Box of Stars

by Jim Zola
The Waters
First Place, February 2014
Judged by Robert Lee Brewer


Truth is that box of stars my kids press
on the bedroom ceiling. Shine a light
and they glow a little in the dark.
Then they stop no matter how much light
you give them. They fall one by one.

My father told a story about how he cut off
a man’s ear and stuffed it in his pocket.
When I was seven, the doctors
wanted to break both my legs to fix them.
They bowed just like my father’s did.
Standing side by side we made an M.
Mother told the doctors No. She wore

her anger like a scarf. Father
talked with both hands, grabbing air.
I thought if I could see the shapes,
I might understand his logarithms
of happiness. At eighteen, I ate
a paper star, saw colors in a lover’s face

that weren’t there before or after.
I walked my dog along the broken notes
of railroad tracks, memorized each missing
spike, her favorite spots for squatting.
I walked in shoes of blood. I walked away
from love so many times I ended up walking
back to it. When my father died,
I searched his pockets and found the stars.


This poem sucked me in at the beginning because of it felt familiar, but then it captivated me with its combination of interesting stories and inviting images. From the thought of breaking both legs to fix them to walking away from love to walk back to it, 'Box of Stars' is a great poem about things that sparkle for a finite time before fading and falling away. --Robert Lee Brewer

  • 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

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      by Guy Kettelhack
      Wild Poetry Forum

  • July 2017 Winners

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

      Second Place

      Still Waltzing with You
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      Desert Moon Review

      Third Place

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      by Laurie Byro
      Desert Moon Review

      Honorable Mention

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      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