The Emails Go Unanswered

by Lois P. Jones
PenShells
First Place, October 2018
Judged by Jeanette Beebe


your silence is not quiet
it stomps its hooves
after the rains
have muddied up
the river and I look down
from the wooden bridge
into molasses thick
with distance
with spots of amber
where you can still see
the bright stones below

your silence is an elk
in the forest
in the line of my arrow
the quiver as the antlers blend
with the branches
and I can almost trace
its full form
but it is always twilight
and soon the sun leaves us
blinded
and then open
to the other world

your silence is the moon rising
in a kingdom of stars
it holds an orbit
around a planet
long gone from my sight


The weakest part of this poem is its title, which is almost always good news for a poet — kudos. What's striking about this poem is its confidence in figuring this extended metaphor: silence as an elk in the forest. The speaker positions the elk from multiple vantage points, which is surprising. Certain phrases are closer to cliché (molasses, twilight, moon rising), but even in these moments, the language moves along: "molasses thick / with distance", for example. The ending feels quite strong, especially after multiple readings. --Jeanette Beebe

  • 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