Wednesday, July 28, 2021

July 2021 - Poetry at the Movies Winners


Image from

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

Watching 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

Watching 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

They were on the fishing boat’s fantail,
and he was having difficulty
lighting his cigarette in the sea breeze.

Remember the scene?

She 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?

Except, 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:

The Struggle for Humanness
After watching ‘The Art of Racing in the Rain’ by Garth Stein

The 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.

I 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

my 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

with 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.

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




Thursday, July 1, 2021

July 2021 Poetry Challenge - Inspired by the Movies

Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash
According to the editors of The Poetry Foundation’s website, “In the last 100 years, perhaps no other artistic medium has provided more fodder for poetry than the cinema.” Considering the role film has played in culture, not just in the U.S., but in many countries around the world, it is not surprising that poets should find inspiration on the big screen. We will look at a few examples or poems responding two or influenced by movies.

Caroline Johnson’s poem, “Sunsets,” almost makes me feel I’m about to tip into either waves or a sand trap. The sun is sinking on the golf course, The Titanic is sinking in the movie, Caroline’s mother is sinking deeper into dementia, and her father is floundering due to his health issues. The poet is trying to keep her head above water. The narrator of the poem and her parents are intertwined with the characters and plot of the movie.


The sun has not set on the golf course.
We are watching The Titanic at home. 
Kate Winslet has almost thrown herself
into the Atlantic’s icy waters.  I like Kate Winslet. 
She is pretty and a mother.  I am tall and I am not a mother.
My dad reaches over his wheelchair, fumbling
for the remote.  “What are you doing, Dad?”
He says he’s looking for his glasses, another
thing for me “to bitch about.”

Mom thinks Kate Winslet is her mother.  Mom thinks
this is not her house.  Mom is happy in her delirium.
“Are you OK, Bob?”  she asks.  “I love you.” 

I give my father his electric toothbrush and assist
him to the toilet.  I cook them frozen pizza and clean
after them.  I wonder if they will be in a nursing home.
“I’ll be in there someday,” my dad says.

The Titanic is sinking.  Leonardo DiCaprio is trying to save
Kate Winslet.  I like Leonardo DiCaprio.  At this moment,
I do not like my father.  At this moment, I hope
things will change.

Leonardo DiCaprio’s lips are turning blue.  My mother’s
arms are scaly and dry.  I put lotion on her arms.
I put lotion that smells like coffee on my father’s legs,
bright with red sores.  I tuck them into bed
and spread the fat green comforter over them.
Mom leans up with her dentureless mouth and smiles
a wide beam.  “Thank you for being so nice,” she says.
I kiss them on the cheek.  My father says good-bye
and looks up with a blank stare, grabbing the comforter.

I go out to my black Honda.  The sun is setting on the golf course.
All the golfers are finished, and there is only the red flag
blowing on the 18th hole, like a ghost.

~ Caroline Johnson

Previously published in The Quotable and nominated for a Pushcart Prize; also published in The Caregiver (Holy Cow! Press, 2018). []


Cindy Guentherman recalls her childhood love of the movie, Peter Pan, then takes the reader to an unexpected place.

Peter Pan

When I was a kid
we didn’t have smart phones
and tablets to do games on.
We played outside
with neighbor kids and
made things up.
When I was nine,
after our folks had packed
us off to bed, I would snag
the youngest sister and dress
her up in a first communion gown.
Then I would wake the other kids
and tell them I was Peter Pan and
she was Tinker Bell.
I don’t think anyone believed it
except me.
I got a bit of teasing in later years.
And while I have never met a
certified fairy, I have had my doubts
about the true identity of dragonflies.
Of course I got old.
But about never growing up,
I think sticking a poet mind
into a grown-up
comes pretty darn close.

~ By Cindy Guentherman


Some poems have much more subtle references to movies.

Real Life

No retirement book
ever told me,
when you
get up
in the morning
and begin to
walk, you’re
going to feel
like the
tin man,
in need of
an oil change.

~ Jane Seskin

Copyright ©2019 by Jane Seskin, originally published in OLDER, WISER, SHORTER: An Emotional Road Trip to Membership in the Senior Class. []

It didn’t take me long to picture the tin man from The Wizard of Oz, and to identify with the poet!

Poets whose poems are used on this blog retain copyright to their work.

On-line Examples of poems based on or inspired by movies:
--The Poetry Foundation has a page discussing the influence of movies on poetry, along with numerous links to movie-inspired poems, at
--The Interesting Literature website has links to what it considers “the ten best poems about movies,” at
--Eleven examples of film ekphrasis were published by Verse at
--Two poems based on movies are included in an essay by Diane DeCillis at

There are also movies based on poems. You can find a long list of such movies at Ekphrasis works in both directions!

The July Challenge:

Please follow the guidelines carefully.

The challenge for this month is a poem about a movie, or in which a movie plays a significant role. The movie may be the main character in the poem, or it may appear subtly. Your poem may be serious or humorous. The poem may be metaphoric, or literal. If the name of the movie does not appear in the poem, please make a note of it in an epigram or make a note of it under the poem, in case the judge doesn't recognize it. 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.

1-Title your poem unless it is in a form that discourages titles.


3-Put your name and a brief third-person bio under your poem.

4-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.

5-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.

6-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 and teens read this blog).

7- No simultaneous submissions, please. You should know by the end of the month whether or not your poem will be published.

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. Decision of the judge or judges is final.

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:

1-Send one poem only to wildamorris4[at]gmail[dot]com (substitute the @ sign for “at” and a . for “dot”).

2-Put “July 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.

3-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.

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 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.


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.
Caroline Johnson has two illustrated poetry chapbooks, Where the Street Ends and My Mother’s Artwork, and a full-length collection, The Caregiver (Holy Cow! Press, 2018), inspired by years of family caregiving.  In 2012 she won the Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Poetry Contest, and was nominated for both the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Her poetry has appeared on Garrison Keillor’s Writers Almanac, and she leads workshops for veterans and other poets in the Chicago area. She is president of Poets & Patrons of Chicago. Visit her at
Jane Seskin ( is a psychotherapist and author of numerous books, essays and poems in national magazines and journals. Her most recent collection of poetry is OLDER, WISER, SHORTER: An Emotional Road Trip to Membership in the Senior Class.



© Wilda Morris