Houses Houses Houses

by Mary MacGowan
The Waters
First Place (tie), August 2020
Judged by Ron Singer


We humans like our houses,
but we want to sit outside of our houses
on squares of cement we call a patio.
Or balcony. A stoop, a park.

To build a house, first you dig a hole.
Then it must be covered up and thus
you will live on top of the hole. Then
you will sit outside of your house.

How Trudy and I laughed at mom
saying, Houses houses houses!
for her continual chatter: Look
at the clouds! And that time she

suggested I memorize the sky
as I was lying in the hammock,
in case I went blind someday.
Didn’t all moms do this?

(jk)
It seems that she was sincere, not
trying to terrify. There was,
perhaps, an article in the paper

about a woman who liked
houses and clouds just fine
and then she went blind, just
like that. It could happen.

And if it did, wouldn’t it be
nice to have
remembered the sky?

But what about
      aphantasia,

                blindness

of the mind?      Mom,

was that it

                about you?

Is your parting gift

                                a dark and terrible

                        blankness?


This poem explores the idea of home with originality, wit and aplomb. The adolescent narrator (“j.k.”) rings changes on her ambivalence, from the opening idea that we like our houses, but try not to stay inside them, to the last, stark description of “aphantasia,” of an inherited “dark and terrible/ blankness.” The lineation is apt and interesting. The first four stanzas are quatrains that have a traditional look, then; a transitional tercet, and a two-liner; and finally, wispy fragments that reflect that dissolution of the idea of home –which, from the start, was not all that solid. This is a strange, original poem. --Ron Singer

  • 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

  • June 2021 Winners

    • First Place

      Longfellow’s Wife
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Waters

      Second Place

      In My Next Life I Want to Return as an Animal
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Writer's Block

      Third Place

      A Windy Walk
      by Paul A. Freeman
      The Write Idea