fiction, poetry & more

Honorable Mention
$25 Award


by Robyne Richardson Lau

You ruin everything.
I tire of your intrusion.
You never call ahead.
You never ring the bell
or knock.
Even if you broke
the door down
it would be better.

No, you never announce yourself.
You slither in,
silent as a snake,
unnoticed, like water
slowly rising
until you’re ankle deep.
There is nowhere
safe to walk.
You leave a trail of
mildew, mold, and slime
where ever you go.

You ruin all my nice things.
This song I sing
isn’t good enough:
it never made it to the radio.

This home I filled with my life,
my children, puppies, friends,
is no fine mansion,
sits on no hill.
This quiet lane will never do.

Not one of my cakes ever won a ribbon.
I’ve never known a throne.
An old, stained recliner that smells strongly of dog
is where I sit.

As often as I thank my maker
for my abundance of comfort and joy,
just as often I find
you’ve wormed your way back in
and whispered when I’m unaware:
the bank account’s too thin—
to be happy you must be rich.
That favorite sweater looks thread bare.
Fine people would never wear what you wear.

Your nails are not polished.
You are one of the great unwashed.

Oh, and don’t forget,
this poem and all the rest
remain unpublished.

Dickinson be damned.

A prize isn’t worth having
unless you get it
while you’re alive.


Washington Literary Award recipient Robyne Richardson Lau recently resumed writing poetry after a lengthy hiatus. A published scientist and lawyer, Robyne has enjoyed her career as an environmental regulator cleaning up and protecting her home state of Virginia. Her other creative outlets include music and shamanic journeying. She has released three CDs.

May 2023