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

  • 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