First Kiss at Fifty

by John Wilks
The Write Idea
Honorable Mention, April 2012
Judged by Shara McCallum


She had grown to look exactly like
herself, while I had just grown older.
Within the first five minutes, we spoke
more to each other than we had in
five years of school. She had photographs

of the class, but I could not find my
face in the black and white uniformed
ranks. She remembered me more fondly
than I deserved, though I had become
all the things I once despised. I was

Mister Suit’n’Tie, Mister Safe Pair
of Hands, Mister Never Takes a Risk,
Mister Home, Hearth and Family. She
kissed me thirty years too late, when it
could no longer make a difference.

I took a train home when she caught a
plane back to Australia. As she
drove her motorcycle across the
outback, I walked from room to room and
sometimes out into the back garden.


I admire this poem’s ability to take a situation that could easily become a cliché and rescue it from that predicament. The poem especially soars for me in the last two stanzas, in which the speaker’s regret for a life unlived is handled with grace and power. The “sometimes” in the last line of the poem is heartbreaking. --Shara McCallum

  • August 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      The World Is Moist in the Morning
      by Terry Ofner
      The Waters

      Second Place

      My Epitaph
      by Guy Kettelhack
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

      I kissed a tree
      by Alison Armstrong-Webber
      The Waters

  • July 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      The First Time I Drank With My Father
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Waters

      Second Place

      My Bicycle
      by Andrew Dufresne
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

      J. Alfred Prufrock Searches for Mrs. Right
      by Laurie Byro
      Babilu