Town Square

by Ken Ashworth
The Writer's Block
Third Place, May 2021
Judged by Sarah Carleton


On the courthouse lawn, old grey men
pass a bottle they hide in the mouth
of a cannon dragged from the field
of some long forgotten skirmish.

They swig and swap lies about wars
and women lost, sons whose names
it is now hard to remember, forget
for a time their pain and loss, until

they snooze on benches beneath
chestnut oaks that themselves were
once young, but now missing limbs,
holes cement-filled, whitewashed.

On windy days, the metal lanyard
of the chain-fall striking the
flagpole sounds like a church bell
calling home the lost and the broken.


I've been through a lot of towns with memorials and benches, and “Town Square” perfectly captures the unsettling feeling of those locations. Starting with "old grey men" pulling a bottle from the mouth of a cannon and ending with the flagpole "like a church bell / calling home the lost and broken," the poet paints a scene of a lonely place where memories have been whitewashed and damage patched but the pain still lingers. A powerful and haunting poem. --Sarah Carleton

  • 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