Thursday, June 22, 2017

June 2017 Poetry Challenge Winner - That Irritant

The trumpet vine tied to a trellis so it won't overtake lupine, milkweed, sunflowers. Photo by Susan Martell Huebner.

First place poem this month is by a gardener, Susan Martell Huebner. I asked if she had a photo to illustrate the irritating trumpet vine about which she wrote. In response to my request, she sent the photo above.

A trumpet vine that refuses to flower
has grown in my garden
for eight long years

Desirous of its well-being and
thinking location-location-location
I transplant it and it gets along
with clematis but still grows
silent and green upon the trellis

An unappreciative plant
it scoffs at my choices preferring
instead to roam about the premises
like some picky traveler looking
for a better window seat

It suddenly appears a winding snake
amid the red yarrow and even goes
spelunking underground only
to emerge among the rhubarb
stalks and sometimes in the lawn

It is silently unruly and persistent as hell
We have fought battles
I am armed with shears and irritation
trumpet vine with sun, water, air
soil and unlimited acres of earth

It is hardly a fair fight
This year’s d├ętente—I allow the vines
growing near the delphinium their head
I will tie them to the plant support and
ask they wind gracefully around the cage

May the glorious blooms of periwinkle
unleash the voice that has remained
silent for so long and may I awake
some splendiferous summer morning
to a cacophony of trumpets

~ Susan Martell Huebner

Of this poem, the judge said, “I liked its humor, imagery, and the skilled use of alliteration. I also liked its controlled use of stanzas. The irritation of the 'gardener' is successfully expressed through this poem.”

The second place poem, by Dennis Trujillo, also shows irritation with the plant world:

Petition Against the Proliferation of Ornamental Cabbage

They’re called ornamental cabbage
—A brain numbing oxymoron
And they’re spreading fast as breeding
Fruit flies. You’ve probably seen them

Lining your psycho neighbor’s garden,
Curling along paths in public parks,
Or next to highway off ramps near
Schenectady, New York. Perversely

They prefer the cold, their garish
Colors of pink, red, and purple tainting
Winter landscapes like freakish
Acne on the polar ice caps of Mars.

Somehow wacko botanists managed
To amalgamate DNA of kale, bubble
Gum, and frozen yogurt to create
This blight. What to do? Join me

In petitioning our lawmakers—urge them
To stop debating less pressing issues
Like the national debt and the correct
Color tie to wear during live congressional

Hearings. Let’s demand action: thirty day
Jail sentences for gardeners in bib overalls
Who plant these halos from hell is a good
Place to start—twenty days for planting

And ten for wearing bib overalls. As for
Eliminating existing ornamental cabbage,
Let’s yank them out of the ground and toss
Them in the air like clay pigeons at a skeet

Range. Then shoot and watch as they
Explode—the leaves like bright doilies
A little girl might place beneath
Saucers at a tea party for her dolls.

~ Dennis Trujillo

This poem has been previously published in Slant, Vol. XXVIII, Summer 2014.

By chance, the third place poem, by Tim Philippart, also reflects on irritation with something you might grow in your garden, though I suspect (if it is literally true) it was purchased at the grocery store.

Carnage and Lies

Not without satisfaction, I survey the carnage. 
1/4 of a small watermelon, attacked by my spoon,
lays in waste before me.

The fresh lime and jade green armor
has no rich red fruit to protect.
All that remains is the seeds. 

That’s the problem—seeds—
over 100—I counted them
spilling from my “seedless" watermelon.

If peanut free was like seedless,
those with peanut allergies
would be choking.

If watermelon seed standards applied
to contraceptives a lot of women
would be a little bit pregnant.

If lead free gasoline—
but you get the point.
Don’t you?

The watermelon lobby must be powerful
to get away with these lies. 
Seedless?  Pish Posh!

I resolve to never eat watermelon
like this again,
until the next time.

I anticipate the arrival of
those big watermelons from Northeast Arkansas
with their black seeds of the choking kind.  A seed full, truthful melon.

Seedless—humbug!  Label it as,
watermelon with hundreds of small, irritating, pasty white seeds
that you can swallow if you’ve a mind to.

I would say more but it was WATER melon and,
I am an old man so, you know where I have to go--
Right now.

~ Tim Philippart

These poets own copyright on their own poems.

Thanks to Jenene Ravesloot who selected the winners of the June Poetry Challenge.


Susan Martell Huebner’s literary fiction novel, She Thought the Door Was Locked, is available on Amazon. Her poems have appeared in anthologies, online and print journals as well as in postcard format. Susan lives in Mukwonago Wisconsin.

Dennis Trujillo is a former US Army soldier and middle/high school math teacher from Pueblo, Colorado. In 2010 he spontaneously began writing poetry not knowing where the spark came from. Since then his poems have appeared in more than more than sixty print and online publications. His most recent work can be found in Anima Poetry Press, Highland Park Poetry, KYSO Flash, Origami Poems Project, and The Sacred Cow, among others.

Tim Philippart loves to write. He sold his business in 2015, and since then has written several poems, some of which are scattered around his house, dropped like dirty socks. He writes, mainly, poetry and short pieces, sometimes with a hint of humor.