REGIONAL FINALS: 9-triad vs. 15-beneficiary

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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:

Pickles, Ham, and Cheese
By Samuel W. Kent

My lunchbox holds my daily dread;
a triad smushed on soggy bread.
I long for anything instead
of pickles, ham, and cheese.

The same old sandwich every day.
“I wonder what’s for lunch,” I say,
but once again, to my dismay,
it’s pickles, ham, and cheese.

I’ve dreamt of better things to eat
but gherkins, Swiss, and luncheon meat
seem stuck on permanent repeat
with pickles, ham, and cheese.

What really makes my stomach ache—
since I can’t broil, or boil, or bake—
is all that I know how to make
is pickles, ham, and cheese.


Heir (Not) Apparent
By Dave Crawley

Though old Mother Goose was not a spring chicken,
it still was a shock when, Alas! she was stricken.
Her subjects assemble on Nursery Rhyme Lane,
to consider who, next, shall command her domain.

“Little Boy Blue is too young,” says a mourner.
Another adds, “Same thing with Little Jack Horner.”
“Mother Hubbard?” “Too old.” Debate rages on.
“Wee Willie Winkie?” “Forget it! He’s gone.”

“We’re wary of Mary. She’s much too contrary
to be Nursery Rhyme Beneficiary.”
“And Simon?” “Too simple.” “So, what’s left to choose,
among folks who reside in pumpkins and shoes?”

“Mr. Dumpty?” “Yes, Humpty! He watches us all,
from his dignified perch on the top of the wall.
Send all the king’s horsemen! And don’t take too long!
Bring Humpty back quickly! Hey – what could go wrong?”


9-triad vs. 15-beneficiary: Which Poem Did You Prefer?

  • 9-triad (Samuel W. Kent) (49%, 698 Votes)
  • 15-beneficiary (Dave Crawley) (51%, 719 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,417

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“This is awesome, where can I find more?”:
Browse other matchups using the slider below and click to go straight to that matchup!

  • March Madness Kids' Poetry Tournament
  • March Madness Kids' Poetry Tournament
  • March Madness Kids' Poetry Tournament
  • March Madness Kids' Poetry Tournament

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  • Kai

    I loved both of these!!! This is a hard one!

  • Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe)

    Great job on the rhyme scheme and refrain, Samuel – a kid pleaser for sure! Dave – love the allusions and story on this one. So cleverly constructed! Best line: people who live in pumpkins and shoes. Ha!

  • Joe Mohr

    My vote just tied it at 39! This is going to be another close one. Great job, again to each of you!

  • Josh Close

    Crawley wins content, Kent wins meter, both win humor. Tough vote!

  • Samuel Kent

    And wouldn’t you know it: as soon as voting opened, I had an idea for another poem that uses both words. Perhaps I’ll share it once voting closes.

  • Robyn Hood Black

    Such fun poetry in this match-up. Kudos to both. Must say the Mother Goose’s heir concept is a little bit brilliant. Renee’s “pumpkin and shoes” line was my favorite as well, and what a perfect ending!

  • Ed DeCaria

    Sam, I like how you worked your identifying word “lunchbox” into your poem …

  • Marileta Robinson

    Such a great use of irony in both endings!

  • Dave Crawley

    Sam, Great poem! Love the rhythm.

  • Marcus Ewert

    Great stuff, the two of you!

  • Hannah Ruth Wilde

    HUGE trouble choosing on this one.

  • Penny Klostermann

    Another tough one! Two excellent poems that will delight kids and adults alike. I thoroughly enjoyed these. Really nice job.

  • Buffy Silverman

    Great humor in both of these–so much fun! I can imagine Heir(Not) Apparent expanded into a picture book.

  • Samuel Kent

    Thanks, Ed. And in Typical Lunchbox Doodler style, I have an illustration at the ready for this one. (I also have a tune as this one made a cute little folk-style song, but I’ll share that after voting is complete.)

  • Rose Talton

    Sam Definatly the winner

  • Allan Wolf

    Oooooo. A close call. I like Samuel’s old-school refrain. This one has real kid appeal. Great romping rhythm. Doesn’t miss a beat. I can hear the kids all saying this one out loud. Dave’s poem is clever. He uses couplets without beating us over the head with them and the ironic ending makes the reader have to fill in the blank to get the joke–the best kind of ending. This is ultra-close in my book. Ya’ll may have to leg-wrestle to determine the winner.

  • angie breault

    Another hard decision…

  • Stephen W Cahill

    Another rollicking read from Mr Kent. Absolutely love it!

  • Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

    “…my daily dread” (so perfect for a self-professed ‘lunchbox doodler’)
    “…Goose not a spring chicken” (great fun)

    I’m a fan of both poems. Well done, gentlemen.


  • Gloson Teh

    I love the meter and rhyme scene, Samuel. I relish the repetition of “pickles, ham, and cheese.” Hard choice. I love the content and idea, Dave! Choice hard.

  • Samuel Kent

    Wow, 350+ votes total already. Talk about heated matchup!

  • Samuel Kent

    Allan, regarding the “Samuel’s old-school refrain” – I’m glad someone picked up on that. My parents are professional bluegrass musicians, so a lot of my meter and rhyme schemes come from the music I listened to in my youth. Now, read my poem in a deep Ozark accent and the picture is complete.

  • Ed DeCaria

    Holy Facebook shares, Batman!

  • Greg Pincus

    Fine, fine match-up here. Much to love about both poems. Pressure? You two scoff at it!

  • Cara Slavens

    I notice 3 of the 4 match-ups involve a meal of one sort or another. I guess it’s not good enough to want it – you have to be hungry for it!

  • Quinette Cook

    What a match-up! What’s not to love about both of these poems. But are fun and funny. The rhythm and repetition of Samuel’s poem is hypnotic (I do want to hear it set to music), but I’m a real sucker for the twist on Mother Goose. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go make a fried egg sandwich for breakfast.

  • Samuel Kent


    I think my favorite line is “We’re wary of Mary, She’s much too contrary.” I’m enamored with the syncopation.

    Also: 80 vote rally in 2 hours?! Wow!

  • Dave Crawley

    What a rollicking round! Sam, you are not only a great poet but a tough competitior!

  • Samuel Kent

    I wish I had your social network! At this point, I’m starting to hope for sympathy birthday votes.

  • Doug Brendel

    Great work Dave, As Always!

  • Bill

    A couple of heavyweights going at it. Look at all them votes!

    Great work, guys!

  • Samuel Kent

    Wow, 1000 voters! This is UNREAL!

  • Allan Wolf

    RE: 1000 votes. Now THAT’S what I’m talkin’ ’bout. Next year it’ll be 3000. And why not 10,000? This is that transcendent moment when all us “authletes” step back and realize that it’s not about us. It’s about the readers. It doesn’t really matter who wins, ’cause if MMP wins, we ALL win anyway.

  • Ed DeCaria

    Yes, yes, and yes.

    It is terrific that there are 1,000+ voters. We can analyze and debate how they got here and the impact of that, but the fact remains that 1,000+ readers came to this site, read these two poems, thought about poetry, and cast a vote. Maybe some of them stayed to look at the other matchups, too. Maybe we created a new poetry fan. Maybe ten. Maybe more.

    What matters is that new poems were created and that people read them.

    The outcome of a given contest itself is — in a sense (respectfully, not all senses!) — irrelevant. It is a play through which we connect people with poetry. The authletes are critical actors in the play, their poems lines and props, without which the play would not exist. But readers are the audience, without whom the play NEED not exist. Measuring which actor receives the loudest ovation does not change the fact that the play was brilliant, and that the audience was drawn in by it and enjoyed it.

    So … from this point on, my only advice to authletes is:

    1) Write your very best.
    2) “Break a leg.”

    I’ll be cheering from behind the stage, while doing my best to keep the lights on!


  • Dave Crawley

    The greatest share of credit, Ed, goes to you…for putting this incredible tournament together. You’ve created a tradition!

  • Sherrie

    My vote goes to Sam, and now I am headed off to lunch :)
    Tough call–they were both great!!

  • Alvaro

    Go Sam Go!

  • Samuel Kent

    Thanks, Soxy! Oh, and thanks for the birthday wishes!

  • http://GoogleChrom George Rivers

    Both poems were entertaining,and delightful.Dave work won me over as usual.

  • Cheryl Lawton Malone

    What a contest. Enjoying the dialogue and the poetry. Well done, both of you.

  • Buffy Silverman

    Congratulations Dave and Sam for two terrific poems!

  • Ed DeCaria

    I cannot wait to chart the voting pattern in this one …

  • Kimberly

    Awesome! I vote Sam!

  • Samuel Kent

    Well done, Mr. Crawley. I’m grateful to have had such a fearsome opponent. You really pushed me to my limits as both a writer and a social media … media-er.

    So since there is where I bow out, I’ll do so as gracefully as I can. I wasn’t ready to be out yet. Nevertheless, I’m really excited to see how the tournament turns out! I’m grateful for the competition, for new friends, and for new readership of my weekday stuff ( I wish all of the final four poets the best, but really wish the same of all 64 who competed.

    This has been – by far – the best birthday I’ve had in years.

    And since voting is no longer happening, I also want to include the following. As I mentioned, I wrote a SECOND poem for this round about ten minutes after voting began. While the rhymes are a little softer, it’s arguably better than my first. I’m submitting it in the hopes that perhaps it will make it into the TKT book despite being a non-competition entry.

    “Banking on the Tooth Fairy”

    I’m the beneficiary
    of a stealthy, sneaking fairy
    who leaves dollars every time I lose a tooth.
    I expect another payday
    since I’ve lost three teeth last Friday.
    But I have some big expenses, so, in truth,
    when I leave my toothy triad
    for this furtive dental dryad
    I may ask her if she has some loot to lend.
    How I hope she’ll give me credit
    for the nine I haven’t lost yet
    ’cause I need some extra cash to save and spend.

    Thanks again, all!

  • Damon Dean

    Fantastic all! Loved this matchup, and Samuel, I’d have had to vote for your pickles, cheese and ham. I took my lunch forever through all my years of school…since on the first day of first grade I threw up because our principal told us we had to eat everything…including the creamed corn. My mom never made me eat in the cafeteria again…but my sack lunches got pretty boring.

    Dave, you made me laugh deeply. I always suspected that Mary was too contrary for much of anything, especially taking over for Mother Goose. And Humpty…he never was an heir apparent, nor was his hair ever apparent, for whatever that’s worth.

    Great poems.

  • Dave Crawley

    Wow, Sam, what a rally! And a great poem! I loved your take on beneficiary, as well!

  • Dave Crawley

    By the way, Greg Pincus knocked me out in the first round last year…but I came out of it with a poem I never would have written, if not for this incredible tournament…

  • Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe)

    Great race, guys! Dave, looking forward to seeing what you come up with next! :)