Thank you to everyone who participated! This was a great effort for a meaningful purpose: the recent burning down of the Chateau Boswell winery in Napa Valley. Congratulations to the winners. Bravo!  —Evan Mantyk, judge.

First Place ($100 Prize)

Ode to Chateau Boswell

by Susan Jarvis Bryant

You loom in sooty gloom and tombstone grief,
In dusty shades of faded yesterdays.
One withered witness whispers of a thief
Who snatched tomorrow’s purpose and its praise:
A portent torched the sultry evening skies—
‘Twas Sirius who scorched then stole your soul.
The blaze of mad dog days razed grape and vine,
Left sylvan sprawl as dark as raven coal.
One parched and brittle rose blooms in the eyes
Of ghosts who sing of merriment and wine.

They sing of ripest flesh and plumpest fruit,
Of sun-dipped sips and crystal-clinking toasts:
The aria of ambrosia in a flute
That floats on claret clouds as twilight coasts
Beyond the pyre and mourning’s sear and sting,
Where dreams of Dionysus deign to dance.
I taste the spill of harvest’s luscious splash.
I feel the thrill of summer’s giddy glance.
I see your bonhomie in feathered wing—
A phoenix breathes beneath your shroud of ash.

Note: Sirius is the brightest star in “Canis Major,” a dog-shaped constellation that is at its height in summer.

Second Place

Though Charred and Wilted as a Rose

by James A. Tweedie

The Silverado Trail on fire;
The Chateau Boswell in its grasp,
Stretched out as on a funeral pyre
As flames inhale its final gasp.

Though charred and wilted as a rose—
Its beauty scarred and etched with pain—
Within the stem, a new bud grows
That, phoenix-like, will rise again.

Third Place

Mourning Tintern Abbey

by Brian Yapko

The flash of flame, the searing of the soul
The wrath of Nature mocking what men build;
The bricks, the rose, the dreams devoured whole…
O, who can measure grief for what was killed?

I think of Tintern Abbey lost to time.
The ocean floor that is Titanic’s home;
The dreams destroyed, the works of art sublime
Entombed beneath Jerusalem and Rome.

As dies the rose so must we face our fate:
Our days of living are so very brief;
The winds of change come hard and seldom straight—
Singeing beauty, singing us to grief.

To tame the world comes at a dire cost—
Tears of ash which baptize what we’ve lost.

Honorable Mentions


by Sally Cook

Cowled shadow-shapes in dim doorways, prescient,
Observe burnt roses, ochre stalks, all bent
Yet still recall how ordered living was.
Sharp odors from the burning, and the buzz
Of hungry bees, who search and fail, then sigh
Along the grapevine, now all charred and dry,
Where graceful gladioli climbed to Heaven,
Like medieval ladies, in jeweled hennin;
When bells chimed over shattered glass, poems rhymed.

Chateau Boswell—Napa Valley (2020)

by Paul A. Freeman

The trees become complicit once the flames
with tinder and the swirling wind are fed;
an ash-and-smoke enveloped skyline frames
the mountains and the hills which men have fled.
The vineyards are a battleground unused
to Nature’s rage, for newly in the fight
they fall before a fire that’s amused
how feebly we can douse its orange light.
A bastion to Bacchus is no match
for blazing, seething heat that cracks its stones,
that chars its rose beds, burning plants like thatch,
or acid stripping melted flesh from bones.
Such scorched earth conflagrations are a test
to see Mankind’s resilience at its best.

A Relic of 2020

by Lucia Fisher

I stopped to smell the roses in
This double-twenty year
When men thought Mars and flying cars
Would finally be near
But since I found no blossoms nigh
I wandered off to search
(And though I scrutinized the skies
No hoverboards emerged)

At length I caught a spot of red
Like blood or new-poured wine
As I drew near, the sight grew queer
Then dismal in design
A single rose with head bowed low
Abandoned on its stem
As if a plague of flow’ry ague
Had seized the rest of them

Or maybe some strange insects like
A murder hornet swarm
Attacked the blooms and sealed their dooms
In angry protest storms
My fanciful conjectures were
Arrested by a scent
And then I took a closer look
At petals black and bent

I stopped to smell the roses in
The twenty-twenty gloom
But smoke and spark have made their mark
And masked the bud’s perfume

Flamma: A Rhupunt

by Ryan Watch

A raging fire
Brimming with ire
Why set this pyre
On the Château?

Witness the clash
Of smoke and ash.
Behold the flash
Of flames aglow.

A lone rose dies;
There are no cries.
Under red skies
Burns the Château

Nothing remains
But barren plains.
Yet from such pains,
New life will grow.

What’s Lost in Flames

by Talbot Hook

Human ardor, human dreams—
And all around us Nature teems—
Reified in stock and stone,
What’s lost in flames shall be regrown.

NOTE TO READERS: If you enjoyed this poem or other content, please consider making a donation to the Society of Classical Poets.

The Society of Classical Poets does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments.

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13 Responses

  1. Sally Cook

    Congratulations to all, and welcome to Lucia, Ryan, Talbot. Hope to see you here again.

  2. Julian D. Woodruff

    Thank you and congratulations to all winners. Poetry of brilliance, sincerity, and hope.


    I’m humbled and grateful to be included in the company of such talented and brilliant people! Thank you and congratulations to each of you. Every one of your poems is a gem.

  4. Yael

    Congratulations Susan, on your beautiful poem!
    Great job everyone; I enjoyed reading all the entries.
    I’m amazed at all the interesting thoughts you poets came up with in response to the above photo, which looks uninspiring to me.

  5. Ryan Watch

    My congratulations to the winners of the Ekphrastic contest and laudations to the runners-up.
    I look forward to writing and participating in the next poetry contest.

  6. Ryan Watch

    An Encomium to Poetic Victors
    (In Honor of the Ekphrastic Contest)

    From the Sun’s irradiant sphere,
    Which is the abode of enlightened bands,
    Apollo rushes down to mortal lands
    Causing poor Daphne to shudder in fear.
    Her fallen leaves that poets so revere,
    Are fetched and woven by the God’s deft hands.
    The finished wreath, made of laurel leaf strands
    Is crowned upon the Victor of the year.
    O Muses! Greet the poet-champ with glee.
    Sing songs of approbation and fine praise!
    A toast, a laud to the Victor’s poetry!
    For all his written efforts shall be graced .
    May this poem panegyrize such artistry,
    So that the poet’s name may not efface.

  7. Paul A. Freeman

    Congratulations, Susan’s a worthy winner!
    In comparison my poem was a dog’s dinner.
    I won’t cry, or stomp, or shout, ‘Voter fraud!’
    But make my way back to the old drawing board.


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