Thank you to everyone who participated!

Judges: Joseph S. Salemi, Adam Sedia, Manfred Dietrich


First ($100 Prize)

A spike is there, but it’s not gold,
Some forests have them, so I’m told.
They cannot cough, but can “ahem,”
And singers have an eye for them.
And when someone pokes fun at you
It’s what they do that makes you blue.
A helpful hint? I told you so!
And that is all you need to know.

—James A. Tweedie, Washington State



My favorite pastime is to sleep,
And when awake, I barely creep.
Just like a friend who overstays,
I hang around for days and days.
My given name is quite offensive
To one whose slowness is defensive.
I favor garb of algae-green
With moths aplenty in between.

—David Watt, Australia



To those opposed to order new
I bade a merciful adieu
The low and high I equalised
No rank or station recognised
“Revenge” cried them that summoned me
Them too I slew for Liberty
Like them I often rose and fell
And helped to pave the road to Hell

What am I?

—Rupert Palmer, South Africa



Every second, every day, she nears.
Upon arrival, though, she disappears—
Or, more accurately stated, moves away,
Still chased, while chaste yet, for another day.

—James B. Nicola, New York



I have a thousand faces
I have no face at all
Die not, but turn to many
—my thousand children bless my fall.

—Sheri-Ann O’Shea, Australia



It Is Dying

The Songs of Homer and the fame of Achilles had
probably never reached the ear of the illiterate barbarian.

—Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

The song of yourself he said you should sing,
And cut the shackles English bards begat,
And Freedom sounds so sweet. Let Freedom ring
Across the land and steamroll structures flat.
I shake my spear at Freedoms barbarous
And nasty mindless authors who betray
The values from the days of old. To us
The silly rules do NOT apply today.
Today the authors nearly all abort
The past. A few aspire to bring it back.
Is there a person giving life support
Alive today and willing to attack?
And twelve of us agree and bravely strive
For only two to show it IS alive.

—Thomas Newton, Indiana



I was no stranger to your waking mind
And you have felt me burn within your soul.
I bear your very thoughts, and yet you find
Though all may master me, none may control.
Surely I chart the heart of man: the joy
The love; the fear; the victory and despair.
Lavish, I praise, then fickle, I destroy;
I mend; I build; I crush beyond repair.
As empires shake and crumble, from their dust
I linger on to praise or to indict.
Though chained, repressed through ages, yet I must
Rise, undeterred, to lift the arm of right.
And though I rail against you, let me be;
You cannot hold me captive and be free.

—Camilla Marx, South Africa



They each need fire to be born;
By some, a fire’s scar is worn.
The fire’s ash helps them to thrive—
Without it, they’d not be alive.
They grow quite tall as well as round;
In the Sierras they are found.
Their shallow roots spread far and wide
And link with others by their side.
The mightiest has a general’s name—
As well as natural acclaim.
Beside them, one feels truly small—
It must strike awe to see one fall.

—Tonya McQuade, California



Neither King nor rich I spare,
Lay to waste whole towns in days,
My impact is hard to bear.

Body’s weakness I lay bare,
Attack health in unknown ways,
Neither King nor rich I spare.

On life war, I do declare,
Leave my victims in a daze,
My impact is hard to bear.

Doctors often dumbly stare,
At my ever changing pace,
Neither King nor rich I spare.

I am mankind’s worst nightmare,
For my death the whole world prays,
My impact is hard to bear.

I drive people to despair,
Their wellbeing I erase,
Neither King nor rich I spare,
My impact is hard to bear.

—N. Ram, Mumbai, India



I’m always in one place, and yet
I take you many places.
Let trails on paper not upset
You; put me through my paces!
My problem is, once in a while
I’m caught quite unaware
And lead you on mile after mile—
And also to despair.

—Julian D. Woodruff, New York







First: Needle. Second: Sloth. Third: Guillotine. Fourth: Tomorrow. Fifth: Mirror. Sixth: Shakespearean Sonnet. Seventh: Words. Eighth: Sequoia Tree. Ninth: Epidemic. Tenth: GPS

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The Society of Classical Poets does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or commentary.

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13 Responses

  1. James Sale

    Well done all the winners. Also, great to see James Tweedie getting more recognition for his work, which can be outstanding as this shows. Delighted for all the winners – and for everyone, keep submitting! One man I know kept praying to God to win the lottery, as week on week he got poorer and poorer and lost everything, till he was on the point of eviction from his property with his family of six as well. Week after week he kept praying, ‘Dear God let me win the lottery’. Eventually, even God got tired with this persistent pest – so as the guy was praying, suddenly God interrupted and said: ‘OK, OK, meet me half way – buy a ticket!’ You see, you have to enter to have a chance!

  2. James A. Tweedie

    Wow! What a pleasant surprise to be chosen from so many clever riddles. I wasn’t sure whether our British/overseas members would be familiar enough with the Peanuts comic strip to catch the allusion to Snoopy’s brother, Spike. In any case, I am honored. I also think the collected submissions would make a fine book!

  3. David Watt

    Congratulations James for your very worthy win!

    Thank you to the judges for reading and assessing an impressive assortment of riddles.

  4. NRam

    Congratulations to all the winners!!(I managed to sneak into the top 10 🙂 )
    And congratulations to all those who participated and kept guessing the answers with so much zeal!!!!


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