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

  • February 2019 Winners

    • First Place

      Not a Poem of Crows
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Waters

      Second Place

      Resolution to Laugh More
      by F.H. Lee
      The Write Idea

      Third Place

      The Nowhere
      by Erwin Fernandez
      Wild Poetry Forum

  • January 2019 Winners

    • First Place

      How the Wind Works
      by Alison Armstrong-Webber
      The Waters

      Second Place

      Sleep Walker
      by Brenda Levy Tate
      PenShells

      Third Place

      The Woman Who Grew up in My House Finds Me on Facebook and Comes to Take a Look Around
      by Antonia Clark
      The Waters