Winning Poems for May 2022

Judged by M.B. McLatchey

First Place

All in Time

by RC James

I held you through healing,
through passion, through more
than can be said
in the time left.

One soaring summer
your face held all seasons.
I fell shadow-long,
your voice took me to a light
above future breath,
where nothing more is revealed
than faint murmurs of mist and reason.

Beyond the play of horizon on horizon
bathing each others’ faces,
beyond the blue mass of the planet itself,
I find you in spirit
cooler than dudes in fedoras and sunglasses
here for the celebration of ghosts of cool.
You’ve got them all beatdown,
tamed with a voice svelte and persuasive.

Above the field of wind and rushing stream
I love how your dreams sound,
I see you running through a meadow,
in the morning I feel my love follow.

“All in Time” reminds us of how loss alters nature: “your face held all seasons/I fell shadow long”. This is a tender and authentic elegy that gains its power from its control on sentimentality and letting the bereaved one shape the poem’s universe. --M.B. McLatchey

Second Place

Safety Net

by Ray
Wild Poetry Forum

I’m learning to lean on the welfare state;
my buddies have crutches, we congregate
to spray on authentic public space.
The sweepers arrive before sleepers awake
and scrape off the latest layer of paint
from every conceivable surface.
Bookcases are hired to the homeless,
park benches reinvented as sofas.
We’re squinting where the roof was
at the cosmos; heaven’s drifting in
and out of focus. I’m almost up
to my ankles in twilight.

“Safety Net” portrays the disorienting impact of dependence, not simply for the individual but for the community s/he inhabits: “heaven’s drifting in/and out of focus. I’m almost up/ to my ankles in twilight”. A provocative meditation on the human spirit. --M.B. McLatchey

Third Place

Phone Of The Wind

by Bob Bradshaw
The Writer's Block

The “phone of the wind”,
as the Otsuchi phone booth is called,
is a leftover relic of the 1960s,

a white phone booth
with its rotary phone.
Sometimes lines of the grieving,

hearts wrecked, queue up to use it.
Where else can you call
a dead loved one?

There’s something acceptable
in Japan about reaching out
to one’s past—parents, child,

a former lover, your voice trembling
over an unconnected line.
“Mom, is that you?”

When Dad lay dying,
unresponsive, his doctors insisted
he didn’t know we were there.

Once he gripped my finger
when I asked Can you hear me?
“A muscular reaction. That’s all.”

a physician assured me.
To her my father would always
remain a missed call.

Sometimes in my hotel room
late at night I wake up
to Otsuchi’s phone, ringing.

I gaze through my bedroom window
half expecting to see
a white shadow on the lawn.

Here in Japan I don’t hesitate
to reach out, to call. “Yes, yes
I miss you, Dad…”

I missed an opportunity
when he lay dying in a sterile room.

I’ll be damned if I’ll miss a chance
to connect with him again.

“Phone of the Wind” successfully deploys the metaphor of a cultural icon – a phone to communicate with deceased loved ones – and thereby crafts closure where closure was missing: a last goodbye for a dying father. The poem provides proof of the healing power of the creative imagination. --M.B. McLatchey