Winning Poems for July 2017

Judged by Tim Mayo

First Place

Corton Beach Holiday Camp, Great Yarmouth

by Marilyn Francis
The Write Idea

Cycling clubs were popular then.
That’s where they met, two single cyclists,
soon to be tandem, one behind the other
like a pantomime horse in mufti.

The faded photo shows the three of us
side-by-side on a bicycle made for two.
My dad smiling at the photographer
me in the middle, keeping them apart.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, this poem succeeds in its economy of words to describe and suggest the underlying and changing relationships between two lovers who go on to have a child. The first stanza introduces the romance of this couple and sets the reader up for the deft second stanza surprise with the physical interjection of the speaker between the couple. Certainly the bicycle-for- two romance is over, but, as readers, we are left with the resulting family unit and left to decide the ambiguity of the jarring dissonance the poet suggests in the last line. On first reading of the second stanza, the parents seem to have become divided by the child/speaker . . . or we could read it that it is the speaker who acts as a referee in the middle of two battling parents? Either way the ambiguity is masterful in its sadness. --Tim Mayo

Second Place

Still Waltzing with You

by Allen M. Weber
Desert Moon Review

They freed you from the ICU,
and past the sterile seams
of whispering doors lay morning.
Small hours before a rosehip dawn,
you were scared, and I was too.
I’d stay by you the whole night through.

The nurses bustled through
to check your vital signs. You
sang the words you once danced to.
Red neon glowed between the seams
of window blinds. “Looks like dawn,”
I said, “but it’s three in the morning.”

It’s three o’clock in the morning
we’ve danced the whole night thru
and daylight soon will be dawning
just one more waltz with you
that melody so entrancing seems
to be made for us two—

you softly crooned the chorus to
Three O’clock in the Morning.
How right those lyrics seemed:
from bed to loo we’d waltzed on through—
rolling the IV stand with you—
a kind of grace before the dawn.

But as the sky just shy of dawn,
your freckled skin had darkened too
when cloud-shaped bruises covered you.
Your lilt did not allow for mourning—
we’ve danced the whole night thru—
it made my dread unseemly.

So while a candle seams
its winding sheet before the dawn,
the giving sun still filters through
the parting clouds, and bleeds into
the earth below. When mourning
doves coo, they remind of how you

would always say, They seem to call the rain.
And this dawned, a glimmer from my mourning:
Through this humming world, still I hear you sing.

After reading this poem I went to YouTube and listened to many different versions of the song, “Three O’clock in the Morning.” Listening to those renditions deepened my sense of how this poet was able to take this old standard and use it as a spring board to fashion a sestina which entwines the end words of the refrain of that song/waltz into a subtle elegy. Part of the success of any sestina has to be to keep it simple and keep the snse of flow natural as you write against the complex order of the end words, The poet plays on these structural end words in more ways than one and succeeds by not being trapped by them. --Tim Mayo

Third Place

The Aging Magician Speaks to His Reflection

by Laurie Byro
Desert Moon Review

Dear scepter moon and top hat, you’ve fooled me a time.
I wrote you honest and fearless, not this cumulus face

that yearns to be open, no longer able to conjure a tempest
like Ariel; I keep going off. This island is lonely, this life not

quite golden, I am a fish in a bowl ricocheting the glass.
I am a fangy moon about to bite my leash in three.

Old, older, ancient. I can’t do the trick to join the pieces
together. I want the lines in my hands to lead me to a better life.

Maybe I’ll pull another pelt from my hat, put on my best
toupee, make the women my age loosen their hips or lose

ten pounds. Maybe I’ll pass for sixty again, mesmerize
them with my silver wolf walking stick. I am not too old

for dreams. I don’t wish to see their grandchild’s graduation
pictures. Spare me ever seeing another selfie. My own girl,

Miranda, stopped speaking to me more than four decades ago.
I want to lasso the moon with silk scarves, dance under an orb

of diamonds, set my stick to howling. I want to pretend my bones
are growing tall, that I am not shrinking. I want to pretend I am

at a masquerade ball at the Plaza Hotel, an accountant with important
numbers to balance, not a fool with the usual tricks up my sleeve.

I want to meet a woman in blood-red silk that she will use to lasso
the moon over us. All my perplexed rabbits will escape into the free

world, transforming me. Not leave me with my collapsible silk
hat alone, except for those beasts I have named: Longing, Regret.

One needs to remember the kinds of standard tricks almost all magicians do, as well as your Tempest. This poem does a great balancing act between the comic and the true sadness of regret. There is wit as well some great lines in this poem. To wit:

“ . . . I want to pretend my bones
are growing tall, that I am not shrinking.”

Alas, don’t we all regret the lesser beings we turn into as we grow older. --Tim Mayo

Honorable Mention

Seeking Duende

by Richard Chase
Desert Moon Review

El infinito tango me lleva hacia todo. Borges*

Inside as deep as spirit allows
is a horizon, the full report
of what we know about the other,
but their soul remains concealed.

Tango opens to another’s spirit,
to dance together, release joy,
confidence, into the world,
the unknown at the heart,
vaulting pain to an exact present.

Between possession and loss,
balance shifts from your grasp,
into an emptiness that makes
non-emptiness come back alive.

Foundations shift, center aches;
you realize you both exist for want
of the other; you accept loss,
duende becomes the beauty of all;

sitting to the side, white haired,
unable to make the moves
that stunned partner and audience
in his day, the viejo’s memory
glissades across the floor.

* “The infinite tango takes me toward everything.”

Honorable Mention

Dr. Seuss’s Guide to Manly Health and Training

by Paul A. Freeman
The Write Idea

Hung over, half blind
from the sun’s sunny glare;
I was gluttony’s twin
and resembled a pear.

I sat beside Sally
who thought it a jape
to laugh at my plight
and my bodily shape.

So I said, “Step by step,
with deliberate stealth,
I plan to get fit
and regain manly health –
that wealth of good health,
I’ll regain it by stealth.”

I permitted myself
three times daily to eat
of fruit, veg and fibre
but zero red meat.

Those slammers and shots
and those gallons of ale
were things of the past
lest my regimen fail.

Each day of the week
I frequented the gym,
lifted weights and ran miles
till I ached in each limb –
getting slim,
till my figure was trim.

I’m now an Adonis!
Sally says, “It’s not fair!”
For alas, she alone
still resembles a pear.

Honorable Mention


by Sylvia Evelyn

In perpetuum, stilled sounds from your bedroom
check my futile gestures. The window opens
on oppressive air, air numbing my senses,
leaden air that’ll not suffer sounds anew,
tamed and smooth, departed in unsullied peace.

When the window’s unlatched there’s a hush:
sounds primed to make themselves present,
stay their headlong rush towards my waiting ears.
Each time it’s the same, and the sounds are the same,
dejà senti, magnetic in the stillness of memory.

If spontaneous sounds revisited, grief would return,
my wanton motions would astonish even the rain,
sounds sounds sounds of an essence gone;
brief muzzled beats would provoke pain,
un-stilled stillness causing havoc in time’s flow.

Everything would reappear, the sterile sorrow,
discordant singularities in endless succession,
echo of gesticulations unbolting the shutters.

No- No muted sounds from your vacant room:
sounds sounds, those sounds will not return.

Honorable Mention

celebrating the 45th anniversary of Father’s Day

by Michael Virga
The Writer's Block

(The idea of celebrating dads with an observance similar to Mother’s Day dates back to 1907. It caught on gradually,
and though Johnson made a presidential proclamation honoring fathers in 1966,  it was Nixon who signed the holiday into law in ’72    — BING )

I am given birth
not as sire
I am home-free just
as brother-son
(the Jack of HeArts)
I am their
strong torch

dying to attend & sing
for my parent’s wedding
in The Light
(what really happens on earth doesn’t stay on earth)
a UniSon
I continue to illuminate
with the drive of my pen

there is no death to do us part

legit love-child
(legible & literate, too)
born once and forever living proof
never looking among the dead
for the kingdom that is not of this world

always in Our Father’s eyes
as created
on earth as it is in Heaven

  • February 2019 Winners

    • First Place

      Not a Poem of Crows
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Waters

      Second Place

      Resolution to Laugh More
      by F.H. Lee
      The Write Idea

      Third Place

      The Nowhere
      by Erwin Fernandez
      Wild Poetry Forum

  • January 2019 Winners

    • First Place

      How the Wind Works
      by Alison Armstrong-Webber
      The Waters

      Second Place

      Sleep Walker
      by Brenda Levy Tate

      Third Place

      The Woman Who Grew up in My House Finds Me on Facebook and Comes to Take a Look Around
      by Antonia Clark
      The Waters