Poetry competition CLOSED 3rd September 2018 10:50pm
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RUNNER-UP: Jade-Pandora

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The Man in the Arena

Thought Provoker
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Joined 13th May 2018
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Poetry Contest

Write your own interpretation of Roosevelt's "The Man in the Arena"

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

--Theodore Roosevelt
Excerpt from the speech "Citizenship In A Republic" delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910

* As many entries as you like. YOU are in the arena. YOU decide.
* Collaboration? YOU are in the arena. YOU decide.
* Public vote--YOU choose to enter the arena!

Here is my example:


I mend my shield and hone my sword.
I wield death by my ruthless hand.
I fight and die for one reward:
for fame and glory throughout this land!

Respect is won by blood and sweat.
A gladiator lives by strife.
I kill many; but, as yet
the crowd’s abuse for me is rife!

They scream and taunt and disrespect!
…profanities I must ignore.
Their hatred for me is unchecked,
even though they love the gore.

I see the crowd, I know each face!
Every cutting stare is felt!
I scream and curse, to my disgrace,
each face is mine! I hate myself!

Dangerous Mind
United States
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Joined 22nd Dec 2015
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Still In the Arena

The glory that is smeared all over my blade like blood.
The crowd may laugh and point at me because I got dirt
On my face, but they duck for cover as they hear the thud

Of feet heading their way. They are all cowards as I hurt,
Stumble, and feel the pain, but I still stay upright. My
Enemy is not the one with sweat all over his torn shirt.

I am the one who is still staying in the arena, eye to eye
With my fears and doubts all on display, but I am not
Scared of failure. I am not terrified of those tears I cry

As they splatter because I made it through every knot.
I survived as everyone around me whispered and crude
Remarks kept coming my way. Every battle that I fought

Was not for the applause or for the ones who screwed
Me over, but for the one who has shown up day after day
And was ready for every fight, me. My hope was renewed

And my faith was stronger than ever before. Every ray
Of sunshine could never shine too bright and the rain
Could never keep me inside. The rocks that try to weigh

Me down feel weightless as feathers and the windowpane
Has no beauty compared to what is happening in the arena.
I am the last one standing and I have gone against the grain.
Written by eswaller
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Tyrant of Words
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If The Public Is Ignored Then Where Is The Re - Public

An Arena ?

An Anathema Spurned By My Soul , As This World Is My Stage

And An Arena Is A Limited Set Of An Act Of Death Among Rivals ;

If There Are To Be Actors Fighting To The Death Let Them Test

Their Mental Mettle Not Some Feeble Body Subject To The Ravages

Of Time Yet Consciousness In It's Purity , Natural Seeking Of New

Territory , And The Expanding Of It's Sphere Of Influence , With Shield

Raised As Personal Beliefs And Dogma Bombarded By The Questions

Of The Many And The Swords Of Wise Discrimination ;

Lashed Bloody By The Words Of Criticism And Tongues Of Blind Masses

Who Follow The Crowd Madness And The Delusion and Common Folly

Of The Unenlightened And Often Inbred Politicians Who Pretend To Lead

While Indoctrinating The People With False Truths And Mind Manipulations

Then Slyly Choosing Their Heroes And Coordinating Their Conspiracies

To Attempt To Illustrate Their Prowess In The Eyes Of The Played Populace ;

You Dare To Insinuate Yourself In This Argument When You Are Not A Gladiator ,

Or Even A Sorrow Violator , As Warriors Of The Public , Or So Called Re - Public ?

If Things Are Decided Beneath The Scenes And Not Public In The First Place ,

Then What Is The Good Of A Re - Public Perpetuating Falsehoods And Lies ,

And What Fool Would Defend That Or Give Their Life For Such Maximus Falsus ?

I Have Never Seen A Public Or Re - Public With True Equality Among All Members

Therefore If I Am To Fight In The Body , It Shall Be To Route False Demagogues

Who Twist People In The Arena With Irrational Thought And Provocateur Passion

To Maintain Or Ascend To Positions Of Power Rendered To Service And Purpose

For This , I Shall Fight !

Written by Blackwolf (I.M.Blackwolf)
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poet Anonymous

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Guardian of Shadows
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Warrior Out of Time

Rained on and through squelching mud,
the warrior ran, his sword askew,
his horse dead under the Saracen’s blade
thunder and lightning drummed the sky
My failure…God is angry, he thought

A lightning flashed, and thunder rolled
he felt the spear of light enter his heart
he felt his heart stop and his body
jerked in dying throes, the mud met him
‘I am killed by the God I fought for’

He woke on soft beds, scented strangely
of fingers touching in soft caress
billowing white sheets on unknown realm
women in short frocks attending to him
an alien land, he learned, of his own

More than one thousand years, forward
in a flick of an eye, in a sleep of a night
he went forward in time, silent fear
and awe, he feigned loss of memories
he hid his fear of the strangeness around

thus he lived, immortal never dying
never aging and never ill
was it punishment of God for him
for losing the war, for his cowardice
by running from the marauding enemies

he would never linger in a life with women
for more than three decades
for they aged and he did not
he would never watch his children
grow old, as they would grow older than he

always on the move, he was
changing his names as he travelled
he has been a friar, a peddler
he has been a teacher and a banker
but always he would run again

when the thunder rolled and lightning flashed
he would be back with his warrior garb
for the power of them that know
would transport him through portals
and fight ancient battles he could not understand

he smiled as he read the book, a tale of yore
a mysterious black knight appearing to tilt
the battle towards the King of that lore
if only they knew who the knight was
he drank his coffee, and stood up to go

he felt warm and happy
so seldom did he feel that way
it was a clear and sunny day,
No battling in ancient wars
it was his birthday today.
Written by Grace (Idryad)
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jade tiger
Tyrant of Words
United States
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Honor Knows No Confines🛡

I: The Maw Of My Fate    
Surrounded by judgement at the high walls:    
The coliseum with its layered tiers,    
The paying citizenry face Caesar   
Who’s stony glare speaks silence for my death:    
A man trained in the techniques of restraint,    
Planning his next move of knight taking rook.    
I am executioner incarnate,    
Turned inward, guarding that right for myself,    
Warrior, gladiator; scored on my shield;    
Blade & mace strikes that I’ve returned tenfold.    
It is honor and glory to the brave    
That awaits me as my life bleeds away.    
II: The Way Is Certain    
Upon his shield, feelers retrace his wounds;    
Feather’d moths softly attend in darkness.    
The drone of his breathing suddenly shifts    
As mist rolls into the tent by torchlight.      
With the portent of imminent death near,    
Unguents anoint him in ceremony.    
Sole utterance amiss in grave stillness,    
Palpable as the arenas that bore him,    
That bow as failed contenders’ vigilance,    
And time grows short, as a girl of lineage,    
With blood of the gods by decree ordain’d,    
Solemnly rises, to sit astride him.    
Honors, to offer of body and song;   
The final journey to Elysium.
Written by Jade-Pandora (jade tiger)
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Guardian of Shadows
United States
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Joined 17th Feb 2013
Forum Posts: 5427

Soil Soldiers

We furrowed lands, soils
of dust, and Aeolus
blew away
our seeds of hope, yet
who but God
can raise bones from dry Earth?

Weathered hands, faces
fought ploughshares
and lost—

soldiers of dirt and
windswept grime, we
are the common man, failed
by nature’s grip.

O, won’t you bring the rains?
Shower the fields, fertile
once more, but no—
it is time to take stock
of loss.

Our destinies lie beyond
where we cannot control, so
we join caravans of
Okies, Arkies heading westward
to golden shores and promises, leaving
the Dirty-Thirties,
the forsaken,
the dust,
to the will of that which is
greater than man

Tyrant of Words
United States
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Words spread fast through a castrated caste
Dead turds turning upon a theater outcast
and everyone of the same mind upon the stage
is shunned in a kind of shameless blind rage
within their mindless simple clan
in a way that only simple minds can understand
I will tell you something blunt and true
like I told this one singing cunt I once knew
I've done things that you couldn't imagine
So before bringing and putting your angry VAG on
dismembered members caught being true
remember I'm not one of you
I have a new anthem to sing
a sacrificed vice venturing
into what will willingly bring
a calling of a failing falling offering
crying out loud or failing with or without you, friend
Flying proud or sailing down until the end
I'm not concerned about tired lies spoken as true,
You should be more worried about what I'm thinking of you
I tried, almost died, and I'm nowhere near through
I'm not one of you

Written by archetype23
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Fire of Insight
United Kingdom
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Forum Posts: 224

The Critic

To hell with the voice, easily finding fault
your words, no volume, from such a mighty horse
I’ll defer your naïve jurisprudence
accepting not your ignorant discourse
No tribute do you deserve
weakness, resting upon your throne
while casting doubt on those that fight
hypocrisy not to condone
The accolade must be awarded
to those in firm belief and standing proud
assembling for the silenced
vocalising for an oppressed crowd
Honours are due without a doubt
to men and women in the trenches
waging all our battles of war
while you pass judgement from your benches
Written by mel44
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Fire of Insight
United Kingdom
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Joined 3rd Mar 2017
Forum Posts: 224

Sum of My Scars

History alone
inadequate to define
the whole I have become
yet in your haste
presuming waste
to ignorance you succumb
Closed eyes
unwilling to see
in judgement of me
With forgiveness
your pious prosecution
I pray
you are worthy of absolution
if you could
amid my memoirs
never will I be
only the sum of my scars
Written by mel44
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Fire of Insight
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Forum Posts: 131

Maria Evicted

Returning home that morning
she was not surprised...

All she ever owned,
on the sidewalk
in front of the apartment building entrance.

A couch
a table
couple of chairs
some books
some clothes
an old computer
a mattress
a frying pan
a saucepan
a pack of spaghetti #10...

She had received the notices
she knew it, she expected it...

She approached, sat on the couch.
Pulled out a pack of cigs
- one cigarette left -
she lit.

A thought of "what's next?'
crossed in and out of her mind.
She had a few relatives, one or two friends...

Didn't feel considering options
she walked in the drug store
and walked out back to her belongings
with a fresh supply of smokes
and out of her last ten dollars...

Threw the spaghetti #10 pack in her purse
and started away slowly but steadily
soon disappearing within the faster tempo
of the busy, moving crowd...
Written by takis1917
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poet Anonymous

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Dangerous Mind
United States
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Unbreakable Me

You broke my bank
You broke my mind
You broke my heart
But take care not to gloat
For I still have hope
And with hope
The spirit cannot be broke
So, I'll pull myself together
And move on
With the certainty
That someday  
I'll find somebody
Better than you  
To love me
Written by snugglebuck
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geoff cat
Dangerous Mind
United States
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Ni Un Día Más De Tu Muertos

your fingers twist
about the neck    
of the black tuned vihuela    
sounding the chords,    
your cantata    
of its dispossessing love    
in wails begun    
pale, fatal words,   
the disconsolate music    
in childhood shrouds,    
your specters appearing real  

you beckon, come, Festival of the Dead    
you sing the graveyards in your family home,  
the stolen icons of your sacred soul    
remade in markers of the lurid death,    
in monuments, Formica and cement,  

unliving songs composed in black emblems,    
as melodies poison, I will depart    
as claws extend from your caressing verse    
to tear their stains, you see me vanishing    
display for me your sacrificial dance,    
the open legs, the coda of your pain,    
indulgent anthems seek to take me in,    
the moldered steps, knowing that I have gone    
in costumes of you, I will not regale    
the carnival of denigrated love,    
I will not dress in bleached bone serapes    
I will not lay tables among your dead    
your sorrows are the spoils of the damned,    
resound in echoes of the ghost applause,    
I will not bear the hard tied skull face mask      
so you may sing my beauty at the stage    
not one more day leading your corpse parade,    
flying los voladores in the graves,    
heart chilled death songs among morbid crosses,    
not one more day among these broken stones    
no, ni un día mas de tu muertos    
sing the cold misery of your safe tomb,    
incant the long departed, your comfort,    
their audience to sleep and wake with you,        
I refuse your nocturns of stillborn life    
I will remain    
In warm sun’s light,    
Find place among the living    
Sing holy hymns,    
Embrace, desire,    
And I will be yours no more
Written by Hepcat61 (geoff cat)
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Fire of Insight
United Kingdom
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Joined 1st Jan 2018
Forum Posts: 689

The trump card played

To stand alone not undermined
this billionaire a self made man
picked up the gauntlet laid on the line
stood up and said bring it on

his enemies just laughed and said
how could this fool rate any cred
but bluster was his shielded wrist
and misogyny was his mistress

to gird his loins with just locker talk
the red necks cheered and slapped his back
the prize to get us back to work
for we are forgotten salt of the earth

he felt the weight an apprentice feels
the arena called with mandate yet unsealed
 call on favours to grease some palms
cement this warriors call to arms

the Russian defense as they intercede
the chain mail that was a chink reveled
and that madam was on her knees
and the center of the ring was free

a buffoon dressed like a stalking horse
bravado can win the day of course
not to think of others only yourself
a conquest that left the world distressed

Written by slipalong
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