Posted May 20, 2018.

2018 Spring Contest Winner: 2nd Place, Members Only

Today I Am Venus

by Shawn Aveningo Sanders


Of course, Alexandros, I’ll gladly pose for you.

Your reputation precedes you—the way

you mold your models.  I’ve heard stories

of your jealous wife. Will she be joining us?


Is this your first time?

Sculpting an amputee, I mean. I hope

you’re not alarmed by my lack of arm.

Where would you like me to disrobe?


I may need a little assistance unzipping my dress.

You don’t mind, do you?

I’ll let you drape the peplos. Would you rather

I leave my prosthetic arm on


or take it off?

Today, I am your Venus,

I’m already beautiful. Now mold me

into something timeless.




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. A coy intelligence animates the encounter in the Venus poem, challenging the casual male erotic assumptions in classical western art.

Tim Whitsel



Shawn Aveningo Sanders is a globally published, award-winning poet who can’t stand the taste of coconut, eats pistachios daily and loves shoes…especially red ones! ( Shawn’s work has appeared in over 100 literary journals and anthologies. She’s a Pushcart nominee, Best of the Net nominee, co-founder of The Poetry Box®, and managing editor for The Poeming Pigeon®. Shawn is a proud mother of three and shares the creative life with her husband in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon.

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