The Bell

by Alison Armstrong-Webber
The Waters
First Place, January 2014
Judged by Robert Lee Brewer


The thing about the cat’s a bell.
For whom it tolls, the bell will tell.

It creeps along a garden’s edge;
a screen of stripey willow sedge.

The little lemon lozenge nestling.
The petals through the leaflets, rustling.

The cat, with velvet sleeves and pockets.
With milky whiskers, eyes like rockets.

She doesn’t mean to spoil the nest.
He never thought to be a pest.

He brings a squirrel home for dinner.
She puzzles at the bell, the inner

yowl that escapes her clutches.
The bunnies shiver in their hutches.


I admit it: I'm not a cat person, but I didn't hold it against this poem. It's hard to pull off an aa/bb/cc/etc. rhyme scheme--in couplets, no less--but this poem does. A few reasons I love it: first, it's a sonic tour de force; second, the sing-song nature of the poem contrasts well with the dark subject matter. I'm a sucker for lines like, 'The little lemon lozenge nestling.' --Robert Lee Brewer

  • 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