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

  • December 2020 Winners

    • First Place

      Avaricious
      by Judy Kaber
      The Waters

      Second Place

      To James Bulger, aged 2, murdered February 1993
      by two boys aged 10 in Liverpool, England
      by Christopher T. George
      Babilu

      Third Place

      Dr. Pachango’s Mango
      by Jim Fowler
      Babliu

  • November 2020 Winners

    • First Place

      Notorious RBG
      by Laurie Byro
      Babilu

      Second Place

      To My Old Age
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Waters

      Third Place

      Beggar’s Lice
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Writer's Block