“Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary.” ~ Kahlil Gibran

                    INAUGURAL POETRY CHALLENGE WINNER                     Definitions I Prefer                     meas·ure:                    a photographer,                    his mistress.                     touch:                    two sleeping strangers,                    a Greyhound bus.                     pre·ma·ture birth:                    a poet,                    mother’s coffin.                     time·less·ness:                     chameleons,                    a branch.                     soothe:                    aloe,                    summer home.                     hun·ger:                    swirling fork,                    empty plate.                     pres·ence:                    hurricane,                    twelve dead.                     song:                    cobbled roads,                    lover’s cart.                     ho·li·ness:                    morning fog,                    reindeer antler.                     weak·ness:                    bodybuilder,                    unshared bed.                     tone:                    wood,                    pressed ear. Poem written by www.yesorotherwise.tumblr.com Selected by poet Allen Braden as the Inaugural Poetry Challenge Winner Judge’s comment: “‘Definitions I Prefer’ was chosen for its innovation in taking a kind of list we are all familiar with (dictionary entries) and re-envisioning it into the form of a catalog, or list, poem. This poem also practices William Carlos Williams’ advice ‘No ideas but in things,’ what Samuel Taylor Coleridge warned against—‘the danger of thinking without images.’” Again, Congratulations and a tip of the quill goes to www.yesorotherwise.tumblr.com! Details regarding our upcoming second Poetry Challenge will be posted later this week. Please check back for guidelines and deadline.

                    INAUGURAL POETRY CHALLENGE WINNER

                    Definitions I Prefer

                    meas·ure:
                    a photographer,
                    his mistress.

                    touch:
                    two sleeping strangers,
                    a Greyhound bus.

                    pre·ma·ture birth:
                    a poet,
                    mother’s coffin.

                    time·less·ness:
                    chameleons,
                    a branch.

                    soothe:
                    aloe,
                    summer home.

                    hun·ger:
                    swirling fork,
                    empty plate.

                    pres·ence:
                    hurricane,
                    twelve dead.

                    song:
                    cobbled roads,
                    lover’s cart.

                    ho·li·ness:
                    morning fog,
                    reindeer antler.

                    weak·ness:
                    bodybuilder,
                    unshared bed.

                    tone:
                    wood,
                    pressed ear.

Poem written by www.yesorotherwise.tumblr.com

Selected by poet Allen Braden as the Inaugural Poetry Challenge Winner

Judge’s comment: “‘Definitions I Prefer’ was chosen for its innovation in taking a kind of list we are all familiar with (dictionary entries) and re-envisioning it into the form of a catalog, or list, poem. This poem also practices William Carlos Williams’ advice ‘No ideas but in things,’ what Samuel Taylor Coleridge warned against—‘the danger of thinking without images.’”

“Poetry is thoughts that breathe, and words that burn.” ~ Thomas Gray

INAUGURAL POETRY CHALLENGE FINALIST ********************************************************* Of Time, In Time You dare say everything is about time, the precise ticking of interlaced hands, moving,          trembling and skipping just to conquer a space before it splits into structures, monuments, and gestures, all crumpled into ambiguous sketches from an aged comic, yellow, edges wrinkled,         the intention of knowing and not knowing. Still, I would dare speak of time as a little fixture in a wall  asking for a decoration, as the distilled calm that wraps the earth and the sky minutes before dawn, as the eternity found in the surface of a wide-eyed glance. I would tell you that a day is a word devoid of descriptions or affectations, that a moment passes and ceases with consciousness. Time, as it comes, is only the sudden, suspended motion         of lifting your head before the needles fall right into place,  to puncture you, to devour you,                              if you would give me melodies that seep through sound, music created for the sake of music alone, I would hang by its threads, humming and swinging to the sound of cradles in a night powdered with sleep, in the wake of familiar lullabies,                          would you give me words that dispel all the traces of an afterthought, talk to me across the gaps of the walls in the street, and would I listen until the silence starts to strangle my memories, until my memories starts to strangle the silence,                           if you would give me eyes that stare with a million shutters, yet another million edges that inflict these incisions, these convictions that reveal what I hide in the slant of my lips. Then would I recognize you, as the child buried in my imaginings,                 would you give me time as you would give me everything in time, although I could only offer you this acknowledgment, this detachment, would you give up a moment to wait for the inkling, the impulse, the action, if time permitted it,  you and I might understand – you and I would never be too old for anything we dare to be,         in time. Poem written by www.bluntvoidprototype.tumblr.com

INAUGURAL POETRY CHALLENGE FINALIST

*********************************************************

Of Time, In Time

You dare say everything is about time,
the precise ticking of interlaced hands, moving,
         trembling and skipping just to conquer a space

before it splits into structures, monuments,
and gestures, all crumpled into ambiguous sketches
from an aged comic, yellow, edges wrinkled,
         the intention of knowing and not knowing.

Still, I would dare speak of time as a little fixture in a wall
asking for a decoration, as the distilled calm that wraps
the earth and the sky minutes before dawn, as the eternity
found in the surface of a wide-eyed glance.

I would tell you that a day is a word devoid
of descriptions or affectations, that a moment
passes and ceases with consciousness. Time,
as it comes, is only the sudden, suspended motion
         of lifting your head before the needles fall

right into place,  to puncture you,
to devour you,                              if you would

give me melodies that seep through sound,
music created for the sake of music alone,
I would hang by its threads, humming and swinging

to the sound of cradles in a night powdered with sleep,
in the wake of familiar lullabies,                          would you

give me words that dispel all the traces
of an afterthought, talk to me across the gaps
of the walls in the street, and would I listen until the silence

starts to strangle my memories, until my memories
starts to strangle the silence,                           if you would

give me eyes that stare with a million shutters,
yet another million edges that inflict these incisions,
these convictions that reveal what I hide

in the slant of my lips. Then would I recognize you,
as the child buried in my imaginings,                 would you

give me time as you would give me everything
in time, although I could only offer you this acknowledgment,
this detachment, would you give up a moment to wait

for the inkling, the impulse, the action,
if time permitted it,  you and I might understand –
you and I would never be too old for anything we dare to be,
         in time.

Poem writtenby www.bluntvoidprototype.tumblr.com

“Poetry may make us from time to time a little more aware of the deeper, unnamed feelings which form the substratum of our being, to which we rarely penetrate; for our lives are mostly a constant evasion of ourselves.” ~ T. S. Eliot

This one is mine. Apparently, I cannot add an mp3 unless I buy the upgrade. Sorry. If you want to hear my reading, click on the link below. Thanks.

INAUGURAL POETRY CHALLENGE FINALIST

Heart’s Importunate Hunger

What you asked:

         What do you love? 

What I answered:

Moonlight on dark water,
the salty spray of the ocean on my cheeks,
fierce lightning and thunder and
the sonorous sound of the surf
Solitary walks in the summer rain
Overgrown woodland paths and
the earthy scent of fallen leaves and loam
Boxes of old photographs and cards,
dried lavender and rosemary for remembrance,
Bundles of faded letters from old lovers
and glossy images of country cottages
surrounded by wild vines of wisteria and Carolina jasmine
Mozart or Beethoven or Chopin’s etudes,
as the soundtrack to Sunday morning
with cups of strong hot tea
and French bread with butter

            More? 

So much more, yes, cathexis,
yearnings—imaginary and real—
contradictions, assembled, converging—
of what has made me:
The feel of paper beneath my fingers
as I turn the pages, and all of the words
of all the sages who ever lived—
Shakespeare and Tennyson,
Fitzgerald and Anaïs Nin 
Virginia Woolf and the rocks in her pockets
That certain smell just before the first winter snow,
the vapors from a horse’s nostrils on a winter morning
The trumpet of a train that cleaves the night
and torch songs that speak of unrequited longing

            What do you want? 

To fly like the red-winged blackbird,
leaving a narrow flash of crimson in my wake
and to bathe in the Castalian Spring
beneath a beggar’s moon
To sit by the shore in the gloaming
as grey mist descends, cloaking everything
except the plaintive refrain of a fog horn
echoing off the bay

           What do you need?

Truth before a lie
Poesy and prayer, unattainable grace,
solitude and silence, 
unfettered passion and
shameless tears of love and hate
The courage to stray
from what is known, what is certain
and enough faith to abide—
never to become
destiny’s unwitting victim or fate’s fool—
and the constancy to embrace
this confluence of unfulfilled longings.
These things I covet,
—crave as my own             
before the days run down
like a forgotten watch in a drawer.
These things I prefer.

Poem written and read by www.frenzyandlightning.tumblr.com

Photograph “White Moon on Black Water” and its rendering also by www.frenzyandlightning.tumblr.com

“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.” ~ Robert Frost

 Second finalist. 


in life

I prefer the sun smack bang in my face

I prefer sitting alone in the dark hush before the movie starts

I prefer the downhill whizz of my bicycle and its clattery clack rattle over the place de la concorde

I prefer paradox and oxymoron and the expectation but not more than the experience

I prefer a Sylvia Plath Harvest Moon to a Ted Hughes Owl

I prefer the shipping news

I prefer blithe abandon and

the half truth of love that makes the heart race in slight disbelief

I prefer foreign countries and different languages in my mouth

I prefer the shadows of trees and the detail of leaves

I will always prefer a sing along because of my father and his guitar

I prefer not guessing who you are

I prefer the ambiguity that makes you all so beautiful

I prefer the tingle of not knowing not knowing at all

I infinitely prefer beginnings the scream of what may be

I prefer wanting everything even more than this life can give me and waiting to see

Poem written and read by www.thisonewildandpreciouslife.tumblr.com

“[Writing is] like standing on the edge of a cliff. This is especially true of the first draft. Every day you’re making up the earth you’re going to stand on.” ~ Peter Carey

INAUGURAL POETRY CHALLENGE FINALIST

Here is the first of the four finalists. I am reprinting them in the same order in which A Poet Reflects post them. Unfortunately, I was unable to figure out how to copy the mp3’s of each poet reading his/her work. Click on the link above to go to the original posting and to hear the mp3.

Contours of the Heart

I prefer the late and lonely hours of the night
to the bustling hours of the day,
for in the quiet dreaming hours,
the hushed thoughts of the heart surface.

I prefer the quiet clarity of sipping on simmering tea
to the bold clamor of coffee upon the tastebuds.

I prefer small rooms to grand palaces,
simple celebrations of everyday wonder
to extravagant fanfare.

I prefer a blue sky of clouds to a night sky of stars,
though both sing to me of freedom and wonder.

I prefer solitude, even the ache of loneliness,
to following the aimless crowd.
I prefer to be true, I prefer to be different.

I prefer the sorrow of wisdom and the pain of truth
to the foolish bliss of ignorance and illusion.

I prefer to dwell in possibility.
I prefer the lovely intangibles,
and the invisible treasures of the heart and mind.

I prefer words to photos, because rarely can a photo
capture the contours of the heart, mind, and soul.

I prefer the quiet intimacy of books
to the vortex screen of television.

I prefer listening and observing to speaking,
and when I “speak,” I prefer to write.

I prefer the involved and intimate whisper of pen upon paper
(even the messy scribbles and crossing-outs and rewrites)
to the more disinterested tapping of typing on a keyboard.

I prefer to let my fingers stumble along in slow dance
upon piano keys, because some secrets of the soul
can only be unlocked in music.

I prefer beautiful words that sing,
thoughts that breathe.
I prefer to write my tears on paper
or to sing them in songs.

I prefer walking as my mode of transportation,
to feel the ground beneath my feet,
the quiet reverberations that resonate
with each step I take.

I prefer to take the road less travelled,
to let my hopes and dreams unravel
in ribbons of words and wind,
ever tangling and untangling.

Though I love the new morning that comes with the sunrise,
I prefer sunsets, for as light shines brighter in darkness,
so love and life are set ablaze with deeper meaning
in the face of approaching death.

Though there are not enough hours in a day,
and time is rarely on my side,
I still prefer to take my time,
to live at a slower pace,
to savour the moments, to live deeply.

I prefer creation and renewal to destruction.
I prefer faith, hope, love, and life
to apathy, cynicism, and indifference,

Because life is a gift,
though weighed down by gravity,
and my life is but a breath,
sustained by God’s grace and mercy.

And that is why I prefer poetry.

Poem written and read by www.puddlenotes.tumblr.com