. ⬙ Judged by Cynthia Erlandson See all entrants here. ⬙ . FIRST PLACE WINNER ($100) . A Slight Deviation from the Canterbury Tales after Chaucer’s Prologue and other poems by Brian Yapko, Sante Fe, New Mexico When that April with his showers sweet Made mud fields out of every field and street And caked with blackest moss each flower pot As made our hero grumble “Out, damn spot!” So did the West Wind make our hero leery That date night might become a midnight dreary. Wont to argue, would his date dispute Of man’s first disobedience?---And the fruit He bought to woo and win her went to rot (Cheap-purchased off some lady from Shalott.) Our hero met his date. Alas! Dismay! For she was more rough wind than buds of May! Although she walked in beauty like the night She had a scolding tongue---a waspish fright! Lilacs in the yard withheld their bloom When she complained---the very voice of doom! They walked till evening spread against the sky But strayed. She mocked him with a glittering eye. Foul-mouthed in the frith, her anger grew. Whose woods these were he truly thought he knew But he was wrong. Well, better to be lost Than loved, he thought. This date packed too much cost! They argued underneath a poison tree. Two roads diverged. The best was not to be. There was no help and so they kissed and parted. Free! Our hero was not broken-hearted. The vales rejoiced! No albatross in sight, He ambled gentle into that good night. . . SECOND PLACE WINNERS . COVID and Travel from Shakespeare’s play Richard III, Act I, Scene I by Julian D. Woodruff, New York Now is the winter of our discontent Stretched out through spring, to summer, likely fall. In masks and social distancing we’ve spent Over a year, and now we’re facing, all, Arm twisting at its finest to get tested And vaccinated not just once, or twice, But more. Refuse, and we may be arrested, Or fined, or both; all that may not suffice. For instance, travel has for months been hard. You want to board a plane or cross a border, It’s “Oh, but you don’t have a vaccine card.” Patience and options, too, are growing shorter. The train?—nix! Next, they’ll take your car by force. Then might you beg, “My freedom for a horse!” . . “If I should die, think only this of me” from Rupert Brooke’s poem, “The Soldier” by Susan Jarvis Bryant, Texas If I should die, think only this of me: Her words ignited skies that cradled stars In ebon swathes of midnight’s symphony. They melted opal moons and marched with Mars Through thunderclouds, then bid the dark adieu. They trilled their treetop buzz in daybreak’s flares. They praised then bruised in brazen shades of blue. They blazed with tangerine and lemon airs The zest that caught the senses unawares. She gazed in glee and gasped in giddy awe At odes of bards of old casting their spell. A burning tyger and a raven’s caw Illumed the DNA of every cell. She had a yen no clock could ever quell. She craved to conjure mariners at sea, Those lesser travelled roads and trips through hell; And now Death’s stopped to keep her company, Her words are flirting with eternity. . . THIRD PLACE WINNERS . Second Comings from W.B. Yeats’ “The Second Coming” by Conor Kelly, West Clare, Ireland Turning and turning in the widening gyre The roller-coaster goes higher and higher. Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold, Since Playboy ditched its naked centrefold. The ceremony of innocence is drowned, Yeats has taken lessons from Ezra Pound. The darkness drops again but now I know The electricity was bound to go. And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Is now the media’s iconoclast. . . After Wordsworth’s “Daffodils” by Peter Hartley, Manchester UK I wandered lonely as a cloud, A mushroom cloud of toxic gas. I wish I’d died with all that crowd. Equating energy to mass I multiplied it by the square Of the velocity of light. If you had warned me: please beware! I might have saved us from our plight. If I’d not set the world alight, If only I might have foreseen What I had done and put it right. A plumber I wish I had been That summer’s end, 1905, I wish I’d never been alive. . . “The wheel of the roaring stillness” from G.K. Chesterton’s “The Ballad of the White Horse” by Benjamin Thomas Cepican, Indiana The wheel of the roaring stillness Rolls ever on in flame. Behold! All properties in One, A glory greater than the sun, And yet always the same. The wheel of the roaring stillness Rolls ever on in fire. The fount of goodness here is found To which all goodness does redound And satisfies desire. Oh Trinity, the Three in One, “Three orbs of triple hue,” A doubled rainbow here is shown (With colors yet to man unknown) Ablaze with Something of Their Own– An ancient, secret Living Throne Remaining ever new. The wheel of the roaring stillness Does not begin or end. By love constrained He keeps His art, In everything He plays His part, Suggesting to the human heart: The Godhead condescends. . . After “Trees” by Joyce Kilmer by Joseph Mason, Southern Oregon I think that I shall never see Along this road I roam A barren Wasteland tragedy That masquerades as poem Nor Cancel Culture comedies Where Sheeple Howl with glee And graze in wanton gluttony On Grass---or faux pourri No Wayfarer shall tread upon The road from tyranny This mystic mix of dusk and dawn In the land of poetrees Winds past a lake where daffodils Sway gently---whilst the breeze Nudge lonely clouds that wander still O’er a kingdom by the sea ‘Twas many and many a year ago Hearts ached for Annabel Lee And miles to go---and miles to go To meet serendipity Through snowy woods on a winter’s eve Looms a furrowed path forsaken Do follow it---should you believe In the hallowed road not taken Around the bend a carriage rests Abandoned in the night As death seeks out another guest For hope has taken flight Cry not---her fruitless search for love And immortality A lofty perch awaits above In perpetuity The pantheon of bards hoards dreams Envisioned by one’s muse The Belle of Amherst reigns supreme Ensconced in somber hues. . . FOURTH PLACE WINNERS . “To be, or not to be, that is the question,” from Hamlet by Bethany Mootsey, Clearwater, Florida To be, or not to be, that is The question lined with luxury That padded princes sit and spout From flasks that flow with empty fizz: A foaming of frivolity That obfuscates their kingdom’s drought. “To be” may fill a logic quiz, But for the man in poverty, His straining, starving limbs cry out For fate to stretch this toil of his To long, lean years of c’est la vie. He has no time to toy with doubt. The brokers of the brainy biz May deal in vague philosophy And wonder “why” and “what about,” While warriors wince as bullets whiz And fight the urge to flee, “to be.” The question, they can live without. . . My iPad from "I Have A Little Shadow" by Robert Louis Stevenson by Sally Cook, New York I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me. It’s very like my laptop, and as far as I can see I didn’t need another, but the salesman said you might Keep one within your car, the other tucked in bed at night. Suppose your neighbor’s pipes break one sub-zero night, he can Awaken you at three AM to borrow a big pan To catch the burst. And if a plane has just gone down in Spain You’ll want to be the first to know; not be left out again. He made sense. Driving, I amuse myself with little games. When on a date, it’s easy to be tweeting other dames. What fun to multi-task, send smutty pictures, anything! If I don’t like what someone says, I speed dial, let it ring, Then leave a call back message, tell the first I have to go Accept an urgent message, and nobody has to know I set it up, How smart I am! I never am alone When on my bed or in my car, I have my little phone. . . From “If” by Rudyard Kipling by David Whippman, United Kingdom If you can keep your head when all about you are taken with some passing PC cause; if you can let bandwagons leave without you, and stay quite still, and speak the truth that’s yours… and won’t keep silent when the mob’s demanding that you don’t talk about the wrongs you see; if you can be concerned and understanding yet never grovel on your bended knee… if you oppose some trendy leftist fashion, and yearn for peace, yet are prepared to fight; if you believe with logic, yet with passion, then stand your ground, for you are in the right. . . Spent Shells Opening line from the immortal classic ‘Humpy Dumpty’ (traditional) by S.A.Todd, UK Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall Humpty Dumpty, sick of it all. His death-leap was marvellous all the King’s men (despite the poor landing) still scored him a ’10’. . . HONORABLE MENTIONS . Coleridge---Well(s) Met by Raymond Gallucci, Frederick, MD “In Xanadu did Kubla Khan A stately pleasure-dome decree: Where Alph, the sacred river, ran Through caverns measureless to man Down to a sunless sea.” And in this Subterrania Lived Morlocks with a mania For breeding Eloi innocent As source of Morlock nourishment. But then The Traveler through Time Arrived and made that downward climb To show the Eloi they need not End up in Morlocks’ stewing pot. And in this future chose to dwell, Believing here he might excel By teaching Eloi of the past, Forgotten since the global blast. . . The Last Walk “As I Walked Out One Evening“ by WH Auden by Xavier Pimentel, Texas As I walked out one evening, On my two tired feet, I couldn’t help but notice, The people in the street. I know that I was crying, In the dark evening red. All the Earth was dying, Inside my weary head. Strangers who did not wonder, At this obvious sign, Walked on like they were blinded; Walked on like I was fine. I know that I was dying, In the dark evening sun. All the Earth was crying, And my time sadly done. Strangers who did not wonder, At my tear-stained face, Walked on like I was nothing; Like I was a disgrace. As I walked out one evening, To see the end of light, I couldn’t help but notice, The people in the night. The dark was now upon me. The sun was now asleep. I found myself in my home, Where I could hide and weep. I know that I had been crying, On that fateful day. All the world was dying, As I had flown away. . .