January 2018 IBPC - Congrats J.J. Williamson!

JANUARY 2018 WINNERS

  • FIRST PLACE

    You Arrive Like Fall, Suddenly
    by Bob Bradshaw
    The Writer's Block

    SECOND PLACE

    Waiting for the Second Coming
    by Jim Doss
    Wild Poetry Forum

    THIRD PLACE

    Homeless
    by J.J. Williamson
    Babilu

    HONORABLE MENTION

    When I Go Out and Then Come Back
    by Guy Kettelhack
    Wild Poetry Forum


Kenny A. Chaffin
"Strive on with Awareness" - Siddhartha Gautama
Thanked by 1Rus Bowden

Comments

  • Thanks for posting this, Kenny. Appreciated.

    JJ

  • Posts: 0
    So glad about this, love this poem. Almost posted it a few days ago, but felt it wasn't my place. 

    lb

  • Posts: 0
    Congratulations JJ :)


    ~


    Judged by C. Wade Bentley


    ~~~~~




    1st place:


    by Bob Bradshaw, of The Writer's Block


    leaving my heart thumping
    like a banging shutter. You missed

    the bigleaf maples that hung
    like mid air vineyards in spring,

    their long racemes
    of yellowish green flowers

    heavy as grapes. Now
    they have the anemic yellows

    of leaves folded
    like handkerchiefs waiting

    to be pocketed away. That alone
    should have alerted me to loss.

    Haven’t the blow-wives long lost
    their beautiful heads of white hair

    to shearing winds?
    Still, there’s hope you’ll stay, right?

    Like the woolly mule’s ears
    with her long blonde hair

    you too feel at home
    in the cool air,

    one moment clinging to me
    like a monkey flower to a fence,

    as if intent on staying.
    And yet the next moment

    I sense you don’t need roots
    –that like a moon jelly,

    there isn’t a rock
    or a patch of soil or a man

    that could ever
    anchor you.


    I enjoyed the cascading couplets of this poem, like vines twining down an arbor, with nary a misstep in the voice, nothing to get snagged on. I was engaged from that delightful first metaphor, the “heart thumping like a banging shutter,” readying for a storm. Of course it’s not a new idea to see autumn as a foreshadowing of loss, but this poem refreshes the trope with concrete, sensory images. --C. Wade Bentley




    ~~~~~ 




    2nd place:


    by Jim Doss, of Wild Poetry Forum


    The cattle are lowing
    but there’s no baby in the manger. Christmas day
    dawns cold and bright without a star to follow
    or Wise Men who come trudging over the whitened

    hills. All I see are the swaying backsides of Guernseys,
    tails flicking flies out of habit. They waddle
    like old ladies answering the call of church bells
    weary from lugging oversized purses

    filled with life’s necessary nothings.
    They stare in wide-eyed astonishment
    that I’ve left the warmth of the house, presents
    unopened under the tree as the others snore

    snugly in their beds. The sucking sound
    of my rubber boots in the mud draws them
    closer. I lead them one by one into the stalls,
    smear antiseptic on the udders, attach

    the metal fingers. Liquid rushes through tubing
    as the gentle massage begins and the collection tank
    fills. I listen to the whir of the vacuum motor,
    unthinkingly replace one cow with another.

    If there’s a Messiah born on this day,
    surely he would be here, nestled dryly
    in the loft, adored by his teenage parents,
    who fled their own Caesars and Herods,

    I want to rise from this damp straw
    that smells of dung, urine and sour milk
    to behold the radiance of his face,
    the peaceful reassurance that miracles await.

    But I’m afraid all I’d find is two scared children
    holding a screaming baby, the bloody
    afterbirth matted in the hay, a beat-up
    Volkswagen hidden behind a clump of evergreens,

    and their eyes begging the blessing of my silence.
    As the last udder is emptied, a halo
    of light descends from the loft window
    to circle my thorn-crowned head, and it is finished.


    There’s a Ted Kooser quality to this poem, which is high praise, in my book. The voice feels entirely authentic and confident. I believe the sucking sound of the speaker’s boots in the muck. I believe he/she knows her/his way around a milking barn. As always, for me, I need the poet to ground me in a place, give me a chance to look around, or else I am not able to listen to any grander ideas the poem might present. And this poet does so, beautifully. It’s the “oversized purses,” early in the poem that allow me to accept the “thorn-crowned head” at the end. --C. Wade Bentley




    ~~~~~ 




    3rd place:


    by J.J. Williamson, of Babilu


    The tiny mouse that lived inside
    my dry stone wall is petrified.
    Her body couldn’t bear the frost
    and there she lies, preserved and lost,
    inside my dry stone wall.

    The pygmy shrew that found a heap
    of brittle leaves falls sound asleep.
    The snuffling mite consumed his last
    then snuggled down to face his fast
    inside the heap of leaves.

    The jenny wren that settled in
    the ivy quilt is plume and skin.
    Her shivering frame has acquiesced
    because she hadn’t built a nest
    inside the ivy quilt.

    The feral cat that prowls around
    my broken fence slips on the ground.
    The frozen earth defies his claw
    and winter’s knives have sliced his paw
    around my broken fence.

    Now I sit in my cozy house
    to think about the tiny mouse,
    the shrew, the wren and feral cat
    then place some balls of grain and fat
    outside my cozy house.


    I always admire a poet who can pull off a heavily-rhymed poem without making it feel heavy. The enjambment breaks up the iambic tetrameter, the rhymes are clever and fresh, so that we have a strong pulse pulling us through the stanzas, and yet the danger of doggerel, that sing-songy quality, is side-stepped beautifully. “The jenny wren that settled in”—lovely. --C. Wade Bentley




    ~~~~~ 




    Honorable mention: 


    by Guy Kettelhack, of Wild Poetry Forum


    When I go out
    and then come back
    with my psyche’s sack
    as packed with the city

    as all of the rest of me,
    I’m coming back to New York
    of course. Like the mane
    is the horse, andouille

    would not be but for pork,
    and I am made out of New York,
    not just in it. I’m a pure-grained
    example of what New York

    does to the unwary soul
    in that famed New York minute.
    It swallows you whole.
    Even my iPhone colludes

    in the business of keeping me
    conscious of this, block to block.
    When without mercy I’m shunted
    from corner to curb in Manhattan

    and seize up inside
    from the shock, my iPhone
    reliably counsels:
    ‘press home and unlock.’

    Since I’m always and already
    home, pressing home doesn’t
    ever require a key. I press home
    and unlock when I know there was

    never a lock to begin with –
    just me and the city and me
    in the city and me as the city
    and . . .


    “ . . . my psyche’s sack/ as packed with the city . . .”—wonderful. Skillful use of sounds and repetition throughout. --C. Wade Bentley




    ~~~~~




    End




    ~~~~~
  • Thank you very much, Laurie and Rus for the congratulations. I was really pleased this one got a nod from the judge and more than surprised.

    Best to both

    JJ

  • Posts: 0
    Congratulations JJ!

    Jim
  • Thanks a lot, Jim. Appreciated.

    JJ

  • Hoo Hoo bravo to all the winners
  • Cheers, Alex. Appreciated.

    JJ

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