Posted May 21, 2018.

2018 Spring Contest Winner: 1st Place, Members Only

Ghazal in June

by Louise Barden


In summer heat your body wants to feel the wind

until you wish that you could steal the wind.


The world’s a fragrant orange, sweet and juicy ripe,

the scent you catch under its tender peel, the wind.


This hour has brought green leaf and purple flower

and to the feathered spread of blue-winged teal the wind.


Clouds, trees, the chirp and churk of birds fade fast

leaving behind one thing that’s real, the wind.


Do not think of snow blown cold for months ahead

when each new winter storm carries in its creel the wind.


The sails are raised, your wooden tiller set on course.

What guides your boat upon its keel? The wind.


You turn to leave so fast he cannot say goodbye

while sun is in his eyes and at your heel the wind.





Judge’s comments

Each of the poems that I chose were poems that possess stickiness, haunting me, charming me, challenging me, making me reach back to them. They accomplish this attraction variously through diction, poise, topic, point of view and yes, voice.

The winning poem and the runner-up, though quite different in tone and style, both take something old, (form) the ghazal or (artifact) the objectified female, and make it the vehicle for new conspiracy, surprise and fresh re-cognitions. I love the shifting seasonal iterations between the “eel” words and “wind” in the Ghazal.

Tim Whitsel



Louise Barden is the author of Tea Leaves, winner of the North Carolina Writers’ Network’s annual chapbook contest. Her poems, which have appeared in literary journals and anthologies, are influenced by the work of her ecologist husband, and her love of the natural world. With a B.A. (University of Arkansas) and M.A. in English (University of Maine), Louise was a university English instructor before becoming a bank writer/marketing executive, advertising copywriter and magazine writer. After childhood in Massachusetts, she lived in several U.S. locations before settling in Charlotte, NC, in 1974. A frequent visitor to Corvallis, Oregon, since 2013, she has, in the last year, made Corvallis home.

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