2018 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 9

For today’s prompt, take the phrase “Burn (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible titles include: “Burn the Midnight Oil,” “Burn, Baby, Burn,” and “Burn Everything.”

*****

Do You Have a $1,000 Poem?

The 13th Annual Writer’s Digest Poetry Awards has extended its deadline to November 19, 2018.

And the winning poem receives $1,000 in cash!

Find the complete guidelines and available prizes here, but the competition is open to all poets for poems of 32 lines or fewer. Rhyming poems, non-rhyming poems, haiku, limericks, and so on.

Click to continue.

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Here’s my attempt at a Burn Blank Poem:

“burn after reading”

there are wolves hiding in the woods
& they’re hungry for their feeding
wearing their blue jeans & their hoods
there are wolves hiding in the woods
coveting services & goods
that they will burn after reading
educated wolves in the woods
no longer hunger for feeding

*****

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 has been using the triolet to get him through some of the prompts this month. Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

 

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122 thoughts on “2018 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 9

  1. seingraham

    BURN THEM, BURN THEM ALL

    She just wanted to forget
    put the pain of her memories
    somewhere she couldn’t reach.
    That’s how it started.
    First, it was just the pictures
    around the house – the ones
    she had to look at every day.

    She grabbed them up, stripped
    them out of their frames, but instead
    of just throwing them in the trash
    she put them in the firepit in the yard.
    It was Autumn after all so there were
    leaves to get rid of and touching
    a match to the lot was easy.

    Instead of staying to see her family
    photos curl and disintegrate, she went
    inside and got the albums and started
    tearing those pictures out and tossing
    them into the flames also – She didn’t
    know when she started watching –
    Maybe when she caught sight of the
    babies’ faces flaming and gone?

    She admits that took her breath away.
    She almost snatched them back but in
    the next instance, the reality hit her.
    There was no snatching them back,
    was there? They were as gone as if they
    really were ashes, at least as far as she
    knew.

    Sighing sadly, she poked at the fire
    until there were no more recognizable
    bits left, closed the albums and threw
    them in the garbage bin on her way
    back to the house.

  2. Circe

    Burned
    we scuttled across the street
    from the smoking area
    in tenth grade
    my best friend and I
    sat in the field
    made a tiny fire
    a keeper for our
    shared thoughts
    that were better than
    any from a classroom
    it spread we couldn’t manage
    ran back re-blended
    unnoticed watched the firetrucks
    arrive.

  3. Brandi Noelle

    Burn Bridges

    She was young and carefree,
    in denial of her naïveté,
    embracing life and the newfound freedom
    that adulthood had to offer.
    After all, she was her own life’s author.

    The bridge stretched out before her.

    She had dreams and aspirations,
    yet, she wandered through other stations,
    waiting for perfection to land at her feet.
    When her desires weren’t met,
    her current loyalties she’d forget.

    And, the bridge stretched out before her,
    singed a little along the edges.

    Friendships flourished in her life
    until they met with any strife,
    doors began slamming one by one.
    She always assumed there would come a day
    to right the wrong, to have her say.

    Yet, the bridge stretched out before her,
    flames licking closely at her heels.

    The years have flown and now she wonders
    if it’s too late to fix these blunders.
    It seems she is the only one fixated on the past.
    The clock ticks, time stops for no one,
    let it go, some wrongs can’t be undone.

    Still, the bridge stretches out before her,
    and, she hobbles on.

    For, the bridge stretches out before her,
    but, behind her only embers remain.

  4. Shennon

    It Burns Like Never Before

    The venom,
    when it changed me,
    burned like the
    very fires from hell
    running races
    through my body.

    A rebirth into immortality.

    But the sunlight,
    into which
    you enticed me,
    with coy smiles
    and soft touches,
    burns twice as hot.

    The death of a vampire.

    –ShennonDoah

  5. Nancy Posey

    Upon Explaining Burning a CD to a Nineteen-Year-Old

    As if I needed another reminder
    that Baby Boomers no longer
    can call ourselves middle-aged,
    a college freshman—Gen Z?
    iGen?—asked about how folks
    used to burn music onto CDs.

    Shocked, he must have been,
    as such an ancient practice,
    almost barbaric, laughable.

    Should I tell him about albums,
    my vinyl collection arranged
    more methodically than my books–
    alphabetical by genre?
    If I told him I still keep a backup
    needle, that my old stereo
    still works—better, in fact,
    than anything new sold
    at Best Buy or on Amazon?

    Would he think my boombox—
    still in working order—a relic?
    Could he understand its necessity
    since cassette players disappeared
    from cars a decade ago, long before
    my tapes wore out, reeling out
    somewhere along the roadside?

    The Atari games, the 8-tracks kept
    in an old suitcase in the attic,
    the 45s in the same old rack,
    the VCR tapes labeled by hand—
    soccer matches, childbirths,
    weddings and birthday parties
    take up closet space, need
    handling. Still I keep them
    just in case I ever need proof
    Baby Boomers were kids once.

  6. lsteadly

    Burn It Up

    My husband strikes the match,
    sets the burn pile on fire.
    The catch roars instant,
    stops the birdsong,
    spreads searing heat.
    I know we must burn
    all this deadfall, old leaves
    spent flowers not meant for landfills,
    but the birds stopped singing.

    Maybe there was a nest
    in that pile and it makes
    me sick to even think
    it could be true.

    Later when only embers remain
    the birds return and flit about
    in nearby trees calling
    to each other once again.
    I tell myself they sound unruffled
    and I can breathe again,
    as their familiar melodic singsong
    fills the smoke-tainted air

  7. grcran

    burn the beer

    the boss said drink the beer and load the truck
    beer-powered beer sent out for slaking thirst
    forsaking reason i kept moving cases
    with beer-y carbs providing all the thrust
    twas in my twenties i was manly man
    could load two hundred trucks in just one day
    but now beer powers beer-gut ever outward
    so this old man keeps beer trucks far away

    gpr crane

  8. EllaT

    Burnt toast

    when I was little kid
    (less than 6)
    I thought my Dad liked his toast burnt
    maybe he always took the burned pieces
    or maybe he did prefer it burnt

    I was old enough to make my first
    forays into autonomy
    and one day I wanted toast
    and also toast for my Dad

    I knew numbers enough to know
    that higher was darker
    so I turned the dial up as high as it would go

    the memory is blurry
    not unlike looking through
    a cloudy toaster oven door
    but next I remember smoke
    and yelling

    not just did I burn the toast
    but also left the blue IGA bread bag
    leaning on the top of the toaster oven

    the burnt toast was tossed
    but the melted bread bag remained
    etched in the metal
    (and my parents minds)
    a reminder of my earliest indiscretion

  9. Bruce Niedt

    A few slight edits:

    Burning Bridges

    I’ll play the subway corridor
    till they kick me back outside
    I’ll play the city plaza
    till they kick me out of town
    I’ll play the suburban shopping mall
    till they put me in the pokey
    for the crime of being broke

    I’m a 20th Century man
    in a 21st Century world
    I’m mostly off the grid
    and some days you can hear the sound
    of silver jingling in my pocket
    mostly from what they’ve thrown
    in my battered guitar case

    Now I’m headed to Ohio
    and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
    I’ll play outside by the waterfront
    till they oust me from there too
    it’s as close as I’ll get to famous
    with my idols behind those doors
    but they also paid their dues

    Outside it may be summertime
    but the weather in my head
    says it’s late fall or early winter
    and I’m tired as all hell
    I don’t know how much longer
    I can keep on burning bridges
    till I cross my final one

  10. Bruce Niedt

    I used one of my favorite prompts today – one of my own creation: Go to any source with a random playlist (CD on shuffle, MP3 playe, radio station, Spotify or other streaming site, etc.) and note the titles of the next five songs played, then use those titles as words or phrases in your poem. Mine, from my personal Amazon Music playlist, were “Sound of Silver” (LCD Soundsystem). “Summertime” (John Coltrane), “To Ohio” (The Low Anthem), “Weather in My Head” (Donald Fagen) and “20th Century Man” (The Kinks). This one so wants to be a song, and i were a real musician I’d make it one.

    Burning Bridges

    I’ll play the subway corridor
    till they kick me back outside
    I’ll play the city plaza
    till they kick me out of town
    I’ll play the suburban shopping mall
    till they put me in the pokey
    for the crime of being broke

    I’m a 20th Century man
    in a 21st Century world
    I’m mostly off the grid
    and you can still hear the sound
    of silver in my pocket
    mostly from what they’ve thrown
    into my battered guitar case

    Now I’m headed to Ohio
    and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
    I’ll play outside by the waterfront
    till they oust me from there too
    it’s as close as I’ll get to famous
    with my idols behind those doors
    but they also paid their dues

    Outside it may be summertime
    but the weather in my head
    says it’s late fall or early winter
    and I’m tired as all hell
    I don’t know how much longer
    I can keep on burning bridges
    before I cross my very last one

  11. Sara McNulty

    Burn of Love

    When love is a consuming burn
    body fires with a constant flush
    secret scents ’round every turn.

    When love grows cold, and spurns
    body cools, heart no longer feels that rush.
    From each fading romance, you learn.

  12. Jane Shlensky

    Burning Daylight

    Every morning, dark as pitch,
    he rouses us. “It’s time to rise
    and meet the day!” he shouts,
    until we hit the floor, grousing
    and weary, stumbling to find
    our shoes in predawn dimness.
    “We met him already!” we snipe.

    We linger over breakfast, yawning,
    when he blasts us with, “Get going!
    You’re burning daylight!” when we
    see nothing akin to light in the sky.
    I guess he knows by the time
    we feed and milk the cows,
    the sun will rise and prove him
    right. As if splinters of far-off
    dawn have stabbed him sleeping,
    he springs up and makes the start
    of every day a thing we would
    avoid, given a choice. “It’s still
    dark,” we grumble, but he says,
    “Tell it to the horses, dogs, and cats.
    Say sorry, cows, you must be
    uncomfortable, but we’re not
    in the mood to feed or milk you.”

    We can’t argue with that. If we’re
    late with feeding and milking,
    the whole farm sets up a racket
    that will wake the world. We’re
    perpetually burning daylight,
    too slow for a man who’s all
    rise and shine and greet the day.

  13. MET

    I am not sure if this one is here or not… been acting crazy today…

    The Fire Dragon That Raged in Great Smoky Mountain National Park

    Two years have passed since
    My old stomping grounds
    Were on fire…
    A fire dragon born of arson
    Stretched its wings and flew
    Down the mountain side
    Whiffs of smoke undetected
    Fanned by the dragon’s wings
    The embers took flight
    Across a sleeping land.

    A church I attended
    Was burned beyond use…
    I could hear the hymns sung
    By people long gone.
    I could hear Mrs. Bell
    Making a joyful noise
    While banging on the piano…
    Now like those people
    That church standing
    For so long beside a creek
    Was only a shell…

    Friends lost their homes;
    Friends lost their businesses, and
    Friends lost family.
    The fire dragon did not care for
    It was hungry.

    I lived four hours away, but
    I could smell the smoke.
    We all wanted the fires to stop…
    I saw picture of animals standing in rivers
    Trying to stay safe.
    The fire dragon looked down and sent
    The flames to lick them
    Threatening to make them into roasts
    As the flames vaulted the river.

    People were broken but strong.
    For a fire storm is destructive
    There is no respect
    For life or property.
    The storm fulminated for days
    Its rants and raves of destruction
    Desecrated the land.
    It would take days to extinguish
    The dragon to ends its reign.

    Two years later
    The people have rebuilt, and nature
    Has a way of healing the wounds.
    There are scars and there are memories,
    But
    The people and the land are strong.
    I know for this was my homeland.

    I hear there are wildfires in California
    New dragons to demolish
    Before they gorged themselves
    In their wild rampage.
    I know nature will heal itself, and
    I hope the people are strong.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    November 9, 2018

  14. Haikutopia

    Burn Barrel

    by Sari Grandstaff

    dinner out with friends
    I see my old boyfriend there
    heartburn suffering

    neighborhood bonfire
    there’s my old flame with his wife
    sparks of jealousy

          1. cbwentworth

            That’s haiku … it’s all about capturing a moment in as few words as possible. I enjoy the challenge of stripping an observation down to the bare minimum.

            Longer poems are something I’ve never been able to do, so I greatly admire those who can string together line after line of beautiful words!

  15. writinglife16

    BURNING LEAVES

    I despise the smell.
    Every year we burn leaves
    and I sneeze and cough.
    My eyes run like a faucet.
    The cop shook his head at me.
    See my neighbor had called them
    after seeing me with the ax.
    Did I say I hate the smell of burning leaves?

  16. De Jackson

    Burn this before they find us.

    Midnight, and we’re still here
    in the privacy of our own
    raised palms. Please forgive
    me my mourning glories
    and my wilted wile. I am
    weary of these hands, the
    lands they cannot reach,
    the lives they cannot save.

    We are inklings of dust,
    embers lost to the breeze.
    We are keepers of light under
    cold bushels. We have stum
    -bled upon the sun, and
    wished it sane. Held back.
    Put some in our pockets
    for all this broken black.

    ::

  17. robinamelia

    Burning the Bank (Santa Barbara, 1970)

    “Burn the bank!” they shouted
    in drunken rage and stoned out glee
    and someone did!

    “We’re burning the bank,” they sang
    and drank more (he threw up at her feet
    and they fell in love).

    The fire was quenched but the bank spreads:
    branches springing up in all states
    like thickets of multiflora rose:
    cut, it grows back thicker, more fierce
    thorns clutching at my pants
    as I stay on the forest path

    Invasive species both, invading more than country:
    invading our souls and scratching our legs
    and dragging us down to the dirt.

  18. MET

    The Fire Dragon That Raged in Great Smoky Mountain National Park

    Two years have passed since
    My old stomping grounds
    Were on fire…
    A fire dragon born of arson
    Stretched its wings and flew
    Down the mountain side
    Whiffs of smoke undetected
    Fanned by the dragon’s wings
    The embers took flight
    Across a sleeping land.

    A church I attended
    Was burned beyond use…
    I could hear the hymns sung
    By people long gone.
    I could hear Mrs. Bell
    Making a joyful noise
    While banging on the piano…
    Now like those people
    That church standing
    For so long beside a creek
    Was only a shell…

    Friends lost their homes;
    Friends lost their businesses, and
    Friends lost family.
    The fire dragon did not care for
    It was hungry.

    I lived four hours away, but
    I could smell the smoke.
    We all wanted the fires to stop…
    I saw picture of animals standing in rivers
    Trying to stay safe.
    The fire dragon looked down and sent
    The flames to lick them
    Threatening to make them into roasts
    As the flames vaulted the river.

    People were broken but strong.
    For a fire storm is destructive
    There is no respect
    For life or property.
    The storm fulminated for days
    Its rants and raves of destruction
    Desecrated the land.
    It would take days to extinguish
    The dragon to ends its reign.

    Two years later
    The people have rebuilt, and nature
    Has a way of healing the wounds.
    There are scars and there are memories,
    But
    The people and the land are strong.
    I know for this was my homeland.

    I hear there are wildfires in California
    New dragons to demolish
    Before they gorged themselves
    In their wild rampage.
    I know nature will heal itself, and
    I hope the people are strong.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    November 9, 2018

    1. MET

      The Burn of Casework Wears You Out

      In Twenty-eight years
      I burned out about twice a decade…
      Each time it took longer to heal….
      I remember going to see
      A child in a burn unit…
      There is a room they scrub the dead skin
      Away with wire brushes,
      And the walls are sound proof, but
      You still hear the screams.

      Sometimes I felt I needed
      To go to that room
      To scrub the images
      Of children with broken bones
      And rapes on those so young…
      Of being told
      I never did enough
      By parents and foster parents,
      Judges and lawyers,
      Therapists and educators
      And some bosses
      Who were bullies….
      I imagined my screams
      Would be heard
      Into infinity.
      As the wire brushes
      Cleansed my soul.

      If I could have had my heart cleaned
      Of the dirt of others,
      And my eyes be innocent of evil…
      Then maybe the scars of burning would heal
      The Dead cells of brokenness,
      But I continued on.

      They did not believe me
      When I said enough is enough.
      I was good at what I did…
      They would replace me with three…
      Young souls like I had once been.
      I left broken though I would not admit it.
      Took me nearly ten years to reclaim
      Who I once had been
      Only I am now deeply scarred
      For third degree burns always leave scars.

      Mary Elizabeth Todd
      November 9, 2018

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