Tuesday, October 27, 2009

October Challenge Poems

Two sonnets are winners of the October Poetry Challenge. The first is “Fancy on the Kingdom Come,” by Robert Klein Engler. It is a love poem, which fits well with the sonnet tradition. Words such as “worthy” and “purity,” not to mention “angels,” remind us of more traditional sonnets. However, the use of rhyme, which is casual, unobtrusive, and sometimes absent, marks this as a modern sonnet, as do more contemporary references, such as that to Benny Goodman. Use of enjambment (where sentences are continued on the next line, and sometimes end in the middle of a line) contributes to making the rhyme unobtrusive. The poem takes interesting turns, as it moves from Benny Goodman’s song to the references to Russia and Turgenev, and then to the Eucharist, Rome and the Pope. The ending couplet is humorous.

The second winner, “Sonnet for the Season,” by Jennifer Dotson, is less complex and more straight-forward. It is readily accessible for a generation not well schooled in the history of English poetry. It is seasonal and relevant. It is more a poem of social commentary than a love poem, though it may be motivated by a love for a more traditional and less commercial celebration of Christmas. Dotson’s sonnet follows old rules of rhyming, but most of her rhymes are fresh, not those repeated since the time of Sidney and Shakespeare. Of course they did not have TVs (flat screen or otherwise). Unlike Engler, she end stops most sentences. It is primarily the content that makes this poem a “modern” sonnet. The closing couplet is not very surprising, perhaps, but is quite appropriate.

Here are the winners:


First, is to be worthy. That, I suppose, means purity
in love. Then, Benny Goodman plays, "Memories
of You." Suddenly, we stand together in the unity
we shared before we were soiled by the world.

The "I love you," said when I was a fool, I repeat,
but in harmony with the angels. We could be alive
in a Russian dacha. The summer garden is replete
with greenery, just like in a novel by Turgenev.

A rider comes from Moscow. Michael with his cello
joins us for the weekend. The days have new axles.
I touch light in your hair. Hunger finds the eucharist.
Meanwhile, in Rome, the Lord appears. Cardinals

pester the Pope, "What to do? It makes us dizzy."
He replies with his paternal love, "Just look busy."

Robert Klein Engler

Sonnet for the Season

Appearing just seconds post Halloween
were the jingle bells and Kris Kringle elves.
Thanksgiving got lost somewhere in between
as merchants eagerly stocked up their shelves
with holiday gear and bargains galore.
Customers greedy for flat screen TVs
and video games lined outside the store,
shoving and pushing without saying please.
Folks feel compelled to consume to excess
in this time of little sun and cold chills.
We think more stuff will buy us happiness
but the hangover comes with January's bills.
This is my prayer for such chaos to cease.
Light the heart candle and hope for world peace.

Jennifer Dotson

The November Poetry Challenge will be posted on November 1.

Susan T. Moss helped to judge the September Poetry Challenge. Barbara Eaton helped to judge the Challenge for October. Thanks to both of them.

Poets whose work appears on this blog retain copyright to their own poems.

© 2009 Wilda Morris.