Monday, October 29, 2018

August has never been my favorite month. I remember Augusts in Iowa City when I was a child. We had no air conditioning then, and my mother, sister and I had our bedroom in the attic. It was so hot we could not sleep, so many nights my sister and I took blankets downstairs and slept on them on the uncarpeted living room floor (where it was just a bit less hot). During those times, I often had nightmares of being caught in a fire. Our grandmother often hosed down the house to cool it off. I still prefer 10º below zero to 99º with high humidity!

When my husband and I lived in College Park, Maryland, some good friends brought their three daughters for a visit one August. We all went to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., but it was so hot and humid, we made a unanimous decision to return rather quickly to our apartment where, by that time, we did have air conditioning.

Despite my views—which put August at the bottom of favorite months, slightly below
February—August had more nominations in the Favorite Month poetry contest than any other month. There is no accounting for taste! Of course, August is cooler farther North than it is in Iowa City; Washington, D.C.; or the Chicago area. And “down under” it is spring.

Congratulations to the winner of the October Poetry Challenge, Jim Landwehr who currently lives in Wisconsin. And thank you to the other poets who entered—all the poems were interesting, and several came close to winning.

Lady August

August to me is
like the girlfriend
who wants to break up
but asks if you
can still be friends.
It’s not you, it’s me.
It is both freeing
and frightening
because you both know
what is coming
when she leaves.
Her absence makes you cold
your mood darkens
you stop working out
for six months
and gain weight.
At the same time,
when she’s with you
she’s always warm
-sometimes downright hot-
makes you want to shed clothes
walk barefoot and
sleep in the waning sun.
Despite my attempts
to work out an arrangement
she always goes
leaving me cold and alone.

~ Jim Landwehr

Poets retain copyright to their own poems.

Bio: Jim has two published memoirs, The Portland House: a ‘70s memoir, and Dirty Shirt: a Boundary Waters memoir, by eLectio Publishing. He also has three poetry collections, Written Life, Reciting From Memory, and On a Road. His nonfiction has been published in Main Street Rag, Sundown Press and others. His poetry has been published in many different journals. Jim currently resides in Waukesha, WI. For more information, visit:

© Wilda Morris

Monday, October 1, 2018

October Poetry Challenge - Your Favorite Month

"June is mine" ~ Carolyn Bailey     Photo by Wilda Morris

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, autumn officially started on September 22, a little over a week ago. I love the autumn months. I think October is my favorite month, though May comes in a close second. Each part of the year has its own beauties and its own challenges. What is your favorite time of year? Can you narrow it down to one favorite month?

Last Friday evening at Nature at the Confluence in South Beloit, Illinois, I participated in a reading of poems from a brand new book of nature poems published by the Natural Land Institute ( Carolyn Bailey got a lot of appreciative chuckles from the audience as she read her poem about the month of June.

The Abduction of June

I’ve decided to take the month of June.
   The rest of you can have July through May,
   but June is mine.
   June, when birdsong lilts the air
   and the weeds pull easily, when
   wind is a breath and wet grass is warm.
You can parcel the others among you.
   May, for instance, when violets emerge
   and ferns uncurl, is quite a bit like June.
I’ll keep June, when the air is fragrant
   with the scent of peonies and roses.
Some of you might like July, hot enough
   to ripen bananas overnight, and humid enough to curl hair.
I’ll stay in June, hunting butter-colored iris
   wild by the river.
August is up for grabs, when marigolds bloom
   and bats nip mosquitos at twilight.
Back in June, I’ll be watching the robin weave
   her nest on the porch light.
The fall months can go to you who like leaves
   in hot colors…raking them and bagging them.
As for me, I like the green leaves of June
   and the breeze that sways the branches
   without dropping a single leaf.
All of you cozy-by-the-fire people can have
   the winter months, sharing of course,
   with the sledders and the skiers.
   There’s plenty for all. The winter months
   go on and on and on.
I think it’s not too much to ask
   for this one little month, when I’m
   leaving you eleven others.
I’m taking it anyway. It’s mine:
   the reed call of doves, soft air
   like cobwebs on my skin and
   the sun bright enough, finally,
   to bleach the laundry.

~ Carolyn Bailey

This poem is from Natural Voices: Celebrating Nature With Opened Eyes (Rockford, IL: Natural Land Institute, 2018), p. 3.

As Carolyn finished reading the poem, I immediately thought it would make a wonderful prompt poem, and she graciously gave me permission to use it.

The October Challenge:

So what is your favorite month, and how might you turn you love for that month into a poem that others would enjoy reading and/or hearing read? That is the challenge for October.

Your piece 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 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 (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.

If the same poet wins three months in a row (which has not happened thus far), he or she will be asked not to submit the following two months.

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.

Carolyn Bailey was born in Southern California, but moved to the Midwest when she married a man from Rockford, Illinois. Sixty years of living in the Midwest have taught her to appreciate the gift of its seasons.

© Wilda Morris