Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July 2014 Poetry Challenge

"My Creek" - Ralston Creek in Iowa City, Iowa, on June 28, 2014 - with the water higher and muddier than it usually was when I was growing up nearby.

My Brook

Earth holds no sweeter secret anywhere
Than this my brook, that lisps along the green
Of mossy channels, where slim birch trees lean
Like tall pale ladies, whose delicious hair,
Lures and invites the kiss of wanton air.
The smooth soft grasses, delicate between
The rougher stalks, by waifs alone are seen,
Shy things that live in sweet seclusion there.

And is it still the same, and do the eyes
Of every silver ripple meet the trees
That bend above like guarding emerald skies?
I turn, who read the city’s beggared book,
And hear across the moan of many seas
The whisper and the laughter of my brook.

~ Helen Hay Whitney

From Some Verses (1898).

Whitney writes of “my brook.” It is a piece of nature she claims for herself because it means a lot to her. She does it using exquisite language, simile, and imagination. The brook “lisps along” in its “mossy channels.” The birch are likened to tall ladies whose hair “lures and invites” a kiss—from “wanton air.” Only “waifs” see the delicate grasses.

When I read this poem recently, it reminded me of Ralston Creek, which ran between the home in which I grew up and the elementary school I attended. It was “my creek,” but my poem doesn’t have as happy an ending as does Whitney's poem.

My Creek

Stay out of the creek,
Mother warned again
and again. You might
get polio. You might
fall and split your head
on a rock. What she meant
was You might drown
like your cousin Junior.
But in summer the water
ran cool and rainbows
glittered between
narrow banks. Each
winter, the surface froze
a white short-cut winding
through the neighborhood,
an Arctic adventure waiting
after school each day,
till a neighbor called
to tell Mother, I saw
your daughter in the creek
this afternoon.

~ Wilda Morris

This poem was first published in Rockford Review.

The challenge for July is to claim your piece of the world. Maybe it is a piece of nature—a brook, a field, a woodland, a rock you sat on—but town or city (or city block), your farm, or your community. It might be the softball field where you have played ball for years. For purposes of this challenge, however, NO poems about buildings—your home, school, place of worship or other building, now or in childhood, or about a room in a house or other building. NO poems about your office or workplace. Whatever you pick, you must describe it as yours. Your poem may be free or formal verse. If you submit a formal verse, please specify the form used.

Submit only one poem. The deadline is July 15. Poems submitted after the July 15 deadline will not be considered. There is no charge to enter, so there are no monetary awards; 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 one poem only 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.

© Wilda Morris