The World Is Moist in the Morning

by Terry Ofner
The Waters
First Place, August 2018
Judged by Kathleen Hellen


The morning is a thunderclap of light.
Moist light, because the world is moist in the morning.
I’m in it the way water worries, the way the creek
keeps asking the same question: When do I rest?

I’m in it the way certain entities enter a story then leave it—
desert creatures, dry and honeyed and locusted,
like John the Baptist come to moisten the morning head
of his Master, losing his underground shortly after.

The morning is a thunderclap of light. I’m in it
but light-blind and bone-idle, the way the creek slows
in a tunnel of shade looking for a low place to hide—
a Jonah, his ship storm-stalled: O, just let me sleep.

I’m in it. The morning is moist. The morning is too bright.
I’m in it. I’m standing in the way of my own light.


Sourced in the title (“moist,” “morning”) these lovely repetitions of sound and sense wend their way through the three quatrains of the poem, through the narrator’s dark passage of doubt. Along the way there is the “thunderclap of light”---a repeated call to awakening---comparisons to the water-prophet John, the bellied Jonah, until we reach the shore of the final rhymed couplet, which is the poem’s epiphany---its “own light.” --Kathleen Hellen

  • September 2019 Winners

    • First Place

      Houses
      by Ken Ashworh
      The Writer's Block

      Second Place

      Algernon Charles Swinburne
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Writer's Block

      Third Place

      Arbeit Macht Frei Inc.
      by Jim Fowler
      Babilu

  • August 2019 Winners

    • First Place

      Chanticleer
      by Alison Armstrong-Webber
      The Waters

      Second Place

      Last Game of the Season
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Writer's Block

      Third Place

      The Fine Print of Rescue
      by Andrew Dufresne
      Wild Poetry Forum