BEST OF 2004

BEST OF 2003

BEST OF 2002

BEST OF 2001

BEST OF 2000





Winning Poems for October 2008
Judges Hélène Cardona and John Fitzgerald

by Michael Creighton The Waters The year I turn 15, my father leaves me with my just-widowed grandfather and my first full-time summer job. Each day in my lunch, I find fresh fruit and a sandwich so fat it stretches my jaw. Axe down, among rows of old pine, I learn to love the tang and bite of mustard on rye. After work, I stay out with friends, walking the town's mile-long main street, drinking cold soda, looking for girls. If he's awake when I return we discuss baseball, the difference between jack pine and white, or the pain in my shoulders and neck. He says, the Cubs haven't won a pennant since your mother was three but there's no harm in hope; jack pine grows fast, but gives poor wood--and as for that pain, son, there is no cure for an ache like that, save deep sleep and time. Just once I come home early-- he is slumped in an old oak chair. As he sleeps, his shoulders shake. Dust hangs in sunlit air. Convalescence by Antonia Clark The Waters She lures him back by naming what he loves -- constellations, rivers -- repeating days and dates, drawing the drapes to make an island. One year, she let him keep her from catching trains. In another, she gave up seasides, long ago stored her silk kimono away on a high shelf. A long whistle wails from the trestle but there is no place here to stop. Debris by Ashura Pen Shells
Wong has no name of favor, but is called for convenience the way a hill is climbed or a floor swept. She will not revere your gods or walk the guidance of your hands When you turn her head she will resist your intensity, your compulsions And when your fingers stir debris from your pockets her exit will be impersonal Somewhere on the cusp of her breath there is tremolo She hands it with flowers and a plastic bucket filled with medicines to the men in saffron who drip water on her temples and chant while you wait on the steps with her shoes
awake by James Lineberger Salty Dreams until i turned seventy i could still do it one leg crooked around the upper rung of an a-ladder extension leaning back easy arms free to hold the drill with both hands and fasten a new board covering up a raccoon hole on the fascia at the rear of the house but then then there comes a time when you struggle out of bed to discover you can't accomplish the familiar foolhardy things you're so accustomed to and not even your wife will applaud you now when it is she herself trying to remember to walk the dogs and your daughter coming over to mow the lawn and you learn it's only in our dreams we have any joy in this life the nightmares lying awake same as we stretching their fucked-up knees to face the day Compression by Linda E. Cable SplashHall Poetry I was born somewhere between tank parades, and blond step tables adorned with oriental maidens standing guard at picture windows. The world turned hard and plastic and the word was white. It was lunch buckets, and fins at five o'clock, gliding through cul-de-sacs. Veterans scanned new laid sod for insurgents, seeking rest on rayon sofas, sustenance on TV tables, quiet nights and just rewards. One act plays were cast on patios, blue collar boasts of Bradley and Patton, housewives flouncing in skirts from Federals to the tune of "Love Letters In The Sand." We seemed so pretty then, living advertisements for Amana, True Grit and American Bandstand, crayon copies of black and white movie stars. I came of age somewhere between The Mickey Mouse Club and Dallas, in the year alabaster figurines shattered with the sound of the first gun shot. Imagination of the Deflated Balloon by Henry Shifrin Wild Poetry The balloon lies marooned beside a stain of a foot on an empty section of rug. Smells of burned rubber where its tip kissed a match. It had been so lonely and the breeze, so gentle. The wind's hand lifted gracefully toward the flame, warm but too warm. The balloon leaves the moment to dream: it fills with air, rises into the clouds. Grounded fog depresses all it covers, but moving through clouds has a holy chill. The balloon populates the sky with round bodies, remembers the static lightning two bodies can rub into being -- the shock that erases the space between them. Realizes movement isn't as necessary as thought, and so it inflates a friend it knew when they clung to the same lamp post, over the happy-birthday sign and compared the size of their shadows. This balloon always darkened the ground more than others. At least it dreamed it that way. Musée de la Résistance - Vaucluse by Adam Elgar Writer's Block (Lavez les épluchures de pommes de terre, les jeter dans l'huile bouillante. C'est aussi bien que les vraies frites. Wartime advice on food economy, 1942 -- from a newspaper on display in the museum) In truth it nobly celebrates defeat, confronts the shame by putting it on show, tells later generations how deceit seeps into victims' veins, makes sure we know that victors try to put a price on air and claim there never was a word for 'free'. Starvation is the trump card. Pommes de terre: prochaine distribution -- mardi. It's all about the lies that people tell to keep themselves afloat till truth comes back. When brutal fact says il n'y a plus de lait you have to come up with a counter-spell, revive the rage that we complacent lack. "Dissent. Resist." What else should freedom say? Talk Like a Pirate Day* by Catherine Rogers Arr, I say. Arr. My darling is unimpressed. He twists his face in ways I can't imagine and growls AAAArrrrrrrrrrrgghh! just like that. Scoundrel! I love it when you talk sea dog. The rest of the day we go about calling each other "Me hearty." At supper, he calls for grog. I tell him he'll get slop, and like it, or I'll have him keelhauled. He orders me to swab the decks. I tell him that's the mate's job. We talk about whether we want a cabin boy or girl--it doesn't matter, as long as it's healthy and strong enough to do the swabbing. All day we've imagined parrots and dirks and doubloons. On the other side of midnight, the quotidian looms like Her Majesty's man o' war. Tomorrow, I'll be the one with two earrings. He'll have none, and dress in gray. No matter; tonight we unbuckle our swashes and heave to. We rock together at anchor, dreaming of plunder, free and ferocious, all night long. *An international holiday observed annually on September 19

Previous Winners

IBPC is Sponsored by Web del Sol
2020 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Suite 443
Washington, DC 20006
Web Designed by Mike Neff