ROUND TWO: 11-anomaly vs. 3-chits


Click here for authlete instructions.

Voter Instructions:

  • The countdown at the bottom of each pairing indicates how much time is left to vote.
    • When voting closes, timer will disappear.
  • Read both poems as many times as you’d like.
  • Mark the poem you like best by clicking the circle next to its name.
  • Press the “Vote” button to record your vote.
  • Votes are counted in real time and cannot be changed once entered.
  • In the Public Vote, anyone may vote, but only one vote is allowed per IP address.
  • In the Classroom Vote, you must be registered and logged in to vote.
    • Official voting classrooms should read and discuss each poem and then submit one vote as a class.
    • Students can then vote again individually from home.
  • In the Authlete Vote, you must be a 2015 authlete and logged in to vote.

Things to Consider in Making a Choice:

  • How well the poem incorporates the authlete’s assigned word, given its level of difficulty.
  • Whether or not the poem adheres to the poem requirements for the contest.
  • Precision: structure, meter, rhyme, syntax, etc.
  • Personality: creative imagery, language, metaphor, etc.
  • Power: makes you laugh, cry, want, sigh, think, dream, wince, scream, etc.
  • Plus One: it is a poem you feel drawn to share with another person for whatever reason.

Apply your own criteria as well! For more on the above concepts, check out POEMETRICS™.

Here are the poems:


11-anomaly what does it mean?
Bullies Don’t Phase Me
By J. J. Close

I’m loud and proud and well-endowed to be all I can be,
It’s true and you can’t misconstrue a guy the likes of me.
You may just say I’m cast away, dejected, and neglected,
That, me, I’m thee anomaly, the bound to be rejected.
Don’t sweat, I bet I won’t regret a single thing I do,
So go and show all those you know that I am not like you.
Yes, I, the guy who will not cry, (just try me and you’ll see),
begin to grin, I know I’m in, and happy to be me.



3-chits what does it mean?
Blues Brother
By Helen Kemp Zax

I have two little sisters named Saucy and Sass.
Each one is a cheeky, smart-alecky lass.
Their bratty back talking goes way beyond spunky.
I can’t tell a lie: they’re a pain in my . . . donkey.

My Sass is Tabasco, she’s sauce with a kick.
My Saucy’s a boss with a temper quite quick.
Sometimes I am certain that I’ll lose my wits
‘Cause Saucy and Sass are such rude little . . . chits.


Public Vote (11-anomaly vs. 3-chits)
Final Results:
11-anomaly vs. 3-chits

Authlete Vote (ID Required)
Final Results:
11-anomaly vs. 3-chits
Classroom Vote (ID Required)
Final Results:
11-anomaly vs. 3-chits

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  • Debra Shumaker

    Oh Helen, I LOVE the humor in yours. And Josh, again, such masterful poetry with internal and end rhymes. Tough choice. BTW Helen, my maiden name is Kempf – at first glance I thought we may be distant relatives! :-)

    • Helen Kemp Zax

      Thank you! We may be related. I’m not one to let an “f” get in the way.

      • Jake

        How is it that you keep getting loads of votes all at once every time J.J. gets near you in votes? Hmmmmm…..

  • Samuel Kent

    Helen: very clever. Age appropriate for 0-8? Who am I to say.

    Josh, you are a true master of assonance. You’re well-endowed with poetic talent.

    • Helen Kemp Zax

      Thank you! Not sure about the age group for this one . . .

      • Josh Close

        Implied curse words make it 13+ I’d say, but hard to tell these days with kids.

        Anyway, clever poem Helen!

        And thanks Sam! I’ll have you know, it’s my goal every round to try to out-do your Ampersand poem – tough with 8 lines though, we’ll see if I make it to round 3!

        • Helen Kemp Zax

          Yes, that’s why I put all ages. Thanks, Josh! Sam’s ampersand poem is pretty unbeatable, but you’re the man to do it!

        • lillpluta

          Have y’all read It’s A Book by Lane Smith .. that ends with a jackass line. In the boardbook version they replaced jackass with silly. Helen’s poem reminds me of that. I didn’t even pick up on the chits right away. I was amused by the donkey/plunky rhyme. I haven’t heard it pronounced that way in a long time.

  • Josh Close

    Here was one of my other choices – elected to go with serious over humor this round! 5 humorous poems, 1 serious – went with the one that stood out from the crowd. :)

    They call me the anomaly, the one that shouldn’t be,
    The freaky, cheeky, always sneaky black sheep of the tree.

    And every single birdie, every squirrelly, bug and bat,
    Will call me fluffy, powder puffy, sometimes even fat.

    So that’s when I’ll ignore them, and before them, flaunt my stuff
    I’m proud to be just me you see and I think that’s enough.

    But one light shake, a branch I’d break, (was my mistake, you see)
    And so it goes, everyone knows, hippos don’t go on trees.

    • lillpluta

      Ah, I like this one a lot!

    • Matt Forrest

      I think you made a wise choice, Josh. Both of your poems are well-done, but children’s poetry is so much more than just funny, light verse – and it’s nice to see at least a few poems in the competition (yours, Charles Waters’, and Renee’s come to mind) that strive to show that children’s poetry can be more than just “cute.”

      • Renee LaTulippe

        Hear, hear, Matt.

        • Helen Kemp Zax

          Renee, I loved your poem. You are an extraordinary poet.

          • Renee LaTulippe

            Such kind words, Helen. Thank you! BTW, Carol-Ann Hoyte sent me DEAR TOMATO to feature on my blog, and I was reading it yesterday. “Farmers Markets” was one of my favorites — and imagine how pleased I was to look down and see your name under it! It’s not easy to do a metered and rhymed acrostic and have it make sense, but you pulled it off beautifully. Wonderful rhythm and imagery, too. :)

            • Helen Kemp Zax

              Thank you, Renee. I feel honored to be included in an anthology with the likes of you and Nikki Grimes. I was lucky enough to have her a teacher at a mini-residency at school this summer. What an amazing woman, teacher, and poet.

            • Renee LaTulippe

              I didn’t submit to the anthology, but yes — what a great bunch of poets! How lucky you are to have had a class with Nikki! This is one downside to living abroad — I miss all the cool stuff! :D

            • Helen Kemp Zax

              Judging by what you’ve put out in thirty-six hours for each of these rounds, the concept of your running out of time does not compute.

            • Helen Kemp Zax

              The anthology’s loss, Renee!

            • Renee LaTulippe

              Actually my loss, because I couldn’t get my act together in time, haha!

      • Josh Close

        Yeah, can only hope the classroom voters share the same feelings!

        I can’t keep up with whatever Helens got going for her – 1 vote every 5 minutes, I’m over it. Been here before, and it’s not worth it.

        Wish that there were so many votes on this contest that it didn’t matter how many one authlete could accumulate for themselves. Cause it’s a shame this matchup, like Ryans and Phillips in round 1, is getting by far more votes than the other rounds matchups. And most of these voters are probably not even reading the poem(s).

        • Helen Kemp Zax

          Josh, I just keep posting and re-posting on Facebook. Most of my friends are writers from my VCFA MFA program in writing for children, so I think that makes them especially interested in reading the poetry and voting in our competition. In any event, this will shake out in a few hours. I wish us both lots of luck!

          • Josh Close

            Well, they’re pretty consistent voters, I’ll give em that. Watched this thing all day, and I think you accumulated just about exactly 1 vote every 4-5 minutes from the time the matchup was posted till you were up by 85. And than after I took a lead, it happened again last night and stopped once you were up by 7. I’ve had to go into overdrive to milk out a following I don’t really even have just to keep up. And I wouldn’t be doing that if I didn’t think I had to, or that something fishy was going on – not accusing you, but from my end – eyes glued to the screen all day – it doesn’t look so good. So, I’m sorry if I’m wrong.

            And the sad part about it is, most of our voters are not voting in other matchups – they’re more than likely not even reading the poems. I stress, when I share it, to vote for your favorite, and to vote on other matchups if they’ve got the time. Yes, they’ll probably vote for mine anyway – but who’s to say that their friends will if they reshare it?

            I look forward to the day Ed gets so many voters that this kind of thing doesn’t happen, and followings don’t matter. :)

            • Carol Samuelson-Woodson

              Hang in there, JJ! It’s not over yet. Mega-talented. Good vibes! Good luck! Good karma.

            • rjschechter

              Well, Josh, it’s nice of you not to accuse anyone of doing something “fishy” when you managed to add over 100 votes in about a one hour period yesterday and boasted on Facebook that you would have to buy all those kids a tutte frutti as a reward. Nothing fishy about that, I’m sure. Not all of us have 100 kids to call up like a governor activating the national guard. It’s one thing to have a few friends come by to vote for you, but this is on a different scale entirely. Sorry to be blunt here, but you’re the one accusing others of “fishy” behavior.

            • Josh Close

              Well, Rob I don’t know what to say. But last year, this same thing happened – and hey, atleast I’m going about it differently. I’m getting kids involved, like the intention of this tournament? No? They are logging on, voting – probably reading poetry. Whether all of them are reading all of the poems or not, I do not know. But I do know one thing – they are getting excited about this. And what is it they are getting excited about? Poetry. Because regardless of whether or not 50-100 kids vote, atleast that’s 50-100 kids potentially reading the poetry. Potentially falling in love with poetry.

              I truly do not know what’s going with the vote right now – but I’m currently subbing in a 4th grade classroom (at the school where most of my support comes from), and I’ve never seen a group of 4th graders so excited by something like this. Whether that has to do with the poetry or not, the looks on their faces when the matchup was tied up was priceless. And regardless of whether or not you think what I’m doing is wrong – I know that I’m doing something right. And I can base that off the looks and cheers on the faces of a class of 30 4th graders.

              I’m passionate about poetry, especially children’s poetry. I view this tournament as an opportunity to pass poetry on to others – kids specifically. And if I’m down by 80 votes to a poem that I, personally, do not deem appropriate for children – it is a little unsettling.

              And who am I to let down 50-100 4th/5th graders supporting me – whether they are voting or not.

            • rjschechter

              I’ll pass on giving you a longer reply, since there’s little point to prolonging this discussion. But I can’t resist pointing something out that perhaps resonates with David’s remark about “hypocrisy.” You say that a poem is not “appropriate for children” because it used the word “chits,” which sounds like “shits,” yet your Round 1 poem depicted and made fun of a baby “crapping,” and it put that delightful word into the mouth of a child narrator. Children are supposed to laugh at another child using a word that they themselves might be punished or scolded for using at home? And you designated the appropriate age group of your poem as 6 years and up. I wonder which children’s magazine or children’s publisher you think would ever publish a children’s poem for a 6 year old that used the word “crapping”? Not that I minded your doing so in the context of March Madness. I thought it was sort of fun, actually. But for you then to turn around and spin a lot of bullchit about how you went and hustled votes from children because you have this passion for children’s poetry and you wanted to protect them from naughty words only reinforces what David said.

            • Josh Close

              You’re doing an awful lot of assuming rj. I guess I just need to keep my mouth shut from now on, because I’ve backed myself up against a wall and I clearly don’t understand the dynamics of the crowd that I’m playing with here.

              1) In no way am I saying the poem is inappropriate for using the word “chits” – that’s what Ed assigned. The poem itself, however, implies 2 swear words. If that’s children’s poetry, so be it – I guess it all depends on where you live too. Where I’m from, “crapping” isn’t a swear word, however – the words Helen implied in her poem are.

              2) At several points, (before my votes starting coming in), Helens tally was going up consistently – pretty much 1 vote every 5 minutes. I know – I was refreshing the screen, sure did seem to me like someone had found a way to exploit the public vote, whether it was her or someone she knows. I’d get something like 1 vote an hour during this time. Now, I guess I should have just let it happen, RJ. I regret…

              3) getting the kids involved. Sorry for that. Sorry for soliciting votes from children, RJ.

              I’m going to leave it at this, because it really hurts me to have my reputation tarnished over something like this. But I can tell you right now, I never asked these kids to vote for me – I’ve been a part of my hometown school since I started there in 8th grade, and once I graduated – I TAed for several years. And now I’m substitute teaching there. And I told the teachers about this tournament, and they’ve gotten the kids involved – if that means they vote for me, so be it. It’s absolutely no different than the clique of poets I seem to be up against every year, and their million facebook friends ready to vote for them at the flip of a hat.

              I don’t have that RJ – but I seem to keep being matched up against those that do. And I guess I’m painted as the bad guy here by some. And I apologize again, for trying to respond. A better person would have just accepted the loss in the public vote I guess – and I certainly would have too if I didn’t feel as though 1 of 2 things were going on. A: Constant sharing of post on facebook asking for votes as was the case last year or B: Someone had found a way to beat the system – and sorry for thinking that if it wasn’t actually the case… but the rate at which the votes were coming in, it sure did seem that way.

              100 votes in an hour – Made my night. Certainly was refreshing after being down 170-80 when all the other matchups weren’t even close as far as vote totals. But no one was saying anything then… not until I managed to catch up! Now “I” was the cheater, HA! Maybe I’m the exile here, the anomaly – guess my poem fits.

              Maybe I sound like a sore loser – so be it. As far as I’m concerned, it’s helping this competition grow and become the best version of itself. Because without somebody speaking up, there will be several authletes silently frustrated for years. I’m perfectly content with the poem(s) I’ve submitted. I’m fine losing, I’ve been losing my entire life – I’m used to it. I wish Helen the best of luck, and I look forward to next year. Until then, I will be writing – and becoming the best version of myself that I can.

            • David

              Josh’s hypocrisy is absolutely unfathomable. He’s been vote mining for three years now and is whining because he’s found a more than worthy opponent. Go, Helen!

            • Josh Close

              haha, you guys are losing sight of the purpose of this tournament in my opinion.

              That’s what’s unfathomable.

              1 round last year this same thing happened – my opponent was fiercely pining for votes on facebook.

              What am I to do? Like everyone else, and just accept the loss in the given category?

              No, I’m going to fight back. Sorry for being competitive.

              Atleast I do so through a loyal school, getting kids excited about poetry – as opposed to a thousand facebook friends.

              I’ve never been published, don’t have a fan base, haven’t won a children’s poetry award. This means a lot to me.

        • Matt Forrest

          It’s still a pretty tight race, Josh. It’s important that students and others voting understand what makes a quality poem, and we, the authletes, need to help them understand that by providing the highest-quality writing we can. It’s not just silly situations and funny rhymes – it’s well-chosen words, it’s internal rhyme, it’s emotion. (As Lee Bennett Hopkins calls it, Poetry with a big “P,” not a little “p”!)

          • Renee LaTulippe

            I’m stalking you, Matt. Excellent comment. And Poetry with a P doesn’t just go for the joke or cram words and internal rhyme into a line for the sake of it. There must be artistry and craft to it, a thoughtful process behind it, a love of and facility with language that shines through, the use of poetic techniques like sound and imagery, the perfect diction to convey a moment, an emotion, an image to elicit a response. Kids are smart and profound and human. They appreciate beauty and like quality poetry — and more importantly, they deserve it.

            • Matt Forrest

              Yay, a stalker! I’ve never had one of those, even after 25 years in radio. Thanks!

            • Renee LaTulippe

              You’re very welcome. I’m looking in your window right now. Nice boxers.

            • Matt Forrest

              Well, they ARE your favorite color.

            • Renee LaTulippe

              I know! Purple with red polka-dots!

            • Matt Forrest

              Actually, the polka-dots are crimson. But it’s probably hard to see through the glass.

  • Carol Samuelson-Woodson

    Close, but, JJ, much as I don’t want to meet up with you later! I really like “Bullies…”

    • Josh Close

      Thanks Carol!!

  • Ed DeCaria

    So … I went ahead and changed the “Blues Brother” age tag to 9+. I saw the comments here and got two private notes about it as well. The whole point is to steer teachers toward the right poems for their classes; want to make sure we’re not steering them wrong. Thanks for your understanding. -Ed

    • Helen Kemp Zax

      Whatever you decide, I’m happy with Ed.

  • Lol

    Ha lol… little chits

  • Damon Dean

    Josh, great work, masterfully done anti-bully declaration. ‘Proud Endowed Anomaly’ ought to be on a t-shirt!
    Helen, you nailed these two little bullies. As an older brother, I can identify with your character. So well written.

    • Helen Kemp Zax

      Thank you, Damon!

  • Sheila

    Helen – don’t you think your poem is not appropriate for children? I’m surprised you’re using that one for this contest. I’m voting for J.J. – his is just as great but more suitable.

    • David

      Oh give me a break! If kids have never heard the word SH*T, then they’ll have no idea what it means. And I doubt there are many that don’t hear it at home. Also, you can see that the poem is not recommended for ages below nine. JJ uses the term “well-endowed” which I’m sure some people find objectionable. Helen, you wrote a fun, witty poem with a little spice. It is one of my favorites of this round!

      • lillpluta

        For the record I was more put off by “well-endowed,” than “chit.” I didn’t catch that there was anything naughty about it for a while. But then of course one of my favorite picture books ends, “It’s a book, jackass.”

        • Josh Close

          well en·dowed
          having plentiful supplies of a resource.
          “the country is well endowed with mineral resources”
          *sigh*, good matchup I guess – difference imo, kids aren’t going to view “well-endowed” like adults do. Whereas, kids are probably gonna fill in the blank on Helens.

          Regardless, congrats Helen.

          I look forward to next year – a long way off, but my motivation will be as high as ever.

          • rjschechter

            Again, this from the poet who had a kid make fun of a “crapping” baby in Round 1.

  • Ed DeCaria

    One of the main reasons that we introduced the Authlete Vote and the Classroom Vote in 2014 was so that no authlete may advance to the next round on the support of their network alone. They must write a poem that wins at least one of the Authlete Vote or the Classroom Vote, or both. In cases where the authletes and students are split as to which poem deserves to win, then and only then does the public decide. The Public Vote plays a valuable role in generating excitement and driving people to the event. Authletes can and should try to promote the event to their networks, and should try to do so in as neutral a manner as possible. I smile when I see matchups like Marcus Ewert vs. Michelle Heidenrich Barnes in Round One, where the two of them banter back and forth playfully on Facebook, tagging each other in their promotions and encouraging their followers to go to the matchup and (paraphrasing) “Vote for YOUR favorite poem, even if it’s not mine. No favoritism, guys! I mean it! ZERO.” But short of that (awesome) level of neutrality, everyone still needs to recognize that the Public Vote will likely always have some (or even very large) degree of bias toward the authlete with the bigger and/or more assertive network. There may be ways to further mitigate the effect of that on the final outcome in future years (stay tuned), but for now we have what we have — the Authlete Vote and the Classroom Vote. And whoever moves one will have won at least one of those, and the non-winner can take comfort knowing that they won over a bunch of writers or a bunch of students, or in the case of a clean sweep then at least accept the fact that — public vote aside — both the authletes and classrooms preferred their opponent’s poem to theirs. It doesn’t take anything away from the fact that, win or lose, what you authletes do in this contest is amazing, and wildly entertaining, and I and all of the other readers can’t thank you enough for that.

    • lillpluta

      I’m really sorry to see ugliness rear its pointy little head again. I was privy (nods to Kelly) to the controversy last year. It almost stopped me from wanting to enter this year. I’ve never had the time to enter before, but I did this year. I’ve had a blast. I feel like I’m living on a good note and will continue to support the remaining authletes.

      Thank you Ed for the opportunity.

      • Renee LaTulippe

        That’s what it’s all about, Lill. Well said, and congrats on both your poems.

        • lillpluta

          Thank you.

        • RJ Clarken

          What Renee just saId.

      • Ed DeCaria

        Appreciate the note, Lill. I think there are many people inside and outside the event who would like to see a shift (gradual or sudden) toward the type of “P”oetry that you and others above have mentioned. I’ve used this harsh supply and demand analogy before, and while I don’t like thinking about poets as part of a supply chain, I still think it’s appropriate: This event is a potentially amazing way to create concentrated DEMAND for poetry, as kids will read, consider, evaluate, and hopefully enjoy whatever the authletes SUPPLY as part of this contest. As a product person, I do not believe in the “build it and they will come” philosophy by any means, but in this case, the theatre has already been built* and the audience is already waiting inside — ready for ANYTHING. The authletes alone (well, kinda) get to decide what kind of show it will be.

        *though under constant renovation

        • lillpluta

          You’ve made my mind spin with your comments about Supply and Demand because I just finished a lesson about Opportunity Cost with my homeschooled son. Oh the economics of it!

          But I will say that I don’t think people should use this contest as a framework to determine their or anybody else’s worth as a poet.

        • lillpluta

          1. Nobody should use this contest to define their or anybody else’s worth as a poet.

          2. No matter how you adjust the rules, Ed, somebody will complain that they aren’t fair. It’s a fun contest. I like the three tiers of voting.

  • Rob

    Funny how after a bunch of us just found out about this contest & voted for you Josh, Helen miraculously got a ton of votes? What’s up with that, Helen?

  • Josh Close

    I posted one other one that I wrote for this round already – here are the other 4 now that it’s over!


    My grandma Beth, I love to death, (but she’s not there upstairs),
    I know it’s true, you’d know it too, (if you saw what she wears).

    On her two feet, are soccer cleats, (they help her not to slip),
    Her hands are fit, with baseball mitts, (she says they’re good for grip),

    She claims a fad with football pads, (protection for her chest),
    Her knees are draped, athletic tape, (since both of them are stressed).

    On top of this, not hard to miss, (attached to both her ears),
    A jockstrap spread upon her head, (anomaly is clear).

    I’m not one to exaggerate, I never tell a lie,
    You won’t see me discriminate, I’m not that kind of guy.

    My sis, though, the anomaly, won’t hesitate a bit,
    To cry, and whine, and lie: “THAT’S MINE”, and always throw a fit.

    And so, with good composure, I said “Sis, let’s take a trip,”
    Then said with no disclosure, “Hop aboard my cardboard ship,”

    And so, I make exception when my sister is concerned,
    I hope she learned her lesson when… to sender, she’s returned.

    My cat is an anomaly; she’s not a normal kind,
    In fact she’s not exactly one that you would ever find.

    She licks her fur, and tries to purr, when she lies on my lap,
    She cuddles me and sits on me at all times when I nap.

    She pounces and she trounces all around our house and lawn,
    And jumps up on my bed to wake me up at crack of dawn.

    And you might think it’s normal, not an error of creation…
    …At least until you find out that my cats a big Dalmatian.

    And this one needs a picture… (Sam? ;) )
    A and B and C and D, the in crowd at our school,
    Make fun of E and F and G, and say that they’re not cool.
    H and I are friendly, J and K – hilarious,
    L, M, N’s the drama club, and O’s gregarious.
    P and Q are good with manners, R’s a pirate (so he thinks),
    S is sickly, T is tricky, U and V both kind of stink.
    W’s a loner, X and Y are quite the pair,
    And Z is the anomaly, (but says he loves his hair.)

  • Ed DeCaria

    RE: Lill: “I don’t think people should use this contest as a framework to determine their or anybody else’s worth as a poet.”

    Oh my, do I wish I had a way to reinforce THIS message more often. Despite its design as a “competition”, the event was always intended to be much more about creation and collaboration and community. If you have never read it, or haven’t read it in awhile, go back and read my post from February 9, 2012 titled “Madness! Writing 126 New Children’s Poems in 21 Days” (

    I think the spirit of the event is well captured in that post and the comments below it.

  • Chevy Parker

    Hello Guy’s