While November is my primary novel starting month (25,435 words written through the first 17 days), I am also participating in the Chapbook Challenge, a poem a day event run by Robert Lee Brewer over at Poetic Asides.

I will be honest: I am putting nearly all of my energy into getting this novel on a good road. 50,000 words of prose is not a finished novel, not the first draft, not even close. But in my experience, the tighter you can make the story now, the easier it will be to finish later. It’s one of these things called paradoxes: two extremes with no logical compromise. I do want to keep it tight and in track, but I also need to ignore my boundaries and explore when the urge arises.

They call this urge ‘characters telling you what they want to do’ in your story. Right up there with other myths like women are unequal to men in every discernable way except for having babies and doing housework (I am writing about women’s rights, and I am being facetious, unenduring as my words are). The truer version is our minds are not linear, organized machines. They respond to input. Our minds are much more reactive than active, sometimes. The reactive minds are creative: throw a word, an image, a sound, a smell, a situation… and the reactive mind finds a new door and opens it. And if they are willing to step through, there is always a whole new world behind that door. The reactive mind become an artist: painter, photographer, designer, musician, sculptor, dancer… a writer, a poet.

Poems are created by walking through new doors but are also unexplored doors themselves. There is an element of craft to poetry, an element of care. Those first responses are first steps through doors, down new pathways, and they need further exploring. But my mind this month is wandering down prosaic doors this month, secondary pathways, ideas of white privilege and feminist movements and high school immaturity and searches for personal freedom without entrapping yourself in media prisons. I am writing first drafts of poetry this month, then abandoning them for my novel.

And then there was the election. In my mind, there’s a name for a person who cannot open doors in their mind. It’s a Republican!

Here is a collection of my poems from this month so far that might actually resemble poems. I’ll give the prompt for each.

Nov. 18, 2016
Prompt: write a poem that uses the following six words:

  • band
  • logic
  • pack
  • web
  • froth
  • clean

before coffee

a pack of lies bandied freely
as if authored in biblical times
unseen film directors and misguided preachers
it is now a fact-free, logic-free world
we live in a dream projected through the web of
rhetoric and fallacy
the land without physical filters
and Bubba tightens his tie and grips his shifter
clean living his myth
unclean politics his gift


Nov. 17, 2016
Prompt: Paper

Background: some days you just want to have fun 😉

God made paper on day eight
An afterthought, a flick of fate
He made a mark with his feather pen
Invented glyphics over and again
The very first Ibis
Sat on the first papyrus
And Shat the first whiteout
On the very first script


Nov 16, 2016
Prompt: Play (blank)

Go! We’re through
No choice, no option
No money for a cab home
My dice fail to monopolize
Fives and tens, a lone fifty
No hope of consolidation or peace

B&O and Water Works
The corner store supplies my food
Chips and soda
I can run water
But not was my clothes
Life is no fun
With cards stacked against

A community bailout
My only chance
A gift from the man
A lucky seven
Skirts disaster, again
But all I get is a ban
And do not get to pass Go!


Nov 11, 2016

Prompt: write a description poem. Pick someone or something to describe

My Mug

My morning maw of motivation maintenance
A fire-hardened rock
A liquid lover that sips on life
A great handle, on the trends
It is essential, to my well-being
It is vital, to my happiness
I toast of tastefulness, I boast
Of wastefulness
A Saturday morning reading club, I host
My own internal parties
I get more out of it than I pour in
And it gets more out of me than I bleed out
Shakes me awake, yet grounds me
With its fragile weight


Nov 10, 2016
Prompt: Tragedy

Background: I wrote the last line and asked myself ‘now what?’ I immediately succumbed to Thesaurusitis and looked up plan. I then saw the need to link each line, so I linked them into a story. This is not so much a freely written poem as it is a construct of form. Still, it’s a fun read.

The Plan

Your policy of sympathy, combined
with intentional apathy, implemented
by methods of rationality, coordinated
through arrangements of fantasy, stopped
since procedures for bankruptcy, tempered
his program of apathy, complicated
a project of gadgetry, intimated
her suggestion of jalousie, encompassed
in their system of stagnancy, concluded
the treatment a travesty, became
a strategy of tragedy



Nov. 9, 2016
Prompt: Call Me (blank)

Background: this was more about my platonic relationships with women than the image of two old politicians bantering, but that’s what we might as well be. And I wanted to use the image I recently took in Charlottetown PEI of the two Fathers of Confederation named John Hamilton Gray.;)

Call me, when you’re free
We can chat, and pretend
We’re old friends
Catching up on, lost times
Times on the mend
No walks on the beach, for us
No bitters in the pub
Just a cup of coffee
And a warm muffin
We can be intimate
But we cannot be close
We can share our dreams
But not our secrets
We can agree, to disagree
On the pedigree of our lives
We will not jeopardize
This thing we call friendship
So call me when you’re, feeling down
For you know too
I will feel alone
As kindreds always do
Call me, I’ll be around



The John Hamilton Grays