Bird Caller

by Daniel Barlow
The Maelstrom
Third Place, April 2007
Judged by Bryan Appleyard


By twenty-eight I’d moved to Idaho
from Auckland, got the girl, the job, the car.
My Mum came once, but said it was too far
and never made the trip again. I know
she would have loved the way the sycamore
transforms the yard and those on either side
with autumn drifts. When Luke was born I cried
to know she wouldn’t be there any more.

Yet sometimes, through the kitchen window, dawn
bears rising sounds that call the winter brave.
I hear the furtive trilling of the birds
and catch the gentle timbre of her words,
her tutelage that lives beyond the grave,
reminding me to go and rake the lawn.


This poet set himself a difficult task--writing a strict sonnet in a relaxed, conversational style. He pulls it off by sneaking a strong but easy rhythm into the lines. The poem doesn't fall from its own fiction into excessive directness, a common crime with naive sonnet attempts. It is, simply, very complete and lovely. --Bryan Appleyard

  • December 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      Tires
      by Kenny A. Chaffin
      Babilu

      Second Place

      Scouring Pots While the World Ends
      by Elizabeth Koopman
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

      Poetry in the Cultural Revolution
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Waters

  • 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