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.
nil, oh, circle.

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

Place value systems.
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

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:
Can’t be bent
A thousand eyes hold you there.

Breaking out
Means flying
The shackles

You need a voice
That sings;
A reach that
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-

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
don’t wear
your birthday suit.

Copyright 2011
by Ken Slesarik
All rights reserved


We are all put in a class
of our own as we develop
discovering who and what
we are in our daily walk.
Over active
Book smart
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

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 …
The word made flesh in sacred space
Inside one open door.

by Liz Korba

Let the voting begin

Hi everyone,

We had another energetic month of poetry. If you are here for the fun of choosing a favorite poem to receive your vote, you’ll find all fifteen offerings from our adult poets listed immediately below the ballot box.

Don’t forget, you are entitled to one vote but it’s acceptable and encouraged to contact your network of friends, family, and fellow poetry enthusiasts to seek their support. The highest number of visits this blog has received was when two of our student poets locked into a contest that eventually brought more than 1,800 hits during a twenty-four hour period.

Even as we are selecting our July Hall of Fame Poet by popular vote, I’m sending poems to our panel of professional judges so they can select their top pick for July 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. https://davidlharrison.wordpress.com/2011/05/28/word-of-the-month-poetry-judges/

I’m sorry to report that we didn’t receive enough student poems this month to hold a vote, but that’s understandable during the summer. Our thanks to Taylor McGowan and Madi Montford for their delightful contributions. As for those missing other student poets, just wait until school starts again!

1, “Sour?” by Susan Carmichael

fever, achy, muscle pain
it feels just like the flu
drippy nose and droopy eyes
croupy coughing too

sinus pressure, ears stopped up
what am I to do
when Doctor Sunshine
breezes in and asks,
“S’our YOU?”

2, Sourpuss, by Steven Withrow

Too tart today
To grin—
The sour mood
I’m in
Tastes vinegar
And bittersweet.

I woke up late
And tried
To greet
All with a smile—
And faked it for
A little while—

But the tangy mango
On my tongue
That is my placid
Suffered acid

And now life’s flavor’s
How thin my lips
Are pursed—
With coffee made
With lemonade.
©2011 Steven Withrow, all rights reserved

3, Woodland Epiphany, by Sidanne

Treading silent, slow
Soft pine needles give
Grace to aching knees
Blue sky beckons forth
Come on, just a little more
Girl, you gotta go
Forth and find your dream
Amidst these trees, secrets
Stay kept, and greening leaves
Rustle flutter-by whispers
While the winds says hush
Now, quiet is kept and the
Birds betray nothing, chirp
Joyful nonsense, singing
Sweetly sour melodies of Now.

4, TESTY, by Mary Nida Smith

Sour is what
sour does
it gives puckerpower
to sing a sour note
while being a sourpuss.

5, Sour, by Joy Acey
(Note from David: This is a concrete poem but my program won’t let me establish different lines and margins. So sorry, Joy! To see what the poems really looks like, see it on Joy’s blog: http://poetryforkidsjoy.blogspot.com/2011/07/another-concrete-poem.html )



atop the

Eiffel tower

feeling a great
sense of power

when along comes
an April Shower.
Boy does that make
the day seem sour!

I walk back down,
it takes an hour, all the while
thinking of a whiskey sour.

I guess I shouldn’t be so gloomy
and dour. But SHUCKS,
only ducks like rain
on their parade.

6, PUCKER UP, by Beth Carter

He’s such a sourpuss.
What a grouch.

That hateful old man
Who lives next door.

He never smiles.
He never laughs.

Maybe he just needs
a big kiss.

Pucker up!

7, SOUR, by Janet Kay Gallagher

What a powerful big bower.
Tall as a tower.
It’s pretty when in flower.
Big red cherries, “mighty sour.”

8, Moonshine Pie, by julie Krantz

Cocoa, sugar,
milk ’n salt—
sweeter than
chocolate malt.
But when my
gets good
and dry,
all I want is
Mee-maw’s pie—
pucker-up cherries,
blue tit plums,
sour mash rhubarb—
yum, yum, yum!
when the
one thing’s
sure to hit
the spot—
skip the sugar,
skip the salt,
even skip that
chocolate malt.
But forget those
Forget those plums
Heck, no, Mee-maw—
get some!

9, Immigrants So Often Ask – “What Does That Word Mean?” by Liz Korba

I am Lemon.
Not “Sour” as they call me
(If they do not use my name to say –
“Too broken to be fixed”)
I am.
Summer sunshine’s twin.
Soft buttercup’s first cousin.
A golden glow that grows within a single tree
Bright as table’s candlelight
Notwithstanding wind, the night.
Is my name.

10, The Way of All Things, by Jane Heitman Healy

Deals dissolve
Fortunes fail
Success sours
Friendships fade
Marriages mire
Families fracture
People pass
Egos erode
Memory misses

Faith fixes
Hope heightens
Love lasts.

11, Mud, by Don Barrett

6 am the morning is fresh
summertime in the ozarks,
in just a minute or an hour
the temps go from wonderful
to hot and sour.

my morning shower left me feeling refreshed
my morning walk as always a delight
by 10 am i am the one who is a fright
physical labor and a lot of sweat
makes the one who is sour.
I thank the good lord for this wonderful
heat, but ask if we could spread it out
from july to december and make our winters
more fun to remember.

12, A Sour Poem, by Jeanne Poland

Eeenie, meanie, miney moe
Catch a pickle by the toe;
If it hollers let it go
Sweet to sour it did go.

13, SOUR LUCK, by Cory Corrado

blushing-red pearls dangle
from fertile boughs

appraisers of every feather wing to the feast



I’m out of luck!

pits dangle, frustratingly bare
sated birds scatter, never twittering a care
my-once-cherry-mood has turned

14, Sour, by Michele Ellison

Sour is the word to describe
the feeling in my stomach
when my daughter has turned away from me.
Her parting shot
hit me in the gut.
I feel the fluid
reacting to the pain
and filling me up
capsizing my heart
and spilling out of my eyes.
Sour is the expression on her face
as she walks away.

15, tart text, by Heidi Mordhorst

u r screwing up yr mouth
u r squinting yr eye
u r sending me not
sweet ❤ xxx’s
but sour H8
+ silence
sugar i guess
we r thru?


1, Secrets, by Taylor McGowan

Middle School
a haunted place
Your enemies
Found face to face

Sour expressions
And bitter tones
Populars chatting
on jewel-covered phones

Avoid the cliques
and find a cove
Of peace and quiet
a treasure trove

Find your friends
And keep them well
Protect them from ambush
And where enemies dwell

Keep secrets safe
Give them to friends
If your wounds are still painful
They’ll help you mend

Like an overripe lemon
Plucked late from the tree
Middle School has its chains
Now set yourself free

If you simply keep quiet
and don’t fight, only face
You’ll win your school battle
And do best in life’s race.

2, The Sour Ones, by Madi Montford

Gummy worms are my best friend
the sour ones are the best
I suck on them til the end
Til I chew them like the rest

Word of the Month poetry judges

Hi everyone,

I remind you each month of the judges who give their time and talent to help shine some light on the best poems submitted during the month. Here they are once again. Please check out their sites and make sure you are aware of their work.

Bobbi Katz


Charles Ghigna

https://davidlharrison.wordpress.com/2010/10/04/what-are-the-pros-up-to-with-charles-father-goose-ghigna/ http://poem-making.blogspot.com/ http://bald-ego.blogspot.com/http://charlesghigna.blogspot.com/ 

Avis Harley


Laura Purdie Salas

http://www.laurasalas.com /

J. Patrick Lewis


Rebecca Dotlich


Sara Holbrook