Blade

by Jim Zola
The Waters
Second Place, June 2016
Judged by Joan Colby


When my father died my mother traveled
untethered as if he were the rope
and death the cutting blade.

One summer I pulled a buck knife on a boy
who bullied me. The black handle
a perfect fit for my fist, I flipped

the blade to let him see and hoped
my shaking was taken as passion,
as I do now, still. When the first girl I loved

dumped me, I walked through a plate glass door
and saw the white bone of my ankle
like a whispered secret. Years later,

she emailed from Guatemala to say
she was part of the revolution,
that I revolted her and should stay far away.

My mother phoned from Alaska to ask
if I needed a new winter coat.
When my father’s heart stopped, while he shopped

at the mall, the paramedics sliced
his down ski jacket from top to bottom.
I know because I saw it hanging

like a tired flag of surrender
in my mother’s closet that first Christmas
she spun out into the world without him.


Using the metaphor of a knife, the poem treats the subject of a father’s sudden death. The writer confronts the topic head-on, then takes us on a journey through repeated injuries and disappointments to evoke the “tired flag of surrender” that epitomizes the loss. --Joan Colby

  • February 2020 Winners

    • First Place

      My Beautiful Body
      by Mary MacGowan
      The Waters

      Second Place

      Chickadee
      by Allen M. Weber
      The Waters

      Third Place

      Foliose
      by Peter Halpin
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Honorable Mention

      Only the Good Things
      by Paul A. Freeman
      The Write Idea

  • January 2020 Winners

    • First Place

      consider crossing
      by Allen M. Weber
      The Waters

      Second Place

      Blast
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Waters

      Third Place

      The Elucidating Imbecility
      by Guy Kettelhack
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Honorable Mention

      Love Letters
      by K.R. Copeland
      The Waters