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2016 April PAD Challenge: Results

Okay, long overdue, but here they are: the 2016 April PAD Challenge results post. We tried a new method of narrowing down the poems via e-mail submissions, and well, then we changed e-mail platforms. So reading the poems was not as smooth as I was hoping, but that's okay.

I did get through them all, and I loved reading them. Just as I loved reading all the personalized messages; y'all make me feel so lucky to do what I do. For real. Thank you!


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This year, I've decided to share my Top 21 list (in no particular order) of poems that resonated with me. They're not the only good poems I read, of course, out of the hundreds sent my way; they're just the ones that jumped out at me more.

The Motley Fool, by Anders Bylund

The tart
his tongue
turned to

Starfish, by Angie Bell

It's funny how the unexpected
can form an instant community

like that July morning

at Siesta Key
when a delegation of starfish
drew us all together
as we dipped our toes
in the warm gulf waters

beachgoers laughing and squealing

pointing and talking to each other
splashing and swimming
among the starfish that day

we formed a temporary friendship

over the joy of the ocean's offerings
years later across the land
"remember when" will be heard

and tales of the starfish
will be told

In Response to Langston Hughes' April Rain Song, by Arcadia Sturdivant

I wish I could like rain's kisses
I wish I could bear raindrops on my head
I wish I could listen to rain like a lullaby
I rather have the sun kiss me
I rather have sunrays through my hair
I rather have the sun beckon me to come outside

Snipping Through Life, by Azma Sheikh

The distance
from you to me
is amusingly the same as
the distance between two blades
of a scissor.
The more we close in,
the more it cuts.

Puckish Love, by William Preston

Love holds forth its humble hands
and proffers new hope to the heart;
hate, ensconced in iron bands,
demands that love depart.

Hate, sufficient unto itself,
boasts pride as its only rule;
love, a peripatetic elf,
is willing to play the fool.

Love willingly risks the flares of fear
to gain a glimpse of glee;
in love, therefore, I bid you, dear:
play the fool for me.

Their One Spring Task: Out-do the Other Sparkles, by Barb Peters

Ours hang against the April wall, the first to bloom then blink.
They straggle, stretch their necks, all gawk and inexperience.

These jonquils shy too much--their counterparts are lonely clouds.
No flutter dance near sidewalks, lacking in experience.

Come on, square shoulders, shout: "We're better than the dandelions!"
Instead, they cling in twos or threes, limp packs of inexperience.

If Wordsworth napped upon our couch, no dreams of blissful swathes.
Let's plant ourselves narcissus crowds enacting his experience.

We'll write our names, dear love, each daff an edge of golden cursive on
a flounce of white. We'll rise in spring, forever back for our experience.

Giddy Up, by Beverly Finney

Those leather boots
with the pointed toe
and the stout heel
insist on a stirrup,
the flash and smell
of a lathered flank,
the snort of a mane
in the jingle of reins,
the switch of a long tail,
thunder of hooves
pounding the earth.
That's where I go pulling
them on, tugging hard
with the red-handled
hooks until my high arch
passes the narrow turn
and my foot settles
into the swagger I know
I will wear all day.

Jaded, by Charise Hoge

in the heart of harm
I want to sweep you
off your calloused feet,
your callousness nestling
in a hyacinth wreath
- drunk on spring
perfuming the crevices
where love rots,
where cradles splinter,
to unearth the eager
crook of your arm.

Fool, by Connie Blitz

I'm just a fool who likes to spend time
experimenting with rhythm and rhyme.
I'll never get rich in this word game.
I won't find fortune. I won't find fame,
but I have found a kindred soul or two,
not a lot, just a few,
who also like to put words in a string,
creating pearls of wisdom,
making lingual bling.

Early Memory, by Connie Peters

My red plastic boots
dangled as Dad
lifted me up
to peer down
at Grandma asleep
in her casket.

First Time, by Christina Perry

That first time you whispered breathlessly
I love you, as you held me in your arms
all I could do was shudder, wipe tears from
bloodshot eyes, and moan as I gazed over
your left shoulder. Even in that moment of
disorientation, with a lip already swelling
from the impact of your fist, I knew you had
just upped the ante--and I hated you for it.


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Three Cherry Tree Blossoms, by Sara McNulty

Raindrops fall through
arcing pink umbrellas
three cherry blossom trees

Origami, by Sara Ramsdell

I crease you
into the flat folds
of a paper crane
a thousand
patient times,
coupling wing
and string
into the repetitive
vessel of one
lavish wish.

Dead End Perspective, by Stevie Mitchell

If I paint myself into
a corner, it's so
I know I'll be part
of the picture.

Fulfillment, by Ellen Evans
-after "Ode to the Flute," by Ross Gay

A man sings
by throwing his
voice through the
flute a man
turns himself into
air through the
flute a man
sings a
song and the
flute is
at last fulfilled

To the Girl Who Likes the Lady Horses Best, by Lelawattee Manoo-Rahming
-response to "how to triumph like a girl," by Ada Limon

It is beautiful to be believed.
A little girl who thinks, who knows,
who wants to run @ 40mph,
who can solve a math equation
and understand biology.
She can draw the 8-pound heart
of a lady horse, with heart valves,
aorta and vena cava, heavy with blood.
A girl who knows her own heart beats
like a machine, a pump beneath her shirt.
A genius girl who wants to win,
who will win, if she is believed.

Havana's Sun, by Danielle C. Robinson

over turquoise water,
we stretched and hovered like vessels
until our skin broke through a ring of currents.
then we stumbled ashore and laid flat under the Havana sun.
shared lavish kisses, played rock, paper, scissors until my gap-tooth
became gaudy. realizing, at that moment, you were no longer on my blacklist.

You Can't Buy Ruby Slippers at a Kansas Hardware Store, by De Jackson

That was no ordinary twister,
Mister, and Dorothy had a dream
and now she's on the hunt for
just the right shade of crimson
heels. Blue and white check
and black MaryJanes are,
at best, as country bumpkin
as it gets, and she's had a taste
of the just-right click of yellow
brick, and emeralds. Auntie Em

disapproves, of course. And you
and you and you were there, but
now you're frowning, doubting
her judgment and her sanity
and her desire for pretty feet. No
need to worry. It's just that she's
heard a faint cackle from the West,
and she's thinking it's best that
she work up the courage (heart, wicked
smarts) to find her way back (home).

Untitled (Woman Playing Solitaire), by Pamela Taylor
-Inspired by Kitchen Table Series, by Carrie Mae Weems

The girls keep quiet and out of sight.
They know to stay away from the kitchen table
when mama plays solitaire.

The parakeet shifts over in its cage,
peeks at the card held aloft, chirps
once for black, twice for red.

She studies the upturned cards like tarot.
This is the only time she controls the stacked deck,
where she can deal a better hand.

Her nightgown shimmers in the stark light.
She rolls the sleeves up to her elbows.
The cigarette continues its slow burn.

The Flute Remembers, by Bruce W. Niedt
-after "Ode to the Flute," by Ross Gay

And then a man
looks at a flute
beside him and asks
How did you learn
to catch the wind?
and the flute
remembers a time
before silver and keys
that locked in the wind
and remembers days
of wood
and finger holes
and how people would
dance to its wind
the same wind
that has blown
for ages and ages
the same wind
that blew across
a hollow reed
years ago
just as a man
was passing.

Skip Toodle-loo, by Candace Kubinec

Just skip it
flip it right
into the pond
let that ring, sink, I think
get lost in the muck
stuck in the ooze
skip the roses
weak psychoses
of apologies
skip town instead
go ahead
I'm through with you
so toodle-loo, buckaroo


And there you go! I hope you enjoyed these poems as much as I did.

Because of how I looked over the 2016 poems, I couldn't figure out a good person to name as Poet Laureate, but I hope to bring that back with the 2017 challenge. More on that later this week.


Robert Lee Brewer is the editor of Poet’s Market and author of Solving the World’s Problems. Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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