Sunday, October 1, 2017

October Poetry Challenge - Love Gone Awry

Love can be wonderful. Terrifying. Magical. Vulnerable. Exhilarating. Risky. It can result in a long, tender relationship. Or a broken heart. The poems which follow are tales of love gone awry.

Young Love

Sandy’s long red hair flowed down her back,
Martha’s long black hair was coiled up tight.
Sandy’s home like mine was out of sight
Of Martha’s hilltop home that had a pack
Of servants. Martha’s father had a knack
As businessman, his profits a delight.
Farewell to Sandy, once my favorite.
Let Martha’s world provide me what I lack.
At Martha’s birthday party, my hope grew
When cross the room I realized she bid
Me go outdoors with her and with her view
The garden, where she whispered as we hid,
 “Now I am six years old, the same as you. 
So I can beat you up.” And then she did. 

~ Larry Turner

Day in the Park

Spring is not the time
For this kind of love.

The unrequited kind
Is out of fashion now.

            An elderly couple
            Sits on the park bench
            Shading their eyes
            As they watch their grandchildren
            Play in the sun.

            He wears a gray wool cap
            And smokes a pipe.
            A cane
            Rests on the bench
            Next to her knee.

You must be bored
With being worshipped
From afar.

If I really loved you,
I suppose
I would let you go.

Only I keep thinking
Of new ways
To say good-bye:
Just one more phone call
Just one more letter
Just one more poem.

If only you –
But break, my heart,
For I must hold my tongue.

~ Barbara Eaton

First published in Ethos, a publication of the English Graduate Organization of the University of Maryland at College Park (Spring 1987), p. 52.

Cyber Sonnet

At twenty-five I’ve given up on fate,
no god has sent “the one” running to my arms.
I’ll enter a profile, try an online date,
tone down my nerves while I turn up my charm.

A painter looking for honesty. Please
respond. We can chat for hours on end.
The odds of finding someone has increased,
if I don’t like her, I might like her friend.

I’ve fallen deep. I cannot believe she
is everything I want. A love that’s true.
I suggest it’s time we meet. Maybe coffee?
She says we can meet at Café Ballou.

Now, I have to figure out how to ditch her,
cause she looks nothing like her profile picture.

Pamela Larson

First published by Highland Park Poetry (Go to Find the icon for 2011 Love Poetry toward the bottom right of the page, and click on it.

These poets own rights to their poems. Please do not copy them without permission. See Poet Bios below.

The October Challenge:

The October Challenge is to submit a poem about the dream of love going awry, Cupid’s arrow missing the mark, a “love relationship” not turning out as expected. The poem should be family-friendly—some children read this blog. Your poem may have a light touch, or it may be poignant.

Title your poem unless it is a 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).

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 October 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 “October Poetry Challenge Submission” in the subject line of your email. Include a brief bio that 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 multiple 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.

Poet Bios:

Barbara Eaton published her first poem at the age of seven. She was known to her late father as "Crazy Horse," and "Figgy Pudding." She teaches part time at Morton College, and serves as a dramaturg for the First Folio Shakespeare Company in Oak Brook, Illinois. Her poetry has been published in a variety of venues.

Pamela Larson has been published in East on Central, bottle rockets haiku journal, the CRAM/JOMP series, both online and in anthologies by Dagda Publishing in the UK and on as well as in other anthologies and blogs. She is a member of the Arlington Poetry Project, Barrington Writers Workshop and the Illinois State Poetry Society.

Larry Turner with his wife Donna moved to the Brandermill Woods retirement community in Midlothian, Virginia early in 2016 after his career in college physics teaching and research in the USA and England. His poetry has appeared repeatedly in The Lyric and in the online journal Voices on the Wind. He has published two books of poetry, Stops on the Way to Eden and Beyond (1992) and Eden and Other Addresses (2005), a collection of poems, stories and dramas, Wanderer (2011), and a memoir, The Magic Years: Tales of the Turners 1957-1970 (2015). He edited four anthologies for the Riverside Writers chapter of the Virginia Writers Club. He served as president of Riverside Writers, and earlier as president of the Illinois State Poetry Society and regional vice-president of the Poetry Society of Virginia. He is currently completing Volume III of Tales of the Turners. At Brandermill Woods he leads the writing group, and with Donna leads the Readers Theatre group.

© Wilda Morris

Friday, September 29, 2017

September Poetry Challenge Winners - Horse Poems

Photo courtesy of Sherry Elmer. Used by permission.

There were a number of excellent horse poems submitted this month. Christine Swanberg judged the contest. There was a tie for third place:

Horse Sense

True to the path,
the horse bears the troubles
of an anxious boy on its back.
The horse gives reassurance
with its steady cadence of steps
along a grassy trail,
while the overhead sun
colors the sky gold.
A gentle wind tussles its mane
with slight tugs on its rein felt,
and the horse feels a tender bond
with the young rider on its back.
Mostly the horse feels
an easing of minds
found in an afternoon shared.

~ Mike Bayles

The judge said this is a “lovely portrait of horse and rider.” Tied with it is:

Ruffian and I

The Seventh of July in nineteen seventy-five
Two thoroughbreds thundering around the track
One a stallion, a Kentucky Derby winner
One a filly, but bigger than most of the boys
She was pulling away when her leg shattered
But she didn’t stop running
Even the next day, coming out of anesthesia
Laying on her side and strapped down
She started running again
Undoing the repairs done to her trashed bones
Still running until the drugs took hold
That ended her running forever.

The Fourth of July in two oh one five
Yes, just forty years later
And I can’t run either
A race cancelled, an ankle on ice
Yes, my spirit wants to keep running
But unlike the great filly, I can make myself stop.

~ Chris Loehmer Kincaid

Swanberg liked the “unflinching honesty regarding fate of Ruffian, boldly stated and compassionate.”

Second place goes to the following poem:

Portrait of Tennessee Walking Horse

I study your large head, your mane silvered
with age. In your warm brown eyes, time
dissolves as I reach back beyond the accident,

and you become breath of sun-scorched hay,
nuzzle against my arm, lick of tongue on my hand.
You lip apple wedges from my palm, and I listen
to the chew and crunch. I meet your steady gaze
on my face like a small thank you between us.

Standing before you in silence today,
the canter of hooves across the vast and varied terrain
fills my body with animal energy—
the power you hold within, the gentleness it belies.
Your coat carries the arc and blur of summer,
wafting scent of clover.
You return me to earthly abundance,
re-learning all that was lost in the fall.

~ Mary Jo Balistreri

“The accident which is alluded to makes the poem mysterious and powerful,” according to Christine Swanberg.

First place goes to “Matins.”

The pony and I know the wind
is coming. In the corral
on the bronze hill we do
our chores. While I rake and shovel
she follows, nudging the wheelbarrow,
ears flicking forward to listen
to the first killdeer on the lake.
I tell my husband this is my other life—
morning before the children
race for the bus, my little mare
touching my face with her soft muzzle
and frosted whiskers. When I'm gone the wind
will rush across the water and we will both be
leaning into it.

~ Lisa Zimmerman

Swanberg said, “I appreciate the elegant title, sculpted form (couplets followed by single line), and intimate narrative of this poem.”

Congratulations to these four poet for their fine work. Each poet retains ownership of his or her own poem. Please do not copy the poems without permission.


Mary Jo Balistreri has two books of poetry published by Bellowing Ark Press, a chapbook and a mini chapbook of haiku in the Infinites Series by Tiger’s Eye Press. Her new book, Still, will be published in September of 2018 by Future Cycle Press. You are invited to visit her at  
Mike Bayles is the author of Breakfast at the Good Hope Home (918 Studio Press), a literary collage, that tells a story about a son visiting his Alzheimer’s father in the nursing home. His visits with relatives and friends on farms has given him an appreciation between humans and animals.

Chris Loehmer Kincaid has been writing and loving horses ever since she can remember. Her fourth book, Where the Sky Meets the Sand, was released the first of September and though there are no horses in it, there are many scenes in which the active imagination can picture riding a horse across the African plain. She says, “As so many teen-age girls, my younger days were filled with dreams about horses. The 1975 match race between Foolish Pleasure and Ruffian, during which Ruffian shattered her leg. The next day, she had to be put down. I’m pretty sure that was the first time in my young life that I cried uncontrollably.

Lisa Zimmerman’s poetry and short stories have appeared in Natural Bridge, Florida Review, River Styx, Colorado Review, Poet Lore, Cave Wall, Redbook and other journals. She has published six poetry collections, most recently The Light at the Edge of Everything and The Hours I Keep. Her poems have been nominated four times for the Pushcart Prize. Lisa is an associate professor at the University of Northern Colorado and lives with her husband in north Fort Collins.

Photo courtesy of Sherry Elmer. Used by permission.

Check back early in October for the next Poetry Challenge.

© Wilda Morris