Winning Poems for December 2011

Judged by Nathalie Handal

First Place

One Belongs to Giving

by Susan Katz
conjunction

I have gazed my life away.
                    —Ono no Komachi

Often, I lost strings
in the labyrinth.

I had tried holding onto them,
like a mango’s pulp in my hand—

They would loosen,
wait for release.

Until once, I thought the daisy,
the violet had the same scent—

But I learned to tell the difference
between the pale and the stain of love.


This poem takes us to the pale stains that invent a heart. It’s soft tune dares us to gaze at what belongs, what gives, and utlimately, what takes. Each line, a whisper weaving a universe. I keep returning to “often, I lost strings in the labyrinth” – to where the poet creates a maze with one line. This poem keeps giving. Stunning. --Nathalie Handal

Second Place

The Lessons

by Jim Zola
The Waters

This is the place they take you in
wash your feet

you sip the water of forgetfulness
language is a spoon

a young girl squats to pee
behind the slaughterhouse

touches
the place the body forgets

they take you in
to send you out again


This poem breaks my heart. It’s quietness is piercing – delivering lessons or rather sentences, that devastate - The poet sculpts each word, beat, emotion, image, and leaves us at the center of this small monument where little feet weep. --Nathalie Handal

Third Place

flight

by Dale McLain
Wild Poetry Forum

The creek knows of winter first, and the geese
foretell it with mournful voice and striving wing.
I watch them skim the pallid meadow and love
rises, ices my spine in silver surprise.
I remember everything. Spent cornflowers
thronged a quarter acre beside the mill house.
I stood at the barre and dared to hope.

Toe shoes and chignon, I was a blade of grass,
a leaf in a book. I did not wish to gleam
or glint. I longed to be a feather on a grey wing,
side by side, quiet sister, indistinguishable.
It was fall and I walked home alone,
stepped from leaf-crush, wind-moan dark
into fire-bright chaos. Uncertainty was my truth.

And now I lift my hand, as if the sky is satin
draped from oak to cedar, as if it might feel
like a bird’s soft chest. I never was a plume,
never flew against the curtain of winter,
yet love found me, quicksilver kiss, snowbank
at my back. The geese lift me like a prayer
and the creek, in kindness, recalls what I let go.


Flight. Maybe. But something about this poem refuses to let go. --Nathalie Handal


  • 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