Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Poem a Day, Day 30

WOO-HOO!!!! I HAVE GONE ALL...THE...WAY!!!!! I have completed the poem a day challenge for April! I'd like to thank all of you that read my poems and put up with me this month! I'll be back to novel writing soon, in the mean time, today's challenge was to write about an ending, so without any further ado, here's my poem...

The End of Apathy

Landing in Dublin, we could do anything.

We had proven to ourselves that we could

go anywhere,

be anything.

In a candy store, the funny accent said

America was under attack. Must be some

radio drama.

At a pub that night, we watched as planes

smacked the towers

In a continuous loop

a continuous loop


Ireland sympathized, it's citizens asking

if we knew anyone there.

We're from Missouri, so no.

We sympathized, the cliché holds true,

Many New York Police and Fire Fighters are


We all agreed something needed to be done.

Our 'elected' leaders certainly did something.

Squandering the world's confidence,

they filled their war profiteering pockets.

We played our video games, watched our reality shows,

and generally didn't care as the world was ransacked

in our name.

Now is not the time for apathy.

Now is the time to dream

to hope

to vote

Now is the time to not allow another election to

be stolen, because there will simply be too many of us.

-Justin M. Howe

Poem a Day, Day 29

Yay!!! I got myself caught up!!!! Only one day left! Whew! Today's two fer Tuesday challenge was to write a poem about exercise, or a poem in 2nd person. I decided to combine these, and had a lot of fun!

Exercise Can Be For You!

Is going to the gym just not for you?

Do you look at that machine in the

corner holding up your jeans and think

some day you should probably use that


Why don't you step outside? That's right,

you don't need those muscle men and Barbie

dolls staring at your cellulite-infused thighs

while you try desperately to find your

rhythm on the stair master. Why stay inside

your home when the fresh air and the blooming

flowers beckon?

Do yourself a favor and ride a bike, take a

hike, do anything but go to the sweat-smelling

gym or stay in your musty home.

Act now, carbon dioxide may get the best of

this planet soon, so hurry and get outside

before it's too late!

-Justin M. Howe

Poem a Day, Day 28

This one takes a little explaining. This challenge was to write a sestina. This was probably the hardest challenge yet. I'll let Robert Brewer explain how a sestina works:

* It's a poem consisting of 7 stanzas.

* The first 6 stanzas have 6 lines; the final stanza has 3 lines.

* There are only 6 end words to each line throughout the 39-line poem.

* They rotate in the following pattern:

1-End Word 1

2-End Word 2

3-End Word 3

4-End Word 4

5-End Word 5

6-End Word 6

7-End Word 6

8-End Word 1

9-End Word 5

10-End Word 2

11-End Word 4

12-End Word 3

13-End Word 3

14-End Word 6

15-End Word 4

16-End Word 1

17-End Word 2

18-End Word 5

19-End Word 5

20-End Word 3

21-End Word 2

22-End Word 6

23-End Word 1

24-End Word 4

25-End Word 4

26-End Word 5

27-End Word 1

28-End Word 3

29-End Word 6

30-End Word 2

31-End Word 2

32-End Word 4

33-End Word 6

34-End Word 5

35-End Word 3

36-End Word 1

37-End Words 1 and 2

38-End Words 3 and 4

39-End Words 5 and 6

Usually, the best strategy is to pick out 6 words you think you can have fun with and that are probably somewhat flexible in how you can use them (this includes modifying a word here and there--like changing "cold" to "clod" to fit your purposes). Maybe throw in a word that is a little unique--if you really want to challenge yourself. And remember to have fun."

Did you get all that? Don't worry, I had to keep the window with this explanation next to the window I was typing in. Anyway, here were my words:

1 Trust

2 Killing

3 Lovely

4 Distant

5 Trade

6 Night

And without further ado, my poem:

Shining Armor

In this world, is there anyone you can truly trust?

Who can you, when everyone is out to make a killing?

You meet that special someone, who is simply lovely.

All too quickly, one or both of you become distant.

If it is the other, don't you wish you could trade?

All too quickly, she turns to another knight.

It could happen in the dead of night,

When even your eyes you can not trust

You can't sleep, for your love she has traded

For the guy if you saw you would likely kill.

You would chase him down if you saw him from a distance

for stealing your soul, you're only love.

Don't get me wrong, I've kept my true love,

I continue to hold her all through the night.

Though sometimes I'm accused of keeping my distance,

She stays, and though I'm unworthy, gives me her trust.

Of my heart, she has made the kill,

Though revived, of her, I would never make a trade.

For her, a life of solitude I have traded

For eyes ablaze and skin so lovely,

If anyone hurt her, I would likely kill.

In my best shining armor, I would be her knight.

If I did that, she would not question that it was me she could trust.

More often than not, though, I choose to stay distant.

I gather no comfort from my distance,

For compassion and intimacy, I would gladly trade

I am so undeserving of her trust

Yet she stays, making me feel lovely.

Yet I'm still awake at night,

trying so hard for my timidity to kill.

And why is it this hard to kill

that thing which makes me seem distant?

That would make me a brave and noble knight,

chivalry being my trade,

I would rescue the damsel, so lovely

and in me, she would know she could trust.

She could trust me to make that kill

And keep her love close, never distant

Worthy would this trade make me, to hold her through the night.

-Justin M. Howe

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Poem a Day, Day 27

This challenge was to write one side of a phone conversation...


No seriously, who is this?

You're serious?

I knew it!

Thank you, thank you so much!



I understand that.


Ok, take it easy.


Ah! I should have said...

-Justin M. Howe

Poem a Day, Day 26

This challenge was to use the phrase "I'm so over (____)". Yeah, this came easy.

I'm so over this apartment!

It's not my own.

Might as well burn my paychecks

I'd love to give the foul-mouthed

neighbor a poke in the eye

I'm trying to play with my kid, you-

Deep breath

It's not so bad

If something breaks, just call


Wish they spoke English

Wish they didn't use material

from the lowest bidder

Deep breath

Wish the neighbors didn't

throw their cigarette butts everywhere

Deep breath

I mean really, do we have to live in an ashtray?

Deep, deep breath

It really isn't that bad-

Someone parked in front of my garage again!

I'm so over this apartment!

-Justin M. Howe

Poem a Day, Day 25

Today's challenge was to write a poem about a job.

Security Blanket

A decade ago I took a

'get me through college' job

It was a good job

Secure, like a good blanket

A decade later

I'm still there

Granted, the company has

promoted me

relocated me

Made a 'career man' out of me

But how much longer can I sustain it?

When it doesn't seem to pay the bills

Doesn't offer the promise it once did

Can I turn away now?

Leave it all behind?

What exactly would I be leaving again?

I think I've outgrown my security blanket.

-Justin M. Howe

Poem a Day, Day 24

This challenge was to write a poem based on a photo. I chose the pictures that my 14 year old chooses on MySpace and other social networking sites as her...


She holds the camera up

Creating an odd angle

Almost bird's eye

but false

She purses her lips

Is that a kiss or a pout?

And posts it on the internet

for all to see

The corruption of a teenager

in digital splendor?

Or just a young person

finding herself?

Should I be concerned

or elated that she's

expressing herself at all?

-Justin M. Howe

Poem a Day, Day 23

This challenge was to write on the passage of time or age. Here's my go...

The Great River Time

Time flows by like the swift current

of an eternal river

Time ebbs and flows, never warning

when it will speed up

Or when




Is this illusion?

I don't think so

We are the masters of reality

I just think most of us get it wrong

We cling to the bad times

While releasing the good

All the while resenting the

reality we create

-Justin M. Howe

Poem a Day, Day 22

Today's prompt was for Earth Day, so in the 'Two fer Tuesday' tradition, the challenge was to write a poem about either nature or industrial. I think I combined both...


The weight of the pack on my back

The smell of pine on the air

This is where I belong

Climbing these mountains

No cell phone

No computer

No television

This is how God meant man to be

But there's a call I'm expecting

I haven't checked my email in a while

I miss my favorite show

So I descend back to civilization

Back to pollution and decay

I am still a man of this earth

this century

Civilization blinds me

Until I just can't see any other way

-Justin M. Howe

Poem a Day, Day 21

Today's challenge was to do some 'snooping'. That is, to go out somewhere and overhear a bit of dialogue somewhere and use it in a poem. Here's what I posted to the blog:

I usually refrain from explaining my poems, but there's a guy I work with that punctuates his stories and anecdotes with 'here's the thing'. He always puffs his chest out or points at you to make sure that the thing he is announcing is just too good to miss. So, I've witnessed him do this to others as well as myself, so I'm counting it as 'snooping.' So there....

'Cause Here's the Thing

All you have to do is look interested
I'll babble on about things that might
seem uninteresting to you,
And I'll be completely oblivious.

'Cause here's the thing,
Nobody's more interesting than me
I'm in to everything you're not.
I'll interrupt interesting conversations
you're having with someone else

'Cause here's the thing,
I never learned social grace
I was too wrapped up in myself
to notice there are rules
Social rules that one learns by doing
'cept I never do it, so don't blame me

'Cause here's the thing,
You'll only know me for a short while,
And in that time some nugget of wisdom
or truth may sneak out of my mouth
It might take you a while to figure out

'Cause here's the thing,
Something I say will stick in your head
And as you roll it around in there, a
light bulb will come on
And you'll actually learn something from
the experience

-Justin M. Howe

Monday, April 28, 2008

Poem a Day, Day 20

This challenge was to write a Love poem, with a capital 'L'. A few of my entries this month have dealt with love, but who can have enough love? Without any further ado...

Love Springs

The spring breeze comes in through the open window

It tussles your golden-red hair

You stir, green eyes open

They know me so well

"What are you doing?" you ask, eyes smiling

"Just watching." I say

"Stop it."


Just as Spring revives the Earth

from the dead of winter

Just as Flowers blossom in dirt

of death and decay

You breathe new life into the

husk of my soul

You give me new resolve

You inspire me to do what I must

to improve our life

For you, for us, for our daughter,

we build magic

We invent miracles

As the snow retreats from the mountain top,

you restore my faith

-Justin M. Howe

Poem a Day, Day 19

This challenge was to write about those memories that you don't really have. Stories from being a baby, being drunk, being in a coma, etc. Here's my go at this...

Memories That I Don't Remember

I don't remember being called

'Buddha' due to my baby belly

flopping over my baby legs

I don't remember standing

in my crib, calling my

grandpa 'Ah-ho!'

I don't know if I truly

remember being terrified

of ET in the theater

but the squeamish-ness

at the sight of that

long-headed alien remains...

-Justin M. Howe

Poem a Day, Day 18

This challenge was to use the line 'There is no connection." in a poem. It could be the title, the last line, or somewhere in the middle. I'll have a go...


"oh, what tangled web we weave

when first we practice to deceive."

-William Shakespeare

Lying is not forgivable

Especially to one you love

There is is an anecdote I

once heard;

'A lie is like a nail in wood

you can take the nail out

by saying you are sorry.

But the hole remains.'

Baby, you must feel perforated.

I wonder why you're so quick to

get upset

I try to tell you there is no connection

Between a decade ago and now

I almost convince myself as well

But the connection is the past

The past shapes the future

How, then, can we let go of the past

And still hope for the future?

We can't

Can't let go

It is in our nature

So we press on

We continue moving

We hope for the best

We do our best

And everything will come out okay

in the end.

-Justin M. Howe

Poem a Day, Day 17

Today's prompt was to write a poem in the 3rd person, without words like I, me, my, or even us or you. So here's my attempt:

She sits on the couch


OK, she can't read yet

But he marvels at how intelligent

she seems

Looking at the pictures

She laughs to herself

Does she know he's watching her?

Assessing her?

She is his perfect daughter

He tries to be a perfect father

It's easy, he thinks, to blame

the world

To believe it is not his fault

That it's not his decisions that

hold him back

She makes a noise behind him

He turns

It's time to play

That's a decision that's easy

to make

-Justin M. Howe

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Poem a Day, Day 16

Poem a day, Day 16
Today's challenge was to write an 'Alfred Hitchcock' poem, or one with a twist at the end. I hope I pulled it off...

Love Poem, or, Anxious Dreams

"I love you." she whispers

"I love you more." I whisper back

"Yeah, you're right." she smiles

It's dark, but the smile is in her voice

her smell

"Why do you stay?"

"I don't know."

"When will you go?"

"Probably soon."

I lay awake

I hear her smile

I see her

Her mangled body lying in a ditch

She's with a much better looking man

The windshield shattered with the impact

He pleases her

Baby, I wish you'd come home soon.

-Justin M. Howe

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Poem a Day, Day 15

Today's challenge was to write an insult poem. I've been having trouble with a grumpy, cantankerous boss, so this came easy...

Morning approaches

I'm filled with dread

Already replaying previous words that you've said

I work hard all of the night

You tear down my achievements like you flick off a light

Yet I'm still proud of what I've done.

So who do you think you are?

Did you buy a bed with dual bad sides?

Judging by your troll-like figure, it must be in the genes,

Your mother couldn't trade you for any magic beans

So she must have prayed to the gods to vex you

curse you

with a sour disposition

so that no one could stand you

Throw in a little gender confusion, just to be sure,

And here you are to torment me

My only question?

Who did I vex that would curse me to be in your presence?

-Justin M. Howe

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Poem a Day, Day 14

This challenge was a little different. There is a song by Feist called How My Heart Behaves. The challenge is to write a poem exchanging 'My Heart' for something else. So here's my go at it...

How My Fingers Behave

I stare at the blank screen before me

When all at once

a twitching

an itching

fingers begin to move

seemingly of their own accord

if they're writing well, I cannot guess

let others decide

if there's talent in

How My Fingers Behave

-Justin M Howe

Poem a Day, Day 13

Today's challenge was to write a 'song response' poem. Here's mine.

Concerns of the Day

"Que Sera, Sera,
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours, to see
Que Sera, Sera
What will be, will be."

-Doris Day

The concerns of the day quickly take hold

Becoming concerns for the future

We can only live one day at a time

But we force ourselves to look to the future

Try to forget the past

Try to press on

Daily routines are forgotten to

plan, to

make arrangements, to

wrap yourself in

a better life

a better world


Life has a funny way of taking the reigns

Steering you off course

Sometimes for better

Sometimes for worse

But always


For the way it has to be.

-Justin M. Howe

Poem a Day, Day 12

This one is a bit embarassing. The challenge was to write an apology poem. Funny thing is, This challenge came down the day after something I really, REALLY needed to apologize for. I only hope I found a few words that do justice to my shame...

You looked at me in shocked astonishment

hitting my heart like super-charged defibrillation

What day is it?

What's the date?

Worst screw up ever

Becoming a cliché

Like a bad sitcom

No way to recover

I love you so much

There was so much going on

Days blending together

No excuse

Can't blame you

I can't believe

I forgot



I can't say I'm sorry

and think that's the end

I'm supposed to

adore you

cherish you

worship you

You are the center of my universe

somehow my orbit got askew

Life happens doesn't cut it

I want to be worthy of you

I want to cherish you

I do worship you

You inspire me

Yet I let you down


I'm not worthy to love you

yet I do

I'm not worthy of your love

yet you still say you love me

I adore you

I will cherish you

I will worship you

It's what you deserve

It's what I will do

Don't worry

Ball's in my court

I won't let you down

I promise

I'm sorry...

-Justin M. Howe

Poem a Day, Day 11

The challenge for the eleventh day was to write a poem about something often overlooked. He was thinking inanimate object, and so did I.

A most vital tool

I eat from it when I am at work

Although some think it's cute

And others think it's silly

I can't think of a better way to

have a meal

Than from my Batman lunchbox

-Justin M. Howe

Poem a Day, Day 10

OK, I let myself fall behind on the Poem a Day challenge. Let me just say life happened. So I apologize in advance for the barrage of blog posts that are soon to follow. I post 'em as I write 'em, so this might happen all at once or I might need to spread this out, anyway, on to the tenth challenge:

Day ten's challenge was to write about a location. For some reason, I couldn't come up with anything. What I wound up with is a quick no-brainer. I can't believe I agonized over this for days. Anyway, since this post is already longer than the poem itself...

At Home

The television is teaching us how to share

to read to think to cooperate

We laugh at different times

There's no place I'd rather be

Except maybe to turn this thing off

and go outside to play.

-Justin M. Howe

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Poem a Day, Day 9

Today’s challenge was to pick a word, any word, and write a poem about it or use it in different ways. Here’s my go at the word "community"


A loaded word. Is a family a community?

If so, it’s the only one I’ve felt I belong

Is it your neighborhood?

How many people talk to their neighbors anymore?

We go to our cars, heads down

We got things to do

can’t talk

can’t relate

must MySpace


-Justin M. Howe


Poem a Day, Day 8

Today’s challenge was to use one of these two paintings:

Piazza D’Italia by Giorgio de Chirico
The Little Deer by Frida Kahlo

I chose to combine the two...

There’s a Storm Brewin’

There’s a storm brewin’

and you put it there

With your lies and your deals

"Meet me by the train station."

I saw you there, you didn’t see me

You were with...him.

I ran, hunters upon my back

I ran faster than I ever have...

They got me, seven eight nine times

with their arrows of truth

But you can’t keep me down

I will run back to you

And then you’ll see what this little deer

can do!

Inspired by the paintings

Piazza D’Italia by Giorgio de Chirico


The Little Deer by Frida Kahlo

-Justin M. Howe


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Poem a Day, Day 7

The challenge here was to write a "ramble poem" that is to say, a poem where you just start writing without any kind of plan where you’ll end up. Think "stream of consciousness" in poem form...

My wife and baby snuggle as I

stare at the computer

I woke with dreams of work rebellion

Feeling betrayed and alone I

have retreated to the safety

of strangers

Digital friends I may never meet

While my wife lays an arm’s reach away

I should wake her

tell her how I feel

Tell her how much she keeps me alive

Without her I would have no poetry in my heart

Even when everything things gathers around

me, dragging me down, she is there

I am there for her, but more clumsy

saying the wrong things with good intentions

Promising to ’work on it.’

How much longer will she allow

me to ’work on it’?

When is the deadline?

She slumbers here beside me

I am blessed

-Justin M. Howe


Poem a Day, Day 6

OK, I fell a couple of days behind, but the following poem should help explain why. The challenge was to write about your day...

Dreading work, I awake
eyelids feeling like lead sheets
Superman could not penetrate

How much longer can I
sacrifice my creativity
to a graveyard shift without reward?

Kiss the family goodbye
everything feels sepia
like I won't be returning

Work proceeds apace
nothing new
nothing exciting

Boss still disappointed
wants even more hours,
but he's leaving early

How much longer can I
sacrifice my creativity
in order to be a cog?

Exhausted, arrive home
family out of focus,
going to the doctor

prescriptions in hand,
we'll all be ok
if I can just get some sleep...

How long can I
sacrifice my creativity
before I'm intolerable?

Try to write a
worthy poem
not today, brain still fuzzy

Not only am I in a job I hate
Not only do I make my family wait
But I myself I cannot tolerate

How much longer can I
sacrifice my creativity...

When can I again
be me?

-Justin M. Howe

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Poem a Day, Day 5

Today's challenge was to write about something that worries you. *gulp* Here goes...

I try not to worry

I try not to worry about the
little things
I don't worry if my hair
looks good
I don't worry if these jeans make me
look fat
I don't worry about the milk I
just spilled

I am not worried if you like
this poem
I am not worried if you think I have
no talent
I am not worried whether you realize I'm doing this
for me
I am not worried if these poems reach beyond
this blog

I am worried
that my wife is not happy
I am worried
that I may not raise my children the way I want
I am worried
that I've stayed in my job longer than is healthy
I am worried
that I have squandered whatever talent I may have had


If my wife is unhappy
I'll improve our life
If I make mistakes with my kids
I know I'm doing the best I can
If I let my job drag me down
I have the wrong attitude
If I let my talent wane
I can resuscitate it through practice and determination


Why worry?

Friday, April 4, 2008

Poem a Day, Day 4

Today's challenge was to write about something for which you are thankful. I am eternally grateful for...

My Wife

You challenge me
Have I been up to the challenge?

You inspire me
Have I been inspiring?

You love me
Have you felt loved?

For all of these things I am grateful
Do you feel appreciated?

You are a cool breeze off of the
snow-capped mountains
You are sea-mist off of the
grandest ocean
You are lush grass in a
desert oasis
You are my life
I will cherish you
You are my love
I will protect you
You are my wife
I adore you

-Justin M. Howe

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Poem a day, Day 3

Today’s challenge was Haiku. The definition of Haiku put forward was:

"1. It’s a 3-line poem.

2. While many think the lines should be 5-7-5 syllables, that’s actually not true. It’s 5-7-5 "sounds" if you’re writing in Japanese. For English purposes, it tends to be a shorter 1st and 3rd line--with a slightly longer 2nd line.

3. The haiku describes nature--with an emphasis on description. Haiku do not rhyme or use metaphors and/or similes.

4. Haiku includes a word to indicate season. For instance, the word "frog" might indicate spring; the word "snow" might indicate winter.

5. There’s also usually a juxtaposition of two sensory images. For instance, the most famous haiku involves a frog jumping into a pond as the first sensory image--the water’s sound as the second. When put together, the sensory images turn a very simple moment into a profound poem."

So here are two attempts:

Bird chirping loudly

Standing on wooden feeder

No one must cross him

Feline begging for food

Too occupied to serve him

I’ll pay for that

I wrote these this morning as soon as I got home from work. What do you think, brilliant or the ravings of an exhausted madman?


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Poem a day, Day 2

The challenge was to write a poem from the point of view of someone else, so naturally I chose...


After a year and a half
I know more than you think
You still seem surprised
when I know what you mean

I love you and love to snuggle
But right now I need to run
to play to bite things
Why did you take that away?

I will cry,
but I'll get over it
This world is too wonderful
to spend much time sad

-Justin M. Howe

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

My first poem a day for April

Robert Lee Brewer at Writer's Digest has issued a 'poem a day' challenge for the month of April. Willing to give it a go, here's my first attempt.


Somewhere in the world
people will suffer.
Who out there will serve
as the buffer?
Sometimes it seems it can't
get tougher.

We wait for someone to
answer the call
But it seems there's
no one listening at all
Why isn't anyone
watching the ball?

Take a look, you'll find
dead eyes staring
Totally incapable of a
meaningful pairing
But why are all these folks
far beyond caring?

Blame it on the movies
Blame it on books
Blame it on the TV stars
with all their good looks

Blame it on video games
Or blame the computer
But there's only one place
to to find the mental looter
Look inside yourself for the
ultimate distraction
We've let all these in without
willful subtraction
You've got to find it in yourself
if you want to take action

Now I can't lie
I was like that too
Preferring entertainment
'stead of watching the news
But I realized something
that gave me the blues

I am a part of this earthly machine
I have to help to keep it green
'Cause we only have one
you know what I mean?

People are hungry
people are dying
All for the sake of Government lying
“Keep buying Keep spending
Keep driving Keep Trying”

But all I can hear are billions crying

-Justin M. Howe