Monday, July 30, 2018

July Shopping Poem Winner

Most of the poems about shopping were nostalgic. Several poems recounted experiences from childhood – shopping with Mom or Grandma, or with an older cousin who bought the poetic persona two packages of Beatles Bubble Gum. One poem was about digging though the sales bins in competition with other women; another ended with a person in grief in a supermarket. John J. Gordon is awarded an Honorable Mention for his poem, “Shopping,” about being dragged along with his mother who liked to take the train into Chicago for the whole day—most of it spent at Marshall Field’s checking out women’s clothing and accessories, fine china and fancy glassware, which his mother could not afford.

The winning poem is by Paula J. Lambert:

Breathing In This World

The scent of you rises suddenly as I sort
through Women’s Long Sleeve Blouses.
It is surely you, clear as day, wanting to be
known. (This is why my sister won’t shop
for thrift store clothes: dead men’s clothes,
she calls them.) But here you are & here I am,
breathing you in: Smoker. The scent is strong,
& I know at once that you are strong. I think
of smoke, of fire, of all the fires burning
all around us. I think of wanting, of longing,
desire, of all that comes to us on the inhale,
all the tiny particles of one another. I breathe in
the smoke you once held in your lungs & we
are bonded. I have taken in the scent of others
here, their soaps and their perfumes, I have
taken in the tall woman beside me, who
watches me closely, who reeks of me finding
what she has not yet found. In the next aisle,
two men: one releasing anger, his breath
a slender thread I’d like to pull, the other
singing softly What I Like about You and
I can’t help but sing myself. The store is bright
with the promise of Being Here Now & when
I leave Women’s Long Sleeve Blouses,
I take you with me, past Toys, past Furniture
teaming with life, and we stop to look at Lamps.
It’s not light I need. I want just the right shade
for a sky-blue lamp I’d bought at another thrift
store, one more thing passed from hand to hand,
from time to time & aren’t we all that, dear,
living or dead? Aren’t we all light passed from
hand to hand? Aren’t we all the lingering smoke
of each other’s fires?   

~ Paula J. Lambert

Paula J. Lambert is a literary and visual artist from Columbus, Ohio. Author of The Ecstasy of Wanting, The Sudden Seduction of Gravity, and The Guilt That Gathers, she is a Residency Artist for the Ohio Arts Council Arts Learning Program and past recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship. She has published widely in journals and anthologies and taught numerous workshops and seminars on the writing process. Lambert also owns Full/Crescent Press, a small but growing publisher of poetry books and broadsides. 

Writer: paulajlambert(dot)com
Full/Crescent Press: fullcrescent(dot)com 
Facebook: Paula J. Lambert, Literary and Visual Art Full/Crescent Press
Instagram: pjlpoet, pjlcardboard

© Wilda Morris (Paula J. Lambert retains copyright on her poem)

Sunday, July 1, 2018

July Poetry Challenge - Shopping

Paulus Constantijin La Farge, The Grote Markt (Market Square) at The Hague, 1760
Compliments of The National Gallery of Art, London

My grandmother liked to purchase her groceries from Glassman’s, a locally-owned grocery store in Iowa City. She shopped on Friday mornings, before Mr. Glassman closed for the Sabbath. Mr. Glassman gave two kittens to my sister and me, and if he had a lot of liver left on Friday, he would wrap some up and give it to our grandmother for the Blackie and Tiger. Sometime I should write a poem about the kindly grocer who served my family well.

As a child, I was excited when we received the new catalogues from Sears and Montgomery Ward. My sister Dorinda and I played a game in which we imagined we each had ten children (5 boys and 5 girls, each, if I remember correctly). I have forgotten the names of all my imaginary children except my triplet girls. I named them Katherine Marie, Katherine Louise and Katherine Annette. Or was it Kathleen Marie, Kathleen Louise and Kathleen Annette? That was a long time ago! I am certain, however that their nicknames were Kit, Kathy and Kay. Dorinda and I sat for hours with those catalogues, picking out clothes for our children, furniture for their bedrooms, birthday or Christmas presents, etc. Catalogue shopping was quite popular in those days.

You may shop at a street market, department store, pharmacy, grocery store, dress shop, yard or garage sale, flee market, or on-line merchant, or buy cookies from the girl scout or magazines school child next door raising money for a school field trip. There are many ways to shop.

There are some famous poems that talk about shopping. Here are links to two of them:


Allan Ginsburg, “A Supermarket in California,”

Tony Hoagland, “At the Galleria Shopping Mall”

Jane Sellman has written a clever poem about shopping from Harriet Carter, one of the companies that sends catalogues in the mail.

Harriet Carter, Distinctive Gifts Since 1958

Harriet Carter, I’ve spent many happy hours looking through the colors of your
I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on your distinctive gifts. You’ve sent me so much
in return.
       The Pooch Polo Shirt (Rose, Medium) for my dog, Winston.
       The Plaid Slippers That Mop, which I wear every morning in my kitchen.
The Bathroom Cabinet Super-Organizer, which currently holds
Scott Bathroom Tissue (three rolls), Dove Moisturizing Shampoo, towels,
face clothes, and a Deluxe Beautiful Back Scrubber.™
Harriet Carter,
you have dispensed distinctive gifts since 1958: the Mighty Putty™ — 
           “Lets You Fix, Fill & Seal Virtually Anything”; the Pet Screen Door —
“Lets Your Pet In and Out Anytime”; the Toe “Stretchers” —
“Give You Stronger Feet in Just Ten Days.”
Harriet Carter, because of you, I have “stacked, stored, and safely transported”
 deviled eggs
added “five inches to the waistband” of my best blue skirt
used “that wasted space atop” the television
heard the “faintest whisper with new clarity.”
Harriet Carter, Oh, Harriet Carter
Thank you for the purification of the air in my house and for the automatic
irrigation of my plants and for keeping my food fresh for longer than scientists
will admit possible and for supporting my sagging breasts and protecting
my arthritic knees and for such technological wonders as the Automatic Birdbath,
the Birdbath Protector, the Toothpaste Tube Squeezer, and the Three-Section
Microwave Plates, which come in sets of four, each plate a different color.
Harriet Carter, to you, I sing all praise and hosanna.
My house is a monument to you. Nothing is ever thrown away or exiled
to the hall closet.
Except for the Vidalia Chop Wizard™ —“The Cook’s Best Friend.”
     Which chopped boiled eggs, onions (both Vidalia and other varieties),
     carrots, sharp cheddar cheese, and mushrooms
     Which broke while I sliced pepperoni on New Year’s Eve
     Which I gently put in the trash on New Year’s Day
Harriet Carter, please forgive my one transgression.

~ Jane Sellman

This poem was first published in Arsenic Lobster Poetry Journal (2013), pp. 30-31. © Jane Sellman.

Jane Sellman is a Writing Consultant at University of Maryland School of Nursing. She is a freelance writer and editor as well as a part-time teacher..

The July Challenge:

The July Challenge is to submit a poem about shopping—online shopping, shopping “downtown” or at the Farmer’s Market, taking the commuter train from the suburbs to the big city to buy Christmas presents, stopping at the trading post along the highway in the West, . . . . whatever your shopping experience might be.

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. Single-space and don’t use lines that are overly long (because the blog format doesn’t accommodate long lines). Read previous poems on the blog to see what line lengths can be accommodated.

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 July 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 read this blog). 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.

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.

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 “July 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.

© Wilda Morris