Motown Layover

by E. Russell Smith
The Write Idea
First Place, April 2011
Judged by Judith Fitzgerald


Three time zones east of yesterday,
still I rise early. A pale moon fails.
I find a coffee, walk the vacant streets.
The horizon of an ailing city
rises out of ashes, dark against
a glowing sky of blood and roses.

A carrion crow relieves the owl of
its night watch of my wakeful hours.
High-spirited Sunday sparrows,
starlings, larks and winter finches
forage in the gutters; no other life.

This cruel cold may cauterize
two years of weeping lesions.
I fly before the dirty weather strikes.


Moving, deeply disconcerting, gorgeously clean in its poetic "devices," "Motown Layover" simply causes time to stand still for one glorious nano-second, that space before the onslaught of dirty weather's cloudstorms gathering at the edge of the other's consciousness. Rarely do readers fail to cringe when reaching the end of the line only to discover the poet damned-near destroys credibility when concluding same a preposition with (apologies, Mr. Safire). This poem, however, turns that proposition on its head, expanding, contracting, the quietly calculous crunch realised in the final word, "strikes," the one which brings readers back to the beginning, to the stunning opening line, "Three time zones east of yesterday." Strike a cloud? Wonderful. --Judith Fitzgerald

  • November 2017 Winners

    • First Place

      Hope Springs Like a Panther from a Large Boulder Overhead
      by Andrew Dufresne
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Second Place

      Lullaby
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Writer's Block

      Third Place

      Love Story
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Writer's Block

  • October 2017 Winners

    • First Place

      The Day of a Girl
      by John Riley
      The Waters

      Second Place

      Night Thoughts of a Mottled Songbird
      by Kenny A. Chaffin
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

      The Art of Not Being Descartes
      by Guy Kettelhack
      Wild Poetry Forum