Winning Poems for June 2018

Judged by R.T. Castleberry

First Place

Poem in Exile in the Style of Neruda

by Ken Ashworth
The Writer's Block

Thoughts are of you, my Cuba.
How your history bruises the world.

The sugar white sands of Baracoa
my sister and I bathed in the sea,
moon on her sleek, naked body

as we watched the Soldados
drop bombs on the Sierra Marstre
that quickened the fires of Fidel.

I remember old women washing clothes at Malecon, using soap
made from pan grease and lye.

They beat the rocks with their laundry as if extracting confessions,
stretch it on the seawall to dry.

Los Barudos- the bearded ones,
took the streets of Habana.

I sang with you O Cuba.
Our hearts soared high,
skin sewed to each other.

The firing squads of Guevera,
on the outskirts of the city.
They blindfolded you my dark
beauty, stuffed a rag in your mouth

I wept into my hands like a woman.
Your blood soaked breast repulses.
My wound is too old to bandage.


the perfect kind of successful political poem, one that fuses history (Castro’s takeover of Cuba) with the personal: I remember old women washing clothes at Malecon…/They beat the rock with their laundry as if extracting confessions… --R.T. Castleberry

Second Place

Either February or March

by Brenda Morisse
Wild Poetry Forum

I am wintertime at the brink of an introduction
my keepsakes etched into my hands –
the laugh lines, worry, and chain links of fate.
Triangles that confine until wrinkled.

The magical synchronicity, how the palm ages with a new transparency,
just as well, I’m too tired to pretend,
I flaunt my spine of light. The brittle loneliness and its indifferent posture –
how they pull at my skin. I’m a frozen lake. I’ve stopped planning for the thaw.

The inflexible ice redeemed by the vibrancy of reflection.
That stubborn cold. I wriggle my feet into socks. I am warm,
I throw off the covers, I am cold, I cover up again.
The strained tempo beneath my cleavage accompanies me, I undress

the walls of their self portraits. I rearrange the closet, pair earth
with the gold tones, prepare for longer days that appear to be tightening.
Spring! The noose of my life line chokes me.
I dangle the stone of my legs.


from first to last, filled with evocative imagery that delineate the aging process: I am wintertime at the brink of introduction; I’m a frozen lake. I’ve stopped planning for the thaw; I dangle the stone of my legs. --R.T. Castleberry

Third Place

Accidental Writer

by Bernard Hamel
Wild Poetry Forum

I take them out, one at a time
watch them speak to each other
recite alphabet like hymns
until the word is a poem,
and when there’s enough
they’ll take me to the dance
romance me in language
maybe think themselves a novel,
spell my name correctly;

or just put them carefully
inside my pillow
and when the dreams end
I’ll lay them out on the sheets
and read love letters
I write in my sleep…


a puckish look at dreaming the writing process --R.T.Castleberry

Honorable Mention

Mouse in April’s Winter

by Alison Armstrong-Webber
The Waters

The tremulous force in leaf litter, little claw feet.
Deathless brown oak leaves, the iris-thatched gulch,
a mycelium feast, underfoot— Creek sway, up-swollen.

Of all the places I have stepped this winter, Make my way
up Cedarvale ravine to your Valleyview rooms a force—
Rooms diminished to one room, to a room at Grace, your body‘s

turn a turn you cannot untwist from, unless given the help
you never wanted—— Medically assisted dying
is snatched away, we are reduced to medicating so you will not

go lost, go mad, losing the mind you feel yourself losing,
as you cry, How do I do this? Help me. Oh, no, oh no.
You call me by your sisters’ names, as one person,

and want me to get a message to Alison. I will.
Opening your mouth like a bird, waiting, I place
on your ruined tongue sections of mandarin, for thirst.

You say, we need “wisdom”, when i ask what I can do
for you. The elephant has given up self-portraiture,
all such contrived, imposed ideas, modesty, slanting lines.

The chain on its foot is the charm’s tinkle in a windless roar.
The elephant hears the merest footsteps of a mouse,
I read, at home, from The People’s Almanac.

And this re-ignites me.
A red fox trips lightly down Relmar Gardens hill,
as if to greet me returning from your empty apartment,

sun setting, white sky, soon to visit you again, at Grace
with shirts you can not pull off. The feel of the crocheted clip
on my grandmother’s fox stole catches in my throat, just

for a second— then the fox is passing me, we two,
passing one another with ease— It carries in the satchel
of its mouth softly unhinged, a rounded spattering

of white and grey, that image a zoom, I have camera eyes— !
could swear I’m becoming cyborg, or simply, Are there
new softwares being inserted into the grey in my head?

I have detected a delicate mechanics that skitters in place,
can clearly see now the feathery smear of brown blood,
and the strangest suggestion of a newborn kit, —

almost jubilation, for the fox carries the unknown
bird, with such safety, such care, then slips with it beneath
a solid black fence, to a house in a house,

and I can zoom— to the mouse’s glimmer of a past, glinting
wires, the same damp -from a shuddering sleep- wafer
as always, that could expertly, skillfully

slip through a crack between bones of the house
and the cage’s floor.



Honorable Mention

Sister Valeria

by Siva Ramanathan
The Writer's Block

And so she made me stay with her
for two years, teaching me how to look at
and for objects —
the hastily perceived precision
like the focusing of a lens;
wavering lights became static
liquids solid.

Valeria was my looking glass,
my pair of German lenses,
both convex and concave;
she showed me depth of a field;
I saw the Grotto Mary plus
the Infant.

Then Valeria, Valeria, Valeria.

She made me do Satan
elevating my acting prowess.
My friends called her Valerika,
meaning cucumber.

Divide with a bread knife,
give away a bite of chocolate
to the sweeper woman’s daughter.
I learnt to keep a pocket note book
for variant spellings, and a small box for
eating Threptin biscuits.

In short she made the Angels
of the Holy Angels come true.
She made me forgive Adelaide
and Berthela Sisters who always
wanted to see my Appa.



Honorable Mention

My Trip: The Last Siona Dream

by Don Schaeffer
Babilu

I was waited for hours
in the darkened corridor
below the stairs. Then I
had one more thing to do,
and someone told me
that the ship had come.
I began the climb
along the white wall.
It was familiar
but not the same.
At the top, the stair
curved behind its
barrier and it took
minutes to find the
end. The room was
warm with sun as I
reached the termination
of my climb. I finally saw her,
a lace dropped over
her head, hands on the
piano keys as she wrote.
I could see the
familiar fingers and almost
touch them with my eyes.
When she sensed me,
she made little
kissy noises with her lips.
There were no words.
Except that I said, I won’t come
back again. And cried.




  • July 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      The First Time I Drank With My Father
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Waters

      Second Place

      My Bicycle
      by Andrew Dufresne
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

      J. Alfred Prufrock Searches for Mrs. Right
      by Laurie Byro
      Babilu

  • June 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      Poem in Exile in the Style of Neruda
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Writer's Block

      Second Place

      Either February or March
      by Brenda Morisse
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

      Accidental Writer
      by Bernard Hamel
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Honorable Mention

      Mouse in April’s Winter
      by Alison Armstrong-Webber
      The Waters

      Honorable Mention

      Sister Valeria
      by Siva Ramanathan
      The Writer's Block

      Honorable Mention

      My Trip: The Last Siona Dream
      by Don Schaeffer
      Babilu