Please VOTE! for your favourite poem in the August 2010 SDMB Poetry Sweatshop!!!

It is 8 PM, EDT - the August 2010 Poetry Sweatshop will now close an hour. In the meantime, I will start posting the poems I’ve received thus far, and I’ll start the poll at 9 PM.

Past poets (and I) have greatly appreciated people’s comments and feedback on the works presented here. I have one simple request - please wait one hour until the Sweatshop officially ends at 9 PM before posting anything else. That way, the first replies are all just the poems. After 9 PM this evening - yes, please, we welcome your input!

I just want to emphasize the importance of voting - the poets are depending for an outside opinion of their work. The poll is by secret ballot, so no one need ever know how you voted. As we did for the last two months, I will make this a multiple choice poll.

Please note that the poll is seeking your favourite poem - no special knowledge of poetry required. Whichever poems strike a chord with you, please give them your vote. And, though the choice will be difficult, please take the time to choose at least one poem.

I also want to mention that because of our current working method, all of the following poems will be posted under my user name, which may lead people to think that I am trying to claim authorship. Only one of the following poems is mine - the authors’ names may be found in the spoiler boxes at the bottom of each reply.

The three words this month are:

And so, allow me to present our poets’ work for this August…

Leave a boy.
Find a job. Come back home. Find a man.
Go to him.
Leave it all. Find a home. Find a job.
Lose a boss.
Hit reverse. Change the plan. Start again.
Hear you’re cut.
Stand back up. Walk it off. Run in place.
Move on up.
Make a way. Write for pay. Settle in.
Be told goodbye.
Hold back tears. Silence fears. Keep the faith.
Don’t lose hope.
Stay the course. Be the force. Smile through pain.
Trust the plan.
Learn to wait. Delegate. Quell the storm.
Think again.
Find interim plan. Hold my hand. Got to go.


He throws the car into reverse,
tearing out of the driveway
with his pregnant
wife at his side, breathing
deeply and intentionally.

The hospital is only 15 minutes
away, but in the interim, he’s trying
to help her breathe and stay calm.
“It’s … way … too … early,”
she musters between breaths.

He silently prays,
hoping he has some sort
of delegate in Heaven,
that watches out for the little ones.

He doesn’t know if he could handle
losing another one.
He knows his wife can’t.


Excuse me
ma’am, I said
do you know how to reverse
that cart that is sharing space-time
with my ankle? I perceive
you clearly want post toasties
badly but I am wedged
now between the hard place
of this pallet and the
rock of your sturdy steel
rolling stock cage. Perhaps
in the interim whilst
you’re thinking it over
I can be your delegate,
load you up a 20 pound bag
of nutritional golden corn
goodness and you can call
nine one one.


I don’t want to have to find the words to say it.
If I could delegate the task to some empty cliches, I would.
‘I regret to inform you…’
‘I’m sorry to say…’
‘If only I could reverse time…’
Some cowardly blind to hide behind, a
way to swim past the
undertow of emotions.

Enough. I’m procrastinating,
and in the interim, someone else may tell her.
I owe her the truth.

"Dear Mum: I found his body.
Whatever they may tell you, the
bullet took him from behind.
It was ‘friendly’ fire got our Bill.
Captain Reid is claiming desertion,
but who runs toward the Germans
when they want to quit?
God knows, I’ve had enough.

I love you, Mum, and I’m so sorry
I wasn’t here to save him,
or at least shoot the clumsy bastard that killed him.

I’ve got to go. Love, Davie."

I seal the letter
look up and see Captain Reid’s
enigmatic stare. Then his raised pistol
tells me all
I ever needed to know…

Le Ministre de l’au-delà

Though you think otherwise
I am aware of an intrusion into the day
that feels like any afternoon in reverse
where conversations are complete
recollection delegates the radio
and we are all present.

To arrive here you need nothing
like faith. Though I believe in memory
don’t you? These doubtful apparitions
insist on clarity, if only the interim relief
of your forehead glimpsed against
the shade of my hand.

In the end
I will trade this ruined cold
spot, that sad dazzle of ectoplasm,
for the instant you cool your coffee;
your inexplicable breath
warm and expired.


There we are - five very strong submissions. Once again, I’m fascinated how the same three words can take our various poets in totally different directions.

I’d also like to open the floor to anyone who wants to comment on any of the poems here - this is a rare chance for us to get feedback directly from our audience. Also, please do take the time to vote; the poets depend on your input.

Happy reading, everyone!

Le Ministre de l’au-delà

You guys are all so good! There’s no way I could even do this. My sister, who is a regular poster here, keeps trying to get me to do this, but you all are so amazing. I love reading them every month. Keep up the good work!!

Wow, this is really close. We need more votes! Come on people, vote!!

And Junk, you should give it a go.

We have less than 48 hours before the poll closes, and I’d just like to take an opportunity to again encourage everyone reading in this thread to vote, please!

This is still very much anyone’s contest to win.

First off, I’d like to say congratulations and well done to all of our poets this month.
** melodyharmonius
Le Ministre de l’au-delà
koeeoaddi**, please take a well deserved bow.

My thanks to all who voted - it would seem that it was my poem, Ypres, which was chosen this month. I’m honoured, especially because of how much I admired all the other works this month.

Once again, I’d like to thank the Mods for their ongoing interest and support for these Poetry Sweatshops. It is greatly appreciated.

I’d also like to throw out a passing plug - there will be a Short Fiction contest this month, in case anyone reading here would be interested. And to all our poets, if this is what your work is like with a one hour time limit, I’m certain that Teemings would be interested in your other works…

Until next time, many thanks!

Le Ministre de l’au-delà
Poet Laureate of the SDMB

CONGRATULATIONS Ministre! I was among the voters for your poem, and am happy to see you win!

Really nice work, Le Ministre. Congratulations!

…and thanks for doing these sweatshops, they are all kinds of fun. :slight_smile:

Good work again, Le Ministre!

And I echo koeeaddi’s appreciation for your organization of these shops. I’m looking forward to the short fiction exercise at the end of the week.

Thank you once again, everyone. I’m flattered.

Before letting this one go for the month, I just wanted to ask your opinions on the frequency of the Poetry Sweatshops. I ask partly because of the interest in the Short Fiction contests as well, and partly because we’ve had lower numbers of participants, readers and voters for the last couple of Sweatshops. That could just be due to summer - more Dopers on vacation, people doing things other than net surfing while the weather is better, etc. Or perhaps once a month is too often.

In any case, the Mods have very kindly given their blessing to run both contests as a regular event (and I suspect a huge part of that consent is that the level of the writing is consistently good, and the writers/poets so very supportive of one another). I just need to find the right balance - often enough to encourage authors, not so often that we out-run the interest of the general membership.

I am contemplating doing a Short Fiction contest and a Poetry Sweatshop in alternation, so that each event runs every other month, ie. Jan. Poetry Sweatshop, Feb. Short Fiction contest, Mar. Poetry Sweatshop, April Short Fiction contest, etc.

As always, I’m open to the wisdom of the collective. What do you folks think?

Since it’s a shorter event, I don’t mind it being monthly. I think it may just be that it’s summer and people are out. I’d say give it another month or so and if it’s not turning around, reevaluate then. I love doing this monthly; it keeps me writing.