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Winning Poems for February 2008
Judge Fleda Brown

First Place
Unmarked Grave
by Lois P. Jones
Pen Shells

I'm drawn to this poem from the first line--the "brows of broken ashes"--and continue to be delighted and surprised line after line by the fresh metaphors. This poem is all poem. It holds me aloft in its language. The death of Federico Garcia Lorca is made present, a "sun imploding/ like a sack of rotten oranges." I can only quote lines from this fine poem, which deserves not to be rendered into prose. The poem's ending is brilliant, "but the sheets,/ the white sheets you sail on, / coming home." How much more perfect can an ending be, for Lorca, and for us? --Fleda Brown

Second Place
by Mitchell Geller
Desert Moon Review

When a sonnet is good, it holds in a great deal of passion, using the struggle of the lines to keep it from flying apart in anguish. Here is a poem, maybe the only one like this I've seen, that eulogizes the "Edenic interval" before AIDS began its rampage in the gay communities. The voice in the poem is authentic, the language interesting ("Tremont Street's raffish, doggy side") and sometimes perfect--"that bony white cane." Although the couplet feels weaker than the rest, the end-rhymes "like this" and "abyss" do exactly what they need to do, pull us into the darkness. --Felda Brown

Third Place
by Adam Elgar
The Writer's Block

I can't say exactly what the narrative of this poem is, except for the séance, but I'm delighted with where the short stanzas take me. As in a trance, I'm listening for what's missing--all the kinds of hunger and of rage that we're made of, that we've stifled, commemorated, even. The poem "purrs/ along the folds/ of these old clothes" to touch on, to barely suggest, what one enters a séance to obtain--some connection with the world just out of reach, the one that is like a loaded rifle, which probably resides within us. The whimpering boy that ends the poem is, the poem tells us, the beginning of what's stifled. --Felda Brown

Honorable Mention
Black Man Carrying Alligator Briefcase
by Bernard Henrie
The Writer's Block

Honorable Mention
Hawaiian Chicken (not a recipe)
by Alice Folkart

Honorable Mention
by Laurie Byro
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