Winning Poems for April 2009

Judged by Duncan Mercredi

First Place

Czarny Polewka (Black Soup)

by Emily Brink
The Writer's Block

I heard the crack of his boots in the snow.
My heart rabbit-swift because
“No” was under my tongue.
He is a coward blowing his foul kielbasa breath
and weeping to the Beatles.
I knew he would never make a faithful husband.
I watched my mother in the slimness of the dusk
make Black Soup. I watched her chop the duck
and drain its blood. The blood dripped
into a pan, black as all mortal sin.
Next, chopped plums, like a smashed thumb,
color of the priest’s robe on Passion Friday.
A little vinegar and honey together
because every curse contains a blessing.

I especially love the imagery in this piece. My mind attempts to picture the visage of this man but his face keeps changing and I am unable to capture his true face. The memory of the mother also plays into this piece and I am left wondering just what is the author really cooking. Reads beautifully but also leaves one with a sense of danger but not really comprehending what that sense of doom is and I suspect there is more to this piece. --Duncan Mercredi

Second Place

The Day the Caterpillars Came

by Steve Meador
FreeWrights Peer Review

We lazed on the west bank
of the Auglaize, till days met,
fished, buzzed on warm Blatz
stolen from Treat’s garage
and puked foam after inhaling
roll-your-own cigarettes.

We believed Tecumseh, the boy,
had climbed the oaks across the river
and Tecumseh, the man, had commanded
the canopies to silence screams
from settlers slaughtered by his hand.

But the Cats came, ‘dozed down the old trees.
Diesel fumes suffocated the excitement
stoked by the “miracle stone”
with its twenty-seven skips, skims and skitters
over water’s glycerin surface.

sucked up through roots now exposed
to a death dance of sun and air,
awaited rites at a lumber mill.
Columnar trunks that once supported
clouds and stars would relive
as flimsy veneer and spindly table legs.

With nothing to prop it up,
the plum-colored universe met the ground
and morning blues would drop onto the east bank.
We didn’t know whether to invoke the name
of Jesus or a Shawnee sachem,
cry out loud to the world,
“Look at the sky!
It is falling.”

Why? I'm not entirely sure. I suppose it's the rhythm of the poem. It sings, it lifts, it reaches down and tugs at your soul. The beauty of a place undisturbed for centuries and to suddenly see it's passed ripped out by the roots that leaves one to wonder why "the sky is falling" --Duncan Mercredi

Third Place

A Rush of Clouds

by Laurel K. Dodge
The Writer's Block

Night after night, you pry your dog off
your wife then try to mold your body

to hers, never wondering what it must be like
to be that small, to be a whole, contained

world, that, despite your best attempts
to gain entry remains impenetrable.

In the secretive dark, plums fall.
You, who refuse to eat bruised fruit.

You, who cover your ears during thunder
storms. In his dreams, your dog trembles

and growls. Each morning, she looks
into your face as if she was searching

the sky for stars. Each morning, you survey
your perfect little garden as if you were god.

Last night, you paused to look out the window
and saw the moon, obscured then revealed

by a rush of clouds. Your dog digs a hole
under the fence and doesn’t come back

when called. You pick up what you view
as ruined fruit. Your wife will eat the windfall.

I'm not sure why I chose this piece, but it touched me. It left me with wanting to know more. What is the story between these (star-crossed lovers, perhaps) individuals that one would want the other to experience the windfall of bruised fruit? So many questions and the piece leaves one's imaginations to seek the truth between the lines. One question, was the dog jealous? --Duncan Mercredi

Honorable Mention

After AIDS

by Shawn Nacona Stroud
Desert Moon Review

Not even the moon can light
your path tonight, nor the stars
that wince down on you
like eyes behind which
a terrible migraine flexes the brain.
They are the eyes of Gods’
stupidly staring as they have
for centuries—you pay no mind.
You are lost to them in your death frock:
the whitened skin that settles in,
blooming on you the way a bruise
gradually darkens. The sky too
pales through our window squares,
from pink to blue
just like you. Ferrying
the sounds of birds and cars
into our bedroom where you lie
in a puddle of night sweats.
The sounds of 6:00 a.m. cumulate
as your breath rattles
to a halt. You are
porcelain now; a doll,
hardened all over as you cast
your death-stench about the room.
The cold you give makes a morgue-
slab out of our bed, and issues
from a realm as unattainable as life.

Honorable Mention

Baseball Season

by Andrew Dufresne
Wild Poetry Forum

A New York Times is the day rolled
under an arm as it begins to rain.
The player catches a baseball to win
the game, celebrates a death.
It’s all over. She loves you for who
you are. You don’t know it yet
but you are loved by everyone
for dying. There’s no other reason.

The story of your life is above the fold.
Column four, next to a coffee stain.
The baseball rises, rises, into the thin
air. Everyone holds, holds, their breath.
It begins. You and her are through.
You take a slow pull on a cigarette
and stare for hours at the sun,
denying. It’s baseball season.

Honorable Mention

Red Romance Dancing

by Allen Fogel
SplashHall Poetry


It was a magical night and wondrously strange
Ahead on the path and just in range
Came into view a most stunning vixen
Illuminated by red sky and a moon of crimson.

Approaching her a shift in perception
And to my senses a major deception
For in front of me did tread
A most enchanting woman, dressed in red.

To her an attraction so strong and fierce
That surely without her, my heart would pierce
If to this apparition I could not talk
Then this would be my very last walk.

As my lustful desires and fate, I desperately pondered
What appeared to be a magical archway, I wondered
Materialized ahead of me and came into soft focus
A mystical ruby red structure of converging fixed locus.

All around the pink night light was enveloping
And in the arch was slowly developing
A fuzzy image of beckoning bright red
Through which swiftly, we must surely tread.

Finding courage from where I know not
To her I admitted: “With you I’m besot
Hold my hand and with me march
And come with me through this magical arch.”

Eye to eye and hand in hand
Euphoric feelings unbelievably grand
To the arch I led
My mysterious woman in red.


Apparating with a small boom
We found ourselves in a magic ballroom
With red lighting and an enchanted ceiling
Looking up, crimson moon, most appealing.

With me now my nubile maid
For with me she had stayed
But her red dress above her rump
For some peculiar reason, had done a bunk.

As I gazed upon her form
I foresaw the coming of a storm
As if the gods were setting most pernicious tests
To me were revealed her magnificent breasts.

Maestro waved, orchestra played, the music cast its spell
Romance grew, excitement built, some energy to expel
Thigh to thigh, chest to breast, side by side we danced
Round and round, back and forth, totally entranced.

A dancing nymph of such angelic grace
It was quite a challenge to keep up with her pace
With all the moving, swaying, gyrating and prancing
There could be no doubt she was red romance dancing.

Adrenaline rushing, hormones raging, coming morning,
In lust and for each other fawning
Looking for another place, with great haste
For time together we could not waste

In the corner as if on command
An arch appeared to the side of the band.
Pushing each other on the wazoo
Sprinting to the arch we flew.


Apparating again, together we did clamber
Into a magnificent and great chamber
A thousand burning red candles placed in the room
And in the enchanted ceiling, a crimson moon.

In the red glow in the corner recessed
A scented bathtub for us to be de-stressed.
In another recess lay a king size bed
Dressed with the most exotic linens, all in red.

Nearby to satiate a desire
Were all kinds of fruits placed to inspire.
Strawberries, bananas, and lots of whipped cream
For whatever hunger we might dream.

All day and all of the night
Imagine the happenings as hard as you might
No matter what things you might wish to sight
I will not tell you, her virtue to keep tight
For the reputation of my lovely lady, I will not slight.
For that, my friends, would not be right.

  • May 2019 Winners

    • First Place

      I think of the colour purple
      by Alison Armstrong-Webber
      The Waters

      Second Place

      Swimming in Twilight
      by Peter Halpin
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

      In another country with strangers
      by Greta Bolger
      The Waters

  • April 2019 Winners

    • First Place

      Furiously Overcome by Stars
      by Guy Kettelhack
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Second Place

      Ides of March
      by Rachel Green
      The Write Idea

      Third Place

      Natural History
      by Antonia Clark
      The Waters