Last April one of my FB friends referenced a Writer’s Digest Poem-a-Day challenge. Each day a poetry prompt was given, poets wrote on that theme and then posted it to the PAD Challenge Blog. I decided this would be a great exercise and committed myself to doing it. This was not easy. Many days I got up early to write and suffered on and off all day trying to get the poem right before I posted it. It was fun to scan through other posts, although there were 700-1,000 of them a day and I had time to read only a few. I managed to make a poem for every prompt but 2.
Besides posting poems on a Blog, though, the editor, Robert Lee Brewer, announced that he would select 10 of the best poems each day and pass them on to a famous poet judge who would select one poem to be published in a “Poem Your Heart Out” anthology.
I was stunned in early December to be contacted by Brewer with the news that two of my poems had won and were included in the anthology. I received Poem Your Heart Out: Prompts, Poem and Room to add Your Own, published by Words Dance Publishing (www.wordsdance.com) a couple of days ago.
I am so pleased to have been included here. This is a very useful book. Not only does it give poets 30 prompts with poem, it tells about the 30 outstanding judges. A number of them, like Kelli Russell Agodon, Traci Brimhall, Thomas Lux, Barbara Hamby, I was well-acquainted with. But several others, including the two who selected my poems (Victoria Chang and Erica Wright), I knew very little about. What a great way to connect with committed, working writers!
My winning poems are below:
Prompt: Last Straw
Scarecrow didn’t winter
well. One last stalk whispers
up his left sleeve. The ragged
plaid shirt hangs on him
like sickness. His burlap
face watches field dust
more than sky. It’s time
to re-seed. Clouds know it
and the crows know it. Time
to fill these furrows
with new green. The scarecrow’s
hunger is for purpose
more than grain. Spring
is difficult for old men, old
women. Today or tomorrow
the field hand will hoist him
from these acres to make way
for the plow. He will lie
in his heap of broom stick bones
until someone decides
which bits are worth cobbling
into next summer’s sentinel.
Young wind sifts chaff from a torn
cuff. Even broken,
his shoulders feel the grip
of tiny sparrows.
Prompt: City Poem:
Flesh and Leather
Know a city by its stones, oldest
streets worn to ghost step. Both
flesh and leather marched here. Reign
of sun, rake of rain, flood and drought
a buckle. I remember sideroads
best: shops, apartments with tiny
window gardens. I see shadows
of their blossoms. How the woman with
scissors scattered roses down on
soldiers who looked up laughing. Later
her petals would be barefoot as
slaves. So many sorts
of blood. They say it takes a thousand
years to shine a stone, another hundred
to lay them, make them perfectly
uneven, so that, with a stumble,
the city bends its knee.