Winning Poems for December 2010

Judged by Paul Lisicky

First Place

Giant Cockroaches

by Mignon Ledgard
The Writer's Block

I still cry dead leaves
yet leave open one day of the week
for those who drop by unannounced.

Sweepers brush the streets
all night long. I close my eyes,
let them stroke my hair
while sleep filters through coils
of Paradise boxspring and mattress.

The next one will be
a hammock under a rubber tree
with shiny green ant-boats
that float me in waterdreams.

Oh the water—hold me in cold Lima.
Oregano tongue. Quivers.

Then come back tomorrow
just don’t forget your suede jacket
on my leather sofa.

You do not believe in shamans
but witchcraft casts its veil around
your bed in the Amazon.

You fall into the fog of Lima,
this rising cement city against
mosquito heaven, black lizards,
overgrown egrets with freshwater
shrimp in their beak.

You wake
and forget each night’s fear—

giant roaches gone, it is always fun
to hear the conquest
of paranoia, one night at a time.
It reminds me of how I get through
each wild and boisterous day.


A musical mind at work. Vivid language, unexpected turns, the manmade colliding with the natural. A beautiful poem. ---Paul Lisicky

Second Place

A New Cartography

by Mandy Pannett
The Write Idea

It is dark by the river, by this bridge’s
underbelly: struts intertwine, cross-hatch.
He feels insignificant; small: an ant
within a clod of grass.

The bridge is singing a cappella –
voices of women shift in its iron:
a Celtic lament of the lowlands,
drowning, an elegy, death.

He wears a bracelet-like device, for this
is a sentient city. A new cartography
measures his skin, the contours and spikes
of his nerves.

He wonders why the chart of him
should always be so flat: no troughs, no peaks, no
lines of joy – once he stopped to hear a song:
a blackbird in a tree. The graph recorded
gentle frills at this.

Let them keep it all, he thinks, their precious
watchtowers on a wrist. Let them analyse
the heart of man.

The bridge still croons its ballads out, its chords
of broken love. He thinks about the note
he’s left and hopes it hurts her, hopes
she drowns in guilt.

‘Now it’s bound to peak,’ he says.
A pigeon watches at the water’s edge.


I love this poem's sense of swing, its richness of language. And the delicate force of its central metaphor. ---Paul Lisicky

Third Place

Run

by Cynthia Neely
Desert Moon Review

You were eight when Rain-dog died; we buried
him high up on the hill where pine trees sigh
and sing in the rain. When you got married?
that baby? did it die?
you ask, Will I

be buried there too? And my words still clot,
then jumble out, tumbled like scrabble tiles.
Today you are twenty and I am not
any closer to explaining things; miles

between us, miles and wings. You say, I’m fine
But I recall a day when you were five.
I held your hand (then, you still wanted mine)
and that dumb dog stuck his snout in a hive

of yellow jackets. Your laces were undone.
Even then, I could only holler, Run!


Memory and bewilderment: so much life compressed in these four stanzas. ---Paul Lisicky


  • November 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      Radium Girls
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Writer's Block

      Second Place

      The Unreliable Narrator
      by Andrew Dufresne
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

      Birds 2
      by JJ Williamson
      Babilu

      Honorable Mention

      Too Late
      by Billy Howell-Sinnard
      The Waters

  • October 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      The Emails Go Unanswered
      by Lois P. Jones
      PenShells

      Second Place

      Hidden Room
      by F.H. Lee
      The Write Idea

      Third Place

      The Penitent
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Writer's Block

      Honorable Mention

      You Can Call Me a Tough Cookie, But It Really Doesn’t Matter
      by Midnight Moon
      Wild Poetry Forum