in an open field

by Billy Howell-Sinnard
The Writer's Block
First Place, April 2014
Judged by R.T. Castleberry


not knowing that soil
still clings to them
that their bones
yearn to be found
before they turn to dust

that the wind sings
through them
the endless song
of their former lives

that worms weave
a space for souls
the dead are convinced
will come to them
on a grey winter day

as sparrows foraging
in snowless patches
of last year’s stubble


Poe once wrote that the proper subjects for poetry were beauty, love, tragedy and death. For mortals, death is a constant concern; for poets, a primal conceit. Whether weeping over the lost or re-imagining the after-life as everlasting—vampire, zombie, avenging angel, we as humans return to death.

"in an open field" drew me back repeatedly, each reading raising it higher in estimation. A tightly written, spare lyric, it speaks beautifully and eloquently to the belief that death does not end consciousness, that there is “a space for souls/the dead are convinced/will come to them/on a grey winter day…” --R.T. Castleberry


  • 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