2019 ILX Poetry Competition: VOTE HERE

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Thanks to a last minute outpouring, a total of sixteen poems were entered by eleven poets. I thank all of them. Poems exist because humans do, but what makes a person a poet is the courage to expose their poems to public view.

The ballot lists the poems in the order in which they were received. Titles provided by the poet are bolded. Where no title was included by the poet the first line (in italics) serves to identify it. I took the liberty to consolidate the three fragments posted by the table is the table as a single poem, in the numeric order specified.

Before voting you may read all the poems entered, immediately following this post. I made an effort to preserve any special formatting used by the poet in the submissions thread, but I may have failed in that effort. In which case, I apologize.

Poll Results

My Daughter's Misfortunes, Aimless 4
Your River, My River, tangenttangent 3
UNTITLED GOOSE POEM, Jonathan Hellion Mumble 2
ive a clock ticking fifty seconds a minute, darraghmac 1
Ranging in twilight’s palsied silver, at the summit of autumn’s blaze, Chinaski 1
new church Kidbrooke, imago 1
Oh had I but a cup of coffee, Frederik B 0
On a Rooftop in Manhattan, treeship. 0
3 fragments of a Work in Progress, the table is the table 0
Seurat Upon the Asteroid, Aimless 0
Whatever you're thinking, I THOUGHT IT FIRST, Jonathan Hellion Mumble 0
ANAMNESIS, meaulnes 0
La lugubre gondola, pomenitul 0
in a smallshit factory town down west, darraghmac 0

A is for (Aimless), Sunday, 24 November 2019 19:26 (eight months ago) link


Dead flies on the window frame
Remind me that I'm home
Secret message in the run-out groove
Put there for ME ALONE
I take all my food in sandwich form
Because you've got to have a ~system~
Haven't used my thumbs since... '94?
...can't say that I've missed them

She moved in during gala week
There were flags up round the town
And then a few days later
They'd already took them down
Between the hours of one and three
That's when we're at our most lethal
Ragdoll physics when I'm with her
(we fall about like real people)

You know you're special
When your prison number is a palindrome
But you know you're done for
When you'll go anywhere instead of home
And at some point in our time on the floor
She says we'll be "friends forever"
Full of vodka and Corinthian Love
We'll tell each other whatever

She's never seen me at my best
You never know, she might be impressed
But it's cold and late and I just need a rest

And I think that maybe I could?
Although I'm not the sort of person who normally would
And there's no way that this is ending good

But when she sighs and rolls her eyes
I try to stay awake, and try to stay alive

And when I said "DON'T HOLD ME BACK"
What I really meant was "HOLD ME BACK"
Because I'm clinging onto what I know for fact

-- Jonathan Hellion Mumble


Dine klæder klæder din krop i dag,
bourdaux er en af dine farver.
En snoromsnøret og stropløs sag
der dels forfører dels forarger
For man kan se dine hår
under armene når
du fægtene står
og foredrager.
For dine klæder klæder din krop i dag
og jeg glæder mig til
at jeg kan klæde dig af.

-- Frederik B

La lugubre gondola


Some sort of passage –
neither here nor there.
Throw the shroud aside,
bore a hole into its twill.
Circumscribe the sentence
backwards as it streams.


Whatever it is, it’s amiss.
As if meant to be poured
into collapsing funnels.
Darkness, thoroughly sieved,
flicks the eye into its cleft.
Something keeps watch.


Comes a sign: an undigested
rind, awaiting echoing.
Although the paper’s parlance
is of spare parts, scraps
and delicately wrought coils,
not a seal is left unbroken.


It abides as the flume draws
a fugue out of its fumes – an
unforeseen event. It is night.
The gondola glides along. I
am wherever the refraction
of a furnace breaks its fall.


A yarn now, dangled to and fro,
spun out of a distaff. You
pitch it anew with each retelling
and shove the maze aside
for a mesh with which to catch
some semblance of a clang.


Was that it, then? The pith,
the unmistakable spoor
of a retraction? I cannot say
as long as the alluvium’s
fault lines start and stir.
All is pitilessly left in tatters.


Were there matter somewhere
within these muttered words,
an uncowed song could emerge
and suck up the vague sea
across which figments of lips
trawl the depths for sustenance.

-- pomenitul


 Remember when you wanted what you have;
it took two dreams of dog bites,
a month of mosey,
year by the sill;
caught sibling wishes
in fettered breath
soothed regal guilt
from nosing the tufts
(though mostly wilt)

Now new night spills
like scarlet to sink

The old oaken limbs
kiss streetlamps unlit

The cats mimick -
all shadows awry

I cultivated calm
now new night is mine

-- meaulnes

Whatever you're thinking, I THOUGHT IT FIRST
However you feel, I FEEL WORSE
I took three buses to get here tonight
And smoking's only sexy in black and white
The migraine pills will get me through it
A shotgun with a torch taped to it
A paper bag to breathe into
And a drink for every thought of you

Little Timmy would have gave her the world
He's into Some Came Running and The Great Pretender
And nostalgia for days he can't remember
Sandinista! from his bed
Six sides just to clear his head
The beats will fade then what we got?
Time-and-a-half, but all for what?

"Corbusien Purity", the "Boy/Girl Aesthetic"
Filtered through his dialectic
Half-past-nothing and I can't feel my legs
Just concentrate on the last thing said
Reflected glory comes in waves
And starts to sting my eyes again
Flinch from a ghost, snow falls on snow
Where did all the good times go?

-- Jonathan Hellion Mumble

Seurat Upon the Asteroid

Seurat upon the asteroid
found the lack of atmosphere
oppressive. Nothing softened, rounded,
everything displayed unwanted harshness.

Seurat upon the asteroid
complained most of the monochrome
and felt embittered by its ill-adaptedness
to the pallette he was fond of.

He found the jagged edges of light too sharp
beyond what his tender eyes could accept.
He gripped his brush in impotent rage
against the bleakness and barbarity there.

Seurat upon the asteroid sat, and sighed,
and soothed his loss in dreaming,
attempting to fill his empty surroundings
by lingering in the intangible.

"Must I invent it all again" he thought,
"the muslins, bustles, upswept hair?
"The trees that secretly are clouds?
"Here such inventions seem beyond impossibility."

Obstinate, without intention, the asteroid
imposed itself upon the artist, until
Seurat upon the asteroid reconciled himself
to the angularity of the shattered light - and painted.

-- Aimless

My Daughter's Misfortunes

My daughter's misfortunes seem never to end.
They accumulate beyond counting, beyond tears.
For three decades I have shared her struggles.
Her body is as near to useless as a body can be.
She cannot move herself, she waits to be moved.
She cannot speak, her mind is fathomless to me,
Yet sometimes her face can be read like a book.
She never laughs, a smile is the limit of her delight.
She never cries, for tears could bring her no relief.

In autumn a surgeon cut off part of her femur.
In winter she nearly joined the legion of ghosts.
In spring a permanent slit was put in her bladder
So that a tube might empty the urine from it to a bag.
For her, my wife, and I, these few bald lines
Describe nothing other than a daily truth,
The texture of her entire life and half of ours.

It is hard to tell others how it is we live.
Around strangers I dread their conventional questions,
Our mutual awkwardness as my poor answers are revealed.
But there is nothing here that is unspeakable.
On Sundays we all visit together without exception.
We lie down all three adjacent, close, familiar.
I place my head against her head, lightly touching,
And she relaxes hers to mine, accepting the contact.
For an hour or two there is space for contentment.
This one thing, more than any other, is how we live.

-- Aimless

3 fragments of a Work in Progress


No wonder the dinosaurs
threw in the towel,
would for a softer ending, a coo at last light's
intense waveforms, but no, instead it's
the first time we've been forced to think
about how we fight war.

Is that the raclette or the diaper
of history bestirring my schnoz?

The aged loosen and it's a fright.
I palpate but the air is filled with zither music and
haggling in Vietnamese,
my intentions likely misplaced
as I tongue congee off a cleaver.

Snort all you want. Let's pretend we're viruses.

I call nipah and supply the mansions
with palm toddy, chucking thoat swabs
in the dustbin. Some were violent, and screaming;
they were pacified with injections.
I wanted to craft fictions.
It's a skull thump
on concrete.


The people of Des Moines, Iowa, are no strangers
to economic upheaval.
It never goes out of style.
He cleared the pipe and passed it.
We all close like water, and once
this floodplain hitched to the coast, blubbering over the scape.

My observations inform me
his real ambition was to start a band
playing music in the vein
of Jimmy Buffett—
he liked the relaxed lifestyles, baby let's cruise
away from here:

"how to wreck a hard drive,"
"water damage to a notebook computer."
Just browsing, treading, it's not illegal
to not want to be found. It's been explained
repeatedly. The tourists are covered in crude,
the schoolchildren started to vomit
scanning for shore. Nothing on the cameras
perchance to dream how the film depicted
in light's painful rigor a thirst
unplugged, a handwritten note left
in the unremarkable room
where we burned our papers
and set off the alarm.
A crowd gathers
on a strip of grass.


A particularly telling symbol is an absence.
My shame is right on, then,
the spreading thorn
strapped and surfing copper
unease crisp a celebration
of life padding parking lots and structures'
demanded lineation, looking behind me lustily.

It was all dell, surrender surrender
in fluxed splendor the jumbo word find
a recursive embrace of hurt's spillage,
pump up the contrast the orders
a view dimmed to gruel.

-- the table is the table

On a Rooftop in Manhattan

The planes performed their dance above LaGuardia,
banking lightly into a slow descent.

Margaret regarded the procession with envy.
When she was younger she thought the whole world moved
like gears inside a clock, churning indifferently
around the mounting catastrophe of her life.

Someone told her that this fantasy was called libertarianism,
evoking images of gun shows and New Hampshire
that quickly dissipated into a mosaic haze.

Margaret had no judgments and no ideals
at this moment in time,
and she caught herself saying that fatigue was a kind of nihilism
when she meant to ask for another drink.

-- treeship.

Oh had I but a cup of coffee
or perhaps a mug of tea
my heart, which as of now is awfully
sad, would would fill with joy and glee.
My dim and incoherent thinking
would, with just a bit of drinking,
become beautiful and bright
and tell my fingers what to write.
I know now that the drought is ending,
as now is done my daily toil,
and on my stove water doth boil.
but woe... I shan't go on pretending...
One thing would be even more dear:
Oh had I but a glass of beer!

-- Frederik B

new church Kidbrooke

I rode a new bus today, the 335 to Kidbrooke
they only introduced it a few weeks ago
and the announcements were broken -
instead of '335 to Kidbrooke' it said
'new. church! Kidbrooke'
so really it was like I was joining a cult and
route 335 was the cult
here's what happened next

but first about route 422, there's a
20-metre stretch of road in the middle
of the route where both the inbound
and outbound buses use the
same lane of the same road
in the same direction, that's the 422 lore
and now you know it too and
there's no way to not know it

so yeah this happened
the 380 goes past my house and
it seems to be more often much more often
than you'd expect from
the law of averages
that the inbound and outbound buses meet
at the crossroads i live on
and one of them has to stop to let the other past

by now i was ecstatic
to tell you about the 763
which doesn't exist yet but when it does
it will have a point on its route
where it has to do a three-point turn
in the middle of the traffic
while the driver sings
his favourite hymns and drums the wheel

so now i'm on the 8004
and we're flying into
~the hexagon~
which is where this route terminates
it is a beautiful place I hear
engines are running
you can queue for the next bus
there is ample shelter

-- imago

Ranging in twilight’s palsied silver, at the summit of autumn’s blaze.
Acorn litter, balled under arches –
Demosthenean props, rolled around the woods’ bronzed gape.
Beyond this, nothing is said.
Instead, we go undeceived, suspended in the updrafts of the old silence.

Rooks roil westward, lint in the eye of the sun’s liquid falling.
We crouch at a field edge, thick with dewy foreshadows;
you gather chestnut husks, the needles lancing your palms.
Then: a studied tilt, a new pressure behind your eyes, and there
not ten feet away, belly-deep, scrape-hidden, a deer. A deer.

Before, I’d carry you out, out to sleep off the afternoon’s bright daydreams,
and the deer would always come. They were your anxious, peering avatars,
come to see this strange two-fronted stalker abroad in their crucible of beech-caught light.
Once, walking through a pixellated summer night, a deer watched us home,
A distant, timid chaperon of dusk’s rough palisades.

Now, as the woods shrink, as time shrinks, acre by sodden acre, they come less frequently.
But I feel them, a soft presence at the edge of things,
a modest, unspoken rapture.
We gather each other, and for the briefest moment I wonder if you’re going to stay.
Not yet, I think; not just yet.

-- Chinaski

Your River, My River

You wanted a river
classically organised
explicable in every tongue and
not burdened or bridled with
oil and tar
A lovely great groundswell
of that old terror beauty
A beauty to be fit over the face
as a veil
of golden, shimmering reverence

I flew apart everywhere
casting sackfuls of sawdust
into unspeakable crevices
Acupuncture horizon
got its god-fearing back broken
right down the seam
I held the split
atwixt a crumbling endpiece
and shouted into it
for your river

Waiting, I listened
Static flashing on and off
like the primeval beginning
of cinematic entombment
Aeons buttered my feet
and then one day I heard it
A focal shifting
and the light
with big balmy pulses
A diagonal triangulation
on what we had taken
to be river

Here it was then
For you
but really for me
Rippled gunshots in all directions
A crinkled ugly
too horrible to bear
and overdosing on sun
No life
No Wordsworth
But enough liquid matter
to flood
all the droughts in the world

-- tangenttangent


Blab blab BLAND sockaroo
here's the real poem
today at the football just after they equalised
a wagtail flew over the stand
and I was like ah ok a pied wagtail
but it could have been a grey wagtail
and in the end i didn't know but it was
enough that it was a wagtail
this isn't the poem either is it

new tack: i'm listening to total eclipse of the heart
while watching a light aircraft approach landing
on a stream of the cricket, it is a doughty plane
now lady by styx on imperial command

commodore inefficacies
the song is good hail howitzer
exactamundo, by gordon
slightly now i am writing a poem and it cannot end now
nu-gold dream drainage dripping
i beef you in writhes
we contangle a biscuit gauntlet

such are the names of elspeth and swot
you've become useless and unfiltered!
many rock stars have been or become sociopaths, NOT JUST REO SPEEDWAGON
the informations got worse
I tried to type got not for
i don't know



here's the real poem

the reeal one:

we will or won't fast-forward through dipmunks of

no that wasn't it either

the only truth i can communicate right now
is that if I truly understood and drank in the music
of the late 1970s and early 1980s

i would transcend myself and achieve everything
that i want to achieve
and you would too

and that the only truth of the next decade
is the truth of whoever makes ELO but of the 2020s

that is no longer my truth

okay here is the scenario
there are three wizards
one of them is Tolesmord
one Barthsy
one Gonfrak

Tolesmord says: "Ho my spell" and zorks a banister from his gunk
Barthsy yodels in four languages before producing a parcel of penises
Gonfrak is invisible to dogs.

All are competing!

A judger of wizard looms before them, cape a-ghast
They utter some words: "You are all so special,
But I order that the winner is GONFRAK"

And this is so unusual and out of order
because they all thought they were going to win equally
that the three wizards organise the following array:

is not only invisible to dogs but is being LICKED and MATED WITH (rude!)
even though the dogs do not know why they are mating
and actually they are yodelling

think on that as your world disintegrates like mine
think on that as you are consumed in language
think on that and of that and in that and through that and while that
is the thing you think of
as i say that you
are the martyr

-- imago


ive a clock ticking fifty seconds a minute
not a ten second gap at one end, or within it
nor spaced so the rhythms are even but slow
just ten odd-second gaps where a tick doesnt show

on the wall in the kitchen it hangs and it chides me
reminds me my time isnt filled as it should be
a man cannot sit and be still with such stutters
an audible heartbeat that randomly flutters

id been minded to bring to a sure resolution
this case of a-one-in-six-missed revolution
but a damnable fact that has turned out in time
is this odd missing tick suits my rhythm just fine

a fellas time cannot be pursed, is the message
into regular moments of dignified passage
that hours are more than the sum of their parts
whether fittingly fitful in stops or in starts

so it hangs as it hangs, and well hang it i say
what's a couple a thousand less ticks in the day
we'll offer them up to the god of the gaps
gift moments presented that land in our lapse

-- darraghmac

in a smallshit factory town down west
the college is hosted macabrely
between st marys, where the nurses now train
(amongst the easier cases)
and teresas

johnny was easy. hed wander the campus
asking have ye fags, have ye fags- he was harmless
but startling

fergus another, he wandered around once
one thursday (id had an accounting exam)
saying i kilt a man
i kilt a man ah god help us i kilt a man

hed stabbed johnny five times in the back,
out the back
fergal probably shouldnt have been in st marys,
we reckoned

that was for easier cases

the other flank of my beloved alma mater
was teresas: secure, for the difficult cases.
secured to their beds
or secured by prescription
or secured in the first and last instance by mick
who was alright of a guy, all considered

i never got used to visiting teresas
but many years later, with clipboard and tie
i carried out duties vested in my person
by the county of mayo-god-help-us
and a fella climbed onto my car while i did so
and wouldnt come down til they threatened the doctor
and i thought

ive had worse visits to this fucking kip
that left worse dents and scratches
and at least this time its on the clock
and none of my brothers are crying

-- darraghmac

A is for (Aimless), Sunday, 24 November 2019 19:27 (eight months ago) link

thanks for taking the bother aimless!

deems of internment (darraghmac), Sunday, 24 November 2019 19:33 (eight months ago) link

so many of these are so good

treeship., Sunday, 24 November 2019 19:35 (eight months ago) link

and getting the strikethru tags right!

will review all of these before voting but the early feeling is, as i said with a little more booze in me, that aimless' second poem will be hard to beat

imago, Sunday, 24 November 2019 19:36 (eight months ago) link

as always im impressed by the general standard, well done to all

im going to plump for one of the hellions, not sure which, both are exactly the kind of thing i like

deems of internment (darraghmac), Sunday, 24 November 2019 20:36 (eight months ago) link

treeship's right, there's a lot of excellent poetry going on here, written in remarkably various voices. But, reading them all once more, I'm drawn back to Jonathan Hellion Mumble's two submissions, but especially his first one. I think it is perfectly articulate and has an individuality and integrity I could not possibly imitate no matter how often I might try - and I am a very good mimic. That's a trick very few poets can pull off. Hat's off!

A is for (Aimless), Sunday, 24 November 2019 20:56 (eight months ago) link

Going with Fred's Danish poem, even though it's not a language I speak. I like the way it sounds in my head and the snippets of cognate meaning it emits.

pomenitul, Sunday, 24 November 2019 21:10 (eight months ago) link

And before I forget: thank you, Aimless!

pomenitul, Sunday, 24 November 2019 21:11 (eight months ago) link

I like all of it but will probably go for Aimless' poem about his daughter. It makes me think of late Gary Snyder in its willingness to look things in the face.

Life is a meaningless nightmare of suffering...save string (Chinaski), Sunday, 24 November 2019 21:40 (eight months ago) link

This is so banal and obvious, but it's making me think so much more about poetry as form and needing the discipline of form to do some of the work. Like what Maximus said, I have had to learn the simplest things last.

Life is a meaningless nightmare of suffering...save string (Chinaski), Sunday, 24 November 2019 21:43 (eight months ago) link

picking favourites is so cruel to the ones who aren't mentioned, really, but contests are cruel so my putative too three of poems not written by my own household are: aimless II, chinaski, deems I, in some order I am yet to determine

imago, Monday, 25 November 2019 10:27 (eight months ago) link

too three! top three obv

imago, Monday, 25 November 2019 10:28 (eight months ago) link

wow thats incredibly harsh on deems ii imo

deems of internment (darraghmac), Monday, 25 November 2019 11:08 (eight months ago) link

(next year's entry, i swear, will actually be about my teasing lj about his vote)

deems of internment (darraghmac), Monday, 25 November 2019 11:09 (eight months ago) link

picking favourites is so cruel to the ones who aren't mentioned, really, but contests are cruel

right you are. happily this can be fixed in the next ILX Poetry Invitational thread, by expanding the number of entries allowed from each poet and eliminating the second step of voting. the most successful post-your-poetry thread in ILX history operated on this principle, using alternative inducements to poetize and post.

But that can wait. Our serious-minded poets need their rest and recreation. The best option atm seems to me a revival of the Appalling Poetry COmpetition concept. Fun for the whole family! Maybe in January?

A is for (Aimless), Monday, 25 November 2019 18:07 (eight months ago) link

Thankful that what can only be hinted at as a divine intervention stopped my sorry ass from participating this year, I will languorously digest all of these tonight.

Le Bateau Ivre, Monday, 25 November 2019 18:18 (eight months ago) link

wonderful to read everyones work...!

meaulnes, Wednesday, 27 November 2019 12:49 (eight months ago) link

a small bump, in case anyone wants to read poetry today

A is for (Aimless), Thursday, 28 November 2019 18:31 (eight months ago) link

i want to submit poetry today :'(

i'll save it for next year

Mordy, Thursday, 28 November 2019 18:35 (eight months ago) link

I've seen Mordy's poems they're well good

imago, Thursday, 28 November 2019 18:37 (eight months ago) link

i will reread all these and vote today tho that's a good idea

Mordy, Thursday, 28 November 2019 18:38 (eight months ago) link

so many of these are good hard to choose btwn them

Mordy, Thursday, 28 November 2019 18:45 (eight months ago) link

but you MUST choose! lucky for all of us, there is no need to choose wisely. choosing impulsively works just as well.

A is for (Aimless), Thursday, 28 November 2019 18:53 (eight months ago) link

Sunday bump. Poll closes Tuesday.

A is for (Aimless), Sunday, 1 December 2019 18:14 (eight months ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Tuesday, 3 December 2019 00:01 (eight months ago) link

My fondest hope for these polls is always the same: that the numbers of votes cast exceeds the number of poets submitting poems. In this case, more than eleven votes.

A is for (Aimless), Tuesday, 3 December 2019 01:22 (eight months ago) link

i tried to stuff the ballot but You have already voted in this poll and cannot vote again.

Mordy, Tuesday, 3 December 2019 01:41 (eight months ago) link

Last call. The bar will be closing soon.

A is for (Aimless), Tuesday, 3 December 2019 21:18 (eight months ago) link

i tried to stuff the ballot but You have already voted in this poll and cannot vote again.

― Mordy, Tuesday, December 3, 2019 2:41 AM (nineteen hours ago) bookmarkflaglink

I too ran into this.

Le Bateau Ivre, Tuesday, 3 December 2019 21:34 (eight months ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll's results are now in.

System, Wednesday, 4 December 2019 00:01 (eight months ago) link

A vote total of fifteen! Success! (btw, a 'thank you' to the kindly 4)

A is for (Aimless), Wednesday, 4 December 2019 00:47 (eight months ago) link

well done that man

deems of internment (darraghmac), Wednesday, 4 December 2019 00:57 (eight months ago) link

Guess I should’ve voted for myself, huh. Good job, all!

pomenitul, Wednesday, 4 December 2019 07:24 (eight months ago) link

The vote for one's own brainchild doesn't automatically register in the ILX polling results, but may be understood as a given. This frees us to cast a vote for our second choice.

A is for (Aimless), Wednesday, 4 December 2019 17:33 (eight months ago) link

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