Beguiled by an ad in the back of a magazine (I *think* it was Poetry Magazine) I decided to enter The Poetry Society’s National Poetry Competition. I didn’t win, of course; supposedly they read every single entry (unlike some other competitions, I have noticed), and just having a stranger read a poem of mine was enough of a win for me. I knew I didn’t have any chance of even getting a nod – well, maybe about as much chance as having a polite knock at the door answered when there’s already a raging party going on inside – but I still wanted to enter, because why not? Also the fringe benefit is that I now receive their excellent quarterly magazine, which so far has been packed with stunning writing.
I was pleasantly surprised to receive the above little anthology book of all the winners and “commended” with the latest issue! I never expected to be able to read a print copy; I figured it would just be online. High 5 for keeping print alive, y’all!
Since my entry was thus, officially, deader than a doornail most definitely not successful in the competition, I figure I am now free to share the poems that I entered. One I will keep back, because it’s part of a larger project that I am holding close to my chest.
The other poem is even closer than a secret held close in a pocket next to my heart, because it’s about my Dad, who suffered a very serious stroke in May 2020. It’s officially been a year, now. I present it to you now with a photograph of him I made in September 2020, when he was at my house for / on my birthday.
He has seen things
he wants to tell us but
the words won’t come
they get hung up on the way out
snagged on the bits of wire
holding his thinker together
He’s seen everything
in a way: birth, death
the rolling waves of time
life from above and below
some of it we were even there for
He lives again, now,
in snatches of memory
in the garbled mess
that the stroke left behind
I see him, seeing me.
His fear leaps out
through the windows to his soul.
Thank you for reading!
Have you entered any poetry competitions? If the answer is yes: YAY for you, for doing it! How did it go? If you didn’t “succeed” (aka win, because honestly just entering is success in my book), will you try, try again?