La Bocca della Verita

by Lois P. Jones
PenShells
Second Place, October 2014
Judged by Philip Belcher


the heavens are a hoary chowder
a Pavonazzo marble
over the San Francisco bay
and there’s just one gash
of sun as if a god grew tired
of darkness

a wound where light
has ripped through the mouth
of truth

you know the legend –
the one which dares us
to place our hand inside
the gaping hole

to slip out of a body
and enter the hollow
is to watch the lie
fall away

the sky strips me
of desire
you are the bird
who comes so near
fly closer       I know
you fear being reduced
to poverty in human arms
I will be the woman who lets go
of her angel

we kill       we burn
we empty into the mouth
of the river

the god Oceanus is here
to wash our sorrows

into the Tiber
but we can’t remember why


This poem employs inventive and precise imagery to explore the nature of truth and relationships, of security and freedom. The first two stanzas are the most powerful: the four images—heavens as a “hoary chowder,” “one gash / of sun,” a god tiring of the dark, and “a wound where light / has ripped through the mouth / of truth”—do the work that no explication can do. The poem also treats the reader to a complete narrative arc when it returns in the closing lines to the image of the mouth. --Philip Belcher

  • July 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      The First Time I Drank With My Father
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Waters

      Second Place

      My Bicycle
      by Andrew Dufresne
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

      J. Alfred Prufrock Searches for Mrs. Right
      by Laurie Byro
      Babilu

  • June 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      Poem in Exile in the Style of Neruda
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Writer's Block

      Second Place

      Either February or March
      by Brenda Morisse
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

      Accidental Writer
      by Bernard Hamel
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Honorable Mention

      Mouse in April’s Winter
      by Alison Armstrong-Webber
      The Waters

      Honorable Mention

      Sister Valeria
      by Siva Ramanathan
      The Writer's Block

      Honorable Mention

      My Trip: The Last Siona Dream
      by Don Schaeffer
      Babilu