Winning Poems for January 2020

Judged by R.T. Castleberry

First Place

consider crossing

by Allen M. Weber
The Waters

the bay bridge
at dawn you can
clear your breath
from the car window
behold the deadrise
impossibly white
scoured by half a sun

          become for a moment
          the ruddy oysterman
          when you come up empty
          drunk on salty spray
          console the cormorants
          in the Guineamen tongue
          grasp the slippery
          heart pine of his tongs
          a blunt December
          ache in your hands
          a flickering fear
          of the sea

back in your lane
nearer now the eastern shore
where pleasure boats
still sleep at their piers
sip your bitter
coffee with Yo Yo Ma
playing Mozart on the radio

Vivid, detailed and evocative reverie of crossing over one life to another. Each line and image builds and moves the poem forward to a neatly perfect ending. --R.T. Castleberry

Second Place


by Ken Ashworth
The Waters

Lightning struck the quarry
set off the pre-charges.

All day they worked with hammer
drills packing the Dyno Nobel,

By the same folks who give
out the Peace Prize.

They quit when it started
to thunder and couldn’t finish

before dark. ATF called it
spontaneous electric initiation.

Lonnie at Penrose Grocery
came in at 5 next morning,

swept glass into a pile and gravel
for the pot holes into another.

The good folks of Turkey Creek
Missionary Baptist said

it was a Miracle it happened
at night else they all could have

been raptured by spontaneous
initiation, Hellish smell of ozone

and blasting powder, pieces
of the steeple in trees.

Sardonic, low key jab at small town working class/religious life. --R.T. Castleberry

Third Place

The Elucidating Imbecility

by Guy Kettelhack
Wild Poetry Forum

Felt as pressure of a pulse –
faint convulsion of an incrementally
increasing stress of interest
in that glint wedged in the smallest
tightest bit of aperture beneath
the sharpest darkest edge – you place
a bet here that you probably should
try to hedge – to risk your life
on random outcomes – hoping to be
mollified by compromise when doubt
comes. Then doubt comes and becomes
the certainty of doom, which offers
you exactly what doom said it would:
catastrophe. But she and her imaginary
cohort weren’t the kind that ever
hedged a bet. Anyone who thought
they could procure their safety or that
there would be an end to anything
had lost their practicable mind. What
there always was and is and will be
is infinity: a reason to resume. Since
none of it will stop, the doom will doom,
with room for all imaginable other
possibility – including new varieties
of doom, including the elucidating
imbecility of thinking you could hedge
a bet, resize the risk. What risk could
you minimize? That of never being
able to withdraw? That’s not
a risk, dear. That’s the law.

A specifically worded, precise and very funny explanation as to how and why the person being addressed is acting like an imbecile. --R.T. Castleberry

Honorable Mention

Love Letters

by K.R. Copeland
The Waters

Amherst, with your silent “h”,
where the Chickwolopp once

I’ve held your hand, and stroked
your face, I’ve flower plucked,
herb sampled.

You’ve come to me,
weep willowed, gowned;
well read, red head, cum laude

and I’ve renamed you Emily
each letter said out-loudly.

An amusingly succinct letter of love to Emily Dickinson. --R.T. Castleberry

  • August 2021 Winners

    • First Place

      Time Portal At Fenchurch St. Station
      by Ieuan ap hywel
      The Writer's Block

      Second Place

      Still Life With Woodpecker
      by Jim Doss
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

      by Ken Ashworth
      The Writer's Block

  • July 2021 Winners

    • First Place

      The Three Fates
      by Laurie Byro
      The Waters

      Second Place

      If I Needed Someone
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Writer's Block

      Third Place

      free spirit
      by Billy Howell-Sinnard
      The Writer's Block