Winter 2007 Edition
January through March
Sol Magazine, A Quarterly Poetry Journal.  2007: The ninth year of a ten-year project of volunteers interested in the education of poets.
 © 2007 Sol Magazine

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Lemon Drops: a formal poem, by Tiel Aisha Ansari
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EDITOR'S CHOICE - Winter 2007
Lemon Drops: a formal poem

The sun: lemon-bitter custard.
Rain falls like fizzy lemonade
sticky sugar coats the parade
in yellow, marchers in mustard.

Convertibles raise yellow tops
to show off gold undercarriage.
Gold and sugar make their marriage
while I'm dreaming of lemon drops.

Not something I'd dream normally
(I'm not a big candy lover)
but I'll share what I discover
about lemon drops, formally.

Tiel Aisha Ansari, Portland, OR, USA 

COMMENTS:  This Redondilla has none of the stilted end-stopped candence of most formally counted and rhymed poems, but instead employs enjambment in such a way that the reader almost forgets the form, the mark of an expert poet.  Particular word choices add to the enjoyment of the poem.  Interesting title echoed in the last line.  Excellent work. 

Each quarter, we choose one poem to honor with the title of EDITOR'S CHOICE.

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Poets were asked to write a titled trio of quatrains that answer the unfinished question, "When will the snow...?" 



Concealed; the seasons’ carnage lies beneath
an even truce of deep, forgetting snow
where sterile bows and withered leaves withdraw
and stemmed, the veins of life no longer flow.

Absolved; a year’s mistakes in dark decay,
its angles calmed to curves in cowls of white.
The brittle lungs of winter inhale time;
the weight of its forgiveness crushes light.

Erased; unwritten sheets cocoon the days
in linens, shrouds of lace, till by degrees
the weave at last unravels and unbound,
a thaw unfolds and wakes the frozen seas.

Phill Doran, Johannesburg. RSA

COMMENTS:  Fine writing with lyrical comparisons in well-balanced ten syllable lines that never become sing-song or boring.  Phrasings are expressive and original, particularly in "brittle lungs of winter" and "unwritten sheets cocoon the days/ in linens".  Superb. 
Gold Flakes

Fragments of gold-flake swirl among gravel
in a placer-mine pan or a soggy sombrero
washed down by water from silver Sierras,
who knew that gold could grow out of snow?

Flickers of gold on the flanks of a sturgeon
trace a bright track over cold granite cobbles.
Wilderness waters, sunless but sparkling
who knew that stone could turn into gold?

Flashes of sun in the gravel-grey cloud cover
feathers of light in the dark wings of thunder
mark the beginning of ending of bitterness
the day that the snow in my heart turns to gold.

Tiel Aisha Ansari, Portland, OR, USA 

COMMENTS:  The poet questions self and reader, and in the process shows the wildscape in such detail the reader is drawn directly into the narrative.  Very well written.
When Will The Snow?

Plum blossoms ride a spring
breeze, swirl across the path,
drift against the garden gate.
When will the snow?

A falcon wings a sudden strike,
fall migrants rise in the air,
swirl and twist a feather blizzard.
When will the snow?

A wandering goose chants yearning
across the wintry sky, a voice
adrift chills the Girl-in-the-Moon.
When will the snow?

Mike McCulley, Montesano, WA, USA 

COMMENTS:  Sensory information enlightens the reader with the feel of chill air, the sound of chanting goose, the vision of drifting blossoms.  Clear descriptions bring the reader directly into the poem.  Excellent writing overall, would have placed higher except the poet repeated the competition topic twice, once in the title, and again at the end of the poem, which removed "originality" points. 

The Big Chill

When will the snow stop snowing 
And the icy winds stop blowing 
I feel trapped like a polar bear 
Hibernating in my winter lair 

TV reports another blizzard 
Heading here to freeze my gizzard 
Utility bills going higher 
While I huddle by the fire 

I can find no rhyme or reason 
To suffer through another season 
Next autumn as my spirits sink 
I'll migrate with bobolinks 

Lois Lay Castiglioni, Galveston, TX, USA
COMMENTS:  This poet is a master of light verse.  The poem makes the reader smile but commiserate with each new hardship gently mocked.  Nicely done.

Sunny South

When will the snow stop dodging my hometown?
Each year I dream of flakes floating down
Covering oaks with white blankets and capes
But winter-naked trees shiver in bare shapes

Longing for snowy ice cliffs of sapphire glass
Wearily watch another warm season pass
New York reports of snowflakes large as nickels
I envy those homes draped with long icicles

Wishing for lawns gleaming like a silver spoon
I settle for listening to Bing Crosby croon
Create a blizzard when my crystal ball whirls
And watch plastic snowmen grin as fake snow swirls

Kay Lay Earnest, Smyrna, GA, USA
COMMENTS:  This poet creates her own world then invites the reader in to sit down awhile and feel at home.

Make Way for Spring!

Like slurpies, this snow that falls today. . .
“Don’t eat it!” I think with angst, dismay,
then shrug my shoulders, bring out the gay-
colored syrups to flavor its gray.

Like pudding, this snow that clings to me. . .
No--more like cake, its frosting creamy.
But I indulge nevertheless—free
me from this winter insanity!

Like wine, this snow that makes me tipsy. . .
You’d think I’d learned the gift of whimsy!
But here I am in bed all wheezy,
Conjure spring? You’re making me queasy!

Terrie Leigh Relf, San Diego, CA, USA
COMMENTS:  We sympathize with the poet, yet revel in the story presented here.  Great fun, nice comparisons. 

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Poets were asked to write a short poem that describes the appetizing scent of fruit, flowers, a favorite food, or something luscious, and to compare the scent to something unusual. 


Slow, fingers trace the ripe and swollen clefts 
uncovering a clear, cool skin. Laid bare 
and moist, exposed, the sultry fleshes yield.
Unconscious of resistance, I press down. 
And in.
In long, long rhythmic lengths, an even line.
My hand bathed warm in juices, touching; wets 
my lips, my lapping tongue, bold with excess.
A banquet for my very mouth, made flesh; 

Phill Doran, Johannesburg. RSA

COMMENTS:  Although the comparison arises only within the mind of the reader, there is a clear sensual rendering of both mango and (you fill in the blank!)  Wonderful description, luscious to the point of pushing the envelope of what might be published in a family magazine.
The Richness of Beef

my grandmother's roast beef was chewy
rich with fat and juices
roasted brown with carrots and celery
celery with strings
teeth flossed and tongue tested
but the beef....
departed and primal carcass smelling of the porch swing
enveloped in my father's arms
jumbling the words on paper
dreading the morning and wishing the meat frozen still

Denise Amodeo Miller, Kenmore, NY, USA

COMMENTS:  The reader savors the meal at the beginning, but repulsed by the beef by the end in this wonderfully obscure yet very descriptive poem.  Well written, keeps the reader's attention.  Great title.
A Day Without Betty Crocker

We'd tear clouds of white bread into small chunks
and toss them into a mixing bowl.
Just a dash of freshly-squeezed lemon,
"For zing," mom said,
though it reminded me of furniture polish.
We'd pour in the sweetness of maraschino cherries,
each one a flaming sunset.
As the pudding baked, its fragrance
lit every room like a candle
and followed us no matter where we went.

Cindy Tebo, Catawissa, MO, USA

COMMENTS:  Beautiful descriptions invite the reader to smell the lemon, taste the cherries, and revel in the sweetness of the pudding.  "Clouds of white bread" is a wonderful image, as is "cherries,/each one a flaming sunset," and the ending sentence totally captivates the reader with it's freshness.  Excellent writing. 

Orange, lemon 
strawberry ripened 
cocktail of dawn 
with shots of sunlight 
topped with cream 
of sunset clouds 
served on a leaf 
of harvest fall 
with floating cubes 
of beach balls. 

Frances Schiavina, Ardmore, PA  USA

COMMENTS:  This poem is great fun, prompting one judge to shout, "Bring it over here on a silver platter, with a straw, a tiny umbrella, carried by a bikini-clad beach boy!  Yes!!!"  Nicely done. 


Tonight I'm wrapped in the fragrance of frangipani
tender as a lover's touch
heavy as a velvet blanket
warm as the motionless air.
I'm a peach pit swimming in a bowl of sweet cream.

Tiel Aisha Ansari, Portland, OR, USA 
COMMENTS:  Lovely comparisons, see, smell, taste, revel!  Great title, good writing.

Chicken Bone Scentsation

It lingers in dried chicken bones, like the one I hurled—
With awful aim—behind my back into the railroad
Tracks. This just one of the superstitious cures we gave 
A whirl in an effort to tame my knobby-kneed viral 
Affliction. Endeavor as we might, in the end, only the 
Dermatologist’s potion could put those warts that, like 
Braille, traced a topographical map down my shin. Deceptive
In its peridot sheen, the glass prism-encased prescription 
Burned not only my skin contagion, but also the nostrils that
Caught its acidic whiff, which lingers still in chicken bones. 

Kathy Kehrli, Factoryville, PA, USA
COMMENTS:  Certainly not to the topic of this competition, but since it did compare a scent to something unusual, it was included here.  Riveting descriptions, the wonderful writing alone gives this poet points for originality and narrative ability. 

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Lemon Drops: a formal poem

The sun: lemon-bitter custard.
Rain falls like fizzy lemonade
sticky sugar coats the parade
in yellow, marchers in mustard.

Convertibles raise yellow tops
to show off gold undercarriage.
Gold and sugar make their marriage
while I'm dreaming of lemon drops.

Not something I'd dream normally
(I'm not a big candy lover)
but I'll share what I discover
about lemon drops, formally.

Tiel Aisha Ansari, Portland, OR, USA 

COMMENTS:  This Redondilla has none of the stilted end-stopped candence of most formally counted and rhymed poems, but instead employs enjambment in such a way that the reader almost forgets the form,  the mark of an expert poet.  Particular word choices add to the enjoyment of the poem.  Interesting title echoed in the last line.  Excellent work. 
Calories Count

Lying at the bottom of sleep 
I float around a candy store 
Stuff myself then look for some more 
Turtles, truffles I want to keep 

Dreaming next of divinity 
Platters of double-dipped dark fudge 
Fill me till I can hardly budge 
Continue this ferocity 

The zenith is peanut brittle 
After waking up around dawn 
I tug my slacks on with a yawn 
But they don't snap in the middle 

Lois Lay Castiglioni, Galveston, TX, USA

COMMENTS:  Light verse at its best, transporting the reader into the dream of the poet with lip-licking enthusiasm and back out again, leaving readers with a sweet taste in the mouths, and a chuckle on lips in and in mind.  Well done, poet!
Red Bull Opera

A Spanish port; sun-faded stands,
mantillas crowd the stage like teeth,
an actor's cape obscures, beneath
its crimson folds, his bladed hands.

Moor matador less gifted, flails;
his light-weight foil is underplayed
on-stage, off-quay a serenade
in lowered voice cues lifted veils.

As sundown combs the harbour waves,
nearby, where bask flamingos, sets
of obtuse anglers cast their nets
while some uncivil barber shaves.

A dream flamenco. Drinking bars
of chords which reel, to reef the act
stern players bow and then refract;
sunlight on rubies, shrinking stars.

Phill Doran, Johannesburg, RSA

COMMENTS:  Intriguing title, fine writing, interesting oblique reference to the opera, "The Barber of Seville."  Good use of enjambment to bring the reader along without forcing a stop at the end of each line. 

Perfect Genes Perfect Life

When night is tar and I retire,
my mind is a kaleidoscope
or perhaps an electroscope,
as colors shine like my sapphire.

I vision chromosomes’ superb
and perfect genes the brain contains,
in rods the nucleus maintains
activities as good adverb.

Mitosis modes like polymaths,
division dabs of daughter cells
determines life as bunch dumb bells
or sanity or psychopaths. 

My passion burns for Eden’s health,
for happiness like pioneers,
no longer needing buccaneers
‘cause chromatin casts common wealth.

Carol Dee Meeks, Artesia, NM, USA
COMMENTS:  Well-written light verse.  Fine beginning stanza.  Although the poem uses weighty word choices, those very choices make the poem highly entertaining. 


Blue waves gently crash, caressing
pearly white sands. Like a mirage,
friendly faces form a collage
a still backdrop worth addressing.

The striking of the gong, its sounds
imbedded in the heart, it grows
more brilliant than before. It flows
to tease and chase the mind it hounds.

Voices from the past all merging
into one cohesive loud chant
reminder of an ancient cant
dreams of Daba-daba, urging.

Maria Eugenia Stanphill, San Antonio, TX, USA
POET'S NOTE:  Daba-daba is an ancient Bagobo (a Philippine tribe) word meaning fire. 
COMMENTS:  Odd but interesting title, and although never defined within the poem itself, it makes little difference.  The language of the poem creates an interesting cadence, speeding up and slowing down as if waves cast upon the shore of the mind of the poem.  Nicely done.
EDITOR'S NOTE:  Poems with attached notes are rarely published because of the widely held theory that each poem should stand on its own, and all explanations should be within the poem itself or a mystery should remain unexplained.  While the very famous Norton Anthology uses notes, those are included for educational purposes, and added by editors after poems are selected for publication. 

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HIDDEN CONTEST:  About Writing Poetry - A Challenge:  The Sonnet

FIRST PLACE:  Winner of a $25.00 book gift certificate.

Shakespearean Sonnet

Avon’s Bard Wrote One Fifty-four 

I write a poem, sonnet style and form,
but need my thinking bonnet, book of rules.
In fourteen lines, three quatrains fit the norm;
one couplet creates nice poetic tools.

Some contests call for metric feet of five
like meter, verse and rhyme, da dah in songs.
I write and polish lines to make them jive
so stanza’s sequence smooth, as sound prolongs.

With decasyllabic and rhyming craft,
expressing two successive points of view,
the sonnet changes coats at ends of draft
then offer facts and data fresh like dew.

My pieces pale to ancient one who rhymes
I choose old Bill, the Bard of Avon times.

Carol Dee Meeks, Artesia, NM, USA

There’s Solace in These Words

While reeling from the sting of death’s first stab 
Solace I found at sixteen years of age. 
I met head on that demon’s fatal jab 
In metered verse I scrawled across the page. 

Through practice I improved my skills with rhyme 
And found an unexpected second deal. 
For in that faithful writing stretch of time, 
A shadow lifted, granting me to heal. 

Last year my long lost and forgotten foe 
Emerged to say hello again to me. 
And as I’d parried once before his blows, 
With words I waged a counter killing spree. 

In tragic times of grief and deep concern, 
To poetry is where I always turn. 

Kathy Kehrli, Factoryville, PA, USA
If I were a Poet Fair

Were I a better lyricist, I’d feast
upon delicious fruits and sleep ‘til noon.
Alas! My rhymes seem most pedantic, greased
with wretched words most foul—I beg a boon!

Bestow upon this poet poor some grace
to dance with metaphor, some turns of phrase,
that aren’t unwieldy, similies like lace.
Do this for me and I will sing your praise!

Inspire me—I beg of you, my Muse!
But if you turn your back on me, oh well. . .
Perhaps I’ll turn to other crafts and use
these scattered verses to invoke a spell!

If you would grant this wish most small for me,
I’d dedicate myself to poetry.

Terrie Leigh Relf, San Diego, CA, USA
In Poetry

Although blessed to write, in verses I toil
forged strongly and urged onward so it seems
by applauds and wishes that shadows spoil.
My poetry speaks as a sword that gleams

very much like someone with lofty dreams.
A wordsmith, whose craft, in a vision came
I do not cater to vanity's screams
or to society's concept of fame.

To think of every line for me is lame
instead I dwell on life's many faces.
My mind seeks wisdom, without any shame
sharpened true and honed by pitfall's graces.

Somehow, I will arise from unknown mire
and truly paint with words, not vent my ire.

Maria Eugenia Stanphill, San Antonio, TX, USA
The New Age of Poetry

Shall I compare free verse to yesterday's,
When rhyme and meter set the strictest rules?
Today the loosest rambling wins the praise,
And rhymes are scorned as gimmick's shoddy tools.

There was a time when sonnets were prized jewels,
And epics fit for singing held the throne.
But with the flow of time old ardor cools,
And those who wish to rhyme now stand alone

As literary pundits set the tone
With volumes full of "modern po-et-ry"
And annals packed with three-line poems that shone
Among those breaths of endless "verse" called "free."

Let us now pause to shed a silent tear
For all who loved the forms of yesteryear.

Katherine Swarts, Houston, TX, USA

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