August poets and the word for September

BULLETIN: This just in from Nile Stanley. He and Gary Dulabaum will be appearing at the Nebraska State Reading Association in 2012. Nile and Gary have both been my Featured Guests and Nile was our judges’ selection for Word of the Month Poet in November, 2010 for his poem, “Words.” Congratulations to Nile and Gary.

Hi everyone,

It is my pleasure to announce our winning poets for August. Joy Acey, who lives in Tucson, Arizona and attended my poetry workshop at Honesdale in June, takes top honors in both categories with her poem, “The View from the Iron.” It doesn’t happen often that a poet wins both Hall of Fame Poet and Word of the Month Poet in the same month. The last one to accomplish it was Susan Carmichael from Columbus, Ohio, another poetry workshop attendee, who pulled it off in June for her poem, “Such a Good Puppy.” Susan has since placed her poem with Magazine.

Here are some comments by judges this month about Joy’s winning entry.

“One particular line ‘loose tongues when they went to town,’ is really splendid.”

“I love the easy rhyme and whimsical story of the snowman poem but really love the story of the
iron and the family … sooooooooo, soooooooooooo
I think I will go with ‘View from the Iron’ as my first choice, since it is so different and I do like the details in the poem.
But I really like ‘Can’t/Won’t Compromise,’ also.”

“Can’t/Won’t Compromise?” was posted by Liz Korba from New Jersey. Liz tied with Steven Withrow in January 2011 for Hall of Fame Poet with her poem, “Fathom,” and this month she finished in second place for Word of the Month Poet.

Congratulations to Joy for sweeping honors in August, to Liz for a close second, and to all of our poets who seized on one word to create a new collection of original poetry. I’m delighted each and every month by the diversity of approaches and voices and I’m grateful to everyone for supporting the exercise.

Once again, my thanks to our judges.

Are you ready for the word for September? Here it is: CLASS

September is the 12th month of our second one-year cycle of Word of the Month. During the first twenty-three months, Steven Withrow and Mary Nida Smith have posted poems in each month. Liz Korba posted a poem late one month but still posted it to share, making her another who has posted at least twenty-three times. There are others who are close to that number. I’ll try to bring the records up to date before long and post the whole thing. It’s fun to see how many poets have joined the fun over the past two years.

Beginning the third cycle of Word of the Month in October, I expect to make some changes regarding the voting aspect of the exercise. For some time now I’ve thought about dropping the voting process and focusing on the fun of writing, posting, and commenting on poetry. Steven Withrow has also suggested it and put it well. Here is a note from Steven a few weeks ago.

Hi, David.

I visited your blog to vote today, and it started me wondering if you might consider evolving your word-of-the-month “contest” into a word-of-the-month “challenge” — not unlike the Miss Rumphius Effect weekly poetry stretch, but on a monthly schedule.

The basic setup would be the same as you have now, and finished poems would be posted at the end of each month. It would eliminate, however, the competitive aspect as well as the time you invest in managing the judging and voting process. I noticed that the number of votes is generally low (for the adult side) compared with the number of entries — and the great thread of comments — each month.

People mainly participate for the camaraderie, sharing, challenge, support, feedback, and inspiration that come from a regular group activity. We’re less concerned about whose poem wins. We also might think of new ways to encourage poets to revise their work based on group feedback.

Perhaps it’s something you’ll consider for the start of 2012? Or as early as September, with the start of the new school year?


Although I’ve made no final decision yet, I’m leaning toward doing exactly what Steven suggests. We have another month to decide and I am interested in hearing from others. Please let me have your comments about how Word of the Month should operate starting in October. Thanks very much.


Poem by Jeanne Poland

Hi everyone,

Don’t forget to vote today before noon CST.

Yesterday Jeanne Poland from Hudson, New York, one of our poets who attended my poetry workshop at Honesdale in June, responded to the havoc and heartache of the storm along our east coast by writing a poem. I asked her permission to post her poem today and she said yes. Here is Jeanne’s poem.


When I was ten,
We walked barefoot
In the hurricane.
It was an August storm,
Northport, Long Island.

The water rushed
Down the storm drains
Past my toes
Scrunched to the pebbly concrete
For staying power.

Wind whipped our light clothed bodies
To and fro.
Rain rivuleted from nose to lip.
We panted
And climbed on
Exploring country roads
To thunder’s applause
And lightning’s strobes.

We knew no fear,
Only curiosity.

Now that I’m seventy
In August’s storm
I watch TV
And see
The bands of red, orange and yellow
Swirl across the East Coast.

I mourn
A million customers
Without power
A million more,

My feet are dry.
My face is calm.
My breathing slow.
But I am tight
With fear
For humankind:
Against the swirls
Of nature’s wrath
Across the sky.

by Jeanne Poland 8/28/11

Jeanne, many thanks.

Our judges

REMINDER: Voting for August Hall of Fame Poet cuts off tomorrow (Tuesday) at noon CST. Don’t forget to vote.

Hi everyone,

I hope that those of you who have been in the path of the storm are doing okay. It’s hard to imagine so many people without power, many of them dealing with the nightmare of flooding and damaged homes. Our thoughts are with you all.

I want to remind you that even as we are selecting our August Hall of Fame Poet by popular vote, I’ve sent poems to our panel of professional judges so they can select their top pick for August Word of the Month Poet. To remind you of our judges, here’s a link with their names, pictures, and places to learn more about them. As always, I ask that you read their work and let them know you appreciate their time and talents.


Let the voting begin

BULLETIN: As you know, only those poets who have not previously won in this category (Hall of Fame Poet of the month) are eligible to win during the same 12-month cycle. This cycle ends in September. Voters are encouraged to vote for the poem of their choice but, just so you know, the poets who are eligible to become August Hall of Fame Poet are Jeanne Poland, Beth Carter, Heidi Mordhorst, and Joy Acey.

Hi everyone,

I’m sorry that I haven’t commented more often this month but as many of you know I’ve been either out of town or writing most of the time. However, I have read and loved your HOT poems and am glad that you had fun with that word during August.

I’m posting a ballot box for the adult group but, alas, we only have two poems from our young poets and therefore cannot use a ballot box this month. But that doesn’t mean we can’t read once again and comment on the work of first timer Monica Marshall, who is beginning 8th grade in Republic, Missouri, and seasoned pro P. Andrew Pipatjarasgit, now a 7th grader in Ohio!

I’ve posted everyone’s poems below the ballot box so read, enjoy, comment, and vote!

My thanks to all,


by Steven Withrow

In a shapshot
that some hotshot
photographer dropped
on the hotel floor
are dichotomies
of tchotchkes.

What it’s Not
by David L. Harrison

This summer isn’t Camelot,
I’m confident I’ve not forgot
Conditions in that far-off spot –
Not too cold, not too hot.

Hugenot nor Hottentot
Would deny this summer’s hot.
I fear it is a Gorish plot
To prove a point until we rot

Or shrink to mummies like as not.
Pines are dripping galipot,
Sweat has melted down to swat,
We need rain but don’t get squat.

I burned my hand on an apricot,
My brain has shriveled to a dot,
I’m running out of rhymes for hot,
My tale is done, it’s all I’ve got.

Salsa Recipe by Jane Heitman Healy

Serrano, Poblano, and Hatch
Make up a spicy batch,
With lots of tomatoes
And Jalepeños
With onions and garlic to match.

Throw in Tabasco and add
A pinch of Cayenne. Don’t be mad.
Tears stream from your eyes,
What’s the surprise?
“Caliente! It’s too hot, you cad!”

County Fair Food by Jane Heitman Healy

Gitcher funnel cakes, piping hot!
Get ‘em now ,
They’re all we’ve got!

Corn dogs, hot dogs, chili dogs, too,
We got ‘em all,
They’re hot for you!

Walking tacos! Wrapped just so!
Hot right now,
If you’re on the go!

Roasted turkey legs! Hot to handle,
They’ll give you pep
As you skiddadle!

Deep fried Twinkies on a stick!
Try ‘em hot,
They’re a great pick!

Good August Day to all! Here is my August poem… by Susan Carmichael

“Is it me?”

I fly to the freezer,
fling open the door
and cram my head inside.

Eye to eye
with a chicken pot pie,
I mumble a heavenly sigh.

After a minute or two
my head I withdrew
Icicles prickle my cheeks.

My chin is red
scraped on frozen french bread
I look like a bit of a freak.

You see, the weather outside is frightful;
(Frigid temps and snowing a lot).
Even though the house is quite cozy,
Internally, my temperature’s HOT!

Swimmin’ Pool by julie Krantz

Swimmin’ pool, swimmin’ pool
I’m your local swimmin’ fool.
See your sparkle, see your blue
ain’t nothing comin’ ’tween me ’n you.

Swimmin’ pool, swimmin’ pool,
hot dogs, June bugs, summer school.
Feel your water, feel your ice—
Oooooooh—don’t that feel nice!

© by Mary Nida Smith

Hot summer breezes
Cooks the flesh brown-
We stay indoors.
Cold winter frost
Freezes the flesh cold-
We stay indoors.
Hot or cold
We hide behind
Closed doors.

Ha Cha Cha
by Jeanne Poland

You think you’re so hot
Ha cha cha!
Burnt and blunt
Like blender blades.
Buzz off
You liquid-y creep
Before you beep
The smoke alarm!

Can’t Won’t Compromise? By liz korba

“It’s hot!” the Snowman said, “so hot!”
The Sun did not agree.
The temperature had risen to a balmy thirty-three.
“It’s wintertime and mighty cold.”
The Sun claimed from the sky.
Wind whipped as talks continued.
Could these two see eye to eye?
“It isn’t cold. It’s very hot.”
“It’s thirty-three!” Sun said.
The Snowman couldn’t change his mind.
The Sun, so mad, turned red.
“I’m going, Sun, or you must leave.
Your cold’s too hot for me.”
“What I call ‘cold’ is ‘hot’ to you!?”
“Yes, Sun, at last you see!”
“I see, but I will never change
My mind. I will not bend.
“Nor I,” said Snowman sadly,
“We have come to a dead end.”
With that the Sun – he went away.
And Snowman – he left too.
Each spoke his truth till darkness came.
Night had no point of view.

by Cory Corrado

Purple-pink notes unfurl
Blooms climb the staff, searching
For their perch.
Eureka! Clef-and-key perfect!
Glory echoes – d.
c. al fine.

The Dreaded “M”
by Beth Carter

I ripped off my gown.
Hubby: “I’m freezing in here.”
Those darn hot flashes.

UNHAPPY HOUSEGUEST by Jackie Huppenthal

Grandma and Papa
won’t turn on the air
so hot I can’t sleep
they don’t seem to care
ice fills the washcloth
that lays on my head
more was on my belly
but it melt, wet my bed

I hate this heat wave
I keep flipping ’round
no sleep, rest, or dreams
stale air hangs, surrounds
How do they take it
sleep so peacefully
stubborn, cheap, tough, or nuts
It just baffles me

(4 years later)

They took us with
all aboard a cruise ship
cause Papa was in the Navy
soft breezes, flying fish
gentle water warm, wavy

He was happy at sea
and Grandma, so was she
with food, bingo, shops and sights to see
a fond family memory

My sis and I, we got away
to stroll the deck and even play

daily dips in the pool
a nap on the beach
disco dancing…
Hot Hot Hot
never felt so cool!

ole ole – ole ole -ole ole – ole ole

hots by Heidi Mordhorst

hot hits with heady haste and a taste of hateful
oscillating over agonized octagon of a face
teeming up from torso to temples, tearing along the hairline

hot hides in a hungry heart, hinting out through hands
occasionally obvious or awkward, orchestrating octaves of
tipsy tenderness, of testing teasing touches

hot hurricanes hazily in, hibernating hurry under a hat of humidity
operating an undulating optometry on eyes
turning tarmac tacky, taking temperatures tridigital

how hot
are you?

Heidi Mordhorst 2011
all rights reserved


Spraying the starch, pressing the shirt,
Hot against the ironing board,
Made her give thought to her father,
Who hated the process,
Feared the watching, he kept trying
To make it go away.

He took his shirts to the laundry,
Where the crumpled piles, smelling of him,
Returned paper crisp fresh
On hangers wrapped in plastic.

The oldest boy, second of seven,
He figured this a treat
He could afford for himself.
The first, a girl,
Not quite right in the head.

It had fallen to him
To protect her from loose tongues
When they went to town,
He held her hand, helped her and the young ones
Buy penny candy at the general store.

One day while Mama ironed, Sister teased
And he gave chase around the pressing board.
She ducked to get away.
The board collapsed like their family.

The hot iron fell, hit Sister in the head.
The smell of burning flesh was drowned by her screams.
They took Sister away, he never saw her again.

But he had to mind the children on Sunday afternoons
When Mother went to visit.
The weight of her memory kept him from enjoying
The view from the iron.


HOT by Monica Marshall, 8th grade
Republic Middle School, Republic, Missouri

The sun is beating down on my delicate face, the pavement below is cracking and popping from the excruciating heat. It’s so hot, a small drop of sweat races down my cheek. My skin is melting, my bones are boiling, I just need a cold glass of ice tea.

Down South Kaibab
By P. Andrew Pipatjarasgit, 7th grade
Sylvania, Ohio

Quite hot and steaming,
I’m running out of water
And shade is yonder.