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Winners of Move Me Monthly Vol 2

Welcome to the second and last installment of Move Me Monthly's Cash Prize Contest. Yes, you read that correctly. I said last.

When I set out on this journey, at the core, was my love of poetry and an idea to bring the collective together through our connection of one another's stories. The idea of a cash prize contest was born out of the desire to help pay for our website and provide funds to help give back to the community through our 5% Movement, YouTube videos, and other forms of outreach.

It was important to me to provide all participants with detailed feedback. I thought that by having a guest judge, the emotional burden of selecting a winner would be alleviated. What I have found, though, is that after reading entry after entry, it's so incredibly hard to stand behind selecting one winner, when I see the dedication, the time, and the value in every write. My soul aligns with bringing the community together, not separating one another through competition. Thus, I choose to honor myself in listening to my soul and am working on something much more inclusive and community-oriented for our future that will be announced soon.

On that note, let's get to who will be taking home that incredibly desired $100 prize, as selected by our special guest judge, Zach J. Payne! There are no words to express how grateful I am for Zach's support this time around. He met with me over a Zoom call to discuss thoughts about the first round of finalists, and then he took the time to write each finalist a note about his thoughts on their work. It was awesome to connect with someone else who was as passionate about poetry as I am.

All of the finalists selected were Poetry Battle participants, which is amazing because we had quite a few names enter that I didn't recognize. This goes to show you that we aren't the only ones who think we are home to some of the greatest poets in the world!

Let's celebrate some awesome poetry!

The honorable mentions are as follows:



The Poet by Sharon Toman:

Crafter of words, our souls entwined

Behold my heart, bewitch my mind

Whisper with ambrosial tongue

Caressing verse to writhe among

Utterance buttered on freckled arms

The gilding of salacious charms

Cocoon my limbs in silken rhyme

While tracing sonnets down my spine

Caesura breath hungers to speak

Metered movements stir the weak

Words that sear on fervid skin

Until ink spills prurient sin

Zach wrote: "This is just a ditty, but for a poem with rhyme this strong and immediate, you don't want something that goes on too long. It's powerful, and the imagery is strong, and the emotion behind it even stronger. All of us poets are heirs to a certain magic, and I felt it in this verse."

Look at that language! There's no doubt Sharon has a way with words! She manages to grab us with her first line and hold our attention as she weaves her way through figurative language to move not only our hearts, but our poetic souls.

Behind Me Are My Shadows by Annie Bagnall:

We are like leaves that cling to our shadows

Deep in your eyes the lies of yesterday

Now through my soul and I a cold wind blows

Our dreams slip imperceptibly away

Carried by ghosts in songs of our sorrows

Soft like whispers dying with the dark day

My pain unseen in the brightness of day

Lightless I walk the bridge of your shadows

Silence weaves threads of ink through my sorrows

Deeply painted into our yesterday

Never again to be hidden away

Now through my soul and I a sad wind blows

Now through my soul and I a blue wind blows

Melancholy lingers from night to day

With my flowers fading into shadows

Nothing to say I hide myself away

Trading tomorrows for one yesterday

My heart drowning in waves of our sorrows

Lost deep in the ripples of our sorrows

Now through my soul and I a black wind blows

Tomorrow’s songs now lost to yesterday

Broken, love’s last exhales enshroud the day

All that we knew now just dust and shadows

I see your face my tears give me away

As I listen to the hours slip away

My heart fills with lilies for my sorrows

How they flourish in the dark and shadows

Now through my soul and I a soft wind blows

The tides of loss overwhelm me this day

The now final vestige of yesterday

Our tomorrows have become our yesterday

My candle is burning slowly away

With the dying breath of our final day

Nightingales sing lamenting our sorrows

Now through my soul and I a wind of loss blows

In the end behind me are my shadows

This day lost in echoes of yesterday

My sorrows and I long to drift away

In my shadows not a breath of wind blows

Zach wrote: "Depression and sadness are such a difficult place to be in. In my experience, they seem to be reflexive, to sort of fold around me, and any thoughts I have are usually bounced back, reframed by that sadness and grief into more sadness and grief -- often said with the same words. So naturally, I think the Sestina is a great form for sharing those experiences -- the repetition makes it feel all the more real."

If you haven't heard of a Sestina, you're in for a treat! We'll add it to our list of forms to try on: MMTeachMeTuesday. There were quite a few form poetry entries and yet Annie still managed to make it as a finalist. Part of the reason is her ability to connect with our emotions and write form poetry that doesn't feel like it's form.

Runner-up: Once Upon a Lie by Darryl Lovie:

Once upon a lie

In the land of failed promise

A lonely child cried

To a sea of solace

As dull unicorns

With matted manes

And stunted horns

Are born lame

Once upon a lie

All the lullabies died

At her bedside

Dirty great flies feast

On Teddy Bears’ Eyes

Shattered dreams

Run cold and slow in

Sparkling streams

A constant flow

On the filthy cheeks

Of the lost

And the weak

Who pay the cost

Here she roams

On pungent grass

A princess alone

Treading tobacco ash

Under languid armed bridges

As knights joust and spoil

In deepest of ditches

With needles and foil

Aside crayoned castles

On parapets

Where poisoned apples

Infect in regret

As the lies of the Suits

Bear no fruit

And this Kingdom of Pain

Is her future domain

Once upon a lie

All the lullabies died

At her bedside

She cried and she cried

Nowhere to hide

Zach stated: "This made the fantasist in me shrivel up, just a little bit. That said, I think that was exactly the poet's intent--to show us the dark side of all the princes and castles and unicorns that we loved when we were little, and that some of us still love in our stories. And it's done brilliantly well."

For me, this poem hit incredibly hard and blew me away with its use of figurative language and metaphors!

And now without further ado, the winner is...


Our second and last winner of Move Me Monthly and the $100 cash prize was chosen for her down-to-earth style, emotional relatability, and ability to connect with others through the power of her words. Please congratulate Julee Balko as your official winner!

Untangled by Julee Balko:

I try to tie up these moments with string.

But they disappear too quickly before

I can place a tight bow.

Life slides.

Like your childhood slips away.

It’s measured in laundry piles,





I thought it would be different.

That I would be different.

But I’m too tired to make cookies

from scratch.

And your sister is too angry to be

your friend.

And this family is everything I got.

And it’s


I try to grab your hand and hold it.

I want to say remember this child.

This magic.

This moment when you don’t pull away

But come closer.

My whole heart hangs on this

tiny grasp.

When darkness fades and




You and me

Me and you

You and me

Until it becomes

You versus me


Zach's response: "For Move Me Poetry, this is the poem that definitely moved me. I felt it so painfully, and the words and the feelings resonated with me. I imagine that they'll resonate with most readers as well -- the language is down-to-earth, and the emotions are clear and utterly aching."

Julee has such an incredible way of bringing you into her world and making it your world too. We feel the ache, the struggle, and the desire to connect. She truly embodies the ability to create empathy in her readers.


Thank you to everyone who participated! Please congratulate our winner and the honorable mentions. Most of all, thank you for being part of this incredible journey of souls uniting in our collective love of poetry! I couldn't be prouder to know you!

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