Second Best

I remember years ago I used to hustle poems to enter contests. I was broke, I needed the money. One time I got a hundred dollar check and some tacky certificate that I’d won second prize. The first prize was a thousand dollars. The collection–it came with the check–was appalling, the third prize and runner ups were pure dreck. I remember wondering who the bum was that got my thousand dollars, so I read his poem. It was easily ten times as good as mine. There were two hundred bad poets in the book, then me and one guy way better than me. I hated that guy. If not for him that thousand dollars would have been mine. The book and certificate went into the trash can, though I cashed the check.

Fortunately there was no internet back then, and no blogs, and my F-bombs were in longhand on a pad of paper now tucked deep in my closet somewhere.

2 thoughts on “Second Best

  1. Did you have to pay a fee to enter? I know there are a lot of those poetry “contests” out there which are just rip-offs. I’m glad you got some cash out of it.


    • This was twenty or so years ago and I can’t remember the contest or even what poem it was, but I have never paid a cent to enter a contest. I won a couple that way, made a couple hundred bucks, tho’ that hundred was the largest check. I also got paid for “funny” button slogans.


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