Winning Poems for June 2017

Judged by R.T. Castlebery

First Place

Frosted Garden

by ieuan ap hywel
The Writer's Block

Your dwarf Tangelo
is frostbitten,
rigor bristles the pulp     — 
Bernard Henrie, Winterset, 2007

Frost has struck and the garden rests
in a white dust, the lily frond has withstood
the worst and the cotoneaster has dropped
its leaves. A robin pecks at blackened berries.

Twelvetide is over, the fir tree
removed, cards bundled away,
the star taken down,
Epiphany is here.

We sit in the dining room
and drink coffee as the Dutch do
at ten. I drank to please her,
and now the ritual is part of me too.

A half finger of Almond cake
rests by my cup, my post-fest diet
has begun. She measures my days
like petite fours.

The hall keeps at 65 degrees,
the lounge stays at 70.
The south facing dining room basks
in the sun all day.

We settle into retirement
enjoying this late season of our lives,
we have time to watch
our robin peck at faded glories.


An anomaly in American life and poetry--a sweetly gentle lyric of a married couple settling into the loving rituals of aging. --R.T. Castleberry

Second Place

Hallways

by John Riley
The Waters

Yes dream in early morning
you are full of stones and softer
than the scent of a spring
the robins can never visit

roll awake in a dark room
to watch the world grow large
until it reveals itself small
hear the roof doves coo

that nothing is immortal
in the sky or in the sea
feel the morning tumble
to the bottom of the stairs

where the hearth is cold
wait before you follow
for the crawling light to pool
a slip for midnight’s mooring


A poem of contradictions (you are full of stones and softer/than the scent of spring...; to watch the world grow large/until it reveals itself small) opens its eyes to the hesitations of day's beginning. --R.T. Castleberry

Third Place

Caught In The Light Bucket

by Brenda Levy Tate
PenShells

SM0313 – age 13.6 billion years

When this beam first began, God may have slept
between the newest universe and the last. We give
a holy name to him; we credit his hands. The Sistine
finger tempts us with fires from no fires; lands
from no lands; suns wheeling backward
unsparked, to edges where nothing matters,
where matter is nothing.

All dross has vapoured away – time’s scintillae,
just like mine. Water and air now. I release gravity
from my arms; the scope sings, deep as rubbed glass.
We both listen to harmonics of the plasmic jar
while night brushes against us: its alto hum,
shushing around the observatory. Sky’s voice.
Then quiet.

I cant the reflector barrel, apply an eye,
as this oldest star in the cosmos waggles
its corona within my Milky Way – scooped up,
a spaceborn orphan that has since outlived every
possible parent it might have claimed.
I have drawn it now, too, from the rift between
where it started and where it needs to go.


Those normally adversarial disciplines of science and poetry meet to explore the largest of subjects--the cosmos. --R.T. Castleberry

Honorable Mention

Unwelcome Guest

by Sylvia Evelyn
Babilu

Battling the jaws of a river,
networks of apple groves
spread out with geometric precision,
wrought by gaunt men who came in droves
from a faraway continent
ravaged by war and incessant ills.
Pioneers armed with zealous intent,
unflinching, hungry too,
set up fortress camps
under the brows of Mapuche braves.

Who shall remember in our age,
or any other,
flickering oil lamps burning low,
guanaco hide dwellings of native nomads,
women cuddling black-eyed babes
under the vigil of Austral owls?

Only Earth drummed out the carnage
as if a tumor were knifing her bowels
in night-fires’ bloodied shadows.

Only this land’s pellucid dawns swathed with light
the newborn infant in some hollow,
beside its mother’s lifeless form.

Crushed by Remingtons, pencilled routes
and railroads slicing immensity,
Mapuche watched as orchards flourished
like checkerboards slashed out with swords;
as concrete dams and canals nourished
foreign fruit trees and poplars,
which secretly conspired to harbor
spirits and demons of the steppe’s infinity.

Child of nordic nations-
You’re a stranger to spears and arrows
of bronze painted bodies
your forebears banished
from plains Mapuche strode with mighty steps;
present, yes,
ancient before the unwelcome guest.

You never saw virginal valleys
exploding into strife,
nor watched guanacos and ñandues vanish,
as winka carved out furrows
on a quest for love and life.

How could I once believe
there were no legends other than mine,
or that no lips could sing of riches
nurtured by spirits of sky and rock,
as here I stood on a land
whose wounds bled from lances
driven into undefiled Earth,
which my own God would never heal?




  • September 2017 Winners

    • First Place

      Rodent Ulcer
      by Jude Goodwin
      The Waters

      Second Place

      Wild Beasts
      by Bernard Henrie
      The Writer's Block

      Third Place

      The Two Windows of My Room
      by Sivakami Velliangiri
      The Waters

      Honorable Mention

      Giving Thanks
      by Jim Doss
      Wild Poetry Forum

  • 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