Starry Night Over the Rhone

by Bob Bradshaw
The Waters
First Place, September 2016
Judged by Lee Nash


Theo, yellow stars bloom like fireworks,
and the waters glimmer with russet-gold.

On a mauve ground in the lower corner
a couple strolls, arms linked together.

The red bearded man under the straw hat
could be me, one day,

but for now I remain the stray dog
of my neighborhood.

Gauguin has fled to Paris–
and my neighbors want me committed.

The assholes claim to the police
that I’m a pervert,

but I must not get worked up,
indignant, or I may find myself

locked up again, judged
as a madman.

Already the cowards have signed
a petition that threatens

my freedom. Theo,
don’t get mixed up in this.

I must stay calm, but painting
would help. If you can, please send

along ten meters of canvas
and tubes of paint: zinc white,

ultramarine, cobalt, orange lead
and Veronese green.


I'm always drawn to a poem where the poet takes the voice of a famous individual and by way of the imagination gives us new appreciation for that person and their struggles. Here we have a troubled Vincent van Gogh writing to his art dealer brother, Theo – the tone is conversational and the language colorful in more ways than one, and the result is altogether convincing. --Lee Nash

  • 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