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


  • February 2017 Winners

    • First Place

      To Lisa
      by Fred Longworth
      PenShells

      Second Place

      The Vestal Lady of Venice
      by Laurie Byro
      Desert Moon Review

      Third Place

      Tibet
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Waters

      Honorable Mention

      Elegy for Michael
      by John J. Williamson
      PenShells

      Honorable Mention

      Aja Monet Reads at the Washington Women’s March
      by RC James
      Babilu

  • January 2017 Winners

    • First Place

      Analemma
      by Brenda Levy Tate
      PenShells

      Second Place

      Sparrow
      by Laurie Byro
      Desert Moon Review

      Third Place

      ALS
      by Billy Howell-Sinnard
      The Waters

      Honorable Mention

      The Outside of Enough
      by Ray
      Wild Poetry Forum