Winning Poems for June 2009

Judged by Duncan Mercredi

First Place

you think you’ve seen everything

by Justin Hyde
Salty Dreams

silver-dollar eyed
guy in the corner
of the flying-j
talking gibberish
to himself.

that’s nothing
we’ve all
seen it.

but still

after pissing
you ask the waitress
if he’s alright.

he’s a regular,
she says.
a Vietnam

that makes sense.
you go back to
reading a little

he jumps out of his

starts doing the

250 pound
bear of a man

grinding it out
like a

smiling from
one end of the room
to the other

belting out chubby checker
so loud
it’s vibrating your
ribcage from
seven booths over.

he comes toward
your booth.

motions for you to
get up and dance.

it’s not fear
and it’s not

you don’t
exactly know
what the hell
is going on.

you do it.

We've all been there, as an observer or the observed, minding our own, speaking to ghosts or the gods in our own private place. Then someone intrudes, just to peek inside your mind, seeking the message you have hidden within you. Time to time, they'll let you in but there's always a price to pay isn't there? Excellent piece of writing with a surprise "twist" at the end. --Duncan Mercredi

Second Place

Castle Hawk

by Brian Edwards
The Poets' Graves

“And from our opposite continents we wave and call.
Everything has happened.” —– Sylvia Plath, “The Babysitters”

Over a decade since we played at Castle Hawk.
Rain lashed down all day, from tee to bunker
   to nineteenth hole
But we wore tee-shirts and hauled those clubs round
   where we didn’t belong.
Watching the tweed and stripes, your eye for mischief
   broke the clouds.
Cruel brother, you could skin fish with that tongue.
In jeans at the oak-beamed clubhouse bar
   too short, too loud,
You filled the room.

Drinking drinking, a one bedroom flat, football on the radio,
   Nietzsche on our minds.
You couldn’t cook but your cupboards always offered
A sandwich, an orange, a place to hide from lovers and life.
Windows open wide to rile the curtain twitchers next door,
   beating walls down with disapproval,
And when the police came you were first outside fighting
   truncheons with common sense,
And when your love-heart tattoo came out like a tomato
   you gave it a nickname, wore short sleeves for a year,
And when you woke up in the wrong bed swearing
   never again, never again,
It was just a story to tell.

My brother, before I left you at the nighteenth hole
   with a bourbon and coke and a bar tab,
Before I traded you in for a continent and a collection
   of books,
Before divorce scrawled your lipsticked name
   on a mirror,
Before divorce put a fist through your glass
Before divorce poked vipers through the window
   of your skull,
Before divorce put your liver in a glass, covered
   in weeds,
Before you tried to cut off your arm,
   tried to eat off that one word,
   her name, five letters, ingrowing,
We were two brothers in tee-shirts,
   waiting for something to happen.

What can I say, I have a weakness with anything to do with golf and family. But truth be told, I'm not a golfer, but I go golfing. It's you against the course and in some cases against your brother, that never ending battle on who's the best. But underlying is the love you feel for him, the battles, the pain, the tears, the laughter, it's all here. I identify with the wild one, the one that refused to back down forcing the quiet brother to come out of his shell and join me on this fantastic journey that is life. Golf, beer, (in my case, never did acquire a taste for hard liquor) and in my much younger days, some green to smoke. This piece has all this and more. It struck a chord and I kept returning to it even after I put it aside, a sign of good work. --Duncan Mercredi

Third Place

5 o’clock

by Divina
Pen Shells

There is much to observe
when days are nights
and philosophical conversations
turn to games, a rekindled fire
in the midst of summer silences.
Life is a childhood
of perpetual humming,
a birdsong, romantic sounds,
a vastness.
I come up with the idea
to paint experience
as something tangible,
cobwebs around the corners,
a shadow, another time, place,
excited heartbeats,
a post-impressionist garden.
wails/tales; low/shadow;
farewell/shell–a violent urge
to rhyme the scenes.

I've always been of the belief that poets are deep down, frustrated visual artists, knowing their talent for creating beauty with paint is elementary at least. So, instead of an artist's paint brush, we use words to create works of art, letting the imagination of the reader fill in the picture with color. In this piece, I see shades of gray, black, blue and red, with hints of yellow for contrast. It's a beautiful painting. --Duncan Mercredi

Honorable Mention

The Sweat Lodge, As I Know It

by Steve Meador
FreeWrights Peer Review

My tub is aligned east-west,
this is vital to my health.
When the world turns to shit
my bones quiver, try to shoot
through braided muscle and skin;
my synapses won’t pop and snap
and my mind needs a meeting
of its minds. I draw the hottest
water a human can survive,
without turning edible, and step
into the tub from the east. I sprinkle
salts on my shoulders, inhale steam
that carries the dream of sweetgrass,
chant meaningless sounds. I build
a scarecrow inside myself, ravens
and sparrows flee my body. Circling
buzzards disappear. Hawks pluck
snakes from my ears. I push out sweat
until emptiness fills my pores, then exit
from the west side of the tub.
In the mirror fog there is a man
the color of red clay, a warrior,
my grandmother mentioned him;
he was her grandfather.

Honorable Mention


by Allen M. Weber
FreeWrights Peer Review

Blessed with ordinary sight, I don’t need
an embellished explanation of sky.
I can see there are clouds, or there are none.
True, some firmament—bottomless-blue,

cerulean—defies description; so
humbled I’ll lower my gaze, and notice
how surfaces mimic: Iridescent
dragons loop around my 1 lb line—pulled

taut through watery cumuli. I float
my ordinary oars away, obliged
to drift more muted hues, and wait
for something deeper to strike.

Honorable Mention

The Big Easy

by Bernard Hamel
About Poetry Forum

I want easy afternoons, lazy love and white sleep…

                                         slipping possible words in liquid sheets
                                                    and the four corners of the death dance…

                   and dry… dryness everywhere…

I want the walls to rain
                              and the floor too hot for my feet…

                    the laughter of smoke rings and pillows for breakfast…

          vertical smiles upon purple hours…
as the blindman of time winds the clock like a compass…

          I want a tongue that bites!
                        like a razor of the first shave…
                    simplicity like the
                                            g of a book.

chances cloudy…
                              mean sky: knit brows & puffy cheeks…

I think I’ll wait 
                              for sudden nights

                                                      and open sidewalks…


                              the sun hustles the moon
                                                                        .and people walk

  • February 2019 Winners

    • First Place

      Not a Poem of Crows
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Waters

      Second Place

      Resolution to Laugh More
      by F.H. Lee
      The Write Idea

      Third Place

      The Nowhere
      by Erwin Fernandez
      Wild Poetry Forum

  • January 2019 Winners

    • First Place

      How the Wind Works
      by Alison Armstrong-Webber
      The Waters

      Second Place

      Sleep Walker
      by Brenda Levy Tate

      Third Place

      The Woman Who Grew up in My House Finds Me on Facebook and Comes to Take a Look Around
      by Antonia Clark
      The Waters