PAD Challenge – Day 20

Today the Poetic Asides prompt spoke to me with the suggestion to write a things said or unsaid poem. I always think of secluded spots in nature as the best places to hear our own thoughts, which is probably what inspired this:


On the Lake


It makes him feel insignificant

and that’s his favourite thing about it.

How he might patter off into the underbrush,

rove the shadowed spaces between the spruce.


When he’s on the lake, those first minutes

after dawn, the surface so still and solid,

he believes it can support

every weighty worry.


All the things he never says,

known by the glimmering water.



Today the  NaPoWriMo site puts out the call to get clever with a “kenning” poem, which is  a riddle made up of several lines of kennings (usually two-word descriptors in a unique or old language) to describe something or someone.

At This Is Not A Literary Journal the assignment is to take an imagined trip to a place that scares you, then write about it. As poets I think we naturally write about our fears, and as readers we’re drawn to the exploration of those fears. It helps us cope and heal. And sometimes it makes for such beautiful poems, like Seamus Heaney’s “Anything Can Happen.


PAD Challenge – Day 19

I’m pulling inspiration from two prompts again today: NaPoWriMo’s suggestion to write a “How To” poem, and the Poetic Asides call for something cool or uncool.

How To Keep Cool

(In Your Crappy Apartment During A Heat Wave)


Don’t think about the air-conditioned office that used to be routine.


Do remember that everything about that place, even the vent above your cubicle, and the iced coffees your boss brought you on Fridays, were clever ploys in the bigger plot to suck your soul.


Don’t think you need to move off your couch, unless it’s to get a cold beer from the six-pack you bought for that dude who bailed after date three.


Do take cold showers, or long icy baths. In the dark. Power’s not included in the rent, but water is.


Don’t wonder if excessive water consumption plus global warming equals danger for Mother Earth. It’s too hot for environmental ethics.


Do keep the curtains closed to make sure the sun stays out so you can stay naked after aforementioned baths or showers.


Don’t answer the phone when your Mom calls for the fifth time. You’ve reached your threshold for blood-boiling questions and comments.


Don’t have any fond recollections of your parent’s frigid basement, their backyard pool, or the fresh lemonade your Mom made whenever your friends came over to chill.


Do remind yourself that all things are temporary — even weather and unemployment.


Do sit on your balcony after dark. Watch skyscraper lights twinkle. Wait for the midnight crescendo of the city. Whisper until you believe:  I am where I’m meant to be.



Where I live, the month of April has been anything but cool, so shrugging off jackets and slipping on sandals has been very cool. But the prompt today happily reminded me of Robyn Sarah’s “Villanelle For A Cool April.” I think I should stitch “Life’s sweetest savoured in the present tense” onto a plush pillow.

PAD Challenge – Day 18

Today’s Poetic Asides prompt suggested embracing that “Monday — back to work” feeling to write a poem about the office or office life. For me, this coincided a little with the NaPoWriMo prompt to incorporate the “language of home” into a poem. I’ve done a little of this here, but think I’d like to incorporate more in the revision stages with this poem:


Home Office


His real office was his car,

the commute and the workday one

as he crisscrossed Saskatchewan,

breaking every stock image of the

smooth talking traveling salesman.


At home, the office I knew, a scarred

metal desk, tucked in the back corner

of our basement, surrounded by file boxes,

piled memos — neatly classified chaos,

and always a cup of coffee.


A place to do paperwork, a strangely

alluring word to me. Important, and something

adult that must be done, would be done

by me, someday. I could help with the stapling,

when packets of papers were needed, reading

names for inventory, and carrying heavy sample

boxes, stacked like giant Lego bricks,

at the bottom of the stairs.


My Dad, always going places, going to get

ahead and mostly to get back

to us — our baseball games, dance recitals, plays.

And my  Mom, the Chief Everything Officer who

never left the office, never saw a paycheque

and never let any of us down.


This Is Not A Literary Journal invites reflection on a “thing” or a treasured thing we no longer have, and asks us to write an ode to it. It reminded me of Don McKay’s nuanced tribute to the cutlery we all use everyday in “Setting the Table”. You can watch the revered poet himself reading it here.

PAD Challenge – Day 17

Hooray, it’s haiku day! The Poetic Asides prompt calls for a haiku, or a poem about haiku (which could be fun to write). This Is Not A Literary Journal suggests a weather poem in the first person. I’ll took a little of that inspiration, to incorporate weather/seasons in these:



white hare

muddied brown

spring rain



the wasps pelt

like hail


early snowfall


on patio chairs


December thaw

temporary lakes

in the boot prints


On of my favourite places to read haiku is on the DailyHaiku site, edited by Nicole Pakan and Patrick M. Pilarski. Though they’re from Edmonton, the site features the best work of renowned haiku poets from around the world.

The NaPoWriMo prompt today calls for picking words from a specialized dictionary to incorporate into a poem. A cool idea for some unique inspiration another day.

One final note: Today is the start of The Edmonton Poetry Festival. If you live in the area, take a minute to check out some of the great events, workshops and readings…many of which are completely free! And if you have some time this afternoon, come by Thresholds, an event I’m proud to be a part of.

PAD Challenge – Day 16

Who doesn’t love thinking or talking about food? And writing about it is almost as good as eating it. Today’s Poetic Asides prompt calls for a poem about your favourite restaurant. The first place that came to mind for me was this quaint diner in Fredericton, New Brunswick, where the portions were almost as big as the servers friendly smiles.


Faster food —

the waitress

roller skates.



or coconut cream?

Life of pie.


the widower

brings a date

Senior’s special


There’s rarely a Margaret Atwood poem that I don’t love, and “They Eat Out” is no exception. The scene is set so well here, the characters alive in a few short lines, and that last stanza is awesome.

The NaPoWriMo prompt today is to write an almanac poem using your own answers to a quick survey. I think this could result in some truly interesting poems, and one I will surely try another, less hectic, day.

PAD Challenge – Day 15

Doing double-duty today, incorporating a word list prompt from Poetic Asides, and the NaPoWriMo challenge to do something in “double” — in my case, I wrote in non-rhyming couplets. I used six out of eight words: flat, ring, lavish, vessel, paper and tooth. Just couldn’t get gaudy and blacklist in there. This was tough, and not very successful, but it’s the half-way point in the month, and I can’t stop posting now! 🙂


Vanishing Act


She put the ring on the counter, next to the coffee pot, and started walking

through the fields, flat and white as paper, now and for most of the year.


She would miss the sky, revealing so much depending on the shape of the clouds,

and the way the wind would chisel at her front tooth if she dared to smile.


She came with the hope she could be a vessel for something — grace

or contentment. Nothing so lavish as joy, but together they tried.


She left emptier, a familiar feeling, but  by spring — distant spring,

her footprints would melt away. Even the coldest winters are forgotten.


This Is Not A Literary Journal suggests writing a poem using Robert Peake’s word generator. I’ve used this before and posted the result here. It’s a great tool to take you unexpected places, and if nothing else, check out the rest of Peake’s site, and read three of his picturesque poems here.

PAD Challenge – Day 14

Time-outs are important, and not just in the last two minutes of a tense playoff game. Today the Poetic Asides prompts asks for a “time-out” poem. I went tiny again with this:

hammock nap
brown hare hunkers
in my shadow

I’m fascinated, but intimidated, by the NaPoWriMo suggestion to try a san san. Perhaps I need to devote a different month to trying out all these exciting forms.

I do believe beautiful things could come from the prompt over at This Is Not A Literary Journal, which asks you to think about naming ordinary things or objects, like trees, cars or birds. It brought to mind this wonderful (like they all are…) poem by Don McKay called “Song for the Song of the White-throated Sparrow.


PAD Challenge – Day 13

Today’s Poetic Asides prompt calls for a Last _____ poem. I went the micro route today, with these three:


Last piece of pie —

a year ago I would’ve

left it for you.


Last time

I got butterflies.

Today, only heartburn.


Last spring

I still remembered

the sound of her laugh.


This is Not A Literary Journal suggests playing with repetition in a list poem, and the NaPoWriMo challenge is a fun one that I plan to try on a day when I have a little more time: write a poem inspired by fortune cookies. It reminded me of humorous Lines For The Fortune Cookies by Frank O’Hara.

PAD Challenge – Day 12

Hooray, I got to play today! The Poetic Asides prompt said “write something serious, or something silly”, and over at This Is Not A Literary Journal, the prompt called for dark limericks, in the vein of Edward Gorey. I have never written a limerick before, but I do love my fiction and TV when it’s gruesome and dark. I couldn’t imagine how to (and didn’t really want to) rhyme about anything too real or serious, so I went with classic monsters instead.

Monster Limericks

She thought him a true beau ideal,

til’ his razor sharp fangs he revealed,

She grabbed for a stake

but alas, it did break

and he drank all her blood with such zeal.


Two weeks from the day they were wed

disease took him right in his bed.

She cast a dark spell,

sprinkled herbs for the smell

and  summoned him back from the dead.


A  handsome young scholar named Fitz

under full-moons lost all of his wits.

He  grew  hair everywhere,

sharp fangs he would bare

and  chew hapless old ladies to bits.


The NaPoWriMo site poses the challenge to write an index poem. This is something I have never done, but it seems like an interesting exercise. The example they give is this inventive poem by Thomas Brendler titled Index of First Lines.

PAD Challenge – Day 11

Is mashing up three prompts a good recipe for today’s poem? I’m not sure, but I tried it anyway. The NaPoWriMo prompt called for description of an object or place that leads to an unexpected ending. Poetic Asides said “write a defensive poem” and This Is Not A Literary Journal suggests a tribute of sorts to an animal.

Defending the Skunk


I’ve seen him, two early mornings in a row,

his low body pressed lower as he scrunches

into the hole under our white shed, the hole

we mentioned filling last fall, but never did.

It’s the sheen on the black fur that struck me,

he almost looked wet, and the bushiness

of his tail, the way it swayed as he waddled

across the grass, plumage on a prouder creature.

But why do I assume a lack of confidence?

He’s defeated many bigger beasts by TKO,

can use his teeth and claws, when he must,

and his very design bellows, in black and white:

don’t mess with me. I don’t want to do it, but I will.

It could spray the kids, my neighbour says,

you should call someone, trap it.

You don’t have to kill it, just take it to the woods.

My yard. My shed. My world, right?

I’m just lyin’ low here, folding laundry, drinking coffee.

Stinking up the joint with all this entitlement.


The animal connection, and the unexpected ending, made me think of “The Kindness“, a great poem by the skillful Jan Beatty.