November's Poetry Contest Winner: Everything but an Answer

Posted by Cybil on November 1, 2017

Every month, Goodreads and the ¡POETRY! group host a poetry contest. It's a great way to discover and support the work of emerging poets. Join the ¡POETRY! group where you can vote to select the winning poem each month from among the finalists. Aspiring poets can also submit a poem for consideration.

Congratulations to Sarah Seville, who is our November winner with this poem:

Everything but an Answer

by Sarah Seville

There are exactly thirty-one reasons that you could be calling
at 2:16 am on a Thursday, but only one of them is you missing me
badly enough that it couldn’t wait for the fresh, warm light
of morning as it rises opposite the ocean in four hour’s time.

Missing me is reason number eight - in which you remember
that I’m always awake at this hour, never good at keeping
early mornings and preferring the kind of quiet that falls after
everyone in this house falls into quiet dreams.
You take the chance that I might answer the phone,
take the call out on the porch where I won’t wake anyone,
won’t worry that it means something it doesn’t.

In number eleven you’ve misplaced your phone in a local bar,
where it slid under a table and across a vaguely sticky wood floor
until found by a stranger, who called the first number in your contact list,
hoping to find someone to return it to. I shouldn’t be the first number,
but you and I both know that you put that space before my
end-of-the-alphabet name to bump me to the top of the list, back in the days
when that made sense. You won’t have moved it, not yet.

Number thirty is the one in which you left your phone at your mother’s,
seven states and three time zones away, and she’s forgotten that I live
out in California, and that you and I no longer see each other every day.
She also never be convinced that the pre-dawn hours were not
a reasonable time to call somebody - but then again, neither could you.
I’ll tell her I haven’t seen you, that I’m sure you’ll come back for your phone,
not to worry, and that I miss her.

In number sixteen, you’re dead. You’ve crashed your car
after one too many drinks and way too little common sense, and some
well-meaning paramedic is trying to find your next-of-kin, and that
damn space that puts my name at the top of your contacts has
made her think that I’m important to you - important enough to call first.
If she’s just looking for someone who loved you, then she isn’t really wrong.
Even if it wasn’t enough. Or ever quite in the way that you wanted.

Number twenty-four is a pocket-dial, the result of a jacket thrown
haphazardly in the back of your car, phone still in the leftmost pocket.
You never could be trained to keep track of where it was,
or to make sure that the screen was locked.
An accident is such a likely reason that it really ought to be
what I assume from the instant your name appears, but I don’t.
You and I were never any good at likelihoods, and some things never change.

In number one, the reason doesn’t matter at all.
I don’t even look for it, because I’ve chosen not to pick up the phone.
I’ve routinely kept it on silent since long before we ever met.
You won’t question it. You won’t leave a voicemail and we will both
pretend that you didn’t call, or somebody didn’t call, and that everything
between an emergency and a moment of weakness can wait
for another hour, another person, to give it the answer it needs.

Part of me wishes that you and I were the type of people
who wrote love letters, just for something real to burn.
This is such a quiet kind of ending that it would barely
recognize itself as such in the mirror.
It is too much silence and too little burning paper.

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Comments Showing 1-21 of 21 (21 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Jason (new)

Jason Mills Okay, that is officially fantastic.

message 2: by Isabelle (new)

Isabelle Leussink Wow, just wow!

message 3: by Margaret (new)

Margaret So gentle, so strong. Beautiful.

message 4: by Tatiana (new)


message 5: by Alicia (new)

Alicia When written words speak louder than spoken words, Poetry. Thank you Sarah Seville for sharing.

message 6: by Celia (new)

Celia "Part of me wishes that you and I were the type of people
who wrote love letters, just for something real to burn."

So good.

message 7: by Silvano (new)

Silvano ::applause::

message 8: by Attami (new)

Attami Wow.

message 9: by Bree (new)

Bree I love this!!

message 10: by Katelyn (last edited Nov 02, 2017 06:38PM) (new)

Katelyn This is absolutely amazing! I never new that this poetry club and contest existed on goodreads and I've been using this app/website for 4 years. Your poem is heart wrenching and breath taking and so extremely relatable that I'm speechless. I hope that I can grow to be close to as good of a writer as you!

message 11: by Nikki (new)

Nikki Heartbreakingly stunning.

message 12: by Mark (new)

Mark Wow. wow wow wow wow wow.

message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

So beautiful. Congratulations Sarah.

message 14: by Sona (new)

Sona beautiful :)

message 15: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca I've tried so hard to find words as beautiful as yours to convey how stunning your poem is, but I'm struck dumb. I think I'll carry it around with me for a while. Thank you.

message 16: by S (new)

S Nicely done!

message 17: by Richard (new)

Richard Griffis Wow! Simply wow!

message 18: by Erika (new)

Erika Dale oh it was beautiful. great job!

message 19: by Hadjer (last edited Nov 03, 2017 10:57AM) (new)

Hadjer BENYAMINA Just wow !

message 20: by Tina (new)

Tina SO simple, so profound. Thanks for ripping out my heart, and letting me know it is all right to bleed.
Tina Sparkle

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