Posted November 7, 2017.

2017 Fall Contest Winner: 3rd Place, Members Only

Letting Go of the Landline


My newlywed number is finally gone

after thirty-three years, along with my name

in the white pages. Everything I have to say

bounces from tower to tower

no longer tied down by cable,

hooked to a house,

or nosing under the hard ground.

If your paper address book holds that number,

you may never find me.

If you try to reach me and fail,

no tiny tape reels will let me know.

The cable company has deleted

all the voices I tried to save,

like the ones that said thank you

for the lovely Mother’s Day lilies,

whispered call St Joseph’s hospital immediately,

or hissed you fat

lying slut.



Judge’s comments

Limited to twenty lines, the poems in this category delivered memorable imagery and resonant meaning with great economy of language. The very best of them also gave the reader the gift of surprise—a quality shared by the diverse assortment of poems honored here.


Third place, “Letting Go of the Landline,” craftily takes on an unremarkable event of modern life, initially lulling us with prosaic details and then waking us up with an ending as shocking as a slap in the face.


Stephanie Striffler has loved poetry almost all of her life, including during the decades she has worked as a lawyer for the people of Oregon. She spent her early years in New Mexico and Michigan before coming to Portland, Oregon, to attend Reed College. She lives in Portland, where she enjoys birding excursions with her husband, and at current count has recorded 52 species of birds in their back yard.

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