ROUND THREE: 9-anteroom vs. 4-gnawing

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 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.
  • You can only vote once from a given IP address.
    • Classrooms should submit one vote as a class.
    • Students can then vote again individually from home.

Things to Consider in Making a Choice:

  • How well the poem incorporates the authlete’s assigned word.
  • Technical elements: meter, rhyme, form, shape, and other poetic standards.
  • Creativity: wordplay, imagery, unusual approach, etc.
  • Subtle elements that make the whole greater than the sum of its parts.
  • Your overall response: emotional reaction such as admiration, tears, laughter, terror, or some indefinable feeling.

Here are the poems:

The Chef’s Surprise
By Ken Slesarik

His Majesty was wroth at the palace chef,
who dare serve broth and pudding of porpoise.

He threw kingly fits and porpoise pudding,
of course, it’s not befitting a king.

In mournful costume the shell of a chef
sits in the anteroom playing parcheesi.

This prelim to the brouhaha tickles me
as the dimwit cook awaits his fate.

He starts to perspire so I drink tea
with Devonshire cream to lighten the mood.

At best, I hear tell the wretched louse
will rot in hell, rethinking recipes.

At long last the king speaks his decree
in a whisper from centuries past.

“Your head on this plate, wicked servant”.
Wait, he’s talking to me? The royal taster!


Portrait of a Trembling Mouse
By Buffy Silverman

Her eyes alert one summer night,
in the fading, fleeting light.
Ears atune to scritching sounds:
gnawing, clawing, underground.

Nose intent on musky smells,
that cast a sharp and fearful spell.
Muscles tense and whiskers twitch:
timid soul sings squealing pitch!

Through twisting tunnels, weasel bounds,
sowing terror all around;
Tiny paws dart and flee
as weasel sprints on hunting spree.

Mouse trembles, breathes, escaped for now,
free and safe, not weasel chow;
gnaws her nut, this worrywart–
When weasel hunts, a tale’s cut short.


9-anteroom vs. 4-gnawing: Which Poem Did You Prefer?

  • 9-anteroom (Ken Slesarik) (47%, 138 Votes)
  • 4-gnawing (Buffy Silverman) (53%, 156 Votes)

Total Voters: 294

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  • Marileta Robinson

    Neat rhyme scheme, Ken!

  • Ed DeCaria

    Ken — please, please, please record yourself reading this somewhere on the internet and link to it. (I can put it on TKT after the vote, too, but not during.) I can imagine it being read aloud to great effect; not sure everyone will pick up the rhyme on their initial read.

  • Buffy Silverman

    Glad you suggested that to Ken, Ed. I just reread Ken’s poem aloud and noticed the rhymes that I missed the first time around. Very cool–and now I’m off to eat porpoise pudding.

  • Laura Shovan

    Any poem with Devonshire cream is a winner. I loved all of the onomatopoeia words in your poem, Buffy.

  • Franklyn Dickson

    I wonder if Ken conceived ‘pudding of porpoise’ on
    porpoise or just for the halibut?

  • Quinette Cook

    Love the comments. Almost as tasty as the poems. Ed, I agree. I think all poetry should be read aloud. It does make a difference. And these would be fun to illustrate too!

  • Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe)

    Ken, your subtle yet majestic internal rhyme suits your royal taster to a tee. The sounds in Buffy’s mouse hunt are vivid and quivery. Yes to reading both aloud! :)

  • Penny Klostermann

    Ken, loved the use of brouhaha! Buffy, your descriptive words had me running right along with mouse. I thoroughly enjoyed both poems…making it, once again, hard to choose.

  • laurasalas

    Wonderful matchup! Buffy, I especially love “Nose intent on musky smells, / that cast a sharp and fearful spell.”

  • Damon Dean

    Great poems..loved the form and rhyme, Ken.
    Better read again. And again. As for mice,
    the fears that they have entice
    a pleasant angst. And my whiskers twitch.
    But which…
    which will I vote for this time?

  • Robyn Hood Black

    Can we vote on Franklyn’s and Damon’s comments? ;0)

    Another ridiculously good match-up. Thank you both for these gems. Love that “Devonshire cream” line in Ken’s and the “scritching sounds:
    gnawing, clawing, underground” line in Buffy’s.

  • Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

    Oh, poor both of them! Well done. These were both full of things to see in my head, and that’s the best!

  • Ed DeCaria

    I’m glad people seem to have grown to appreciate Ken’s poem through the last day — early voting seemed to have been lopsided. I enjoyed ‘em both.

    Buffy: Congratulations on moving into the “Elite Eight”
    Ken: Thank you for participating again and contributing such great work throughout.

  • Ken Slesarik

    Congratulations Buffy! Well deserved and good luck in the next round.

  • Buffy Silverman

    Thanks Ken–I appreciate it. And congratulations to you for your three stellar poems. Mrs. Cratchit’s Contraction Comments is one of my favorites of the contest to date.

  • Quinette Cook

    What I love about this competition is the diversity of poetry and ideas. Ken, I loved that your poem; it made me think about “beats.” Congrats, Buffy. Looking forward to seeing what’s next.

  • Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe)

    Ooh, Ken, you ran a good race! That mouse was a tough competitor. Congrats to Buffy – see you in the next round!

  • Mary Lee

    Congratulations! Keep the fabulous poems coming!