Winning Poems for July 2015

Judged by C. Wade Bentley

First Place

Ramadan

by Bernard Henrie
The Waters

They shot a naked man howling in a barricaded house.
He clipped his lawn into the night skilled as a doctor
on graveyard shift putting in stitches.

But I mind my own business, box a roast beef sandwich
at the senior lunch and spend the evening in my bathrobe,
my wasp thin computer overheated on my lap.

Letters to my dead wife faithful as the Jeddah lighthouse,
her face full of rupees, the stern look her eyes gave out
and only sixteen years old.

Summer tans me to the color of an Indian Sepoy.
I drink Bigelow teas while smoking Churchman No 1
cigarettes.

I am in the rag trade with other Indian Jews like myself,
my secondhand racks full of unwanted suits for men.
I observe Passover from a window of the 93 bus.

Oh naked man, howling man shot dead I mourn
your emerald passage and ask both India and Pakistan
to hold their fire for a single rotation of the moon.


Sometimes detail, even fresh and wonderful sensory detail, can be simply dumped on readers to no apparent purpose. In this poem, however, the details flesh-out the speaker’s life to such an extent and in so few lines that, by the end of the poem, the poet has created that crucial parallel, a mirror we can hold up to the dead man. There are deeper religious and geopolitical threads, here, but I am most taken by the concreteness of “secondhand racks full of unwanted suits for men,” and “box a roast beef sandwich/ at the senior lunch.” --C. Wade Bentley

Second Place

Lights Near Adler Planetarium

by Dale Patterson
The Waters

The afternoon, warm
like Jack Daniels, dips
to near freezing
by evening.

A smelter pulls fingerless
gloves from his war
surplus parka.

On the edge of an iron-
clad seawall he guides
shafts of light
that mine the deep water
for flashes of silver.

Ice breath clings
to his face. He sieves
with a long handled net
through dark constellations
for glimmering stars,

a galvanized bucket
swirls with his treasure.

Farther away,
where the lake becomes sky,
two double-hulled lakers,
quiet as warrior canoes,
bring Manistique ore
to Calumet harbor.


The poet creates an amazing sense of place, here. The understated title nicely undersells the poem. As often happens, once a writer observes a thing closely enough, it becomes more than it was before being observed. The historical parallel in the final stanza—“double-hulled lakers” and “warrior canoes”—is especially fine. --C. Wade Bentley

Third Place

when I had the ice cube trays half filled

by Dan Flore III
Babilu

when I had
the ice cube trays half filled

I couldn’t see
my father and mother anymore
or what they wanted
or how daylight felt nauseous
after they divorced.

there was only
the little spring birds that come around
to chirp easily at the afternoon
and the sound of water from the kitchen sink
like my own tiny river
carrying me away.


I was initially troubled by the ice cube trays; they seemed too arbitrary, too Proustian, too . . . poetic. However, this is a poem that grew on me, because of course it is often in just such seemingly insignificant moments that these emotional shifts happen, and not in the great, cathartic epiphanies that we suppose will be required. So, ultimately, it rang true. And there are some lovely turns of phrase. --C. Wade Bentley


  • November 2017 Winners

    • First Place

      Hope Springs Like a Panther from a Large Boulder Overhead
      by Andrew Dufresne
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Second Place

      Lullaby
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Writer's Block

      Third Place

      Love Story
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Writer's Block

  • October 2017 Winners

    • First Place

      The Day of a Girl
      by John Riley
      The Waters

      Second Place

      Night Thoughts of a Mottled Songbird
      by Kenny A. Chaffin
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

      The Art of Not Being Descartes
      by Guy Kettelhack
      Wild Poetry Forum