Saturday, March 28, 2020

March 2020 Poetry Challenge - Reunions

A Caprice with a Ruined Arch
by Francesco Guardi – Italian (from Venice), 1712-1793
From the National Gallery of Art, London

When I posted the March Challenge, I didn’t know that I would get home from a sibling reunion just a few hours before a “shelter-in-place” decree would go into effect, or that, by mid-March I would be wondering if our 2020 cousin reunion would take place later this year, or have to be canceled. I was still hoping to attend an informal class reunion on Memorial Day Weekend. And now many of us are looking forward to reunion with loved ones sheltering in different places. I’m wondering when my granddaughter from Arkansas can come visit us without risk to herself or to us—a visit postponed as a result of the pandemic.

Some of the poems submitted this month had to do with family reunions, but both winning poems relate to school class reunions. First, the winning free verse poem:

Every Other Letter in the Word Reunion Spells RUIN

In the mid-18th Century, ruins were romantic destinations,
broken abbeys to climb, crumbling castles and temples
robbed of stone and statues to venerate. Flowers to paint,
seeds carried from distant places growing in Coliseum cracks
ground by hooves of gladiators.

Now ruins lie in cities like East Berlin and Detroit,
battered by swift reversals. Classrooms, entry halls,
theaters are crusted with layers of mud and dirt, fixtures hang
from exposed wires, cobwebs like curtains cover stages,                                                       
classroom biology mannequins shiver, exposed to rain and ice. 
ExUrbers explore, illegal voyeurs, tiptoe on broken stairways,
peer into elevator shafts, pause at the entrance to a domed ballroom
bereft of dancers.

In Fukushima, photographers stalk houses, cars, streets
now buried under bright green moss. In aerial views of parking lots,
cars are pond stones in a moss-covered lake. Robots enter contaminated
buildings, photograph unfinished meals on long restaurant tables,
dinner plates and cutlery still in place, napkins tossed on top. 
Shop counters are piled with merchandise ready for check-out. 
On a blackboard, chalked messages encourage Fukushima to be strong.

At my high school reunion, another exploration of creeping time.  
Who are these people? I have only the dimmest recollection. 
Yearbooks are no help, nor the photos on our nametags. 
A man says to me, “I remember you as bigger.” 
Or perhaps it was, “You are smaller than I recall.” 
I am a curiosity to be scrutinized by strangers from another age.

~ Mary C. Rowin

This poem is very well constructed. It begins with ancient ruins, then moves to more contemporary ruins before getting to the high school reunion. This is a creative and unusual juxtaposition.

There are “r” sounds throughout the poem, some at the beginning or endings of words and some in the middle. They all resonate with the words “ruin” and “reunion.” In addition, there is a lot of alliteration with hard sounds as the ruins are described, especially the hard “c” and the “b” sounds. In terms of sonics, the poem is very rich.

I also selected a winning rhyming poem. I think you will enjoy it, too.

Class Reunion

I got my invitation in the mail
Thought at first that I would bail
Would they still think of me as friend
Those classmates that I knew back then
Class reunions – I don’t know
Perhaps I think I just won’t go

After school, we parted ways
I’m not sure how we’d feel these days
These reunions come in five-year spurts
Bring back the joys - - - bring back the hurts
Would they be upset if I don’t show
Perhaps now maybe I might go

I’ll see the girl first held my hand
And the guys that played in my first band
And all those places open late
Where you could take that special date
And that blond that I’d still like to know
On second thought – I think I’ll go

I wonder who I’ll get to see
I’ll bet some aged much more than me
After 50 years they may have changed
Body masses rearranged
It will be interesting and so
Yea – I’m sure that I will go

I went and saw just old folks there
Either grey or no more hair
All movements were at snail pace
And wrinkles filled up every face
I know on me age didn’t show
Next time I think I just won’t go

~ Mike Dailey

The rhyming and rhythm of this poem are good. The back and forth as the narrator ponders whether or not to attend reunions, and his denial that age shows on him as it does on his old classmates make the poem fun.

Congratulations to the winners! They retain copyright on their poems.


Mike Dailey is a fairly well known poet in southeast North Carolina. He lives near Sunset Beach with his wife of 48 years and the occasional visits with his daughter and two grandkids. His poems have been published in several magazines and anthologies. He has had three books of poetry published; one based on cancer treatments he underwent, one based on his 30 years working as a civilian analyst for the US Army, and a book of spiritual poems. He is currently putting together a collection of children’s’ poems and looking for a publisher. Mike Dailey’s poetry can be serious, topical, or very moving but he is known more for his rhythm and rhyme poetry with a twist of humor. 

Mary C. Rowin’s poetry and reviews have appeared in publications such as Burningword, Red Coyote Literary Journal and Portage Magazine. A poem in Blue Heron was nominated for the Push Cart Anthology. A microchap, “What She Kept,” was published by Origami Poems Project. Mary lives with her husband in Middleton, Wisconsin.

Check back on April 1 for the next Poetry Challenge!

© Wilda Morris

Thursday, March 5, 2020

March 2020 - Reunions

Cousin Reunion 2012 - me and my first cousins with picture of our grandparents
All over the United States—and probably all over the world—people are planning family reunions, high school reunions, college reunions and other reunions of old friends. I am looking forward to a sibling reunion and a cousin reunion. If I can get to Iowa City on the right weekend, there will be a casual, unofficial reunion of my class. I won’t tell you which year reunion comes next year for my college class—the number keeps going up!

There are many jokes about reunions. I can’t remember where I first heard the one about the people greeting classmates by saying, “You haven’t changed a bit,” while peering at their nametags to see who they are speaking to. Reunions have prompted songs, such as the country song, “The Old School,” by Russell Smith and Don Schlitz, made famous by John Conlee). Best-selling author, Jacquelyn Mitchard’s first novel, The Deep End of the Ocean, the first book chosen by Oprah for her book club, begins as a woman registers at the hotel where her class reunion is going to be held.

The first high school reunion (5- or 10-year, depending on the school) may be the most fraught, as in Jo David Stockwell’s humerous poem, “The Class Reunion.” What should I wear? Should I even go? Will my ex be there (especially poignant for the couple in the yearbook identified as cutest couple)? Will everyone think I’m a failure, since I didn’t get that promotion? I didn’t go to the ten-year reunion of my high school class because I’d heard my older sister’s report on her 10-year reunion. I learned later that a bunch of the guys drank way too much and threw each other in the pool. And the management of the hotel where the reunion was held said our class could never have another reunion there. By the thirtieth-year reunion, when I finally showed up, the “boys” had grown up a bit!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, “The Meeting,” is about a reunion. It isn’t entirely clear whether it is an extended family getting together to celebrate Christmas or a group of old friends. Whoever it is, the tree of life has been shaken. Some members of the group are no longer living. And all have aged.

The Meeting

After so long an absence
At last we meet again:
Does the meeting give us pleasure,
Or does it give us pain?
The tree of life has been shaken,
And but few of us linger now,
Like the Prophet’s two or three berries
In the top of the uttermost bough.
We cordially greet each other
In the old, familiar tone;
And we think, though we do not say it,
How old and gray he is grown!
We speak of a Merry Christmas
And many a Happy New Year
But each in his heart is thinking
Of those that are not here.
We speak of friends and their fortunes,
And of what they did and said,
Till the dead alone seem living,
And the living alone seem dead.
And at last we hardly distinguish
Between the ghosts and the guests;
And a mist and shadow of sadness
Steals over our merriest jests.
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
This poem is in the public domain.

Some Links:

“The Old School,” by Russell Smith and Don Schlitz, made famous by John Conlee

Jacquelyn Mitchard, The Deep End of the Ocean,

Jo David Stockwell, “The Class Reunion,”

The March Challenge:

Write a poem about a reunion. It could be a class reunion, a family reunion, a church reunion, a reunion of people who attended a workshop together or participated on the same track or ball team, etc. If you aren’t sure the kind of reunion you have in mind is acceptable for this prompt, email and ask.

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 (don’t follow Emily Dickinson’s practice on that!). Single-space. Note that the blog format does not accommodate long lines; if they are used, they have to be broken in two, with the second part indented (as in the poem “Lilith,” one of the March 2018 winners), or the post has to use small print.

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. Poems already used on this blog are not eligible to win, but the poets may submit a different poem, unless the poet has been a winner the last three months.

The deadline is March 20, because of the late posting of the prompt. 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 and teens read this blog). No simultaneous submissions, please. You should know by the end of the month whether or not your poem will be published. 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 “March 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. If the poem has been published before, please put that information UNDER the poem also. NOTE: If you sent your poem to my other email address, or do not use the correct subject line, the poem may get lost and not be considered for publication. Do not submit poems as PDF files.

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 (Doc, Docx, rich text or plain text; no pdf files, please). or both. 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.

Happy New Year. Have a wonderful and poetic new decade.

© Wilda Morris