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The Flapper Press Poetry Café 2022 Autumn Poetry Contest Winners

Thank you to all our poets for submitting their work for the Flapper Press Poetry Café 2022 Autumn Poetry Contest! It's never an easy task to narrow it down—even when we have five slots to fill. We appreciate the enthusiasm and artistry of each submitted poem, and we are forever grateful to the poets who created them.

Our poetry prompt for the contest was designed to inspire new ways of creating poetry.

The judges looked for creativity, imagery, and respect for all the essentials in the poetic tool box. We selected five winners and awarded a $25 prize to each, along with publication on our site.

Here were the Submission Guidelines for the contest:

1. Select a poem title from ANY famous poet who inspires you.

Then change the title to make it your own.

2. Using your new title as inspiration, write a poem about anything you choose.

You can use any form of poetry—free verse, prose poem, sonnet, etc.

Your poem MUST BE at least 10 lines or more.

Please enjoy these marvelous poems from our 5 contest winners (in alphabetical order)!


Marianne Brems

A Reptilian Time Machine

A rabbit poses no match for the turtle. This we learned as toddlers. But it’s not about the race, though time is a factor.

Time turns a clever corner when turtle temperature drops. In the pond’s muddy underworld,

heart rate recedes to one beat in minutes. Breathing moves to the tail and nearly stops. Digestion slows to a halt.

Meanwhile negligible senescence,

a further hitch in time, leaves even centenarian organs

untouched by age’s decline.

Should wonder need a further nudge,

remember the house the turtle wears, a weight she drags cross field and pond

but makes a home anywhere for infinity and beyond.

So while the rabbit smugly snoozes,

our hearts stay rooted further on with this reptilian time machine, a creature of divine invention, her carapace, her plastron, and everything in between built to sweeten the morsels of time as they mellow and deepen.

First published in Armarolla October 11, 2018

Marianne Brems

Marianne Brems is a writer of trade books, textbooks, short stories, and poetry. She has an MA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. She is the author of three poetry chapbooks from Finishing Line Press: Sliver of Change (2020), Unsung Offerings (2021), and In Its Own Time (forthcoming in 2023). Her poems have also appeared in a number of literary journals. She is an avid cyclist and open-water swimmer. She lives in Northern California. You can visit her website here.


Maril Crabtree (Inspired by Li-Young Lee's "The Gift")

The Gift of Ordinary Life

"I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me,

I escape, one way or another. " — Anais Nin

I wonder if she chose to escape these ordinary redbud trees

blooming their heads off as they dive into spring, or these everyday children laughing and playing in an ordinary neighborhood park.

Did she ignore such ordinary things as tulips nodding in the wind, or raindrops bouncing

over stones in the backyard creek, or the slow savor

of a cup of tea with the morning paper?

Did she think the call of a meadowlark mundane? Did she feel shackled by the soulful whistle of a freight train clacking past her window? If so, I hope

she stood still, opened her hands, asked to be born again

with new eyes, ears, mouth, and heart, with the gift of knowing how to encounter awe, even in a blank universe with moon and stars erased, nothing but deep space,

dark, silent. Even silence, even darkness, can bring ecstasy.

Maril Crabtree

Maril Crabtree is a former French teacher, lawyer, peace activist, environmentalist, energy healer, and yoga instructor, she is grateful for poetry (hers and others’) as the loom that weaves her life-threads together. Her full-length collection, Fireflies in the Gathering Dark (Kelsay Books), was published in 2017. She has also authored three chapbooks and edited four anthologies of poetry and essays published by Adams Media. Her poems, essays, and short stories have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including I-70 Review, Main Street Rag, Persimmon Tree, Third Wednesday, Literary Mama, and Poet's Market. She previously served as poetry editor for Kansas City Voices and contributing editor for Heartland! Poems of Love, Resistance & Solidarity. More of her work can be seen on her website.


Kathleen Hellen

Photo: Skip Lile

post-it from the terrible angels

like the music of a jet pitched below the octaves

light descended, heat waves coming off

a wobbling top: a burning bush: a fireball

that streaked across the landscape. A beam that might have struck, might have knocked us to the ground, seared red scars into skin.

if I told you: the car’s clock froze, instruments went haywire.

proof? or we saw

what we believed: The feeling

of god:

exuberant, emerging from the bowels of darkness,

hovering with rare expression: rippling, rumbling, swirling, stretching...

architect or agent? from the dawn of the universe to that lonely road we drove

like foothill to the stars.

the thesis: data-poor: the footage grainy, shaky—the sky a beautiful labyrinth.


Kathleen Hellen

Kathleen Hellen’s latest collection is Meet Me at the Bottom from Main Street Rag. Her credits include The Only Country Was the Color of My Skin, the award-winning collection Umberto’s Night, published by Washington Writers’ Publishing House, and two chapbooks, The Girl Who Loved Mothra and Pentimento. Featured on Poetry Daily and Verse Daily, Hellen’s poems have won the Thomas Merton prize for Poetry of the Sacred and prizes from the H.O.W. Journal and Washington Square Review, as well as awards from the Maryland State Arts Council and the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts.


Rachel Feld-Reichner

Not a Sonnet: In Our Own Language

I make love in my mother tongue as you hold me

gently, stoking the fire between us with words in a foreign language.

yet, our limbs and sinews have made

a dialect of their own. We are writing whole stories

on how you trace the curve of my breast, slowly.

You say my name I say yours but it is in our own tongue the one where you are the sand and I am the ocean.


Rachel Feld-Reichner

Rachel Feld- Reichner received her MFA in Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults from VCFA. Poetry was her first love, and though she writes across genres, she always circles back to poetry. Her poems have been published in English and Hebrew. When she is not writing, she works as a doula and women's health advocate while raising her beautiful boys.


Bruce McClain


Now, in my fleeting years I smell dust upon me.

When I walk, the slightest breeze sends it upwards

into a swirl. And in that coiled breath of air, I see

bits and pieces of my life parting in slow motion.

On a good day I can see the dust of my being rise,

dancing against the brightness of the sun. Each day

I become more brittle, less nimble. Time fans my

strength away, but God is still in my dust.

I am more dust than flesh. I can hear my bones clacking

when I rise from my morning sleep, Slow and sure I wither,

but not all is lost. My gift gathers no dust, like a tempest,

passion stirs enthusiasm.


Bruce McClain

Born in Port Chester, New York, Bruce McClain's journey into the world of art started at a young age. His mentor, Martin S. Friedman, was the first to discover Bruce's love for art and kept him focused at a crucial time in his life. Murray Tinkleman and Jim Spanfeller also fed Mr. McClain's passion. After graduating from high school, he received a scholarship from Phoenix School of Design, New York City. There he would begin honing his gift. Mr. McClain's work is provocative with story, causing one to react, to question, to imagine. Art has its own breath that rises from within us. In its silence, it causes a great noise. Bruce’s current project is a book celebrating the senior population. Elder Leaf will be a collection of over 30 distinguished poets and their ekphrastic poems interpreting his art included in the book.


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