Omen

by Dave Rowley
Inside the Writer's Studio
Second Place, March 2007
Judged by Pascale Petit


This morning an omen: the blue jay’s stiffening
legs receive an open sky. Sad, like a blue flame
cradling a teaspoon, or the tap-tap-tapping
on a tenuous vein in a break-down motel.
Even the wallpaper peels away
from the cloying stories that stink this room
like rats who’ve crawled between the walls
and died. Now it’s summer and their ghosts
thicken and swell in your throat. The sting of steel
is mirror-flashed and plunging, close your eyes
to hear its sinuous song. Close your humming eyes
and wait, it’s close and warm, like morning singing
and the walls become blue-feather filled
quilts as your legs fall away and up into the sky.


Second place goes to another fine "bird" poem, also tautly constructed and packed with organic, chiming imagery. A blue jay's legs embracing the sky metamorphose into blue flames around a teaspoon, then into a room with blue-feather quilted walls. The images vibrate against each other; the language is trance-like, allowing the blue images to burgeon and transmute in semi-abstract motion. Synaesthetic phrases such as "their ghosts / thicken and swell in your throat," "close your humming eyes" and "it's close and warm, like morning singing" have a hypnotic effect, lulling the reader over the transitions and merging the triple image of blue jay/ blue flame/ quilt walls seamlessly. --Pascale Petit

  • March 2022 Winners

    • First Place

      September Heat
      by Andrew Dufresne
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Second Place

      At the Cancer Center
      by Terry Ofner
      The Waters

      Third Place

      At Last Ghazal
      by Greta Bolger
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      Honorable Mention

      Died Last Fall
      by ieuan ap hywel
      The Writer's Block

  • February 2022 Winners

    • First Place

      Grand Central Station
      by Christine Potter
      The Waters

      Second Place

      Back Stage
      by Siva Ramanathan
      The Writer's Block

      Third Place

      VFW
      by Billy Howell-Sinnard
      The Writer's Block