Mini-Contest #45

The 45th OTP mini-contest launched in April 2020 and stretched into May. This mini-contest asked contestants to write a limerick that summed up the author’s feelings about life in the year 2020 so far, given all the awful things going on.

Warning for readers: At the time this mini-contest closed, the death of George Floyd at the hands of police hadn’t happened yet, so none of the limericks are about police brutality, the related protests across most of the planet, Trump-related US overreactions to protests, and so forth. Hard to believe that 2020 has been so filled with crap that these limericks may seem dated and out of touch just three weeks after we closed the contest, but that alone may tell you everything you need to know about this year.

Having said that, this mini-contest was different in another way. We know that only a tiny handful of writers make a lot of money from their works, and we suspect such people don’t bother submitting to our magazine. So we dug into our “rainy day” fund and decided that this time, instead of three winners of $25/$15/$10, there would be TEN winners… of $40 EACH. That’s a total prize fund as large as our last eight mini-contests combined.

In addition, since all winners make the same amount of money, we decided not to bother with the “first prize,” “second prize,” and similar language. Instead, we’re presenting the ten winners in two groups of five.

Seven of our ten winners are new to OTP.

Five Prize Judges, Five Different “Favorite” Entries

We ask our prize judges to select one entry as their favorite. As often happens with mini-contests, every prize judge had a different favorite entry. Here are the five entries that were selected as “favorite” by one of the five judges.


Huffed the wolf, “Straw or wood? A cub’s task!”
“I can blow down whatever you ask!
“Even bricks–with persistence,
“Just not at this distance!
“And not while I’m wearing this mask!”
(by Shawn Klimek, new to OTP)

Alarmed by the fear of the tomb
We chat and we Skype and we Zoom.
We long for and miss
A hug and a kiss
But there’s nobody else in the room.
(by K. Murderasi, new to OTP)

Now Covid’s become such an issue,
Oh, Normal Life, I really miss you!
I long for last year
When I shopped without fear
And my bathroom had plenty of tissue.
(by Leah Wanner, new to OTP)

This year has brought plague, panic, stress,
And lockdown at every address.
Like some god, thumb-handed,
Had stumbled, and landed
On a big button labeled DON’T PRESS.
(by Laura Ruth Loomis, published in multiple issues and mini-contests)

With COVID-19 in its throes,
It’s uncouth to expose mouth or nose.
So don’t be a rogue.
Face masks are in vogue!
As essential in public as clothes.
(by Hilary Stanton, new to OTP)

The Other Five Winning Entries

2020, the year we stay home,
Has been hard on those living alone.
“When I feel melancholic,
I get naked and frolic!”
I confessed to next-door’s garden gnome.
(by Emmeline Walls, new to OTP)

The virus induces anxiety,
Along with a loss of sobriety.
The drinking is fine,
Especially the wine,
But I’d rather be out in society.
(by John Christenson, published in mini-contest #43)

With the lock-down, I most miss the chair
At the salon where they cut my hair
When I glimpse my reflection
I feel such dejection
I’m glad to not go anywhere.
(by Lisa Timpf, published way back in mini-contest #25)

As I stand and look out through the glass,
How I long to see more people pass.
But we’re all locked inside,
And thus, we’ll reside
‘Til a vaccine can break the impasse.
(by Austin Hackney, new to OTP)

I was feeling quite sick with frustration
At this lengthy enforced hibernation
But an hour of stillness
Cured me of my illness
I’m so glad I tried meditation!
(by Rainie Zenith, new to OTP)

Congratulations to the winners and our sincere thanks to everyone who entered the mini-contest.