2018 April PAD Challenge: Day 11

For today’s prompt, write a warning poem. Warnings can be found everywhere: on the labels of medicine, in the speeches of leaders, and in the advice of parents. Even stories and poems have been known to harbor warnings.


Re-create Your Poetry!

Revision doesn’t have to be a chore–something that should be done after the excitement of composing the first draft. Rather, it’s an extension of the creation process!

In the 48-minute tutorial video Re-creating Poetry: How to Revise Poems, poets will be inspired with several ways to re-create their poems with the help of seven revision filters that they can turn to again and again.

Click to continue.


Here’s my attempt at a Warning Poem:

“ring the bells”

ring the bells & run for the hills
the winds have shifted & the storms
thunder their approach with lightning
shock & awe & if we don’t run
let’s at least say we rang the bells


Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). As a parent, he sometimes wonders if the warnings he gives his children are taken as challenges by them–and looking back, he wonders if he wasn’t the same way.

Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.


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253 thoughts on “2018 April PAD Challenge: Day 11

  1. grcran

    dog trick

    hey you there,
    waylaid, we play
    with nascent facts and figs
    most numbers
    made-up they prop
    positions scams and rigs
    pollsters jokesters
    biggest corporate wigs
    please read this
    warning, do nothing
    when we say jump you’ll beg

    gpr crane

  2. Jane Shlensky


    Mama warned me,
    Daddy too,
    be smart and stay
    away from you.
    Though I am young
    and not so wise,
    I see the danger
    in your eyes.
    Perhaps they’re right–
    I should beware–
    but something in me
    knows you care.

  3. Jane Shlensky

    The Signs

    A farmer learns to heed the signs,
    observe the warnings nature gives:
    low-flying, quiet, roosting birds,
    poplar leaves that seem to turn,
    how turtles seek out higher ground,
    how cows lie down before a storm.

    The old ones teach what they observe,
    make warning rhymes of what’s to come,
    colors of skies at morn and night,
    clouds, rainbows, rings around the moon,
    eyes looking up, learning to read.

  4. Julieann

    Should Have Listened

    There’s a dangerous road ahead
    This road leads to a broken heart
    I knew to read
    The detour signs
    Too good looking
    Too suave talking
    Swept me off my feet
    Road dead-ended
    As he went looking
    For another easy mark —
    I should have read
    The detour signs

  5. Monique

    Spoiler Warning

    In real life,
    “Happily ever after”
    doesn’t mean
    everything’s tied up
    in a neat little bow
    like a present
    on Christmas morning.
    Happy endings
    are things to be earned
    after much struggle
    and hard work.

    If there’s one thing I learned
    from A Series of Unfortunate Events,
    it’s that happy endings
    do not come easily.

    Spoiler warning: Life can really suck
    And it will continue to suck
    But whether we let ourselves suck
    is our choice and ours alone.

    Let’s make our happy ending
    Take control of our narrative
    And just maybe we can be
    Like a light in the darkness.

  6. seingraham


    If you dare be a mother,
    be aware: your child doesn’t come
    with instructions, no manual, nor
    how-to guide either.
    You will get lots of advice most likely,
    but much of it will be conflicting.
    And you will question everything
    you do, at least for the first while
    Parenting is a learn-as-you-go
    occupation, and mostly it requires:
    common-sense, compassion,
    and intuition.
    Just when you think you have it down
    – you’ll get a rude reminder that you
    don’t know anything much, and a steep
    learning curve is coming up.
    Babies should come with a warning label
    at the very least, but they don’t.
    If you dare be a mother – take heed.

  7. jhmaloney

    Friendly Advice

    You don’t know what you’re doing,
    there’s no way this will end well.
    You’re in over your head.
    I’ve done it too so I can tell.
    You should probably just stop,
    you’ll save yourself a lot of pain,
    but I’m sure you’ll carry on
    and watch it all go down the drain.

  8. trishwrites

    Sometimes I wonder
    if I missed it
    that je ne sais quoi
    A certain slant of
    Slight tremor
    in the heartbeats of silence
    The way the sun shone
    on a day where the
    Greens are so green
    And the blues too blue
    to be real

    A day so perfect it hurt

    Were you already fading
    Even when we spoke
    Ghosts coming between us

  9. Carla Cherry


    Don’t do what you usually do
    when I’m at the kitchen sink
    washing dishes,
    when you walk up behind me
    kiss the back of my neck
    nuzzle your nose in my hair.

    I just washed it.
    Smells like peppermint.
    I combed lemongrass oil through it.

    So if you want to get to work on time
    you better look and not touch.

    Just think about me on your breaks,
    how my satiny smooth curls/everything else
    will cling to your fingers.

  10. tunesmiff

    G. Smith
    A shot across the bow;
    Is something that gets your attention,
    In a really big way, and how!
    A shot across the bow,
    Be it battleship, frigate, or scow,
    Is always worthy of mention.
    A shot across the bow,
    Is something that gets your attention.

  11. bethwk


    She’s back in my dreams again,
    the ignored priestess,
    rejected oracle,
    cursed Cassandra,
    always prophesying,
    never understood,
    running through the flaming streets,
    crying, Doom! and Fire!

    People turn and nod,
    smile and wave,
    blink and shake their heads,
    and return to their buying and selling,
    to their marketplaces,
    to their temples,
    to their businesses,
    while their city burns around them.

    And her name is Tess, and her name is Bree,
    and her name is Emma, and her name is Delany,
    and her name is Tarana, and her name is Malala,
    and her name is Rachel, and her name is Alicia,
    and her name is Patrisse, and her name is Opal,
    and her name is Tomorrow.

    And we close our ears at our peril.

  12. CMcGowan

    Warning Signs

    The subtle twitch of an eye
    roving across the room,
    a seed in bloom no one sees.

    The subtle flick of a hand
    sliding across the sand,
    a grain that no one touches.

    The subtle waft of a scent
    sliding south of intent,
    a sweat that no one smells.

    The subtle depth of a grunt
    writhing from the gut,
    a sound that no one hears.

    The subtle saltiness of blood
    running from the gun,
    a fear that no one tasted.

  13. MHR

    APRIL PAD 2018

    Poem #11

    “Caution! Surface could be hot.”

    “Don’t try to grow up so soon!”

    “Mom, that’s like asking for me to give you the moon-
    it’s furtile and the pursuit can only be driven in the night,
    we teenagers are dreamers, you see: forever bright.
    Caution! Surface could be hot.
    We’re stars of the extraterrestrial lot;
    if you wait too long to see us
    We’ll burn out, still craving that sacrificial love.”


  14. tunesmiff

    G. Smith (BMI)
    If you meet,
    Her on the street,
    And she seems sweet,
    Don’t be fooled, don’t be fooled.

    She may smile,
    All the while,
    That’s her style;
    But don’t be fooled, don’t be fooled.

    She’s not who she seems to be,
    Take it from me,
    You will see;
    Don’t be fooled, don’t be fooled.

    There’s no doubt,
    She’ll scream and shout,
    When she calls you out;
    Don’t be fooled, don’t be fooled.

    Heads up,
    Duck and cover,
    You don’t want her,
    For a lover,
    ‘Cause when it ends,
    You won’t be friends,
    And you won’t recover,
    You won’t recover.

    She may look like Helen of Troy,
    But I can tell you, Boy,
    She’ll drop you like a broken toy;
    So don’t be fooled, don’t be fooled.

    Right from the start,
    She’ll do her part,
    To break your heart;
    So don’t be fooled, don’t be fooled.

    Heads up,
    Duck and cover,
    You don’t want her,
    For a lover,
    And when it ends,
    You won’t be friends,
    And you won’t recover,
    You won’t recover.

    She’s a back breaker,
    A belly-acher,
    And you can’t make her,
    You can’t make her happy.

    Heads up,
    Duck and cover,
    You don’t want her,
    For a lover,
    And when it ends,
    You won’t be friends,
    And you won’t recover,
    You won’t recover.

  15. Walter J Wojtanik


    The sun sets slowly,
    growing in intensity and brilliance.
    A waltz, a dance with the shoreline,
    I find myself where the sky turns bolder.
    As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come
    to appreciate the gradations
    from golden to molten,
    to auburn to full burn.
    In the morning it would be
    a warning, but
    to red sky at night,
    this word sailor delights
    in the sight of a blood red sky.

  16. MET

    Warning Bad Day Ahead

    I should have known
    The day was not going to be good.
    I got up early,
    And power went off
    A few minutes later
    Putting off my cup of coffee.
    Since I have a well…
    I had no water…
    So daily rituals
    Were put off.

    But I can deal with that, and
    I had a ticket to attend
    A poetry workshop
    One city away.

    As the day wore on,
    I felt worse the pollen season
    Had its grip on me.
    I got ready anyway, and
    Drove about forty miles,
    And though I know this place.
    It was locked up tight, and
    I paid ten dollars
    For fifteen minutes parking.

    Driving home I was disappointed, for
    I don’t have many chances to get out, and
    Wishing some days had warnings on them
    So, I just could stay in bed.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    April 11, 2018

  17. Smruti

    Baby don’t !

    Don’t run baby
    You will hurt
    Don’t touch
    Its hot
    Don’t take that
    Its sharp
    Don’t eat too fast
    You may cough
    Don’t climb that
    You may fall

    It’s raining !
    Go play in the puddle
    Splash some water
    Get wet
    Let take a break
    And have some fun !

  18. De Jackson

    {She doesn’t come with a warning label.}

    so this shall have
    to suffice:

    She’s stormy at best
    with a Lake-ache the size
    of the Pacific
    and a pen
    -chant for pro-crest-ination.

    Specifically, you’re gonna
    wanna listen to her talk
    (and talk, and write
    and squawk)

    about the moon
    and the way it makes her
    s w o o o o o o n
    and sway. She’s de
    -signed for such things,
    with Icarus wings and small
    -ish feet, imp
    -perfections waning to an indigo
    star-struck sky.

    Oh, sure
    (kind Sir),
    fall for her once,
    don’t let her fool you
    (shame on you)


  19. Eileen S

    Lifeguard Warning

    The young bathers are having fun at the pool.
    Others are behaving badly which is against the rules.
    A whistle blows and a young man is given a warning.
    If he doesn’t stop, he will be dismissed from the pool.

  20. julie e.


    Of course you’ve moved on
    you need someone
    to give you shape
    to sculpt your outline
    to carve your contours
    and then

    For who are you
    without an Other
    but a tablet
    with a rough sketch
    hiding yourself
    to let an artist
    flesh you out?

    I thought I knew you
    but just imagined
    an illustration
    of the person
    you knew I wanted
    when I fell
    in love with you

    Now you’ve moved on
    to a someone
    who’s giving shape
    to your new outline
    and I’m having flashbacks:
    bright early days
    I spent with you.

  21. JoMae


    I fear I’ve come up empty on
    this eleventh day of poeming
    no ink is running freely from
    my fingertips into the keys

    Perhaps my inner spring is
    frozen and will not run until
    the season warms and we
    move beyond the threat of



  22. Angie5804

    No Warning

    There was no warning
    No pre-existing conditions
    They said arthritis and sent her home at 2am
    With lots of Tylenol
    The next day she was gone
    Found on the bathroom floor
    Eyes wide open
    I’m told it was sudden
    That she didn’t even know
    I know
    She was alone
    But not alone
    Into the arms of one who loves her
    She stepped

  23. De Jackson

    Red Sky

    in mo(u)rning,
    we sing our sacred
    dawn-songs, allow
    the bell to toll for all
    we’ve lost.

    We’ve tossed and turned
    all night, held the world
    tight in trembling hands
    and too-full clouds
    with false linings.

    We’re pining for some
    signal, some
    (sea) siren, some way
    to spill our salt that
    might scatter this
    crimson, bring a
    brighter dawn.


  24. Connie Peters


    Be careful you don’t get sideways with me.
    I am a writer, you know.
    You may end up as the villain in my next novel.
    Or if you really transgressed, a victim
    who dies a painful or embarrassing death.
    On that note, you may end up
    as a comic relief character,
    one who readers laugh at.
    We writers have our ways of getting even.

  25. taylor graham


    above Tiger Lily Creek

    On the lichened boulder, half a mushroom-cap
    left uneaten by gray squirrel. Coyote scat
    laced with manzanita berries and fur, fragments
    of bone: remains of gray squirrel.

    I found that rock in labyrinths of manzanita,
    and thought it might be sacred to Indians
    who used to summer there – who lived there
    first. Bedrock mortars lost in canyon shadow.

    And my lichened boulder – could it be a talking-
    rock, native telegraph transmitting messages
    across miles of granite? Invitations to tribal
    ceremonies; warnings of invaders?

    A singing stone. I’d watch the sun set
    across-canyon and imagine I could hear earth
    turn its worms through soil. News on the breeze
    across ridges before air slips downslope to dark.

    Granite speech that might reach me, miles
    down the mountain where I live now, far from
    that lichened boulder; sending me warning
    or invitation, still among stone.

  26. Walter J Wojtanik


    The lake for now is calm, but
    the wind in neither warm, nor inviting.
    I sit here writing while my pen
    remains upright. I fight the urge
    to let it rest and leave words for another day.
    But they say there’s a storm approaching,
    and its vile will be encroaching
    on this idyllic life. The dark clouds lower
    in the distance and I can sense my will
    shaken. I must take every precaution.
    I batten down the hatches and catch
    a glimpse of the landscape. The only escape
    is to ride out the barrage. You’ll come through
    if you are really meant to! Warnings have been
    posted. If there’s a ghost of a chance we’ll
    all survive alive. But for now,
    thar she blows! God help us all!

  27. SarahLeaSales

    Warning Label

    What if every child came into the world with a warning label,
    with the warning that their birthday would also be their death day?
    Would life be different?
    Would death?

    Would parents keep vigil over their newborn
    until “the crisis had passed,”
    and not worry again until the next?

    Would the tying of loose ends start a day before,
    a week before,
    or even an hour before—
    (the last for all those fine young procrastinators)?

    Would weddings be coordinated according to an uncertain calendar?
    Would women try to conceive their children at least eleven months
    before their own birthday,
    so that they wouldn’t die while pregnant?

    Would people live it up on their birthday,
    being as the inevitable would happen anyway,
    or would recklessness run rampant on the other days,
    knowing that nothing they did would kill them,
    but only maim?

    Would some throw parties
    to get all their family and friends near
    for what had once been a trivial holiday,
    except among children?

    Or would such parties be held the day after,
    when another 364 days were guaranteed,
    or the day before,
    in case there would be no day after tomorrow?

    Would birthdays be celebrated,
    or dreaded?

    Or would this manner of living become a way of life,
    like the Israelis and the bombs?
    For humans in this New Era were a shining brilliance
    in their adaptability to change.

  28. Nancy Posey

    They Warned Her

    Don’t travel alone, they warned her.
    A girl alone on the trail—
    you’re just asking for trouble.

    They warned her of ne’er-do-wells,
    of black bears and copperheads.
    They gave her clippings
    about hikers, losing their way,
    starving or freezing alone,
    not found by searchers for weeks.

    They warned her she needed
    more time, more practice,
    to break in those shoes,
    to learn survival skills—
    how to read the stars,
    to find direction by moss
    on tree trunks,
    to distinguish between
    the edible and the deadly.

    But, ignoring their warnings,
    she set out, brand new pack
    loaded, a journal to record
    her thoughts, discoveries,
    experiences. They forgot
    to tell her how lonely,
    how very lonely she’d be
    alone all those days and nights.

  29. candy


    There was no warning label
    No tag attached to make us
    Use extreme caution when handling

    We hugged and cuddled
    Laughed and sang
    Never noticing that our hearts

    Had been rearranged by
    This tiny sprite who is
    Our granddaughter

  30. Asha1000

    False Alarm

    It is a beauty that’s naughty;
    just three colours: red, white and black.
    The toxic one has bands on back,
    warning colours bright and gaudy.
    The false coral snake is spotty.
    If you look closely you will see.
    But who has time to bend a knee,
    to act so bold convincingly
    and shout, “Batesian mimicry!”
    Anyone with sense, knows to flee.

    – Lelawattee Manoo-Rahming

  31. LeeAnne Ellyett

    Warning Signs

    I should have seen the warning signs,
    as my mind looks back to our better times,
    our friendship bloomed, like a summer garden,
    it grew with trust, in us, letting go of the guard within.

    A promise, to keep me safe
    A pact, I’d never escape

    It didn’t take long before our life turned wrong,
    a misunderstanding, mistake, that’s all it takes,
    our apologizes gloomed, as a winter storm brewed,
    dark and grey, swirling fist, leaving another bruise.

    A promise, to keep me safe
    A pact, I’d forever escape

    As the days grow longer, I get stronger,
    no longer weak with shame, no more blame,
    no longer afraid of warning signs,
    as my mind looks forward to better times.

    A promise, I am safe
    A pact, I treasure escape.

  32. Brian Slusher


    Before leaving the house, consider
    Preparing extensively. Select clothing
    That affords maximum camouflage
    And is most likely to deflect incoming
    Projectiles. While layers are optimal,
    Never forget the value of mobility
    In the event that rapid flight becomes
    Imperative. Besides carrying a primary
    Weapon, have a back-up pistol
    Strapped to your calve and a knife
    Or razor in an convenient easy-to-draw
    Pocket (put it in your hair if possible).
    As you dash to your armored vehicle
    Employ a serpentine movement to thwart
    Snipers and obscure your appearance.
    Never drive the same route, again
    Weaving from lane to lane is optimal.
    If you are nimble, toss items out
    Of the window to discourage any tails.
    Upon arriving, do not stop—simply
    Roll from the vehicle as it races on.
    Finally, enjoy your church service
    (but sit at the end of pew closest
    To the exit).

  33. madeline40

    Health Warnings

    All the warnings signs were there:
    the hacking cough
    the wheezing
    the slow, unbalanced walk
    loss of appetite
    and falling asleep
    anywhere, anytime.
    The doctor diagnosed it
    as pneumonia,
    the fourth bout in two years.
    And now there was
    nothing more for him
    to do but
    take the antibiotics
    stay close to home
    rest a lot
    and make my decision
    to never let this happen
    to my husband ever again.

  34. thunk2much

    Please administer coffee

    I know you want to talk
    and you’ve spent a long night
    full of dreams and ideas
    and you think I’m good with words
    because I am, I mean I can be
    in the afternoons or evenings
    but my dreams are muddled things
    and often just thwarted attempts
    to reconcile with lost loved ones
    or make it to the end-of-year exams
    (I can never find the classroom
    and I haven’t studied at all and of course
    I’m probably missing my shoes or worse)
    and so love, it can sometimes take an hour
    or more before I can hear your words
    as actual words and your thoughts
    as actual thoughts and darling I’m begging
    you today and forever more,
    because I will do my best
    to say the right things nicely,
    if you will please take care
    to administer coffee to me first.

  35. Joseph Hesch

    Always the Rough Road Between Me and You

    “The signs are always in front of you,”
    my consciousness has said to me.
    “Should have seen that crash coming
    from a mile away,” he’ll chide,
    when it was he holding the wheel.
    I’ve always felt I was a sensitive,
    preceptive guy, but where you
    might be concerned, I have a cognitive
    macular degeneration, a blind spot
    smack dab in the middle
    of my field of emotional vision.
    Perhaps that’s why I never saw,
    or maybe I just ignored, the warnings
    you laid down for me to let up on the gas.
    Even slowing down, though,
    the intractability of my
    runaway judgment still would collide
    with your irresistible force.
    The last time, I swerved
    at the last instant to save myself
    from the inevitable collision
    between magnetic attraction and
    multiple obsessive-compulsive injuries.
    The big problem has always been
    what I’d notice from the corner
    of my eye as I’d swing past you.
    Then I drive for days and days,
    looking back into the rearview mirror
    with that one eye closed, pondering if
    your warning was merely another Caution
    or a Detour/Do Not Enter.

  36. k weber

    Be prepared

    Nobody warned me
    about life.
    I did not know
    it was for external
    use only.

    It seemed easier
    to hide inside
    without prolonged
    to sunlight.

    I ran with scissors
    as I ran the risk
    of serious damage
    to my eyes
    while looking for you.

    I inhaled
    high pressure
    steam often:
    may have occurred.

    It was
    only when touched
    that I found
    my heart
    is a hot surface.

    keeps spinning, slippery
    when wet. Take
    your anti-nausea pill
    with food

    and caution.

    1. Asha1000

      I love this “cautionary” poem about life, Great stanza: “I ran with scissors/as I ran the risk/of serious damage/to my eyes/while looking for you”

  37. Bruce Niedt

    Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is, essentially, to write a poem that addresses the future as it relates to you. That paired nicely with Robert’s “warning” prompt:

    Note to Future Highway Self

    Infrastructure problems ahead.
    You will become more high-maintenance
    in years to come. You will damage yourself
    without even trying. Potholes will spring up
    out of nowhere. Your concrete supports
    will start to crumble. Be sure you have
    a good road crew, and adequate funds
    to keep the drive as smooth as possible.
    There will be detours, for sure,
    a road closing or two, but in the end,
    we hope you have a pleasant journey
    overall, till you take that final exit
    into whatever utopia you’ve imagined.

  38. Sara McNulty

    New Drug

    Brand new drug out on the market,
    one a day and you’ll be glowing.
    You can purchase it at Target.
    Stop this drug if you crave carpet,
    green bumps on knees, or third ear growing.
    Brand new drug out on the market,
    one a day and you’ll be glowing.

  39. KM

    Theory of Relative Optimism

    Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.
    Is it possible? That warning?

    I’m no Einstein, but what if he was onto something
    with that relativity business? No real difference
    between the future and the past. Then, before.
    Ahead, behind. To be, done. Imagine, remember.

    Define hope: Noun — an expectation and desire
    for a certain thing to happen. Verb — to want
    something to be. To happen. Seems like
    small magic. Wish, with your eyes
    closed. Can you see it? In your mind?
    That future dream, sketched with coloured
    memories. It can happen. It’s happening.
    It’s happened. Hope for it, again.

    Define warning: Noun — a statement or event
    indicating possible danger. Verb — to give advance
    notice. To caution. Seems like there’s reason to worry
    What did you know and when did you know it?
    Have you seen it happen, before or after?
    That past mistake, italicized, set in bold,
    highlighted in yellow. It was right there,
    foresight. Hindsight. Look, I’m warning you.

    But I really hope I’ll be wrong. I have been in the past.

    – Kim Mannix

  40. jennfel

    Heed This

    Wield your position
    Like a battle ax
    We have wearied
    Of serving
    Scared children
    Naked emperors

    I know my worth
    Intimidation tactics
    Won’t shake
    It loose
    I’ll take
    Myself elsewhere

    Heed this
    Next time
    When the blade
    Hits chopping block
    My neck will be
    Long gone

  41. kevinwiatrowski


    I think it’s only fair to
    Make you aware: you
    Probably make a poor choice.
    Oh so many showed more poise,
    So many were so much better
    That even now I never know whether
    Each day will be what I can make or
    Reveal me, finally, as a faker.

  42. kevinwiatrowski


    I think it’s only fair to
    Make you aware: you
    Probably make a poor choice.
    Oh so many showed more poise,
    So many were so much better
    That even now I never know whether
    Each day will be what I can make or
    Reveal me, finally, as a faker.

  43. MET

    One Warning

    The Bailiff steps out
    Of the Court room, and
    Says a thunderous voice…
    “The Judge says to be quiet.”
    All of us guilty search
    For the one who
    Is the guilty culprit.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    April 11, 2018

    1. Fanny Pad

      Warning about judging

      How do you know you are right?
      If you play your cards right you may come up trumps
      but you may not deserve to win,
      Is it sinful to have doubts?
      No. I am not Donald Duck or Minnie Mouse
      I have a house; I am not a mouse
      but I turned down the chance to serve on a jury
      because I am afraid of being judged

  44. Tom Hayes


    Beware of cats creeping,
    long tails sweeping,
    patrolling the house,
    not hunting a mouse.
    They’re clever
    So never
    Assume that their
    mission’s benign.
    It’s feline.
    That padding
    doesn’t care.
    So Beware
    of cats
    and that’s


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