The Unfinished Ice Cream

by John Wilks
The Write Idea
Second Place, September 2011
Judged by Tyehimba Jess


Our first glimpse of the sea was of a dark
expanse, as flat as an asphalt playground.
The sun left yellow chalkmarks, roughly scuffed
by the cold steel blakeys of winter wind.
She leaned on the concrete wall: a defence
built after the floodtide of fifty-three
and spoke of her brother, who drowned when she
was still floating, safe in her mother’s womb.
The arcades were empty, the kiosks shut.
Dust gathered on last year’s bingo prizes.
No children on the swings that creaked with rust.
The sea looked the same as in black-and-white
photos of a grinning boy in swimming
trunks who would never finish his ice cream.


A poet that respects the sonnet enough to test its limits. Great alliteration while maintaining a focus on bringing the reader through to the end, with the sea yearning in and out of the body. --Tyehimba Jess

  • 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