Wednesday, March 30, 2011

March Challenge Winner

The challenge for March was to write a poem about a deep and sincere longing, something which is compelling you, something you feel you MUST do or someplace you MUST go. Or to express the compulsion of someone else as if it were your own.

The two winning entries are very different from “Sea Fever”—and very different from each other. Mary Cohutt’s poem expresses the longing for the simple life, but more specifically, for the past. Cohutt started a company which works with the elderly. In this poem, she expresses the feelings of a client who is dealing with much loss as she ages.

A Simple Life

All I ever wanted was a simple life
She said with a far distant gaze
A husband
A home
Some good-hearted friends
Children to fill up my days

My husband is gone now
So too my friends
My children have all gone their way
My house with dark windows
Is empty and cold
I sit, I remember,I pray

Her chair slowly rocks
Leaving marks on the floor
Telling stories of time gone by
She flutters her fingers
And looks for her words
But all that she finds is a sigh

Shadows grow long
On the living room floor
The light in the window grows dim
Night time she whispered
Is good time
Night time I dream of them

Her head on the pillow
Soft smile on her face
Her years fall like silk to the floor
She’s running, she laughs,
She’s dancing, she loves
It’s a simple life once more

~ Mary Cohutt

Only in sleep can the person described in this poem return to the past for which she longs.

The second winning poem is by Francis Toohey.

I Want to Be in Pictures

I want to see it on the screen--
of a brand new Cineplex
or at an oil-leaky, weedy
Drive In under stars

or in a downtown mildewed
Vaudeville Hall reeling porn
to sleep off all illusions from better days.
I know my movie. What is yours?

How long has mine been running?
Will anybody come to cry or laugh
in my private Hollywood?
I understand your concern because

I love to hear applause.
Other hands appear bringing forth awards.
I will write to please my audience:
happy end or one to break your heart.

Please, allow my drums to beat me.
Fiddle my feelings using your own violins.
Watch my face as I radiate with light:
I promise to surprise--

~ Francis Toohey

My first reaction to this poem was that the poet had gone too far, willing even to be in pictures in the musty “Vaudeville Hall reeling porn.” As I lived with the poem for a few days, however, I began to realize that it expressed the desperate need for acceptance, recognition and affirmation which many people feel at some time in their lives. Lacking an adequate sense of self-worth, feeling unsuccessful and unappreciated, the persona expressed here wants to appreciation, applause and awards.

In the United States, the culture seems to be obsessed with celebrities. Many people cannot get enough news about the current stars and their personal lives. Their pictures fill magazines. We watch the winning actresses and actors receiving and clutching their Oscars. It all seems so magical. Why wouldn’t someone want that kind of recognition? Many performers are willing to sacrifice principles (or their families) to further their careers. They hope and pray for the big break. Winning the accolades doesn’t always fulfill this desperate need. But that doesn’t prevent people from thinking it will. And if a performer wins recognition and finds it wasn’t enough, that unfulfilled need may become even greater.

Congratulations to the two winners for March. Sorry, though, this recognition won’t get you into the movies.

Poets whose poems are posted on this blog retain copyright. Please do not copy their poems without permission.

April is National Poetry Month

A new challenge will be posted on April 1.

© 2011 Wilda Morris