June Challenge

I have written previously about my poetry group, which for obvious reasons is unable to meet at the moment. We share poems by email and have also enjoyed several challenges. The latest one is to write a Limerick; Love it! Limericks are my forte, I have enjoyed reading and writing them since childhood. So I put on my thinking cap and was soon on a roll.

Some time ago I had challenged myself to write one about Limerick (the place in Ireland) to rhyme it with Giggleswick (a village in Yorkshire) but gave it up as a bad job. I revived this idea and came up with the following:

A lorry driver came over from Limerick
to deliver a load up to Giggleswick.
The lorry got stuck
in a big pile of muck.
Thereafter it did rather stink a bit!

Being a cyclist of course I had to write one about cycling:

An elderly cyclist called Mike
wobbled and fell off his bike.
His daughter then frowned,
helped him up off the ground
sighing 'For goodness sake Dad, get a trike'.

But I didn't stop there:

By the light of a September moon
a young couple with romance did swoon.
Not long after that the
young lady got fatter.
The babe was born sometime in June.

Naughty! I think I'd better raise the tone:

St. Solomon's Sunday School choir
for sublimeness was told to aspire.
Their candlelit recital
was simply delightful
until all the hymn books caught fire.

There's more, but I'll share them next time!


My poetry group is still unable to meet and we are still sharing poems via the internet. As I have mentioned previously on this blog we have also had a few ‘challenges’ along the way. We have a new one for May. This one was suggested by me after my daughter, who teaches English as a foreign language in Spain, told me that her class of 9 year old Spanish children had been writing Diamante poems in English. At that stage I had no idea what a Diamante poem was but I thought that if Spanish children can write them in English so can the poetry group. So I did the research and set the challenge.

The Diamante form was created by an American poet and educator called Iris McClellen Tiedt in 1969. It is a non-rhyming, word count poem in 7 lines and shaped like a diamond. It usually has two objects (subjects) and about half way through one morphs into the other. The two objects should be related in some way – i.e. night/day, air/water, etc. You do need to know your parts of speech though. It is constructed like this:

Line 1: One Noun ( the first object) – a noun is a naming word such as chair, door, dog, sky.

Line 2: Two Adjectives – describing the first object (e.g. shiny, round, fat)

Line 3: Three verbs about the first object – verbs are ‘doing words’ and should preferably be continuous action such as swimming, walking, breathing.

Line 4: Four nouns – here comes the change; the first two are about the first object, the second two introduce the second object but do not name it.

Line 5: Three verbs (continuous action) about the second object.

Line 6: Two adjectives – describing the second object.

Line 7: One noun – naming the second object.

You can find loads of information about Diamante poems on the Internet. Here’s a link to get you started: www.poetryforkids.com/lessons/how-to-write-a-diamante-poem/ (I have tried to click on this and it tells me the page does not exist – believe me it does! If you can’t make it work try typing the link into your search engine.)

Here are two that I wrote for the challenge so you can see how it works in practice.

bright, yellow,
shining, warming, life-giving
fire, orb, white, crescent,
shading, illuminating, shape-shifting
pearly, full,

young, carefree,
singing, dancing, playing,
school, friends, home, family,
welcoming, loving, caring,
wise, elderly,

Actually, I have just noticed a mistake in the first one – ‘white’ is not strictly a noun, unless you are naming the colour which I’m not doing here; back to the drawing board!

Magic Box

Following on from my previous post about ‘Cargoes’ I thought you might like another challenge that the poetry group has had during lockdown.

A few months back one of our members shared the poem ‘The Magic Box’ by Kit Wright (find it via Google if you are unfamiliar with it) and challenged us to write our own version, listing what we would put in such a box. This could be in any form we liked; our own poem in whatever form, a simple list, a prose piece – whatever. I chose to contribute mine in poem form, loosely following the same form as the original although I allowed my version to overflow into an extra fifth line in each verse. Here it is (please note it is my copyright):

My Magic Box by Elizabeth Leaper
(after Kit Wright)

In my magic box I will put
the silent stillness of the heron at the waters edge,
the blue streak of the kingfisher along the river bank,
the babbling burble of a mountain stream
tumbling over the rocks beneath.

In my magic box I will put
the gentle cooing of the pigeons in the early morning,
the bright song of the robin in the cherry tree,
the sound of the wind through the woodland trees
that becomes the ocean when I close my eyes.

In my magic box I will put
the gossamer of a cobweb bedecked with pearls of dew,
the sweet smell of new mown hay on a summers day,
the velvet darkness of a moonless night
studded with diamond stars.

In my magic box I will put
the earthy fragrance of the ground after gentle rain,
the pristine white of undisturbed snow freshly fallen,
the joy of the first snowdrops as winter ebbs away
and spring is just around the corner.

My box is made from the horn of the last unicorn,
the lid is hinged with dragon claws
and straps made from rainbows wrap it round.
It is fastened with clasps hammered by the thunder god
from the finest gold.

I will hide my magic box away
and guard its secrets with wards and spells
until the earth is green once more and the sky is blue.
Then I will open its magic locks
and share its treasures with you.


I may have mentioned before that I belong to a poetry group that meets twice a month in our local library. We are not strictly speaking a writers group though some of us do write. We usually have a topic for each meeting and take along 3 or 4 poems to read out, some of which may be our own but mostly from ‘proper’ poets!

Naturally we haven’t been able to meet over the last 12 months due to COVID but we have kept the group together by sharing a poem via email during the weeks that we would normally have met, then one of our members collates the poems into a pdf file which is then sent out to the group so we all get to see them. For this we have not had a topic each time, just a general feeling that they should be uplifting and of course participation every time is not compulsory.

From time to time we have also had an additional ‘challenge’ (again, participation not compulsory). Last week was our ‘poetry week’ and one of our members submitted the well loved poem ‘Cargoes’ by John Masefield (if you are not familiar with it you can find it at http://www.poetrybyheart.org.uk/poems/cargoes-2.) The member used to be an English teacher and with her reasons for the choice of poem she recalled that she had once set her class the challenge of writing an additional verse for the poem and received some impressive offerings. This then became our most recent challenge – to write an additional verse.

I thought I would share my offering with you here; actually I have written two extra verses as having written the first I decided it was no longer topical as the problem had been solved. The second one is really about how things were – and how they will be again once COVID has ceased to cause such problems. Here they are for your amusement:

Cargoes Challenge
Gigantic container ship aground in the Suez,
blocking up the shipping route and halting trade
with cargoes of livestock,
car parts, electric goods,
children’s toys and fashion wear all cheaply made.

Great big Boeing Jumbo Jet flying here and there,
dropping of its passengers on some exotic shore
such as China, Turkey,
Viet Nam, Mexico,
Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.

Admitting Defeat

A while back my husband, ‘the boss,’ decided that he was going to challenge himself to cycle a minimum of 100 miles a month as a way of keeping fit after his mild heart attack a couple of years ago. I decided to take the challenge on board too and as we usually cycle together it wouldn’t be a problem.

Now, 100 miles doesn’t seem much in a month, many people do that and more in a week or even in a day, but we are no longer in the first flush of youth and, as I say, this is the minimum – we frequently do more. While this isn’t a competition between us it has, over time become something of a game. He sometimes goes out without me when I have something else to do and gains some miles, so I sneak out when he is otherwise occupied and overtake his distance, he then goes out and beats my total and so on – it’s a bit of good humoured fun whilst keeping us fit.

This month the weather has been not the best and we have been busy with other things so cycling had not had the same degree of focus, we were struggling to make up our minimum mileage. As at the beginning of last week I was only up to about 87.5 miles. The boss, on the other hand, having managed to get out a few times without me, had a 20 mile advantage.

So last Monday I went out on my own while he had a hospital appointment and I cycled just over 14 miles, bringing me within spitting distance of his 20 mile lead. When I got home he was already back, was fitting new tyres on one of his bikes and preparing to go out for a ride to ‘test’ it (his excuse). He did 11 miles, thus taking back much of my gain. Having it in mind that I needed to only do about 6 or 7 miles to catch up I went out on Saturday. In showery weather I rode 8.5 miles, returning home rather chilly and damp but feeling confident that I was somewhere near his total now that I had nudged over the 100 mile target.

At this point there was only two days left until the end of September and the weather forecast was still not good. Then we both realised our mathematical mistake – we had forgotten to add on hubby’s 11 mile test ride to his overall total. Once again he was the best part of 20 miles ahead of me. Was it game over?

Yesterday was a wash-out, no way I was going out in that, but this morning, oh joy of joys, the sun was shining, the sky was covered with fluffy clouds with a fair amount of blue showing – I was going out on the bike and what’s more it was warm, I could wear shorts rather than the three-quarter or full length tights I had worn for the last couple of weeks.

Planning a route was tricky, I prefer to avoid busy main roads but after all the recent rain the small country lanes were a no-no, bound to be full of muddy puddles and ruts. I needed a compromise route on better roads but not major ones. Route planned, off I went. I have a cycle computer which I usually keep set to time and speed rather than distance, which is hubby’s choice so that he knows how far he has travelled. I like to keep a check on time as normally I want to need to know that I am not out longer than I can spare the time for. I did need to get back today as I had a fair amount to do since we are going away tomorrow for a few days!  I had momentarily thought of adding on another short loop at the end of my ride but decided against it. When I got home however I rued my decision. What I estimated was probably about a 13-14 mile route turned out to only be just over 11 miles,  bringing my total for the month up to 121.6 miles with no time left to do any more. Hubby’s total is around 128 miles and I have had to admit defeat. However, tomorrow is the start of another month….


Thank you for joining me for my Joyful January challenge. Now it has come to an end I am reverting to my pre-challenge post pattern of Small Stones on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

January Joy 31

Joyful January:
achievement –
challenge completed!

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