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Percy Bysshe Shelley Remembered Poetry Contest Runners-Up

Updated: Aug 28, 2023

Olivia Stogner won the Percy Bysshe Shelley Remembered Poetry Contest with her poem "Mary's Creature Speaks," but there are a number of fantastic entries to the contest by the writers that are contest runners-up.

You feed my wounds with salt

by Radoslav Rochallyi


by Noah Berlatsky

“Then smiling thou unveild’dst, O two-faced year, A virgin world.” —Emma Lazarus

On two bleak shores the same white hand has shut, Each knuckle fat and stained with heretics. Christ chews the melted gristle and the slick Of holiness slides down from chin to gut. We’re mixed together in one red spittoon In which they pan for gold and grace and land, Then pour us out indifferent, as that hand, Death pale and blind as death, sweeps west. We’re strewn Bone-tired upon their bones, as tired as ours. Well, Lazarus. Rise up and kiss the grin That dragged you here, and praise each cold white star, That you shine white upon a shore where sin, They say, has never come. The shore is far. We stand, knuckle-stained, upon its twin.

I have tried to welcome you

by Elena Botts

I have tried to welcome you in this land of reconciliation, but now you will walk awhile alone and reconcile yourself, I hope. I am either here-here, too much, a trail of messages, a sixteen page letter, ready to devote myself to anything or not-here, as with my friend in the house, or named sociopathic, or unfeeling. I would forsake this social world if I could, but if November tells me anything, it's that I have duties. I would say though there is an indisputable peace to being alone. Beyond that, I know so little. Everything I've written here is the sort of bogus conjecture one arrives at at the dead of winter when lying face-down, asleep, no longer terrorized by dreams of what is to come, for the predictions are already come to light, and only the narrow day is left to surmise. I might have wanted a place in your heart that was more restful. I am old, and tired, unnaturally so. My bones are made to break, at this point. I do it to myself, but the strain of holding out branch after branch, to not only answer, but facilitate your growth, has worn me down, not because it is a tiring act in itself but because I know at some points I stand alone, uncertain, stretched out to indeed nothing, worried most of all I am hindering, not helping, and that an easier grasp will never learn you to stand bravely facing outward, facing outward at the great scene I saw so long ago that you can only see the beginnings of, not yet knowing of the true unutterable grandeur of the world we live in, our own wonderment and erasure. I have spent many of my years in mourning, I really only look to the past. I have no futures to provoke me into interest. I see only the vast plateau of- well it was the same as ever. I think once I saw someone out in the distance- in that grand distance, someone golden. I went out to meet the train. I wore my Sunday best. I waved and smiled as it went by. You, gone then. You, half a mile away, and I always need to keep track in which direction, to point my feet away or I will walk to your stoop to stand like some lame bird, a raven maybe, something accustomed to lament, so accustomed as to be symbolic in the most laughable way- you have put some dark cloud on me, really, I think. I hate that your insecurities are mine to bear, and that our friendship, which was the dearest friendship of my life, must be destroyed by an inner conflict that seems merely adjacent. Say, perhaps a "baby thrown out with the bathwater," but evidently, the bathwater represents my guilt, and the lost child is you- remember when you asked me to go looking for you when you are lost? See, I think at any hour I just want to comfort you- I imagine standing in some cold park again, I imagine- so vividly- the feel of your clothes and form and warm body, present, as when you were tucked next to me- and I wish I were running a hand along your back so there was no shudder and crying was cathartic and not something borne alone where you might inconclusively wallow in as if it were all some premeditated failure. Here again, love laid to waste, I spend so many years of my life in some funereal mode for love laid to waste. Do I go about it all wrong? I know indeed love and loss are so much the same I can hardly note a difference, just the curl of smoke round the bend on this long road- I find that the sorrows mount longer and longer, though I find that the joys are indescribable. I think in this moment indeed it is a shame, but I walk like the only man to survive the battle- though embittered, just alone, confused at my self for being alive still. No one can walk with me too long, but I want to meet you again and again. I don't know if I've turned from the past to look forward again or that I have simply no regard any longer for the passage of time which means nothing. Regardless, when you hang up with finality, when you write me nothing, when you say that it's all been said and done, I am giddy because I see that first time on the horizon, once more.

i can’t wait to meet you

Pop Culture Poem.

by Yessmin Arevalo

Shakira Skakira.

What a liar liar.

Her hips are on fire.

-according to the Spanish government

Queen Lizzy

Is still living.

Charles wants her to stop breathing.

-Charles’ inner thoughts... They came true eventually.

Stranger Things season 4 was released.

Vecna is the beast.

Vecna got panties soaked, to say the least.

-women on twitter

To those who watched Morbius,

Jared Leto was not victorious.

His “method acting” couldn’t make him glorious.

-everyone with eyes

NFTs, pieces of trash.

Thank God they crashed.

Hope all the crypto bros get bashed.

-normal people

Monkey pox, a new disease.

More lives are seized.

Go away, please.

-Covid being insecure

The war in Ukraine got started.

Putin probably farted,

And he’s coldhearted.

-the fellows in Ukraine

Trump’s home was raided.

His tan has faded.

Also, his assets have deflated.

-all news station, except Fox

Inflation is a pain.

People complain.

Let’s stay sane.

-rich people who don’t have to worry

My life is boring,

But I wake up to twitter every morning.

The world is my story.


Webs the weather weaves

by Robyn Sykes

Lightning punctures grey-black clouds, rain plummets to the ground.

It scrubs the dust from wattle feather-leaves.

El Niño’s crown tips over – froglets croak, sheep munch on clover.

We’re trapped like moths in webs the weather weaves.

My farmer says, We’re lucky when compared to some around.

Perhaps the sun caught Covid – it’s grown pale as milk, and weak.

La Niña’s liquid bounty tumbles down.

Thick, squelching mud submerses sheep that baa-shriek wool-drenched curses,

while the flies attack as wasps and pastures drown.

We’re lucky that the house and yards sit high above the creek.

The savage gut-worms Barber’s Pole breed New Year’s eggs with zest.

Our farm hand sends a card from Western France.

My farmer’s kneecap splatters when a ram’s quick temper shatters.

And contractors? You’re kidding. Not a chance!

I’m home alone, three thousand lambs to treat, a hopeless quest.

Three thousand! All with hangdog heads, in need of urgent care

that I can’t give… the stickiest of jams.

My mind goes wild with worry and spits visions in a flurry

packed with anguished bleats of sick and dying lambs.

Good luck becomes an abstract as I offer up a prayer.

O God if you can hear me, help me ease these creatures’ pain.

Please show me how to deal with all this strife.

Though bible-reading scholars say you hate to talk of dollars,

our banker doesn’t share your view on life

as half our yearly income dashes headlong for the drain.

My farmer, stuck in hospital, can’t find a path to beat.

Our far-flung children juggle jobs and lives.

What earthly scales could measure so much pain, so little treasure?

Hope, hardy as a desert spring, survives

in carol-songs of magpies and the splash of ducklings’ feet.

Our doctor son is on the phone, I’ve rearranged my shifts.

I’ll be there in the morning, right to start.

His twin, big city lawyer, flicks to Barber’s Pole destroyer

and the engineer soon shows her Phar Lap heart.

How lucky am I now? So blessed, with three-fold brown-eyed gifts!

They work from dawn to after dark for days through heat and flies:

when even kelpies flag, you know it’s tough.

As they drain the drums of drenches, my contorted brain unclenches.

My farmer tries to thank them, his voice gruff.

We’re lucky… but the tears flow in a flood he can’t disguise.

Although some sickly lambs succumbed, the rest gain health and weight.

My farmer’s knee grows stronger, but it’s slow.

The crisis brought us nearer, helped our future’s plans grow clearer

as three brown-eyed gifts revealed their crystal glow.

We’re the lucky ones, they tell me, as a grandchild climbs the gate.

Metal Pot

by Melinda Jane – The Poet Mj ©

The kettle is dotty on the boil.

Slang brewing, cackle, crackle.

Eccentric whistle swearing volatilities.

Kettle had no Socrates reasoning,

Only heated up, empty babble.

The kettle is dotty on the boil.

The left thinking secretions.

Those filtrations, perforated into battles.

Eccentric whistle swearing volatilities.

Conspiracy theories aghast, no cohesion,

No grace, only riff-raff prattle.

The kettle is dotty on the boil.

Gender bending mispronunciations.

Broken like the ‘Tower of Babel’.

Eccentric whistle swearing volatilities.

Unruly kettle’s sabbatical, heathen

tea made, bizarre tasting tittle-tattle.

The kettle was dotty on the boil.

Eccentric whistle dissipates volatilities.

The Emanuel Nine after “Music, when soft voices die” by Percy Bysshe Shelley

by Jules Griswold

Come down, you muse of music, where played you when the hum of bullets found soft sweet slumber where voices sung? And now they die,

praying, as the chamber vibrates– a drum– did they find you in each prolonged breath? The Son, sacrificed for the memory

of when men were kind. Odors: beech gum and myrrh, like when Mary wrapped her boy in sweet slung cloth and crushed violets, did she hear you? Do you sicken

from all that we must live with? And all who sing within the thrum, where sing you in the chorus of men who kill without sense? No gun can baptize, so they count each heartbeat, hear it quicken.

In memory of those killed at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church

Last Dance

by Beverly Joyce

The tulle stars of the trees perform their last dance on a lawn stage for an audience of one.

I sit in wonder at how well they let go and succumb to the swell of breezed breath that lies them down.

How unlike the ballerina in the box are they? She moves to a tune. Round and round she goes; when she stops, everybody knows. Not her father, but her own melody gives her away. No surprise inside has she. Like the weasel who pops, she stops when the hand says so. Every time.

These wafer fingers, though? They hitch a ride like a kid on a dad’s shoulder sit-and- spin at a packed parade. Stained glass swirls and twirls. Swoops and slides. Goes up and down, side to side. Dances dances without names. No two breaks with bark are the same.

Autumn litter lingers in 52 Pickup disregard around my yard, like debrised empty streets long after the ball has dropped.

My chilly koosh flesh perch upon woven Tin Man patio cane weave leaves, like a cheek slap, its mark--- red.

I sit and think. Life is notched up and is held captive in frames of firsts, enveloped inside cards slipped into slots of blue metal boxes. Just maybe--- life’s love affair with a first is its pinkie promise not to be the only. But, where does that place lasts? For them, we save the best. Right? If first is the worst, then why keep it forever Giles pressed between tarnished pages?

When my daughter decided it was lame to put her paw inside mine to cross the street... When my dog like stylus to vinyl last chased his own tail...

These are the lid dances that right angle drop the girl in the box coffin pink, a final tuck in.

A red capped downy digs digs digs above and I bright bulb recall the wise bird in the rabbit ear tube, how in his haste to taste the center, he bites the pop and wastes its flavor.

I say lick life’s lasts. Unhank each one to its core--- even when a sugar crust crater cuts your worn tongue--- until nothing is left but a limp soggy stick that cannot help but still be sucked and a wrapper you have folded like a fan just to unfold and then nail iron flat again.

Only cease when the creases are present paper thin as the last dance leaves of the limbs that on the ground surround me now, like the wrapper ring, spent, that over and over round my finger went



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