Wednesday, February 1, 2023

February 2023 Poetry Challenge: Beach Poems

Children Playing on the Beach by Mary Cassatt, 1884 

National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

This painting is in the public domain

It is very cold today here in the Chicago area—and across much of central and northern United States.  I’m sure a lot of people are wishing they could be on a Caribbean beach enjoying the sun, so I thought it would be fun to feature beaches as our February Poetry Challenge. Here are a couple of examples of beach poems:

Beach Time

When long-ago bikini fades
into one-piece swimsuit,
a different slant on life
sifts like fine sand
through grasping fingers

and there’s no way to swim back
or float for hours in youthful
innocence when radiant tan
and sun-streaked hair
held sway over caution.

It’s now when you meet
yourself coming and going
in a watery world of memories,
salty aftertastes mixed
with sunburned longing

for another era when waves
washed hopes and dreams
over you, when the scattered
sea glass, smooth pebbles
and bleached shells

hadn’t been collected yet
as reminders of passing time
before yesterday, and more
frothy rollers pound the beach
into tomorrow.

~ Susan T. Moss

“Beach Time,” Mapping A Life (Antrim House, 2021), p. 63. Used by permission.


The next poem was written in Playa del Carmen where I went a number of years ago to see my new-born grandson (he’s now a young adult). Playa del Carman is near Cancun, and is a little lest touristy. I enjoyed watching a group of young men play volleyball near a restaurant where we ate lunch one day.

Beach Volleyball

Like Caribbean waves, his body is all motion.
His feet are never still; his hands shift, stretch
for the ball coming over the net. His feet propel
him into air. He slaps the ball with open hand,
waits for it to come steaming back into his court.
Beads of sweat roll and bounce from his browned skin
to white sand. His muscles glisten. Diving low
for the spiked orb, he sprawls, rises powdered with sand.
He hasn’t yet learned life isn’t winning or losing,
but volleys with sudden unexpected turns he can’t control.
It sometimes soars, sometimes bounces,
sometimes shatters hours or years into grains of sand.

~ Wilda Morris

This poem was first published by Highland Park Poetry.

For more beach poems, see

The February Challenge:

The challenge for this month is a beach poem. Your poem may be literal or metaphoric, serious, or humorous. About vacationing on a beach, the beaches of Normandy, building sandcastles, etc., etc. It can be an ocean beach or a lake beach, or even an artificial beach. It can 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 February 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, February 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 “February 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, either in the body of the email or in an attachment.

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.



Susan T. Moss is the author of three books of poetry including her most recent full-length collection, Mapping A Life. She also has written two chapbooks, In From The Dark and Keep Moving ‘til The Music Stops. Susan is presently serving a sixth term as president of Illinois State Poetry Society and is a member of Poets Club of Chicago and The P2 Collective. Her work has appeared in publications including Caduceus, After Hours, the Kerf, Steam Ticket and Soundings Door County in Poetry. Credits include a month-long residency at Vermont Studio Center and two Illinois Humanities fellowships and readings on radio and cable television.

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 Quill & Parchment, The Avocet, Presence, Turtle Island Quarterly, and The Broken City. 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 Books). Her book, The Unapproved Uncle is scheduled for publication this spring.



© Wilda Morris