November Poem-A-Day Challenge: Week 1

This month I have taken on Writer’s Digest’s PAD chapbook challenge to write a poem for each day of the month of November. I am doing this a little more causally and disregarding their prompts. Here are the pieces from Week One.

Day 1

“Outdoor Wedding”

There is too much to take in.
The reverend even warns,
in Browning’s words,
it is all “crammed with heaven”.

We sit, facing the feet of the vast, wet forest.
Audience to a stage leaves, freshly fallen,
a stage in which the light technician must be perfectly drunk,
randomly illuminating, dimming,
panning across patches
of the season’s first snow crystals.

This part of the show began long before we arrived,
and will continue on after our exit.

Brad plays his banjo,
his back to this scenery,
the sounds of his chapped red fingers on steel strings
covers us all just as well
as the blankets urgently passed around.
Far behind him
stacked sticks wait to be lit,
within a circle of stones.
Beside him, small pools gather
in the corners of the groom’s grinning eyes.

During the recitation
of a piece of Wendell Berry’s
“The Country of Marriage”,
wind, from somewhere, passes through
with seeming symbolism
tossing twigs between trees,
caressing the crowd.
They both move us to draw our kids closer
though we can’t name all the reasons.

We understand it all
about as much as we understand
that fragment of poetry,
the scriptures recited on the nature of love,
the invocation of the laws of the state,
God’s covenant,
the rings.

We dimly comprehend this day
as much as our children understand
the radiant ache
behind our kisses.

Day 2

“All Saints Day”
Today during the “All Saints Day” service
our teacher called the Hebrew Bible
an acorn
and the New Testament
a the flourishing tree.
We spoke creeds
seven times older than our country,
and sang melodies
alive since 1550.

Afterwards, in a yuppie watering hole,
I sang Paul Simon lyrics,
penned three years after my birth,
about the lovely life of parents
before children.
My wife sipped a dark drink
that owes much to monks
from the 6th century.

Tomorrow, in class, we will study Emerson;
He will denounce the worship of the past
while citing Augustine, Luther, and Buddha.

Today, I watched oaks
wracked by an invisible blow
spill showers of seeds.
I stood in a saturation of acorns
guessing the history of the wind.

Day 3

“Writer’s Workshop”
I handed a popsicle stick
Engraved with the first sentence of a story
to each young writer.
They had no choice in their beginnings.
FS: My brother does this weird thing with turtles.
FS: Dad winked at me, as if we were friends.
FS: That was when I decided to become a dancer.
Once they were well on their way
to making sense,
I tossed out “non sequitur” sticks.
NS: What she does to the Honda…
NS: Herm should never have been left alone with the pizza.
NS: She opened the door and the furniture had changed.
Then came the “last straws” –
minuscule sources of conflict
that ultimately catalyzed their characters
into climactic resolutions.
LS: The way she makes her tea…
LS: How he rolled the newspaper…
LS: The perfect place for a flat tire…
They may not see
the microcosms occurring in class,
but I know that my day began
with a dream of moths flying out of my hair wherever I ran.
Later my four year old son begged to be three.
Then I had to write a poem about it all before I could sleep.

Day 4
“Voting Day”
Every day
is voting day
Cast a net
Cast a stone
Cast my king
Up on a throne
I can always say
what I’ve got to say
Every day
is voting day
Cast a look
Cast a spell
Cast my brother
down a desert well
Let love reign?
That’s a fine campaign!
Hey! Every day
is voting day
Cast my colors
Cast a play
Cast a cup
from a hunk of clay
Who’s gonna win it?
I’ll have my say
Every little minute
is a voting day

Day 5

You have no excuse.
Write a poem for each new day,
at least a haiku.

Day 6

“Rebel Yell”

This morning I read about the plagues hitting Rome in the first century.
“Little Christs” of the early Church, for love, moved in toward death
with the momentum of immortality.

In class we watched Poe’s Prospero flee “The Red Death”,
like the pagan elites of Rome.
We talked about Ebola, and I began to wonder
which direction my own family would run.

After dinner Rah-Rah and I watched Youtube videos
of the rebel yells of veteran Confederates.
He commented that it wasn’t all that scary,
but it would be bone chilling
if hundreds of them were charging you
without fear for their own lives.
Though on stage their cry was an antiquated novelty,
this was also a better battle
a wailing charge of masses
revolting against something
far more terrible and tyrannical
than any political party —
the Enemy of Vitality.

Rah-Rah scratched his day-old chemo port,
and told me stories of soldiers losing their heads
and freezing to death in WWII,
and victims he knew of a plane crash.
“Tough stuff,” he said. “Life’s not fair.”

Before we left, Shepard roared at us
pretending to be a monster.
Then I yelled back at him.
Then Lyndsay yelled at me.
And I yelled at her.
And Sally yelled at me.
And the kids jumped on our backs.
And we ran around the couch

Day 7
An unrelated series of short poems:

In the empty theater
the faux stained glass
colored on an opaque poster board
stapled to brick-mimicking
painted plywood
increasingly disturbed me.

What if I think
I am something
I am not?
Is it that easy
to look illuminated?




Stadium lights shout
against the deafening dark.
Children shout for joy.




You know
you have a real
problem when practicing
imaginary discourse with



If my writing habits
are any indicator
of life habits,
then I will produce prolifically
as I perceive
the Deadline.

1 Comment

  1. These are fantastic – despite (or perhaps because of) their first-draft nature. I especially love “the radiant ache” at the close of the first and “Is it that easy to look illuminated?” in that last grouping. So much to think on there.

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