Winning Poems for June 2019

Judged by Melissa Studdard

First Place

Song for Picnic Ants

by Andrew Dufresne
Wild Poetry Forum

I can’t believe in many things that others marvel at.
I can’t say which ones are which.
The selfish catfish isn’t a bottom feeder, but prefers the deep.
Put that in your bosom and inflate it.

We will survive through the era of non-survival at last.
I can’t say when anything is over.
The generous kangaroo that asks for food will get it quickly.
Your mask is falling into mine.

Check everything, even this poem, which lies low.
I can’t begin to fact check imagination.
The narcotic breath of the inchworm has been known to paralyze.
Your blessed approach cheers the patients.

When the day has gone, the night will go as well.
There is a rolling rhythm to endlessness.
Everything will end someday. You won’t be there with luck.
The journey to safety has killed more than you believe.


In what initially appears to be a string of non sequiturs, “Song for Picnic Ants” offers a fascinating look at relationships among knowledge, understanding, and belief. The irreverent tone (“Put that in your bosom and inflate it”) further skillfully disrupts the already shaky ground of what we think we know, supplanting it instead with unanswered questions and the uncomfortable wisdom of reckoning. The last line, especially, pierced me. --Melissa Studdard

Second Place

Fragile

by Kendall Witherspoon
The Waters

After making love, she whispered
in my ear the start of his name.
We both ignored it, like it was
a mediocre glass of red wine, or
a fly on the bedroom window.

I thought it didn’t bother me,
together five years, almost,
but our life still fragile as a tomato
plant rushed to the April garden.
Later planting purple lettuce,

both of us tried to erase the slip
with the soil and sun we loved.
I had to, in my smart ass way,
ask if she knew I was not him.
She came to me, squatted

in the row, held my weak hand
and said I love you, and only
you. You believe that, right?
And I know she said you, but
I heard his name three times.


Operating within a beautiful economy of language, “Fragile” says so much and employs such fitting, easy-to-digest similes. By leaving out extended context, the poet creates an especially powerful last stanza that primes the reader to not want to believe the lover. This makes the last line, regardless of what is actually in the lover’s heart, ring like an incantation to truth. --Melissa Studdard

Third Place

Good Friday, St. Peter’s Anglican, The East Bronx

by Christine Potter
The Waters

I remember a white blink of lightning through blue and gold
Victorian stained glass as we sang The Passion, a stuttering

roll of thunder and the choir loft humid as the inside of a tulip.
For five minutes a crazy gush of rain. Ten minutes later, sun.

When we went outside, the air was a dank sweater and our
cars berry-bright, water-spangled, a little silly. Traffic flashed

and beeped around Westchester Square. Steam rose in skinny
fingers from the sidewalk and the cemetery beside the church

vibrated, much too green for belief. The sky still complained
somewhere out over Long Island Sound and the little white

chicken who’d survived somebody’s secret graveside Santeria
rite kicked at the grass, pulling worms from the soft, wet earth.


Though a snapshot of a moment in time, “Good Friday, St. Peter’s Anglican, The East Bronx” bustles with activity and unspoken ideas that, through allusion, expand far beyond the horizon of the literal world of the poem. The description is beautiful throughout, and the shifts in scale from huge to small keep the reader ever alert, ever interested. --Melissa Studdard


  • September 2019 Winners

    • First Place

      Houses
      by Ken Ashworh
      The Writer's Block

      Second Place

      Algernon Charles Swinburne
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Writer's Block

      Third Place

      Arbeit Macht Frei Inc.
      by Jim Fowler
      Babilu

  • August 2019 Winners

    • First Place

      Chanticleer
      by Alison Armstrong-Webber
      The Waters

      Second Place

      Last Game of the Season
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Writer's Block

      Third Place

      The Fine Print of Rescue
      by Andrew Dufresne
      Wild Poetry Forum