Poem in Exile in the Style of Neruda

by Ken Ashworth
The Writer's Block
First Place, June 2018
Judged by R.T. Castleberry


Thoughts are of you, my Cuba.
How your history bruises the world.

The sugar white sands of Baracoa
my sister and I bathed in the sea,
moon on her sleek, naked body

as we watched the Soldados
drop bombs on the Sierra Marstre
that quickened the fires of Fidel.

I remember old women washing clothes at Malecon, using soap
made from pan grease and lye.

They beat the rocks with their laundry as if extracting confessions,
stretch it on the seawall to dry.

Los Barudos- the bearded ones,
took the streets of Habana.

I sang with you O Cuba.
Our hearts soared high,
skin sewed to each other.

The firing squads of Guevera,
on the outskirts of the city.
They blindfolded you my dark
beauty, stuffed a rag in your mouth

I wept into my hands like a woman.
Your blood soaked breast repulses.
My wound is too old to bandage.


the perfect kind of successful political poem, one that fuses history (Castro’s takeover of Cuba) with the personal: I remember old women washing clothes at Malecon…/They beat the rock with their laundry as if extracting confessions… --R.T. Castleberry

  • December 2020 Winners

    • First Place

      Avaricious
      by Judy Kaber
      The Waters

      Second Place

      To James Bulger, aged 2, murdered February 1993
      by two boys aged 10 in Liverpool, England
      by Christopher T. George
      Babilu

      Third Place

      Dr. Pachango’s Mango
      by Jim Fowler
      Babliu

  • November 2020 Winners

    • First Place

      Notorious RBG
      by Laurie Byro
      Babilu

      Second Place

      To My Old Age
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Waters

      Third Place

      Beggar’s Lice
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Writer's Block