Houses

by Ken Ashworh
The Writer's Block
First Place, September 2019
Judged by Lois P. Jones


The one you were born in
is a gas station now,
pumps in the playroom,
walk-up window for beer.
Daddy always drank too much.

They paved over the spot
where you buried Popeye
the parakeet in a shoebox.

The place your Mama passed away,
neck of a yard, noose-around drive.
She hung on his every word.

Her window boxes still studded
with jonquils that bloom
like madness in the spring .

The one you will die in.
Not much, to be honest,
but it’s home and the cats like it.

They will find you belly up
on the recliner, half empty
bottle of Dewar’s and a sheaf
of unfinished poems.


What is home and how does it define us? Is it the place we spent our earliest years? A beloved city? A country? Home is a part of both our conscious and unconscious thought. In “Houses,” home is not only a physical displacement but an emotional one where mama “hung on every word” and jonquils “bloom like madness.” The underlying metaphor is unsettling and aptly rendered in a few telling phrases which furnish the reader with both the narrator’s history and its present state. Close attention to enjambment and caesura allow the reader to feel the despondent tone a house can hold and its lingering legacy. --Lois P. Jones

  • 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