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

  • January 2019 Winners

    • First Place

      How the Wind Works
      by Alison Armstrong-Webber
      The Waters

      Second Place

      Sleep Walker
      by Brenda Levy Tate
      PenShells

      Third Place

      The Woman Who Grew up in My House Finds Me on Facebook and Comes to Take a Look Around
      by Antonia Clark
      The Waters

  • December 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      Tires
      by Kenny A. Chaffin
      Babilu

      Second Place

      Scouring Pots While the World Ends
      by Elizabeth Koopman
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

      Poetry in the Cultural Revolution
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Waters