Saturday, February 1, 2014

February 2014 Poetry Challenge - Ice

Photo used with the permission of Areni Kashkashian

Here in Illinois, we had a very cold January, and where February is promising more snow and cold. And more ice.

Ice brings back memories, including:

1-my grandmother’s ice box (which was replaced by a refrigerator) when I was quite young;
2-learning to ice skate (badly) as a child in Iowa City and improving my ice skating skills on the rink at Notre Dame when we lived in South Bend;
3-ice balls made by the children who lived between our home and Longfellow School- balls which they threw at my sister and me, and also some cousins who lived with us for a while
4-walking on the ice on Ralston Creek – a forbidden activity, but so much fun;
5-Mother reading aloud “The Wreck of the Hesperus” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ( ); and “The Creation of Sam McGee by Robert W. Service (;
6-licking ice cycles and using ice cycles for target practice;
7-suffering a whip-lash injury when I fell on a patch of ice and going to the emergency room with a friend who fell on the same patch of ice and broke her wrist;
8-making ice rings for the punch bowl;
9-watching ice hockey on television;
10-walking into the DuPage River Greenway as far as I could, before the path turned to ice and I had to go back the way I came;
11-enjoying the sparkle of ice on the grass or on a creek, and
12-worrying about the melting of polar ice.

Memories such as these can be good starting points for poems.

William Matthews wrote a poem after he watched buffallo crossing an ice-covered river (See “Herd Of Buffalo Crossing The Missouri On Ice,” Selected Poems and Translations 1969-1991 (New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin, 1992); found at

Ice is not just frozen water; it is also a powerful metaphor. When we speak of walking on thin ice we are probably not talking about ice fishing or hiking on the river. We are also using ice as a metaphor when we say “that argument doesn’t cut any ice with me,” or “how did you break the ice when you met her?”

Probably the most famous poem using ice as a metaphor is “Fire and Ice,” by Robert Frost:

Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

~ Robert Frost

What a contrast from the long narrative poems mentioned above! This poem is quite concise and to the point. Wikipedia has two stories about how this poem came to be written; see

Here are links to a couple more ice poems:
·        Rosemary Dobson, “The Ship of Ice,”

·        Claire Beynon, “Thin Ice,”

·        Gail Mazur, “Ice,” Zeppo’s First Wife: New and Selected Poems by Gail Mazur (The University of Chicago, 2005);

The February 2014 Poetry Challenge:

Write a poem related to ice. It can be literal ice: ice on the river, ice skating, ice hockey, ice fishing or ice cycles. It can be ice in your glass or under your feet; ice cubes but not a musical group by that name. And not ice cream, which we will save for another challenge later in the year.

Submit only one poem. Your poem can be free or formal verse. If you submit a form poem, please specify the form. The deadline is February 15. Poems submitted after the February 15 deadline will not be considered. There is no charge to enter, so there are no monetary rewards, however winners are published on this blog.

Copyright on each poem is retained by the poet.

Poems published in books or on the Internet (including Facebook and other on-line social networks) are not eligible. If you poem has been published in a periodical, you may submit it if you retain copyright, but please include publication data.

How to Submit Your Poem:

Send your poem to wildamorris[at]ameritech[dot]net (substitute the @ sign for “at” and a . for “dot”. Be sure to provide your e-mail address. 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. 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, and 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. Please include a short bio with your submission.

And Remember: The January challenge is still open. January and February challenge poems will be read soon after February 15.

DuPage River Greenway. Photo by Wilda Morris, January 2012

© Wilda Morris