Saturday, April 1, 2017

Apirl 2017 Poetry Challenge

Photo by Wilda Morris
Here in the Chicago area, we have had a lot of gray skies lately. Now and then the sun comes out, and I look for blue sky and fluffy white clouds. For now, though, the clouds still threaten. Several years ago, I read William Stafford’s poem, “Stray Moments,” from his book Even in Quiet Places (Confluence Press, 1996), and was inspired to write the following:


What the Clouds Tell Me
                        “It’s a long time
        since a cloud said anything helpful.”
                        -- William Stafford

I.
Dense clouds pile up
in morning sky, striated
like walls of a limestone ridge
along the Mississippi. They tell me
truth can lay heavy
on the horizon of relationships,
that truth is not always words
or facts, but finds its home
in the interstices between us.

II
With my granddaughter
I walk out under gray clouds,
backdrop to budding branches.
The clouds tell me they will fall
in droplets to nurture new growth.
They tell me what to do with my life.

~ Wilda Morris

Published in A Prairie Journal (Spring-Summer 2010) at http://aprairiejournal.com/spring_2010/poetry/what_the_clouds.shtml.


My cloud poem is not as long or as elegant as Shelley’s. His is a rhymed and metered poem, in contrast to my free verse. Another difference is that Shelley’s is a persona poem, from the (imagined) point of view of the cloud.


The Cloud

I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers,
From the seas and the streams;
I bear light shade for the leaves when laid
In their noonday dreams.
From my wings are shaken the dews that waken
The sweet buds every one,
When rocked to rest on their mother's breast,
As she dances about the sun.
I wield the flail of the lashing hail,
And whiten the green plains under,
And then again I dissolve it in rain,
And laugh as I pass in thunder.

I sift the snow on the mountains below,
And their great pines groan aghast;
And all the night 'tis my pillow white,
While I sleep in the arms of the blast.
Sublime on the towers of my skiey bowers,
Lightning, my pilot, sits;
In a cavern under is fettered the thunder,
It struggles and howls at fits;

Over earth and ocean, with gentle motion,
This pilot is guiding me,
Lured by the love of the genii that move
In the depths of the purple sea;
Over the rills, and the crags, and the hills,
Over the lakes and the plains,
Wherever he dream, under mountain or stream,
The Spirit he loves remains;
And I all the while bask in Heaven's blue smile,
Whilst he is dissolving in rains.

The sanguine Sunrise, with his meteor eyes,
And his burning plumes outspread,
Leaps on the back of my sailing rack,
When the morning star shines dead;
As on the jag of a mountain crag,
Which an earthquake rocks and swings,
An eagle alit one moment may sit
In the light of its golden wings.
And when Sunset may breathe, from the lit sea beneath,
Its ardors of rest and of love,

And the crimson pall of eve may fall
From the depth of Heaven above,
With wings folded I rest, on mine aery nest,
As still as a brooding dove.
That orbed maiden with white fire laden,
Whom mortals call the Moon,
Glides glimmering o'er my fleece-like floor,
By the midnight breezes strewn;
And wherever the beat of her unseen feet,
Which only the angels hear,
May have broken the woof of my tent's thin roof,
The stars peep behind her and peer;
And I laugh to see them whirl and flee,
Like a swarm of golden bees,
When I widen the rent in my wind-built tent,
Till the calm rivers, lakes, and seas,
Like strips of the sky fallen through me on high,
Are each paved with the moon and these.

I bind the Sun's throne with a burning zone,
And the Moon's with a girdle of pearl;
The volcanoes are dim, and the stars reel and swim
When the whirlwinds my banner unfurl.
From cape to cape, with a bridge-like shape,
Over a torrent sea,
Sunbeam-proof, I hang like a roof,--
The mountains its columns be.
The triumphal arch through which I march
With hurricane, fire, and snow,
When the Powers of the air are chained to my chair,
Is the million-colored bow;
The sphere-fire above its soft colors wove,
While the moist Earth was laughing below.

I am the daughter of Earth and Water,
And the nursling of the Sky;
I pass through the pores of the ocean and shores;
I change, but I cannot die.
For after the rain when with never a stain
The pavilion of Heaven is bare,
And the winds and sunbeams with their convex gleams
Build up the blue dome of air,
I silently laugh at my own cenotaph,
And out of the caverns of rain,
Like a child from the womb, like a ghost from the tomb,
I arise and unbuild it again. 

~ Percy Bysshe Shelley

This poem is in the public domain.


The April Challenge:

By now, I’m sure you have figured out that the April Challenge is to submit a cloud poem – a poem about clouds, in the voice of a cloud, addressed to the clouds—a literal cloud or a metaphoric cloud.

Title your poem unless it is haiku or another form that does not use titles. If you use a form, please identify the form when you submit your poem. Single-space and don’t use lines that are overly long (because the blog format doesn’t accommodate long lines). Please do not indent or center your poem on the page, put it in a box or against a special (even white) background.

You may submit a published poem if you retain copyright, but please include publication data. This applies to poems published in books, journals, newspapers, or on the Internet.

The deadline is April 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 previously unpublished poem wins and 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”). Put “January Poetry Challenge Submission” in the subject line of your email. Include a brief bio which can be printed with your poem if you are a winner this month. Please put your name and bio under the poem in your email.

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 but longer poems will be considered.



© Wilda Morris


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Winning Wall Poem


Wall at the Edge of Orvieto, Umbria, Italy
© Wilda Morris



I had expected a good response to the call for wall poems this month. To my surprise, there were fewer submissions than usual. Considering the heated discussion concerning the president’s plan to build a large wall on the border between the U.S. and Mexico, I really thought I would get a lot more political poems than I did.

The winning poem, however, has a different take. It is an etheree by Michael Escoubas.


The Highest Fence

was
never
in Berlin
or in China
or even along
the Mexico border
no my friends the highest fence
extends within our stubborn pride
higher than Mount Kilimanjaro --
I was wrong to hurt you, please forgive me

~ Michael Escoubas

Escoubas retains copyright on this poem.



Bio:
Michael Escoubas began writing poetry for publication in August of 2013, after retiring from a 48-year-career in the printing industry. Early in life his mother said, You have a gift for words; you should do something with that gift. He writes poetry, in part, because of his mother’s encouraging words. Michael also writes poetry because he believes poetry brings people together and that poets are menders of broken things. Michael has published one chapbook, Light Comes Softly, which is available as a free download on iTunes.

© Wilda Morris