Winning Poems for December 2017

Judged by Michael Larrain

First Place

Cancer

by Jim Doss
Wild Poetry Forum

In your delirium you spoke,
the morphine drip supplying the muse.

Crows are standing in a field of white mud,
leaving hieroglyphs for the clouds to read.
No, they are standing above the mud,
they are flying without their wings.
They are fighting over the body
of some kind of animal
flattened by a tire, smashed by something
it couldn’t see coming, it’s sacrifice
enough to keep the murder going.

As you talked I bathed your grey body
with a sponge afraid your skin might come off
at my touch, felt the cold of your limbs against
the warmth my hand absorbed from the soapy water.
I washed around the ports in your abdomen
that drained the infections, the port in your chest
that took in the drugs that no longer worked,
felt the lumps like those small hills in Greece
where we spent our honeymoon overlooking the Aegean.

Yes it was blue, crystalline blue
like the topaz of your eyes,
the ring I gave you after our first child,
the coldness that overtakes me.
I am nothing now, nothing
but a thin vessel of air,
a soul with barely a body. When I drift off
into the wind toward that other place,
when I am no longer with you
I will send a message, an unexpected
message of love. You’ll keep wondering
is that my sign everywhere you look–
the green eyes of a cat, the hummingbird stilled
in mid-flight, the unknown boy who stops
you in the street and asks for a hug–
is that my sign as year after year goes by.

Hurry, the crows are hungry.


It is not only that the painful material is handled with such great sensitivity and grace, but that by use of the alternating voices—the caretaker’s and the perishing beloved’s—we are granted entry into the intolerable anguish of this parting, and into the search for solace. Because it is dramatized, we too are living this dying. This is love at the end: The caretaker nearly paralyzed with the knowledge that we can do nothing to save the one who means the most to us, the beloved stretched between this world and the next, making plans for a playful haunting. The poem is simple and eloquent in its admission—we are all “smashed by something we couldn’t see coming.” And when we can see it coming, it still does no earthly good. A sweet lesson is implied: Be tender for as long as you can. Keep the crows waiting for a while. their turn will come. --Michael Larrain

Second Place

The Abandoned Woman

by Midnight Moon
Wild Poetry Forum

Trash strewn railroad yard, there she is,
sitting, grabbing crack-skinny knees

Near a brick wall blackened by
graffiti or soot
turning gold in the dusk

Dark hair curly, not grey,
probably under 40,

Already so rickety.
Eyes watch somebody more normal
with a dog

Such skinny eyes.
Where was this railroad woman last night?
So cold, last night.

Man scuffs along, tall and big
nobody looks. Skinny after being used for sex
then lying there limbs akimbo

It smells here
the dog carefully lifts its feet
Eagerly sniffing the ecstatic rails

Not getting close to the abandoned woman
with perfume stronger than God’s, thinks the dog.

But still, better to keep away
just in case.



Third Place

Taking a Tumble

by Paul A. Freeman
The Write Idea

She falls, tripped by the median,
sprawling into the street.
Pedestrians stream by,
chin up, face forward,
oblivious, by intent, to a cry of distress,
to an anomaly in routine;
immunised against a show of concern.

Thirty-something, in treacherous high heels,
she lies, stranded, stretched out in the road –
a fielder spotlit after a diving catch.
Her face, a mask of ashes, registers disbelief
at a feat of tumbling and her invisibility.
She glances from side to side, but London strides on.

A Samaritan breaks ranks, kneels, helps her up
with the aloof delicacy of a stranger.
More shocked than hurt, she tests her wobbly knees,
is guided by the elbow to a kerbside sanctuary,
is handed her crooked-armed sunglasses –
a memento of her mishap,
retrieved from their asphalt skitter.

With a ‘Thank you!’ their paths diverge.
She re-joins the river of disregard,
where kindness is a trickle,
where the herd spurns the stricken,
in a metropolis of automatons
programmed for indifference.




  • March 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      Cuttlefish
      by Jim Doss
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Second Place

      Wings
      by Bernard Henrie
      The Writer's Block

      Third Place

      gutterball
      by Brenda Morisse
      Wild Poetry Forum

  • February 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      Nebraska, Summer
      by Greta Bolger
      The Waters

      Second Place

      Goldback Fern
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Writer's Block

      Third Place

      Negotiatin’ Wi Demons (For wee Rabbie Burns)
      by John J. Williamson
      PenShells