Aftertaste

by Brenda Morisse
Wild Poetry Forum
Honorable Mention, July 2008
Judged by Tony Barnstone


She sways to this half-tone
day, staggers like smoke on a tight
rope of discontent. The depth
of forever passes for lilies
in this muckheap.
She has no head for the world
and its free-for-all needlework
of bill collectors
and spiteful windows.
The floor is cluttered with bottle
caps and cans, so she drapes
the sofa on the ceiling and hovers
cross-legged and side-by-side
with the overhead.
If you ask me, she isn’t a saint
although she’s very photogenic.
Whoever heard of a pin-up saint
hawking pilsner? Her mother nagged
her to marry rich, but her heart
was never a cash register.
It’s always been the beer: sweetish,
malty Munich and the drier,
hoppy Franconian. Her shoebox is filled
with bits of broken
jewelry: rhinestones and paste,
pot metal and silver. Can openers.
Hardware softened by careless
spools of wires, head pins, eye pins,
disheveled bracelets, wrong-way earrings.
Orphans in this box have a way of tugging
at heart strings. The ring is broken
in. Remember when they were head
over heels, before life warped the metal,
and marriage became too hard to wear?
The sum of her memories is tied in knots.
I heard she was run out of town, a bartender
with stigmata. It’s not hygienic. Our St. Pauli
call girl resists know-it-all-gravity
and the attraction it mandates,
contradicts spiked heels,
prods her to wear a bra. Pompous gravity,
bombastic gravity,
she says. I will walk
on water, I will stop time. I levitate.
Get over yourself!

She is younger than her adult children.
She prefers polka dot baring midriff tops.
Mardi Gras without Lent.


I was tempted to make this poem a winner because of its utter wildness, its relentless flow of metaphorical and surreal jabber, its swerving, unexpected rhetoric. Sometimes that craziness leads to a kind of mental disorder, mixed metaphors, a semantic slippage of adjectives that seem not exactly exact or exacting but certainly interesting. Add some sort of turn to the poem so it develops more, can or renew the few cliches (tugging at heart strings, head over heels), and this one could be a real keeper. --Tony Barnstone

  • 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

  • October 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      The Emails Go Unanswered
      by Lois P. Jones
      PenShells

      Second Place

      Hidden Room
      by F.H. Lee
      The Write Idea

      Third Place

      The Penitent
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Writer's Block

      Honorable Mention

      You Can Call Me a Tough Cookie, But It Really Doesn’t Matter
      by Midnight Moon
      Wild Poetry Forum