|Image from pixabay.com/|
Grab a bowl of popcorn and join us at the movies! The July challenge called for poems about movies, or poems that alluded to or referenced movies.
Judge Cindy Guentherman said judging was hard because there were a lot of interesting poems submitted. She added, “I will admit I have not seen most of these movies, but a poem needs to stand on its own anyway.”
Guentherman selected “The Quiet Beauty of Home Alone 2” for fourth place.
The Quiet Beauty of Home Alone 2
Home Alone 2 at the cinema
with my classmates turned me
into a heron from Central Park.
I watched pigeon-grey skyscrapers
nestle Kevin with their wing-like shadows
as he outwitted Harry and Marv,
the two thieves thicker than concrete.
I felt Kevin's anxiety cooler than
the winter air and wanted to absorb
it in the crook of my neck. I wanted
him to be still like a haiku so he could see
New York in slow motion and be at peace -
like my tranquility in the nest of my seat
while the voices of my classmates
were Koi carp and the cinema
a lily pad floating on a lake
as moonlight fell like winter blossoms.
~ Christian Ward
Guentherman commented, “This poem itself is a quiet beauty, with cool details and metaphors. And I too am a sucker for haiku.”
Third place went to “November 4, 1995.”
November 4, 1995
Pulp Fiction on Israeli TV,
the camp-like kibbutz fast asleep.
Lexi complaining of bugs in
the bed we shared.
She couldn't sleep, later I would think
it was as if she knew.
The movie was interrupted by a phone call.
I refused to answer it,
even though I was the only one awake.
After all, it wasn't my house.
Ring after ring after ring
finally someone picked it up.
Lexi trampled out,
itchy and groggy, banged on
their door. It was their daughter,
calling from the other end
of the kibbutz.
She had received a call from Tel Aviv.
"Somebody's been shot
at the peace rally," was the news.
Five minutes later, she called back.
"Rabin's been shot at the rally."
Lexi and I could barely react.
I watched as Pulp Fiction
turned into its own worst
reality. The newsbreak was
more confused than I was.
At least Lexi could swear and
I could let my shock consume me.
The next day we returned to Jerusalem
like nothing had happened,
trying not to think about the body
of the prime minister
on its way to the same place.
We were as solemn as the soldiers
in the strangely empty bus.
~ Eve Lyons
This poem was published in the now defunct journal Fireweed in August of 1999. Subsequently included in my book, Tikkun Olam: Repairing the World, published by WordTech Communications in June of 2020.
“I was right with the author from beginning to end,” says Guentherman. “It goes from the itchiness of bedbugs to someone being killed, and that is how life really is, isn't it?” She liked the way the author related her own reality to the movie.
For second place, Guentherman selected a poem about a French film, Un Homme et Une Femme, which the poet says was poorly dubbed in English. Nevertheless, the poem suggests that he found the movie moving.
Un Homme et Une Femme
were on the fishing boat’s fantail,
and he was having difficulty
lighting his cigarette in the sea breeze.
Remember the scene?
opened her coat for him
and he quickly leaned in,
using it to block the wind.
Is that when they started to fall in love?
I don’t know if we start to love,
or if it’s just there in the heartbeat needed
to open two selves, to guard the flame together.
~ Lennart Lundh
“Un Homme et Une Femme” first appeared in Poems Against Cancer 2014 (self-published).
Guentherman’s comments: “When I first got all the poems, I skimmed them all that night and this one was still with me in the morning. I love the whole idea of her opening her coat to block the wind so he can light his cigarette. The poem wonders when love begins, and I think this act of simple kindness is a good start. And I have never even smoked!”
The first-place poem is by a previous winner:
Struggle for Humanness
After watching ‘The Art of Racing in the Rain’ by Garth Stein
moon wheeled through tar black skies
in a movie about a big old dog driving in
the driving rain with his owner, or rather a man
he owned and loved. I knew his barks, his sighs.
heard his thoughts about humanity, his scratching
at the TV to understand the ironies in politics. He saw
that some would rather kick a dog. Yet still, I’m awed—
his wishing to be reborn as human. I laughed, then catching
breath, I wept as rains poured on oil-slick turns.
Many races determined there, and many lives as such
have changed. There’s always a measure of pain, how much
depends on time spent in the pit, whether the tires churn
the right amount of tread, as well as endurance, the feel
of the road, and if the stars line up over the steering wheel.
~ John C. Mannone
This poem was previously published in an anthology, Moving Images: Poems Inspired by Film (ed. Jennifer Maloney & Bart White, Before Your Quiet Eyes Publishing, 2021).
Of “The Struggle for Humanness,” Guentherman says, “It has skillful rhyme and half rhyme and the whole poem is a metaphor. My favorite line is ‘if the stars line up over the steering wheel.’”
A big round of applause to the winners! And a big “thank you” to Cindy Guentherman for judging, and to all the poets who entered the July Poetry Challenge. Check back on August 1 for a new challenge. YOU might win next month!
Cindy Guentherman has been writing poetry since she was in kindergarten. She has two books of poetry and is on the board of the Rockford Writers' Guild.
Lennart Lundh is a poet, photographer, short-fictionist, and historian. His work has appeared internationally since 1965.
Eve Lyons is a poet and fiction writer living in the Boston area. Her work has appeared in Lilith, Literary Mama, Hip Mama, PIF, Welter, Prospectus, Poetry Quarterly, Barbaric Yawp, Word Riot, Dead Mule of Southern Literature, as well as other magazines and several anthologies. Her first book of poetry, Tikkun Olam: Repairing the World, was published in May of 2020 by WordTech Communications. She works as an expressive arts therapist at an outpatient mental health clinic and teaches at Lesley University.
John C. Mannone has poems appearing in Windhover, North Dakota Quarterly, Foreign Literary Journal, Le Menteur, Blue Fifth Review, Poetry South, Baltimore Review, and others. He won the Grace Writers Excellence in Poetry Award (2021), Impressions of Appalachia Creative Arts Contest in poetry (2020), the Carol Oen Memorial Fiction Prize (2020), and the Joy Margrave Award (2015, 2017) for creative nonfiction. He was awarded a Jean Ritchie Fellowship (2017) in Appalachian literature and served as the celebrity judge for the National Federation of State Poetry Societies (2018). His forthcoming (2021) collections are Flux Lines: The Intersection of Science, Love, and Poetry (Linnet’s Wings Press) and Sacred Flute (Iris Press) He edits poetry for Abyss & Apex and other journals. A retired physics professor, John lives in Knoxville, Tennessee. http://jcmannone.wordpress.com. https://www.facebook.com/jcmannone/.
Christian Ward is a UK based writer who can be currently found in Wild Greens, Literary Yard, Grand Little Things and The Pangolin Review.
© Wilda Morris