The Secret Life

by Laurie Byro
Desert Moon Review
Second Place, September 2009
Judged by George Szirtes

Seeing things in a light that spirals
down through the arch and tunnel of a nautilus
shell, on the strength of nothing too important,
genuine or real, a modesty, a sense of eyes
indirect, a pearl that bursts snowflake
on a green velvet coat. I’ve memorized us like that,
your arm as it extends to pass me a cup, a copper
penny slant of room, the smell of bergamot

behind the veils of buttery sun. Across the sea
of words, the bickering, the old habits, the stingy yelp
of Dickinson as we read to each other out loud.
The wilderness of the mind is where you are:
a forest that crouches under a bedroom window
while you sleep and feral words find you.

An unrhymed sonnet, it was the last two lines that clinched it for me: the forest that crouches under a bedroom window (a memory of Baudelaire's forest of symbols?) and the feral words at the end. That firmed things up and gave the poem necessary claws. I liked the light spiraling down, then lost it a little on the snowflake and the green velvet coat. I didn't quite know how I was to respond to that. The last six lines , indeed from the smell of bergamot onwards, are very good. --George Szirtes

  • December 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      by Kenny A. Chaffin

      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

  • November 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      Radium Girls
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Writer's Block

      Second Place

      The Unreliable Narrator
      by Andrew Dufresne
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

      Birds 2
      by JJ Williamson

      Honorable Mention

      Too Late
      by Billy Howell-Sinnard
      The Waters