Brain Poetry Contest: First Winner

Back in February, we announced a brain poetry contest. This week, just in time for the end of National Poetry Month, we will reveal the five winners, chosen by Michele Kotler, executive director of the Community-Word Project.

These poems convey thoughts on the brain in a range of ways—from verse inspired by injury and recovery to explorations of the senses and functions of the three-pound organ.

Make sure to come back each day to read some excellent brain-inspired poetry from Dana readers.

Son’s Story

By Catherine Morocco

I’m shaking scarves over my mother’s bed,

where there’s no evidence of thought.

In one of seven silken scarves, lithe women

sway around a mandala. Their skirts are painted

amber, apricot, and blue. Each sylph is named

after a continent: Antarctica’s fur headdress flames,

blue dolphins leap, swim at her feet.


My mother’s eyes are closed, while Oceana’s

teasing head is crowned in grass and leaves.

She holds a plate of purple fish. I spread

Toros Magnifico around my mother’s feet. A picador

thrusts his pic to pierce the bull into the ring.

In corners, matadors and bull horns’ swelling.

Velvet ladies hurtle roses to the bloody kill.


Just lying here, my mother is a dreamless spot

without a nerve. I cannot stir her. Is she struggling

with shades?  Will she open up her eyes to see the golds,

smell fish, flowers, blood?  I tie a corner

of the bull fight to a corner of the dance, join seven

scarves into one rope, lands billowing. If I throw it,

she must cling. I’ll pull her to her body, knot by knot.

“Son’s Story” is one of 60 poems written by Catherine Morocco while she was recovering from hematoma surgery. These poems are part of an as yet unpublished collection that she has titled Brain Storm. Recovering from Brain Injury. She has published in numerous poetry journals and collections of poems. She currently writes and teaches in Newton Massachusetts. 

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