Winning Poems for July 2010

Judged by Ruth Ellen Kocher

First Place

Dreams: mobile

by Petra Klein
Salty Dreams

“to feel you’re not two billion other unselves is enough” — ee cummings


the doomed
invent help
and a secret window

the bruise is really a coral colored crystal

around the doorknob:
beasts split &

on hot pillows

give it to me, baby!

eyes possess the power of reckless
in a blink
wide fields of
stairways & haunches


and so / the girl
moves in margins

nipples kidnapped
heavy metal

the contraption


his strokes fill her completed body
with long knots of shadows

who’s winning now?

bonbon fingers
cream puff
late as snow
rain starts to fall in clear strings
the razzle-dazzle of lightning
hits the ceiling


she remembers
the first time he came in her
she thought he was on the other side of the ocean

I’m making the waves too strong..

as her new brows grow in
too thin
she watches him through webs
and a million haunted cell/Ohs

once when she was at work
he moved her errors
and added a throne


she wakes to dark skies
into darker skies
and all the strings of rain have turned into ropes
she starts to search for some comfort he may have left behind

a sheet of angel dots:
tiny ushers covered in mist

the air is breathtaking, too big

-on the screen –
a funny commercial:
a girl whipping her shiny hair
back and forth
mouthless face
faintly glowing

-The Next Day-

piles of grayish light
on the screen
please order more

what was the sense in that
the rain ropes were still falling
fatter & harder

all was as it had been
growing up was a lie
and her joints ached

she stands mute on the faded glass floor
one ear on and glittering

-phantom of the opera – the music of night-

we did know each other in france
my face was moon-sheer
and I wore a white gown
we stood in a place where branches hung
with all their brilliant leaves
slowly turning
you had been stripped of your birth-right
and had a cheek on one ash smudge
and I..
I was already dying of fear
your eyes said
but squatting next to you
was the red outline
of a demon


in the steam / stream
of the shower
my thoughts begin to unbraid

victims of too much heat

the fat cat
slides one paw
beneath the door

-At Work-

accused seams
gruel supper

forms copied
only to be filled in

strolling through the long corridors, keys jingling
she remembers running through alleys
his feet: brown & bare
fumbling hands
empty pockets

sickly stray dogs
ferocious fangs
& in the rotting garbage
a tarnished chain
hung with tears

oh! my love!
don’t let me stay
in past progressive tense

Okay, but I seem to be tacked to black paths.

-The Rain Suddenly Stops-

on the 4th level, the 3rd floor deck

“pretty plain, loony-sane”

once, during the time of heavy bell ringing
they took a nap on a round
wrought iron
he broke their circled rhythm by making
beads of blood appear on his skin

her first instinct was to lick them
acre by acre until her tongue became
too sticky and greedy

-Other Things.. The Night Sends Back Too Quickly-

jumpy solace
masks, rocks, false pretense


mosquitoes &
deep prisons

"Dreams: Mobile" interests me as a poem for it's razor edge handling of lyric, innovation, and tradition. The poem forms a narrative arc that takes us through various landscapes pieced together though a compressed and consistent attention to metaphor and metonymy. The work benefits as much from continuous imagery as it does from it's sequential form. I also find it very pleasing to find the long-poem format tackled by a poet who works in a minimalist style. Most, the work satisfies the reader's desire to find a song within its carefully wrought form. --Ruth Ellen Kocher

Second Place

Pantone 1665 C.

by Ben Johnson
The Poets' Graves

It is kumquats for Keats
and a celebration in couplets.

The Happy Birthday you won’t sing me
and the candles I won’t have.

It was seeing June in 1994
slumbering through an endless summer.

Tuesdays were clementines and liqueur
burning a stream-bed along the path of the throat.

Teeth cracking the Jaffa cake crust
releasing a tang as thick as lava to the tongue.

It was the first dress I ever brought you
still sitting in the wardrobe unworn.

The walks down Via dei Fori Imperiali
the sun burning off the wall

and that sunset in Paris
trellised through the Eiffel Tower.

It was the day you told me
and I sat lost within the wash of it.

Do you remember Frigiliana
and reaching out to pick the perfect fruit?

The writer here uses the repetitious elements of the form not so much to create a resonant refrain as to create a sort of imagistic causal chain that exists primarily as a series of isolated utterances. We search for a connection between those isolated utterances. We search for something that qualifies and so gives substance to "it" but are left to understand that that lack of signification of subject here becomes the scaffolding with which this poem is built. The approach this writer takes is one of utilizing the notion of 'the incomplete,' and the subsequent search for order that accompanies it. --Ruth Ellen Kocher

Third Place


by Laurie Byro
Desert Moon Review

My mother’s bones served a purpose. Grounded
by all that brittle history, a desert coyote’s need
to lie down among sage, to strike a flinty spark,

a lather-talk inside a kettle of blue. Sand, grass,
flower-sky. An interesting canvas, or so we’ve been
taught. A veiny handed hag sleeps out with young

boys. Strange ghost-tumbleweeds rifle through
her thoughts. Father, she threatens rain. A scorpion
retracts its tail to sting. I don’t remember puppy dogs

or snakes. There is salt left behind on a varnished
gin-mill counter, pretzels twisted like my poor
old man’s back. There is a glinty fang-moon howling

through the desert night. A father’s hand, veined
like that, holds up a turtle knowing nothing can beat
the day out of him, not a tire’s wheel, not the sun

that’s burned clear through to his belly. Silently
we hunker down to drag their bones away. Silently,
they beg us to stay, sing our feeble praises.

Bone-Song" utilizes an interesting conflation of lyric narrative with a disrupted narrative. The transformation of the concrete subject of the title immediately transcends the reader's expectation of an uninterrupted trajectory of image, story, song, or subject. The writer especially navigates the use of contiguous relationships at the end of the poem with great skill, drawing the reader into an ending that arrives through implication rather than assertion. The poems resonates most in these last lines as the poem showcases an adept understanding of lyric subtlety. --Ruth Ellen Kocher

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    • First Place (Tie)

      Anna and the Scourge
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      First Place (Tie)

      Mother Banana
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      Second Place

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  • September 2021 Winners

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      Second Place

      The Dark Land
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      Third Place

      The Oilliphéist Story
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