My Father’s Family Tree

by Anna Yin
Pen Shells
Second Place, November 2008
Judged by Hélène Cardona and John Fitzgerald


It all started from an ink spot,
my father took it as a sprouting bud.
Sucking on his smoking pipe,
he drew his long narrative
on a piece of paper.
I can sense his smile,
as leaves spread their dense fragrance:
always his favorite,
now highlighted by a brush –
son: a high-ranking officer,
daughter: a respectable scholar,
(my father decorated each with details
like my mother’s Christmas tree)
then me, the would-be poet.
My father has never known poets,
and, to him, “would-be” worse than the rough bark.
(I can feel his pause)
then, a tinted soft orb beside me:
“engineer abroad” perfectly mirrored.
My father ensured his final touch
to free me from starving.
I roll up this glowing paper,
and place its warmth on my chest –
Someday at harvest,
out from the chrysalis of my heart,
I shall start a new scroll.


This poem also tells a great story, unique, yet universal. The piece is sure-handed, and captivates the reader from beginning to end. Both this poem and the first have a strong beginning and a strong end. --Hélène Cardona and John Fitzgerald

  • August 2018 Winners

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      The World Is Moist in the Morning
      by Terry Ofner
      The Waters

      Second Place

      My Epitaph
      by Guy Kettelhack
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

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  • July 2018 Winners

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      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
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