Saturday, January 28, 2023

January 2023 winners: Peace Poems


Apple Blossoms by Martin Johnson Heade, 1873

Cleveland Museum of Art

Peace is an important subject for poets to write about. If we share visions of peace, maybe we can help bring peace to ourselves, our families, our neighborhoods, our communities, our country, our world. Or at least, maybe we can spark a desire to work for peace among others.

Thank you to Peggy Trojan for serving as judge this month. She selected three winning poems. The authors retain copyright to their own poems. Here is the first-place poem:


Apple Blossoms

I remember my grandmother’s apple trees.
They made a canopy over the yard
that rambled to a dusty road.
In August, when we celebrated her birthday,
we cousins harvested the windfall fruit
to lob at each other in make-believe battle.

Because my family did not visit in spring,
I never saw the trees in bloom.
I wonder what that looked like, to gaze
skyward and see a lattice of flowers
visited by intent bees, to breathe air heavy
with fragrance for a few blissful weeks.

The orchard is gone, my grandmother long dead,
and yet I see her walking under those trees
after saying goodbye to seven sons who left
for war, as she waited for their letters to arrive.
She gazed at a burst of blossoms on V-E day,
and welcomed her sons home in apple time.

~ Irene Alderson

The judge says, “This poem weaves together several experiences of peace, gently told.  Apple blossoms, visits to Grandma’s house, the camaraderie of cousins, the peace of V-E day and the return of seven sons.  Lovely.”

Tell Me What You Think Means Peace

Tell me, Old Willow Tree,
What is peace?
Tell me what you think means peace.

Peace is the wind through my branches and leaves.
Peace is the quiet time when one can grieve.
Peace is allowance for hearts to believe.
That, my child, is peace.

Tell me, Great Grizzly Bear,
What is peace?
Tell me what you think means peace.

Peace is enough food so that all may eat.
Peace is the space for a long winter’s sleep.
Peace is the right to feel things way down deep.
That, my child, is peace.

Tell me, Dear Neighbor,
What is peace?
Tell me what you think means peace.

Peace is the sound of the blessings we send.
Peace is confidence placed in a friend.
Peace is the evidence hatred can end.
That, my child, is peace.

~ Thomas Hemminger

Peggy Trojan selected this poem as second place. “As co-inhabitants of the only planet known to sustain life, this poem reminds us that we are not the only form that recognizes peace.  The poet implies as children of the earth, we are still learning.”

For third place, she selected “Two Paths.”

Two Paths  

He was not a hugger; he was a tank guy,
on the front lines of the Battle of the Bulge,
who often related experiences to his youth
fighting the Nazis
When I was afraid as a child, he would respond,
Don’t worry,
Hell on Wheels has you!
His solution to calm my fears
about the bomb shelter our neighbors had:
No problem,
I would dig us a foxhole!
This, akin to hiding under our desks at school

When he sent me to Europe,
I was seventeen,
He clenched me with the tightest embrace when I got off the plane,
then whispered in my ear,
I’m glad you didn’t have to go the way I did

He is gone now

I should have thanked him for a peaceful path

~ Mitzi Dorton

“A child who feels safe knows peace,” says the judge. “This poem pays tribute to a father who instilled this belief, an assurance carried into adulthood.”


Thank you to all those who entered the January Poetry Challenge. I hope to see a new poem from you next month!



Irene Alderson performs regularly with the Bosso Poetry Company, a collective of writers and musicians based in Minneapolis. Her poetry has appeared online, on the Mankato Poetry Walk & Ride, and in her self-published chapbook, Flying Between the Snows. She lives with her husband, who fills their home with music.

Mitzi Dorton is author of the book, Chief Corn Tassel. Her poetry is in Rattle, SEMO Press, Sheila-Na-Gig/Women of Appalachia Project, and Willowdown Books.

Thomas Hemminger is an elementary music teacher living in Dallas, Texas with his wife and son. As a music teacher, Thomas writes many songs and poems for his classroom. He just recently had two poems published on, his very first publications. His personal and professional hero is Mr. Fred Rogers, the creator and host of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. Being the son of an English Language Arts teacher, Thomas grew up surrounded by prose and poetry. Furthermore, his mother’s love of verse, and her own talented pen, impressed a deep love for the art within him. Away from the classroom, Thomas enjoys spending time with his family going hiking, camping, and fishing when the North Texas weather permits.

Peggy Trojan's new release, a collection about her father, titled PA, won second in the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets Chapbook contest in 2022. It won Honorable Mention for the Northeastern Minnesota Book Award for 2022.  Her previous release, River, won second in the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets Chapbook contest in 2021. It also won an award of Outstanding Achievement from the Wisconsin Library Association. She is the author of two full collections and five chapbooks. Her books are available on Amazon. 

© Wilda Morris



Sunday, January 1, 2023

January 2023 Challenge - Peace Poems

Allegory on The Blessings of Peace by Peter Paul Rubens
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

I didn’t remember how recently I had posted a challenge for peace poems when I decided that would be a good theme for January. But I decided to go ahead with it because the desire for peace is so deep, and the achievement of peace so difficult. My generation was among the first to view acts of war on television.

I was a child during World War II. I remember young men from the neighborhood coming to tell my grandparents goodbye as they went off to war and visiting them when they were home on leave. One young soldier brought my sister and me handkerchiefs from the Philippines. I remember brown outs when we visited an aunt and her family in New York State and playing war games with my cousins. After that, there was the Korean War and the Vietnam War and the Iraq War in each of which the U.S. military was heavily involved. There were wars for independence from colonial powers. The war which split Pakistan from India. Numerous conflicts in the Middle East and Africa. And now, war in Ukraine. I can identify with this poem by Peggy Trojan


My Wish

When I was eight,
the world was at war.
I felt sorry for the children,
wished I could save them
from the cold, from hunger,
pain, and fear.
I wished fervently, prayerfully.

That war ended in 1945.
The world continues to fight.
I have been wishing
for over eighty years.

-Peggy Trojan

This poem was used with the permission of the poet. She retains copyright.


Several times in December I listened to “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” a musical setting for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, “Christmas Bells.” Longfellow wrote this poem during the Civil War when the country was divided as never before. In many cases, brothers were fighting brothers. Longfellow’s son Charley had been seriously injured while fighting with the Union Army and had been sent home to recuperate. Things looked very bleak, but still the church bells were ringing on December 25.


Christmas Bells

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet
The words repeat

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!


And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!


Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!


Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!


It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!


And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”


Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This poem is in the public domain.


I may be a bit biased as a result of attending Longfellow School in Iowa City as a child, but I have always been moved by this (and several other poems by Longfellow). Another well known peace poem, also associated with Christmas, is by the African American theologian and mystic Howard Thurman:


The Work of Christmas

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:


To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers,
To make music in the heart.

~ Howard Thurman

I was unable to ascertain if this poem is in the public domain or not, but it is posted all over the Internet so I presume that it is.


For more peace poems, click on for the winning Peace Poems frum June 2022. Then click on “Older Post” at the lower right hand corner of that post to see the example poems – and a link to the first time the Poetry Challenge called for Peace Poems (in December 2018).


The January Challenge:

The challenge for this month is a poem on the theme of peace. Your poem may be literal or metaphoric, serious, or humorous. You might be inspired by Rubens' painting to write about the blessings of peace. Your poem may be for children or for adults. Be creative! Note that the blog format does not accommodate shaped poems or long lines; if a poem with long lines is used, the lines 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 poems over 25 lines are at a disadvantage.

Poems could be disqualified if the guidelines are not followed. Submit your poem by January 15.

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


3-Whether you put your poem in the body of your email or in an attachment, please put your submission in this order:

Your poem

Your name

Publication data if your poem was previously published

A brief third-person bio

Your email addressit 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 midnight, Central Time Zone, January 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 “January 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.



Peggy Trojan's new release, a collection about her father, titled PA, won second in the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets Chapbook contest in 2022. It won Honorable Mention for the Northeastern Minnesota Book Award for 2022.  Her previous release, River, won second  in the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets Chapbook contest in 2021. It also won an award of Outstanding Achievement from the Wisconsin Library Association. She is the author of two full collections and five chapbooks. Her books are available on Amazon. 


© Wilda Morris