Winning Poems for November 2016

Judged by Richard Krawiec

First Place

For Ann Lovett

by Christopher T. George
Desert Moon Review

Earlier January wind scythed
across the patchwork fields,
swirled around drystone walls,

ruffled the wool of sheep,
drove starlings like duckshot
across the gunmetal gray sky.

Normally she’d go to school,
in her anorak and woolly jumper;
instead, before Ma or Da

rose, she walked to the grassy
hill with its sheepcreep paths,
the grotto with its holy figure.

Sister Immaculata later said
Ann was an intelligent, artistic
child. If only she’d confided her

secret. Ann kept her size hidden,
told no one, took care to
carry scissors along to snip

the umbilical cord—she knew
that much. For hours, she lay in labor
in the cold afternoon rain.

As she lay dying, did she think
of the lover that she’d known
or the caress of the hand of God.


I like a poem where the author feels in control - even if it’s a wild, or surreal poem. I also like clear action, especially handled imaginatively - ‘wind scythed across patchwork fields...ruffled the wool of sheep’. The final wondering - were her thoughts about her lover or her God - ends on a reflection the reader can participate in. It’s an important poem about an important event but it avoids being preachy. --Richard Krawiec

Second Place

Still Life with Oranges (II)

by Lisa Megraw
Wild Poetry Forum

- After Matisse

i. natural light

When your labour of wet brushes
places an oxblood curtain
next to an olive pitcher

long after ghosts have abandoned
the grey fog of your morning,
your chest feels hollow enough

to wake the starlings in your wrists
and bow your head to work
over a wall fringed with afternoon’s ochre,

where light reflects off bone china
and the shadows that have gathered
their own field of blue irises

cradle the light of oranges.

ii. inverted image

When the cracking of paint
moves a turquoise window
further from a mauve pitcher

days before summer’s cerise blossoms
open with the certainty of new birth,
your head feels full enough

to stare into the night’s cerulean,
watch midnight collect
in curved china

and twilight scatter small
orange flowers
that collapse beneath

the insurmountable distance of blue.


The language here matched the beauty of Matisse’s painting, so reading was as sensual an experience as viewing a luscious impressionist artwork in a gallery. Some lines were so pleasurable to speak it was almost like dining on the words - the insurmountable distance of blue. Some interesting use of imagery - wake the starlings in your wrists. --Richard Krawiec

Third Place

Corona Borealis

by Brenda Levy Tate
PenShells

Ariadne’s Lament

I raise your halo to my thinning hair,
no longer bright with youth – but only this
stellate tiara, winking like your kiss –
you: faithless god I loved when I was fair.

Born under Taurus, still I bear the whorls
from whence my horns were taken long ago,
whose scars a crown concealed. That astral glow
lured you, my sweetheart, with its gems and pearls.

Yet here I drift in loneliness and shiver,
then cast your circlet to the stars, while you –
my faltering admirer, whom I knew
as Theseus – abandon me forever.

A nighthawk rasps and dances through the cold,
but I – your Ariadne – just grow old.


This attempt to match heightened language with a classical story is dangerous, because it can easily slip into something overblown. I think the writer is just able to pull it off, not least because of the understatement of the last, rhymed line. --Richard Krawiec


  • April 2017 Winners

    • First Place

      Roasting
      by Marilyn Francis
      The Write Idea

      Second Place

      The Sorrow of Hearts
      by Andrew Dufresne
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

      Dancing at Midnight
      by E. Russell Smith
      The Write Idea

      Honorable Mention

      Silver Bed Head
      by Laurie Byro
      PenShells

      Honorable Mention

      The Little Loss
      by Dorothy Doyle Mienko
      PenShells

  • March 2017 Winners

    • First Place

      Mountain Church Larrau
      by Laurie Byro
      Desert Moon Review

      Second Place

      It’s a Wonderful Life Brandon
      by Sergio Ortiz
      The Waters

      Third Place

      The Quiet Work
      by Andrew Dufresne
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Honorable Mention

      This is How Death Comes
      by Laura Ring
      Wild Poetry Forum