September winning poets, new guidelines, and October word of the month

Hi everyone,

I’m happy to announce our winning poets for September. They are:

Word of the Month Poet (chosen by our judges) is Liz Korba from New Jersey for her poem, “English as a Second Language Class.”

Here is Liz’s poem.

English As A Second Language Class

One heavy door that opened in
A hole where lock and key had been
(We needed to pass code.)
What kind of flame could cause concern
For cinder block and concrete floor?
The smell of sulfur in the air…
Perhaps that could explode…
Once storage space, now holding class -
(Not elements for science labs)
No windows, central air or heat
Were needed to pass code…
Still through the open door they came
With Buddha and a Sanskrit prayer
The Star of David, Crescent Moon
And Crosses made of gold and wood.
Chains, marked – I could not help but see.
In awe I knew I could not know
Such silence seeking sound.
First A…then O…that Y – sometimes…
U…and one day …
I
The word made flesh in sacred space
Inside one open door.

Second place goes to April Sopczak for her poem, “The Worthy Exense of Charm School.”

Hall of Fame Poet (chosen by ballot) is Bridget Magee of Tucson, Arizona, for her poem, “Passing Notes.” Here’s her winning work.

Passing Notes

I got in big trouble in class
For all the notes that I passed.
To the “Time-Out” chair I was sent
To sit and think and then repent.

So I sat and I thought,
But repent I did not.
For my notes were for Mr. Brown
To tell him his fly was down.
©2011, Bridget Magee

Congratulations to our winning poets for September!

Our word for the month inspired 14 poems, a bumper crop, and my congratulations go to each poet who shared his or her work. Many thanks!

October begins our third year of Word of the Month Poetry Challenge. As I mentioned the other day, I’m dropping the business of voting at the end of each month. Some of you may be sorry to see this activity dropped. If you are one of them, I apologize for the disappointment. Someday maybe we’ll revisit the idea of choosing someone to win each month but for now I want to try it this way. It’s simpler and allows us to focus on the fun at hand, which is to take a single word and see where it takes us poetically. It remains one of the best exercises I know for stretching the imagination and practicing at least once a month at writing a poem. And many of you have expressed how much you appreciate the comments of others throughout the month. We seem to have created a good support group and a number of poets have worked up the courage to post a poem for the first time on this blog. I’m proud of that.

Our new word for our first month of year three is NEW. Have a good time with it.

Let the voting begin

Hi everyone,

This month concludes the second 12-month cycle of Word of the Month. It doesn’t seem possible that we started this exercise two years ago. I’m grateful to all the poets who have shared their work each month. The twenty-four words of the month have inspired hundreds of poems, a testimoney to the creative spirit you bring to this blog.

I’ve placed the ballot box below and the month’s collection of poetry below that. I’m sorry that we have no poems by young poets to share but that should pick up again now that school is back in session.

The judges will also get busy now so we’ll have their decisions by the time we finish voting for the September Hall of Fame Poet. To remind you who our judges are, 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. https://davidlharrison.wordpress.com/2011/05/28/word-of-the-month-poetry-judges/

October begins our third year. I’m leaning strongly toward dropping all voting at that point. I know that the judges must be needing their time back and the voting guidelines allow a poet to win only once in a cycle in each category, so that’s rather restrictive. Steven and others have suggested that we eliminate voting and simply enjoy posting our work and supporting one another with our comments. That is truly the spirit behind the idea of Word of the Month in the first place. I’ll let you know for sure about the new guidelines when I announce the winners for September. After that we’ll hold the election to choose the Hall of Fame poet of the year and that may be our final time to vote on anything.

1 Mr. Harker

teaches my 7th grade math class,
his bald head smooth as a goose egg,
glistens from the lights.

He’s nuts about numbers,
waves his arms.
Says, You should know this,
and starts writing zeros on the board,
carrying them on and on
to the next board, his arm circles.

A most important number, he says.
Nada,
zilch,
nil, oh, circle.

The additive identity of the integers.
Columbus egg,
void,
naught, ought, null.

Place value systems.
Zip
place holder,
zero, blank, nix.

Isn’t this exciting? he asks
and stares
directly at me.

Me, I’m not sure.
I think
I’m barely more than
nothing.

by Joy Frelinger

2 All My Teachers Are Monsters

If there’s one rule I never break,
It’s, “Don’t be late for Mrs. Krake.”
She won’t get cross, but rumors tell
She ate a kid who missed the bell.
She loves the punctual, lauds the prompt,
And those who dawdle end up chomped.
There’s no excuse she’ll tolerate.
Believe you me…now DON’T be late.

But worse by far than Krakie’s wrath
Is Mr. Boyle, who teaches Math.
He’s not so much an angry guy,
But watch out for his Awful Eye.
As he’s adding fractions at the board,
His Eye, that evil overlord,
Fixes you with vision strange.
It’s best to sit well out of range.

And last of all, there’s Miss O’Grine,
Who’s taught since Nineteen-Thirty-Nine,
Her lesson plan looks etched in blood.
A creature dredged up from the mud?
A teacher, or perhaps…a witch?
But something tells me not to snitch
To Mr. Black, our principal…
’Cause I am not invincible.

© 2011 Steven Withrow, all rights reserved

3 yawn

fieldtrips are a giant snore,
especially to the zoo—
peanuts, pretzels, odors, poo (eeuw)—
until you see the animals:
monkeys, lions, zebras, bears,
tigers, hippos, snakes and more!

I saw otters slide off rocks, I saw toucans fly,
baby pandas ate bamboo as I went strolling by.
I never met a finer bunch—
of screaming shrews and horny toads,
ring-tailed lemurs, fainting goats—
but when my rebel belly growled—
my favorite thing was lunch.

When, at last, my legs got tired,
I hoped zoo-time had expired—
until I saw the el-e-phants
squirt each other happ-i-ly…
then I knew I’d rather be here…
than in my classroom nap-a-ling.

by julie Krantz

4 Class

Class is a fence:
Locked.
Can’t be bent
Morphed
Or
Stretched.
A thousand eyes hold you there.

Breaking out
Means flying
Above
The shackles
Chains
And
Brands.

First,
You need a voice
That sings;
A reach that
Soothes.
A torch
That leads.
Then up you rise… a personal ascension to upper class!

by Jeanne Poland

5 Class Work

This is labor of the lowest, bareknuckle kind:

the bending and stretching
of the farmer or fruit picker
as we tie the same shoes over and over, hang
glittering fish from the ceiling

the hefting and heaving
of the dock worker or trucker
as we haul in rolled-up rugs, drag
small but solid sinks and stoves into better spots

the sorting and stacking, shuffling and piling
of the secretary or stock clerk
as we stuff folders with important forms, fill
labeled shelves with puzzles and pebbles and paper

And all the while the labor of split-second decision:
just one, a few, or all?
address or ignore?
now or later?
sharp voice or soft?—

all the while a bear-down, breathing kind of labor
pushing each child further into
the light of the world, eyes wide open,
fingers unfurling to grasp tools for
the labor of becoming

by Heidi Mordhorst 2011
all rights reserved

6 Algebra Class

So what does X equal?
It does not equate to me.
Too darn many variables
lead to imaginary numbers,
and a multiplying pain
dividing my poor brain.

When we are old and grey
will anyone ever say,
“Thank God for Algebra?”

by Paul W. Johns

7 Class Clown

Ahead of his class,
a classic clown
with a costume-
problematic.

Although he excelled,
he was expelled.
The Dean was
most emphatic.

His pity plea
for some leniency
and his scholarship
was moot.

If you should go to
clown-school,
don’t wear
your birthday suit.

Copyright 2011
by Ken Slesarik
All rights reserved

8 CLASS OF STUDENTS

We are all put in a class
of our own as we develop
discovering who and what
we are in our daily walk.
Dominating
Goof-offs
Boring
Loveable
Over active
Successful
Book smart
Jocks
Nerds
Working class
Social class
Upper class
There are different classes
of students in every class
bringing their own uniqueness
into the world of class branding.
No student is odd or different
he or she is just in a class of their own.

© by Mary Nida Smith

9 CLASS OF ’68

Sister St Vincent, knew girls were indecent
sporting skirts that were short and unruly.
Outside before Mass, she would yell at her class
that “all hell will break loose from yours truly”.

But Our Lady of Guilt, didn’t have enough quilts
to cover all the flesh that was showin’.
As the girls stood in line, altar boys thought it fine
catching glimpses from gusty winds blowin’!

by Susan Carmichael

10 Classy Lady

She’s got Class
Heads turn when she starts to pass
Her little finger out as she sips her tea
When mad she slowly counts to three
Always dressed to the nines
Stilletos turn on a dime
On the dance floor she sways
No one turns away
Life is good when she smiles
People for her go the extra mile
Her kindness’ abound
A woman you want to be around

by Janet Kay Gallagher

11 Class-I-fied

“You wouldn’t want to be class-I-fied as one of them illegal aliens,” the hill man said and spat.
“Earthling, take me to your leader,” Blue Boy said, undulating fat.
“Shucks, Blue, you don’t want that.”
The old man added a hunk more tobacco chaw to his cheek.
“Them politicians will label you a freak.”
“No Earthling. One thing I learned in invasion class is to look like a computer geek.”
“Where’d you get the idea Blue that a geek would look like you?”
“TV waves showed pasty ones, ones like you, yellow and brown—some were blue.”
Blue Boy polished a brown spot off a waiving tendril, which threatened to turn a purple hue.
“Well, Blue, looks like your hide is shifting some.”
He tugged an overall strap with his thumb.
“Earthling what have you done? My sucker is becoming numb!”
Blue Boy wriggled about smearing more of the drops of tobacco juice.
“Well, Boy it’s like this—I couldn’t let you loose.”
The hill man smiled a stained-brown smile and spat another stream. “Looks like my tobaccy has cooked your goose.”
Blue Boy’s tendrils withered, his three eyes bulged, and he was sinking fast.
“Earthlings,” he whispered, “You’ve got sass.”
The hill man grinned and chuckled. “Nah, Blue Boy. But us hill folks we sure do have class and us Earthlings—we’re gonna last.”

*Vera Jane Goodin Schultz 2011
All Rights Reserved

12 The Worthy Expense of Charm School

She strode through the parking lot
her petit frame looking cat walk tall
in her shiny Jimmy Choo stilettos.
Burberry handbag swinging lithely from her sylphlike
arm, perfectly complimenting her sleek Marc Jacobs sheath.
Her hair was neatly arranged and shined with just the
right amount of product so her highlights fairly glistened
in the bright sun.
This angel of exquisiteness floated into her Lexus LS Hybrid,
twelve dollar latte in hand,
and began to take her leave of the place.
But in all her glory,
she forgot to look
left, right, left.
And pulled right in front of a pickup.
As Mr. Pickup hit the brakes and honked in rightful agitation,
he was rewarded with one, slender, impeccably manicured finger
held up in salute.
And then those dainty lips parted to expel a torrent of words
that would curl a sailor’s teeth.
Guess after buying all that flash,
she had nothing left for
class.

by April Sopczak

13 Passing Notes

I got in big trouble in class
For all the notes that I passed.
To the “Time-Out” chair I was sent
To sit and think and then repent.

So I sat and I thought,
But repent I did not.
For my notes were for Mr. Brown
To tell him his fly was down.

©2011, Bridget Magee

14 English As A Second Language Class
One heavy door that opened in
A hole where lock and key had been
(We needed to pass code.)
What kind of flame could cause concern
For cinder block and concrete floor?
The smell of sulfur in the air…
Perhaps that could explode…
Once storage space, now holding class -
(Not elements for science labs)
No windows, central air or heat
Were needed to pass code…
Still through the open door they came
With Buddha and a Sanskrit prayer
The Star of David, Crescent Moon
And Crosses made of gold and wood.
Chains, marked – I could not help but see.
In awe I knew I could not know
Such silence seeking sound.
First A…then O…that Y – sometimes…
U…and one day …
I
The word made flesh in sacred space
Inside one open door.

by Liz Korba
David

I’ll be back before long

rubberman

Hi everyone,

Here’s our lake this morning with fog on it. One of my poems was inspired by a similar morning last year.

Thanks for all the good poems being posted this month and for the supportive comments. For you poets of all ages and stages, the Word of the Month word for September is CLASS. Cutoff for posting your poem is September 25 at noon CST.

My best to you all,

David