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

  • July 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      The First Time I Drank With My Father
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Waters

      Second Place

      My Bicycle
      by Andrew Dufresne
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

      J. Alfred Prufrock Searches for Mrs. Right
      by Laurie Byro
      Babilu

  • June 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      Poem in Exile in the Style of Neruda
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Writer's Block

      Second Place

      Either February or March
      by Brenda Morisse
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

      Accidental Writer
      by Bernard Hamel
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Honorable Mention

      Mouse in April’s Winter
      by Alison Armstrong-Webber
      The Waters

      Honorable Mention

      Sister Valeria
      by Siva Ramanathan
      The Writer's Block

      Honorable Mention

      My Trip: The Last Siona Dream
      by Don Schaeffer
      Babilu