Nighthawks

by Terry Ofner
The Waters
Second Place, September 2016
Judged by Lee Nash


Montréal. Small rain. 4am.
I find the only open cafe.
A homeless man

sleeps upright in a chair,
slumped into himself
like a sack of grain.

The woman at the end—
a soda bottle in both hands
like a joystick. She’s fixed

on something out there
in the dark, could be taxiing
for take-off.

The betterment of humanity
could start. Salvation
comes wrapped in the body

to keep it from floating away.

Salvation comes.
Lifting, lifting. Pulleys
of morning light.

Rain rising, lifting.
Wet wings of sidewalks
and street.


I kept coming back to this sparse poem with its sketch of the all-night café and the sense of hopelessness those first four stanzas evoke. But we don't stay in that place, thankfully, as morning brings salvation and light. The rain that fell in the opening line somehow seems to rise. This new day may be difficult too, but remember, it's how you look at things: "betterment ... could start." --Lee Nash

  • February 2022 Winners

    • First Place

      Grand Central Station
      by Christine Potter
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      Second Place

      Back Stage
      by Siva Ramanathan
      The Writer's Block

      Third Place

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  • January 2022 Winners

    • First Place

      Glint
      by Peter Halpin
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Second Place

      Chicago
      by Midnight Moon
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

      Training to Be a Star
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Writer's Block

      Honorable Mention

      Chewing the Fat
      by James Fletcher
      The Waters