For When You Wake

by Siva Ramanathan
The Writer's Block
Honorable Mention, March 2016
Judged by Lee Slonimsky


Old man-asleep on the charpoy
you’ve heard of the wiry snake
that tunnels from ear to ear
making a ‘u’ curve in your jaw,
letting the venom froth at your open mouth.

Not for you the rubber like mud snakes;
or the pencil thin ones with a conical head on a tendril,
tender as a green shoot dangling above your head.

Only the ear tunneling snake is fit for you:
you who split a whole village,
leaving your family’s aruval blood-stained.


This startling and dagger-like poem, with its underlying emotion of justice, or revenge, or both, is not one to read alone in bed on a stormy night, especially in the tropics. Every one of its eleven powerful lines has a point it drives home with a purposeful and/or vivid image. It is an exceptional poem for both its economy, and how ominous it is. --Lee Slonimsky

  • July 2021 Winners

    • First Place

      The Three Fates
      by Laurie Byro
      The Waters

      Second Place

      If I Needed Someone
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Writer's Block

      Third Place

      free spirit
      by Billy Howell-Sinnard
      The Writer's Block

  • June 2021 Winners

    • First Place

      Longfellow’s Wife
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Waters

      Second Place

      In My Next Life I Want to Return as an Animal
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Writer's Block

      Third Place

      A Windy Walk
      by Paul A. Freeman
      The Write Idea