Call and Response

It is a hinge.

It is a flash splintering

the sky,

then a rumble.

Under ripe light,

it is pollen

furring the bees.

It is a wood thrush’s

song rising

from the backyard’s

green pulpit.

Over and over

one calls, insistent.

Then another

parses, flute-like

as the head

bobs. Tail flicks.

It is the link

embedded in us.

Think of

the old gospels

which require

a beating heart,

church hands

to answer.

No matter what

form it takes

it seems impossible

to disentangle.

And still the God-weld

split, despite my bows

and prayers

to save my son.

You were silent.



This poem originally appeared in our 46.2 issue, and was a runner-up for The Florida Review‘s 2022 Humboldt Poetry Prize.

Prize judge David Keplinger’s citation: “In this delicately achieved lyric, like the prayer it references, rife with “pollen/furring the bees,” and the “backyard’s/green pulpit,” the natural world is imbued with sacred qualities, though the speaker’s calls to save the unnamed son are not answered. Nevertheless, the poem honors the tangled music of this realm, offering the song of the wood-thrush, “flute-like,” as embodiment of this grief.”


Announcing the 2022 Humboldt Prize Winner & Runners-Up

The Florida Review is pleased to announce the winner and runners-up for the third annual Humboldt Poetry Prize. The Prize, which is funded by an anonymous donor in honor of Prussian naturalist Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), recognizes the best poems with an environmental focus published in the previous year in The Florida Review and on Aquifer: The Florida Review Online. The winner receives an award of $500, and each runner-up $250.

Alexander von Humboldt as painted by Friedrich Georg Weitsch, c. 1860.

This year’s winner and runners-up are:

  • Winner: Zoë Fay-Stindt for “Fall in Languedoc” (Aquifer: The Florida Review Online, March 2022)
  • Runner-Up: Madelyn Garner for “Call and Response” (TFR 46.2, Fall 2022)
  • Runner-Up: Cole W. Williams for “Sunset” (TFR 46.2, Fall 2022)
  • Honorable Mention: Zoë Fay-Stindt for “A Robin at the Bus Station” (Aquifer: The Florida Review Online, March 2022)

The winner and honorable mention will be reprinted in The Florida Review 47.1, Spring/Summer 2023; both runners-up will be republished on Aquifer: The Florida Review online this spring. David Keplinger served as the final judge for this year’s Prize. Continue reading “Announcing the 2022 Humboldt Prize Winner & Runners-Up”