Monday, May 20, 2013
There were a lot of interesting poems submitted to the May Poetry Challenge. The judge for this month was poet and editor John Lehman. John is the founder of Rosebud Magazine. He is literary editor of Wisconsin People & Ideas as well as editor of Lit Noir (a digital magazines). John has had seven books of poetry, four of short stories and two nonfiction books published. You can read more about him at http://lakepoets.com/?page_id=405. If you follow John on Facebook, you may get an opportunity to snatch up a free copy of one of his e-books or an Kindle of Lit Noir.
John selected four winning poems. We begin with third place:
Little Red Cap
Red walks into The Dirty Shame
and orders her nightly Glenlivet.
Though experience is etched on her face,
she is still a striking woman.
Fashionably thin, she curls her booted feet
around the chipped barstool,
rolls a cigarette, lights up and takes a long drag.
Tonight, the bar empty, she sits alone
enveloped in smoke,
halfheartedly watching late-night TV,
wolves on the prowl in Wyoming,
calves killed on open range.
That old story. Again.
She remembers the wolf she once met,
walks through the thicket of memory
to the young girl, the blonde ringlets,
the red cape, soft and warm.
Gramma had sewed protection against the fists
of mountain wind that swept across the plains.
The wind was wild that day, and blew her off the path,
but whispered in the woods like the voice
of the "silver-voiced man" who called her Goldilocks.
That he called himself the" Big Bad Wolf"
made her laugh. He would show her an easier way.
She can still smell the acrid tobacco,
the sweet ripeness of apples in her wicker basket,
hear the rip of the red hood, feel the heaviness
as she runs, longing for Gramma's safe arms
the rhythmic creek of her rocker.
There’s no action in the bar except Nancy Sinatra
making a TV comeback with These Boots
Were Made For Walkin’. Red instinctively slides
off the barstool, pushes open the rain swollen door.
The only sound is the crunch of gravel as she walks
to the car. She continues to muse on the barren,
wind-swept countryside, Gramma, the red cap,
that wolf. She takes care of herself now, has made
her talisman permanent. She laughs as she drives away,
knowing she will die a redhead.
~ Mary Jo Balistreri
To learn more about Mary Jo, and read more of her poems, go to maryjobalistreripoet.com
The following poems tied for second place:
Words For My Prince
When you kissed me, I awoke
from a long sleep,
from an almost endless sleep.
Your soft lips spoke of honesty, had
the smoothness of milk being
poured from a pitcher into a waiting cup.
When you kissed me, you promised -
no more wicked stepmother who thought
only of her own shallow beauty.
You kissed me again, and
the second time was sweeter yet.
So I ask, “How can love be held
in such a small gesture?”
Seems impossible, but it can.
~ Eve Lomoro
Eve has been writing since her high school days.She is working on her second novel (the first one is still on the shelf. She began taking her poetry seriously two or three years ago. She participates in a small poetry writing group that meets once a month. She has been published in two of June Cotner's gift anthology books, and has received preliminary acceptance for another. This is not her first time as a winner in the Poetry Challenge. Eve lives with her husband Joe, and little dog, Gracie in Aurora, Illinois.
Passed Over Princess
That’s why I wasn’t picked?
Welcomed into the home of a prince,
by his private TSA gropers,
questioned about my princess skills
interrogated about my heritage
sent away before breakfast
and not once, not once
did Prince Brilliant Ego ask
what land I was Princess of!
What kind of nut
stacks up mattresses
on top of a pea
to find a wife anyway?
I’m happy to stay
in the rocky hills
where things are not soft,
Where I’m not too proud
to put my back
into a day’s work,
sweat pouring out
that could boil
that damn pea
to a soft smudge
That soft backed,
soft brained debutante
of Look At Me Land
can have the Prince
of Kingdom Pea Brain!
Pamela Larson lives in Arlington Heights, IL. Pam has been published in the Daily Herald, Karitos, Cram Poetry Series and on Poetry Super Highway.com. She has won many awards, including a recent 1st Place for haiku in the Highland Park 2013 Poetry Challenge. She is working now on trying to write under deadlines and with given prompts. She appreciates opportunities given by others to challenge the craft.
John Lehman picked a poem by Sheila Elliott as first place winner. He commented that he found this poem moving, and liked the unusual spin.
A Wood Duck Explains Departure
We’re marginals here, drab as gingerbread,
If truth be told, content to winter in high reeds,
To feed on rice scattered loose as dark confetti,
Rice that falls like stems thin as sparrows’ feet.
She never understood all of this,
That we're rich, at our best
Beneath blankets made of mist, that
We’re skilled. We know silence,
That it outsmarts the smartest hunter.
She never understood, truth be told,
The simple beauty of wings, damp and dark
As tree bark after rain, or our snouts
Sturdily shaped like some discarded human thing.
She never understood.
Wood ducks flock around, they
Breed furtively and often.
That thrashing in the high grass?
It is us releasing ripples that scatter like
Sudden silver streamers, that are
Splayed across a pond and become still
Only when they lap, gasping on a shore.
She never saw that, if truth be told.
Never understood what we are,
That this is our home, that
She was born to beauty, not us.
That she had to sail off, alone.
~ Sheila Elliott
Sheila Elliott's poetry has been published in Keystrokes, the annual anthology published by the Oak Park Writers Group, as well as by other regional writing organizations. She is a member of Poets and Patrons of Chicago and the Illinois State Poetry Society. This is her first appearance in Wilda Morris’s Poetry Challenge.
© 2013 Wilda Morris
These poets retain ownership and copyright on their poems. Please do not copy and distribute them without their consent.
Congratulations to these four winners, and to the other poets who submitted this month. I enjoyed reading all the poems!
A new challenge will be posted on June 1.