Monday, February 1, 2021

February 2021 Challenge: When I Die

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 Photo by Karin Addis

For the February Poetry Challenge, you can take inspiration from these poems:

these feathers

seem innocent
even pure
like nothing hard or bad
ever happened
they lift off the slate-slabbed trail
float their way to the bay
where whitefish think they have found
a new mother or maybe a cousin
I want my leaving
to be this
of course blood and bones and guts
but in the end
to know
we really are family

~ Maryann Hurtt

From Poetry Hall, 3:1 (April 15, 2020).


When The Time Comes…

            for me to go
let it be spring—
season of my arrival

            but give me first
a wrapped-up gift of years
four score and more

            and let there be
a cocky young row of crocuses
singing at my exit door

~ Jeri McCormick 

From Hummingbird, XXX:2 (2020), p. 29.


Probably the best known poem by Ellen Kort, first Poet Laureate of Wisconsin, is “If Death Were a Woman.” Kort begins by saying “I’d want her to come for me / smelling of cinnamon. She tells us what she and death would do together before finally posing for pictures “in the last light.” You can read the whole beautiful poem at


The February Challenge:


ALSO, please follow the guidelines carefully. For example, if your name is at the top of the page or under the title instead of at the bottom, I might accidentally miss it when preparing to send the poems to the judge, and your poem could be disqualified as a result. If it isn’t under your poem, I might mistype it. Also, if you don’t follow the directions in how to write the subject line of your email, your poem might be missed.

The challenge for this month is a poem about “when I die.”

Each of us will die someday. How do we want it to go? How should death come? When? What instructions would you like to leave for those you leave behind? Comedian Steven Wright has been quoted as saying, “When I die I’m going to leave my body to science fiction.” What do you want to leave behind, and for whom? Use your imagination, your creativity, your spirituality. Write a poem that takes death seriously but not morbidly. Or be humorous in your approach.

Title your poem unless it is in a form that discourages titles. 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 May 2018 winners), or the post has to use small print. Put your name and bio under your poem. Please keep the poem on the left margin (standard 1” margin). Do not put any part of your submission on a colored background. Do not use a fancy font and do not use a header or footer.

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 February 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 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 wildamorris4[at]gmail[dot]com (substitute the @ sign for “at” and a . for “dot”). Put “February Poetry Challenge Submission” FOLLOWED BY YOUR NAME 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 and/or attachment. 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. Pease excuse repetition in stating the rules. You might be surprised how many poets do not adhere carefully to the rules.

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.

Now retired after thirty years of hospice nursing, Maryann Hurtt continues to love stories of resiliency and wisdom in hard times. Aldrich Press published her chapbook, River, in 2016 and her poems have appeared in a variety of print and on-line publications. She received a Best of the Net nomination in 2018.
Jeri McCormick, of Madison Wisconsin, taught creative writing 25 years in several settings, including senior centers and the Elderhostel program.  Her work appears in journals and anthologies, and she has co-authored two books on writing.  Her most recent collections of poems are “Marrowbone of Memory” (Salmon Poetry press in Ireland) and “Breathtaking” (Hummingbird Press).


© Wilda Morris