by Cynthia Neely
Desert Moon Review
Honorable Mention, March 2012
Judged by John Timpane

The fog is in. We button coats against
the dank, and that which we don’t know

rises and parts, sets in again. Frost
would have us choose a road, mend a wall.

But we’d work too hard at it, digging up
old poems, pick and shovel, body

and soul, trombones moaning
like Mardi Gras on Bourbon Street,

instead of here, where we sit tonight
beneath these wind-crippled pines, no road,

no wall to choose or mend; instead, we tend
our wine, sip our liquor, lick our wounds,

like salted margaritas, limed green
as luna moths whose caterpillars soon

will spin cocoons, while days diminish,
nights lengthen, cryptic as years.

Could it be a mistake? What difference
would one road make?

As a reader, I can take a poem any way that suits me, and it suits me to treat this quizzical, smart effort as if it were an ars poetica of a sort. The art of writing (or maybe of being) entails choosing, or avoiding the choice of, a road that literally does not exist, making a choice one can’t see or know, existing in “that which we don’t know.” Choice itself is a hazard; it can be a bad choice; one can try too hard. I have no idea what the “it” in the penultimate line actually is, not that it’s legitimate to ask that at all. But it does sort of attach to the floating topic of choosing a way. I like the way metaphor and simile bear us away from recognizable referents, often by starting as clichés then going someplace unexpected: we “lick our wounds,// like salted margaritas, limed green/ as luna moths whose caterpillars soon// will spin cocoons.” The wounds we (already metaphorically) lick are like margaritas, which are as green as moths, and so on. The speaker, and his associates/friends, the “we” sitting beneath “these wind-crippled pines,” do nothing but sit and lick. Maybe that’s the “it” that could or could not be a mistake. And I do like the last attempt to blow the whole road/wall thing out of the water, with the last who-cares question. A poem that began with echoes of Sandberg and Frost ends cocooned in underminings. Very nicely done. ---John Timpane

  • May 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      A Brief History of Rain
      by Antonia Clark
      The Waters

      Second Place

      by Dale Patterson
      The Writer's Block

      Third Place

      Driving Home From Santa Rosa
      by Andrew Dufresne
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Honorable Mention

      by Guy Kettelhack
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Honorable Mention

      The Photograph
      by Jim Doss
      Wild Poetry Forum

  • April 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      (how to lose at) Kimberly’s Game
      by John Wilks
      The Write Idea

      Second Place

      A Legacy of Sorts
      by Paul A. Freeman
      The Write Idea

      Third Place

      Waiting for a bus at Armarnath Temple
      by Ieuan ap Hywel
      The Wriiter's Block