Winning Poems for February 2019

Judged by Ruth Bavetta

First Place

Not a Poem of Crows

by Ken Ashworth
The Waters

Grandma kept a crow named Herkimer,
claimed it told her things. It brought her
bits of mirrored glass, brass buttons
and once, a three dollar gold piece.

But I will not write a poem about crows,
not the four and twenty in a pie,
not the ones of Van Gogh who pecked
the face of sunflowers.

Not even the ones years ago in Charleston
who overtook the Pecan trees
before daylight when our bodies still fit
like origami on your pale Victorian divan.

The ones round here now are arrogant
they stretch on the phone wire,
steal snatches of conversation,
translate them into crow speak.

On my gate, a pair of tail feathers,
a warning: Leave this place while
you still can. This is no life, to
stay and not be written about.

"Not a poem of crows," the title boldly proclaims and just as boldly pushes us into the first stanza where it becomes obvious the title is a lie. There’s a crow immediately crowding its way in. We’re told again, no crows allowed, only to run into another and another, indeed what seems to be the beginning of an almost encyclopedic listing of crows from the speaker’s life, from past to present. Just when we think that’s all it will be, the final stanza exposes the raison d’etre of this most corvine of poems. This is indeed not a poem about crows, but a poem about resolving to leave a bad situation. --Ruth Bavetta

Second Place

Resolution to Laugh More

by F.H. Lee
The Write Idea

My daughter
gave me
a rock
painted red.
It had
two words
written on
its surface;
“Laugh More”.
The irony?
It made
me want
to cry.

We see them in doctor’s offices, in self-help books, on Facebook—those happyface posters and cheery objects touting the latest in cliched bromides that promise to bring us to a greater understanding and a happier life. In truth, they often make us feel even more inadequate or unhappy than we were before, convincing us of our own inadequacy. Big subject, short poem, but it does the job. --Ruth Bavetta

Third Place

The Nowhere

by Erwin Fernandez
Wild Poetry Forum

They occupy the spaces in between:
gaps of underpasses, beneath bridges,
broken fences, derelict homes: human mortar
filling spaces that others cannot, would not

dare to occupy. Their untethered existence
depends on the day to day, a passerby’s coin,
fast food leftovers, dumpster delicacies. One
step from invisible to non-existent. The world

moves around them like they had no mass,
or were on a different dimension altogether. When
they do encroach with a palm or rusted pan,
the world stares blankly at their touch screens.

We walk on telling ourselves it’s the system
not us, never us, it’s on social services. But one
slip and who knows where we land? When it’s
our hand outstretched, it’s time to get personal.

This poem boldly wades into one of the most difficult problems of our times, the hordes of homeless and impoverished, a segment of the population which lives not with us, but alongside us in a parallel existence. The best lines here are comment: “The occupy the spaces in between…” “One step from invisible to nonexistent.” --Ruth Bavetta