And the Winners of the March Madness Divergent Literature Contest are. . .

The editors of the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective and Secret First Draft are thrilled to announce  the winners of the March Madness Divergent Literature Contest

1st Place: Conflagration/Nathan McCool  Newest Member of the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective

Inaugural Members of the Secret First Draft Literary Collective:

Second Place: Ligeia, under dimmed lights/Oloriel

Third Place: Marching in Madness & March Madness/1Wise-Woman

Fourth Place: The Magic Quilt/Zelda Reville

We are honored to welcome our new collective members and were thrilled with the quality of the writing submitted.  We hope that you enjoyed reading them as much as we did.


March Madness Honorable Mention: The Ides/Phil Benton

Come with me

to forest’s nascent yawning

alit in spark of ide’s promise

join those of like voice

the song of Salii

slough the sheathe of wintertide

dance with flaming spear

pierce the beggar’s rotted flesh

feast in grove of Selene

under buxom blush of lavish moon

Take my hand

shake free your whorled locks

taste the claret hue of tender dawn

run free as dire wolf

bare fang to suckling scapegoat

tear the flesh of lesser being

howl to the quaking heavens

the sacred song of Attis

free at last of winter’s tusk

ripe with fruitful seed

I’ve managed to escape the corporate world, rid myself of excess belongings, travel the country extensively in my old Winnebago, and find a new home on a beautiful barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico. I define myself as: a free spirit, a writer, a philosophical anarchist, a poet; a lover of nature, a lover of art, a protector of animals, as well as a devoted friend and partner.  I blog at Think About It (candid views from the endless highway)

March Madness Honorable Mention: I Know it’s Not Me/Christina Strigas

Depending on the light of the day

streaming in from my window,

I am insecure or full of doubt.

If it is Fall, right around the time

of my birthday, September nineteenth,

I come alive. I smell hope in the grass.

I feel the love in the universe; how the

leaves alone fill up my emptiness,

the sunsets turn everything gold,

the walks with my dog complete me.

Sometimes, my dog is the only one

who knows what I need. He reads me

better than any man ever could.


How silly, you think. Why dont you ever

talk to me the way you talk to the dog?


I keep it locked up in my fancy notebooks,

my indie music, my art acquisitions,

my loyal lover. Nobody knows it’s me,

I fool everyone with dark eye-shadow

and midnight poetry rants. I can even fool

myself about the seasons and how they

strum out my life. I know it’s not me.

It’s trouble that follows me in your name.

I am worrying about all the time on my

hands. I am worrying about the stains

on my shirt that do not come off.

I am worrying that my children are

leaving me so soon. I am not ready

to let go of anyone. I have to breathe

deep and open my arms wide to

lesbians, gays, acrobats, lovers,

husbands, wives, and put up the chains

to mean girls, and men that want to

eat up my inspiration with charm.

I know it’s all you.

I finally get it.

It took me forty-eight years

but I figured it out.

It is never too late

to love yourself.

Christina Strigas blogs at You can’t break up with a soul mate

March Madness Top Ten: Voices/Aurora Phoenix

infused of the cosmos

she is their voices


tenacious and talon-tongued

she is the whistling warning

under the hawk’s taxi

down the runway

winging aloft fervently


sage and perspicacious

she is the measured note

owl’s hoot of knowledge

dropping stoned oceans

coursing wise and steadily


throaty and ardent

she is the tentacled heart-beat

pull of salmon sunrise

poach of breath and agony

lights ephemerality


unobtrusive and undeniable

she is the creeping whisper

muted march of myrtle

rhythmic pound of tides

circling inexorably


hard-shelled and vanished

she is the forested sigh

slide of ancient snail

solipsistic journey

far beyond infinity


she paints the sky

with their voices lost

splicing self with dignity

inhaling smoke and mirrors

of madness and reality


The Editors Top Ten

Ligeia, under dimmed lights/Oloriel

A Moment of Dying/Kindra Austin

The Magic Quilt/Zelda Reville

Marching in Madness & March Madness/1Wise-Woman

Conflagration/Nathan McCool

My Own Ghost House and Dog & All/S Francis

Which Way is Out?/Annette Rey

A question of balance, perhaps/Timea Deinhardt

Voices/Aurora Phoenix

I spent over 2 decades as a clinical psychologist, as well as mother and partner. My world was decimated when I was suddenly incarcerated 2 and a half years ago. My writing was born in that caged existence – not a choice but a soul-saving necessity.  My blog is Insights from “Inside”


March Madness Top Ten: A question of balance, perhaps/Timea Deinhardt

who can claim to be liberated

if afraid of designs in pale rose on oxblood —

heady perfume and powder

of delicate strands of pearls

wisps of long-brushed hair?

Of course this is just the guess

of a lone crane

short on pin feathers

but I suspect the truly liberated

are those whose head is not screwed on

one way – who occasionally dare

the rear-view mirror

without a smile or sneer.

who just might eternally prefer lingerie

to underwear.

The Editors Top Ten

Ligeia, under dimmed lights/Oloriel

A Moment of Dying/Kindra Austin

The Magic Quilt/Zelda Reville

Marching in Madness & March Madness/1Wise-Woman

Conflagration/Nathan McCool

My Own Ghost House and Dog & All/S Francis

Which Way is Out?/Annette Rey

A question of balance, perhaps/Timea Deinhardt

Timea Deinhardt has lived by her pen all her life, under a variety of bylines and pseudonyms. She is currently in France where she devotes herself to poetry, fiction and a hybrid she sometimes calls nanoprozetry. No pets, just an abiding fondness for Lapsang Souchong.

She blogs at



and The Alan Poems

March Madness Top Ten: Which Way is Out?/Annette Rey

Unfriendly voices crowd my head and I hear words in whispers and from hollow wells. Oddly, some seem scholarly. Mozart died in 1921. Van Gogh’s ear. Suicide. Sterilized strangers pull me from this familiarity and probe me and tie my straining arms across my chest, suffocating me. I spit as I struggle to breathe and they tie a mask to my face. They say I’m marching to madness and spitting is not allowed. I’m only spitting to breathe.


Who are these pale vectors? I don’t recognize them. Exposed, chipped pipes stand up and across gray, pitted walls. This thing they call a bed is made of bars, like the ones on the dark-glassed window where flies have died on the sill. They are the lucky ones, I think. They can’t spit and be bound. They are drying up. But, they are free. They can’t move, but neither can I. Not much.


I kick – and cry – and spit in my mask. My face gets stiff with dried spittle cracking my lips. Do flies have lips? In a wave, I see students sitting in desks before me. I hear my voice orating to them. Their faces begin to melt. The voices start.


The pitted walls again are before me. The dead flies begin to speak. Bzzz. Bzzz-bzzzz. Bzz. I agree with them.


Scraping sounds approach. The sterile devils force me onto a cart. Deafening screeches from the cart’s wheels assault the surrounding atoms as the cart pierces another doorway. Something metal presses on my temples beside my bulging, darting eyes as I scan emotionless faces. A mood has descended. Their arms move.


I hear a scream beyond the wall, a spine-rattling crescendo that abruptly drops into a chasm. My spine just settles in when my brain is hit with lightning that explodes my eyes in their sockets and clamps my jaws shut. My teeth crack. My entire body tenses and lifts from the cart, and slams against it – again, again, again. A shriek like the one I heard minutes before escapes my cracked lips as I collapse one last time, sweating, sick, spent. I can’t object.


Clouds float. Misty waves pass by. I wake slowly. I’m numb, drained. My arms are free. The mask is gone.


The cadaver creators say I’m better.


I’m only beaten – dried up – like the flies.

The Editors Top Ten

Ligeia, under dimmed lights/Oloriel

A Moment of Dying/Kindra Austin

The Magic Quilt/Zelda Reville

Marching in Madness & March Madness/1Wise-Woman

Conflagration/Nathan McCool

My Own Ghost House and Dog & All/S Francis

I have been president of a writer’s group, and published in various anthologies and online. My passion is to create writing that intrigues, entertains, and educates the inquiring reader. I especially want to assist other writers to see the English language as a virtual living entity they can use to enhance the lives of others. I blog at Life Nuggets and Writer’s Block No More


March Madness Top Ten: Conflagration/Nathan McCool

From among rampikes where I study ancient things,

I think I could reach up with my ponderosa arms and

pull down all the gods. I could bring them

here to earth, but people would only know them as


Know them in that same way that the

general population will always know

beauty and brilliance.

I’m society, some things are outside of it;

and gazes are always turned to those things

like the barrel of a gun. Scoffs are shot from

perfect, lipstick painted mouths like bullets.

But to be perfect is to have never burned.

Things that have not endured burning cannot

give light. And in the absence of light,

no one ever sees anything.

What I’m saying is, each person can set themselves afire in some way and endure –

can be stars speckled against darkness.

To be or not to be is a question of suicide,

but I ask, “To march in bright, radiant, conflagrant madness…or to simply spectate

in dull content?”

The thing to really remember is:

If you are to spectate, it is only because

more enkindled “mad” things allow it.


The Editors Top Ten

Ligeia, under dimmed lights/Oloriel

A Moment of Dying/Kindra Austin

The Magic Quilt/Zelda Reville

Marching in Madness & March Madness/1Wise-Woman

Conflagration/Nathan McCool

A biography? What would I tell you? That I am a drunk miserable sod that writes and plays music and wanders nomadically? That I try fruitlessly to scatter around whatever goodness is in me in hopes that maybe someone else wouldn’t feel as miserable as I do? That I’m just some dumb, angry man that cares too much despite wishing I truly didn’t give a damn?

Do you really think that would matter? Anything I could tell you would just be what I think and feel about myself. Is that really who anyone is?

The point I’m making is that it doesn’t matter what I tell you. Anything anyone needs to know about anyone else doesn’t come from some shit they say about themselves. What people are and the way that they choose to exist as a conscious human is what a biography should say, but those things are actions and reactions and the outward representations of what is inside someone. You can’t tell that in words.

You can find Nathan on Instagram at God of Dregs

March Madness Top Ten: Marching in Madness & March Madness/1Wise-Woman

Two writers who submitted to the March Madness Divergent Literature Contest had not one but two pieces in our top ten.  Today we present two pieces from 1Wise-Woman

Marching in Madness

Dwelling on the brink of madness morphing magic tricks mind

over matter universal force fed famine ravaging war of the

roses are red violets are blue moon pie in your face the facts

truth is stranger than fictional characters conceding a sneak

peek peak defining moments from celebratory milestones

commemorated in cemented silver frames found in cracked

pieces a portrait of possibility is a good start on your karmic

return rejected revealing reality renouncing your ways and

means to an end of the road to nowhere know everywhere the

hills are blooming and bursting the heart of a warrior worrying

wary to wrench open the window into the soul of the devils

bridge over troubled water reflecting a perfect circle the sun

dances around the subject yourself to psychedelic society

scrounging scraps of meat meet maniacs as time marches on

human rights are a privilege producing punks pushing pathetic

promises of escape from early life imprisonment while the

impoverished implore illusions of freedom rings heard round

the world epidemic climate change cleaving desperately to the

dwindling change in your pocket of diminishing herds escaping

inevitable extinction in vain veins bulging from wringing their

neck of the woods would do injustice at a time when laughter

is vital to the existence of the enlightened one won the race just

in case they don’t already haunt your dreams of shedding the

armor around your heart felt promises proving villainy runs in

the family values tear away the thorny vines and climb

the wall of contention meant to contain courageousness

corrodes concealing corruption failing to sway them all

marching in madness mercifully chanting.

March Madness




As clouded days


Occluding sun

Moon and star

Beckoning fiends

Clawed grasp


Amplifying strength

From forever dark

Leaving me gasping

And begging on bruised knee

For daylight to


A hypocritical wish

As comfort bespeaks

An innate forfeiture



In perpetual night

To relinquish my life for

Underworld hereafter

Forsaking light

In place of abject fight

And renounce

Promises spoken

That upon arrival

March transforms existence

Into life less


For the mind unburdened

Clear and free

The prospect


Excites and brightens

With bird and bee

In flower and tree

Fresh growth springs forth

As each day


Spirits and souls

Emerge from


To illuminate and bow down

With gratitude for


In this mad mind of mine

Allegiance is


To ghouls who

Have drained my blood

And anchored my kind

Eternally abandoned in

Endless winter

The light burns

So I draw the curtains

The sound sears

So I cover my ears

To drown out

The laughter

Of the waking living

And ease back

Into soothing existence

With the waking dead

Falling deeper




The Editors Top Ten

Ligeia, under dimmed lights/Oloriel

A Moment of Dying/Kindra Austin

The Magic Quilt/Zelda Reville

Marching in Madness &  March Madness/1Wise-Woman

I write about mental illness and chronic illness. I use a variety of writing styles to incorporate all of the ugly and beauty of living with mental and chronic illness. The purpose behind my blog is to ease some of my pain as well as share some of my blessings, to provide information, encouragement and support to others and to help end the stigma against mental illness and invisible diseases.  My blog is A Lion Sleeps in the Heart of the Brave

March Madness Top Ten: The Magic Quilt/Zelda Reville


take your hefty quilt
from the closet, the one
capable of arabesques,
arias and spinning obelisks –

the Mad Hatter
who sets the sundial
for tea at half-past five!

Watch the glittering dust
unfurl and powder your nose,

casting forgotten incantations
on brittle keyboards
which no one can play,

except for
toothy grimoires
that let nothing
escape their beady eyes!

Now, flip the quilt
the wrong side out,

and watch
the glorious purple
that flies straight
from the heavens,

and the bloodied reds
hastily scraped from
shields and swords
on the battlefields.

Sniff the
musky life-force
of everlasting wine,

from which
naiads drew
and pledged
their dizzying joy to…

if you smell this
spot over here –

you can discern
the faintest hint
of sandalwood

stained on this
illegally acquiesced
patch of velvet!

Now, open the quilt
and lay it on the floor;

and trace the tiny dots
crawling like white ants
over the inky pallor…

The moth-eaten square
and the familiar touch
of worn-out seams,

that seems to coax
a smile out
from your tired eyes!

Watch Pollux jeer
at Castor’s horse
while his brother
outsmarts him
with the royal whip;

or giggle at the
secretly picking his nose
as Taurus turns its head!

And – oh! Venus daintily
taking her royal place,
gold hair set on fire
as the Morning Star
in the glimmering dawn…

Just imagine –
if I could hear her sigh
just one more time!

It would sound
like the treasure
of oscillating gold,

the gloved allure
in the fragrance
of frangipani,

the stinging outrage
of spicy cloves
stained with salt crystals
from the Dead Sea,

or procured anklets
from the Far East
that decorate her
freshly cut beauty!

But, Brother!

Why must you hide her
in this musty closet?

Why not display her
colourful, untameable

for all to see?

Oh Brother !

Please tell me…

Is it your white coat
and horn-rimmed glasses
that has prevented you
from doing so?

But, Brother,

you should know that
the ripening fruit
of the March Madness
only comes in full force,
when the twilight melody
of the opportunistic nightingale
pervades the air!


The Editors Top Ten

Ligeia, under dimmed lights/Oloriel

A Moment of Dying/Kindra Austin

The Magic Quilt/Zelda Reville

Zelda Reville is the literary alias of DeanJean, who currently resides in Singapore. Her work has been published in a few poetry platforms, and she hopes to continue along that direction in the future. When not reading incessantly, she can be found day-dreaming in parks and amusing herself with obscure word puns.

Zelda can be found writing at

March Madness Top Ten: A Moment of Dying/Kindra Austin

Now that I’ve had a dagger thrust keenly into my belly, I can absolutely say it’s a fucking awful sensation—the kind of pain so brutal, it hasn’t allowed me to cry out. Maybe I won’t have the chance.

I sensed the steel was hot with hatred; my skin prickled upon the piercing. And all of my guts began to itch and burn the deeper the blade was plunged; the barbed sort of burning keeps me hushed.

I didn’t scream or start when I caught him walking up this morning; I was kneeling in my flower garden, dazed by the thrilling and sour sight of him. I only gasped, and he was on me before I could stand, though he didn’t stick me right away.

He said—no, he mocked, “I can never unknow you.” His skin smelled of posh French cologne, and his breath of Irish whiskey.

He forced me onto my feet by the nape of my neck; the neck he loved once—or maybe still does love? I asked him why he couldn’t have stayed by his darling seaside to brood beneath those thick grey skies. He stuck me then, and I dropped my trowel. The hilt press against me. I looked up into his scorpion eyes, and thought, he’s going to totally eviscerate me now. But he didn’t. That’s how much he hates me. I’ve been bleeding to death in my own motherfucking backyard ever since.

Above me the brainless silver maples blithely wave their fine branches; the underside of uncountable leaves twinkle, stunning against the backdrop of sky blue. The clouds are bleached white, and the summer sun is looking directly upon us. My killer is lying beside me, running his red tacky fingers through my hair; if not for my life leaking out of me, staining my clothes and the grass all around me, I would think it a rather romantic scene.

I don’t want to see any more of the world I’m about to leave behind; I must close my eyes.

I conceive it is night. I can see him, drunk with grief and stinking of his Irish whiskey, standing on a stony coast and shaking his fist at silvery swells. In his melodramatic style, he strikes the empty bottle against the rocks, and with a crude edge of green tinted glass he spills his blood. His life rushes out of him in crimson bursts, staining his clothes, his flesh, and the earth beneath him. He doesn’t panic—clutch at his neck. He simply moans a guttural gurgle, staggers, then falls dead right there on the beach. In the moonlight, his alabaster face is beautiful, streaked with radiant red.

I can’t go out mutely. “I hate you.” A scratch of a whisper, but I know he heard.

“And I, you.” He has his hands wrapped up in my matted and sticky hair, and he’s weeping all over my face.

Or maybe those are my own tears rolling hotly down my cheeks, my neck.


The Editors Top Ten

Ligeia, under dimmed lights/Oloriel

A Moment of Dying/Kindra Austin

Kindra: I am a writer and editor for The Bridge Magazine, and an aspiring novelist; I have a completed novel, “Magpie in August,” which has gained the interest of Royal James Publishing. For me, writing is not simply a hobby, but true art–real life–a powerful tool to build human connections.