Town Square

by Ken Ashworth
The Writer's Block
Third Place, May 2021
Judged by Sarah Carleton


On the courthouse lawn, old grey men
pass a bottle they hide in the mouth
of a cannon dragged from the field
of some long forgotten skirmish.

They swig and swap lies about wars
and women lost, sons whose names
it is now hard to remember, forget
for a time their pain and loss, until

they snooze on benches beneath
chestnut oaks that themselves were
once young, but now missing limbs,
holes cement-filled, whitewashed.

On windy days, the metal lanyard
of the chain-fall striking the
flagpole sounds like a church bell
calling home the lost and the broken.


I've been through a lot of towns with memorials and benches, and “Town Square” perfectly captures the unsettling feeling of those locations. Starting with "old grey men" pulling a bottle from the mouth of a cannon and ending with the flagpole "like a church bell / calling home the lost and broken," the poet paints a scene of a lonely place where memories have been whitewashed and damage patched but the pain still lingers. A powerful and haunting poem. --Sarah Carleton

  • November 2021 Winners

    • First Place

      Cycling Across t’Bridge
      by Ieaun ap Hywel
      The Writer's Block

      Second Place

      Now Hear the Word of the Lord
      by Jim Zola
      The Waters

      Third Place

      Opening the Letter
      by Jim Doss
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Honorable Mention

      Help Wanted
      by Mary MacGowan
      The Waters

      Honorable Mention

      Ode to a Hummingbird
      by RC James
      Babilu

      Honorable Mention

      Sizing Up
      by Paul A. Freeman
      The Write Idea

  • October 2021 Winners

    • First Place (Tie)

      Anna and the Scourge
      by RC James
      Babilu

      First Place (Tie)

      Mother Banana
      by Christina Vanthul
      Babilu

      Second Place

      Neighbors
      by Jim Doss
      Wild Poetry Forum