Monotony

by John Riley
The Waters
Second Place, September 2018
Judged by Kathleen Hellen


The past is buoyant and soft,
billows a sail full of charm
if you’re alive—but we dead
have past as present, no time
raises a head to say “I’m
the current and this day should
course through you like a breeze.”
Stones fly, fire excites each hour,
suffering can never be surrendered.
We walk along the ridge suspended
without support cross the bay
that lures the passing ships
to dock with their doom and unboard.


A collective of the dead---the “we” of “no time”---addresses the living in the tight syllabics of this poem, buoyed with references to water/wind (time is the “current,” day is the “breeze”). They remind us through the culminating metaphor of “ships” that we are passing through “stones” and the “fire” that “excites.” They tell us suffering can “never be surrendered” and wait for us to “dock” and “unboard.” --Kathleen Hellen

  • 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
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  • November 2020 Winners

    • First Place

      Notorious RBG
      by Laurie Byro
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      Second Place

      To My Old Age
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Waters

      Third Place

      Beggar’s Lice
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Writer's Block