Winning Poems for August 2015

Judged by C. Wade Bentley

First Place

Aschenputtel And Her Sisters

by John Wilks
The Write Idea

The first daughter’s feet were too large,
so she chopped off her toes to fit
the glass slipper, which filled with blood:
a chalice brimming with red wine.

The second daughter’s feet were small,
so she sewed her sister’s severed
toes onto her own and hobbled
to the Prince, who was not deceived.

The third daughter, in soot-smudged rags,
was summoned from the scullery;
her bare feet blistered and swollen
from dancing in cut-crystal heels.

She thought: if you do not know me
without make-up, jewels and silk,
then fuck you Prince so-called fucking
Charming and fuck your fucking crown.

Its spell thus broken, the slipper
reverted to a grimy scrap
of thin-soled cloth, stiff as cheese rind,
from which the Prince recoiled, appalled.

It is said; white doves swooped and pecked
the sisters’ eyes out of their skulls,
leaving them blind, crippled beggars
in the care of a kitchen maid.

There were stories of a Princess
sleeping in a gateless tower,
girdled by a poison thicket:
a better prospect for true love.

I like the dark honesty, the de-Disney-fication of the language and imagery in this twist on the fairy tale(s). It has the feel of those early, macabre Grimm tales. Particularly nice sound and rhythm in “ . . . so she sewed her sister’s severed/ toes.” --C. Wade Bentley

Second Place

A father like mine

by Greta Bolger
The Waters

A father like mine

did not work in an office
nor in any factory. Too many people,

too many rules. He took a bag lunch
to his grab bag of jobs: cleaning

up after autopsies, digging graves,
fixing cars, installing plate glass,

taking care of old ladies’ yards.
He called himself a “horticulturist.”

In his pants pockets, we found sharp
stones and screws, bottle caps —

never paperclips or While You
Were Out slips. He was always Out,

on the outs with us, prone to slips
soon after dry-outs. After work,

he ate cheese and saltines,
drank a quart of Stroh’s,

smoked and yelled at whoever
was around, perpetually pissed.

His missing front tooth made him lisp
on words like “office” and “pizza.” He hated pizza.

We never had what you would call a “conversation.”

His coffin was provided by the Army.
Four of us stood in the cold, numb.

There may have been a flag.

I enjoyed the word-play in this poem, especially in the fourth and fifth stanzas, and in the double-meaning of “pissed.” The poet lays out concrete details of the father’s life as if emptying pockets, post-mortem. --C. Wade Bentley

Third Place

The First Nine Months

by Jim Fowler

I found a new vision of you
after the first bite. Dark clouds
casting shadows over your
blank face and fig-leafed body.

The reptile was right. I needed
his counsel in the new affairs
of my heart. For you puzzle me,
relentless in your need to couple.

Your whispered words of eternal
love in my ear are less important
now my stomach swells, smooth
with the new fruit of our joining.

Soon I’ll have sons. Jawbones in hand,
troublesome to me as their father.

This poem is tight and terse—as tough and matter-of-fact as its speaker. The ending is especially fine. --C. Wade Bentley

Honorable Mention

To the Son I Never Had

by Kendall Witherspoon
The Waters

You are not the blonde boy
crying. Running in dappled
river light, chasing tomorrow
and the toy red boat in rapids,
watching it disappear in rocks.
You are, of course, the boat.
I am the dam, or the damn fool
who bought the cheap string
when twine would have been
better you said. You are the
unused photo paper, the dead
turtle you did not feed and
the cheap football you hated.
I’m the corners you cut on your
homework, the pot plants you
skillfully grew along the fence,
the red car you crashed after
binge drinking with that girl.
I am the night you spent
in jail because I left you
there to rot you sobbed.
You are the river and I avoid
the bitter bridge we have built.
And you’re the Boy Scout compass
I still keep in my junk drawer.
And the promise I made that
you would not get my eyebrows,
that you would not become me.

  • January 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      You Arrive Like Fall, Suddenly
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Writer's Block

      Second Place

      Waiting for the Second Coming
      by Jim Doss
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

      by J.J. Williamson

      Honorable Mention

      When I Go Out and Then Come Back
      by Guy Kettelhack
      Wild Poetry Forum

  • December 2017 Winners

    • First Place

      by Jim Doss
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Second Place

      The Abandoned Woman
      by Midnight Moon
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

      Taking a Tumble
      by Paul A. Freeman
      The Write Idea