Thursday, November 27, 2014

November Poetry Challenge Winners

The November Poetry Challenge elicited a number of interesting poems. Congratulations to all who entered for their creativity. And a special congratulations to the four winners.

The judge for the November Poetry Challenge was Maureen Tolman Flannery. She gave an honorable mention to Sheila Elliot for her prose poem.


For a change, I thought I'd go east down that old road with a saint's name, so white-knuckled, I watched beams of light ice the top flanks of a dozen octagonal signs.  Night approaching.  Wipers snapping like mean little whips against the windshield's elusive steaming. For this change, I paid a price, watched the fading light descend into the blackest grey.

Change is not cheap.  It rattles in pockets like something about to break. It somersaults its way into the beggar's cup or echoes with the sound of a flat note as it lands in the open shell of the street musician's open guitar case.  "Keep the change," I tell the waiter, so noblesse oblige.  I keep those old school coins cold as the sacramental medals that once dangled beneath my ironed uniform blouse, though change does not always warm the heart.  Change can still bring you back to start, to home where slippers replace shoes and spare change is tossed into an old can and takes its place discreetly in that illusionary wealth.

~ Sheila Elliott

Third place goes to a poem the judge says is thoughtful and captures a memorable moment. It is by
Mary Cohutt.


Grandma, I’m so in love with this toy….
You can’t fall in love with things…… I said with my grown up tone
And then I saw
His lashes fall to cheek
His chin fall to chest
His toy fall from hand
I felt my 60 year guard fall……. and remembered myself
…and thought of …
A falling star wish and hopes for tomorrow
The long fall from Grace and sweetness of redemption
Cool water as it falls over moss covered rocks
The liquid gold fall of late day light
The happy foot crunch of yellowed fall leaves
Falling asleep on a sun scented pillow
…and I could feel my heart fall in love with this life….
I fell to my knees and lifted his chin
Cajoled his fallen lashes ‘till blue met blue
And I let three simple words fall from my lips
I was wrong

~ Mary Cohutt

The judge said the second place poem by Eileen Kimbrough was very clever. She liked the “on-target word play,”

Just Write Right

Will you have the right to write a will,
and the will to be right
when you write your will?

Will you do the right thing
within your rights?

Will you write about
your right to write your will?

This rite of passage falls right when
all that’s left is to write a will.

Just step to the right of must
and trust your guts,
no windy gust of musts.

I trust you’ll write
your will and your trust,
not too far to the left.

It’s right that it’s your right.
Just be sure it’s just.

And make it just right.
Write just. Write right. Just write.

~ Eileen Kimbrough

The  judge said that Lindsey Bellosa's poem, “Solace” the first place poem, “is a very moving poem, not at all bogged down by the desire to re-use or overuse a word.” I think you will agree.


Snowflakes, small and sharp as tears, float into the lake
as each small pain sharpens into future—

the sky has been pregnant with snow for days. 
I have bled for five days, less pregnant each one.

The leaves shed on the ground, so vibrant,
as I shed color too: exposed; becoming barren

as each stark tree.  Winter bares down with gray.
The sun gleams dimly on the lake, and the earth

and God turn dimly away from the situation.
Your soul, whatever it was, melts

and becomes only me. The snowflakes melt
into the lake; leaves disappear under blank snow.

There will be another like you; there will be new leaves
in spring.  But you vanish, as this season vanishes—

all like a dream, as summer seems a dream
in the dead of winter.

The snowflakes still catch the light
and I catch each sharp breath

glittering.  Life goes on, coldly,
and there is solace in that.

~ Lindsey Bellosa

All of these poems remain the property of the poets who wrote them.


Lindsey Bellosa lives in Syracuse, NY.  She has an MA in Writing from the National University of Ireland, Galway and has poems published in both Irish and American journals: most recently The Comstock Review, The Galway Review, IthacaLit, Crannog, and The MOON Magazine.  Her first chapbook, The Hunger, was published with Willet Press in 2014.

Mary Cohutt is a Leasing Consultant in Western Massachusetts. She also has a small business called "The Good Daughter" in which she takes care of household paperwork/business for the elderly. She has two children and two grandchildren. In addition to writing, she enjoys gardening and reading.

Sheila Elliott's poetry can be found in the Illinois Women's Press Association's 2014 anthology of prose and poetry.  She is a regular contributor at Oak Park (IL) Writer's Group events, including their annual public reading in November.  Her poetry and prose can be found in their anthology, Keystrokes

Eileen Kimbrough is a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has produced visual arts in many media and exhibited in art galleries, museums, colleges, and gift shops throughout Illinois. She has been employed as a graphic designer, editorial and fashion illustrator, receptionist, bookkeeper and salesperson.  Eileen has sold many copies of her self-published poetry book, Painting with Words, and contributed the poems and art for Wings for the Soul, published by a non-profit. Her stories and poems were published in Rivulets. She lives in Aurora with her husband, Bob Walker, innumerable books and artistic clutter.

A bio for Maureen Tolman Flannery can be found in the previous post.

Check back early in December for the next Poetry Challenge.

© Wilda Morris

Saturday, November 1, 2014

November 2014 Poetry Challenge

A swell guy in the 1940s (my dad)

Maureen Tolman Flannery’s new book of poems, Navigating by Expectant Stars, was inspired by the contents of a box discovered after the deaths of her parents. The box contained old photos—and letters her parents wrote to each other in 1944 and 1945, while her father was in the military. The material in the letters and Flannery’s poetic imagination make for an interesting book.

Here is one of the poems:


The slang descriptor of their times is swell.
Africans he is meeting are swell,
the guys in his flight crew are swell, as well.
The receipt of her letters, swell.

Her doctor’s assessment is everything’s swell.
Swell baby gifts are coming in the mail.
A gab-session with her friend is swell
and their talked-through hours do,
since she feels like a swell with the swell
of her belly telling her joy to the world.

And all the while she swells
with life she wants to tell him about,
swells with feelings of well-being
with love for the care of those there with her,
with the pride of a pregnant new wife
awaiting his next tour stateside.

~ Maureen Tolman Flannery

Flannery has used several poetic devices in this poem, including repetition, internal rhyme, alliteration and assonance. The word “swell” is not only the title; it is the heart and soul of the poem. Flannery has taken advantage of the fact that the word “swell” has several meanings. It was the most popular slang word of the time period in which the poem takes place, as well as an appropriate description for the life swelling within the “pregnant new wife."

Flannery also published what I call a “word” poem in a 1999 anthology, Intimate Kisses, edited by Wendy Maltz.

You loved me well
well into the night
and I awoke,
still tangled up in you,
well into the morning
with the well-deep contentment
of a woman
well loved,
well rested,
well ready.

~ Maureen Tolman Flannery

In this poem of 34 words (not counting the title) the word “well” occurs eight times – it is almost ¼ of the poem. It doesn’t have eight different meanings, but it is used with at least four different definitions. There is, in my reading, another “well” suggested but not mentioned, adding to the subtlety of the poem.

You can read a brief biography of Flannery at

Another poem centered on one word is "Crib" by Kay Ryan, which you can read on-line at


The November Challenge:

Pick a word that has several meanings. You may (or may not) want to use it as the title. Use the word in different ways in your poem.

Here are some possible words to consider: fall, simple, spring, sound, peach, pitch, hide, light, train, run, hand, play, order.

This being the day after Halloween and The Day of the Dead, I also thought of “grave.” The dictionaries will tell you that “grave” meaning “a burial place” comes from Indo-European via Old English. “Grave” meaning somber, on the other hand, is a Latinate word which came into English through the French language. Hence they are not actually the same word; they are two different words. For purposes of this challenge, that doesn’t matter. They sound the same and have somewhat different meanings, so poetically they would function like other multi-definition words.

In fact, if you prefer, pick a set of homophones, such as “byte,” “bite;” pear and pair;  or “do,” “dew,” and “due.” Although these are different words and are even spelled differently, they sound the same. Thus they provide the same possibility for repeating sounds and variety of meanings.

Submit only one poem. The deadline is November 15. Poems submitted after the November 15 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 far from “family-friendly” language.

Copyright on each poem is retained by the poet.

Poems published in books or on the Internet (including Facebook and other on-line social networks) are not eligible. If your poem has been published in a print periodical, you may submit it if you retain copyright, but please include publication data.

How to Submit Your Poem:

Send one poem only to wildamorris[at]ameritech[dot]net (substitute the @ sign for “at” and a . for “dot”) . Include a brief bio which can be printed with your poem, if you are a winner this month.

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. 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 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 30 lines are generally preferred. Also, if lines are too long, they don’t fit in the blog format and have to be split, so you might be wise to use shorter lines.


© Wilda Morris