Winning Poems for November 2016
Judged by Richard Krawiec
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
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
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
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