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. stepstep


    I wonder if you truly want to get better
    Yet you disobey all the rules, suggestions and everything that may help you rather than hinder you
    Advice is definitely no ally of yours
    Advice has taken the form of adversity for you.

    It’s a hurtful chore to see you deteriorate, self-destruct
    As well as your attitude —– it needs adjusting fast,
    If you don’t care about yourself, should I
    Or should I ignore the signs, likewise as you?

    Day by day, night by night, every second, every hour,
    You abuse the guidelines set by authority
    You alter or ignore warning signs
    My help is available —— waiting.


    1. ingridbruck

      Day five

       he watched her every morning
      start her run
      dressed in black
      matching the fading night
      which creeps slowly west
      he watches her return
      wiping the sweat from her face
      standing at her door
      he pictures her showering
      her naked body enveloped
      by hot water and steam
      slowly turns around
      as her door shuts
      his desire still hot
      moving towards the kitchen
      in his wheelchair
      toward the coffee pot
      the only warmth
      he can look forward to today ©
      Day six

      Today I praise him
      who turned my common mind
      toward the light
      I was just barren ground
      before he showed me
      how to become a garden ©

      Michael Peck

    1. ingridbruck

      Self Destruct

      We can turn away from family, friends and loved ones
      in an inward journey of self revelation,

      Take drugs and alcohol to blur harsh reality
      and grant the solace of self immersion into shadows

      Remove the physical body from a marital equation
      or give away our bodies away to the masses

      Ride waves of scintillation with strangers
      or retreat into the safe hermitage of isolation

      Explode in anger at strangers and familiars
      until we lose our love for self and others.

      There’s so many ways to lose ourselves:
      the slow motion picture of a flower opening moves backward.

  2. LCaramanna

    Toenail Polish

    Summer toes in summer sandals
    Show off polish and shine,
    Pedicured for the world to see
    In colors so divine.

    Candy Apple Red, Metallic Blue,
    Hot cha cha cha Pink, or Purple Passion,
    Exposed painted toes happily
    Out on the dance floor prancin’.

    Late into summer night
    Rise into summer day,
    Color maintained meticulously
    Toes wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Those warm sunny days replaced
    By crisp frosty mornings of Fall,
    Toes concealed in socks and boots
    No one bothers to admire them at all.

    With no need to be seen
    Each toe is neglected,
    No longer dancing
    Feeling downhearted, dejected.

    Those shiny colors, now chipped and worn,
    Chose a path of self-destruction,
    When toenail polish remover
    Made a dreaded introduction.

    Lorraine Caramanna

  3. bmorrison9


    This is what I do:
    just when life is perfect,
    everything arranged
    the way I want it,
    I tear it down.

    In Westminster I found
    the friends I’d always wanted,
    the books and teachers
    I needed. So
    I left.

    After years of poverty,
    everything was set:
    jobs lined up and
    supportive friends,
    beloved dance partners:
    I left them all.

    New lives created one
    after another, till
    I had what I wanted:
    the home in the woods,
    the friends, and the work
    I’d always dreamed of.
    And yet I left.

    Whatever the reasons—
    good or bad—for going
    I’m always ready.

    I think I must be crazy.

  4. annell


    perhaps it the lifestyle 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 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

  5. Brandi Noelle

    It sounded good
    Give women a voice
    They knew they should
    19th Amendment
    Right to vote
    Suffragists of fame
    Ladies would quote
    In awe of all
    That they achieved
    In this world of men
    Who would have believed?
    Then came equality
    In places of work
    Rosie the Riveters
    Displaced and irked
    Forced back to the homes
    When soldiers returned
    Cast aside
    From the jobs they’d earned
    Soon they would pick up the torch
    Picket signs and marches held
    Fight, fight, fight
    Is what they yelled
    Reminiscent of voices from the past
    Determined to make a stand
    Never knowing quite where
    Their fight would land
    Was it too much?
    Is it too late?
    Their battle cries masked
    Behind words of hate
    Women no longer
    Content just to be
    Everything that makes them special
    They just can’t see
    How important it is
    To love womanhood
    Embrace it, cherish it
    For it truly is good
    Equality, rights
    Important constructs
    Now taken too far
    Until we all self-destruct

  6. Domino


    It starts small.
    Increased heart-rate.
    Strange flashes of color
    or darkness
    or vague emptiness.
    Or nothing at all
    and the panic is just there
    compressing everything
    the way a black hole does
    crushing sanity
    into a pinhole-sized
    of pure

    As if that weren’t bad enough
    the fear has no real cause
    and there is nothing
    at all
    bear it.
    get through
    between positive
    and the echo of voices saying,
    “Jeez, just get over it.”
    “What is wrong with you?”
    “You know, when I changed my diet…”
    all useless
    against this mindless

    breaths come easier
    and the vice
    gripping your heart
    all that is left
    is exhaustion
    and a hazy shame,
    as if this was chosen.

  7. Melanie

    The field of Higg
    It has no cows
    No horses, sheep
    Chickens, sows
    There is no grass
    No seed or crop
    No rabbit holes
    No hares that hop
    No nettle patch
    No sticky mud
    No fence, no gate
    No nearby wood
    It’s out in space
    Where things began
    Long before
    The birth of man
    Rules exist
    That keep us safe
    Against those rules
    The planets chafe
    There’s energy
    In every thing
    Too much of it
    And things go ping
    Things kept in check
    Without it
    Space would be a wreck
    We would not see
    Disaster come
    Life would end
    For all not some
    Another planet?
    I hear you say
    But space itself
    Is burned away
    Destruction on
    A cosmic scale
    Enough to make us
    Weep and wail
    No rocket launched
    No button pushed
    Just empty space
    Silent, hushed

  8. cobanionsmith


    As the boy was dunked under, another
    white man with guns rained holy fire in
    another church 100 miles
    from his. He emerged, soaked and
    smiling; we sang glory
    and amen. Love, how
    will You win? I’m
    asking, what
    was our

    Courtney O’Banion Smith

  9. Jezzie


    I watch a baby blackbird digging under a shrub
    unaware there’s a cat crouching in the bushes
    and as the bird triumphantly gobbles its grub
    out from the shrubbery the smug cat rushes.

    The bird narrowly escapes the cat’s jaws and claws
    and flies into the skies still carrying his prize
    while the cat sits nonchalantly washing his paws
    until something more sinister takes him by surprise.

    With a bark my dog chases the cat all around
    until it is cornered when the cat turns about.
    The fearless feline ferociously stands his ground
    and smartly smacks my dog’s sniffing snout.

    Yes the bifocal bird bagged his breakfast and avoided abduction
    but my dodgy doggy was hell-bent on self destruction.
    My damaged doggy had just wanted a lark in the park
    but that murderous moggy certainly left his mark!

  10. Julieann


    I lived my life in peace and tranquility
    Striving constantly for order and harmony
    One way I was taught
    Therefore, I felt that I ought
    To not stray from the way
    True to old values I did stay

    To keep up with the times
    Could cause discord and oftentimes
    Could have changed my thinking
    So from change I was constantly shrinking
    I wouldn’t dare risk the chance
    I wouldn’t comprehend another dance

    And in the end peace and tranquility
    Gave way to abhorrent confusion and disharmony
    Havoc, loss of job and self-respect
    Showing my ideals to be incorrect
    Old beliefs and values I must chuck
    Because I’d lived a life to self-destruct

  11. seingraham


    I’ll admit it, I had it all – I
    was a lucky upper middle-class
    white broad with the requisite
    faithful good-looking professional
    husband and two smart, cute kids.

    So – what more could I possibly
    want, right? I don’t even remember
    wanting anything, but I started
    going to the casino and playing
    the slots – the one-armed bandits
    you know? And it was addictive.

    But my spousal unit, he tired
    of being alone every night after
    a full day of work, and me saying
    I was busy with churchwork and
    the like. He knew that was a laugh,
    like I’d ever be doing that stuff.

    So, he got me so to settle down
    finally – made me know he was going
    to walk, I guess, and I didn’t want that,
    at least not then – So, for a while
    I stayed in nights, watched the tube,
    was happy enough, I suppose.

    When did it all go south again?
    I don’t really remember…
    Maybe when my Mama died.
    Or, maybe when my girlfriend
    moved back to town and she’d
    just got divorced and wanted
    to go out once in awhile.

    My guy didn’t like her, never did.
    So, he was okay with me going
    out for dinner with her, without him.
    But it soon wasn’t just dinner.
    Soon – we’d go to the bar after.
    Then she introduced me to male strippers.

    Whew – that was some kind of trip.
    I’m not saying she corrupted me.
    Hell no! More like she educated me.
    And then I took her to the casino
    and skipped the slots, went right
    to blackjack … I bet you can guess

    how this ends. I’d like to say
    I got wiser faster than in the old days.
    But, I was dumber than most, I guess.
    I started borrowing money on credit,
    and selling things so I could play cards.
    And I hated the look in my guy’s eyes.

    So, I guess that’s when I started
    the heavy drinking, even doing some
    drugs – okay more than just some
    drugs … I was at a party and I got
    to try cocaine and it was such a rush…
    But that was a good thing, see

    Cause then I had a source of income.
    I met some guy who can get me lots
    of that white stuff and I know folks
    That are always lookin’ to buy,
    so now I guess you could say I’m
    a business woman, eh? I hardly
    miss my kids at all.

  12. De Jackson


    Now I know what it means
    And I self destruct.
    I close my eyes and there
    There you are.
    There you are.
    – Goo Goo Dolls

    What am I supposed to do
    with this ghost of you
    still living in my
    brittle barren bones?

    I’ve tried to fight it,
    breathe it through
    but there’s nothing left
    in this ribcage but wayward stones.

    I turn the lights on
    and still –
    here you are.
    here you are.


  13. Nancy Posey

    Wile E. Coyote to His Therapist

    Despite my best-laid plans, careful research,
    only the best explosives, wire, and detonators
    from the Acme Company, I couldn’t best him.
    How did he run through my trompe l’oeil tunnels,
    while I, their artist and architect, hit solid
    rock, flattened, arms and legs asplay.

    Anvils meant for him, hit me instead.
    My TNT, trip wires, booby traps proved
    no match for his guileless Beep Beep!
    Laid up in hospital, legs in traction,
    lacerations salved, I hear it in my sleep.

  14. MHR

    This poem is about self-destruct over a failed relationship, where maybe to one of them, it was more important, and it was more than just one night, or a week, or a year. It was their forever and after the candles have been blown out, they can’t live in the dark without you. You can get the gist of thought process below-enjoy.

    I’m going to write a letter someday,
    Fill it with antagonistic explanations,
    and somehow, miraculously, you’ll come running back.

    I’ll use the sweetest words-
    Because you said I was just too bitter,
    Like I’m a piece of lemon peel that just didn’t make it into the cake.
    I’m a soldier with a numb wound, and then the pain comes back-
    “This is what dying feels like.”
    So maybe I’m dying still, because I haven’t gotten over that wave.

    I’ll bet she’s the white frosting and the perfect trophy wife,
    Because I know what happened, I just turn a blind eye.
    Your friends are happy because now you aren’t so caught up in me-
    But all of mine are gone because I’m “not any fun anymore.”

    I try to misplace you from my thoughts,
    Like a lost sock, or an “Oh, I forgot I had him.”
    But I never forget things,
    Least of all, not you.

  15. lsteadly


    the loss began with cans of Bud
    before entering that bar way out
    on the other end of town,
    then fumbled on during the first
    set played by a band we no
    longer know or can’t remember,
    any more than we can recall how many
    of us stayed there,
    how many we tossed back
    that ripe summer night
    when high school ended
    and grief began-
    that summer forever
    marked by heavy
    keys in the wrong hands-
    our youth forever swiped
    like that car,
    and that tree
    with that boy

  16. Bruce Niedt

    Chant of a Self-Destructive Nation

    Shooting rampage.
    “Thoughts and prayers…”
    Shooting rampage.
    “Thoughts and prayers…”
    Shooting rampage.
    “Thoughts and prayers…”
    Shooting rampage.
    “Thoughts and prayers…”

  17. LynnFlournoy

    I have built it up inside my head
    Practiced until I could do it in my sleep
    I’ve got this
    My confidence knows no bounds
    They call my name
    I all but skip onto that stage
    In all my haste I did not tie my shoe

  18. tunesmiff

    G. Smith
    You made your decision,
    I told you what I thought;
    Neither of us budged an inch,
    And see the pain it brought.

    You were fire,
    I was ice.
    Our desire,
    Paid the price.

    The seeds of self-destruction,
    Are sewn in what we do;
    Watered and tended with loving grace,
    By the selfish things we choose.

    You were fire,
    I was ice;
    Our desire,
    Paid the price.

  19. Linowen


    I sit poised, across from
    The Queen.
    Duly crowned and
    enthroned she is.

    Her haughty highness
    commands and demeans
    all who come to
    question her here.

    I say, “…but I’ve heard
    there is One Who Reigns,”
    and Queen Me bristles
    If she could, I would
    be banished.

    “I’ve heard,” I say, “of One
    Who Reigns and calls us all to
    lay aside all ‘me’s.”

    “Don’t say it!” she shrieks!
    “I will be ME, and you will bow
    at my ME!”

    Her crusty lust for all things ME
    consumes her here.

    Queen Me,
    Queen Self,
    enjoys her throne,
    though all alone.

    This Queen and this slave
    live one and the same
    with all to lose and
    all to gain.

    A Voice,
    The One Whose Crown
    throbs from thorns, Whose
    Blood cascades down, now calls,
    “Descend your throne.
    Step away from the power
    of ‘me’. Acquiesce, and
    true wealth see.”

    The Queen’s hands
    quiver. Authority speaks, and
    all crowns tremble, but it is
    her Given choice,
    after all. …to shake a fist
    or to obey.

    One step down,
    one more.
    Queen Me is kneeling.
    The King ascends, and all is
    Right. All Me-greeds take
    flight and self-destruct by
    His Great Love and Might.
    The Given Choice now frees
    The Queen.

    Queen Me and I become
    Queen Thee, Daughter of
    the King! Exalted!

  20. Jrentler

    how to hotwire adonis at a party

    be mythic, or try
    gain through pain
    heels & toes bound

    or possess an ambrosiax strain
    & yea he’s up for a fag
    & a perch beyond
    where smoke blurs stars
    & the chattle fades

    a menthol
    will bind him to you
    for the hours after midnight

    so have a chariot in the wings
    or know the way
    to where
    dreams meet day
    & dawn’s the pal
    waking up beside

  21. SarahLeaSales

    The Last One

    The sole survivor of the crash,
    she found herself on the path of self-destruction,
    having been told she was spared for a reason,
    making her feel she had to be all that the others
    might have been.
    Yet when she let herself believe that the world was
    a mass of organized chaos,
    and that not everything that happened
    was a part of some Big Plan,
    she found the peace to move on.
    She hadn’t been called to Heaven
    to be one of God’s angels,
    any more than she had been left behind
    to be anyone’s angel.
    Perhaps she wasn’t destined for greatness,
    but she could have a great life,
    and that alone,
    would honor the dead.

  22. ToniBee3


    party here party there
    she finds her groove anywhere
    in the club hotel street
    bumps with paul humps with pete
    slick impudent fast-talker
    block to block streetwalker
    stripper klepto scenes spinning
    tired hungry hair thinning
    deserted hollow unloved lost
    she knows there’s a sinner’s cost
    thinks she’s living yet she’s dying
    her in and out of self is frying
    falling falling falling falling
    falling falling fall––––

    down amid the tranquil dark
    her arid soul dares to hark
    God is speaking God is waiting
    she struggles with herself debating
    should she give God a chance
    let Him fix her circumstance
    then angels in a bursting stir
    hem the night to salvage her
    suffocating sobbing weak
    surrendered knees quick to speak:
    “forgive me Father I have sinned
    make my life brand new again”
    praying praying praying praying
    praying praying pray––––

    ‘til morning joy and all morns after
    heart and soul swells with laughter
    purged of her iniquities
    maladies and miseries
    His loving arms mercy grace
    moved her to a transformed space
    rested filled turned around
    humbled loved wanted found
    “thank you Father I am whole
    i am now a pardoned soul”
    descent sorrow past: “goodbye”
    salvation present future: “hi”
    changing changing changing changing
    changing changing……. changed

  23. Sara McNulty

    Chocolate Soufflé

    This poem is a decadent soufflè
    wondering how high it can rise.
    Tiptoe ’round kitchen, watch as
    it floats, a chocolate crown.
    Place pan on counter.
    Sprinkle powdered
    sugar. Wait!
    A noise . . .
    this poem
    is flattened
    to a soupy
    round chocolatey disk.
    Missed again. Why bother?
    All precaution taken, not
    to shake or awaken until
    ready to eat. Expect sweet defeat.

    (Supposed to be centered on page)

  24. Alphabet Architect

    She sought fame and fortune;
    Existed for her own pleasure;
    Loved things more than people;
    Failed to acknowledge God.

    Deep friendships were avoided;
    Empathy denied.
    She made her own rules;
    Trusted no one.
    Rarely did she cry
    Until her plans and assets were
    Truly no tears were shed for her demise.


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