Winning Poems for May 2018

Judged by R.T. Castleberry

First Place

A Brief History of Rain

by Antonia Clark
The Waters

Me standing in the rain and you
leaning close for our shoulders to touch,
the band screaming above the the storm.

Me standing in the rain and you
on your knees, slipping a paper ring
onto my wet and trembling finger.

Me standing in the rain and you
kicking the flat tire, regretting everything,
my feet held fast in the sucking mud.

Me standing in the rain and you
telling me how much we need it—
maybe the rain, maybe a break from it.

Me standing in the rain and you
expounding on cold fronts and pressure,
as if we were concerned with weather.

Me standing in the rain and you
watching from inside, a shadow
in the window, shaking your head.

Me standing in the rain and you
just a cipher, a name in the records.
You the absence that inhabits the rain.


Really fine use of a punchy repetition to relay the narrative of a relationship. Unsentimental and tough, with a wrenching conclusion. --R.T. Castleberry

Second Place

Oklahoma

by Dale Patterson
The Writer's Block

Near old photographs of oil fields
and dust bowl refugees
a Rock-Ola jukebox
plays Earnest Tubb.

I’m drinking shots, ready
to stop driving trucks, to start
selling cars for my brother
in East Sacramento.

The bartender pours another
and knows she is striking,
a Cherokee maiden
with masculine shoulders,
heavy eye liner
and black press on nails.

We talk about Huntington’s disease
and Guthrie’s divorce,
ribbons of highways
and Dorothea Lange.

A wagon wheel light
is a circle of fire
on the ceiling.

I confess to sorting things out,
that my wife has filed papers.

Moon Mullican is singing
‘Goodnight Irene’
a cowboy in red leather boots,
stitched on the side
with white Texas stars,
slow dances his partner
into a corner.


A beautifully created, detailed scenario of working class blues and whiskey talking over the jukebox. --R.T. Castleberry

Third Place

Driving Home From Santa Rosa

by Andrew Dufresne
Wild Poetry Forum

I was looking for a map to the destination,
knowing that you are always where you
need to be.

I see birds flying in random patterns, they are
not restless but driven. They are driven
to survive.

They do not complain about their wings.
They do not try to free caged birds.
They fly right by.

I was looking for a key to the kingdom
when there was no kingdom, only earth,
and everything exalted.

There is butchery everywhere the hungry
hope for more of what passes for glory,
but I am flying home.


Restless and driven, I like the repetition and a narrative line that may meander but rights itself quickly toward home. --R.T. Castleberry

Honorable Mention

Trans-figuration

by Guy Kettelhack
Wild Poetry Forum

Ever notice how, just at the pivot,
trigger, tipping point, the very brink
of the stupendous climax, just a hair’s-
breadth blink away from blasting
you ecstatically to trans-mutation
to fulfill the last requirement of your
most yearned-for trans-formation –
.
to requite the hunger for it to arrive
which, you know upon the impress
of a strictly private lifelong revelation,
has been why you had appeared, why
you’re still alive – you know how when,
just at that blink the nano-tiny last
scintilla of the thing is ready to be
.
breathed upon by God to bring about
that requisitely delicate igniting sigh –
hushed, pregnant exhalation of a hello
and goodbye – which opens all
the golden gateways to the ultimate
redefinition of trans-figuration –
ever notice, that’s when people die?
.
Presumably you haven’t, but you will,
at least if hungers as ferocious as
the ones that made Melvina spill (not fly)
off from a window sill pick you, as they
picked her, to face the sole condition
of the only realm that trapped her eye:
the unambiguous indifference of sky.



Honorable Mention

The Photograph

by Jim Doss
Wild Poetry Forum

Look past the tanned, laughing faces;
past the ease of friendship; past eyeliner
and braces, perfect skin free of worry lines.

The shadows around them say 11 a.m.,
hours since oyster boats slipped through the mouth
of the Potomac to dreg the bay’s beds.

In the corner you see empty docks,
gasoline pumps, a police boat swaying
chained to the pier, the waters much cleaner

than decades ago when industrial waste
and chemical froth choked out the rockfish,
suffocated the bivalves. Recovery can take years.

Now eagles and osprey swoop to snatch
any gleam of silver from the waters. You set a sweating
glass down on the table, slip into a kind of grace

you never see coming. Somewhere beneath the tides
a body floats out of sight, one of the boys
who jumped from a boulder on a dare,

or leap from the bridge out of despair, a lone figure
falling into the grey, swirling waters as miles
away skipjacks haul in nets heavy with mud,

shells, and eelgrass. What mother
could imagine her son lifted
by the cold hook as it drags along the bottom?

In the photograph, there’s no hint
of the tragedies to come, just the realization
the gates of suffering are always open and ready

to give birth—hair slick with womb juices, skin pearled
to a waxy smoothness, the body curled as it breaks
the surface, ready to sing out its wail of life.




  • October 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      The Emails Go Unanswered
      by Lois P. Jones
      PenShells

      Second Place

      Hidden Room
      by F.H. Lee
      The Write Idea

      Third Place

      The Penitent
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Writer's Block

      Honorable Mention

      You Can Call Me a Tough Cookie, But It Really Doesn’t Matter
      by Midnight Moon
      Wild Poetry Forum

  • September 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      Let Me End the Way the Dinosaurs Began
      by Guy Kettelhack
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Second Place

      Monotony
      by John Riley
      The Waters

      Third Place

      Astrophotographer
      by Brenda Levy Tate
      PenShells