Some Winning Poems

- These are more recent winners. For more winning poems see "Selected Poems" - 

 Winner of the 2016 Margo LaGattuta Memorial Poetry Prize - Poetry Society of Michigan:



    Not of bones or humiliations we lie with

    thankful for the alarm of another day

    but of the squirrel who found her way

    into the tube feeder, sought black oilers,

    their seedy scent, the way the apple

    in its sun-glow tempted Eve. Pungent

    apple-scent like the scent

    of Adam himself, his skin, his hair,

    maybe now I’ve gone too far, but isn’t

    that what the squirrel sought there

    in the feeder I filled, I hung?

    Her clever mind figured the lid off,

    reckoned a way to the manna there,

    the way the man whose elbow rested

    confident on his knee as he flicked

    ashes from his cigarette, whose music

    lined his walls alphabetically, whose love

    of mysteries pulled me from my marriage

    into a conduit of seed, no

    consciousness of how deeply the tube

    held food or what might be at the end –

    no end at all. Dug in, I consumed

    my way to the bottom, found myself

    trapped. She died there. Suffocated.

    When all I wanted was to feed her.


 Nominated for a 2014 Pushcart Prize by The San Pedro River Review: 



The rivers are in their place,

The ships, the barnacles, the fish are in their place,

The wind across the barges that bring baseballs,

            bearings, resin barns are in their place.

The ships that carry our burdens, our demands,

                                                 are in their place.

There is a new pope.

There is a melting icecap.

There is a tea shop by the boardwalk.

The lost balloons are in their place,

People standing silent are in their place.

The lights along the boardwalk shine on something that grows

            close to the surface.

The distant islands look close while close eyes look distant.

There is a child finding toys, finding heroes among the discarded.

There is grass that grows despite salt and asphalt.

                                                    It is in its place.

A man wants money for drink, a woman gives it to him.

            They are in their place.

The Cormorants and Grebes are in their place.

There are rocks and pylons that hold us above the dark enormity,

There is a far off depth and a shallow presence,

The landings are in their place,

The dredging are in their place,

The bells and clangs and ropes are in their place.

People shopping along the wharf, sipping wine, forgetting…

            are in their place.

And something arrives,

And something leaves,

And always, there is a lighthouse reminding us of threat.

And to all the captains, to all the commerce, there is a wind

            both dangerous and calm.


Honorable Mention - 2010 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards:

Plaza Hotel Florida Where We Met, 1969

Fifteen, we sang harmony

by the elevator, lower level where

the acoustics made us sound gothic, flutish,

sound like road trips, microphones

and Stratocasters. We were peasant shirts,

tie-dyed, sandaled, about to smoke

cigarettes, meet guys in the park,

reek of dime bags, fringed

jackets we were patchouli oil,

Dead Heads, moody,

blue, and sex. We were choices

about to be made. Afraid

from all the wanting, we sang

of freedom we craved, feared, already had;

of roads miles away, and someone to miss us.

what did we know of loss? What did we know

of roads and someone to miss us? 

We sang like the Haights and Ashburys,

like something about to burst

open in us, spread like pollen

among flowers applauding in parks,

our long hair parted in the middle,

earth style, earth in our shoes,

earth reaching up in us. Nothing yet polluted.

We sang like wind sweetened

with cannabis and chance, the train whistle's

harmony, deep and throaty, sang

the way park-dogs worked on Frisbees,

leaping, grabbing, offering. Offering,

we sat on the floor near the elevator

pulling the sea-soaked air into our lungs,

pretending, preaching, singing,

singing about surviving something

we hadn't yet hazarded, neither homeless

nor forsaken, just five hundred miles from home.

Five hundred miles. Five hundred miles.

Joy Gaines-Friedler