a note to ms clifton

by Kiwanda Paul
PoetryCircle
Honorable Mention, May 2012
Judged by Shara McCallum


if there be a history for salt
in a black woman’s vibrations

and there be a gathering of poet tribes
to carry a female name across water

and if there be an anthem to hum
for the making of old bones

and there be a single root ribboning
through dahomey soil towards my daughter’s hands

i say lucille if there be a truth
this be the time for you. you. you.

and your twelve fingers


I was drawn to this elegy for the wonderful poet Lucille Clifton. The poem pays homage to Clifton by imitating her style and offering lines that are a kind of pastiche of those from Clifton’s own poetry, though revised and re-imagined in this context. The approach is a risky one that could fall flat but, instead, stands as a moving and fitting tribute. --Shara McCallum

  • March 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      Cuttlefish
      by Jim Doss
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Second Place

      Wings
      by Bernard Henrie
      The Writer's Block

      Third Place

      gutterball
      by Brenda Morisse
      Wild Poetry Forum

  • February 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      Nebraska, Summer
      by Greta Bolger
      The Waters

      Second Place

      Goldback Fern
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Writer's Block

      Third Place

      Negotiatin’ Wi Demons (For wee Rabbie Burns)
      by John J. Williamson
      PenShells