Sunday, May 1, 2016

May Poetry Challenge

The elementary school I attended was named for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. That may be one reason that I fell in love with much of Longfellow’s poetry. Mother used to read “The Wreck of the Hesperus” to me. It was dramatic and melancholy—and always held my attention to the end. And I was fascinated by the rhythm of “Evangeline" and "The Song of Hiawatha.” 

“The Children’s Hour” is one of my favorite Longfellow poems. Mother read or recited it to me, and I have recited it (or at least the last two stanzas) to my children and grandchildren.

The Children’s Hour

Between the dark and the daylight,
     When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
     That is known as the Children’s Hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
     The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
     And voices soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamplight,
     Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
     And Edith with golden hair.

A whisper, and then a silence:
     Yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
     To take me by surprise.

A sudden rush from the stairway,
     A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
     They enter my castle wall!

They climb up into my turret
     O’re the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
     They seem to be everywhere.

They almost devour me with kisses,
     Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
     In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti,
     Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
     Is not a match for you all!

I have you fast in my fortress,
     And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
     In the round-tower of my heart

And there I will keep you forever,
     Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
     And moulder in dust away!

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This poem is in the public domain.)

You can find a searchable list of Longfellow's poems at

Longfellow was highly honored in his day, but his work fell out of favor. In fact, rhyming poetry has fallen out of favor with many publishers, though there is some resurgence of interest in rhymed and metered forms.

Rhyming poems tend to be easier to memorize. Rhyme can often be used to good effect when the poet wants to be humorous, but it can also be used in more serious poetry.

The May Poetry Challenge:

The May Poetry Challenge is to write a poem with rhyme. You may use end rhyme or internal rhyme or both. You may choose to follow the rules of a form, such as a sonnet, strictly or loosely, write in quatrains (as in “The Children’s Hour”), or be more casual about the meter. You may use off- or slant-rhyme for at least some of the rhymes. The poem can be serious or humorous. If you use a form, please specify the form.

Your poem should be titled.

If your poem has been published you may submit it if you retain copyright, but please include publication data. This applies to poems published in books, journals, newspapers, or on the Internet. Note that this is a change in the rules.

The deadline is May 15. Poems submitted after the deadline will not be considered. There is no charge to enter, so there are no monetary rewards; however winners are published on this blog. Please don’t stray too far from “family-friendly” language. No simultaneous submissions, please. You should know by the end of the month whether or not your poem will be published on this blog. Decision of the judge or judges is final.

Copyright on each poem is retained by the poet. If a winning poem is published elsewhere later, please give credit to this blog.

How to Submit Your Poem:

Send one poem only to wildamorris[at]ameritech[dot]net (substitute the @ sign for “at” and a . for “dot”) . Include a brief bio which can be printed with your poem, if you are a winner this month.

Submission of a poem gives permission for the poem to be posted on the blog if it is a winner, so be sure that you put your name (exactly as you would like it to appear if you do win) at the end of the poem. Poems may be pasted into an email or sent as an attachment (no pdf files, please). Please do not indent the poem or center it on the page. It helps if you submit the poem in the format used on the blog (Title and poem left-justified; title in bold (not all in capital letters); your name at the bottom of the poem). Also, please do not use spaces instead of commas in the middle of lines. I have no problem with poets using that technique; I sometimes do it myself. However I have difficulty getting the blog to accept and maintain extra spaces.

Poems shorter than 40 lines are generally preferred. Also, if lines are too long, they don’t fit in the blog format and have to be split, so you might be wise to use shorter lines.

© Wilda Morris

Friday, April 29, 2016

April Poetry Challenge Winners

The April Challenge was to write a poem about poetry or about writing poetry. After I narrowed down the submissions to three finalists, I couldn’t decide which one was the winner. Last week I attended a writers conference. Still uncertain which poem to select, I consulted three other writers whose critiques had impressed me. They did not all agree, so I have decided to declare three winners. I hope you enjoy these three winning poems.


I was one of his lesser experiments
…given the consideration of crumbs.
He delighted in degradation,
his words, twisting with the wind,
…kept pushing the hurt deeper.
So I walked out into the night,
invisible to his eyes.
The stars came out of the darkness
…and sprinkled sorrow.

I climbed over mountains of doubt,
waded through rivers of grief,
explored the depths of my conscience,
…searching for my self.

The long, arduous journey brought me here
and now. So I write        because
words I cannot bring to my mouth
…sometimes come to my pen.

~ Eileen Kimbrough

Poetry a pulse, unseen, that guides us
Past the corners and the slick-faced
Surfaces of so many things:
Poetry?  It's a beautiful
Side-long glance ending in ripples
Wrapped around a tree felled in an
Unexpected storm years ago.
Some things poetry can't let go,
Meter, say, and that beat that makes
You think of the hail that pulsed on
Eaves of the Quick Mart four summers
Past. Poetry keeps the rhythm
Of what you can't let go, it rises
Like sweat from a gentle heat
We barely feel. There, poetry
Is found, often enough, at least,
To keep a poet looking around.

~ Sheila Elliott

About Your Poems

Don't make me climb
a rickety ladder
to the attic to dig
through that old trunk
where you've hidden
your joy and pain.
Don't make me work
to understand you.
Slice the top off my head.
Pour your molten wisdom
into my mind.
Expose me to whistling hate,
force my mouth open
to taste the brittle finality of death.
Wrap the string of earth's cruelty
around my eyes.
Sing to me of snow caverns
and ancient cellos.
Talk of all the lost loves
who walk your dreams.
Hold my hand
and tell it true.

~ Peggy Trojan

These poets own copyright on their poems. Please do not distribute copies without permission.


Eileen Kimbrough is a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has produced visual arts in many media and exhibited in art galleries, museums, colleges, and gift shops throughout Illinois. She has been employed as a graphic designer, editorial and fashion illustrator, receptionist, bookkeeper and salesperson.  Eileen has sold many copies of her self-published poetry book, Painting with Words, and contributed the poems and art for Wings for the Soul, published by a non-profit. Her stories and poems were published in Rivulets. She lives in Aurora with her husband, Bob Walker, innumerable books and artistic clutter.

Sheila Elliott is a poet who is an active participant in the workshops, public readings and print publication of the Oak Park Writers Group. A self-published chap book, Autumn Light, was completed in 2015.

Peggy Trojan lives happily in the north woods of Wisconsin where she gardens, writes, and entertains.  Author of two chapbooks, Everyday Love, and HOMEFRONT, Childhood Memories of WWII, and a full collection, Essence.

The May Poetry Challenge will be posted soon.

©  Wilda Morris

Friday, April 22, 2016

January Challenge Winner



After reading the poems submitted after the deadline for the January Poetry Challenge was extended and rereading the earlier submissions, Andrea Witzke Slot selected a winner for the January Poetry Challenge. She said that the winning poem “tackles a difficult subject while moving a specific conceit from the poem “Regret” into a new work very much the poet’s own.”

Here is the poem she selected:


“It is hard to hear when I am turning, turning…”
                   Andrea Witzke Slot

I am turning, turning with the year, turning
into the empty fields crusted with snow,
becoming the man in the photo with black eyes
and bewildered smile turning his face to glass.
There is nothing I understand, not the waves
of memory washing over me or the silent dogs
lying on scattered leaves. I am turning back
to you, shot dead on a rural road in Wisconsin,
ten miles north of Tony, the day after your dogs
were poisoned and you went looking for somewhere
to bury your rage. At your funeral in a town near
Milwaukee, a hundred bikers turned round
your coffin, poured beer and bourbon on your grave.
Four in the afternoon, and already the sun
beginning to sink behind a line of black trees.
Your mother was broken, your father refused to cry.
He turned a fist into his palm again and again, gray
lines of his brows bent in the scowl that for the next
thirty years turned his face to stone. I have skimmed
above the ice of your murder, turning, turning
from your young features chiseled in frost on my
windowpane, recalling how I watched your sister fold
her arms and fly inside herself, turning back to her cocoon.

~ Steve Klepetar

Steve Klepetar retains copyright on this poem.

Bio: Steve Klepetar’s work has appeared worldwide, in such journals as Boston Literary Magazine, Deep Water, Expound, The Muse: India, Red River Review, Snakeskin, Voices Israel, Ygdrasil, and many others.  Several of his poems have been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize (including three in 2015). Recent collections include My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto (Flutter Press) and Return of the Bride of Frankenstein (Kind of a Hurricane Press). His new chapbook, The Li Bo Poems, is forthcoming from Flutter Press.

To review the January Challenge, go to

©  Wilda Morris