National Poetry Month – Ricochet Challenge


April is National Poetry Month here in the U.S. I haven’t seen any mention here yet of that subject, so I would like to issue a Ricochet poetry challenge. Write a poem on any subject you would like and in any form. That is all there is to the challenge. You can post it here or in a separate thread if you think it deserves one.

Now, some might argue that the world has too much bad poetry already. But in defense of bad poetry, it sometimes leads to better poetry from the writer in the future. I’ve been writing poetry for more than 40 years, and when I started, it was all bad. Now, just most of mine is bad. Or in the words of my old friend Dave Steinke:

“Poetry is like beer.  With beer, all beers are good, but some beers are better than others.  With poetry on the other hand, all poetry is bad.  It’s just that some poems are worse than others.”

So, I want you to be fearless, because you only have to be good enough to suit your own tastes and abilities. 

I’ll post one of my own as soon as I write it.

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  1. Arahant Member


    I’ve been away for months or more,
    but I walk in and know I’m home.
    The light was on up o’er the door;
    I’ve been away for months, or more.
    It’s good to see those I adore
    after my far and lengthy roam.
    I’ve been away for months or more
    but I walk in and know I’m home.

    • #1
  2. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake

    Good God!

    Midge is secretly a prolific poet. But. Midge is also quite embarrassed about inflicting her poetry on a general audience.

    And. Some of Midge’s poetry would be identifiable to non-Ricochetians, thus spoiling Midge’s anonymity.

    I have wanted, for a while, to perhaps share some poems of mine with Aaron and Trink, just to see what they think.

    Basically, before I inflict poetry on anyone, I need editorial advice.

    Aaron, Trink, Arahant: if you want me to share some poems with you, PM me your e-mail address. My old computer died, and along with it, the electronic copies of most of my poems, but I still have the paper copies, and transcribing them back to computer would give me a chance to edit, anyhow.

    • #2
  3. user_517406 Inactive

    Emily Dickinson Meets Dr. Seuss 

    I tried to find you, Emily, next to a hay or leafing tree,

    I must confess I even asked a narrow fellow in the grass.

    Because I thought they might have heard,

    I talked about you with the birds.

    I even tried the last retreat, your quiet grave–

    I was discreet and asked you how to find a peace,

    One piece of peace that I could lease.

    It wouldn’t have to last me long–

    Just until my final song.  

    I stood there long and pondered you–

    How snakes and grasses saw you through.

    I thought and thought–

    Could that be enough for me?

    Alas, it’s not.

    But sometimes, when I read your words–

    They set me free.

    • #3
  4. user_517406 Inactive

    Midge–I’d like to read your poetry.  If PM is working, I’ll send you my email.

    • #4
  5. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake

    Right before Rico 1.0 went dark, I published a post containing the following “poem”, for reasons I don’t entirely remember, but which probably had something to do with our collective nervousness at our impending fate, as well as some absurd comment 10 cents had made:

    Twoflushers and the 21-Bowl Salute

    frequently accosted by urgent requests to save water…

    a twoflusher means two things:
a toilet that needs flushing twice to get rid of solids or
a toilet with a handle that goes both ways (biflushing, two-spirited), which 

    is fine if you’re not dyslexic

    yet, at the same time, automatic flushing toilets are breeding
    so rapidly that they’ve nearly taken over any public space 

    without two-spirit twoflushers

    automatic flushing toilets – nannyism in the restroom… 

    erodes  civitas,  the sturdy self-reliance of the citizen…

    if you want hands-free, why not foot pedals?

    getting goosed… the 21-bowl salute…
toilets that flush while you’re
still sitting there, or 

    just walking past the stalls

    I remember the water conservation project

    with motion-sensor sinks that shut themselves off 

    before you were done, but

    most especially that one sink that 

    kept turning itself on every five seconds

    kung fu in front of the faucets – like I’m a vampire
or something

    Of course this wasn’t a serious effort at poetry. But if April is the cruelest month, perhaps bad poetry (as well as the IRS) has something to do with it…

    • #5
  6. Arahant Member

    I’m not sure that PM is there, yet.  Partially based on the fact that I just sent Midge one, but it doesn’t show in my “Sent” messages and partially based on a comment by the inestimable Blue Yeti on another thread.

    • #6
  7. user_517406 Inactive

    Wonderful, Midge!  I like un-serious poetry, as should be obvious from the one I posted!

    • #7
  8. Arahant Member


    It’s a subject that many of us have encountered and can laugh at.  I like your line, “kung fu in front of the faucets.”

    (I note that spell check is working now.)

    • #8
  9. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake

    Arahant:I’m not sure that PM is there, yet. Partially based on the fact that I just sent Midge one, but it doesn’t show in my “Sent” messages and partially based on a comment by the inestimable Blue Yeti on another thread.

     I can confirm I have received nothing from you yet, Arahant, which is even more evidence that PMs aren’t working yet (I’m always worried that someday I’ll capitalize the s in “PMs” – it’s a very easy mistake to make).

    • #9
  10. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake

    Merina Smith:Midge–I’d like to read your poetry. If PM is working, I’ll send you my email.

     Sure. Once PMs are working…

    • #10
  11. Arahant Member

    You can find my e-mail here, if you look at the bottom of the page:

    • #11
  12. user_1938 Inactive

    Like a plant must touch the sun
    though held a captive by the soil,
    ever stretching, twisting, bending…
    yet warm, oblivious to the toil,
    so do I find myself trekking,
    gazing far beyond my sight
    for a star that makes me be
    from somewhere distant in the night.

    Y’all can suggest a title for this one, because I don’t like the old title.

    Midge, I sent you a PM but don’t know if PMs are working. I will, of course, publish here on Ricochet whatever poems you send me. ;)

    • #12
  13. D.A. Venters Member
    D.A. Venters

    A Poem for My Old Kentucky Home, far away, written on an Tuesday Morning that should have been happier

    For you whose hearts did tear upon
    the sound of the arbiter horn,
    in the land of the eternal underdog,
    ever impoverished, ever forlorn,

    All draped in the color of faith,
    Of the sky at the call of the dawn,
    It’s the color of misery, too, you know,
    Of the soul when victory’s gone,

    But abandon it ne’er for another,
    Nor long lament this hideous score;
    For the gallant few who play for you,      
            The champions of your precious Blue,
    Will someday return to the floor.  

    • #13
  14. user_1029039 Inactive

    You will live to regret starting this, Arahant.

    • #14
  15. Trink Coolidge

    I couldn’t bring up the comment space for hours.  Whew. Months ago I was working on a serious poem which didn’t want to come. Then this happened :)

           So Big

    Sitting in your window,
    thinking lofty thoughts,
    as are the gal who brings the mail
    and the fellow hauling trash.
    The mom loading kids for gym,
    the dad at work, since dawn . .
    you with your lofty thoughts. . .
    Yawn. Yawn. Yawn.

    (Hope it goes without saying that the ‘you’ is ‘moi’)
    Midge! Yes . I’d love to ready your poetry.

    • #15
  16. Arahant Member

    It is alive again!  Yeti, if you fixed it, thank you.

    • #16
  17. Arahant Member

    We’re all going to have to get used to the new software’s penchant for running paragraphs together or doing other strange things when we copy and paste.

    • #17
  18. Trink Coolidge

    Arahant:We’re all going to have to get used to the new software’s penchant for running paragraphs together or doing other strange things when we copy and paste.

     Amen, my friend.

    • #18
  19. Umbra Fractus Inactive
    Umbra Fractus

    I wrote this in response to the Occupy movement. The meter’s a bit dodgy, as I’m a songwriter and it’s hard to break the habit of allowing extra syllables in a beat as long as you say them faster, but here goes: 

    “What’s mine is mine; what’s yours is ours”
    You have the money, but they have the power
    Instead of who’s earned, they’ll decide who needs
    Envy’s just as dangerous as greed

    What was meant to do good was taken from your hands
    Instead of charity it must go to The Man
    And now at your trough the government feeds
    Envy’s just as dangerous as greed

    Pursuit of happiness not nearly enough
    They will decide when you have earned enough
    If you’ve gotten fat they will make sure you bleed
    Envy’s just as dangerous as greed

    What once was called charity now called a right
    What once was unalienable is now called a blight
    Life, freedom, property an outdated creed
    Envy’s just as dangerous as greed

    They call it compassion, but control’s what I see
    They call it justice to plunder and feed
    Just one more chance, and they swear they’ll succeed
    But history tells us where their envy leads

    • #19
  20. Trink Coolidge

    Merina Smith:Midge–I’d like to read your poetry. If PM is working, I’ll send you my email.

     Ditto what Merina said!  I tried the PM.   I’m not holding my breath, though :(

    • #20
  21. user_339092 Member

    As Siam spring blooms

    A new flag over the land 

    here is a Thai-ku

    • #21
  22. Belt Inactive

    Okay, I’ll bite.  Here’s something I wrote about 10 years ago…

    words fly away

    chase their day

    vanish in the

    wind blowing since creation

    the father spoke     the living word came

    to those who hear

    the spirit blew     kindled tongues

    to light on little words

    who now take wing

    we children who sing

    • #22
  23. user_340536 Member


    I’m a hippopotamus, I sit all day,

    Waiting for pancakes to come my way,

    I eat ’em with butter, I eat ’em with syrup,

    But if I eat ’em too fast, they make me burp.

    I eat ’em in sunshine, I eat ’em in the rain,

    Got maple syrup, and butter on the brain.

    Pile up the pancakes 20 feet tall,

    Gotta gobble ’em up, in my maw

    Silver dollar, or buttermilk mix,

    For a stack of pancakes, I’ll do some tricks.

    I’m a hippopotamus I sit all day,

    Waiting for pancakes to come my way.

    • #23
  24. user_1938 Inactive

    This thread is a good excuse to go back through old material and resort them between my Good, Garbage, and Salvageable folders. Here’s another, one I’d forgotten, called The Hidden Good (another title I might change)… after some heavy, last-minute editing.

    Lost among a bounty of the young
    and hallowed gleam that lights communal trees,
    an oak, whose gifts aplenty are not sung,
    droops within a fiery funeral breeze.

    Cold the ash tracing once-fruitful limbs,
    slowing goodly sap in strangled veins. 
    Quiet growth still conquers forth within,
    but no one cares to hear what life remains.

    Hopeful as a stone, they place the fire
    at roots where not a leaf nor drip is seen.
    And every ent, delighted in its ire,
    thinks its blackened fingers are yet green.

    • #24
  25. user_1938 Inactive

    By the way, folks, the site likes to force double-spacing for whatever reason. A fix is probably in the works. In the meantime, you can Edit the post after publishing and fix the spacing without much hassle.

    • #25
  26. user_7742 Inactive

    In the Night

    Plunging into darkness
    Swimming into light
    I see no color
    As I fall to black and white

    My ears are deafened
    By a sound I fear
    I cannot hear

    My face is drawn
    My muscles melt
    And all these feelings I feel
    I’ve felt
    I’ve never felt
    Yet I fall and melt

    And in this dream
    As I scream
    As I fall in sleep
    I find I fight
    I know I shake
    But in the night
    I never wake

    • #26
  27. user_7742 Inactive

    In Darkest Regions

    In darkest regions
    We stumble as legions
    Seeking the bearers of light

    And in the distance
    When for instance
    We spot
    A spot of light
    We fight
    We claw, we rip, we trip
    We cheat with our feet
    Leaving those of us who lie

    And all too often
    We come to find
    That that spark
    That flickered in the dark
    Was nothing but a firefly

    • #27
  28. user_7742 Inactive

    His Cocktail Napkin Philosophy

    His cocktail napkin philosophy
    Is all that he’s left for me
    His gin and tonic
    Rag tag hyperbole

    He thought I’d fail
    To find his trail
    When I went to find him
    And found myself
    In Baja by the sea

    And now I stand
    In the sand
    Staring down
    At my hand
    And his cocktail napkin philosophy

    It’s tightly wound
    Around something inside
    Ah, yes…his cyanide
    He’d meant to hide
    Or did he leave it for me?

    • #28
  29. Knotwise the Poet Member
    Knotwise the Poet

    Given my Ricochet handle I feel obligated to contribute.  Your post inspired me to finally write a poem whose concept I’ve had in my head for some time.

    “Mr. Morrow”

    I’m looking for a man- 
    Have you seen him passing through?
    Please tell me, if you can
    The direction that he flew.
    You see, he has my things,
    All that ‘s bright and dear to me.
    The loss of them—it stings.
    I’ve nothing and he runs free.
    Mr. Morrow’s his name,
    A thief right from his birth.
    It’s he who is to blame
    For my lack of wealth and mirth.
    He looks like me a bit
    In face and height, I’ll concede,
    But more robust and fit,
    With a serpent’s grace and speed.
    He plays a hero brave,
    So bold in his strides and speech.
    But really he’s a knave,
    A confidence man, a leech.
    I trusted him to keep
    My things under lock and key,
    Till I could take the leap—
    Reveal them for all to see.
    What sort of things, you ask,
    Was it that he stole away?
    Telling that is a task
    That could take us all day.
    In brief, let’s say he took
    All my talents, all my art.
    I swear to you this crook
    Stole the dreams that filled my heart.
    And all that I should be
    He carries with him in a sack,
    And so relentlessly
    I’ll hunt till I get it back.
    For years I’ve given chase,
    But year after year I find
    Regardless of my pace
    I’m always a day behind.
    Haven’t seen him, you say.
    Well, I thank you for your time.
    But rest assured, someday
    Morrow will pay for his crime.

    • #29
  30. user_7742 Inactive

    Take Me Away

    An angel of death
    Has taken my breath
    An angel of sorrow
    Will let me live on time
    she’ll borrow

    Take me away,
    Take me away

    The clouds like ships
    Sail over the sea
    An armada they are
    An endless fleet
    Now far away
    The wind is their rudder
    But I shudder to think
    That I shall sink
    Never to join them

    Take me away,
    Take me away

    Children of the sun
    How they trip and run
    They look for places
    To hide their faces
    Their laughter
    Will come after me

    Take me away,
    Take me away

    The gulls on the docks
    Fight like cocks
    They bite, they cry
    Then fly through the spray

    Take me away,
    Take me away

    The moon outside
    Pulls the tide
    And gives my room a glow
    My blanket becomes
    A blanket of snow
    I pull it over my head
    And pretend I’m dead
    But the angels won’t let me go.

    • #30
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