Winning Poems for August 2011

Judged by Tyehimba Jess

First Place

Section 8

by Opie DeLetta
Wild Poetry Forum

this was a prayer with unmade bed
shades drawn in the distance
dogs bark
children laugh
a rusted swing squeaks
as a rabbit limps in the road
a kitchen clock rewinds
every frame black
9mm glock on cracked glass
smoke curls on the oak floor
a list of dreams
thumb tacked at the door
ice cream truck
doppler song melts like
ferryboat lights in the yard
sleeping garden gnomes
in the distance
a young girl jumps rope
dogs bark
on a rusted chain
children swing
a rabbit in the road

Section 8 is an exercise in simplicity and gravity. The poem lets the scene tell the story and leaves the reader questioning the story all at once. The line breaks blur the distance between meanings, from the swinging children to the rabbit in the road. The poet understands the necessity of image. ---Tyehimba Jess

Second Place


by Allen M. Weber
Desert Moon Review

Did you see me, Dad? Under the humid moon, he’s somersaulted—barely a splash.
Watch me, Dad! For one sprawling moment he crawls through a deepening prism.
Suspended like a mayfly in amber, he is baptized. Will you swim with me, Dad?
Maybe later, my boy. Yet in hazy summers ago, I otter beneath a flickering

surface; reflections blaze from lakeside bonfires. At the cool mud bottom, weeds
caress my ankles as I re-breathe the air between puffed cheeks. Still my father
waits—a lighthouse at the end of the dock—the cherry of his cigar glowing,
fading, while twists of smoke and maybes climb our diminished night.

Solstice brings the reader into a world where the father is a shadowy lighthouse, one that we know to be flawed and somewhat indifferent, but constant and loved at once. ---Tyehimba Jess

Third Place

Ode to What Settles

by Toni Clark
The Waters

What settles is what stays

after the transience of houses
after the horses and the boulders

particles, dust and ash, leaves
and water after the wind’s ruffling.

The fog in the valley, mist on the pond.

What’s left when the rest has burned
or blown, what drifts toward twilight.

And after the chaos of yellow windows,
evening deep into the hills.

The silence when you open the door
to an empty sky, the sparrow on its bare branch.

Our rooms late in the day, creaking
and sighing, the rocker coming to rest

sediment in the bottle, the last
of the wine in the glass

our bodies gone quiet beneath the blanket,
lives into a pattern, knowledge into the bone.

Ode to what settles meditates on the all that we are, from the dust to the sound of the bed to the drift toward mortality. The author knows balance and tone and risk. ---Tyehimba Jess