by Yolanda Calderon-Horn
The Writers Block
Second Place, April 2011
Judged by Judith Fitzgerald

I roamed like a leaf between your limitations
and mine until the day after you were discharged.
Peter drove you to my workplace; you stepped
out of the van with a smile I later added to my
collection of favorite accessories. The sun

was a welcome sign on your slender face.
Hospital gowns are for the sick, Papa.
But you in a Cubs t-shirt, painter pants
and leather sandals gave breath to winded
hope. Un abrazo para mi niña.

Your branch thin arms embraced me.
The sandalwood in your aftershave
treaded softly on my cheek. And I
recalled being 19, in my white gown,
wearing remnants of that scent
as you cried: her mother and I do.

Wellness came upon me- a wellness
that could have whispered:
you were under your Papa’s weather,
clouded by his chest pain, sluggish
kidneys and diabetic seesaw.

Saw you, and I stopped roving
from hope fixed to a big assignment.

A refreshing lyric penned by an original thinker, the poem works because the title's compression yields up recognitions moment by moment till "winded hope" expires, replaced by "hope fixed to a big assignment," enlarged by the accessorising sun's enjambment, that unforgettable smile a tattoo of joy in the sorrowing grief. While the ordinary details carry readers inexorably to the poem's kick-in-the-head closer, its contents, telegraphed in that pivotal moment when "wellness" grants the speaker a sort of second sight, from "seesaw" to "saw" (sow to seek). That subtle collocation alone, not to mention the way in which "Papa" recasts lovely touches of the Romantic movement, makes this entry a near-masterpiece along the lines of Wallace Stevens or William Carlos Williams, say. Family. Loss. Faith. The wounded works. --Judith Fitzgerald

  • November 2019 Winners

    • First Place

      by JJ Wiliamson

      Second Place (tie)

      Red Spider Lilies
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Writer's Block

      Second Place (tie)

      The Big House At Mambalam
      by Siva Ramanathan
      The Writer's Block

      Third Place (tie)

      What Have I Done to Thee O Muse
      by Peter Halpin
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place (tie)

      World Affairs
      by Kenny A. Chaffin
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Honorable Mention

      by Mary MacGowan
      The Waters

      Honorable Mention

      A Can of Grandma Figlioto’s Pasta Sauce
      by Daniel J. Flore III

  • October 2019 Winners

    • First Place

      We Could Use an American
      by Mignon Ariel King
      The Waters

      Second Place

      Dante’s Outer Circles
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Writer's Block

      Third Place

      Time of Move
      by RC James