Monday, June 1, 2020

June 2020 Poetry Challenge - Window Poems

Two Women at a Window by Bartolomé Estaban Murillo
c. 1655/1660
Widener Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

I often write near a window through which I can see squirrels chasing through the trees, or catch a glimpse of a cardinal or blue jay. I once lived in an apartment with no kitchen window; it made me feel almost claustrophobic as I cooked and cleaned up. As I washed dishes today, I watched rabbits and squirrels creating paths across our back lawn, and robins looking for lunch.

When my grandson Lucas was in preschool, he got excited when the school busses went past our house—some to the middle school down the block and others going around the corner to get to the elementary school behind our home. If the weather was favorable, we often went out in the yard to see them go by; if not, he would watch through the front window.

During the Coronavirus quarantine, I have spent more time than usual looking through the window. I suspect that is also true of many of you. You may have seen things you hadn’t noticed before. You may even have written about the virus squeezing through a window. On this Monday morning after a week of turmoil as I make small edits in this post, I wonder how many of us have pulled shades down over windows through which we should have seen more clearly the ugly faces of continued racism in our country.

Windows can be openings for light, for air, for heat or cold, for fear, for truth. There are windows made of glass, “isinglass windows y’can roll right down,” windows that are a frame with no glass or glass substitute, windows boarded up to keep trespassers or cold air out. There are metaphoric windows covered over to keep out truths we don't want to see.

I recently read the April 2020 issue of Poetry Hall, and discovered two window poems by Kathleen Hayes Phillips. She granted me permission to include them here.

Standing by the Window

we watch a raucous cloud of black birds 
swoop in from across the street,
bent on denuding the Bartlett Pear tree,
its dried fruit hanging
by thin stems to bare branches.

Thin yellow beaks, impale the berries
in greedy haste, swallowing
them whole, each marauder
fearing the succulent feast will disappear
before hunger is satisfied.

When the sleek black feathered troop
is sated, they depart, filling the street
with their raucous cries,
leaving the remains of their rampage

to one lone robin, a gleaner who moves
from bare branch to bare branch,
having his fill
satisfied with his solitary harvest.

~ Kathleen Hayes Phillips

At the Apartment Window     

In an attempt to make
her presence known in this high place
above the trees,
the poet looks to familiars
across the way and in response,

a row of starlings call out
from the telephone line
and pigeons stop their plumping
to coo from the eaves,

the hard crow caws once
and hunches into silence,

then, with a shake of feathers
and a flutter of wings they all fly away,
leaving her to find consolation

written on the air

~ Kathleen Hayes Phillips

The following poem, which I wrote several years ago, is a bit more mysterious; it stems from a dream.

The Window

Why did the sparrow lay dying
on my grandson’s bed
by the attic window?
The attic of what house?

Why did I call
my sister to remove
the quivering body?

Some say dreams
have no explanation.
Others insist there are truths
only dreams tell.

Maybe fears for the child
whose bed was invaded.

Maybe something about
my sister’s strength, about how
I depend on her
to pull me through shadows.

And maybe part of me knows
that more than light can pass
through closed windows.

~ Wilda Morris

“The Window” was first published in Pyrokinection (, April 5, 2016.

Other window poems:
--Richard Wilbur, “Boy at the Window” -
--Robert Frost, “Tree at My Window” -
--Henry Van Dyke, “The Window” -
Mary Jean Chan, “The Window” -
--Joan Leotta, "The Cardinal's Mirror" - scroll down through the post of winners for the May Poetry Challenge

There are many more window poems on-line. Links to numerous window poems can be found at and also at

Write a poem featuring a window. An actual window in a building, something that plays the part of a window or a metaphoric window.

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 (don’t follow Emily Dickinson’s practice on that!). 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 (as in the poem “Lilith,” one of the May 2018 winners), or the post has to use small print.

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. Poems already used on this blog are not eligible to win, but the poets may submit a different poem, unless the poet has been a winner the last three months.

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 (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.


Send one poem only to wildamorris[at]ameritech[dot]net (substitute the @ sign for “at” and a . for “dot”). Put “June Poetry Challenge Submission” FOLLOWED BY YOUR NAME 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. Do not submit poems as PDF files.

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). or both. 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.


Kathleen (Katy) Phillips lives in a senior residence in Milwaukee, a two block walk from Lake Michigan. Katy's poetry is grounded in the life she has lived for 84 years, the places and people she loves. After living in the country for 30 years, she now finds prompts for poems on every city street. Katy belongs to Wisconsin Fellowship of Writers, two critique groups, and a writing group she co-leads at Eastcastle Place. She has been published in numerous publications and anthologies, the latest Poetry Hall where two of her poems were translated into Chinese.

Wilda Morris Wilda Morris, Workshop Chair of Poets and Patrons of Chicago and a past President of the Illinois State Poetry Society, has been published in numerous anthologies, webzines, and print publications, including The Ocotillo Review, Turtle Island Quarterly, Li Poetry, Puffin Circus, and Journal of Modern Poetry. She has won awards for formal and free verse and haiku. She was given the Founders’ Award by the National Federation of State Poetry Societies in 2019. Much of the work on her second poetry book, Pequod Poems: Gamming with Moby-Dick (published in 2019), was written during a Writer’s Residency on Martha’s Vineyard. Pequod Poems can be ordered from the publisher or, or, if you would like an autographed copy, email the author at wildamorris[at]ameritech[dot]net (substitute the @ sign for “at” and a . for “dot”).

© Wilda Morris