Winning Poems for March 2019

Judged by Ruth Bavetta

First Place

Noisy Mornings

by Bob Bradshaw
The Waters

When I wake in the morning it’s too quiet. My wife
is lying next to me, asleep.
The radio is silent
and I enjoy the rolling thunder
of the approaching garbage truck
when it rounds the corner.

Lids are clanged and cans being thrown aside
when my radio shrieks.
I squash its hysteria
and the cat jumps onto my hi-hats,
and it’s like a drawer full of silverware
is being shaken out
onto the floor. God I love
the sound of the world shifting
into another gear…
My wife throws aside
the blanket. “I’m late,”
she sighs, seventy years behind her
and the future approaching us head on
like a truck on a one way road, a rack
of bright lights atop its hood,
its horns blaring to get
the hell out of its

This is a poem filled with the juice of real life, rich in the sensory detail of clanging garbage cans, shrieking alarms and crashing hi-hats. The down-to-earth language and informal syntax make it look easy, like an Olympic diver executing a swan. But look again at the beautiful metaphors, the “rolling thunder” of the garbage truck, the hysterics of the radio, the cat’s turning over the silverware, the world shifting gears, and then the whopper at the end that clinches the poem, “the future approaching us head on/like a truck on a one-way road…horns blaring to get the hell out of its way.” Bravo. --Ruth Bavetta

Second Place


by Ieuan ap Hywel
The Writer's Block

He lay rigid, his tongue stuck
in a grimace, his last gesture to
this world with powder applied
carelessly that made him a clown.
Mam kept hugging his cadaver,
I gently drew her away. Laughter
leaked from the morgue attendant’s room.

The coroner too busy to see me
his voice sharp as a slaughter
man’s knife. ‘Was everything in order.’
I had doubts, but who could address
them. Dad’s gold ring missing,
his shattered femur, the outré orderly
claiming to be his doctor.

It rained all day, bucketed down,
the deluge as unrelenting as his demise.
Hours spent waiting for the certified entry.
Drove home in the dark, no time
to eat, white knuckles clenched on the wheel.

The hospital’s solicitor dismissed our complaints,
harangued us for not visiting, how could Sis visit
from Australia, half a world away. His letter stirred
up in me a savageness I am ashamed of.

I put away that anger, stored it for
another day;
now after twenty years I lay it out, disassemble
it, leave it to waft in the wind, fragments
that no one will remember.

Not an easy poem to read, the subject matter, the sordid details of death and attendant complications that twist grief into anger—the callous coroner, the missing ring, the unlikely doctor, the drive home, gripping the steering wheel in the driving rain. Then the final stanza redeems it all. It’s life, it’s in the past, it can be released. --Ruth Bavetta

Third Place

To the Woman with the Likely Smile

by Midnight Moon
Wild Poetry Forum

Chant to the Gods at midnight
stare out the bus window
at the Oregon pines,
giving way to palm trees at dawn

In the morning, Ensenada.
Reverse immigration,
the stars on your bracelet
reveal the belly button of the world
we all come from

Tell me, my star-dust,
tell me, my crazy nighttime dreamer
why you hold in your heart
all the reasons love can be found

Almost anywhere, from a park bench
in Hollywood to New Orleans
Boise-de-toi; tell me
when you hover by that flickering match

Far away and in some dark midnight
with a campfire your only friend
and Apacheland close enough to walk in a day
and you’re longing for the North, all the cities

Tell me, my sweetness,
why it’s only the moon and you
who know how to howl
in the night.

This free-wheeling poem is all over the place. Don’t look for a narrative, just absorb each moment and the bits of play and wisdom sprinkled throughout. Learn how to howl in the night. --Ruth Bavetta