Friday, October 27, 2017

Love Gone Astray - October Winners

There were a number of excellent poems submitted to the October Poetry Challenge. Each of the three judges selected a different winner. This did not surprise me, since I know that there is always an element of subjectivity in a person’s response to poems.

Grand Prize Winner is Michael Escoubas, whose poem, “Sailor at Subic Bay,” is the only poem selected for first place by a judge that was also picked as second place by another judge. This poem suggests that love that has gone astray may sometimes be restored.

Sailor at Subic Bay
(Hundreds of U.S. Navy ships docked at this deep-water port,
in the Philippines, for R & R, during the Viet Nam war.)

Her name is Faye
with cocoa-butter skin,
mahogany eyes,
onyx hair that shines
like polished Navy shoes,
falling, falling, falling
down her back, half-way to the floor.

Older shipmates caution,
Don’t go falling
for her sweet words.
The night-club girls
want a ticket to America.

I should have listened.
Instead, I send a letter
that fractures my engagement
like cracking
a dead branch over my knee.

I had fallen in love.

Of course, as soon as the ship
leaves Subic Bay,
another sailor falls for Faye.

At deployment’s end
the one I hurt meets me on the pier
with words I don’t deserve to hear,
I forgive you, forgive yourself.
We won’t mention this again.

~ Michael Escoubas

Judge Larry Turner wrote, “The language usage in this poem is very good, for example, "onyx hair that shines/ like polished Navy boots" and "fractures my engagement/ like cracking/ a dead branch over my knee." But the primary reason I chose it is the strong story it tells, and tells so well.

Barbara Eaton added, “What I liked about "Sailor at Subic Bay" was that, if your loved one confesses to you, they want to be forgiven.”  

There are two more first place winners.


i thought
we were star-crossed lovers 
like romeo and juliet
the world held so many possibilities
for you and i,
but i should've known from that
moment that our love
was doomed to die;
it was a one sided love where i all but
worshiped you as the god you were not
and your 'love' was just lust
fool's gold
but my swooning, starving heart
couldn't tell the difference
at the time—
but it's like i told you once,
"hindsight is twenty-twenty";
and it's not like i can go back in time and
stop myself from falling for a fallen angel pretending
to be some sort of jilted saint so i try 
piece by piece to forget you somehow but i cannot
i am the girl that always remembers
the girl that always loves
& the one that is always left behind.

- linda m. crate 

One thing judge Barbara Eaton liked about “bereft” was that she “found the idea of not ‘bending with the remover to remove’ very Shakespearean.

Agent Orange Angst

Vietnam drives us apart again and finally.
I wail at night alone,
And grieve this guy who morphed into a monster
and forgot to be a man.
War is mean and menacing my marriage unmendable and i wait.
Hospitalized him in March mental health when he hired
a high school hitman
for a hundred bucks it's over.
I'm alive to pen this pain.
The social worker says "Stop saving him.  He's tired."
You mean spent...
enough federal money to compensate him for the battle
he was pinned in for
A Presidential Citation...
He used to be my pal.  A jolly guy who drank a bit too much
and lounged in front of football.
I fed him and laughed at life with him.
We made love and awkwardly we laughed at being best friends first.
I'm just an old piece of gravel he said.
  Not really.
     I loved him. 
        I still do.

But he's really Jekyll and Hyde just hide i did all the time in the end
of this eternal ending.
And I'm done spending hours calling the Attorney General
about this attitude...
Allowing heroes to age fast and abandoning them
in underfunded hospitals.
So i stood my ground finally and agreed.
Let him go.  Get an anonymous apartment.

I'll abandon saving him another time.  I lost count anyway.
Because i love him.
I'll relocate too.  I'm anonymously married now.
And I'll begin grieving this aim he has to drink himself done.
Because i love him.
And avoid assassins.

~ Sondy Sloan

Pamela Larson says, “The more I dissect this poem, the more I like it. "Agent Orange Angst" is the one I would pick and here's why: The form of the poem, with the variation of line length, made me feel the many steps to make progress, only to be denied. The three indented lines toward the middle reinforced the feeling that the love is never going to stop. It keeps pushing forward. The use of I vs. i is interesting; showing a loss of self to the situation at times and to the narrator’s love for this person, no matter what. There is quite a bit of alliteration and I didn’t feel it was overbearing or too forced. I would have liked a more visual picture. However, I think the lack of it helped to show his being treated like just a faceless entity. 
“The narrator certainly goes through a lot of loss and disillusionment in this poem. Love lost due to a break up is one thing but, love lost to a break down, to an outside force, or many, can be even more devastating. Having to leave love to the chance of it destroying itself, I think that is what is expressed so well here.”

NOTE ON "AGENT ORANGE ANGST": Some of the lines in "Agent Orange Angst" were too long for the format of this blog. I'm including the photo below so you can see the full variety of line lengths as they were seen by the judges

NOTE: These poets retain copyright to their own poems.


Linda M. Crate is a Pennsylvanian native born in Pittsburgh yet raised in the rural town of Conneautville. Her poetry, short stories, articles, and reviews have been published in a myriad of magazines both online and in print. She has four published chapbooks A Mermaid Crashing Into Dawn (Fowlpox Press - June 2013), Less Than A Man (The Camel Saloon - January 2014),  If Tomorrow Never Comes (Scars Publications, August 2016), and My Wings Were Made To Fly (Flutter Press, September 2017). Her fantasy novel Blood & Magic was published in March 2015. The second novel of this series Dragons & Magic was published in October 2015. The third of the seven book series Centaurs & Magic was published November 2016. Her novel Corvids & Magic was published March 2017.

Michael Escoubas began writing poetry for publication in August of 2013, after retiring from a 48-year-career in the printing industry. Early in life his mother said, You have a gift for words; you should do something with that gift. He writes poetry, in part, because of his mother’s encouraging words. Michael also writes poetry because he believes poetry brings people together and that poets are menders of broken things. Michael has published one chapbook, Light Comes Softly, which is available as an eBook through Pronoun Publishing.

Sondy Sloan says, “I am a writer to a's a compulsion.” Sondy’s writing is often narrative. “I like to insert creativity even into non-fiction it's more interesting in my opinion. Less dry. So i scribble mostly in assonance and alliteration and i dance to my pen pushing me. A typewriter is like a drum. And as a dancer i try not to be discordant if not required. I'm retired from a dangerous job. So my tolerance was high.”

© 2017

Sunday, October 1, 2017

October Poetry Challenge - Love Gone Awry

Love can be wonderful. Terrifying. Magical. Vulnerable. Exhilarating. Risky. It can result in a long, tender relationship. Or a broken heart. The poems which follow are tales of love gone awry.

Young Love

Sandy’s long red hair flowed down her back,
Martha’s long black hair was coiled up tight.
Sandy’s home like mine was out of sight
Of Martha’s hilltop home that had a pack
Of servants. Martha’s father had a knack
As businessman, his profits a delight.
Farewell to Sandy, once my favorite.
Let Martha’s world provide me what I lack.
At Martha’s birthday party, my hope grew
When cross the room I realized she bid
Me go outdoors with her and with her view
The garden, where she whispered as we hid,
 “Now I am six years old, the same as you. 
So I can beat you up.” And then she did. 

~ Larry Turner

Day in the Park

Spring is not the time
For this kind of love.

The unrequited kind
Is out of fashion now.

            An elderly couple
            Sits on the park bench
            Shading their eyes
            As they watch their grandchildren
            Play in the sun.

            He wears a gray wool cap
            And smokes a pipe.
            A cane
            Rests on the bench
            Next to her knee.

You must be bored
With being worshipped
From afar.

If I really loved you,
I suppose
I would let you go.

Only I keep thinking
Of new ways
To say good-bye:
Just one more phone call
Just one more letter
Just one more poem.

If only you –
But break, my heart,
For I must hold my tongue.

~ Barbara Eaton

First published in Ethos, a publication of the English Graduate Organization of the University of Maryland at College Park (Spring 1987), p. 52.

Cyber Sonnet

At twenty-five I’ve given up on fate,
no god has sent “the one” running to my arms.
I’ll enter a profile, try an online date,
tone down my nerves while I turn up my charm.

A painter looking for honesty. Please
respond. We can chat for hours on end.
The odds of finding someone has increased,
if I don’t like her, I might like her friend.

I’ve fallen deep. I cannot believe she
is everything I want. A love that’s true.
I suggest it’s time we meet. Maybe coffee?
She says we can meet at Café Ballou.

Now, I have to figure out how to ditch her,
cause she looks nothing like her profile picture.

Pamela Larson

First published by Highland Park Poetry (Go to Find the icon for 2011 Love Poetry toward the bottom right of the page, and click on it.

These poets own rights to their poems. Please do not copy them without permission. See Poet Bios below.

The October Challenge:

The October Challenge is to submit a poem about the dream of love going awry, Cupid’s arrow missing the mark, a “love relationship” not turning out as expected. The poem should be family-friendly—some children read this blog. Your poem may have a light touch, or it may be poignant.

Title your poem unless it is a form that does not use titles. If you use a form, please identify the form when you submit your poem. Single-space and don’t use lines that are overly long (because the blog format doesn’t accommodate long lines).

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 October 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. No simultaneous submissions, please. You should know by the end of the month whether or not your poem will be published on this blog. Decision of the judge or judges is final.

Copyright on each poem is retained by the poet. If a previously unpublished poem wins and is published elsewhere later, please give credit to this blog.

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 “October 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.

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 (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.

Poet Bios:

Barbara Eaton published her first poem at the age of seven. She was known to her late father as "Crazy Horse," and "Figgy Pudding." She teaches part time at Morton College, and serves as a dramaturg for the First Folio Shakespeare Company in Oak Brook, Illinois. Her poetry has been published in a variety of venues.

Pamela Larson has been published in East on Central, bottle rockets haiku journal, the CRAM/JOMP series, both online and in anthologies by Dagda Publishing in the UK and on as well as in other anthologies and blogs. She is a member of the Arlington Poetry Project, Barrington Writers Workshop and the Illinois State Poetry Society.

Larry Turner with his wife Donna moved to the Brandermill Woods retirement community in Midlothian, Virginia early in 2016 after his career in college physics teaching and research in the USA and England. His poetry has appeared repeatedly in The Lyric and in the online journal Voices on the Wind. He has published two books of poetry, Stops on the Way to Eden and Beyond (1992) and Eden and Other Addresses (2005), a collection of poems, stories and dramas, Wanderer (2011), and a memoir, The Magic Years: Tales of the Turners 1957-1970 (2015). He edited four anthologies for the Riverside Writers chapter of the Virginia Writers Club. He served as president of Riverside Writers, and earlier as president of the Illinois State Poetry Society and regional vice-president of the Poetry Society of Virginia. He is currently completing Volume III of Tales of the Turners. At Brandermill Woods he leads the writing group, and with Donna leads the Readers Theatre group.

© Wilda Morris