In Mission Trails Wilderness Park

by Fred Longworth
PenShells
Second Place, November 2013
Judged by Kelly Cherry


A stream bisects Oak Canyon.
I stand on one side; a derelict Ford Pinto
sprawls on the other.

It lies inverted, like the husk of a dead insect.
As rust reclaims the cab on the far side
of the rivulet, close by, beneath a laurel sumac,

the soil digests the remnants of a squirrel.
A little ways up the opposing hillside,
a coyote slows its pace. It stares at me

with caution, then turns and sniffs the air.
Against this silence, there’s a deeper
silence in the white sage and chamise.

Both coyote and interloper stand motionless.
Everything is caught in the caesura
before sunset, when lungs of chaparral

release first breath, and shadows loom
larger than the things they trail.
It’s a glimpse into a slightly shifted world,

where time-out is a parcel of the game—
the living, the dying, the cycling and recycling,
mysteriously switched to standby—

so that only after sunset gives a nod
will clay resume the path toward earth,
and earth the task of birthing clay.


SECOND PLACE goes to "In Mission Trails Wilderness Park," a poem that beautifully describes a natural scene that includes a "derelict Ford Pinto," a canyon, and a stream. "[T]he caesura / before sunset," a stunning phrase, heightens our feeling that we are waiting for something, our expectancy. All, as the poet says, is on "standby." --Kelly Cherry

  • November 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      Radium Girls
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Writer's Block

      Second Place

      The Unreliable Narrator
      by Andrew Dufresne
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

      Birds 2
      by JJ Williamson
      Babilu

      Honorable Mention

      Too Late
      by Billy Howell-Sinnard
      The Waters

  • October 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      The Emails Go Unanswered
      by Lois P. Jones
      PenShells

      Second Place

      Hidden Room
      by F.H. Lee
      The Write Idea

      Third Place

      The Penitent
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Writer's Block

      Honorable Mention

      You Can Call Me a Tough Cookie, But It Really Doesn’t Matter
      by Midnight Moon
      Wild Poetry Forum