Flowering Chestnut Trees, Auschwitz

by Bob Bradshaw
The Waters
Honorable Mention, May 2016
Judged by Joan Colby


Flowering chestnut trees foam
with blossoms, the heavy sighs
of the sea pouring through the branches

as we lean against our spades.
When an SS officer glances
in our direction

we furiously pick
at dusty scabs where potatoes
are to be planted.

We break for dinner,
soup so thin it could have been ladled
from a rain barrel.

At dusk we shuffle back to camp,
past the station with its piles
of luggage, purses, furs…

Every day is the same, Albina,
but at night I dream of you,
and in the morning it helps to know

you’re alive, working in the fields.
Your shaved head beading
with sweat, I pray you can steal

time in the shade of these chestnuts
–like school girls on holiday,
sporting white flowers
in their hair.


Expertly written reflection on how beauty can survive in the human heart despite the worst circumstances. --Joan Colby

  • March 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      Cuttlefish
      by Jim Doss
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Second Place

      Wings
      by Bernard Henrie
      The Writer's Block

      Third Place

      gutterball
      by Brenda Morisse
      Wild Poetry Forum

  • February 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      Nebraska, Summer
      by Greta Bolger
      The Waters

      Second Place

      Goldback Fern
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Writer's Block

      Third Place

      Negotiatin’ Wi Demons (For wee Rabbie Burns)
      by John J. Williamson
      PenShells