Winning Poems for October 2012

Judged by Polina Barskova

First Place

An almost kiss

by Henry L. Shifrin
Wild Poetry Forum

This little man, an inch or so under five feet, his scalp–
a sea of scalloped skin–closes his eyes as a shadow
of nurse passes. The passing is like a long, high branch’s
sweep. She loosens the downy strap of his robe and from

his shoulders a feather seems to circle down. His taut, urine
skin—skin pulling in the ribs to show—is moon to the naked
bulbs above. A smell of shit, shorts that must be
washed—a flavor of regret the fan blows. His flabby fingertip of cock

seems to have no mind to harden when her breasts press
against his face. She scrubs his back. Then looks at her watch, places
a hand under his chin, tilts his head so she can see into his eyes.
His lips curl as if to pucker; no, only a facial tremor. A smile.


Enjoyable combination of crudeness of the subject and gentleness of the gaze expressed through the intensity of details: there is a very active, insistent, and compassionate eye at work here. Also, very curious approach to laughter, the poem makes one grin--though with somber, sober melancholy. --Polina Barskova

Second Place

The Gray Wolf

by Douglas Pugh
The Write Idea

his skin no longer
binds muscles

rather, these days, he basks
in the setting sun

sucking old marrow between old tales
though sometimes
he can see doubt in the cubs’ eyes

nothing fits any more,
teeth drop from sockets,
legs from hips

why even the ground is not shaped to him,
argues against his nestle

though the naps seem longer
and the days short

the sun is setting
awkwardly

on a new trail


Very sparse, non-sentimental poem. Its beauty is in its absence of overwriting. The poem perfectly follows in form its matter--brutal, minimalistic. And the conversation about the animal is convincingly bridged to/moves into the landscape. --Polina Barskova

Third Place

The Butterfly Effect

by Chris Freifeld
Delectable Mnts

Each deed, a unit of
measurement, a strung
bead

Wooden and weighted
with its own baggy
heft

Its signature
markings, concentric
effects

A pebble plays the rippled water harp

Where is the intention kept?

Hidden in the gears, perhaps
revealed in every stroke
of the machine or packed
in dreams or both, I think,
but mostly in between

The soft connective tissue
that we mean.


Very subtle, light, delicate poem. Given its subject could be more more didactic--one imagines, but instead it lulls rather than preaches. As a visual text, as a sheer shape it's beautiful. --Polina Barskova


  • 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