brief

by Dale McLain
Wild Poetry Forum
Second Place, May 2011
Judged by Judith Fitzgerald


I found the blue one on the bottom of the cage,
dead in the way that only birds can be,
a feathered husk. It weighed no more
than the memory of an unremarkable day.

I might have worn it on a thread, an ornament
of sky and sad curled feet. Things die.
We are such unheeded orphans, afterthoughts
at best. Our histories are barely mounds
upon the earth’s resilient back. Our stories

find no audience. The long nights consume
the heart, the heft of bone, the light
that someone might have cherished.
We are fistfuls of feathers, so insubstantial

we fear the wind and the crush of wheels.
It would take so little for us to fall,
to be wrapped in a shred of lace
with only a suggestion of blue to mark
an epoch that once was winged.


An outstanding lyric among many cut-above compositions this quarter, "Brief" immediately captures its reader's attention laying down exquisitely original lines and startling breath-catcher phrases — from the way "it weighed no more / than the memory of an unremarkable day" to "an ornament of sky" or "the earth's resilient back" (identifying but a trio of its stunners) — that build towards its subtle conclusion concerning the fragility and tenacity of both our humanity and our environment(s), those grounded in the sensorium and those founded upon physiological, psychological, and bedrock standstill. Profoundly gentle yet never maudlin, wistful yet never wanton, "Brief" dishes up an imaginative slice of living better electromagnetically meshing in the moment while simultaneously transcending it. Finely honed to a near-elegiac exactitude, the poem sticks to one's ribs, its many layers consummately polished and supremely controlled by inevitable stanzaic arrangements to bring the work's persuasive — although hardly pedantic — ingredients together in a veritable food-for-thought feast. Form and content blend seamlessly, oddly complementary, given jouissance's brief ecstasies, unevenly accurate, drolly contained, and masterfully restrained. Unforgettably lovely. Why? Primarily because "our stories / find no audience" (but "Brief" nevertheless preserves them with compendious care and precision). — Judith Fitzgerald

  • August 2017 Winners

    • First Place

      Seasoned with Love
      by Eira Needham
      PenShells

      Second Place

      Ill-used
      by Paul A. Freeman
      The Write Idea

      Third Place

      A Note for Perilous Times
      by Fred Longworth
      PenShells

      Honorable Mention

      Whatever Glorious Else It Is
      by Guy Kettelhack
      Wild Poetry Forum

  • July 2017 Winners

    • First Place

      Corton Beach Holiday Camp, Great Yarmouth
      by Marilyn Francis
      The Write Idea

      Second Place

      Still Waltzing with You
      by Allen M. Weber
      Desert Moon Review

      Third Place

      The Aging Magician Speaks to His Reflection
      by Laurie Byro
      Desert Moon Review

      Honorable Mention

      Seeking Duende
      by Richard Chase
      Desert Moon Review

      Honorable Mention

      Dr. Seuss’s Guide to Manly Health and Training
      by Paul A. Freeman
      The Write Idea

      Honorable Mention

      Resonance
      by Sylvia Evelyn
      Babilu

      Honorable Mention

      celebrating the 45th anniversary of Father’s Day
      by Michael Virga
      The Writer's Block