About George and his Feeding a Street Rat

by Alex Nodopaka
PenShells
Third Place, January 2014
Judged by Robert Lee Brewer


When my dear friend and I visited Alcatraz Island
we were entranced by paying a call to the cell where
we thought the Birdman of the Rock resided.

Back home we joked about that day
knowing inmates befriended mice, cockroaches,
flies and angels. That was many years ago.

George died before the television monitor,
his Greek fisherman hat askew
keeping his bald pate unnecessarily warm.

Captivated, his glazed eyes were still focused
on the snowy static of the plasma screen.
The tape still, inside the player,

a classic black and white movie,
Birdman of Alcatraz. I wonder if the wild rat
he fed nightly in his kitchen

misses the cheese of him as much as I still do.


One thing that stuck with me the first time I read this poem is the subject matter: Alcatraz, the Birdman, and his rat. An interesting (and focused) subject is always appealing, but this poem does a few more things I like. First, it offers up a lot of details about both the Birdman and the narrator. Second, the cheesy line at the end of the poem works because it risks failure. --Robert Lee Brewer

  • July 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      The First Time I Drank With My Father
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Waters

      Second Place

      My Bicycle
      by Andrew Dufresne
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

      J. Alfred Prufrock Searches for Mrs. Right
      by Laurie Byro
      Babilu

  • June 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      Poem in Exile in the Style of Neruda
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Writer's Block

      Second Place

      Either February or March
      by Brenda Morisse
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

      Accidental Writer
      by Bernard Hamel
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Honorable Mention

      Mouse in April’s Winter
      by Alison Armstrong-Webber
      The Waters

      Honorable Mention

      Sister Valeria
      by Siva Ramanathan
      The Writer's Block

      Honorable Mention

      My Trip: The Last Siona Dream
      by Don Schaeffer
      Babilu