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

  • March 2022 Winners

    • First Place

      September Heat
      by Andrew Dufresne
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Second Place

      At the Cancer Center
      by Terry Ofner
      The Waters

      Third Place

      At Last Ghazal
      by Greta Bolger
      The Waters

      Honorable Mention

      Died Last Fall
      by ieuan ap hywel
      The Writer's Block

  • February 2022 Winners

    • First Place

      Grand Central Station
      by Christine Potter
      The Waters

      Second Place

      Back Stage
      by Siva Ramanathan
      The Writer's Block

      Third Place

      VFW
      by Billy Howell-Sinnard
      The Writer's Block