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by Bernard Henrie
poets.org
Honorable Mention, July 2008
Judged by Tony Barnstone


Sunburned
water lilies,
a dozen birds
fly up
stunned.

The cat moves
room to room,
stops.

Plums
flicker out.

Shiftless
radios turn off.

Afternoons
fall deaf.


I enjoyed the poem's small ambitions---just a little sketch, some atmosphere, some sound pyrotechnics, spare words and no words to spare. The cat and the plums and the ambition evoke William Carlos Williams in his Imagist/Objectivist phase, but the atmospherics I think recall more the small, gorgeous poems of Jean Follain. It's hard to write a good Imagist poem. A Chinese shi hua (poetry talk) says it best:

Plain and Natural: First master elegance, and then strive for the plain style. Nowadays many people write clumsy, facile poems and flatter themselves that they've mastered the plain style. I can't help laughing at this. Poets know that simplicity is difficult. There are poems that illustrate the rigor the plain style demands:

Today as in ancient times
it's hard to write a simple poem.
by Mei Yaochen

The lotus flower rises from clear water,
naturally without ornament.
by Li Bai

Plain and natural lines are best.

from Sunny Autumn Rhymed Language

--Tony Barnstone

  • March 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      Cuttlefish
      by Jim Doss
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Second Place

      Wings
      by Bernard Henrie
      The Writer's Block

      Third Place

      gutterball
      by Brenda Morisse
      Wild Poetry Forum

  • February 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      Nebraska, Summer
      by Greta Bolger
      The Waters

      Second Place

      Goldback Fern
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Writer's Block

      Third Place

      Negotiatin’ Wi Demons (For wee Rabbie Burns)
      by John J. Williamson
      PenShells