Mountain Church Larrau

by Laurie Byro
Desert Moon Review
First Place, March 2017
Judged by Sara Clancy


I cried to think of a savage cynical fate which had made it
impossible for my love ever to be used by you.
Dora Carrington

You wanted me to make it come out differently.
The chambers of a nautilus shell with its shady pink
spirals was as close I could get to painting light

as it came through the bleak church windows.
You told me my perspective was flawed. My strokes
were a dull parade of color but somehow I’d lost

the skill. I couldn’t capture September yellow.
I couldn’t be compared to the madman of Arles. The artist
lived inside sunflowers and could carve chasms into paint.

Watcher-crows bored holes into his heart. His brother’s
letters whispered ‘not good enough’, the way you do with me.
As consolation I deny myself memory. Soon you’ll forget

the boy with the purple birthmark, the leaf that spreads
across his face like the slap of a hand. I ask you
to explain the bitterness you say I cannot understand.

The painter waits on a stone step in a tattered white shirt.
The yellow dust of his house circles his throat
like a gold chain. Birds litter the stubble in their black mourning

coats. I think he wanted to stir himself into something else,
the purest blend of pigment. I want my scars to fall like seeds
into a field, to grow into sunflowers, to make you, Crow, healed.


What is arresting about this work to me is that it delivers an intimate and persuasive portrait of the painter as well as the painting, using her extraordinary quotation as a jumping off point. Then a perfect opening line, which must forge an instant connection with anyone who creates, “You wanted me to make it come out differently.”

The reader gets such a visual picture of the artist’s sadness throughout the poem, too. I particularly loved “The yellow dust of his house circles his throat/ like a gold chain” and “As consolation I deny myself memory. Soon you’ll forget /the boy with the purple birthmark, the leaf that spreads/across his face like the slap of a hand.”

Such a beautiful and ambitious ekphrastic poem. --Sara Clancy

  • August 2017 Winners

    • First Place

      Seasoned with Love
      by Eira Needham
      PenShells

      Second Place

      Ill-used
      by Paul A. Freeman
      The Write Idea

      Third Place

      A Note for Perilous Times
      by Fred Longworth
      PenShells

      Honorable Mention

      Whatever Glorious Else It Is
      by Guy Kettelhack
      Wild Poetry Forum

  • July 2017 Winners

    • First Place

      Corton Beach Holiday Camp, Great Yarmouth
      by Marilyn Francis
      The Write Idea

      Second Place

      Still Waltzing with You
      by Allen M. Weber
      Desert Moon Review

      Third Place

      The Aging Magician Speaks to His Reflection
      by Laurie Byro
      Desert Moon Review

      Honorable Mention

      Seeking Duende
      by Richard Chase
      Desert Moon Review

      Honorable Mention

      Dr. Seuss’s Guide to Manly Health and Training
      by Paul A. Freeman
      The Write Idea

      Honorable Mention

      Resonance
      by Sylvia Evelyn
      Babilu

      Honorable Mention

      celebrating the 45th anniversary of Father’s Day
      by Michael Virga
      The Writer's Block