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

  • March 2022 Winners

    • First Place

      September Heat
      by Andrew Dufresne
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Second Place

      At the Cancer Center
      by Terry Ofner
      The Waters

      Third Place

      At Last Ghazal
      by Greta Bolger
      The Waters

      Honorable Mention

      Died Last Fall
      by ieuan ap hywel
      The Writer's Block

  • February 2022 Winners

    • First Place

      Grand Central Station
      by Christine Potter
      The Waters

      Second Place

      Back Stage
      by Siva Ramanathan
      The Writer's Block

      Third Place

      VFW
      by Billy Howell-Sinnard
      The Writer's Block