Thursday, March 12, 2020

Let the Games Begin!

Bill Selak

Welcome to this month's game-a-thon, inspired by Tabatha Yeatts.

Earlier this week, I posted a quote from philosopher and psychologist Karl Groos to start the ball rolling. It was paired with a photo of "Timeline: Literary Edition"—a card game made by Tabatha and her daughter Elena. (Kudos to Elena for her amazing box design and card layout!)

You might be relieved to know that Tabatha is not asking us to create a new game this month, just a poem about a game—a board game, a card game, a party game, an outdoor game, a video game... even a poem about playing with a toy would be acceptable. We already have a few ditties by Cindy Breedlove, Kathleen Mazurowski, Sydey O'Neill, and Margaret Simon on the padlet, and today I'll be sharing mine.

My first idea for this challenge was to cleverly incorporate the names of popular games into a familiar story line. It was fun to begin with, but zany soon turned to wacko and spiraled out of control from there. Perhaps someone else might have more success with that approach. Instead, I found my poem sitting quietly off to one side, trying not to be noticed. It's not at all what I expected to write for this challenge, but it is about a game... sort of.

Notes from the Front Step

A kick-the-can newbie,

          Do you want to play?

I was expert in the rules of invisibility—

          No, thanks. I’ll watch.

spending my childhood
behind an imaginary camera,

          No, really. I like to watch.

clicking each awkward moment,

capturing each missed opportunity—

trophies inside my glass case.

© 2020 Michelle Heidenrich Barnes. All rights reserved.

Orin Zebest

Click HERE for more information about this month's challenge or to add your poem to the padlet.

It's time once again for Madness! Poetry. Round one is underway and Matt Forrest Esenwine fills us in on the details. Join him for this week's Poetry Friday roundup at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme.


  1. I LOVE your poem, M.! I love that we don't know where it's going when we start (and that you didn't either!).
    (I was a kid who DID play kick-the-can, and mostly I remember getting roughed up by the bigger kids...perhaps your narrator missed less than they think!)

  2. Oh... I too have been an expert in the rules of invisibility.. well played! I have a Scrabble poem in my forthcoming NINE: A Book of Nonet Poems. (It's about finding 9 letter words. :) Thank you! xo

  3. I feel like the poems about me! Nicely done, Michelle.

  4. Michelle -- there's so much push and pull (wanting to be a part of things, wanting to be apart from things) in your poem.

    With middle school poets, I used to do board game sestina poems: Monopoly, Life, Sorry -- they all make great poetry prompts.

  5. Such an interesting poem... and so many of us feel like it could be about us. How about that? You have struck a nerve... kudos to you!

  6. Wow, that's poignant! Even if it's not "about" us, I bet we know a relative or friend that identifies with it. Beautiful.

  7. Yes, I know this feeling very well. Your use of the word trophies is really resonant.

  8. Wow, and yes, we don't know where a poem finds us, and some, like yours, Michelle, digs deeply in the past. It's lovely, makes me wonder how many times I say, "No, I'll watch."

  9. Simple yet deep. So many can relate.

  10. I love your poem and the fact that it wasn't what you intended to write. So moving.

  11. Well done! We poets (and photographers) really enjoy watching from the is it that we can live through the experience of others? Odd, that. But, your poem captures that feeling perfectly. Love it.

  12. Ouch! I can relate! Hopefully I'll find my poem either where I'm looking or in my peripheral vision, like you did! My literacy coach and I developed a Go Fish game for word study, and my students played the prototype this week. That's where I'll start. We'll see where I end up!

  13. Your poem resonated with me as well, Michelle. Thanks for sharing your 'game'. =)


  14. I like the layers, and layers of time in your poem, and the ending: "trophies inside my glass case." Lots was going on in those layers of invisibility Michelle… Thanks for jogging my childhood memory!

  15. Phew! Lots of truth in this poem. I was one of those "kind of" players. I didn't want to be left out of the neighborhood fun, but I also didn't like getting knocked down and banged up, so I would kind of hang back on the sidelines. I think your approach was much more honest!

  16. Ah yes, being behind the camera... Thanks for this!

  17. I love that your poem was "sitting quietly off to one side, trying not to be noticed." I joined in any game that was offered, whether I knew how to play it or not. As I'm still working on Buffy's challenge, I haven't gotten very far with this one. Looks like I'll have some time this week, though.

  18. Thanks, all, for the kind comments. If only our younger selves knew that, one day, we would discover we were far less invisible than we thought!