Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

How I won at bingo without playing the game April 13, 2015

The bingo callers. My first place winning photo.

John and Lavonne call bingo at the North Morristown, MN., Fourth of July celebration. This photo won first place in the People Category of the National Mutual Benefit annual photo contest. This image also helped inspire my winning bingo poem. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2013.

BINGO! We have a winner!

Here’s my winning poem, “Wednesday Night Bingo at the Legion,” recently published in 2015 Poetic Strokes & Word Flow, A Regional Anthology of Poetry from Southeastern Minnesota, Volume 9:

Wednesday Night Bingo at The Legion

Wooden balls rattle in the cage,
orbs of numbers and letters tumbling
in the comforting rhythm of a rural rite
that transcends time and generations.

All eyes focus on the officiant, The Bingo Caller,
a slight elderly man with wisps of fly-away hair.
He grasps the selected ball between forefinger and thumb,
pulls mic to mouth and purses his chapped lips.

Silence presides in that sacred moment
when daubers poise above cards,
when hearts beat fast with anticipation,
when nothing seems as blessed as the hope of a win.

“O-62,” he pronounces with faithful clarity of conviction
to the congregants seated on worn folding chairs,
ice clinking against glass in the dim light of The Legion
where service to country rates reverent respect.

From the back corner her voice erupts. “Bingo!”
A collective sigh heaves disappointment
as The Bingo Caller pauses, confirms, then declares
The Blessed Benediction: “We have a winner!”


YOU, TOO, CAN BE A WINNER. Check back on Wednesday for a give-away.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling
Poem reprinted with permission from SELCO (Southeastern Libraries Cooperating), Rochester, MN.


21 Responses to “How I won at bingo without playing the game”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    Fun poem and of course the picture is perfect. Simply perfect!!!

  2. Dan Traun Says:

    Your words perfectly describe the your photo.

  3. treadlemusic Says:

    Yes…….that brief silent moment of collective breath-holding as the caller heightens the tension with an inhale…………………….then………. It was always a “sigh” for me as that declaration of “winner” never fell, ever so gently, on me….. sigh………………….

  4. virgi Says:

    Way to go Audrey. We like the picture and the poem fit to a T!

  5. Great Poem – Congrats 🙂 Happy Week!!!

  6. Jackie Says:

    THE “Poet” in you, describes the photo beautifully. I love it all!

  7. hotlyspiced Says:

    Congratulations Audrey and what a beautiful poem. It really captures bingo so very well. I haven’t played in a long time but you’ve inspired me! xx

    • We played bingo at my husband’s company Christmas party this year. My middle brother and his wife play it often at the local Legion. And my mom plays it every week where she lives in assisted living.

      Glad you enjoyed the poem.

  8. Wonderful poem. I could see the action as I read.

  9. Sue Ready Says:

    Loved your poem and even sent it to my friend to enjoy as she calls every two weeks at a church

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