Poetry Writing Contest XLVI, First Place (2018)


Seth Simons of the Bay Area, California for “Like My Father”

Simons will receive $1,000, a certificate to mark the success, and publication both online and in print.

Like My Father

By Seth Simons

­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ I made my first million in oil.
I made my second million in real estate
and my third in a different sort of real estate.
My fourth million I made on red; my fifth,
on black. My sixth million was the product
of some ingenuity involving the Sochi Olympics
and an ill-traveled stretch of coastal highway.
For my seventh through 40th millions I elected
to branch out, building a robust portfolio deeply
concentrated in robotics, artificial intelligence and
spaceflight. I had this notion that the future was
in space, but also computers; the market rapidly
bore out my prognostications. Millions 41 through
399 I made running guns for a warlord of the sobriquet
Hammerhead, “H” to his friends, who had quite
the temper and ultimately wound up in banking.
I’m afraid millions 400 through 450 are classified,
though I will say I’m proud of the work we did
and the work our successors continue to do.
By million 700 I’d really gotten the hang of things.
I had half of Washington in my pocket, the other
in litigation and the patent to a pioneering new
painkiller. I was on magazine covers; my name
graced the marble wings of museums and universities;
I met the president. He told me, “Sergei, you’ve saved us.
Where once was darkness now a small light flickers,
orange in color and muted in character, a paper lantern
gliding almost high enough that it vanishes into the velvet
sky, laden by the gentle weight of human goodness.”
I could’ve taken him then and there. I could’ve
bashed his pretty head with the very medal
he gave me, could’ve socked the spot below
his jaw where it all hinges. Instead I said,
“Thank you, sir, it’s quite an honor,” and flew
my little spaceship to the only quiet place left.


Seth Simons is a writer and entertainment journalist based in the Bay Area. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Rattle, Fugue, Red Wheelbarrow, Breakwater Review, Conduit, Rivet and the McNeese Review.

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“Like My Father” © 2018 Seth Simons

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4 thoughts on “”

  1. Congratulations on your brilliant and audacious “Like My Father” and also for your tribute to John McCain. You are a remarkably talented wordsmith indeed!

    1. Thanks for sharing these kind words, Vernon! We were blown away by this poem and it’s gratifying to know it resonates with talented and committed writers like you!

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