Monday, May 15, 2017

New Post: Tom C. Hunley, Finalist, Learning to Cope Prize

God’s Lonely Man
          Film Student in Peking: What do I do with the loneliness?
            Martin Scorsese: Very often I try to  put it into the work.
            Film student (a few days later): I tried putting it into the work, but it doesn’t go away.
            Scorsese: No, it doesn’t go away. There’s no magic cure.” – Scorcese on Scorcese, David
            Thompson and Ian Christie, eds.)
I’m the only one here. My name is Travis, Travis B.
I’m a lonely man, and I’m a sleepless man, a confused man.
Are you talking to me? Will you please talk to me?
I believe my stomach may be riddled with cancer.

My yellow cab gets washed by a gushing fire hydrant.
A car backfires – I’m back in Nam, ducking Charlie.
I pop tranquilizers and wet my cereal with peach brandy.
I’m the only one here. My name is Travis, Travis B.

The prostituted Times Square night is lit by bodies
Pressing together like match heads and cement. Damn,
How I’d like to be a heavy rain that washes this city,
But I’m just a lonely man, a sleepless man, a confused man.

I took this lovely angel, Betsy, to see Swedish Marriage Manual,
But she scuttered into someone else’s cab. Oh Betsy!
There’s so much I can’t quite say, but I know you’d understand.
Are you talking to me? Will you please talk to me?

Sweet Iris, a 12-year-old whore, jumped in my back seat,
Followed by her pimp, Sport, who wore an Indian headband.
He grabbed her arm and tossed me a balled up twenty.
I believe my stomach may be riddled with cancer.

The morning sunlight nearly blinds me. I walk in a trance.
How did this loneliness get in me? Do I drink it in my coffee?
It wants to come out, like steam billowing from a manhole.
Are you talking to me? Are you pointing that .38 at me?
I’m the only one here.
Tom C. Hunley

Tom C. Hunley is a professor in the MFA/BA Creative Writing programs at Western Kentucky University, the director of Steel Toe Books, and the lead singer/guitarist of Night of the Living Dead Poets Society and Dr. Tom and the Mini-Mes. His poetry collections include PLUNK (Wayne State College Press 2015) and THE STATE THAT SPRINGFIELD IS IN (Split Lip Press 2016). In 2015 Southern Illinois University press published CREATIVE WRITING PEDAGOGIES FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY, an essay collection that he co-edited with Alexandria Peary.

New Post: Uche Ogbuji, Finalist, Learning to Cope Prize


        Per me si va ne la città dolente,/…/Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate.–Dante

The country of gloom lies right through this door;
Eternal pain prepared beyond this gate;
They’re lost who know what this passage is for;
As you enter, accept your hopeless fate.

Reading this sign has me in quite the state;
Isn’t this the U.S., I ask the bored
Agent at the high desk, that you designate
The country of gloom, set right through that door?

He looks down at me to say: We know your sort,
Coming on no matter how we regulate
Entry. It’s time we stir up what’s in store–
Eternal pain prepared beyond this gate

For those who don’t belong. I fear to debate
The issue at this moment and step forward,
Passport out, eyeing the side hall soiled with wait–
They’re lost who know what that passage is for,

Deported, renditioned, unfortunate poor
Supplicants and refugees burning in state
Within their circles. He grins his knowing scorn:
As you enter, accept your hopeless fate.

This new regime has measured up the score.
We’ve had endless riffraff come on in freight;
It’s the cut glass welcome mat for any more.
Might we convince you not to infiltrate
This country in gloom.

Uche Ogbuji

Uche Ogbuji, born in Calabar, Nigeria, lived in Egypt, England and elsewhere before settling near Boulder, Colorado. A computer engineer and entrepreneur by trade, his poetry chapbook, Ndewo, Colorado (Aldrich Press) is a Colorado Book Award Winner, and a Westword Award Winner ("Best Environmental Poetry"). His poems, published worldwide, fuse Igbo culture, European classicism, American Mountain West setting, and Hip-Hop. He co-hosts the Poetry Voice podcast, featured in the Best New African Poets anthology, and was shortlisted for Nigeria's Eriata Oribhabor Poetry Prize.

New Post: Susan McLean, Finalist, Learning to Cope Poetry Prize

Learning to Cope

She learned to cope with every trick they tried
to keep her down.  To put her in her place,
they said she was incompetent. (They lied.)
But every setback has a saving grace.

A snail must cross a field at a snail’s pace,
and yet it still may reach the other side.
Scaling each log or ditch she had to face,
she learned to cope. With every trick they tried,

her path grew more oblique.  She learned to hide
behind a noncommittal smile, erase
hints of determination.  Satisfied
to keep her down, to put her in her place,

they failed to see, at first, she’d moved a space
forward.  Just one.  No challenge to their pride,
control, or dominance.  But, just in case,
they said she was incompetent.  They lied

that her advance was due to a free ride.
“The methods that some women will embrace
to get ahead!” they muttered, narrow-eyed.
But every setback has a saving grace.

They never saw her hand concealed an ace:
persistence was the only ploy she plied.
And though she might not win the steeplechase,
with every hurdle that she took in stride      
she learned to cope.

Susan McLean

Susan McLean is an English professor at Southwest Minnesota State University. Her poems have appeared often in Light, Lighten Up Online, Measure, Mezzo Cammin, and elsewhere.

Monday, May 8, 2017

New Contest: the Ballade (Not Ballad) Contest!!!

--> -->

A blog for the exploration, appreciation and publication of the rondeau, rondel, roundel, rondeau redouble, rondolet, triolet, and ballade invites you to participate in its next contest: 

The Ballade (Not Ballad) Contest!
This contest is for the best poem written in the ballade form. A ballade (for the purposes of this contest) is a poem of 28 lines with the following rhyme scheme:

A ballade poem should have three stanzas and an envoy/ envoi. The rhyming pattern for the stanzas is ababbcbC. The rhyming pattern for the envoy is bcbC.

For more information on writing a ballade:

One of my favorite examples of a poem in this form is by Dorothy Parker:

Ballade Of A Great Weariness

There's little to have but the things I had,
There's little to bear but the things I bore.
There's nothing to carry and naught to add,
And glory to Heaven, I paid the score.
There's little to do but I did before,
There's little to learn but the things I know;
And this is the sum of a lasting lore:
Scratch a lover, and find a foe.

And couldn't it be I was young and mad
If ever my heart on my sleeve I wore?
There's many to claw at a heart unclad,
And little the wonder it ripped and tore.
There's one that'll join in their push and roar,
With stories to jabber, and stones to throw;
He'll fetch you a lesson that costs you sore:
Scratch a lover, and find a foe.

So little I'll offer to you, my lad;
It's little in loving I set my store.
There's many a maid would be flushed and glad,
And better you'll knock at a kindlier door.
I'll dig at my lettuce, and sweep my floor,
Forever, forever I'm done with woe.
And happen I'll whistle about my chore,
"Scratch a lover, and find a foe."


Oh, beggar or prince, no more, no more!
Be off and away with your strut and show.
The sweeter the apple, the blacker the core:
Scratch a lover, and find a foe!

Contest opens June 15, 2017 and closes August 1, 2017.  The winner will receive $100 and publication on the Rondeau Roundup blog.  For this contest, no other form will be accepted (we’re looking for the French form here, not the English story-telling form).  Contest results will be posted on or before August 15, 2017.  Contest is free to enter. To participate, send one and only one ballade to rondeauroundupATgmailDOTcom in the body of your email.
Presenting the first-place winner of the Learning to Cope Prize!

Rondeau Redoublé: Final Stage

I pray I never do those sorts of things
that made me once deride and dread old age —
the trivial and pointless ramblings
that signal we’ve come to the final stage.

The telltale signs and acts by which we gauge
decline: saving scraps of paper, bits of strings,
dozing off halfway down each page.
I pray I never do those sorts of things.

I pray that I can curb my mutterings
and sotto voce scolds, restrain my rage
at every new contraption progress brings,
that made me once deride and dread old age,

weather the trials and traumas that presage
the end: the mind’s demise, the wanderings,
the fears no cheerful banter can assuage,
the trivial and pointless ramblings

of friends, their lapses and imaginings.
I pray to find the wit and will to wage
defense against outrageous fortune’s slings
that signal I’ve come to the final stage.

Though each of us may play both fool and sage,
Though darkness may be gathering in the wings,
This is no time to rest, to disengage,
no time to give up on our hungerings.
I pray I never do.
--Toni Clark

Antonia (Toni) Clark is a medical writer, editor, poet, and teacher, and she co-administers an online poetry forum, The Waters. She is the author of a chapbook, Smoke and Mirrors, and a full-length poetry collection, Chameleon Moon. Her poems and short stories have appeared in numerous print and online journals, including Anderbo, The Cortland Review, Eclectica, The Missouri Review, The Pedestal Magazine, Rattle, and Softblow. Toni lives in Vermont, loves French picnics, and plays French café music on a sparkly purple accordion.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Learning to Cope Poetry Prize (Rondeau Redouble)
Sponsored by the Rondeau Roundup Blog

Dear Entrants:

I received so many fine examples of this complex form that I had to invent new categories for the winning poets:

Winner: $100 and publication on the Rondeau Roundup Blog
Toni Clark, for “Rondeau Redouble: Final Stage”

Finalists:  $25 and publication on the Rondeau Roundup Blog
Susan MacLean, for “Learning to Cope”
Tom Hunley, for “God’s Lonely Man”
Uche Ogbuji, for “Hellgate”

Publication Awards: Publication on the Rondeau Roundup Blog:
Tiel Aisha Ansari, for “How Our New Immigration Policies are Like the Bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef”
Joan Wiese Johannes, for “A Blooming Scandal”

I so enjoyed reading these poems—the level of craft was so very high!  Thanks to all the folks who submitted poems for consideration.

The poems will be on the blog throughout the month of May.

Thanks so much,
Allison Joseph, Editor
The Rondeau Roundup

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Rondeau Fridays!

First in a series of new rondeaus!  Here's a new one by poet Jeff Santosusso!
Perfect Circles 

In rotation, ankles and feet
pedal the bicycle, athlete
in rhythm, turning like the wheels,
geometric precision, feel
of perfection with her heartbeat.

Balance, left and right, in replete
bilateral harmony, feat
of grace, constant motion, ideal
in rotation.

To climb the hill, rise in the seat,
exchanging downbeat and upbeat,
posture more upright, toes and heels
thrusting, knees and thighs. Spin appeals
to the sense of rising, complete
in rotation.
Jeff Santosuosso is a business consultant and award-winning poet living in Pensacola, FL.  A member of the Florida State Poets Society, he is Editor-in-Chief of, an online journal dedicated to poetry and short prose.  His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and has appeared in San Pedro River Review, The Lake (UK), Red Fez, Stories of Music, Vol. 2, Illya’s Honey, Red River Review, Texas Poetry Calendar, Avocet, First Literary Review – East, and other online and print publications.

Monday, February 20, 2017


English 352, the Forms of Poetry class I teach at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, is up to the part of the semester where we talk about repeating forms.

Today, we talked about the rondeau. We looked at two famous examples of the form--Paul Laurence Dunbar's "We Wear the Mask" and "In Flanders Fields" by Lt. John McCrae.

Together, we wrote a semi-scandalous rondeau:

Behind Closed Doors: Apt 2B

Behind closed doors, the lovers lie
in tangled bed sheets, getting high
forgetting all their debts and cares
and acting like they're millionaires--
not caring if they live or die.

Between the sheets, they are not shy:
there's nothing that these two won't try.
They act as if their life's a dare
behind closed doors.

The neighbors hear their passion-cries
and aggravated, yell out "Why!"
"The noise these two make isn't fair--
for heaven's sake, there's kids out here!"
But they don't care, off in the sky
behind closed doors.

The next session, we'll have an in-class rondeau contest, with the results to be posted here.

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Learning to Cope Poetry Prize Seeks Entries

Relaunching the Rondeau Roundup Blog with the Learning to Cope Poetry Prize!

The Rondeau Roundup blog is having a contest for the best poem in the Rondeau Redouble  form!  Our inspiration is the classic poem in the form by Wendy Cope:

Deadline: submitted by April 3, 2017.

Contest Rules:

Only one rondeau redouble may be submitted per person. No entry fee. Top five poems will be published on the blog ( The first place rondeau redouble will also receive a $100 gift card from Barnes and Noble.

For this contest, I'm looking for rondeau redoubles that follow the set rhyme scheme, as given at

Examples of the form:

No other poetic form will be accepted for this contest. 

Rondeau Redoubles inspired by themes found in the poems of Wendy Cope particularly welcome.

To enter, send a single rondeau redouble

rondeauroundupATgmailDOTcom (replace AT with @) by April 3, 2017.

Winners will be announced on the Rondeau Roundup Blog on April 15, 2017