Wednesday, June 1, 2016

June Poetry Challenge

by Gladys Muller

Some poems just seem to invite response because they contain multiple images and deep emotional resonance. The following poem, written by Chicago-area poet Caroline Johnson, is just such a poem.


I can hear the foghorn blowing.
Mist is in the air and it’s gray outside.
A lighthouse shines a beacon
over the haystacks and cliffs.

You are far away, looking for the shore.
I sit on land and sip iced tea.
Yesterday, I had a mint julep
while you battled storms and waves

and now I see your boat,
lone and drifting,
as a teardrop of emotion overcomes me,
my feet starfishes in the sand,
your voice a hollow reminder
of the dead fish dried up with the tide.

I climb the steps to the light,
imprisoned in beveled glass,
and see the reflection of your boat, a sailor lost to time,
an albatross on your neck, and a wind-filled jib
to guide you.

I was your navigator,
but remain behind,
with an echo in prayer
and a bird song to time.

~ Caroline Johnson

"Fog" and the lighthouse painting are from My Mother's Artwork (Juniper, 2010), a chapbook of poems by Caroline Johnson. Many of the poems in this book were inspired by her mother, Gladys Muller, and her long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Gladys was a talented artist who painted with acrylics and oils. The book is illustrated with paintings by Gladys. Caroline Johnson retains copyright on the poem and painting.

The June Poetry Challenge

The June Poetry Challenge is to write a poem that responds to the theme or one of the images in this poem. The poem has numerous images, mostly linked in some way to the lighthouse, water, and the boat, but expanding out to haystacks and cliffs on shore. Steps and dead fish, beacons, waves and storms. And even a mint julep. Most of the poem is metaphoric. As the poet shows us, fog can be a metaphor for dementia, but maybe for you it is a metaphor for something else. Let the poem lead you into a poem of your own, and let it take you where it will.

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 June 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