The John Robert Doyle, Jr. Prize:
Winner: Mary Louise Hudson
An Egg and Onion Sandwich
My father, a thief of the worst kind
who stole his life and gave it to drink,
woke me from a light sleep,
a light sleep, because he had already
awakened me from a deep sleep when
he stumbled through the front door
and sloshed into the arms of his recliner.
Then into my room. “Wake up,” he whispered
so as to wake me without waking me.
Then a little louder because his softness
did not get the response he wanted.
“Get up. Get up and make me an egg
and onion sandwich.” Egg and onion,
I thought, who eats egg and onion?
but I got up and made him
an egg and onion sandwich and
I ate one too and it was good and
I’m glad I did because I loved my father,
both parts of him. The tiny small part
that let him love us on occasion and
the larger part that kept making
wrong choices, until to him, they
no longer seemed like choices at all.
Judge Comments: In this tiny narrative, the author reveals so much about choice--about our illusions of choosing and agency and the imperatives of love, habit, and addiction. This poem seems so simple, and yet it is so very rich.
Honorable Mentions: Arthur McMaster; Phillip Slusher