De Montmartre à Montparnasse

by Sue Kay
Pen Shells
First Place, June 2015
Judged by Lesley Wheeler


When I arrived at the Gare de Lyon in October 1906, I had 50 francs to my name, knew nobody and barely spoke French.
–Gino Severini

Being what I am, my solitude acknowledges
your own. I do not speak French. The pogroms
have sent their matte daubs to canvases like refugees
in grey north light, Archipenko, Lipchitz, Survage,
Chagall, Soutine. The smell of maroger medium
like sex, toxic but flexible enough for the rough trade

of art. What dusty harlequin pirouettes in the dream
beneath the dome of Sacré Coeur when it is dark
and all strangers belong to its shadow? The point
of paint is to illuminate and all the ladies in green
grow light with the unease of being known.
Age has its own idiom which does not translate

into the language of fashion. The last word on attitude
drapes flesh with inflection, folds the nude into a question.


Evocative specificity grounds this irregular sonnet in an interesting time and place. Details such as the "grey north light" and toxic "maroger medium" build a world, adding heft to the spill of lovely phrases in the last few lines. --Lesley Wheeler

  • September 2017 Winners

    • First Place

      Rodent Ulcer
      by Jude Goodwin
      The Waters

      Second Place

      Wild Beasts
      by Bernard Henrie
      The Writer's Block

      Third Place

      The Two Windows of My Room
      by Sivakami Velliangiri
      The Waters

      Honorable Mention

      Giving Thanks
      by Jim Doss
      Wild Poetry Forum

  • 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