written in lilac ink

by Margaret Hemme
The Waters
Third Place, January 2016
Judged by Lee Slonimsky


written after finally visiting you
at the sanatorium. written
to apologize for not introducing you
to any of my college friends
because of that seldom off stocking cap,
the army coat. written to remind
myself you were my lover, friend.

not written to reprimand you
for your refusal of all help, not taking
medication, never trying not to be
obsessed with germs, gloves, the need
of anything that is cost free. written
in the color of old love. written
in guilt. it won’t let me come again.


An intense poem of self-acknowledgement and regret, of insight one wishes one had had at an earlier time. The poem makes superb use of the details of reminiscence. And in a mere fourteen lines we learn of a youthful love, a bit of a mental illness that ended in a sanitorium. We also learn (partly inferred from the phrase “written/in the color of old love. written/in guilt”) of the fleeting nature and rarity of such love, any love, never handled at the time the way it should have been. --Lee Slonimsky

  • 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