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.