Doris Gray pictures regret

by Jennifer Bennett
conjunction
Second Place (tie), August 2009
Judged by George Szirtes


the old woman has a
guilt edged
box on the wall
and in it sit her
confessions
two buttons
and she cuts through the wrists of
the doll her mother made for her sister
removing the buttons imbued
with a glistening green hate
with the wish it was her sister’s hands she had hacked off
with those sweet little scissors
in the shape of a heron
the shell that looks like a shoe
takes her walking the isthmus
where they said you would find nothing
grow nothing
leave nothing but footprints
and there it was
hard as love
a matchbox boat her daughter made her
so many years ago
before floating away
on a sea of years
wet with neglect
that tower of torn letters
small dried flowers
mothballs
dust
dust
dust


An interesting poem from the narrative point of view, moving through stages, developing rhetoric as it goes through its sinister twists and turns to great effect. There may be a difficulty in 'telling a story' that so clearly has a context outside the poem since poems generally have to be their own complete worlds. The emotional intensity of the last three lines must be coming from somewhere, presumably from the cutting of the wrists of the doll and that 'green hate'. The appearance of a they and a you in the middle - they disappear again - is a little disorientating. There is a really interesting question here regarding the world and the poem since, clearly, poems are set in the world and cannot be entirely self-referencing, but there must, I suspect, be a negotiation with that world within the terms of the poem. This feels a little like a dramatic speech from something longer. It would help me - my ignorance - to know who Doris Gray was. --George Szirtes

  • 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