ROUND ONE: 4-wired vs. 13-falsetto

[click image to view matchup in full screen in a new window.]

The Poets’ Challenge: Each poet is assigned a single word based on their bracket seed, ranging from 1 (intuitive) to 16 (seemingly impossible). Poets must write a kid-appropriate poem using the prompted word in under 36 hours. Once both final poems have been received, they will be pasted into the body of this post, and then the reader poll will be open for voting.

Voter Instructions: Read each poem as many times as you’d like. Then use the poll to express your preference. Votes are counted in real time and cannot be changed once entered. As a guideline for voting, consider the criteria on which the contestants on the cooking show “Chopped” are evaluated: presentation, taste, and creativity. Translated roughly into poetry terms, presentation might include technical aspects such as meter, rhyme, form/shape, etc.; taste might be the net effect — did the poem move you to laugh, cry, think, kill, etc.; and creativity might include the poet’s approach toward a certain subject, image evocation, clever wordplay, etc.

“This is awesome, where can I find more?”: All results and scheduled matchups, including a glance at the round-by-round writing windows and voting windows, are visible from the Live Scoreboard page. In addition, results will be tweeted from @edecaria as they become final.

Here are the poems:

Wake Up Call
by Greg Pincus

Earlier this morning
I was droopy, draggy, tired,
Then I drank my daddy’s coffee –
Now I’m wired, wired, wired.
“Do that again,” my father said
(I skittered, jittered, bounded),
“You’ll be like past tense coffee beans –
Grounded, grounded, grounded!”


Changing His Tune
by Dave Crawley
A bass-baritone from Loreto,
Reading notes from a brand new libretto,
Flew into a rage
When he fell from the stage.
Alas!  He now sings in falsetto.



4-wired vs. 13-falsetto: Which Poem Did You Prefer?

  • 4-wired (Greg Pincus) (53%, 239 Votes)
  • 13-falsetto (Dave Crawley) (47%, 211 Votes)

Total Voters: 449

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  • Eric Ode

    Wow! I knew this head-to-head was going to be a tough call! Nicely done, both.

    • Eric Ode

      Enjoying the competition!

  • Greg Pincus

    Oh, jeez, Dave. Did you have to do that? Couldn’t I have disliked your poem? OK, fine. I don’t like your font. Yeah. That’s it. I don’t. Like. Your. Font. It looks good on mine, however. Slimming, even.

  • Dave Crawley

    I opened up your entry hoping for mangled meter and ear-jangling “almost-rhymes.” In stead, you give us perfection! Why did you have to go and do that?

  • Susan Taylor Brown

    These are both terrific. What a lot of fun this is.

  • Pam

    THIS! IS! HARD! good stuff! really good stuff! I laughed out loud on both. Gonna have to knit-pick to vote…hmmmm!

  • Greg Pincus

    Well, I think that’s easy, Pam. Has Loretto EVER produced an opera singer? I mean really… Dave is just making things up! Whereas past tense coffee beans are a common, real-world issue, ripped from today’s grammar book headlines. (OK, fine. I laughed at Dave’s poem, too, and think it’s fabulous. So, so many of the poems are in this first round. It’s great.)

  • Renee LaTulippe

    All very clever, but I’m a sucker for grammar jokes!

  • Shutta Crum

    I voted! Wow, what fun…a great idea for the dreary month of March.

  • Not Quite Shakespeare

    Well done, both! I was worried for you, Greg, when I saw “wired” because it is so overused… put you pulled it off wonderfully! And okay, giggle giggle at Dave’s resulting falsetto. :)

  • Julie Larios

    This was one of the hardest match-ups to decide on. Wonderful contributions, truly. Congratulations to both of you.

  • Heidi Mordhorst

    Dudes go head to head with laugh-out-loudness! I vote for both of you.

  • Kristy Dempsey

    Awesome! Both of you!

  • laurasalas

    Clever poems!

  • Allan Wolf

    I predict this will be a close-one, folks. Allowing for one of those crowd-pleasing squeaker victories at the buzzer.

  • Farida Mirza

    Very funny poems. A difficult decision!

  • Carol Grannick

    Very clever, both. But love the coffee play on words most, most, most.

  • Mary Lee

    BOTH of these made me laugh out loud! Three cheers! No, FOUR, so you can share them equally!

  • Judy Gibson

    Love Dave’s–couldn’t get the meter right on Greg’s–so I think maybe he didn’t either–sorry.

  • Amy Lipscomb

    Fantastic Idea! I plan on turning both my students and my own kids on to this competition! They will love it!
    Thank you!

    • Ed DeCaria

      That’s what we like to hear, Amy. Spread the word to other teachers, too. We can write all the kids’ poetry we want, but it means nothing if kids don’t read it! THANK YOU! -Ed

  • mariam

    I’m all “wired” for poems ;D Great way to spread the love for poems. Keep it coming plse <3

    • Ed DeCaria

      More madness is coming, Mariam. It cannot be stopped!

      • Janet

        Ed, this is a whole lot of fun and I think you have something here!! Hope you will do it again next March and can’t wait to see what you have up your sleeve. I have been telling teachers about this, but I fear some are so swamped they do not think they have the time to read all the poems. But I won’t give up. Maybe I can get them more into the Sweet Sixteen round. Love how Mrs. Harvey got her kids on to vote!!! Also loving the sweet surprises these creative/harebrained words are inspiring. Will you leave all the poems up for us teachers to use with our students? I hope so, but promise to give full credit whenever sharing!!! Heidi, love your idea about the birthday poem to use in Kdg in September!!! Maybe there is a March Madness Poetry Anthology in the making on here!

        • Ed DeCaria

          Janet/Anyone Else:

          Do you live in/near Chicago?

          Do you want your school to be featured on TV avowing its love of poetry?

          E-mail me to discuss!


  • Carmela Martino

    What an amazing match-up. Another really tough choice. Great job, guys!

  • Leslie Bulion

    Okay, this is crazy/funny. Although it would make me hyperventilate and collapse to play (or vote. The best part is the repartee!

  • Gillian Foster

    So much fun! More, Please.

  • Dave Crawley

    Doesn’t anyone play defense in this game?

    • Ed DeCaria

      Defense is overrated. Kids dig slam dunks.

  • Beth L.

    These are both so funny!! Well done!! I must say though that, working with students, some of whom are ‘wired’, I had go with ‘Wake Up Call’. :-) Learned of your site via Twitter ~ @Robertleebrewer ..glad he shared!!

  • Greg Pincus

    It’s like an NBA all-star game, Dave, where defense is not required. Or something like that, but more college basketball-y. We’ll work on the metaphor later….

  • MikalFM

    Both poems were pleasurable. I really enjoyed the child like humor (and surprise) in Dave’s and enjoyed Greg’s narration. This will be close.

  • Carol Rumberger

    More! More! More! This is fun.

  • Ed DeCaria

    Poor 13-falsetto … it gets 50 more votes than any other poem written so far EXCEPT 4-wired! I don’t know what kind of promos you two are running, but I think EVERY pairing should have 500+ votes!

  • Dave Crawley

    Great run, Greg! Hope I don’t have to face you in the next round. Wait…I won’t have to!

  • Greg Pincus

    Thanks, Dave. I hate that one of us has to “go home.” Seems so unfair.

  • Ed DeCaria

    This is what this event is all about, and this is why I am drawing the line only between winners and “non-winners”.

    These were two great poems. Using 4-wired in a funny way that did not seem tired, and capturing the very essence of 13-falsetto in a five-line limerick. Seriously — great work by both.

    If that version of 13-falsetto can get beat, we’re in the midst of a serious (but still silly) competition!

    Thanks for joining, Dave — not bad for the last man in! Please do keep coming back!


  • Judy Register Semiklose

    Go Dave!!!

  • Charlie

    Both poems had something to offer, but wired by coffee so tired me as off key. A bass-baritone, hey? He fell by the way. Fell to the orchestra pit… he must have been lit. Well, so much for my rhyme, but I guess it’ll be some time before I’m hired to prefer “Wired.” Both verses were good, I thought; gosh, what have I wrought!!!

  • Andy Ernst


  • Kenn Nesbitt

    Both such good poems. Dave, it’s a shame that you’re out of the running so early, but I think you couldn’t have lost to a more worthy competitor.

  • Dave Crawley

    Thanks, Kenn. Greg wrote a great poem. On the bright side, I never would have thougt to add a “falsetto” limerick to my repertoire! Congrats to you for a good poem and a great win! Good luck.

  • Al Moroz

    Waiting for Dave’s follow-up, libretti and Jedi.