Winning Poems for September 2012

Judged by Troy Jollimore

First Place

Eating the Black Dog

by Fred Longworth
The Write Idea

To begin with, he didn’t want to be eaten,
much like the knight in the Wife of Bath’s Tale
didn’t want to marry the hag.
And though in Chaucer’s story
the hag turned into a beautiful woman
once she had gained total mastery
over the knight, in the Black Dog’s Tale
he simply turned into a pile of bones.

It wasn’t easy to talk him into letting us eat him.
Because he was fearful about the pain,
we promised it would go quickly.
Because he was uncertain about what
would happen afterward, we served him
a generous course of benign providence
followed by a dessert of blissful eternity.
He was troubled about abandoning his family,
so we assured him we would eat them too.

He demanded a reason for this sacrifice.
We told him that it was written
in the Great Book of Reality that his life
should end this way. As with the others,
this explanation was too much for him.
As we had hoped, he ran off into the woods,
an exertion that renders them more delicious.
After two days of searching, we found him
hiding by a lovely mountain stream.
We ate him there, on a table of mountain moss.

This poem works according to its own internal logic, following an initial narrative inspiration doggedly to its conclusion. The language flows and the images are well-chosen. Overall it seems like a metaphor for something, and the fact that we can’t pin its meaning down only makes it more enjoyable. ---Troy Jollimore

Second Place

The mail comes

by Catherine Whiteley
Wild Poetry Forum

The mail comes,

nothing but bills and a note
from an avocado asking me to rip its skin open.
Fucking avocados and their junk mail.

I miss you.

Upstairs cab fare is hidden in a sock, my mother
taught me this. When my father died she turned
the house upside down looking for a check
to pay the funeral home.

The truth?
I miss you – what else matters?

The urn was brass. I imagined it a football,
tucking him under my arm and making
a dash to the car, to the freeway — to anyplace
that wasn’t there.

I think the mailman has stolen your postcards.

he surprise of the “avocado asking me to rip its skin open” and of the line that follows are at the heart of the reader’s enjoyment of this poem. The last line is evocative and mysterious. ---Troy Jollimore

Third Place

Walking Through Chicory

by Christopher T. George
FreeWrights Peer Review

I see porches trimmed in red, white, and blue:
bunting, new or faded flags, plastic Uncle Sams,
a war memorial with a small laurel wreath,
mauve echinacea growing round, for memory.

My doctor worries about his homeland,
an aged aunt in Aleppo, windows blown,
how she will receive her medications,
that each rifle bullet will find its target.

I hike home in hundred degrees heat,
walk through chicory, a field all in blue,
see cicadas dead on their backs,
sparkling spent shell casings.

Sometimes a single image can make a poem. The final image of the cicadas “dead on their backs, sparkling spent shell casings” is strong, disturbing, and memorable. ---Troy Jollimore