by Carla Conway
The Critical Poet
Honorable Mention, May 2007
Judged by Bryan Appleyard

“Life begins unless you interrupt it,”
the old man said and what, inside a womb,
is any kind of isn’t? There’s no room
for nothingness, not anything on earth
is nothing: only tiny, timid, not
ready yet, but moving. Whether want
attends it, still it is: it makes no matter
until the metal sharpens, comes to scatter…
then, the remnants leave because there is no room
for lifelessness inside a mother’s womb.
It wasn’t: I was disposed to disagree
but then it was, though maybe it would be
a cunning seahorse? Next time that we met,
it had gained a head and stunted limbs and yet
it maybe wasn’t – somehow, I supposed
I’d love it if it were. They found its nose
and something pulsing: heart. I started looking
for missing parts, each little finger crooking;
each foot unfurling. What a dreadful eye –
like a raisin, baked – are we sure that it’s alive?
It tested waters just as I would do,
pushing boundaries – now it was a “you”
to whom I crooned as it paddled around the place:
here be monsters. Soon there was a face –
     Are we sure that it’s alive? When did desire,
     all by itself, create? When did despair,
     all by itself, destroy? I tell you never:
     life/death, plus or minus, the endeavor
     needs a being. We are sure it is alive
     but life is a pinpoint, not sure to survive.
and soon there was a need to hurry out
of the straitened quarters. Both of us grew stout.
This small world couldn’t hold him, mama’s girth
stretched tight, horizons cracking. This is birth:
what starts as frail as smoke attains a crown –
his head, his little body cloaked in down –
triumphant as a king. His little hand
finds my fingers finally.
                         I finally understand.

A dramatic meditation in being, this holds the reader with a serious of gentle surprises. --Bryan Appleyard

  • December 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      by Kenny A. Chaffin

      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

  • 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

      Honorable Mention

      Too Late
      by Billy Howell-Sinnard
      The Waters