Born with a Burden

by Lee Crowell
Wild Poetry Forum
Third Place, February 2015
Judged by Ned Balbo


The grasp of my son’s hand around my throat,
his growl that a blood brother sniper friend will
put a bullet in my head doesn’t seem to crush me
as completely as when I retell the event in this oak
paneled chamber seated behind a table with a single
black microphone. Because I know she is listening,
the first connection I finally make with the system and I
can easily break down but right now my job is to get the story
told right. Two uniformed deputies and a court reporter seem
to soak in my words and I can almost hear them swear thankfulness
to their gods that they are not me. In the end she grants my request
and I walk out of this old stone building with an order that tells him
not to come back. Tonight I lie back on the couch. All I see is me
and him the last time we pedaled bikes to Flood’s for beer and
wings. Eight stapled pages lie on my dresser to protect me.


A plainspoken poem tracing a parent’s response to a son grown dangerous. In its unadorned language we confront the empty protection offered by a court order against the emotional discord and very real fear that will probably last a lifetime. --Ned Balbo

  • 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