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

  • January 2019 Winners

    • First Place

      How the Wind Works
      by Alison Armstrong-Webber
      The Waters

      Second Place

      Sleep Walker
      by Brenda Levy Tate
      PenShells

      Third Place

      The Woman Who Grew up in My House Finds Me on Facebook and Comes to Take a Look Around
      by Antonia Clark
      The Waters

  • December 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      Tires
      by Kenny A. Chaffin
      Babilu

      Second Place

      Scouring Pots While the World Ends
      by Elizabeth Koopman
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

      Poetry in the Cultural Revolution
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Waters