Friday, June 29, 2012

June Poetry Challenge Winners

Congratulations to Sondy Sloan and Peggy Trojan, winners of the June Poetry Challenge.

Sloan’s poem, “The Red Chair” came with a photo illustration. I like the way the chair and its inhabitant are integrated throughout the poem. It is obvious that the poet (or persona) could not even think of the chair without thinking of her loved one who sits there, “askew” as is the chair. I especially like the first line of the last stanza, and the way the ending shows us the feelings of the poet (or persona) at which she has been hinting throughout.

The Red Chair

Swallowed by its size, you sit barefoot
In your chubby red chair, my gift to you
From Big Daddy’s Bargain Basement.
And like you, the cushions
Are askew, indelibly warped
To shape your life of sitting sidewise;
A habit made more frequent by age and arthritis.

I grieve the original figure of rich velvet hues:
Mahogany, gold and hunter green, misshapen, lumpy.
Its skin worn shiny where you rest your bones
Most. After decades together, you have grown akin. Knots
Knit awry on your knuckles, feet, elbows, knees.

Do you want me to get the cushions reshaped?
No, you respond, spreading your lips wide
With snaggle-tooth grin, hushing my fidgety hands
With yours. I like it this way.
It fits me, eh? And it does.

You are changing form—gnarled
Like a twisted old olive tree.
Bones crackle like kindling in the fireplace,
Muscles like shrunken jerky.
Teeth a little yellow, toenails, too.

I share you with your padded lodestone.
But you are mine, even there, sitting cock-a-hoop,
Budweiser in hand, warning off ancient aches.
I straighten pillows ‘round your dark and musky form.
You touch my face, coo in serene syllables,
Who loves you, sweetie?

And all our years run upriver.
I lean my lips hard into your shifting cheek-skin,
Tasting the salt of your silvered beard, soaking
In the smell of your soul,
Sinking into you, into the tender red chair.

~ Sondy Sloan

The second winning poem will probably resonate with many people. It brings to my mind many family gatherings, celebrating holidays, anniversaries and birthday around a table expanded by adding leaves. The description is good—I can almost see the table. The ending shows me a family, like mine, which gathers newcomers into its warm embrace.

Gathering Place

The table was old
when we bought it
in the seventies.
Queen Anne, mahogany,
paw feet and elegantly carved knees.
It shares the dining room
only with its matching buffet
and chairs.
Seats eight without leaves.
When everyone comes home
we extend it into the living room,
moving the coffee table
and wing chair,
so we can all sit together.
Year after year, it expands,
like love,
to all who come.

~ Peggy Trojan

Poets retain copyright on their poems.

Watch for a new poetry challenge in July. YOU might be the next winner!

Also: I'll be leading a workshop ("The Nature of Poetry and the Poetry of Nature") at the Green Lake Conference Center in Wisconsin, August 19-24. You can obtain more information about the conference at I would love to see you there!

© 2012 Wilda Morris