Winning Poems for May 2017

Judged by R.T. Castleberry

First Place

No One Here Is Dreaming

by John Riley
The Waters

There should be a window and an ocean
with arch-fingered waves.
A cold fireplace drawing no shadows on the ceiling.
Lying on your back carves a vision of the stone—
a continent of letters and numbers moves closer.
You fold the image in half to toss on the fire,
remember there are no flames.

The pillow is wet. You turn your head to a new resting place
on the edge of a lake.
Water the color of lodestone laps your face.
At the top of your vision is an island.
Three deer eat the low-hanging leaves.
The birds have moved on.
You try to determine the season but deliberation topples.
A gray sky begins to sink.
The deer, the island, the lake, become fog.


Regret and sleeplessness deliver a beautifully surreal movie. --R.T. Castleberry

Second Place

Lot’s Daughters

by Shawn Nacona Stroud
Desert Moon Review

We’d left mother, abandoned her as we had Sodom
where she hardened with a crackling
beside us. A salt pillar of disobedience
gawking back at the sin we’d fled
as it roared and trembled
like our fear rattling the earth.

In those times, the air hazed with brimstone,
we had only our saddened wide-eyed father
as we crunched up-slope
from the cities of the plain. Each night
the sky blazed orange as if gazing out
through the eye of our sun—
the angered glare of God.

Beneath a lambent darkness,
we would nourish father
with our finest vintage, always
there in service of his needs
just as mother would have been.


A slyly written look at one of the darker corners of the Old Testament. --R.T. Castleberry

Third Place

Perhaps This

by Andrew Dufresne
Wild Poetry Forum

Poor simpleton. Poor human bones.
Poor soul that sees nothing fine.

Where is the sun that was born yesterday?
It came out of the egg to crave the egg.

Poor creature that drinks, trembles.
Poor sad-eyed vibrating creature.

Where is the brutal heaven to ascend to?
It sticks out its tongue, runs away from you.

Poor meat doll, poor puppet with veins.
Poor voyage to the star of every day.

A ripple of air crosses an empty night.
Poor ant drags a crumb of consciousness.


In the right hands, repetition is a powerful literary device. Both empathetic and tough-minded, this poem illustrates that power. --R.T. Castleberry

Honorable Mention

Let No Man

by Laura Ring
Wild Poetry Forum

When words achieve a certain antiquity –
dolorous. Goodly. Afeared –
they get to retire.

They fade from our pages, lips,
and take up residence in hymns
and rites of passage.

I have been thinking about asunder.
How we break up with boyfriends.
Lovers. End it with comrades. Mentors.

But ties blessed by the gods are put asunder.

That sounds like something a god would do –
like a thunderclap, a schism in the ether.
Some cosmic weapon the fates use
to sever us from the living.

And shouldn’t it take something big
and biblical to break us? To send us into exile?

In Sweden, the refugee children
fall into fairy tale sleep
when they hear they are being deported.
It’s called Resignation Syndrome.
But it’s a sundering, isn’t it? A sheering
of tiny roots newly dipped, like toes
into mythical North.

Sometimes the body speaks when language
fails us.

If we would act like gods, we should sound
like them. In the law books. Newscasts.
Executive orders.

Today, at the border –
put asunder:

The huddled masses.
The dream-dead children of others.



Honorable Mention

Smiling at a Hotel Bar Window

by Bernard Henrie
The Writer's Block

The year I came for you
handsome as the Prince of Wales,
a flat torso; my yellow slicker
glistening with storm water;

New girls replace your smile,
waving from a bar hotel window,
the dying voice of a waiter
in a corridor lit with a 40-watt bulb.

A gown slipping to the floor.
A gifted watch, haute horlogerie
sold in Paris at Patek Philippe & Co.
You spoke no more French than that.



Honorable Mention

Seven Years in Laredo

by Kendall Witherspoon
The Waters

One-hundred five degrees. Sweat puddled
under callused toes. Dust covered every tree leaf.
Rain held hostage by armies of heat waves.
I swept the furniture, unplugged the fan when
moving air cut. Spoon-fed my father, watered his dogs,
shed the woman I was too fast to love.
Sometimes I’d escape, take a cab to Rositas,
the only place that served whiskey margaritas.
Let them melt down my singed tongue, into my burned
out brain. The Mexican waitresses, always those short black skirts
and red bras, knew all about my father, the rescued cat,
his damn Chihuahuas, the woman and my habit of rushing to love.
Back home, before porch lights, I’d tinker, make tacos, change dad’s
diaper, sit on the veranda with a cat in my lap, beer in hand.
Watch the neighbor’s lives fill up with drought and loss.




  • August 2017 Winners

    • First Place

      Seasoned with Love
      by Eira Needham
      PenShells

      Second Place

      Ill-used
      by Paul A. Freeman
      The Write Idea

      Third Place

      A Note for Perilous Times
      by Fred Longworth
      PenShells

      Honorable Mention

      Whatever Glorious Else It Is
      by Guy Kettelhack
      Wild Poetry Forum

  • July 2017 Winners

    • First Place

      Corton Beach Holiday Camp, Great Yarmouth
      by Marilyn Francis
      The Write Idea

      Second Place

      Still Waltzing with You
      by Allen M. Weber
      Desert Moon Review

      Third Place

      The Aging Magician Speaks to His Reflection
      by Laurie Byro
      Desert Moon Review

      Honorable Mention

      Seeking Duende
      by Richard Chase
      Desert Moon Review

      Honorable Mention

      Dr. Seuss’s Guide to Manly Health and Training
      by Paul A. Freeman
      The Write Idea

      Honorable Mention

      Resonance
      by Sylvia Evelyn
      Babilu

      Honorable Mention

      celebrating the 45th anniversary of Father’s Day
      by Michael Virga
      The Writer's Block