Poetry competition CLOSED 1st August 2019 8:53pm
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The Simple Life

Tyrant of Words
United States 23awards
Joined 20th Mar 2015
Forum Posts: 5573

Poetry Contest

The Classic Corner: Wendell Berry Tribute

Co-Hosts - Ahavati & JohnnyBlaze  

Part XVIII in an ongoing series introducing serious writers of DUP to the most well-known poets, both classical and modern. 

Wendell Erdman Berry (born August 5, 1934) is an American poet, novelist, and environmentalist living on a farm in Port Royal, Kentucky near his birthplace for over 40 years. Mistrustful of technology, he holds deep reverence for the land and is a staunch defender of agrarian values. He is the author of over 40 books of poetry, fiction, and essays.

His poetry celebrates the holiness of life and everyday miracles often taken for granted - that he is also willing to fight for with principle and through activism.


Write a new poem honoring Berry inspired by any one or more of his poems. We feel listing particular poems may be constricting, and want you to follow the inspiration wherever it leads. 

Do your best to make us feel as though we are reading poems by Berry. The more we feel you "capturing his essence" in "your own words" , the higher you will score. This will involve choice of wording, delivery, subject material, formatting, target audience - a wide range of factors.   

The Rules 

1.  One entry per DUP persona.   

2. No erotica; this is open to all ages and can't be viewed with an ECW ( Extreme Content Warning ).   

3. No exact word limit; however, attempt to keep it no more than 250 - 300.   

4. Any form is acceptable ( but studying the poet is advised ).   

5. Hashtag your poem #WendellBerry and link to your poem here. Do NOT copy paste your poem to the competition. The point is to eventually direct visitors searching for Berry to your poem via the hashtag we hope will eventually be implemented by the Webmiss.   

6. In your poem's notes, provide links to the poem by Berry that inspired yours. Without these, we have no way of determining if you were truly inspired by Berry or simply swapped fresh words into his existing poetry.

Comp will be judged by Ahavati & JohnnyBlaze.

You have one month; best of luck to all entrants!

NEW:  The competition will be promoted across our social network sites, and winners will be published on our Website:


Tyrant of Words
United States 118awards
Joined 11th Apr 2015
Forum Posts: 15421

August's Classic Corner poll is now live! Be sure to vote for next month's Female Feature to run alongside E.E. Cummings!


Tyrant of Words
United States 23awards
Joined 20th Mar 2015
Forum Posts: 5573

[ CC ] Monsters

You must look Medusa in the eyes    
and becoming stone, take pity on her---    
for she was not born, but made a monster    
What other choices do the Gods proffer?    
By using her ugliness to slay a Kraken    
you become hardened in heart as well    
Treat her as you would an enemy or friend    
but if she is only to be a means to an end    
then you have not learned your lesson    
and risk losing your pretty little head    
to the next Perseus that comes along  
Written by JohnnyBlaze
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Non entry

Tyrant of Words
United States 118awards
Joined 11th Apr 2015
Forum Posts: 15421

The Apple Tree ( After Wendell Berry )

Heavy in native headdress,
blossoms preside
over barren forsythia,
while cork-vined Chinese wisteria  
gnarl about branches
English Ivy accessorizes the trunk;
some things are pruned,
while others grow deep
tango wildly
between fire and root      

They solder  one ring      
after another outward      
from below;      
an ancient womb      
of knowledge and lore    
the first humans tasted      
lifetimes ago:

one in trust
the other, love      
Written by Ahavati
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Thought Provoker
United States 9awards
Joined 1st Nov 2017
Forum Posts: 177

A Small Town in its Last Summer

( after Wendell Berry )  

There is a darkness that changes a town.  
And shades of transgressions that remain,  
even after the night has relinquished.  
The pale, fading crescent of its moon  
watches the same lone farmer,  
out before the first streaks of dawn.  
He carries a bucket in each hand,  
heading to the barn on his farm  
on the outskirts of a town  
who’s residents were raised  
on a privilege of fear,  
King James verse, and the Almanac.  
He follows his quiet thoughts, and shadow  
that stretches before each step he takes  
for the early morning milking.  
Low-lying mists hover, and  
slowly curl among gravestones,  
and the rest of the town begins to  
reluctantly show signs of stirring.  
Shaking off, while the sun rises up,  
the inertia and shame, in its own waste,  
like the pigeons in his hay loft.  
Written by Heaven_sent_Kathy
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The Gardener
Tyrant of Words
United Kingdom 28awards
Joined 10th Oct 2010
Forum Posts: 1347

Dangerous Mind
United States 77awards
Joined 3rd Feb 2014
Forum Posts: 1873

Were You a Success?

Your time is done  
The hour is late  
Soon you'll discover
If an afterlife awaits  
But before your last breath  
You need ask yourself  
"Were you a success?"  
Did you give more than take?  
Was your love brighter,  
Than your hate?  
Were you tolerant  
And did you respect  
Those of different  
Lifestyles and habits?  
Did those who loved you  
Benefit from your existence,  
Or were their lives impeded  
And troubled because of it?  
Did you plant a tree  
And sow some seeds  
To replenish what  
You took from the earth  
To satisfy your needs?  
Were you never to proud  
To do the most menial labor,  
But not so meek and pliant  
That you didn't demand  
Fair compensation for it?  
Did you hug a crying child,  
Comforted a troubled stranger?  
Adopt a stray dog,  
Helped a needy neighbor?  
Did you realize  
There is more in the universe  
That we don't know  
Than we do?  
Were you a lonely voice  
Of dissent  
When your family  
And community  
Marched lockstep?  
Did you love your neighbor  
As much as you loved yourself  
Especially the neighbor  
Who was sleeping next to you?  
Did you ignore the pious,  
Defy convention,  
And resist selfishness of celibacy  
To make passionate love  
To a lonely person?  
Most important,  
Did you forgive others  
And did you ask them  
To forgive you?  
When you transcend  
From this demenion to the next  
It will be what good you've done,  
Not your wealth or conquests  
That will be the measure of your success  
Written by snugglebuck
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Dangerous Mind
United Kingdom 41awards
Joined 1st Jan 2018
Forum Posts: 836

Terra Firma

For he stood so tall so square and looked across the acreage  
Countenanced all that panorama, it seemed endangered  
The heavy horse the last to graze straw bales  
He lifted up the old straw hat and scratch his pate  

His disquiet, wrinkled brow like furrows in the field  
The bees that seek the pollen, a wasp that agitates  
We must he thought, let nature evolve at its own pace  
But short term gains mean fields turned into plains  
The engines belched out smoke, the crows flew up and squawked  
Divorced from dirty hands the reaper smash the blackbirds nest  
The field mouse massacred upon the stalk  
 Carnage it all drowned by the roar of the exhaust  
He with perception heard the screams the mantle chimes  
The discord in the harmony's its balances and checks  
Iron grid upon the land weighed heavy under human hand  
For with each gain there is a pestilence profane  
The inheritance that DDT had left upon the soil, the earth  
For each sod holds a microcosm  
To be preserved and not downtrodden  
Not a cocktail of chemicals of false parlance  
The spreader with its Nitrogen to grow the crops so muscle bound  
A vowed to stand firm and make a case, take the higher ground  
 brief to challenge false ideals, not put dead flowers on a living grave  
To leave a better world, that true agronomist  
For I speak of Shipwreck's with such a figure head  
To know the simple life could count and not be invalid  
That conglomerates sold a greener dollar for you to chase  
Spawn a farm where crops and stock are all disgraced  
Written by slipalong
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jade tiger
Tyrant of Words
United States 154awards
Joined 9th Nov 2015
Forum Posts: 5134

A Rhapsody’s Silhouette

 ( after Wendell Berry )  
a crow and I connect        
as his black silhouette        
wings its way        
by glory of midday.        
But he won’t know        
about you and I, my love        
in his trajectory above.       
Made closer by his tack,        
he knows not of us        
nor we of each passing,        
with black wings        
beating a message        
in the sun.        
Though far apart you & I        
we  share the sight        
of one sweeping        
blue & midnight sky,        
beyond the tops of        
trees, the crested hills.       
Until, and always,        
the curve of the earth,        
its horizons        
as the crow flies;        
the rhapsody        
that draws us still.        
Written by Jade-Pandora (jade tiger)
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Dangerous Mind
United States 29awards
Joined 30th June 2016
Forum Posts: 749

What We Need Is Here (Found Within)

The land in the eye is clear
not clouded, like the  
numerical sum of its parts
Here, in the ancient waters
free of tallied reasons,
free in the mind's vastness.
Fearing not the infinite,
Heaven within The Earth
hides in a hill, unremarkable;
Faith appears above
as a bird, flying
into a sky which closes
Around it hiding reasons
to try for that which it needs.
Its abandon, it finds,
is hidden but everywhere,
embedded in everything.
Written by PoetsRevenge
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Joshua Bond
Tyrant of Words
Palestine 41awards
Joined 2nd Feb 2017
Forum Posts: 1807

An Inked Witness

Josh (Joshua Bond)
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Tyrant of Words
United States 23awards
Joined 20th Mar 2015
Forum Posts: 5573

[ CC ] You Should Be Ashamed

for the flaming framing devices you use  
falsely re-presenting views of others    
[c]over[ing] gaping holes in crooked walls      
exposed by your very own warped logic.    
Such arguments built upon shoddy foundation    
are no excuse for misconstruing their words.    
It's no wonder not even the Amish welcome    
your assistance in razing their barns---    
simple, direct and honest folk don't take      
a shine to defending themselves from lies    
in the courthouse of public opinionation---    
each nail you're hammering in secures the lid    
of your less than stellar coffined reputation    
as a cellar dwelling ne'er-do-well      
Written by JohnnyBlaze
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Non entry

Dangerous Mind
United States 29awards
Joined 30th June 2016
Forum Posts: 749

The Silence (Of All Things)

Let me not mourn the
silence of the passing
on of the seasons

Of fruiting, of branching out;
the unnaming of leaves
and a language thereof

Speaking into the world's ear,
golden to itself in color.
It lives in the death

rooted in the incomprehensible,
singing aloud its call
to be harvested.

Let the world not name
This song, but receive
its muted melody.

Let the trifles of words
not belabor this:
Its speech that has no sound

Remains undefined in
Mans' concrete terms
in this silence where
all things dwell.



(a non-entry)
Written by PoetsRevenge
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Dangerous Mind
United States 31awards
Joined 22nd Dec 2015
Forum Posts: 760

The Promise of Marriage (Wendell Berry Tribute)

I dreamt of you walking towards me
As you leave the shadows behind and
The lights within your soul are brighter.
I want to meet you alongside the river’s
Edge – my sanctuary and where I see
Us building our first home. My hand
Wants to touch your skin – an igniter,
A spark and something that delivers
Its promise of protecting us. I was just
A wanderer, lost and unsure of where
I was going next, but then you came
Wearing your heart on your sleeve.
Your willing heart craved wanderlust
Too. You are a woman with long hair,
A smile that goes with it and a name
Beautiful as a dove’s call. The leaves
On the tree become greener as you
Approach and meet me down the aisle.
There I vow to shield you as you did
It countless times, even when I was
Undeserving and with the clear blue
Sky above our heads I love every smile
Along with the tears that already slid
Down your soft face. We take a pause
To take it all in, enjoying all the early
Mornings and late evenings. We laid
Our love at the Earth’s feet. We look as
Fall, winter, spring and summer change,
But our love that sometimes turns curly
Stays the same. Are we what we prayed
For? We have love that is raw like topaz
People dig for and is a mountain range.

Written by eswaller
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Dangerous Mind
United States 29awards
Joined 30th June 2016
Forum Posts: 749

The Country Of Marriage (And Love)

' There are no unsacred places,  
 only sacred places, and desecrated places '    
                   - Wendell Berry    
In the country where arose    
the soft grasses bearing your name    
in their blooming stalks, I imagined    
myself walking into the heart of    
the yellow cover crop, bare.    
Flitting by, a songbird was your spirit    
Its chirping breaking the soft lull of    
wind through your hair, dancing with    
purple specks of tiny flowers barely known of;    
their mystery that of you ascending in    
my sleep. I didn't know of you fully in my    
waking, but knew the tenderness of you in    
my softened steps through the hottest field    
in summer when the grass was high and    
bent over in homage to its maturity.    
Sometimes, I hold you in memory this way:    
As an orchard, a house and a garden which    
are always present and never leave.    
I remember the colors of the flowers    
like the words which bind our sacrament    
each to the other.    
The level ground assured me I was    
sure in you and led me forward to    
comfortable shades at midday    
and sheltered places at night.    
Our bravery kept us going even    
through life's storms.    
I have trusted you as the gentle forest    
is trusted by the woodland creatures    
whom live their whole lives under it.    
The planting of us was no guarantee,    
yet I, as a farmer knew it was guaranteed    
and well prepared for.  I knew the crop    
return was to be a grand reward of the    
wild land reclaiming itself after being razed.    
I knew our land would absorb all rains    
and so would we absorb the unknowns,    
the whys of how we came together    
and flourished.    
When we drank from the well,    
there was too much to not be filled;    
our love overflowed and was a    
never ending source of resurrection.    
Like the wild fields, we embraced the    
right season for our plants to bear fruit.      
I never felt worthy of you but simply was    
inclined to surrender and that letting go    
was a blessed thing that seemed to need    
no understanding to thrive, as great Sequoias    
need no reason to live as long as they are    
inclined to.  I have sunk into you as    
ancient humus into soil under a canopy    
of trees.  I am a hidden joy that you    
discover lifting your branches and    
feeding your roots.    
I gave you all this that I have,    
which is little, but enough to satisfy    
each cycle of our lives and dissolve    
its own logic into a zero sum;    
its economy is its beauty.    
It has no fair market value and one day will    
simply return unnoticed like a crop of weeds    
which delight only butterflies and bees;    
it will return to itself, folding in upon its    
very creation and becoming its own    
origin, its own soil mold becoming it's    
own food for its seeds to grow from.    
It will be known simply as a love that was,    
and is, and lives on eternally.    
As poetry, my words as humble as anyone's    
will sing with us and our purpose to simply    
be and be satisfied.  My unbounded self    
is waiting always at your door to be greeted    
and invited in to share your hearth.    
I will wander but never leave, as a horse    
which always needs hay and water    
and gallops in circles around its barn.    
In the dark of night, I know you are there,
Death's smile is your smile and to you    
will I return at my end.  All things created    
in love return to what bore them and will    
unconditionally receive them.    
The soil does not discriminate.    
My love for you is organic and    
biodegradable and so are you    
most sacred in receiving it.    
(a non-entry in ' The Simple Life')  
(850 words)
Written by PoetsRevenge
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