Winning Poems for October 2019

Judged by Laurie Byro

First Place

We Could Use an American

by Mignon Ariel King
The Waters

There’s already a Greek, who cannot make
the simplest baklava. But her stories over
expensive wine bought by the East Indian
who speaks like a Raja — such a delightful

person to have around. And our Turk bakes
bread and fish. Loaves and loaves. Best
with better butter. The Irishman pulls one’s
foot. All the time, the laughter with this

one. He calls it the jibber-jabber. That’s a
poem, yes? You like poetry, I hear. Yes,
we could use an American. You were
born here right? You can buy medicines?

I am a sucker for poems about travel and also enjoy learning facts about other countries. With so much dissention regarding America and Americans, "We Could Use an American" gets my vote with its sly, well observed stereotyping, the repetition in "loaves and loaves," the sounds of "better butter" and "jibber jabber" and the mysterious politics of "you can buy medicines" that had me going to the internet. --Laurie Byro

Second Place

Dante’s Outer Circles

by Ken Ashworth
The Writer's Block

It was the tinkling of cups
which disturbed you: sugar
and blackness, a spoon
for the madness.

Sometimes love looks like
getting your partner’s coffee right.
I sucked at so many other things.

That September I wanted
to bring in the Devil’s Ivy,
make cuttings for new rooting.

You had painstakingly trained
each vine to climb your rocker
and we joked about you overcome

by its bright green death-grip.
You told me it would die
if we put it on your night table,

and I didn’t pick up on it when
your gaze held mine more than
a casual moment too long.

The surviving flog themselves.
There is a curse that allows
the memory to disgorge

every thoughtless act, each
unkind word ever visited upon
the dignity of the departed.

I appreciate Dante's Outer Circles because of the "spoon for the madness" that brings TS Eliot to mind, the clever "Devil's Ivy" referencing back to hell, the "death grip" of the vines. The word “surviving” is the denouement, no further explanation is needed. The rocking chair, I am told, is a worry chair. You move in it, but you don't get anywhere. --Laurie Byro

Third Place

Time of Move

by RC James

Mountains are crumbling, the sea is dry;
time to let the horses run, Elvera,
there’s a long promise unwinding
on the other side, in that peaceful oasis
where the messiah waits with the faithful
for every beginning to come back around.

No one can take away this flight of desire,
one thought of mine with another of yours;
we’ll walk through this landscape of hills
carrying the broken past on our backs;
we’ll stride, dream suspended, into horizons
opening like a lotus on a morning pond

where a poet writes verses that provide
our long journey with a feeling of home.

Time of Move is formatted like an unrhymed sonnet. Again, it sent me to the internet to learn that the name Elvera means "truth." The phrase "carrying the broken past on our backs" is very fine. Upon looking to see if Messiah should be in caps, I learned that it can also simply mean "message." This soft poem competently expresses the message of peace. --Laurie Byro

  • May2020 Winners

    • First Place

      Burying My Brother
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Waters

      Second Place

      The Asian man who walks past the balcony
      by Daniel J. Flore III

      Third Place

      Five Hundred Yards from Home
      by Richard Moorhead
      Wild Poetry Forum

  • April 2020 Winners

    • First Place

      In the next life we were married
      by Ken Brownlow
      The Waters

      Second Place

      To a Wayward Son
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Waters

      Third Place

      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Writer's Block