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

  • March 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      Cuttlefish
      by Jim Doss
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Second Place

      Wings
      by Bernard Henrie
      The Writer's Block

      Third Place

      gutterball
      by Brenda Morisse
      Wild Poetry Forum

  • February 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      Nebraska, Summer
      by Greta Bolger
      The Waters

      Second Place

      Goldback Fern
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Writer's Block

      Third Place

      Negotiatin’ Wi Demons (For wee Rabbie Burns)
      by John J. Williamson
      PenShells