Congratulations to Jill Madden Melchoir, Grand-Prize winner of the 91st Annual Writer's Digest Writing Competition.
Jill Madden Melchoir lives, works, writes, and bikes in the Great Lakes area, especially on and around the Menominee River and Lake Michigan. She has three kids, four bikes, and works during the day for an online legal publishing company. She's between dogs. She listens to as much live music as possible and writes when the muse strikes or when she tracks it down. You can find her poetry at HalfwayNorth.blog or combined with her photographs on Instagram @HalfwayNorthPoetry.
Here's her winning non-rhyming poem, "The Birds of Menards."
The Birds of Menards
by Jill Madden Melchoir
All I have is a list, a promise of 11% back,
and an unwieldy cold wet metal cart
into which I throw the too-big chainsaw gloves for men,
the joint compound to hold naked seams together.
I’m trying to reconstruct true north.
In the garden center aisle with the grass seed,
dozens of little birds hop from shelf to floor
and back again, cheeping their fine fortune to each other.
I roll into the open: the mulch, the rock, the lumber.
Materials for starting over.
Fat grackles or maybe phoebes make nests in
the eaves, splattering white shit against the metal walls,
drinking freely from the puddles in the aisle
where a man on his knees in the concrete
nails a pallet together,
praying to the god of somewhere else,
the god of the end of the day,
the god of getting through.
Under the twilight sky birds and more birds dart through any open spaces
between the watering cans, patio block, garden gnomes, hoses.
I’m looking to fly through open spaces, too,
I’m looking for shelter from the sky but I don’t want walls,
I just need a little water, a little seed.
I put a lilac in the cart, to replace the one left behind,
but they do not have singing frogs, or the future I thought we had.
I don’t yet know all I lost or gained, probably never will.
And the birds of Menards just keep on—
pilfer grass seed bathe in the puddles in the aisles build nests and watch
as the automatic doors to the main store
open and close open and close, the promised land
so close so close