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Dream Quest One Second Poetry Prize
Winner - Winter 2014 -2015
of Murphysboro, Illinois



She won't talk about it.

It's her birthday.

A wind pushes her when she opens the door,

and a spider skittles across the threshold

out and down and away.

Perhaps she should follow it.



But, sweetness has returned.

Cake and candlelight,

Flowers and wine.




A handmade gift from her child,

Hugs and kisses.

Lingerie, his birthday gift,

the wrong style, the wrong color.

Model it anyway.

Act like you like it.



She presses her lips together

when his fingers dig into her arms.



The child makes nightmare noises.

Let her cry.

He grasps her wrist, holds her down.

She waits for his regular breathing

and slips out to the child’s room,

hold her in a warm cuddle,

wipes tears from chubby cheeks

with a thumb.



Maybe next year

she’ll follow that spider

and get away.



About the poet: Candace Armstrong’s poem, “Shadow of the Crow” won Second Place in the Formal Verse category of Illinois State Poetry Society’s 2014 Competition. Previously, her short stories have been published in Muse and Diverse Voices Quarterly, and her poems have been published in the Lyric, Negative Suck and Muse as well as on the ISPS website. She currently makes her home in the beautiful woodlands of Southern Illinois.


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