We received an overwhelming response to this year’s JMRL and WriterHouse Poetry Contest judged by Poet Laureate of Virginia, Henry Hart. We’d like to congratulate winner Ron Berube for his poem “A Differential Calculus of My Feelings”  and runner-up Clay Moldenhauer for his poem “Make Fire.” We hope you enjoy the winning selections.


A Differential Calculus of My Feelings
By Ron Berube
Winner of the 2019 JMRL and WriterHouse Poetry Contest

Listening in the ambulance to the insistent siren,
Trying like the rabbit dying in an eagle’s claws
Just to enjoy the ride, amusing myself
By guessing where the hell we are
From my compromised position of all
That’s flashing past. The roof of our house
Needs replacing, traffic’s backed up as usual
On the bypass, there’s your office building,
Where’s your car? Clouds are massing
Gray beyond the mountains west. You’ve been
Hurting more than you’ve been saying,
I can tell, afraid to scare me by complaining,
Just as I am you. More often lately when
You think, I answer; when I sigh, you wake.
I’d thought once at our age we’d have seen
The best of what was promised, never guessed
How much distance we could cover simply
By moving closer to each other. Sometimes,
Says the eagle, I’m surprised myself.


Make Fire
By Clay Moldenhauer
Runner-Up in the 2019 JMRL and WriterHouse Poetry Contest

Make fire
At water’s edge,
Bare feet in mud,
Arms outstretched
To empty sky.
Stand griefless.
Wonder at nothing
Already known.
Ponder on nothing
Already a puzzle.
Orient to nothing
Given meaning
By humans.
Bless whatever comes.
Give thanks.
They too will be Gods
One day.
Snake, turtle, Crow,
My friends,
Offer power and pain
For companionship.
But it’s up to you
To make fire.
Like the first time.