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


  • December 2020 Winners

    • First Place

      Avaricious
      by Judy Kaber
      The Waters

      Second Place

      To James Bulger, aged 2, murdered February 1993
      by two boys aged 10 in Liverpool, England
      by Christopher T. George
      Babilu

      Third Place

      Dr. Pachango’s Mango
      by Jim Fowler
      Babliu

  • November 2020 Winners

    • First Place

      Notorious RBG
      by Laurie Byro
      Babilu

      Second Place

      To My Old Age
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Waters

      Third Place

      Beggar’s Lice
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Writer's Block