Winning Poems for September 2021

Judged by Donna Emerson

First Place

The Miller’s Tale – retold by Dr Seuss

by Paul A. Freeman
The Write Idea

The Carpenter’s Wife
was a nubile young wench
who wanted to put
her old man on the bench
and spend with their lodger
some time in the sack
at it like bunnies
till dawn’s ruddy crack.
One night, with the Carpenter
out of the way
their scheme started well
but it soon ran astray;
a vain parish clerk,
bewitched by the Wife
came by playing music
and sang of Love’s strife.
So out of the window
the Wife thrust her bum,
no moon lit the darkness
and thinking she’d come
to kiss him
the parish clerk’s lips met her arse,
though quickly he fathomed
what just came to pass.
He borrowed an iron
from a smithy – red hot –
to sear the offending Wife
plum on the bot.
The lodger, alas
shoved his rump out instead
and paid for misusing
the Carpenter’s bed.

I enjoyed this bawdy take-off on the Miller’s Tale, the second of the fourteenth century Canterbury Tales. Its musicality, humor, and sense of complete story comes from the comic rhyme scheme of Dr. Seuss which allows straight rhyme and half rhyme, as well as repetition. These structural elements encourage economy of words, all pointed toward the final revenge. --Donna Emerson

Second Place

The Dark Land

by Midnight Moon
Wild Poetry Forum

Behind closed and shuttered gates
lies the dark land,
soft magnolia-scented landscape
full of crying beings

Vaporous, with 17 tears in the fabric
separating it from the world of lightness,
the world of cars, happy people,
lovers whose lives are sweet

But those few rips
let through a light so strong
it hypnotizes you with knowledge
of the world of joy, so far above our car-world

Light beams piercing down, making shadows
of the women in sweeping dark veils
naked and crying, holding up something with flowers
stepping past ogre-men crouching on the black sidewalk

And laughing when the womens’ rhinestone beads
catch prismatic rainbow light
sparking blue, fire.
Red, joy. Yellow, laughter, dancing through the night.

The poem’s title offers many associations for the reader, from the Tolkien to recent films to the Black Forest, so that a rich texture provides background and understory.. Within this, intelligent word choice and pacing create the moody scene. Throughout, a consistent lyrical voice leads us to satisfying images and the power of light, uncovering unexpected beauty, joy and dance. --Donna Emerson

Third Place

The Oilliphéist Story

by Peter Halpin
Wild Poetry Forum

Lore has it the beast was sideswiped by Patrick
who is patron of Ireland and its first catholic.
Patrick seemed to have a distain for anything snake
flinging them into the deep ocean or fathomless lake.
Ould Oillie; a snake-dragon of mountainous size,
thought it best to scarper before his early demise.
So, he plucked himself free, leaving behind a big cut
that filled with water and became the Shannon, but
feeling hungry from his unplanned twists of torque,
stopped enroute to snack on the piper, O’Rourke,
who, two sheets to the wind and blurry eyed
continued to play, while swallowed inside,
much to the ire of Oilli, who spat him back out
before plunging into the sea; still hungry no doubt.

Here, Oillipheist, the sea serpent-like monster of Irish mythology makes quick work of the Shannon and the piper O’Rourke, thanks to the poet’s efficient use of fourteen lines of rhyming couplets. The poem remains lively, focused, and humorous. Structured poems do give us a frame into which we can, as Robert Frost said, just place the story. --Donna Emerson