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


  • 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