Posted December 10, 2019.

2019 Fall Contest Winner: Traditional Form—1st Place, Blank Verse


by Diana Morley

Death comes sudden, so I hear,

heart gives out or mishap:

ladder tipped, car crash…

Yet some lives linger,

some die slowly—move closer

day by day, one by one,

no news—dying soft as they

live on the go right to the last day

when they know it’s time for leaving,

for seeping past a limpid line from day

to not-day, the way watercolors blend

and bleed past lines to seep through

into new hues, all while other people

eat and dance and sing—celebrate their luck.

At the store, balancing a hearty apple

freehand, calls to mind that when

wise to dying over time some people

show their spirited genius at living

Judge’s comments

The seduction of this poem is how the quiet images run counter to the trochaic meter. Typically, what would generate a strong, driving rhythm somehow softens into the background internal music of this deft poem. What’s remarkable is how “Gifted” follows, never forces, the meter through surprising or seductive images to its poignant destination.

John Morrison

Poet bio

Spreading Like Water (2019), is Diana Morley’s first chapbook; single poems published 2018–2019 by Right Hand Pointing and Passager. Second Prize (2018) and Honorable Mention (2019) received from Oregon Poetry Association contests, and her novel Something to Howl About (literary fiction) was published in 2014. She writes obsessively these days, often listening to Philip Glass, her muse, and reads poems at bookstores and coffee shops.

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