2012 April PAD Challenge: Poetic Asides Poet Laureate and Top 25 List

Yes, I know I’ve failed spectacularly to provide the results of the 2012 April PAD Challenge in a timely manner. And yes, I realize that I’ve cut the Top 50 list down to a Top 25 list (and an unordered list at that). But I have no excuse to provide–just a promise to do a better job next year.

Okay, so who is the 2012 Poetic Asides Poet Laureate anyway?

Well, I’ve screwed up there too, because, well, how best to say this: There are two Poets Laureate this year. They are De Jackson and Brian Slusher. They are both familiar to me, but the poems they submitted this year seemed to reach new levels of awesomeness from them.

I’ll include a poem from each below, but you should really search their poems out from the April PAD Challenge comments. They wrote several great poems.

Speaking of that Top 25 list…

Yes, this year, I’ve decided to make a Top 25 list not because the quality or quantity slipped, but because I wanted to finally finish the judging. These 25 poems were selected from submissions of more than 750 poems from nearly 200 poets. If you work out the math, these poems represent the top 3% of what was submitted (and, of course, there were probably another 2,000+ poems written during the month). So making this list is a big deal (even if it is in no specific order).

Here is the Top 25 list in no specific order:

  • Castaways, by Brian Slusher
  • Freshman Biology, by De Jackson
  • Seeds, by Joseph Harker
  • A Sparrow’s Love, by Jane Beal
  • Let’s Drive Until Our Asses Melt Into the Car Seats, by Daniel Ari
  • What You Left, by Laurie Kolp
  • Firebird, by Taylor Graham
  • At Last, by Andrew Kreider
  • Kill Your Television, by Brian Slusher
  • The Trick of Losing What You Did Not Have, by De Jackson
  • Cecily, by Marilyn Braendeholm
  • Floater, by Pamela Taylor
  • Fading, by Bruce Niedt
  • An Apple Tree and Two Finches, by Jane Beal
  • What I Look for in a Man, by Joseph Harker
  • A Shady Kyrielle, by Cristina Ortega Phillips
  • Plum Crazy, by Patricia A. Hawkenson
  • Baked Alaska, by Jane Shlensky
  • 100% Poetry, by Sara Ramsdell
  • O, Let’s Not, by De Jackson
  • The Dead Birds of America, With Life-Size Hand-Colored Illustrations, by Brian Slusher
  • Saltfish Fritters, by Maxie Steer
  • Morning Rendezvous, by Lorraine Baron Caramanna
  • Let’s Drive North, by Linda Wastila-Simoni
  • Something Wild and Wonderful, by Khara House


Congratulations to everyone in the Top 25! And thank you to everyone who participated (and waited so patiently for me)! It still amazes me how everyone comes together to break lines every April.


As promised, here are those poems from Brian and De:

Castaways, by Brian Slusher

The girls from next door
washed ashore in my backyard
now gather dandelions and clover
to cook in a cracked flowerpot.

They build a shelter from the pile
of bricks from an abandoned project,
carefully stack uneven walls with
tree-branch beams and moss ceiling.

On their island, two marooned girls
watch for ships on the fence-horizon,
as cloud shadows sail the grass
and time (almost) forgets to pass.


Freshman Biology, by De Jackson

I remember feeling sorry
for the slimy little suckers
as we sliced them open,
identifying organs: lungs,
stomach, liver,
scraping cell samples
from each onto glass
taking notes.
Mr. G jabbering on
kingdom, phylum,
class, order, family, genus,
The way your hair
curled just right over
your collar as your
eyes conducted
lab experiments
of their own.

moving up to
advanced anatomy.

with scalpel in hand
wanting only
to flay my own heart.


If anyone in the Top 25 wishes to share their poem in the comments (the comments that once again work on the first try), please go for it. I look forward to sharing the November results on time and having the best April Challenge yet in a little more than 4 months from now.


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70 thoughts on “2012 April PAD Challenge: Poetic Asides Poet Laureate and Top 25 List

  1. LCaramanna

    Anxiously awaiting April – I wanted to be sure I could log in and comment – I made time to visit the blog today. Wow! I discovered I have a poem on the Top 25 List!!! What an honor!!!
    Thank you, Robert, for providing this space to poem. Congratulations to all poets. WRITE ON!!

    April 23, 2012 at 9:41 pm
    Morning Rendezvous

    Meet me in the morning
    on the first Monday in May,
    wear your Sunday suit
    and I’ll wear that dress.

    Meet me on that morning
    at our favorite restaurant
    rain or shine, we’ll sit outside
    in the rooftop garden
    at a table amid the lilacs
    the color of my dress.

    Meet me on the first Monday in May
    early morning
    before the city awakes,
    we’ll drink a toast to the new day
    with orange juice champagne
    in rose colored glasses.

    Meet me on the first Monday in May,
    don’t be late.
    Wear your Sunday suit,
    I’ll wear that dress,
    we’ll breakfast on bagels with cream cheese
    while we plan our next rendezvous
    in the morning.

  2. avani

    I am not sure on how to enter the poetry competition, so i would type it below. Please comment and suggest.

    Let me out of this prison
    social network has given enough poison
    pictures and videos full of freedom
    make me feel, my life is a kingdom
    full of kings and queens with some orders

    Protection is a slave and I need my space
    I cry! But they think its all fake
    Life is boring and deadly as hell
    that i wish to jump in a well
    full of freedom so that I can live once again

    When I express they think I am sick
    house is where they want me to stick
    they think I just wanna fly
    but let me out give it a try

    Don’t make me cry
    otherwise I’ll wanna die

    I cry, I cry but u see the protection not the distance we got or my bye bye
    but still I love u even if I swallow my tears and smile as I see you approach by

  3. elishevasmom

    I only first got here in October, so I missed last April. but now I can get caught up! And there were so many names in that top 25 that I recognized from our Nov PAD endeavors. Quite the inspiring company I keep. 😀

  4. Jane Beal - sanctuarypoet.net

    “A bird may love a fish—but where will they live?”
    ~ Tevia, “Fiddler on the Roof”


    A sparrow looks into the water with one eye—
    the other watches her back.

    Her name is not Narcissa. No. She sees
    her reflection but looks through it

    to the beautiful goldfish flashing
    beneath the cool, dark pond-water.

    His round eyes are amazed by her wings fluttering
    above him, free in air he can never breathe—

    glinting in the light of the sun setting behind mountains
    neither one of them can climb.

    She sings and sings to him,
    but he does not hear.

    She sees herself reflected in his eyes!
    She hops and then flies a little—insistent, hopeful.

    He leaps for a moment
    above the water, brilliant and shining

    then falls back down below.
    They never touch.

    Jane Beal
    Sunflower Songs (2012)

  5. Jane Shlensky

    Yay, De and Brian! So happy for you both. Here’s my listed poem. Thanks, Robert!

    Baked Alaska

    Temperate winds and
    warming seas confuse
    the whales and polar bears
    who think it is summer.

    They scan the sea for food
    as tourists, in small boats
    launched from the mother ship,
    snap pictures of themselves

    sporting winter tans
    and light jackets, glaciers
    melting behind them,
    blue ice falling, making

    waves that give all
    aboard a thrilling ride,
    only a little dangerous,
    and well worth the price.

    Tonight the chef serves
    a frothy irony for dessert,
    a tribute to global warming,
    browned meringue blanketing

    a slowly melting center
    that cannot hold
    but for a little

  6. dandelionwine

    Congratulations De and Brian! Beautiful, beautiful poems. Congratulations to all who made the list and all who poemed! Thank you again Robert for this community.

    100% Poetry
    (a tritina)

    by Sara Ramsdell

    It won’t be scratched out in a few minutes, only the bare bones
    of it will, the heap of clay from which to sculpt. You then take
    on the meaty work, subtracting a ribbed word from that line,

    adding it to this one. It takes on life somewhere along the line,
    a bit of yours, perhaps, but you’re willing to lend skin, bones,
    as it grows beneath your hand into something of a give and take–

    your soul for its heart. When it’s perfectly formed, you take
    a breath and give it up because you’ve reached the end of the line,
    and when you read it back to yourself, it resonates in your bones.

    You take the bones, line them up, give them breath, bare your soul.

  7. DanielAri

    Great to see the top 25 poems reprinted here for easy reference. Here’s mine (written as FangO)


    and we got so restless in Tempe, Arizona’s 90-degree midnight
    that we decided to go north. We packed sweating. Alice called
    to leave a transparent excuse for her employer; I didn’t even
    bother. We locked the apartment at 1 a.m. and started up 17
    before we could decide we were crazy. The sky started to light,
    and we kept on, grunting half-interest into the Grand Canyon.
    All day: sweating and driving, stopping to pee, eating roadside
    vittles in the car, refueling, sweating and driving. After sunset
    we crossed into Alberta as tourists, claiming to have relatives
    in Edmonton. In Calgary, we couldn’t go any farther, so we got
    the cheapest motel room we could scout and slept there until
    late next day. The air was about 72 degrees, which we agreed
    was damn near perfect, so we decided to be on vacation. Alice,
    bless her, didn’t even squeak about the money, which we both
    knew was tighter than we liked it. We were on vacation. We
    asked what there was to do, and the hotel clerk said, “Haven’t
    you been to Banff,” as if it had been obvious to her that Banff
    was why we were here in the first place. We drove there and
    got out of the car, falling flat on our backs, staring up at the
    ridges and the cool gray-green-white-blue everything. “Maybe
    we shouldn’t go back,” I said, and Alice murmured, “Mm-hmm.”

  8. claudsy

    This is fantastic! Congratulations, Brian and De, worthy poets laureate. You’ve both been consistently excellent this year.

    And congratulations to all who made the top 25 list. You’re each well deserving as well and figure prominently on my personal top 25.

    Good job, Robert. You’ve done it again.

  9. De Jackson

    OhmyWORD. Wow.
    There are no words this morning. I admire Brian’s work, and I’m so honored to share the title with him.
    THANK YOU, Robert. And thank you all, for your generous comments and support. Six years ago I was barely writing anything but advertising copy, and lamenting journal entries. Thanks to this amazing place, I am now writing daily, have been lucky enough this past few months to have some published, and have met some of the most astounding, profoundly talented poet friends on the planet.

    Blessed, indeed.

  10. Misky

    Well done to all the Top 25’ers. Here’s my poem that made Robert’s list.


    He was a raisin of a man,
    round, plump, and wrinkled by the sun,
    with hands calloused and grooved
    from pulling in nets half emptied of fish.

    He was endlessly dedicated and in love
    with two women: the sea, and young Cecily,
    a broadly angled and solemn woman
    who kept herself to herself.

    Prudent it was, too, as it kept her blood
    from running weak as tea
    when his fever was a hurricane
    and her innocence a heralder’s beacon.

    She was dangerous, a rough craggy outcrop
    of rocks that begged every straggler
    to her bosom, and he was her empty vessel,
    tossed about too easily on the swell of her mood.

    (c) Misky (M. Braendeholm)

  11. taylor graham

    Congratulations to Brian and De! Well deserved! And congrats to the other Top 25ers!

    Here’s my poem; it’s in my book-in-progress, What the Wind Says — 40 years of search-dogs:


    I follow her into the November woods
    golden with oak leaves falling.
    Her Shepherd-nose lifts
    for scents of morning, brown eyes wide
    with watching, ears pricked-alert –
    my search partner of so many years.
    So many lost hikers, old men
    who simply walked away, young girls
    drowned. A green pool
    still holds scent of whoever passed
    yesterday, last evening.
    Ahead of me she disappears into brush
    and deadfall, searching.
    I hear her rustling among fading
    leaves as she
    disappears before me.

  12. Hannah

    Warmth in smiles abounds-
    well deserved recognition,
    poets so near and dear.

    Excellent picking Robert and a HUGE nod of gratitude and respect for ALL that you do!!

    De!!!!! (Doing the happy dance with you DE!!!) Brian!!!! Yes!! So excited for you both!!

    Top 25!!! Awesomeness!!!

    Congratulations to each and every one of you ALL!!

    For the named and unnamed this poetic home and endeavor is such a special thing. Kudos to everyone for writing everyday in April!!


  13. Patricia A. Hawkenson

    EXCITED is an understatement! Congrats to ALL on the list. Here is my Top 25 entry:

    Plum Crazy

    William Carlos Williams
    was lucky.

    He had a forgiving partner
    who was able to imagine
    the delicious, sweet
    and so cold plums
    and settle for flakes
    that probably weren’t so
    and quickly limped
    into a soggy mess.

    And even though
    his apology was so
    cleverly written that it is still
    read and reread
    long after iceboxes
    have turned into Frigidaire’s,

    I would have smacked him
    with a frozen leg of lamb.

    Forgive me,
    I am so cold.

  14. drwasy

    A HUGE congratulations to Brian Slusher and De Jackson. I agree–De’s poems blew me away this year. And although I was not familiar with Brian’s work from prior years, his stuff this year–wow. Both well-deserved–where your crowns well!

    Thank you Robert for hosting this event every year. April is my favorite month, my month to indulge in poeming with all the wonderful folks here.

    My poem, as written in April. Happy holidays, however you celebrate them. See you in 2013! Peace, Linda

    Let’s drive north

    past the exit ramp
    that returns us
    to the formstone
    bungalow all shady
    with pin oak and diapers
    soiled plates and
    the neighbor’s
    son dealing dope
    on the corner
    of Church and School.

    Let’s drive past
    the ramshackle five
    and dime now
    a dollar general
    and the Purina plant
    where horses burn
    to chow and glue
    and hope exits
    at the five
    o-clock whistle.

    Let’s drive north
    where air moves
    dustless, stars
    break through
    god’s detritus
    let’s drive until
    the asphalt peters
    out the sun kisses
    the ocean green
    and baptizes us.

    1. jimdens

      Linda, this is absolutely breathtaking. I love how you weave the hard truth of the world with the hope that rides along with it. Gorgeous! Congratulations for making the top 25!

      And congratulations to all the rest, and thank you all so much for sharing your wonerful work with us!

  15. laurie kolp

    I’m so happy for De and Brian! Congratulations to them… and the top 25, too. Thanks, Robert.

    Here’s my poem:

    What You Left
    by Laurie Kolp

    I found your old journal hanging
    in the branches of our shady oak
    where you once took refuge

    with worn pages scribbled upon
    words undecipherable
    their meanings misunderstood

    like you.

  16. Andrew Kreider

    Brian Slusher and De Jackson!!! So happy for you both – reading the two poems above reminded me again of how much I love your work. Well done to all who participated in this year’s challenge – and thanks to Robert for sifting through so much outstanding work. But most of all, Hail to the Laureates!

  17. Marie Elena


    Brian, I love your work and am SO happy for you!

    But DE JACKSON?! MYYYYY De Jackson??? My all-time favorite poet of all time and beyond?? WOW, WOW, WOW!!

    Excellent Top 25 list, Robert. I hope they really do all post their winning poems here. Congratulations all!

  18. Bruce Niedt

    Once again, I’m proud to be in such good company. Here’s my winning poem:

    by Bruce W Niedt

    I remember the day I knew my grandmother’s
    mind was going, when she poured hot coffee
    over the tea bag in my cup.

    I remember the day my uncle went out for milk, then
    called his wife ten hours later from two hundred miles away,
    saying he didn’t know where he was.

    I remember my father-in-law, dazed in his chair,
    suddenly unable to tell me my name,
    or his own, or what day it was.

    I remember less these days too, little gaps
    and tip-of-the-tongue moments more frequent:
    where I put my glasses just a minute ago,

    the name of a favorite actor,
    whether I took my morning pills.
    When we stop remembering, do we fade away?

  19. DanielAri

    Oh, yeah! De Miller Jackson! Woo!
    And Brian Slusher too!
    Wonderful laureates. I have such a smile on my face.
    And nice to be on the list, too, with one of my favorite titles 😉


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