Winning Poems for November 2012

Judged by Polina Barskova

First Place

Rain Taxi

by Bernard Henrie
PenShells

Rain follows my taxi from Manchester Piccadilly
to Didsbury.

My mother will be buried in the storm, black umbrellas
keep her dry, a stiff navy dress buttoned to the neck.
A Merlion spits water into falling rain.

Her face wistful like a girl in the Corps de Ballet.

I’ve saved two photos, a speech in Hyde Park
for the suffragettes and a pose marked
Egyptian Camel as she visited the pyramids.

Plunging rain, no relief; half-plugged drains, pelted
zinnias in stained flower boxes, the early light drawn
with a child’s soft chalk.

My empty 3 AM poems. The BOAC bag
of clean underwear pouched on the dresser.

I visit my publisher, the ramshackle offices
are dark as the Muslim Brotherhood just taking
power this month in Cairo.


This poem does some of the most difficult things--writes grief with self-pity and sentimentality. It is full of feeling--but also manages to have "eyes", to mind the world outside of the grieving, hurt self. Admirable. ---Polina Barskova

Second Place

Experimenting with Molotov Cocktails

by Steve Meador
FreeWrights Peer Review

The aspirin bottle belched a puny whoosh,
a tiny brook of fire, but we wanted more
BOOYAH! and a puking river of liquid Hell.
So, we sought the expertise of Dr. Pepper,
the hillbilly madness of Mountain Dew,
the intoxicating fumes of high-octane Shell.
The owner of the dairy store across the alley
watched as he carried out empty milk crates,
then hurried across the blacktop and uttered,
“What the fuck are you boys doing?”
as though it were something provincial,
an anomaly we brought from the south
in a carpetbag filled with flames
that wagged in a colloquial tongue.
Didn’t he watch Roadrunner, Tom & Jerry
or Walter Cronkite on the evening news?
Doesn’t he remember us buying bottles
of pop within the last hour and paying
with silver certificates that he admired
and tucked into his pocket, instead
of ringing the sale on the cash register?
Patrick struck a match down his zipper
and touched it to the wick, a strip ripped
from an old tee shirt. Mark froze
in a Statue of Liberty pose, before the store
owner screamed at him to throw the bomb.
The toss could have been fire engine-worthy,
but it was the season of hardy green.
The spirea suffered greatly, raspberries
split and juiced as if being baked in a tart.
The next bottle shattered against bricks
of the barbeque pit in our back yard.
We waited for glass fragments to melt
into agate. The fire never got hot enough
to burn the thin shavings of our anger.


Very strong, original, wild combination of a narrative, nightmare and sound-poetry aesthetics. As difficult, tortured as its "contents" might be--one can't help enjoying richness of this text's sensory realm. ---Polina Barskova

Third Place

I don’t

by Michael Virga
Writer's Block

“Hate gave you me for a lover” — from “Frozen Love” by Buckingham Nicks


I don’t sleep in the devil’s bed.


I don’t end up there




either. I find
myself between the dark sheets of the angel


and we wrestle to light
resting in the fold of our Father



In the sun, we don’t cease to exist


Very strong and very strongly suppressed/organized poetic emotion. This text could be a scream--instead it's a masterfully orchestrated moan with the beautiful image of the dark sheets of an angel. ---Polina Barskova


  • March 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      Cuttlefish
      by Jim Doss
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Second Place

      Wings
      by Bernard Henrie
      The Writer's Block

      Third Place

      gutterball
      by Brenda Morisse
      Wild Poetry Forum

  • February 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      Nebraska, Summer
      by Greta Bolger
      The Waters

      Second Place

      Goldback Fern
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Writer's Block

      Third Place

      Negotiatin’ Wi Demons (For wee Rabbie Burns)
      by John J. Williamson
      PenShells