Friday, July 1, 2022

July 2022 Poetry Challenge: Hats and Other Headgear

The Labours of the Months: June
Venetian, date unknown
National Gallery of Art, London

You can often tell a lot about people by what they wear—or don’t wear—on their heads. A garden hat, a straw hat, a fancy hat sporting flowers or feathers, a cowboy hat, a homburg, a nun’s veil, a hijab, a yarmulke, a motorcycle helmet, the hood of a jacket or shirt, an infinity scarf. The options are almost endless. The head covering may reflect a faith tradition, make a fashion statement, reflect a political viewpoint, or protect the wearer from sun or cold. Hats worn by loved ones may have special significance.

 “Garden Hat” is one of the first poems Merle Hazard wrote after the death of her husband.

Garden Hat

I washed your garden hat this week;
the silly, floppy brimmed
canvas topper you wore
to shade your chrome dome.

I found your lid on the gas grill
where you tossed it
that last Saturday.

I wore that hat all summer.
I suppose I thought
it might impart your green thumb
as I struggled with the weeds,
the acrid smelling spray,
hoping the poison was not killing
one of your prize plants.

I wore it when I mowed the lawn
and fought the prickly thistles,
when I picked the dead geranium heads.

It was grimy with a mix
of your sweat and mine. I soaked it
as you once did, in bleach and hot water,
sudsed it, rinsed and blocked it dry.

I packed up some of your clothes 
for Goodwill. I put the garden hat
in the bag, but it refused to go. 

~ Merle Hazard

Merle Hazard retains copyright on her poem.


A very different kind of head covering appears in the following poem, one I dedicated to my granddaughter.


Baseball Caps
            For Barb

Every morning for years—
whatever the season—
you pulled on a baseball cap
as you went out the door.
Where are those visored caps now?

Who told you it's not a girl thing,
not who you should want to be?
Was it that same girl who said
when you get to middle school
you can't have one hair
out of place, the one
who says your jeans are in style
only with designer labels,
that guys don't like girls
who are smart and do well?

Was it the same girl
who repeated all the other lies
told to keep us in place?
Don’t listen to her!

~ Wilda Morris

“Baseball Caps” was published by Puffin Circus, 2:3 (March 2011).


Some other poems on hats and other head coverings:

“My Father’s Hat,” by Judith Tullis,

“Death of the Hat,” by Billy Collins,

“When Polly Buys a Hat,” by E. Hill,

“The List of Famous Hats,” by James Tate,

“The Quangle Wangle’s Hat,” by Edward Lear,

Hats,” by Glenis Redmond,

“Candle Hat,” by Billy Collins,

“My Father’s Hats,” by Mark Irwin,

“A Cowboy’s Hat,” by  Baxter Black,

“The Cat in the Hat,” by Doctor Suess,

“My Hijab: A Response to Eve Enslers’ ‘My Short Skirt,’” by Vanessa McGreevy,

“The Bridal Veil,” by Alice Cary,


The July Challenge:

The challenge for this month is a poem about a hat or other head covering. Your poem may be literal or metaphoric, serious or humorous. Note that we will not accept any poems denigrating other person's religion or ethnicity. Note that the blog format does not accommodate shaped poems or long lines; if a poem has long lines, 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. Note, too, that long poems are at a 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 July 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 “July 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.



Merle Hazard is a native of Syracuse, New York. She learned to write poetry in Wisconsin, where she lived for 22 years. She now lives in Macon, Georgia, near some of her family. She retired from a career in nursing, including working with Hospice, both at the bedside and in management. She has written poetry for many years and enjoys reading the poetry of others. In her spare time, she walks, plays bridge and Rummikub, dines with friends, is involved with her church, and takes senior classes at Wesleyan College “to keep my mind busy.”

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.



© Wilda Morris