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Tom Park Poetry Prize 2019

The Fox Poetry Box is very pleased to announce that the winner of THE TOM PARK POETRY PRIZE is Alexandra Umlas for her poem “House”! The final selection, in a blind reading, was made by Lorette C. Luzajic. Congratulations to Alexandra!


The cat perks his ears, stares
from the window, I’m sure he is dreaming
of laying in the patch of sun beneath

the lemon tree. He wants out from under
all this house, spends hours plotting his escape
through a small crack in the front door.

I have just come home from dropping
the kids at school, and he tries again, striped
and unsuccessful, licks his paw, turns

his back to me. Sometimes we all imagine
a life somewhere else, a different town,
another country. This morning over radio talk

about counting everybody in 2020,
I imagine driving Goldenwest
until it becomes another street, turning

on the dead-ends, making it across
the country like that, all stop signs
beckoning me.

Instead I will push another Keurig pod
into the maker and press out a second cup
of coffee. I will be there on time for pick up,

park in the shade, every green leaf rustling
until they come out of the school,
still enchanted by the world,

one telling me about stratus, cumulous,
nimbus. When we arrive home, the cat’s shadow
will be waiting, and the lemon tree,

which has exploded in blossoms, will honey
the air with its precise sweetness, as if
saying go on, go on—

Alexandra Umlas holds an M.F.A. in Poetry from California State University, Long Beach and an M.Ed. in Cross-cultural Education. You can find her work in Rattle, Cathexis Northwest Press, and Connotation Press, among others. She also serves as a reader for Palette Poetry. Her first book of poems, At The Table of the Unknown, is forthcoming from Moon Tide Press. www.alexandraumlas.com

Alexandra has this to say about the cats in her life: “When my husband and I got married, almost 17 years ago, we both had two cats. This brought our household cat count to four, the maximum legal limit in California. The last one standing, Honey, passed this year at 19. We’ve always enjoyed the little, quirky things (playing fetch, eating plastic…) that make each cat unique. Now we have two young kids and a young cat who loves to sit on their homework and wag his tail.”

Alexandra will receive $75 in prize money and the sanctuary/shelter Cat Guardians will also receive $75. “House” will be featured in The Fox Poetry Box (within the Box and on the Facebook page) beginning next weekend (ah, the suspense!) and also on the Cat Guardians website.

The Fox Poetry Box thanks all the poets that submitted wonderful poems. There were even poets that had met Tom Park while he was a resident at Cat Guardians. To know Tom Park was to love him. This prize was created in his name because he truly was made from stars and poetry. #adoptdontshop ❤✨

A special thanks to Lorette for creating the marvelous collage “Tom Park in Heaven” and for making the winning poem selection.