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

  • 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