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Poem of the Year results

Poem of the Year results
By Scout on 07/20/2008
Viewed: 255
Reviews: 0
Rating: No Rating

May 2007-April 2008

Judged by

Kelly Cherry

Poem of the Year

Bad Weather

by Dale McLain

Submitted by

Wild Poetry Forum

Second Place

A Second Look at Creation

by Sergio Lima Facchini

Submitted by


Third Place

The Man Next Door According to His Pockets

by Adam Elgar

Submitted by

The Writers Block

Honorable Mention

Bird Painter

by Guy Kettelhack

Submitted by

About Poetry Forum

Honorable Mention

Spring Dance

by Brenda Levy Tate

Submitted by


Honorable Mention

Carol for the Brokenhearted

by Brenda Levy Tate

Submitted by


Judges Comments and Winning Poems

Poem of the Year
Bad Weather

It is the music first of all that tells me this is a poem to pay attention to. The poet varies short and long sentences, carrying the cadence of them straight through to the slant-rhyme couplet that brings the poem to completion. The diction holds steady thoughout; nothing strays beyond the tessitura of the poem. This very American poem ("Sheetrock," "twister" "prairie boat") adheres to a classical sense of proportion that is equally evident in the speaker's statements. The same is true of the emotions it contains: we hear the speaker's fear and exhilaration but also a carefully calculated self-mockery that derives from years of experience with the phenomena. ("You can grow accustomed to storms," we were told in the very first line, and the poem demonstrates that you can. Accustomed, but by no means passive.) Because the self-mockery is handled lightly enough, it charms and does not depress. The poet's gentle acceptance of the emotions stirred by the storm gives to the poem a good-naturedness that the reader feels must be inclusive: reader and poet can experience--let's say weather--the storm together. --Kelly Cherry

Bad Weather
by Dale McLain

You can grow accustomed to storms.

Every night they shake our sheetrock,

set the bricks trembling. Mortar remembers

it is only sand. Our jaunty roof begs

to be doffed. And I huddle within my frame

with dread and an awful wish that the past proves

its redundancies, that miles away the twister

will drop- not here, not now when I have just

remembered my own name.

When the windows bow like Galileo's glass

I begin to pray to deities yet unnamed,

beseech the clever stars that hide

behind the churning ceiling. I confess

that peace is not my plea. Instead I ask

for more
colors and a measure of strength

to face the wind. The red oak fusses

at my window, whines and scratches to come in.

But it holds, this vine-covered house,

stands on its wide flat bottom, a prairie boat

anchored fast in hard white clay and history.

Within I slip off my shoes. Tonight is not the night

that I will walk on broken glass and wear the unmistakable

face of disbelief. The thunder's growl begins to lose

step with the lightning. In the attic rafters sigh

and creak like scrawny old men. I lay my head

on the last damp cloud where dreams of whirlwinds

and flying shingles wait. I sleep

like a town wiped off the map.

Second Place
A Second Look at Creation

Witty and intelligent, "A Second Look at Creation" uses marvelously precise words to make us see/hear/smell/taste/touch the world, even aspects of it we may seldom notice: "every hand that holds money and is diligent" (italics mine), "the admirable number pi" (italics mine--and is not the number pi entirely admirable, succeeding in a ll that it does?), God wearing a skullcap that hides "a bald spot / high in the crown." Such apt and vivid language. I love it that in the cosmos of this poem there are "five known elements: earth, water / fire, air, and yellowing passion fruit." Sly humor continues in the second stanza, where "God" has his tongue in his cheek when he tells us that spring "will be different / this time." Hope springs again; spring hopes again. Whether or not that hope is fulfilled, we revel in the possibility of the new, and in spring all creation at least seems new again. This poem is clever linguistically but also smart emotionally, and who can resist its appealing portrait of a happy, hardworking God? --Kelly Cherry

A Second Look at Creation
by Sergio Lima Facchini

Every biped, crawler and slitherer; every daybreak

fast-forwarding past the solstice; every afternoon that loses

momentum as it plods into evening; every child born

logical and cerebral, proud to be gifted,

bright as Andromeda and Cassiopeia; every planet in the universe,

comets, black holes,

their combined gravitational pull,

pulling on each of the five known elements: earth, water,

fire, air, and yellowing passion fruit;

every pediment, apse,20nave, narthex, effigy, oracle,

pyramid, every all-seeing

eye; every crease and whorl on a palm;

every hand that holds money and is diligent,

hard-working, closed to commitments;

all of those, along with matches, hydraulic presses,

arguments, salt water,

and the admirable number pi, took long,

sweeping strokes to be made, one by one,

as God was going through multiple life crises,

barely surviving each brainstorm.

How many times he's come back from the brink of losing face,

such as when in the midst of a heated debate

over who made what and to what purpose, a sudden

gust of wind blew off his skullcap,

exposing a bald spot

high in the crown.

But for the most part he's feeling good;

he's glad it's spring even if it means he must restart from scratch,

trying to convince things buried and burrowed

to come back up, saying tongue-in-cheek

it will be different

this time.

Third Place
The Man Next Door According to His Pockets</ font>

Short as this poem is, it offers a heartbreaking glimpse of a life entire. A man living next door to the grown children of parents who were of his generation has become, with age, suspicious, insecure, secretive. His daughter has not kept in close touch with him, is living with a man of whom he disapproves. His wife and sons have, he thinks, turned against him--and perhaps they have, given his changed personality, or perhaps he misinterprets their responses. Brilliantly, the poem saves its revelation for the last stanza: this same man was once adored by his children, and he was glad to share with them what he had. The use of hemorrhage in the last line is an extraordinary choice, emphasizing the free flow of the gifts he gave and simultaneously suggesting the "hemorrhaging" of his own life. Other words that carry deliberate weight here include "talismanic," "slouches," "conjuror," and "intolerable." Let's note also the fine lineation, which moves us swiftly from beginning to end. The speakers ("we") of the poem are psychologically astute and humane; the portrait is bittersweet, honest, and forgiving. --Kelly Cherry

The Man Next Door According to His Pockets
by Adam Elgar

He's losing faith in us.

We feel him check and re-

check that we have his keys

< font size="2">and wallet, and the talismanic

letter from his daughter,

wherever she may be.

He slouches down the same

streets to the same work,

mistrust a whisper that aspires

to clamour. Which of us

is guilty of the hole

that everything slips through?

Some conjuror has swapped

his life for one where wives'

eyes redden and accuse,

obsessed sons slur and darken,

daughters abandon him

for intolerable lovers.

Our forebears knew his children

when they were little more

than half our height, those soft

fists reaching up to tug out treasures,

his reward to let his pockets

haemorrhage for those he loved.

Honorable Mention
Bird Painter

Internal rhyme strengthens the poem, which carries its bird imagery successfully through all four stanzas to create a persuasively heartfelt grief and tribute. --Kelly Cherry

Bird Painter
by Guy Kettelhack

I didn't use to like the ones with birds in them --

she'd paint alluring skies and water -- minerally

brimming glints -- then seem to feel she had

to punctuate their ambiguity with some expected

order -- carefully assorted gulls: culled illustrations

out of greeting cards -- obligatory birdies dotting

gleaming shards of sky and sea to add cliché

to the topography: some expected notion of what

ought to be above, beyond, around an ocean:

turned the beach from vague-and-haunting-lone

to Jones. But I was an elitist prig. Now I look at

each meticulously painted sprig of wing and breast

and tail and beak: and almost hear my mother

speak: each fine careful flying thing belies her

death: bears witness to what's left -- lifts the gulls

and deftly keeps them up: her artist's breath.

Honorable Mention
Spring Dance

Excellent description, grounded in observed details. Dynamic verbs charge the poem with energy. --Kelly Cherry

Spring Dance
by Brenda Levy Tate

Route 22 ripples to an axle beat as the red pickup approaches.

Puddles pulse, wheels veer, water arcs like a tide

parting before the F-150's tire hiss. Beer cans snicker

beneath ice-wire-wink.

Sleet coats cables, gone by noon. Pavement's a mosaic --

broken headlights, embedded pennies. Mouse bones crunch

under Goodyear studs.

First tractor out of the yard wallows with a pulmonary

wheeze in muck stubble. Field's black, twisted

as abandoned shirts. An old collie three-legs it

down the chain track because that's what he was born to do.

In a heifer-gnawed grove behind the loafing shed,

deer scrabble snow crust under bare oaks;

limbs scratch cloudskins. Mated robins drop

sky bits onto dull moss. New melt trinkles

and plishes off the gambrel-roof barn.

On the porch step, farmboy smooths his trout filament

between forefinger and thumb, feeds it into the Shakespeare

with a handful of hope.

The day flows around him -- river and rock -- while mother

sings from her clothesline, "Fare thee well, love

hazel gaze a salamandrine fire that burns what it touches.

He listens, furrows deep as plowed dirt

above his eyes; matches reel spin to wash-pulley creak.

Milkroom radio chatters about foreclosures, lost soldiers

and protests against a mine two counties away. Fishhook

snags the little fellow's thumb.

Long driveway rasps its monotone; gravel shoulders shrug

still-frozen clods into ditches. Muddy Ford swerves,

bumps over brushcut lawn, halts beside a lattice arbor

where rambling roses will soon explode like ruptured hearts.

Woman-song stops. She turns - sliced lemon smile -

carries her laundry basket, sets it down carefully.

Then she straightens to confront the truck, but won't glance

at her son. Not even once.

Out on bleeding earth, her husband inhales the dark

diesel, whistles off-key. "This will be no ordinary April,"

he assures his crippled dog.

Honorable Mention
Carol for the Brokenhearted

The use of metaphor allows a reader to make associations that would otherwise not occur. --Kelly Ch erry

Carol for the Brokenhearted
by Brenda Levy Tate

Can you hear the whole sky ringing?

I watch you stumble under its alleluia bell.

Your bare feet string a dozen prints

like pearls across the December grass.

These soles are your only stars, girl.

Hours, days, years - every last wound

you'll ever endure - catch in the silty net

you drag behind, sans mermaids, moths

or seraphs' teeth. Your uncombed dreams

pour down your face, white as salt.

Listen, the sea is shifting in sleep.

It's Christmas, and you are unparented

again. We both wait in this empty inn-yard;

a few stray gods quarrel behind their curtain.

Since they have been replaced, no doubt

they can discount one more failed prayer,

one more gloria in excelsis. A feather zags

its way to earth. This is only an owl's trick,

girl. If you pick it up, you will be lost.

Can't you feel the darkness gathering itself?

Midnight snaps shut, a padlock against hope.

Tomorrow is ordinary, as you must surely

expect by this time. Come into the pub-light

where a solitary barman offers decent ale

and music for all the bruised people. We are

among them, we whose homes and lovers

have blown like scarves over the world's edge.

Here's to absent friends, someone says.

I lift a mug; foam spatters my right hand.

A nearby church peals one o'clock and I

almost believe in something. Then I look down

at the tabletop reflecting your face. Its eyes

turn to knotholes, beaten into the wood.

Its mouth is the crack under a door.

You've damned me, girl, with a feather

saved from dirt. Now you wear it in your hair.

© By Scout On 7/20/2008 6:41:41 PM
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