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Joanne the Poet - The Poetry of Joanne M. Clarkson

Surprise Publication: Poem Your Heart Out

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

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.





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