Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry. 
- W.B. Yeats


Caitlin T.D. Robinson has won the 2022 Princemere Poetry Prize.

Caitlin T.D. Robinson

A Mother's Sestina

The mother lies on the hospital bed     shaken.
She waits for the nurse, in shivers     bitter.

The baby was hers     she grew devoted.
Its staggered death beneath her belly betrays

her every breath   every cell     she lies in fury.
Then drugs and blankets come, ladened     surreal.

The surgical cap with dogs sparks a surreal
conversation as she lies there      shaken.

Her husband slumps by her      her drugged fury
her walloped cries     "contain this bitter

taste in my mouth and the way You betray
what I did for her, how I grew devoted."

The surgeon arrives, says, "I am devoted.
If you want to cremate, sign here     it's surreal."

She lies shaken. If I sign, do I accept this betrayal?
She calls a funeral home     shaken.

"It's free to cremate a baby, right?" He bitterly
says: "A fee's a fee." She argues in fury.

So she signs   they ask about her fury.
"The surgery?" "A miscarriage," she says   devoted.

She kisses her husband, leaves the bittered
once-a-baby elsewhere. Somewhere in the surreal

state of waking she cries for the child    shaken.
Her husband holds her  must tell her   our betrayal.

She knows she is a mother, even though betrayed.
They leave, the two of them, two and true to their fury.

Can I go on with grief and pregnant-filled shaken?
Their baby born     as hands, tears, both devoted

as if she loved     here      in their surreal
state of could-have-beens and aren't we bitter?

When asked, "how did it happen? aren't you bitter?"
She answers, "I hear her, her cells in a body betrayed.

I know it's strange, a voice unborn and surreal
but hear this: I am her mother in death's fury."

So she writes about the facts of her devotion
the baby inside her     leaves her shaken.

Caitlin T.D. Robinson has won this year's $300 Princemere Poetry Prize for "A Mother's Sestina."

David Gordon's poem "Gaudi's Last Walk" was named runner-up. He was awarded $100.

Finalists this year are Nancy Brewka-Clark for "Rack," Claudine Moreau for "Ghost on the Beach,"
Carol Louise Munn for "Lust Works," and Sam Del Vecchio for "The Slow Quiet Fires of November."
Each poet was awarded $25.

Honorable mention goes to Arnaldo Batista, Mathieu Cailler, Linda Flaherty Haltmaier,
Laurence Levey, Erika Seshadri, David Sloan, and Virginia Watts.

We are grateful to everyone who submitted.

(Click the tabs above to see previous winners.)


Listed at Duotrope




Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry.
- W.B. Yeats