Wednesday, July 26, 2017

July 2017 Poetry Challenge Winners

The July Poetry Challenge was to take any one word and explore its various meanings in a poem. The Judge, Tom Roby IV, selected three winning poems from among those submitted. First place goes to Julia Rice.


You ought to keep a list. You are a tech
who organizes coinage, checks, the books.
The things that you do well could get a check.

Your mind’s attracted by a poker deck
that tempts to gamble, catches you on hooks.
The feelings are the things to keep in check.

When finished, you and friends can take a trek
to diner/bar, the place where Julia cooks.
When you have won, then you can take the check.

When you’re back home and feeling like a wreck,
you check the closet and then other nooks
and then remember that your coat’s in check.

It’s time to make a list. You say, oh heck!
Your acts are not as handsome as your looks.
The things that you accomplish get a check.
The feelings are the things to keep in check.

        ~ Julia Rice

The judge said, “‘Gaming’ is clearly the winner. It utilizes the multiple meaning of "check," while spinning out an accomplished villanelle!

Second place goes to Deetje J. Wildes.

Final Argument

He:    Hey! Let’s just get to the point.

She:  Oh, so you think I missed the point?

He:    Well, in point of fact . . .

She:  You’re always pointing out my shortcomings!

He:   That’s beside the point.

She:  A case in point —
         yesterday, in front of my friends,
         you pointed your finger at me .  .  .

He:   So, what’s your point?

She:  I was at the point of crying!

He:   Is this a game,
        where you’re counting points?

She:  You’ve made one pointed remark after another!

He:   I’m just trying to point the way.

She:  Well, I’ve reached the point of no return.

He:   Can’t you stretch a point?

She:  (point-blank)        No!

~ Deetje J. Wildes

Michael Escoubas won third place.

U.S.S. Cleveland, LPD-7

Commissioned as a Landing Platform Dock,
she was part of the Amphibious class of ships,
comfortable serving at sea or on land.
Viet Nam was no landlocked landform.

Access was easy by sea. Landing craft
emerged from Cleveland’s belly like locusts
looking to ravage the land of its crops.
The fighting there was hand-to-hand and hard.

Helicopters landed on Cleveland’s flight deck,
like monster-mosquitos, props whirring
in Viet Nam’s thick air. They brought back
young men dead or wounded from inland

fire fights. We did not understand the people
living in this land of strange names, like Da Nang,
Khe Sanh, and Saigon. Those we killed loved
their Motherland and fought to keep her.

But as I look back on the landscape of life,
I can’t help thinking that our enemy might agree
with a time-worn but noble cliché,
this is the land of the free and the home of the brave.

~ Michael Escoubas

Note: You can find photos of the USS Cleveland at

The poets whose work appears here maintain copyright on their poems. Please do not copy them without permission.


Julia Rice likes to play in the field of poetry. After half a life spent teaching high school English and half a life practicing law, she picked up her poetry-writing pace. She is a member of Greenleaf Writers and Urban Ecology poets. She has had work published in Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets’ Museletters and Calendars, Songs of St. Francis, Echolocations: Poets Map Madison, Goose River Anthology, Alive Now, Soundings Review, Stoneboat, The Ariel Anthology, and Blue Heron. Look for her life summary-poem in the upcoming Unruly Catholic Nuns.

Deetje J. Wildes makes it a point to enter poetry challenges. She enjoys making music and is an enthusiastic member of Western Wisconsin Christian Writers Guild. Her work has been published in such places as Faith Walk and Volume One.

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 on iTunes as a free download.

All three of this month's winners have been winners of previous challenges.

Thanks to Tom Roby IV for serving as judge, and to everyone who entered the July Poetry Challenge.

Come back in August for a new challenge.

© Wilda Morris

Saturday, July 1, 2017

July, 2017 Poetry Challenge - Take a Word

Tom Roby IV, President of The Poets' Club of Chicago, author of three books of poetry, and creator of the Poetry Wheel, provided an example poem for the July Poetry Challenge—a whole poem based on the word “stand.” He explores the ways in which that one word is used in this list poem.

Stand Up!

Stand fast. Stand trial. Don’t
stand on the sidelines. Take
the witness stand. Understand
the dangers of standing under
a ladder with a standard poodle.

Stand your ground. Deliver to a
hot dog stand. Be a stand-up guy,
gal, comedian. Stand by your man,
woman, me. Stand up for Jesus,
Moses, Buddha, Lao Tzu.

Be the standout standard bearer. Try
for a standing start on standard time.
Wear the standard issue. Endure
a standing wave. Become the last one
standing. Make your last stand. 

Don’t be standoffish. Adjust your
stance for a standstill standoff. Improve
your standing with standing committees.
Be sure of what you stand for.
Don’t stand back. Snap back with

Stanback. Beware of standard
deviations. Leave a stand-alone
standing order with Standard Market.
Send a stanzaic ad. Stand pat.
Don’t become standardized.

Stand clear of the standing joke
about standing bail for the stand-in
on standby. Set higher standards.
Grandstand a standing ovation.
Stand up. Stand down. 
Stand down!

~ Tom Roby IV    

The author of this poem owns the copyright on it.

Roby wrote “Stand Up!” as a series of imperatives. The reader is told, among many other things, to stand his or her own ground, and is encouraged to be "the last one standing.” We are barraged with orders, so the final, repeated order to relax a bit ("Stand down!") comes as a relief.

Other poets have played similar games with words. You can read Dana Gioia’s poem, “Money,” from his book, The Gods of Winter (Graywolf Press, 1991); it is available on his website at You might also want to check out James Richardson’s poem, “Subject, Object, Verb,” which plays on the word “I,” if you have access to The New Yorker for December 3, 2007. Or look for Diane Lockward’s poem, “Heart on the Unemployment Line,” in her book, What Feeds Us (Wind Publications, 2006). You can find the first part of this clever poem in a review of the book at

The July Challenge:

The July Challenge is to submit a poem based on one word, a poem which, in some way, explores the breadth of its meanings or usage. Take a word, any word . . . .

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). 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 July 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 “July 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 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.

© Wilda Morris