Log in




Our judge has returned the verdicts early, and here are the winning entries:

First Place: Maureen Woodcock for

A Mourning Cope

Be wary. He's dead and widows embroider.

Scattered lover's sins are drawn together,

tiny black stitches, forbidden to be full-sized.


Dead, his goodness is padded and enhanced.

It stands high and gaudy, a golden dragon sewn

to the back of a shogun's silk kimono.


Be wary. Widows live and they embroider.

Their eyes have weakened. Their truths

are sloppy, looped and tangled nots.


Second Place: Michael E. Murphy for

Pity the Plumeria Tree


Pity the poor plumeria tree:

no white flowers again this year;

its green, oblong leaves fall 

before their prime again, expose

its skeletal frame like a desert fossil.


We’d never asked all that much 

of the plumeria---neither the shade 

nor the elegance the others give--- 

only that it be a privacy screen 

between our patio and the passersby. 


Perhaps it thinks itself the orphan

we’d adopted, the child with atavistic

traits we could not recognize, the one

whom teachers sent home with notes,

the kid who missed the open goal,


the young man who left for the hills

with The Wanderers---the son

for whom we’d kill the fatted calf

if only he’d come back home to us,

be the new leaf on our plumeria tree.



Third Place: Mark Melnick for

I Was a Free Man, Once, in Saigon


I spent my last piaster 

And we danced away the waste,

Radiant in the O.D. past tense, 

Content, two dying moths ablaze.


She’d walked in slow, through smoky haze, 

In the heat of another Bien Hoa night game, 
The only blonde in that death-drenched pall, 
Ignoring all who watched but me. 


It felt like we might last till morning, 

And I shrugged away the lanky frenchgirl,
Placed a quiet one-fifty P 

In her cool and practiced tiny hand.


The night was ours in this very last place, 

Two short-short-short short-timers there,
A duffel-bag drag and a bowl of cornflakes, 

We’d both fly home in the gray good light.

I was a free man once, in Saigon. 

I made a choice between two souls.
The first is gone and almost old now, 

But the blonde remains, and the memory she stole. 


© 2020 Palm Springs Writers Guild
Website Design & Maintenance by

Privacy Policy
Contact Us
We are a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization.

Palm Springs Writers Guild
44489 Town Center Way, Ste D, 369
Palm Desert, CA 92260