Sleep Walker

by Brenda Levy Tate
PenShells
Second Place, January 2019
Judged by Ruth Bavetta


The Milky Way runs dry and fades behind
a wool of overcast – close-hung for nights
and noons and nights again. I wouldn’t mind
if on this trek, I had no need of lights
but such is not the case right now. The sky
brings everything – a solace and a shield
against this bitter earth, against the cry
that rises thin and crystal from my field
where snow has frozen hope. I follow deer
because they travel crooked trails – like mine –
just paths through spruces. Should the stars appear,
I’d navigate by looking up – their shine
my guide. But no stars mark the map ahead.
Perhaps I’ve dreamed them all. Perhaps they’re dead.


Our fascination with the sonnet has wound through western poetry for hundreds of year and still remains undiminished. The form tempts us with the honey of the consciously “poetic.” It takes poets committed to the life and language of their own times to resist the lure of antiquated language and inflated images. This poet uses the fourteen lines, the iambic pentameter, the rhyme scheme, the turn, the ending couplet, all inherited from the past, but makes the poem unequivocally modern. --Ruth Bavetta

  • September 2019 Winners

    • First Place

      Houses
      by Ken Ashworh
      The Writer's Block

      Second Place

      Algernon Charles Swinburne
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Writer's Block

      Third Place

      Arbeit Macht Frei Inc.
      by Jim Fowler
      Babilu

  • August 2019 Winners

    • First Place

      Chanticleer
      by Alison Armstrong-Webber
      The Waters

      Second Place

      Last Game of the Season
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Writer's Block

      Third Place

      The Fine Print of Rescue
      by Andrew Dufresne
      Wild Poetry Forum