwoods hillbillies
    Who married their sister and had no shoes.
    I admit I hated shoes, but
    Never knew anyone who married their sister.
    I loved my visits to see my family.
    I never saw the things others said, and
    Often, I rushed over to visit Mayetta,
    A black woman who lived near by
    For I loved her dearly
    She was a grandmother to me
    For she hugged me and as I sat
    Telling her things, I learned
    She would tell to sit like a young lady, and
    If I did not say, “Yes, Ma’am.”
    She would remind me that I should be ashamed.
    Ma loved her also, and
    When Ma died, Mayetta’s son
    Was one of those whom Ma loved and
    Who honored her by helping to carry her to the grave.
    But as people who don’t know me
    Have called me names I don’t deserve
    Because I live in a place that is so tainted,
    I think of all of those I love and live on a land
    My ancestors lived… some of them bad, but
    Many of them good, and all I say
    Is living in the south… it’s complicated.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    November 30, 2017

    1. MHR

      I like it. I’m a biracial person but of course I know not all of the south is guilty of the crimes to Africans. I do, however, think it will be a controversial place for a long time until everyone (whether black or white or anywhere in between) accepts what their parents/ancestor did, and that they can stop that legacy.

      1. MET

        that is true… in many ways… but I also believe we have to stop the legacy… and one of the hardest things is the south in many ways is not as racist as other areas… we are sort of the step child in the country…. and my mother told me stories that one white family kept her family from getting electricity until the 30s because they wanted to take the land from her family… They wanted to own from one road to another… it did not happen…I am kin to both sides… so even family is complicated, but growing up in Appalachia… I did not see so much the racism… not that it is not there… it is just there were few people of other races except the Cherokees. moving here was shocking to me in the beginning… I have a great great grandmother who gave birth to a biracial baby who was sent to his father’s people.. and so that branch of my family is lost… and that makes me sad…and thank you for your input…

  26. Jane Shlensky

    Robert, I’m sorry for the loss of your cousin. That’s a hard way to go back. Thanks for another stellar November challenge. I’ve written a lot of fodder for later and read some wonderful things by my fellows here. See you on Wednesdays.

    Historic Drives

    We pick Miss Lena up at 8,
    help her to the car,
    settle her in.
    “Where to?” we ask.
    We do not care
    since everywhere we go,
    she’ll take us back.

    She gets a faraway look in her eyes,
    history on the horizon, considers,
    then off we go, her prefacing
    the drive with “back in them days,”
    so we understand the context.

    The tree where Cecil hanged himself
    after Miss Maudie turned him down.
    “He was a bully,” she whispers,
    so the dead won’t hear.
    The Doc with the first car around,
    its make, the joy of making a breeze.
    The millstream where they used to swim.
    The old road through St. Dunham’s woods.
    The parkways WPA workers built.
    The railroad her Pa worked on.

    We hear up close what the presidents did
    for people like Miss Lena and her kind,
    what scandals and bonanzas marked her years.
    And there are moral lessons, sermons,
    off-color jokes, lamentations.
    Back then they taught a kid to tell a story.

    We keep her hydrated and fed.
    We stop when she cries, “Stop and walk.”
    This is history on its three old legs,
    down in its back, ‘gettin’ too old for this’,
    its mind like a steel trap.

    1. PressOn

      This is entrancing work, and, for me, one of its phrases is a seed to another piece.


      begin to live
      when the storyteller
      links the past to the days that link
      us all.

      Thanks so much for this poem, Jane. Spot on!

  27. MET

    Robert, thank you for all the prompts… and time you put into it…. as for all the other poets here… thank you for being here… I started this month very discouraged, and about to throw in the towel as writing goes…for I bomb more than I succeed… your kind comments have meant the world to me… and to all those out there… this Grinch wishes you all a wonderful holiday season… for me… well my great nephew is coming home from France and I told him to bring me a rock and a story…I will be collecting both soon….

  28. annell

    Back in the Day
    Back in the day
    A beach bum of sorts
    My gear strapped to my back
    The sun hot on my skin
    Scan the beach
    A sand crab hurries home
    He has his own story to tell
    Waves come ashore
    Rearrange shells at water’s edge
    End of day
    Wave goodbye to the gulls
    Trudge down the beach
    Return to the waiting boat

    November 30, 2017

  29. Kiri

    for Robert Lee Brewer

    They say a poet at twenty is just merely twenty
    not even in proximity yet to being considered
    a poet.

    I read the lines that I wrote then that represent me
    and indeed I was my age, though I most certainly
    didn’t know it.

    It’s easy to judge my young self, and resent me
    when I was always only telling and totally unaware
    of how to show it,

    but even the most majestic victory gardens of plenty
    must be cut many times so that the master gardener
    can grow it.


    We made it through thirty days! Thank you, Robert! Thank you Poetic Asides community! I’m really proud of what I did this month, and I hope you all are, too!

  30. Nancy Posey

    Wow! November flew by! Thanks, Robert.

    Still Teaching

    They don’t remember 9/11
    or the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion.
    A reference to OJ meets blank stares. Who?
    Never mind the subtleties, the black Bronco,
    the glove.
    They aren’t surprised that I remember
    where I was when I learned
    that Kennedy had been assassinated
    or King
    or Lennon.
    They’re just surprised
    I can still drag my tired old butt
    out of bed
    and show up every day
    ready to teach them.

    They cannot distinguish between
    the Vietnam war
    and the Hundred Years War
    the Black Death
    and AIDS
    Homer’s Odyssey
    and Homer Simposon.

    But that’s okay.
    Today I hope they learn
    the difference between
    your and you’re
    to, too, and two,
    bring and take,
    lie and lay.
    If I have to invoke respect
    for the aged,
    I’ll do it for the cause.

      1. Nancy Posey

        Of course it was! That day, our family was moving. I was still packing up in the old house, and I noticed that no one returned to help me. Since there were no cell phones, I had to drive to the new house to find the whole family glued to the TV watching the pursuit.

    1. Jane Shlensky

      Love this, Nancy. I remember in class asking a young colleague where she was when JFK was assassinated and she said, “I was a twinkle in my daddy’s eyes.” Then I knew I was alone, like a wooly mammoth that survived the ice age

    2. seingraham

      Delightful – I have a mug my kids bought me on a recent trip – when I drink from it, the side pointing away from me reads, “I am silently correcting your grammar”. It makes me chuckle all the time.

  31. tripoet

    A Frozen Reward

    I remember a gallon,
    half and half, chocolate
    and vanilla, take home,
    hurrying to get there by 8 pm
    when the mom and pop corner
    ice cream store closed,
    if we didn’t hold our notes
    too long and still sang like angels
    in the chorus of the Christmas play.

  32. tunesmiff

    G. Smith (BMI)
    Back in the day,
    There were two water fountains,
    Back in the day there were two separate schools;
    Back in the day,
    We were climbing the mountains,
    Back in the day,
    We were breaking the rules.

    Back in the day,
    It was only the back seat,
    Back in the day,
    It was a door on the side;
    Back in the day,
    It was never the same street,
    Back in the day,
    We were fit to be tied.

    Back in the day,
    We saw this day coming,
    Back in the day,
    It was too far away;
    Back in the day,
    All those freedom songs humming,
    Here in the day,
    There’s still too much to say.

    Here in the day there’s still,
    Too much to say.

  33. Eileen S

    Bobby Orr

    It was the mandate of hockey
    that defensemen didn’t score
    But that all changed one day
    with the legendary Bobby Orr.

    If the puck was at the other end
    past the blue line he’d jockey.
    He became another forward
    and a leading scorer in hockey.

    One day the Bruins were playing
    St. Louis for the Stanley Cup
    The score tied in overtime,
    To goalie he skated close-up.

    A Blues defenseman tripped
    him in trying to defend the goal.
    But Orr went flying past him
    and the puck went through the hole.

    The town of Boston celebrated
    their victorious hockey team.
    Bobby Orr was hailed the hero
    and star in Boston’s dreams.

  34. Walter J Wojtanik


    I’m proud of my Polish heritage, and all that it includes,
    for as with all ethnic celebrations, it comes back to the foods.
    For the palette of the Poles, the tastes are quite exotic,
    for someone quite obsessed with food, they are almost deemed erotic.

    The Christmas time Wigilia, a meatless feast celebration,
    puts me in a festive mood and fills me with elation.
    The foods apparent are the best, the breads, the fish, the pierogi,
    all serve to wet my appetite (I’d even eat them soggy)

    The Easter time Swenczonka, for all the epicurious,
    involves a different taste for sure, they never make me furious.
    Blessed for Easter Saturday, kielbasa, eggs, and hams,
    veal, and cross bread; horseradish, and sculpted butter lambs.

    But not all Polish delectables suit my heart, I find,
    there is a bit that just won’t fit, it makes me lose my mind.
    For in the day when I was young, my mother made this dish,
    that made my stomach wretch and hurl, though my grandfather’s favorite wish.

    A soup they called czarnina, a ruddy, bloody brew
    fashioned out of duck’s blood, a taste that I would rue.
    My granddad and my father, liked the soup just fine,
    but the six of us just hated it; this sweet and sour brine.

    My mother called it “chocolate soup” since that was how it looked,
    but every time she’d serve it the siblings nearly puked.
    So for the benefit of the few, the many had to suffer,
    and Mom would resort to force feeding the nasty stuff for supper.

    Don’t put in on the menu! Don’t force your food “agenda”!
    But in her eyes czarnina was a real deal ender.
    We tried with civil discourse to make our feeling known,
    but Mom and Dad and Grandfather were the ones that wore the crown.

    “You don’t know what is good for you, so we’ll make that decision!”
    And every time the soup was dished, it prompted our derision.
    It never came up for a vote, we were forced to take it well,
    the pushing of the “chocolate soup”; this nasty goop from hell.

    I’ve hated it for all these years, I never try to eat it,
    my parents always won the war, but this issue was defeated.
    This one Polish despicable, offends my conservative taste,
    it’s put a fear within me, it’s really just a waste.

    I pray one day somebody, could reverse czarnina’s harm,
    not everyone needs “chocolate soup”, it doesn’t hold a charm.
    I’m no better off for having it forced straight down my throat,
    it’s prompted nasty memories, I think it missed the boat.

    After eighty-five years, my grandfather passed, Czarnina finally got him,
    and I blame the horrid mixture for the times I’ve hit rock bottom.
    It’s left a nasty taste in my mouth, it just won’t go away,
    seems history repeats itself, as that soup did in the day.

  35. Anthony94


    The trail winds behind like a curling
    ribbon, pastels and loops, enticing

    feet to skip and follow until the
    muddy patch where the snakes live

    strung out with their boa patches
    empty skins waiting for a meal, heads

    switching back across the path to
    block any passing but make it through

    and the trail widens again, packed
    ruts and some gravel leading to

    highways that lead to others where
    there’s a respite from the always

    going and never knowing which
    trail is mine for the day.

    Now that it’s gone on for miles
    I tend to let it unravel behind with

    out looking already knowing the
    overgrowth of buckbrush almost

    sealing out the occasional prairie
    rose. Keep feet moving forward now,

    time being a clock with fast moving hands
    and feet so slow as they pick the path.

  36. Misky

    Inside a Loop

    This day’s made of bits of us.
    My eyes have seen too much —
    but bless the child’s eyes
    that give life to words.

    My grandmother doused herself
    in lavendar. A groping scent
    that still closes in on me like
    her heavy-breasted embrace.

    The air flashed of frost and
    snow this morning, chimney
    smoke wingless in the air.
    The gate is frozen shut again.

    Back in the day: it all seems
    much the same as today, to me.

  37. Walter J Wojtanik


    In a melancholy mood…
    The brood is dwindling
    and what remains is kindling
    for my mind. Among a myriad
    of minutia I find memories,
    things my daughters possessed
    and had left behind. Our nest will soon
    rest on “E”, and come December,
    I will be hard pressed to remember
    whose toys were whose. I choose
    to recall all the joy my girls had,
    and they always seemed glad to have
    what they did. Now, no longer kids
    but adults on the cusp of their own dreams.
    It seems I get laced in nostalgia
    as neuralgia settles in. The good old days
    play in rewind as they find their way
    into my mind. It would be a sin
    to let these things go to waste.
    So It is time for other young ones
    to taste the joy of each of these toys
    my daughters have left behind. I find
    these memories take up less space
    and yet they fill my heart so much more.
    And I’ll never lock that door.

  38. Linda Rhinehart Neas


    Lace, made by hand, exquisitely placed
    on edges, like bits of snowflakes.
    Eloquent China tea cups, balanced gracefully
    by small, gloved hands, like birds ready for flight.
    Conversation, an art dying fast, spoken softly
    in curtained rooms, like songs once remembered.

    The memories of gentler times, well up
    in the black of night, like tiny fireflies
    blinking their light, only to disappear into the dark
    once more.

  39. Terry Jude Miller

    Purple Hull Peas
    by Terry Jude Miller

    there was a time
    when I hated purple hull peas
    though our truck patch
    was replete with stubby bushes
    that produced a profusion
    of the ugly pods

    planting wasn’t that bad
    walking through spring’s cool freshly turned
    soil in bare feet, slipping three or four
    seeds about 16 inches apart into the open earth

    it was the blast-furnance summer days
    spent hoeing away grass that stole
    precious water from father’s crop
    that were nearly unendurable

    but we endured and harvested
    bushels of mardi gras tinged reward
    sat in front of the large black and white
    television at night and shelled, shelled,
    shelled the peas from the slit pods
    our hands becoming royal
    at least in color

    mother in her chair
    looking up for a moment
    to smile at her children
    who helped to fill her freezer
    with hundreds of plastic bags
    of blanched peas

    some women want fur
    and diamonds, mother’s only
    desire was a full freezer

    every other supper
    featured a bowl of our triumph
    flavored with a few squares
    of salt pork and mother’s secret
    spice that was sweet and salty at once

    how peculiar now
    to stand beside the supermarket freezer
    with a bag of purple hull peas
    in my blister-less hands
    longing for a hoe
    and my mother’s smile

    1. Linda Rhinehart Neas

      Oh, how lovely! I teared at the end remembering my mom. We didn’t grow vegetables, but each summer there were pansies. She told me that if I looked carefully at their faces, I would see the fairy seated in the center. Each spring, I plant pansies…the fairies still visit!

  40. Jezzie

    Thank you Robert, for all you daily prompts, and I would like to thank everyone who has added encouraging comments on my verses. I’ve enjoyed poeming along with November PAD but sadly not had enough time to read many of other contributor’s efforts, I have loved reading those that I have managed to find time to read and of course I have enjoyed all of Robert’s. Thanks again Robert and well done everyone!

    1. Linda Rhinehart Neas

      Here, here! I agree. Robert, you amaze me each year with your ability to prompt us to rise to the challenge in spite of challenges of life. Well done! Much gratitude for all you do.

      Thank you, fellow poets, for sharing your art and for your kind messages of support.

      Holiday blessings to all!

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Yes, I agree, it’s been an incredible month. Thanks Robert and everyone. I’ve been away from this place too long, and struggled to find my voice and time to comment on so many I enjoyed. Jezzie, I’ve loved your work for several PADs, Terry, your lovely frozen peas story and Linda’s comment, gave me two memories from back in the day.

    3. PressOn

      I’d like to add my thanks, Robert, not only for this month but for all the ways you make this site a thought-provoking pleasure. I wasn’t able to join in as much as I wanted to, this month, but when I could, I found the place to be as warm and welcoming as ever. You set the tone for that, and I am grateful. I also want to thank you for today’s poem, which is deeply moving for me.

      1. Kiri

        More thanks for Robert! It’s been so fun and rewarding for me to be a part of this community again in the most authentic way I have ever been, and thanks to Robert’s prompts, I have written some of my favorite poems of this year.
        I’ve loved reading everyone’s poetry, and I’m constantly amazed by the guts it takes for all of us to share our craft so openly and enthusiastically. Everyone has such different styles and experiences to draw from, and the richness that results is evident.

    4. thunk2much

      “Seems we just get started and before you know it comes the time we have to say So long.”

      Thank you Robert, and ALL poets here for sharing. I’ve found so much here to think about, and so much simply gorgeous art. <3

    5. PowerUnit

      Many thanks Robert. I have spent minimal time reading. Nanowrimo stole my mind for the month. These daily prompts are like can openers. Write my morning poem and the ideas gush all day. Miss it and I am blocked. Thanks for opening gates.

  41. Jezzie


    Back in the good old bad old days
    we lived our lives in very different ways.
    We had no central heating, no air con,
    we had no tv or radios to turn on.

    We played 78’s on a wind up gramophone,
    no cellphone, we were lucky if we’d a telephone.
    No fridge, no washing machine, just a copper
    in which to boil our clothes, if we used it proper.

    No spin drier: we used a mangle of course
    and we aired our washing on a wooden horse
    in front of a roaring fire with a back boiler
    to heat our once-per-week bath water.

    We had no car, we used bus, tram or train
    or walked everywhere, even in pouring rain.
    Meals were simple: fruit, potatoes, veg and meat
    we never had anything fancy to eat.

    We wore jumpers our mothers would knit
    but we were warm, healthy and very fit.
    Obesity hadn’t been invented, nor had greed.
    yet we seemed to have everything we’d need,

    I wouldn’t want to go back to the good old days
    but I think that they are very deserving of praise.
    I need mod cons and technology, excess of it,
    I’m happier now though lazier, fatter and less fit.


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