Wednesday, June 1, 2022

June Poetry Challenge - Peace Poems

Allegory of Peace
School of Francesco Solimena
Italian, 1657-1747
Art Institute of Chicago


In her poem about peace, Cristina M. R. Norcross uses a lot of rich metaphors. She uses vivid images and appeals to multiple senses.


Breathing Peace

If peace was something we could hold
in our hands,
we would mold it like clay.
We would shape it into a circle,
leaving our thumbprint on it,
then carefully pass it into
the knowing hands of the next person,
as if handling a newborn sparrow.

If peace was something we could breathe,
we would close our eyes and savor the precious air
flowing into our lungs—
passing through our lips.
That exhale would be a prayer.
It would be a song in three-part harmony.

If peace was something we could taste,
it would be figs drizzled with honey.
We would arrange it on a plate
with a silk-petaled sunflower
decorating the center.
We would pass the plate around
with reverence, ensuring that every single person
received nourishment.

If peace was something we could walk to,
it would be a sacred labyrinth of circles.
We would greet each other on the meditative path.
We would come together at the center
and admire our cohesive union—
arms raised to the sun,
rejoicing in what we could not see or touch,
but we could feel it.
We have been walking together
for such a long time.
We have always been at peace,
but we become lost in the forgetting.

~ Cristina M. R. Norcross

“Breathing Peace" was first published in The Sound of a Collective Pulse, Kelsay Books, 2021). Used by permission. It is available from Kelsay Books:


I looked at the subject of peace in a somewhat different way in my poem. I began by using two lines from a poem by Mark Unbehagen, but took them in a somewhat different direction than Mark had.


Birthing Peace 

                        Beginning with two lines by Mark Unbehagen

How does one build peace
in a world that seems to prefer the profits of war,

in a rubble-filled land
where children starve,

in a city where meeting friends on the wrong corner
is suicidal?

How does one birth peace
in a world of broken treaties,

in a media blitz of lies,
threats and insults,

in a world of mistrust
and miscommunication?

How does one whisper the first word,
sing the first note,

light the first candle?
And will we?

~ Wilda Morris

“Birthing Peace” was first published in Rockford Review in 2017.

You can find Mark Unbehagen,’s poem, which appears on numerous websites, including

I had a challenge for peace poems once before. To see the winning poem by Carol Alena Aronoff, click on Scroll down to the bottom of that page to see the example poem by Mary Jo Balistreri. Neither of those poems is eligible to be submitted this month.

The June Challenge:

The challenge for this month is a poem about peace. It can be about inner peace, peace in the home, neighborhood, friendship circle, school, workplace, etc., or peace in the world. Your poem may be literal or metaphoric, serious or humorous. Note that the blog format does not accommodate shaped poems or long lines; if long linws 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. Note, too, that long poems are at a serious disadvantage.

Poems could be disqualified if the guidelines are not followed.

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


3-Put your submission in this order:
Your poem
Publication data if your poem was previously published
Your name
A brief third-person bio
Your email address – it saves me a lot of work if you put your email address at the end of your submission.

4-Please keep the poem on the left margin (standard 1” margin). Do not put any part of your submission on a colored background. No colored type. 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.

6-The deadline is June 15. Poems submitted after the deadline will not be considered. There is no charge to enter, so there are no monetary rewards. Winners are published on this blog.

7-Please don’t stray too from “family-friendly” language (some children and teens read this blog).

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

9-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.

10-Decision of the judge or judges is final.

11-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.

12-Send one poem only.

How to Submit Your Poem:

1-Send your poem to wildamorris4[at]gmail[dot]com (substitute the @ sign for “at” and a . for “dot”). The poem must respond in some way to the specific challenge for the month.

2-Put “June Poetry Challenge Submission” FOLLOWED BY YOUR NAME in the subject line of your email. 

3-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.

4-Poems may be pasted into an email or sent as an attachment or both (Doc, Docx, rich text or plain text; 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 capital letters); your name at the bottom of the poem).  Put everything in the order listed above.

6-Also, please do not use multiple spaces instead of punctuation 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 preferred.



Wilda Morris, Workshop Chair of Poets and Patrons of Chicago and a past President of the Illinois State Poetry Society, has published numerous poems in anthologies, webzines, and print publications, including The Ocotillo Review, Rockford Review, Turtle Island Quarterly, Modern Haiku, and Journal of Modern Poetry. She has won awards for formal and free verse and haiku, including the 2019 Founders’ Award from the National Federation of State Poetry Societies. She has published two books of poetry, Szechwan Shrimp and Fortune Cookies: Poems from a Chinese Restaurant (RWG Press) and Pequod Poems: Gamming with Moby-Dick (Kelsay Boks). Her poetry blog at features a monthly poetry contest.

Cristina M. R. Norcross lives in Southeast Wisconsin and is the editor of the online poetry journal, Blue Heron Review.  Author of 9 poetry collections, a multiple Pushcart Prize nominee, and an Eric Hoffer Book Award nominee, her most recent books are The Sound of a Collective Pulse (Kelsay Books, 2021) and Beauty in the Broken Places (Kelsay Books, 2019).  Cristina’s work appears in:Visual VerseYour Daily PoemPoetry HallVerse-VirtualThe Ekphrastic Review, and Pirene’s Fountain, among others.  Her work also appears in numerous print anthologies.  Cristina has helped organize community art/poetry projects, has led writing workshops, and has hosted many readings.  She is the host of the Facebook writing prompt group, Connection and Creativity in Challenging Times and is the co-founder of Random Acts of Poetry & Art Day.  Find out more about this author at:




© Wilda Morris