Illegal #2

by Sergio Ortiz
Wild Poetry Forum
Third Place (tie), September 2009
Judged by George Szirtes


She makes it difficult
to ignore the wet clothes
on a man’s back

as he wanders into la migra’s
office for a 24-hour stay,
or a free jet ride home.

She’s too alarmed to remember
the two daughters left behind.

Umbrellas keep her in the shade
while officers bring tamarind flavored
snowballs to douse her dehydration.

They wick the sweat off her breast,
keep her armpits from staining,
stinking the robe.

Tomorrow she’ll rattle all this away
like cows shake off flies.


This is succinct, well shaped, the language high register but subtle and supple. "They wick the sweat off her breast" is nicely dropped in. And the subject is, of course, compassion and its lack but does not make a great dramatic gesture either way, retaining its distance without coldness, out of a kind of respect. --George Szirtes

  • May 2019 Winners

    • First Place

      I think of the colour purple
      by Alison Armstrong-Webber
      The Waters

      Second Place

      Swimming in Twilight
      by Peter Halpin
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

      In another country with strangers
      by Greta Bolger
      The Waters

  • April 2019 Winners

    • First Place

      Furiously Overcome by Stars
      by Guy Kettelhack
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Second Place

      Ides of March
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      The Write Idea

      Third Place

      Natural History
      by Antonia Clark
      The Waters