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

  • 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