1980

by Mitchell Geller
Desert Moon Review
Second Place, February 2008
Judged by Fleda Brown


Before the South End had been gentrified
and not a single latte had been brewed
on Tremont Street’s still raffish, dodgy side
there was, on Union Park, an interlude

of wanton joy we later saw collapse;
a brief, Edenic interval of grace
before the second-hottest guy at “Chaps”
bore lurid lesions on his handsome face,

and soon, in weeks too sickeningly swift,
required — at thirty — that bony white cane.
Six short months and his mind began to drift,
in gaunt, enfeebled, piteous waves of pain.

We soon, alas, grew used to sights like this,
the idyll having changed to an abyss.


When a sonnet is good, it holds in a great deal of passion, using the struggle of the lines to keep it from flying apart in anguish. Here is a poem, maybe the only one like this I've seen, that eulogizes the "Edenic interval" before AIDS began its rampage in the gay communities. The voice in the poem is authentic, the language interesting ("Tremont Street's raffish, doggy side") and sometimes perfect--"that bony white cane." Although the couplet feels weaker than the rest, the end-rhymes "like this" and "abyss" do exactly what they need to do, pull us into the darkness. --Fleda Brown

  • December 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      Tires
      by Kenny A. Chaffin
      Babilu

      Second Place

      Scouring Pots While the World Ends
      by Elizabeth Koopman
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

      Poetry in the Cultural Revolution
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Waters

  • November 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      Radium Girls
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Writer's Block

      Second Place

      The Unreliable Narrator
      by Andrew Dufresne
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

      Birds 2
      by JJ Williamson
      Babilu

      Honorable Mention

      Too Late
      by Billy Howell-Sinnard
      The Waters