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

  • June 2020 Winners

    • First Place

      Escape at the Speed of Transience
      by Peter Halpin
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Second Place

      The Palace Hotel
      by Paul A. Freeman
      The Write Idea

      Third Place

      Camping
      by Mike LaForge
      The Waters

  • May 2020 Winners

    • First Place

      Burying My Brother
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Waters

      Second Place

      The Asian man who walks past the balcony
      by Daniel J. Flore III
      Babilu

      Third Place

      Five Hundred Yards from Home
      by Richard Moorhead
      Wild Poetry Forum