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