Announcing the Winner of the Editor’s Prize for Poetry

Congratulations to Caleb A.P. Parker, our 2023 winner for the Editor’s Prize in Poetry! His poem, “Palinode,” will be available to read in our Spring 2024 issue.

Caleb A.P. Parker, a writer and musician from the industrialized Gulf Coast of Texas, was raised by two Episcopal priests. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Colorado Review, Ninth Letter, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and elsewhere. He holds an MFA from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and currently lives in New York City.


Announcing the Winner of the 2023 Editor’s Prize for Poetry


We are delighted to announce our 2023 Editor’s Prize for Poetry Winner and Finalists! Congrats to: Caleb Parker, Bertha Crombet, Michael Weinstein, and Maggie Yang. All winners receive $1,000 and publication in The Florida Review 48.1, Spring, 2024.Our 2024 contest opens in January. Thank you for supporting The Florida Review!


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Our submission portal is now open for poetry! We’re interested in poems with emotional and intellectual depth, poems that have texture and verve. Check out our submission guidelines, then submit here.



Two Poems

Halloween: Ends

Michael Myers at the 711 filling up his SUV.
Michael Myers at Home Depot buying fancy drill bits he doesn’t really need.
Michael Myers sitting in the back of the room at the PTA meeting, scrolling through Tinder.
Michael Myers doing taxes.
Michael Myers scrolling through Facebook in the movie theater.
Michael Myers at couple’s counseling.
Michael Myers letting the dog out one night and telling the kids it ran away.
Michael Myers killing all the sex workers in Grand Theft Auto.
Michael Myers sitting in the back pew at church, scrolling through Tinder.
Michael Myers mowing the lawn on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.
Michael Myers wearing an apron that says I Rub My Own Meat.
Michael Myers getting drunk at his Superbowl party.
Michael Myers explaining the differences between a bratwurst and a sausage to a woman looking at her phone.
Michael Myers renting Saw IV again on Amazon Prime.
Michael Myers taking his mask off to have sex but leaving his socks on.
Michael Myers toweling off in the locker room.
Michael Myers rubbing against people on the train.
Michael Myers at the hotel bar explaining the difference between bourbon and whisky to a woman looking at her phone.
Michael Myers calling up toiletries and answering the door in his bathrobe each time.
Michael Myers ordering his burger well-done.
Michael Myers sending his food back twice.
Michael Myers not tipping.


Another autumn

                        after Mikey Swanberg


walking the mile
to work,


freezing in the morning,
sweating on the way back,


each step a stitch
quilting the heavy blanket


of our unhappiness.
Nothing has happened,


and still—


I imagined my lover

might show up


in my office
before I left,


shut the door
and we would fuck


quietly on the desk


to the rhythm

of the copy machine.


In another version,
he’d walk out to me


halfway along the mile,

stitching his own path,


and say something
he was never going to say,


that he had changed, and I
had changed, but


all for the better,
and we were stronger for it,


as though love
were a sourdough,


dying then restarting,
grown through being given away.


How long did I believe that time
was the most costly thing.


What a hard bargain
to find it is the only thing.



west country

the bad thing is too big to look at. the bad thing is heavy. when i kick the bad thing, its side caves in like an old football. i put the bad thing in my backpack. i walk with the bad thing to the train stop. the bad thing and i buy a pasty from warrens. i throw the wrapper away, but i can’t throw the bad thing away. at church the bad thing lights candles. at home the bad thing holds my hand. when i talk to the bad thing, the bad thing talks back sometimes. when i read to the bad thing, the bad thing listens. the bad thing likes television. the bad thing likes location, location, location. the bad thing says it might go away if i took it on a country walk, but the bad thing is lying. the bad thing sings to itself, very softly, under its breath. the bad thing wants me to listen. i don’t want to listen to the bad thing. i want to leave the bad thing alone, by itself, in an empty room. the bad thing likes this room. the bad thing helps me close the door, so that we are in this room together.





Correlation is not causation, but few things correlate more to a mood than rain.


Do people still come down with “a case of the vapors”?


What is weather if not causality in a landscape?


When it rains it pours. How does the Morton Salt Girl maintain her kicky attitude, happy under that umbrella and never bored with life?


Half the idiots in charge of this country don’t even know enough to come in out of the rain.


The Great Plains are basically a desert and thus Nebraska is a fairly dry state. In Lincoln, my Grandpa Boo was obsessed with his rain gauge, and therefore I, too, obsessed became.


Raining cats and dogs may come from the Greek cata doxa, “contrary to experience or belief.” I can’t believe how hard it’s raining!


Swipe a fingertip heart in the misty windowpane.


I hate to be the one to say it, but your parade’s going to get rained on.


Never have I ever been so depressed as when I lived for one year in the Pacific Northwest. It literally always rains and people metaphorically are always taking rainchecks. The Seattle No, I later learned it was termed, aka the Seattle Freeze.


A rain of arrows. Soot and ash raining down. What is life but a rain of blows?


This is the third year in a row that the rains have failed.


A peer-reviewed study found that of all 50 states, Washington ranked 48th for the trait of extraversion.


Gentle rain on the roof is as pleasing as alliteration, day or night, right as rain.


Does rain like being the external correlative of sorrow? Of pain? That feeling of tears going into your ears when you’re lying on your back and crying.


When you listen to “Famous Blue Raincoat,” what shade of blue do you see?


At this point it’d take a meteor shower to get the earth really clean.


Droplets stitch the day with gray silken threads. Come rain or shine, the hits just keep coming.



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.”



After Jim Harrison


On this excursion my hands were folded,

I tried not to see anything, didn’t pick up the pole,

let him do all the work, he took every turn

for the both of us—promising I would be amazed

at any moment, soon enough, and I fucking doubt it

I replied, wanting something more from my time,

as though each of my moments were precious

and meant to be filled with golden sap, we,

through mangrove canals where pregnant

wolf spiders ran their fingers through my hair,

and blackened crabs climbed from root to root,

the water moved past our boat like soft hands

swimming in still water, paddled toward the sunset

when two boar, nose-to-tail, took to the water to cross

from shore to shore oblivious of us one way or another

and now is a good time to define what our time is worth.



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: “On a miserable excursion through mangrove canals, rife with crabs and spiders, what seems a resistant young person sits with hands folded as an older figure tries to amaze and awaken them; and they do; they do awaken to the worth of this moment with its boars crossing the shore “oblivious of us” in that instant of marvelous connection with the natural world.”


Two Poems

Witness Statement

And, behold, in the year
of unencumbered plague


those who trafficked in wickedness
did so on palatial golf courses.


An orphan cried for succor
and received spit.


Nothing of this was new
or profound, only more naked.


And, lo, I fed my son a breakfast
bar on a dying planet.


And on a dying planet
the wicked watered


my son’s playground with poisons.
They hallowed his oceans with lead.


Tell me what should I have done
but bathe bread in peanut butter


mince Flintstones in a cup of cola.
And, lo, the wicked thought only


of my boy as a horsetail dreams
of flies. His chest rose and fell


as we both tacked the garbage
truck rumbling its track.


In this was no sin.
In this was only another


form of hunger: the truckness
of the truck begetting wonder


begetting want. Oh, felt my boy
with every rattling atom.


And the wicked kenneled
a brown boy so like my son.


I said, I am sickened.
I said, I will maim you


with my claws before you
take their boy, my boy whose laugh


turns this truck ripe with refuse
to some radiant blessing.


Anubis at the DMV

Let me be blunt:

            fate is no whim.


It is the voice of

            a thousand bureaucrats intoning

                        now serving 554.


If diligence is a knife

            you are our bread.


if service is a repeating decimal

            a herd of digits flashed to life

                        you’re dead last.


                        The sarcophagal cero.


Each attendant is a monolith

                        in a desert you wander

                                    an hour, a lifetime.


Who can know?

            The intervals grow



Think of a cat

            toying mindlessly with a string

                        an entire day




Past the grave

            vice or virtue is simply

                        the dust we brush off.


Let it accumulate.

            Let the carpet fiber

                        crack beneath your feet


Now you want to know

            how much longer

                        a day, a year, a league.


Like all dictators

            I simply push the beads

                        across, then back.


Who am I

            to enumerate

                        your wait time?


Who to tell you

            how to spend your death?



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”