Weasel

by Laurie Byro
Desert Moon Review
Second Place (tie), June 2010
Judged by Fiona Sampson


Ah sun-flower! weary of time—
                     William Blake

I started to tell you about the friend
who was in trouble, how the oily rum
had stained the sheets where they slept, how

he’s in a wheelchair now, unable to care
for himself, basic things, things American
couples talk about freely. At the seminar,

finding out about the Blakes reading Paradise
Lost while naked, one bold slash after the other
of ink—I don’t know enough about Tygers

and burning or sunflowers to move on, compare
our lives to theirs. Michael, so many stories
of nothing, the days I walk without you, holding

your hand. Today, trudging through the park
with Elaine, I remembered all that heat roaring
down my neck, the kids taunting me at the bus,

my mom out, again, still—shrilly making everyone
know there was trouble in the house. There was
a smell, she said, an animal has just lumbered

through, feral, in pain, not in heat. He was leaving
behind a warning, something was about to go wrong.
Those gnats and the ones we couldn’t slap,

the no-see-em hours, those were the ones that take
us down. Later I insisted, holding your hand, “Nothing,
it’s nothing.” And you with your calm eyes watching

said “there’s a weasel on the property. Sleek
and plucky, handsome, you’ll like it, they are not as you’ve
been told.” I didn’t want to tell you about the day, to spoil

the summer sunflowers you had just planted, bring
up the wasting and night sweats that had descended
on their bed. I don’t want to admit that I want

to die first, to be the trouble and not the teller of it,
the spiller of secret ink, I simply nodded, and touched
your hand whispering: “Please be careful of it.”


This starts so well; it just gets a bit clotted with judgmental register around stanza 6 (and 5). And a little too much is meaningfully left unsaid – these sound like storybook AIDS symptoms, but the stakes are no longer as they were in the 1990s, in the West… But elegant and thoughtful and a very interesting synthesis of the two strands, none the less. --Fiona Sampson

  • August 2017 Winners

    • First Place

      Seasoned with Love
      by Eira Needham
      PenShells

      Second Place

      Ill-used
      by Paul A. Freeman
      The Write Idea

      Third Place

      A Note for Perilous Times
      by Fred Longworth
      PenShells

      Honorable Mention

      Whatever Glorious Else It Is
      by Guy Kettelhack
      Wild Poetry Forum

  • July 2017 Winners

    • First Place

      Corton Beach Holiday Camp, Great Yarmouth
      by Marilyn Francis
      The Write Idea

      Second Place

      Still Waltzing with You
      by Allen M. Weber
      Desert Moon Review

      Third Place

      The Aging Magician Speaks to His Reflection
      by Laurie Byro
      Desert Moon Review

      Honorable Mention

      Seeking Duende
      by Richard Chase
      Desert Moon Review

      Honorable Mention

      Dr. Seuss’s Guide to Manly Health and Training
      by Paul A. Freeman
      The Write Idea

      Honorable Mention

      Resonance
      by Sylvia Evelyn
      Babilu

      Honorable Mention

      celebrating the 45th anniversary of Father’s Day
      by Michael Virga
      The Writer's Block