2017 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 5

Wow! I can’t believe we’re already five days deep into this month’s poeming!

For today’s prompt, write a self-destruct poem. I come up with these prompts before the month starts, and I admit I’m not sure what my original thought was with this. But now, all I can think about are those self-destruct messages from Inspector Gadget and Mission Impossible. Of course, many things and people can self-destruct, including athletes, politicians, and about everyone else on the planet–in large and small ways. I hope this prompt does not self-destruct in 5 seconds.


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Here’s my attempt at a Self-Destruct Poem:

“when i run a mile”

i’m pretty sure it’s good for me
& two miles as well but maybe

twenty miles is pushing it too far
& should only be done by my car

somewhere between there & here
is the line of health it appears

because running should build me up
& not lead my body to self-destruct


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 ran a little over 20 miles yesterday as part of his training to run his first ever marathon in December. While it should help him get across the finish line later this year, he can’t fight this feeling that his feet (and body in general) would feel better running shorter distances.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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303 thoughts on “2017 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 5

    1. robinamelia

      Oh wait, I remember, someone mentioned there being a problem with one of my words.

      End of the world c*&^tail hour

      Can I pour you another drink?
      Might as well top off the glass.
      No point in saving the vintage.

      It’s two and a half minutes to midnight.
      The clock is ticking; global danger looms.
      The scientists call for action—of some kind.

      I firmly support the diplomatic option,
      so let’s open that bottle, saved for such a day,
      a rainy day, a day when rain

      is made of Hell itself
      (other people they say):
      their self-destruct buttons
      have no off switch.

  1. tunesmiff

    G. Smith
    We need to let our conscience guide,
    Before striking the match and lighting the fuse.
    Recalling all the times we’ve lied,
    We need to let our conscience guide,
    On our self-destructive ride.
    When we consider which one to use,
    We need to let our conscience guide,
    Before striking the match and lighting the fuse.
    (With apologies to Walt and De for inviting myself into their “triolet game…” 🙂 )

  2. headintheclouds87

    The Imp Inside

    It’s a battle against the mind
    Tearing ourselves apart from the inside
    Desperately trying to hide
    The mischievous imp that lies
    In the shadows that consciousness denies.

    We’d sooner destroy ourselves first
    Than give into the constant thirst
    Demanded by an imp itching to burst
    From the confines of the body’s universe,
    All due to a fixation to fear the very worst.

  3. pipersfancy

    What I Know Now

    I never intended to self destruct,
    but that’s what happened—nearly—
    over time,

    but, “nearly” gone is not yet gone.
    Even so, I can’t remember
    what part of me remained alive, or how

    over time, I began to realize
    it was all an illusion, sleight of hand,
    smoke and mirrors.

    I began to realize
    I didn’t need to buy the things
    you were selling:

    fear, shame, self doubt,
    the very things
    that reinforce a sense of distance

    between a woman
    and her world,
    a woman and her soul.

    Isolation is a powerful tool
    if you want to break a spirit,
    make it think it isn’t worth saving.

    And I know now, in a deep place
    of knowing,
    that resurrection is possible.

  4. candy

    No Regrets

    this poem is on the path to self-


    it drinks in moonbeams

    to excess

    and inhales the smoky incense

    of lavender and thyme

    it stays up all night to

    commune with the stars

    and consumes the sweet

    nectar of spring blossoms

    until it is in a stupor

    this poem is on the path to self


    and it has no regrets

  5. MET

    Gus’s Great Escape

    Gus, my gentleman kitty,
    Wants to be outside
    To play with the falling leaves….
    He doesn’t know about owls
    Who would swoop in for him, or
    About coyotes
    Who roam wild and free.
    He just knows that he wants to chase leaves, and
    He plotted his escape, but
    I am quicker, except when I am tired.
    He escaped last evening
    As the sun was going down, and
    While I put my knee at risk.
    I changed my shoes, grabbed
    A bag of treats…
    My knee which needs replacing
    Was at risk.
    Gus heard the treats came running,
    And seeing me retreated under the deck.
    As it got darker, I took a step too quick…
    My knee sent shock waves of pain
    As my knee self- destructed
    I cried out Gus,
    He looked worried at me…he heard my pain;
    He is often my nurse when I am ill.
    I grabbed the culprit, and held him tight
    As he squirmed and meow his protest.
    Gus safe in the house smugly walks by
    Binkey and Tillie…
    Neither of whom want to be outside.
    I told Gus, who is normally the sweetest creature,
    You know you are a little snit sometimes.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    November 5, 2017
    Tomorrow I get another series of shots in my knee… I need replacement of it… but I can’t find anyone to care for my cats… so until I do.. I can’t get my surgery…prayers for a solution would be appreciated

    1. MET

      I know this is no where near the other really great poetry listed here….. but Gus and I have had conversations today about his escape last night… my sweet boy can be a really bad kitty sometimes… and he is now 13 years old…

      1. MET

        I would not have slept until I got him in… I have coyotes and owls and snakes, feral cats, wild hogs and hawks… and neighbors dogs.. about 1/2 mile away and my big gentle boy is really very sweet…and his only bad trick is that he plots to escape…

  6. Pat Walsh

    Paging Dr. Strangelove
    by Patrick J. Walsh

    in some antiseptic space
    where everything is clean
    in an ugly sort of way

    impressed with the import
    of their own decisions
    and the odor of power

    plot out ways in which
    they and a small group
    of the similarly important

    even in the unlikely event
    their peculiar calculations
    ever become necessary

  7. Anthony94

    Rigging the System to Self-destruct

    Across the years it comes and goes
    this need to wire them with strung
    fuses invisible except to the one

    who birthed them or at least took
    time to record their trajectory
    through the universe as letters

    ordered into words shaped as
    poems. I’ve told you all along
    upon my passing to burn them

    every one and free the space
    of selves that hover expectantly
    although I’ve yet to meet their needs

    appease them as they cling to ink
    and vellum. Perhaps there should be
    some shelf life where outside a certain

    time edges would curl, worm and moth
    contend and what was will be flung
    toward a distant star to be retrieved

    by first one and then another worlds apart.

  8. Janet Rice Carnahan


    Caterpillars let go
    Going higher with glorious wings
    Once a Thorn bird sweetly sings
    It impales itself on the thorn
    Chameleons adapt their colors
    To be environmentally protected
    Snakes shed their skin
    Continuously moving forward
    Shamans believe in
    The dark night of the soul
    Where one emerges
    With a profoundly new, improved self image
    Releasing into earth what has been before
    Self-sabotage is unhealthy
    The practice only hurts us repeatedly
    Yet in the spirit of greater growth
    Awareness of who we are
    What we do and don’t do
    Knowing how it truthfully impacts us
    Often becomes the impetus for letting go
    Acknowledging it is crucial
    To release all that hurts us
    This is truly our option
    If not,
    There is always way too much TV
    Big and bigger bowls of popcorn
    Endless forms of delicious chocolate
    With the easy reassurance
    We can do it all again

  9. MET

    Why Could I Not Reach Her?

    Hollow eyes with no embers of fire…
    There should have been fire…
    Her blonde headed mixed up boy
    Was living with other people
    She did not know,
    But she sat there
    Her liver was dying
    From two deadly diseases…
    Her yellow skin and swollen belly
    Told me more than her doctors
    Could tell me if she would let them…
    At the door was a dark figure knocking…
    I could hear the beats…
    If she did not stop the meth, alcohol, the opium,
    She would be opening that door sooner.
    I was desperate to reach her.
    I knew her son was loved where he was…
    And did not want him to return to her, but
    The forceful desire to keep her heart beating
    Was within me burning…
    I listened to the beat of that heart fading…
    I heard the knocking at that door louder
    My days as a caseworker were at an end, and
    This was my last meeting with her.
    Tears of sorrow crested my eyelids
    And hung as rain on the edge of a leaf
    Before the downpour comes…
    I felt her defeat, her hatred for herself
    That had her choose men who harmed her, and
    Led her to the knocking door, and me.
    Prayers were said as the tears slid down my face;
    I ignored the hot sting of them.
    I ignored my bleeding heart for I knew
    I had but one chance left to reach her.
    I touched her skeleton arm
    With meth sores she constantly picked the scabs off…
    I did it to still her movements and to calm me.
    Her head had been down turned and she looked up at me…
    I saw the embers of hate directed at me…
    It did not matter…I knew she joined a line of those
    Whose hate filled eyes had scarred me.
    The knocking
    Still for a moment

    I imaged the black figure at the door
    Was listening to me.
    My inhale and exhale calmed me.
    Then I said it…
    The drugs are killing you…
    You must get off them
    Or you will die soon…
    Do you understand?
    Her eyes flashed at me,
    And the knocking turned into banging
    In maybe her last defiance
    She flung cuss words at me, and
    How dare I tell her she was dying!
    She stood up and exited the room
    Before I could react
    To her fleeing skeletal back.
    I sat a moment in silence
    Hoping she heard my warning….
    But my gut told me I had not…
    As I heard the doors slam
    I knew that dark figure was even closer to her
    Knocking on her door.

    I got a call after I retired;
    The dark figure had taken her, and
    I was left with questions of myself.
    What could I have done to reach her.
    Was what I knew in my heart.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    November 5, 2017

  10. Kiri


    In thumb and first finger, tying,
    I twist the skin in a pretend knot
    today, like yesterday, trying
    not to bruise the muscle

    for the minimal pain.
    An exchange of aching
    which leaves me spotless
    but breaking.

    The external heat perceived
    in the beat of the internal flood;
    tear stains rinse away far cleaner
    than blood, trading hurt for hurt

    the heart pumps hopefulness
    and self-stealing relief.
    There is more to come of this darkness
    for both victim and thief,

    if I can cling to the dread of the fugitive,
    if these secret beatings can stay.
    I have so much misery yet to give
    if only I am not found out today.

  11. KM

    There are reasons to be hopeful. At this exact moment, a man in California is hearing his child laugh for the first time. Better, he’s the one making the child laugh. A woman is being pulled from the Mediterranean Sea, and will live. People are dancing in Helsinki. Imagination burns. Someone is inventing new ways to be or to not be at all. Lighting the slow burning match that sets off the self-destruct. The end of everything — except. Radioactivity subsides. Fauna revives. Flora grows. Winds blow. It lightens the heart, really, this universal resilience. Take a sip of tea. Dip your cookie. It all goes on just fine without us.

    – Kim Mannix

  12. Earl Parsons

    Twelve Days

    Twelve days of ICU had passed
    And I was still not sure if the light
    At the end of the tunnel was a way out
    Or a speeding, oncoming train
    All I did know was that I was at the
    End of my rope and about to give up
    Self-destruction had crossed my mind

    Twelve days of ICU frustration
    Three times intubated
    Collapsed lung and second surgery
    Sedation had become my friend
    Unable to speak or even whisper
    My writing was unreadable
    And my loved ones and the staff
    Knew my frustration level was maxed
    At least when I was somewhat coherent
    And that didn’t happen much

    Twelve days of ICU confusion
    Too many opinions and too many guesses
    Not enough leadership from those who
    Thought they were in charge and
    Not enough input from those who
    Should have been overseeing me
    But, that was rectified on day twelve
    When my wife put her foot down
    And brought in the right doctors

    Twelve days of ICU ending
    The search for an airplane had started
    To fly me to a better care facility
    This ICU had met its match with me
    And finally gave in to the honest truth
    That I needed to leave or I’d die there
    They didn’t want that on their conscience
    You see, there were people there that
    Really cared, and I’m thankful to them all

    © 2017 Earl Parsons

    1. Earl Parsons

      Today, November 5th, is exactly one year from that life-flight to New Orleans that I believe saved my life. I thank God for that flight and my wife’s insistence on changing the decision makers and getting the right doctors, including the hospital commander, to get in there and make the decision that the ICU was in over its head with my case and that I needed to be moved. And I thank God for the ICU staff because they cared for me as best they could and asked about me and how I was doing for months after the ordeal. God had a hand in there, and He used my wife to do His work. But, the, He does that a lot, don’t you know.

      1. MET

        This day in 2002 was when I was overdosed on morphine after surgery and was leaving this life… I so understand the honesty in this poem and I know God saved me that day…

      1. Earl Parsons

        Thanks. And, yes, for the little that I can remember about the first 12 days, it was not good at all. But, thanks to my wife, my children, and my God, I made it through. Hopefully, if I write about it, it will help others get through similar ordeals, or perhaps help them look back on their recovery with thanks to the Lord above for seeing them through.

  13. Valkyri

    (Work in Progress)


    “Do you have any thoughts of hurting yourself?”
    “Um, hurting myself? No. Killing myself? Yes.”
    “Ok. And how long have you felt this way?”
    “Since I was nine.”
    “And what happened when you were nine?”
    “I was molested by the neighbor down the street. The father of a friend of mine.
    And then there were the eight rapes, the abortions…
    I was even held hostage once for twelve hours…”
    And so the conversation goes, round and around….
    On and on, ad infinitum….
    For the past umpteen years.
    (With umpteen therapists and psychiatrists and psychologists)
    And did you know the word therapist says “the rapist?”
    And I self-destructed for longer than you have been alive –
    Killing myself with booze, and drugs, and men.
    Only now my perspective has changed
    On life, on living, on dying, on staying sane.
    I covered up the red “Push-to-end-it-all” switch
    On my self-destruct button
    With clear cellophane tape, so I can still see it,
    Still know it’s there, with all it’s temptations
    And tragic glories
    But, it is no longer torturing me.
    It is simply a reminder
    Of the choices I have made.
    I chose the button, I chose the tape.
    I chose the fact that I can still see it
    Because I chose the option to stick around,
    To see things through, to endure it all.
    I reject the option to self destruct.
    Well, all except for the cigarettes.

  14. tunesmiff

    G. Smith (BMI)
    I can see it coming,
    Like a freight train down the track,
    I should turn,
    I should run,
    But there ain’t no going back;
    I should turn,
    I should run,
    But there ain’t no going back.

    I used to have a steady job,
    I used to have a nice car;
    I used to have a wife and kids,
    Now I don’t know where they are.

    I tried to keep my secret,
    I tried to keep control;
    But when that fast freight rolls out of the darkness,
    It overtakes your soul.

    I can see it coming,
    Like a freight train down the track,
    I should turn,
    I should run,
    But there ain’t no going back;
    I should turn,
    I should run,
    But there ain’t no going back.

    For some folks it’s the alcohol,
    For others it’s the pills,
    For some it’s something stronger,
    We use to cure our ills.

    But one time’s way too many,
    A million’s not enough…
    I can’t hush,
    The need for the rush…

    And I can see it coming,
    Like a freight train down the track,
    I should turn,
    I should run,
    But there ain’t no going back;
    I should turn,
    I should run,
    But there ain’t no going back.

    Twelve steps make a long journey,
    And if you stop to look around, The light at the end of the tunnel,
    Is that fast freight bearing down.

    I used to have a day job,
    I used to have a nice car;
    I used to have a wife and kids,
    But I don’t know where they are.

      1. tunesmiff

        Thank, you, Ma’am… I tend to… and work with a musical coconspirator from time to time…I know I hear the rhythm and melody arc as I write, so sometimes poetic meter bows to whole and/or sixteenth notes~ 🙂

  15. Shennon

    You criticize
    Hurtling lies
    I retaliate
    Begin to berate

    Your mouth goes slack
    You use a fist
    My feet step back
    My body resists

    Under the onslaught I cave
    Never meaning to misbehave
    Your unrelenting conduct
    Leads my soul to self-destruct.


  16. Cynthia Page

    This Lavender Life

    This lavender life, so frail,
    so temporary, each petal so fine
    so small, and soft. They draw my hand
    to pluck, to pull apart its beauty,
    yet not to rend, as thistles.
    Each cozened petal cherished
    for its aroma; cultivated apurpose,
    its destruction lent to healings aplenty.
    This poor lavender life,
    this adored fragrance,
    fosters its own demise.
    And yet, its duty ensures its
    forever cherished healing purpose.
    And what death is more honored than
    this everlasting lavender life.

  17. Sally Jadlow

    Self-destruct Poem

    The phrases our enemy puts in our head
    are meant to kill, steal, and destroy.
    He wishes to derail us
    before we can shout the victor’s cry.

    Only accept those words
    that are for sure true,
    and live each day forgiven,
    blessed, and renewed.

  18. PowerUnit

    In the back rooms of the underground habituation
    of buildings with thick walls and friendly presentation
    where the iron-fist manifestation of illiberal confrontation
    is entrenched in a pact of poverty and manipulation
    a man with a grey beard and fascist reputation
    overlooks the subversive peasant motivation
    too late to crush the disastrous revolution

  19. thunk2much

    Dogs at the end of the world

    My dogs don’t care about the tweets.

    Instead they sleep, the warmth of
    their soft bodies curled and coiled
    or stretched into impossibly long lines,
    heads resting on carpets or blankets,
    but ready always for the promise of treats
    if we should even think of approaching the kitchen
    during nap time.

    To them the TV news is sound,
    the blathering of self-important humans
    with their fingers on the buttons reduced
    to white noise. To static.

    They don’t know war, or countries,
    or creed, or intersectionality.
    They have no gods or devils,
    although, when awake,
    they do take the utmost pleasure
    in the crunch of dried leaves under their feet
    and the magic of mud puddles.

    At the end of the world, they sleep,
    dreaming of squirrels slow enough to catch,
    running through the wet grass,
    long hikes in the deep woods,
    and chickens in the pot.

  20. De Jackson

    Burn Before Reading

    or eating
    the plums.

    or riding in the wheelbarrow.
    or carrying a heart.
    or taking any road.
    or wandering with clouds
    (or Captains, or ravens, nevermore.)
    or comparing summer
    (or roses)
    or anything brillig, slithy, uffish,
    or walking in beauty
    or death or dreams
                       or luck.

    Beware: this poem
    (tender button, caged bird
    song of myself),

    is a mess
    -age that will
    now self


  21. MET

    Time Bombs

    Time bombs
    Set on self-destruct
    In our brains…
    The first bomb
    Takes the memory
    Of simple words, and
    Sometimes a phone
    Becomes a clock.
    The next bomb
    Steals memories of today
    While safe are
    The treasures of long ago.
    One by one
    They go off
    Until the eyes are hollow and blank,
    And words are rarely spoken.
    It hurts to watch the person
    Slip away with no brakes
    To slow the progression of those time bombs…
    At lunch they can use a fork, but
    At supper, a time bomb went off,
    And they no longer can.

    Both my parents had these time bombs
    In their heads for different reasons.
    I pray before the time bombs
    Rob me of who I am…
    I go to sleep and
    Spare who cares for me the pain.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    November 5, 2017

      1. MET

        thank you for reading it… my father had polycystic kidney disease…it has its own time bombs… and Ma was 93 but had a form of Dementia that caused her to lose physical abilities… and in those last months of her life she lost a skill or two a week… the most dramatic was she walked with her walker to the bathroom and seemed to be fine… the sitter left and Ma was sitting in a chair and ate her supper and then it was time to take her to the bed and she could no longer stand…and never stood again… both my parents were quite brilliant…. but to see my father who I have no doubt was a genius lose his abilities and when he realized what was happening… he would cry… and it broke my heart completely…

    1. dittman

      A lovely poem with a hard topic. I read it aloud and really liked the sound “spoken” and “person” create at the end of those lines. I think the ominous nature of the end really expresses how those of us with genetic diseases in the family can feel sometimes…. Thanks for sharing it!

      1. MET

        thank you for liking it… and PKD is a little know genetic disease and I lost many to it..my father, my three brothers, an aunt and a cousin and a grandfather…it robbed us all… and it is the second largest genetic disease….none of my brothers made it to 64…

      1. MET

        I wrote a poem about my mother and I on a train and that one day she took a train to back there and I was alone…it is so hard to watch… and I have several friends who have parents going thru this now, and it is never easy…

  22. De Jackson

    Continuing Triolet Play with Walt from yesterday.
    (Each poem, we pick up the last line of the other’s last offering…
    and each day, we carry the last line of the last poem into the new prompt.)

    Write On

    Our expression is the right tool
    to help our souls not self destruct.
    It’s the poet’s golden rule –
    self expression, the right tool
    for keeping muse from being fool
    to all self-doubt, and pen untouched.
    Our expression is the right tool
    to help our souls not self destruct.

    1. Walter J Wojtanik


      To help our souls not self destruct,
      we need to let our conscience guide.
      Who cares if the system will get bucked,
      to help our souls not self destruct
      we have write or we’ll get stuck.
      This poet will not run and hide,
      it helps our souls to not self destruct.
      We need to let our conscience guide.

      1. De Jackson

        Self-Destruction Reduction

        We need to let our conscience guide
        the names we call our secret selves.
        When doubt is loud, and this world lies,
        we need to let our conscience guide
        the way we treat our softer side
        and let encouragement cast its spell.
        We need to let our conscience guide
        the names we call our secret selves.

        1. Walter J Wojtanik


          The names we call our secret selves
          are names known to only a choice few.
          We didn’t pick them from the shelves,
          the names we call our secret selves.
          Whisperer by our better halves,
          they hint at love so true.
          The names we call our secret selves
          are names known to only a choice few.

          1. De Jackson

            Secret Agent Man,

            Are your names known to only a choice few?
            Do they self-destruct as soon as you speak them?
            Does anyone really know you,
            or are your names known to only a choice few?
            How many false identities will do?
            And how often do you tweak them?
            Are your names known to only a choice few?
            Do they self-destruct as soon as you speak them?

  23. grcran


    when with a mighty ego-thrust
    art is destroyed, an ancient bust
    you’ll look your best, have selfie-stick
    back up and stumble, classic schtick
    pedestals fall like dominos
    the thing goes viral, the whole world knows
    and who will pay? everyone else
    as you take pictures of yourself

    gpr crane

  24. Nurit Israeli


    You almost killed me!

    Arisen from my own cells,
    you got slowly ready
    to destroy me,
    before we even met.

    You were there hiding!

    I was living with you,
    before I knew you were
    slyly developing weapons
    of mass destruction within me.

    Yes, you managed to stay
    out of sight, until a tiny lump
    exposed your plan,
    a white spot on an x-ray image.

    I fought back for dear life!

    The two sides at war were within me,
    my body a battlefield, with parts
    missing in action, and scars –
    inscribed memorials to all that was lost.

    I won that battle!

    Not sure about the war.
    With you, there are no guarantees,
    Just gratitude for victories
    and prayers for peace.

    ~ Nurit Israeli

  25. Misky

    This Wind Is Destruction

    spreading wide beyond
    us all. Tumbling across
    the emptiness of sky,
    and flying from where
    it’s born. It blows gentle,
    cool and clear until
    it fades, and dies. Revived,
    it wanders, and steals
    the fragrances of herbs,
    stricken by this wind,
    breathing fever on us all,
    give us your murmured cure.

    This wind. This menace.
    Its song, an unbeat drum.

  26. Bruce Niedt

    Another product of the Sunday Whirl blog word bank. This weeks words: blossom, smile, weave, bellow, closet, deny, rent, sly, drop, child, decline, fate.


    I am a wilted blossom.
    It takes a lot for me to smile.
    When Dad comes home, weaving on his feet,
    and bellowing at everyone in the house,
    I hide in the closet.
    My mom denies to the world
    that anything is wrong,
    but our bruises say otherwise.
    We’re behind in the rent,
    but she’s saving money on the sly.
    One night she whispered,
    Someday we’ll drop out of sight, child,
    just you and me.
    We watch his decline, his self-destruction.
    and we feel like there’s nothing we can do.
    I just wish that Fate or some higher power
    would someday take him where
    he can’t hurt anyone anymore.

    1. Bruce Niedt

      I wanted to add some italics:


      I am a wilted blossom.
      It takes a lot for me to smile.
      When Dad comes home, weaving on his feet,
      and bellowing at everyone in the house,
      I hide in the closet.
      My mom denies to the world
      that anything is wrong,
      but our bruises say otherwise.
      We’re behind in the rent,
      but she’s saving money on the sly.
      One night she whispered,
      Someday we’ll drop out of sight, child,
      just you and me.

      We watch his decline, his self-destruction.
      and we feel like there’s nothing we can do.
      I just wish that Fate or some higher power
      would someday take him where
      he can’t hurt anyone anymore.

      1. Bruce Niedt

        Oh crap, that didn’t work right. I wish we had a delete option.


        I am a wilted blossom.
        It takes a lot for me to smile.
        When Dad comes home, weaving on his feet,
        and bellowing at everyone in the house,
        I hide in the closet.
        My mom denies to the world
        that anything is wrong,
        but our bruises say otherwise.
        We’re behind in the rent,
        but she’s saving money on the sly.
        One night she whispered,
        Someday we’ll drop out of sight, child,
        just you and me.

        We watch his decline, his self-destruction.
        and we feel like there’s nothing we can do.
        I just wish that Fate or some higher power
        would someday take him where
        he can’t hurt anyone anymore.

  27. Walter J Wojtanik


    Oh, how quickly the mighty fall,
    all for the moment of pleasure it brings.
    Some find their joy in all kinds of things,
    from good to bad is a sad call.

    It makes me have to change my list,
    to check and check and check it again,
    I go beyond the shadow of doubt
    and with three strikes out, you lose your clout.

    It is quite nice to be quite nice
    and a moments indiscretion could suffice
    if after your crime you find the time to correct your errs.
    It scares me to leave you in the lurch.

    It takes little time from sublime to the crime,
    from nice to naughty is quite haughty.
    I will not cross-out, I won’t erase,
    I won’t delete your mug shot face.

    But I will let you make amends,
    right your wrongs, make new friends,
    walk the straight and narrow, be a straight arrow.
    So think twice. Take that pause.
    Words of advice from Santa Claus.

      1. MET

        love this and In my former job I have seen plenty of mug shots…. they are not the best pictures… but that line sent me back to a few I thought I had forgot…

  28. Connie Peters


    With my feet back in the Rockies,
    no more hula dancers, waterfalls,
    black, white and red sand beaches,
    exotic food, luxurious hotel room,
    I return to caregiving, housekeeping,
    cooking, errand running and shopping
    through Wal-Mart and the old lady
    at the checkout moves like a sloth
    and bumps a shirt hanging beside
    her and shuffles over to pick it up,
    and beginning to self-destruct, with
    determination, I put on a brave smile
    and cross over to life as I know it.

  29. rlk67

    Nov. the Fifth

    Dear Teacher-
    -Class is so much fun,
    I think you are the best,
    It’s true I love to study
    Seven hours for each test!

    I’m sure now you’ll believe me,
    This fifth time when I will say,
    My homework self-destructed
    on the way to school today.

  30. annell

    A Self-Destruct Poem

    perhaps it the life style  &bsp; staying out late     gettin’ crazy

    eat too much    drink the same     foot in the mouth

    or step into the traffic     before the light turns green     we forget

    we are fragile creatures    come with specific instructions     for care and feeding

    and once over the line    it is hard to find the way back     best to mind instructions

    so much like    holding the torch to a firecracker    “up in smoke”

    we are here    one moment   &bsp; gone the next

    but that is life    isn’t it    a matter of self-destruction

    we can’t be too careful    it is a destination    we all reach in time

    November 5, 2017

  31. ReathaThomasOakley


    It fell to my daddy
    to walk the forty feet
    from our front door
    to hers
    to tell Doris her
    missing husband
    had been found
    on a Georgia back road
    pistol still
    in his hand.

    He, her husband, was a
    tall good looking man,
    fought in Korea.
    When I was older
    I babysat their sons.

  32. tripoet

    Who was the first to “Self-Destruct”?

    There’s a Lexicon History to it, you know.
    And it doesn’t begin with razors,
    or self-mutilation or anorexia.

    Lifted from the jargon
    describing “space talk
    in the Fifties when referring
    to deliberate
    destruction in flight
    by a friendly agent.”

    back to 1966.
    Turn on
    your tv set.
    to the voice-over
    “Mission Impossible”.
    just google.

  33. taylor graham

    (a contrapuntal)

    Storm has rinsed the sky blue.
    In the canyon the mine gapes open.
    Festival signs point the way from meadow
    cordoned off because they couldn’t fix it;
    the maze of canyon
    couldn’t make it safe,
    its abandoned gold mine from Forty-niner days.
    It was supposed to be a learning experience
    ever deeper into earth
    for schoolchildren.
    The close dark, the fever for gold –
    do toxic minerals still leak?
    Let us learn our lessons well
    from the lethal depths, bad air.
    This morning has done its laundry.
    Keep the children out, they won’t learn
    to rinse its sky –
    who will?

  34. Linda Rhinehart Neas

    To the Ones Left Behind

    We think of you,
    like the stars think of the moon
    when darkness hides its orbit,
    or like the trees think of spring
    when all the leaves melt
    from branches into waiting soil.

    You are part of us,
    like the air that fills our lungs –
    cool, fresh, free,
    or like the thought that come
    of bygone times together.

    Our memory holds you,
    like the echo of time,
    an infinitely ringing resonance,
    or like a river’s run,
    a continually cascading current.

    We are connected,
    like galaxies floating
    through endless space, or
    like countless photons
    always able to increase by one.

  35. AsWritten

    AND by Ken Bentz

    And the sea levels are rising,
    I think.
    I’ve never measured them
    and I don’t live at the beach.

    But I’m sure some sea somewhere
    is rising.
    It has to be.

    For everything that falls,
    another thing rises.
    And there’s a lot of falling
    these days, I think.

    I’ve never seen someone
    fall beyond the scope of Earth.
    But I imagine it could happen.

    And my mind is going,
    I think.
    But if it is, does what I think matter?

  36. dittman


    Do you want to touch them, she asked?
    Her thighs – a scarred road, lined with perpendicular and hazardous furrows
    The cord of the king, the clothes of royalty
    Raised, ridged, pinwale velvet.
    I looked towards her, but not at her
    and felt her flesh ripple like a cat’s.

    And then, surely, I looked away
    like an infant tugging on a breast
    involved in a world, but straining
    to make it something else –
    being nourished, but feeding
    upon something else –
    a contentment
    as a drowning man remembers the river –
    first a chill, then stupor, then letting go.

        1. dittman

          Thanks – the idea came out of a very odd class discussion this week about if ED were alive today if she would have been a “cutter” rather than a poet. My students keep me on my toes!

  37. RJ Clarken

    No Secret Behind the Ruins

    “I will no longer mutilate and destroy myself in order to find a secret behind the ruins.” ~ Hermann Hesse

    There’s no secret behind the ruins,
    no clandestine underground.
    I shall stand strong. Myself, I won’t wrong,
    and I won’t let me run me aground.

    Slings and arrows? They’ll freeze with a glance
    from my more powerful eyes.
    Myself, I won’t wrong. I shall stand strong.
    No self-destruct, and no more disguise

    About those thoughts: I am not ruins.
    I am full. Vitality.
    I shall stand strong. Myself, I won’t wrong,
    I am individuality

    and although I will keep on seeking,
    it comes down to perspective.
    I shall stand strong. Myself, I won’t wrong.
    A secret is wholly subjective.


  38. Misky

    A Micro-narrative

    I was raised with a horror
    of talking about myself.
    Raised with my mother’s
    obsession for organisation,
    and so I’d never admit
    that I had no plan, that I’d
    invented myself, start to end.

    And secretly I wanted to try
    everything: given a chance
    I’d surf a coursing mudslide
    because I knew I’d always fall
    into dumb luck. But ride it
    or not, I kept up my guard,
    some secret army that drew
    me into some very dark places.

    Everyone’s story has dark places,
    and if dumb luck follows you,
    perhaps you’ll find liberation,
    find a measure of yourself.
    A larger truth waiting out there.
    Someone said labels are best
    suited to jam jars. Perhaps,

    but I’ve soaked a lot of labels
    off empty jars in my time.

  39. Eileen S

    My Reflection

    I heard a crash, some broken glass.
    Mom shrieked. Dad yelled.
    I hid in my bedroom trying not listen,
    trying not to cry.
    Trying to be brave.

    I looked out the window.
    My ugly reflection stared back at me
    in the glass.

    “I’m leaving,” said Dad.
    “Get out of here,” said Mom.
    Crash, thud, slam, boom, crack,
    then silence. Awkward silence.

    It’s all my fault that that Mom and Dad
    no longer live together.

    I looked out the window and watched Dad
    driving off in his car. I glanced at my reflection
    in the glass. If I were pretty, it would be different.

    I’m going into the bathroom and find a razor blade.
    That will end the ugliness.

  40. Terry Jude Miller

    Twilight Ritual
    by Terry Jude Miller
    when dippers disappear
    and only one or two celestial houses
    contain insomniacs

    I open the vein
    from which pain
    begs to be freed

    it pours out
    in fiery crimson streams

    for that moment
    as my heart drums
    I am devoid
    of daylight burden
    freed of grief’s talon

    tomorrow a new scar
    will greet the others

      1. Marie Elena

        Oh my yes. When pain is so poetically and brilliantly spilled (as this piece), my mind has a hard time knowing whether to applaud or cry and rescue. Terry, as I told Eileen, I hope this is fiction. But if not, I pray you see the beauty of your worth.

  41. cassandrascurse

    a worthier discourse
    we must conduct

    though my own best efforts
    have often sucked

    if not, I’m sadly
    left to deduct

    we’ll all be well
    and truly f**ked

    as history will
    most surely instruct

    any great nation
    can self-destruct


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