This past December, we partnered with James River Writers to launch the Edgar Allan Poe Flash Fiction and Poetry Contest with the theme “Poe Inspires.” We were pleasantly inundated with wonderful entries and loved reading them. Poe would have been proud. A huge thank you to all who participated! Out of the many submissions we received, one poem and one flash fiction piece in particular impressed us with the writers’ technical skill, creative imagination, and overall aura of Poe-ness. We are delighted to announce our winners for the contest: Jonathan Tyktor for Flash Fiction and Jan Best for Poetry. Congratulations!! The winning entries are published below and will also be published on James River Writers’ website as well as in their “Get Your Word On” (circulation of 3,400+). These will also be proudly displayed at the Poe Museum’s Birthday Bash on January 16. Again, congratulations to Jon and Jan and thank you so much to everyone who submitted their work.
FLASH FICTION WINNER: The Tollkeeper, Jon Tyktor
Two masked highwaymen hid by a country road. Obscured by a ridge, they
watched as a hobbling, cloaked figure walked by and heard the jingling of
coins. The rogues, Gaetano and Arrigo, jumped out and brandished their
“Pay the toll!” said Gaetano.
“And what toll is that?” said the figure.
“Ours!” said Arrigo. “Make payment in money or life.”
“Hah! Indeed,” said the figure. “All that is mine comes back to me, but
here, take it for now.”
The figure reached into his cloak and threw a bulging purse at their feet.
He set back to the road before either thief could say another word. Gaetano
and Arrigo examined their prize.
“We are rich!” said Arrigo.
“And without a fight!” said Gaetano.
“What fight could he muster? He was so near death, he looked to be nothing
but bones walking upright!”
Gaetano took two bronze coins from the pile and said “We should have spared
him these so he could pay his final toll!”
“I suppose they now will be your own!”
Gaetano placed the coins over his eyes in jest and began to scream. He tore
at the coins, now fused to his flesh, and fell to his knees. His eyes
glowed with an infernal fire that charred his face and hands in an instant.
With a final searing flash, his screams were silent and his smoldering body
Arrigo watched the body lay. He then heard a jingling come down the country road.
POETRY WINNER: Lorena, Jan Best
In a room
dark as a tomb
‘cept for a candle’s flame,
his eyes fixed on
his one true love
he’ll never see again.
Her tender skin
like a veil
of cloud-wisped sail
across her moon-shaped face.
Her name so sweet
his hardened cheek
had lifted in recall,
a poignant frame
against the reddened wall.
All that was left-
his echoed breath
that wilted in the air,
Lorena, Sweet Lorena, kissed
a bullet through his chair.