Poetry Contest Loser (And 2 Poems)

The Poetry of Losing.

Poetry contests entice. Half-narcissistic humans stumble upon internet ads looking for a few good poets, said ads promising publication, glory, a place among the mighty men of anthologies. Self-acclaimed poetical sorts set about to crafting, build line upon line until it their best stab at a losing poem is finished.

Tens of poets enter, each carrying vainglory to the finish; tens upon tens upon tens receive letters of apology. (I've received rejections from contests not entered.) See us there, the losers suffering from bouts of rejections? For a few days we climb into bottles or credit card spending sprees to soothe our egos. "Yes, a nice pair of Ray Bans might fit my face just fine," I once said after losing a poetry contest.

Here is the tone of a rejection notification. We're sorry--they're always so polite--but your work was not quite up to snuff. Here's the silver lining: your entry fee has purchased a year-long subscription to the magazine your poem was not quite good enough for. Fantastic, I think. Each quarter, I'll receive a mailed memorial of a snuffless poem. And did you see how the editors ended their sentence with a preposition? Folksy amateurs.

Poetry contests are like secret mistresses--over promise; under-deliver. Or perhaps, I am the mistress. Either way, I'm snuffless.

**A Recent Loser**

Today, I'm sharing my most recent losing poem. Why not? Enjoy. (And I'm not bitter. Really. It's all in good fun.)

Sister Christy

Before Sister Christy joined the nunnery she was a Miss. Methodism waning, catechesis catching, the immolating convert passed salt water taffy to fourth grade boys hailing Mary, full of grace, or something.

Over protestant hands she paused—me, the unchristened Baptist boy who’d yet learned the way of schoolhouse prayers—and like the mingy-graced ghost of Lazarus, she passed, whispering “maybe next week.”

We genuflect toward same crucifix now, she with head bowed in the loud humility of blackest habit. Silhouette haloed, she raises fleshy palms for broken body, presses pursed lips to chalice in puckered kiss, sighs in rapt union.

Retreating to pew, satisfied in Sunday’s glory, she kneels where neither memory nor remorse haunt.


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