Migrations

by Billy Howell-Sinnard
The Writer's Block
Second Place (tie), August 2009
Judged by George Szirtes


I roast words
over the fire,
warm my feet,

soles to flames,
get down to hear
the earth breathe.

You drink
cowboy coffee
late, the mug

warming fingers,
feel the moon
close to your face.

I can’t stop laughing
until I cry and
don’t know why.

Your body rises
in the sleeping bag.
The moon settles

in the trees, a great
white bird migrating
horizon to horizon.


Splendid last image on which a great deal depends. I am not sure what to do with the intensity of emotion in verse 5, or why the words are being roasted in line 1. I don't mean I cannot guess, it's just that the emotions seem to be generated from outside the poem and that can make the reader feel like an intruder on the I and you. And I cannot feel too secure in my guess. I am left looking over my shoulder in case I have missed something. I like everything in this poem, particularly the end. Maybe I just want a little more context for the feeling. It is a very difficult issue because indicating that context is not the same as explaining it. Maybe one more verse of three lines, somewhere near the beginning would do it. --George Szirtes

  • 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