Thursday, August 1, 2019

August 2019 Poetry Challenge - Return (again)

Mexican Wall (Photo by Wilda Morris)

When Diana Anhalt was taken to Mexico as a child of eight, she expected to return to the Bronx soon; she didn’t know her parents were moving to Mexico. This experience lies behind the following poem.

There is always a moment in childhood when the door opens and lets your future in.”  Graham Greene


mother of lopsided logic, defensive driving,  the shrug, arrived on my doorstep
when I was eight and entered, trumpets blasting, rolling her R’s.
She flashed a finger, danced a zapateo down my spine.

She had clouds in her pocket, mint on her breath, thunder in her bosom
and a tongue to fold around words like huitzilopochtli. For me,
she dressed in fuchsia, wore jacarandas in her hair.  Let me

wrap you in my silk- fringed rebozo she crooned, you will be mine.
She blew on the dice, tossed them once and taught me to jaywalk
through life under the eye of her blood-giddy sun.

So I cast off the Bronx like yesterday’s vows, forgot the words
to Girl Scout songs, fear of dark places under the El,
but kept my ice skates, my accent, the scars on my knees.

She filled my ears with marimbas and gossip, sang me her tunes
until I called her my own: Let me home in the marrow of your bones,
porque nunca hay retorno.

 There is no return.

~ Diana Anhalt
From “Mexico,” because there is no return (Passager Books, 2015), p. 15.

I love the fresh metaphors and similes, such as “clouds in her pocket,” and “she blew on the dice.” I also love the beautiful, sensuous images. Anhalt gives us color, movement, scent, texture, sound, and taste—all five senses are engaged. There are unexpected word combinations, such as “lopsided logic” and “marimbas and gossip.” Even if you don’t know what all the Spanish words mean, you can get the richness of the buffet which this poem invites us to partake of.

The prompt last month was for a poem on the theme of “return” or “returning.” The judges determined that there was no winning poem, so the prompt this month is repeated this month. The prompt word is so rich that I’m confident someone will submit a winning poem this month. The word return can be used in a wide variety of ways (scroll down or click "older post" to see the ideas posted last month, or check a good dictionary).

Also look at the July 1 post to see the example poems. They are worth re-reading.

I put the word “return” in the search engines of the websites of the American Academy of Poets at, and that of The Poetry Foundation in Chicago at Check these links if your would like to read other “return” poems.

The August Challenge:

The prompt for August is the word “return,” in any of its forms, as noun, verb or adjective. Be creative; take the prompt in a unique direction if you can.

Your poem may be free verse or formal. If you use a form, please identify the form when you submit your poem.

Title your poem unless it is a form that does not use titles. Single-space. Note that the blog format does not accommodate long lines; if they are used, they have to be broken in two, with the second part indented or put in small print, as is the case with this month's prompt poem.

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 August 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 (some children and teens read this blog). No simultaneous submissions, please. You should know by the end of the month whether or not your poem will be published. Decision of the judge or judges is final.

The poet retains copyright on each poem. If a previously unpublished poem wins and is published elsewhere later, please give credit to this blog. I do not register copyright with the US copyright office, but by US law, the copyright belongs to the writer unless the writer assigns it to someone else.

If the same poet wins three months in a row (which has not happened thus far), he or she will be asked not to submit the following two months.

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 “August 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. If the poem has been published before, please put that information UNDER the poem also. NOTE: If you sent your poem to my other email address, or do not use the correct subject line, the poem may get lost and not be considered for publication.

If you submitted a poem on this theme in July, you may revise and resubmit your poem, or submit another poem, if you wish.

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 (Doc, Docx, rich text or plain text; 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.

Diana Anhalt, a former resident of Mexico City, Mexico—her parents moved there in 1950 in order to escape the McCarthy era—made that country her home for sixty years.  She married a Mexican, had two children, taught and served on the board of the American School Foundation, and subsequently edited their newsletter, “Focus,”for eight years. She resided in Mexico City until 2010. During that time, her work, which has included essays, book reviews, poetry and a book, A Gathering of Fugitives: American Political Expatriates in Mexico 1948-1965 (Archer Books) has appeared in both English and Spanish. She subsequently moved to Atlanta, GA with her late husband, Mauricio, in order to be closer to family.

© Wilda Morris