Chickadee

by Allen M. Weber
The Waters
Second Place, February 2020
Judged by R.T. Castleberry


In the sudden night before the storm, a banditry foraged
beneath a ceiling of marbled clouds—a sky that has you
take stock of your losses. We sorted through a box of letters
and photographs, considering the history of each.

Oak popped and whined in the stove. My wife paused,
solemn with a picture—my brother, on his final visit. In fading
color, black cap awry, he’s still hand-in-hand with our sons,
racing headlong to somewhere beyond the focus of a lens.

How quickly snow covers the seeds that towhees scatter
to the ground. I went outside to fill the feeder. A windfall
chickadee, deceived by the light from our kitchen, fluttered
against the window, until, worn out, he let himself fall.

I pressed my finger to his breast. He hopped on, tilted
his black-capped head, and fluffed against the cold.
Weary one, the darkness bewilders us all. I’ll shelter you
in the holly hedge; by now an owl is watching from the barn.


With the final two stanzas, the poet performs a neat twist, taking the work from the well-observed if sentimental to somewhere healing--and vaguely threatening. --R.T. Castleberry

  • December 2020 Winners

    • First Place

      Avaricious
      by Judy Kaber
      The Waters

      Second Place

      To James Bulger, aged 2, murdered February 1993
      by two boys aged 10 in Liverpool, England
      by Christopher T. George
      Babilu

      Third Place

      Dr. Pachango’s Mango
      by Jim Fowler
      Babliu

  • November 2020 Winners

    • First Place

      Notorious RBG
      by Laurie Byro
      Babilu

      Second Place

      To My Old Age
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Waters

      Third Place

      Beggar’s Lice
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Writer's Block