Winning Poems for December 2009

Judged by Majid Naficy

First Place

Manufactured to Perform

by C. Albert
criticalpoet.org

I love how my organs are shaped
the same as anyone’s, manufactured
to perform: a heart that drums,
filtering twirl of kidneys, liver,
lungs that bellow on.

I hate how weak my machinery is
that a noise of germs, single-coated parasites,
scatter harmony. My tortured body
has become parts upon my bed. Nowhere
that doesn’t hurt, except my funeral.

What is it that comes back, silent as air,
to lift an invalid? Not heart, liver, kidney, lungs,
but a tenacity within the drum,
the twirl, the bellows.


I chose these four poems randomly as I was reading all poems alphabetically. To my surprise, not only do all four selected poems speak about the issue of death and dying, but, somehow, they also make up a whole and complement each other respectively. The first poem sees human body as a piece of machinery with a drumming heart, filtering kidneys, and bellowing lungs which only the tenacity of its parts can protect it against disabling germs. --Majid Naficy

Second Place

Night Sepia

by Tim J. Brennan
About Poetry Forum

The first thing I do to awaken
is turn to music to subdue
that time when the strange bird
sings its own dark song, gaudy
among dream flowers

each night seeds of my past
are scattered from shadows
in the countable hours between
saneness or sickness

sometimes my mother at the foot
of the bed in her night chair—
she waits almost every night
for mourning

sometimes Chopin is at the window
composing his Preludes, half
listening more to his third doctor
than to my personal requests
for a requiem

old teachers: Richard speaking
of Canterbury in his frog voice;
or Elizabeth, tall & brittle,
white & stork like,
urging me to write about art
and singing or music

“just because you’re no good
at either three, don’t mean
your writing can’t be”

like hummingbirds
within me, like small kisses

wondering where I’ve been,
where I’m going, and asking
why I still hold pictures
of people I know longer know


The second poem is wild. It speaks of a patient who sees Frederic Chopin as well as heroes of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales at bed. --Majid Naficy

Third Place

Searching

by Witt Wittman
SplashHall Poetry

Contemplating the disarray of the bedroom,
I picked up one paint-splattered shoe.
You always wore your good clothes
when you decided to tackle a project.
Good clothes became work clothes,
yet you never wanted anything new.
I tossed the shoe into your closet;
that was all I could do.

Wandering into the den,
I plopped into your easy chair,
slipped my feet under the crocheted blanket.
Our daughter made it for you,
but it wasn’t comfortable.
I don’t belong here in your place.

Throwing off the blanket,
I sat on the floor and
looked at your puzzle board―
pieces in piles of greens, blues, tans―
the edges completed.
I should pick it up and put it away,
but the den would look bare without it.

I strolled onto the porch,
our favorite place to sit and play.
Still learning after all these years,
you were always thrilled when I won in dominoes.
Spider webs decorate your chair,
not quite covering the holes burned there
by your ever-present cigarettes.

I lean on the railing,
seeking more signs of you.


The third poem is written from the point of view of a survivor searching for the signs of her deceased husband in different objects and corners in their old house. --Majid Naficy

Honorable Mention

Tree Planting

by Christine J. Schiff
About Poetry Forum

It is tree planting time again,
this time a Kauri for Ann.
Some people die slowly,
day after day as they live.
Some die quickly after
living too fast.
Ann died gently as she had lived.
There was time for us to talk,
with the quiet ease
of old friends
about her favourite tree.

Together we had planted in the past
trees for others,
now it was time for her
to decide which one I’d plant
alone in her memory.
The Kauri grows slowly,
lives for a thousand years.
She said the wind would
whistle though hers,
and so it does, so it does……




  • August 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      The World Is Moist in the Morning
      by Terry Ofner
      The Waters

      Second Place

      My Epitaph
      by Guy Kettelhack
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

      I kissed a tree
      by Alison Armstrong-Webber
      The Waters

  • July 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      The First Time I Drank With My Father
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Waters

      Second Place

      My Bicycle
      by Andrew Dufresne
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

      J. Alfred Prufrock Searches for Mrs. Right
      by Laurie Byro
      Babilu