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Winning Poems from 2006

January February March
April May June July
August September October
November December

January 2006
Judge: Ravi Shankar

First Place
a glass into your half bottle
by Cy Street
SplashHall Poetry

in a cloud of coffee
i woke to the sound of rocks
sleeping bats
another bridge
a long walk
i was on the phone paying bills
downtown
near my old downtown
where i once scribbled a particular poetry
a romance between sidewalks
and gum

thanks for choosing sprint

my boots were riverside
and asked to turn south
scuffing
scooting for spiny garden

yeah
double espresso

hanging in there

i am swish
nice to see you too

a few photos later
fourth and the copper high rise
thereabouts
breakfast was a beer
and cheap
lunch a few more
a few friends stopped by
while across the avenue
roof tops were dancing
in a bluebonnet sky
perforated with treetops
sundown
a passerby
selling gospel music
a cure for his tired lungs

on stage
little people were swing dancing
softly
like falling water
your first perfecto
another missed picture
better than the ones i missed
of the bluesman outdoors
balloons in air
key lime and salt therapy
the corner of fifth and somewhere

something to drink

one filthy
one neat

do you recall
a lazy creek
in the woods
along the teeth of bluestem grass
ten red
eight green
driveway bocce
to the sounds of a new bridge
and a glass into your half bottle
i was flush
as crushed pink granite
made in texas
and full

as full
as a tulip choked with tadpoles
as that ten point
meandering above the bar
ranch six one six
lucky stars for sale
rain dancers dancing
on my mother s bookshelf

which appear and disappear
as i write and remember
i can taste the cuttlefish sashimi
tofu on ice
until
the salt cured mountains
flocks of paradise
and my neighbor say welcome home

my first welcome home off navy

Second Place
The Math Genius Figurine Solves for the Invisibility Problem
by Trace Estes
The Rabbit Hole

In the beginning, he is so smooth. Pristine.
His problems start when he trashes
all his signs except division,
which he hides along his breastbone.

Whipped out of a loosened Oxford
at the least provocation,
he divides:
his day into increments,
strangers into identifiable subsets,
(all of which deal with threat assessment)
and himself from the herd.

Every evening he jots new variables
onto a chalkboard. They become
an equation he spends
the rest of a caffeine-laced night
attempting to solve--to make things add up.

He awakens with erasures
and no recollection of nearing a solution
for his invisibility problem.
The only sure things are:

with every realignment
of his time,
other people 
or of his opinions,
he fractures along a new axis;

and, if he dares to run a thumb along
any of his once-smooth surfaces,
he's guaranteed a cut.

Third Place
Blinking Lights
by Yolanda Calderon-Horn
Frugal Poet

Winter's tightly squared on the window.
The rind of hard rain sputters
over reindeers with bobbing heads.

I remember watching his lips the first time:
slick, like surviving ice-cubes. My tongue,
my lips were unstill all night.

I went home kissless.
By New Year's, I knew.
Today, I rub against walls

to keep warm. Love is wintering.
Soon we'll be an art form
hanging on lines of icy banter.

When the kids come,
they'll expect crystal angels
on the Douglas fir.

I don't know if it's the eggnog,
but my eyes have gotten warm.
And it's really packing in now.

Honorable Mention
Geography
by Nicole Poirier
Pen Shells/font>

My dream of piloting an aerodynamic will never do;
this fascination with dead ends, ditches-
black eyed susans all mirrors
of themselves, maps that are not universal
but connections between the space of our arms.
 
I consider my fallacy with wings;
the violet tip of a blackbird,
how he strides easily through his own
conception of distance, elbow room,
& God carving the moon on highway 39; well
 
not behind fogged glass.
The window cracked sees all I want it to;
jewels turning up on everything small.

Honorable Mention
The Race
by Don Schaeffer
Blueline

I am feeling  
like I was in deep space
without a suit  
by the time I reach
the two hour point.
 
It's coming fast I say
although I am alone.
My legs nearly collapse
each time I swing  
one behind the other.
 
My determination is
violent already. The darkness
now touches the bottom
of the trees. The wind
begins it's ascent.
 
The possibility of light
and warmth seems more remote
as I approach the terminus
but even silence and dark
seems better than this.
 
It overtakes me with a gush
and I can't see how
I can pull the strings of my life
together. It's as if something
untangled the bands.


February 2006
Judge Dave Brinks

First Place
Stovetop
by Sarah Sloat
Desert Moon Review

the girls have grown so much 
the ceiling shatters 
kitchen chairs collapse 

but a quart of milk stays simple 
it will do for brewing 
custard in the sweet hereafter 

recital of steps so few 
even a daughter might muster 
a cloudburst of milk 

mudslide of sugar 
egg albumen expanding 
like a most virginal flower 

stovetop, slop shrine 
nothing special about 
stewing, ruminating 

over smoke in the kitchen 
why, because 
the mind simmers 

like melancholy it boils over 
and what else can one do 
up to the elbows in flour

Second Place
high altitude in the lips of clams
by Cy Street
SplashHall Poetry

i saw a buttercup blinking
above a florentine door
hotel de lanzi
the street ran empty
a ghost biker passed thru
rubesco bottles patiently wait
dimly lit buildings
drank the dew
dreamed
expressing concerns privately
off camera
an interview with the stars
thru flashbacks
criterion for thunder and rain
overlapping darkness
a passage to where
beneath the bench
a shadow
an earthy
and stone faced night sky
a pitch black invitation
what is your name
do you unknown

i was taken by a storefront
uttering evidence of solitude
free from the baker s wood oven
another song writing tourist
an angry angel singing
some soul take
war cries
pledges to speak up
a rusty harmonica
a picture off the shelf
another glass of aspirinio
i begin to remember myself
from the eighteenth century
a white wig i think
two years ago
when i bought the photo
smoking my spirit
a burning box
now resting on the eastern wall
facing the ocean
and a million barrels a day

from the shotgun
i get lost around the corner
looking ahead
i walk away into the unseen
a red rooster
having a nap
bored by the lecture
clear creek practices
in the ancient art of tomato farming
and olive pressing
i remember my introduction to panic
and high altitude in the lips of clams
glazed with the ocean floor
and lost phone numbers

Third Place
The Gospel According to David Copperfield
by Nathan McClain
Inside The Writer's Studio

At six, Jesus drapes a velvet cape 
over broken chair legs, curls his fingers 
and yells Abracadabra in Aramaic. 

Mary applauds the dove of sawdust beneath. 

John lowers Jesus into Jordan's 
backyard pool. He emerges and yanks 
quarters from the mouths of inflated goldfish. 

Jesus dunks his hands in stone water pots 
filled to the brim, pomegranate fog 
spreading like Easter egg dye. 

Peter hands out fliers for a three-day show 
in Galilee. It reads: "Jesus, the Magnificent: 
to wake sparrows from sleep 

and saw Death in two! Watch as he parts 
the flaming halves like the Red Sea! 
(and of course, Jesus nails every trick) 

For the grand finale, he'll make himself 
vanish from a pad-locked coffin 
and reappear off-stage in a sequin- 

crusted suit. Watch the women wail and faint 
as He guesses the cards they choose. 
And as a special encore--Jesus levitates!"

Honorable Mention
Of a Journal Partially Smeared from a Summer Flood
by Yolanda Calderon-Horn
Desert Moon Review

August is too hot to be sexy outdoors. 
Blue strip indicates a new period. 
New art is forming. 
 
I become a fossil on the spare bedroom carpet 
shaped out of time I spent being petrified and eager, 
but fire-trucking to the bowl makes it 
impossible to stay stoned. 
 
Because he's baptized in my water, 
there'll be deliverance. He? 
When did I conceive this notion? 
 
He's settled among my springy pillars 
and has become my daily meditation. 
I will look fastidiously after him. I hope he looks 
a little like me to pull me out of grownup context. 
 
I gobble and gobble chili-con-carne 
as the legs of October rest high on a timetable. 
He does not seem to mind my new weakness. 
 
I have never been equally full and hungry 
of/for an individual so little, so huge. 
 
I barely sleep as I go from my right side, 
back, and then left side. 
He crashes comfortably: sleeps well. 
 
His mutiny through my Nile absorbed 
an entire day. 
 
Upon delivery, a poem 
that would jam in my belly soared 
to epistles baby-bluing the neck 
of that April sky. 
 
The hurt he caused my yielding walls 
with startled fists and feet 
is now an obscure backdrop 
like ink that blurs colorlessness 
on the page it evangelizes to. 
 
7lbs, 9ozs of sun.

Honorable Mention
Coming To Terms With Delinquency
by Wendy Howe
The Versifier

I wish I could say the furnace 
squatting in my yard 
is a sculpture by Alexander Calder. 

Scrap metal drum 
with pipes and faucet prone 
to spit water 

could be his way of defining 
the housewife whose breath 
is steam-hissing through bones 

and a radiator of shoulder blades 
that stands nonchalant 
letting a stray breeze 
shrug off the dust. 

That would make its presence 
significant, a work of art 
to contrast the silent poise 
of stones and wide-sleeved pine 
bending like a geisha to serve tea. 

I can only say the furnace lingers 
because a plumber honored 
half his contract. He installed 
a new system and neglected 
to haul the old one from my garden.

When it rains 
water floats on the rusted surface, 
birds bathe in tequila 
and I become their patron saint
wearing clogs and blue denim.

Honorable Mention
Villanelle on the Sky
by Mitchell Geller
Desert Moon Review

The sky has many faces, many hues, 
from cobalt to a pale chalcedony; 
a scintillant kaleidoscope of blues. 
 
The opal dusk surrounds a maple whose 
black branches etch a haggard tracery. 
The sky has many faces, many hues. 
 
Like sequins dotting indigo charmeuse, 
the constellations contrast hauntingly 
a scintillant kaleidoscope of blues. 
 
When amber and vermilion tones suffuse 
a sunset blazing incandescently, 
the sky has many faces, many hues. 
 
Amorphous, dark, the scudding storm clouds cruise 
across a mass of lapis lazuli -- 
a scintillant kaleidoscope of blues. 
 
The heavens' lights, eternally the muse 
inspire music, dance and poetry. 
The sky has many faces, many hues -- 
a scintillant kaleidoscope of blues.


March 2006
Judge Dave Brinks

First Place
Still
by Stephen Bunch
poets.org

Under the moonscape of the bedroom
ceiling you lowered yourself
onto me, brushed my lips with your breast, then
pressed your finger there, whispered,
"Don't wake the baby,"

and outside
in the meadow where the glacier stopped
moving millennia ago
one lone boulder stood silent, lost,
and in the dust and crushed rock of the driveway
chamomile clung to the earth's crust and flowered.

You rolled your hips with the light's
changes from the cumuli and the curtains, with
the reluctant breeze through
the window screen, the cool
rhythm of a lawn sprinkler down
the road what seemed a season ago

but as current as the unattended jazz
playing from the radio in the next room
through closed doors that afternoon
and still.

Second Place
Over Talmadge Bridge
by Catherinr Rogers
poets.org

Clutch the wheel. Resist the urge to fly
into the river--it's not your own;
it comes from the same voice
that riles the whitecaps up.
Pity the stalled gulls that make
no headway in their argument with wind;
but keep to your cross purpose,
the airy road whose white steel wings
are folded over you. Don't look
across the guard rail at the city lights,
the ships lumbering upriver,
still less the darkened marsh
at the edge of the sea. All these
you may come to in time. Tonight,
follow the line that rises for you;
don't think how deep the air above
and below, don't listen when it shouts
in your left ear. When you reach
the Carolina side, you can breathe again
as you pass that stand of tall palmettos
nodding their feathery heads
like fools in the wind.

Third Place
The Constituents of Sand
by David Roy Smith
About Poetry

The tip of your nose

          (a shark fin
          an ancient pyramid of cartilage)

tails me to dry land where

sand obstructs my gills
like a wet magazine on the beach,
sticky and misshapen,
armored with discarded fragments
of fallen continents
and Coca Cola bottles.

Honorable Mention
a photo-journalism
by Michale Virga
The Writer's Block



 a

                                    charred    

 

                      

 

                   space   

 

                                          

 

                                       hel

 

                                                          met 

                                           sweaty with backyard dew 


April 2006
Judge David Biespiel

First Place
On the Day Buk Checked Out
by Stevie Reed
Blueline

The day Bukowski died 
I was a real working dancer. 
But on a stage in low rent strip joint 
in the tenderloin was where they found me. 
All of the girls and me young enough 
so the utter sadness of the place couldn't touch us. 
We were like so many romantics 
digging for life where real artists went. 
In the dark, 
before dark could overcome. Soaked in scotch 
before it could leave its mark upon our faces. 
Where it was unbleached 
wild and savory. 
We where angles. Full of levity 
when such heaviness was passed down to us 
from other sad people. 
We where just carrying it then. 
Not fully absorbing or ingesting it then, 
Not living it yet. Just enough poison 

to get us through the door. 
Just enough innocence to elevate us from the floor. 
I was a Bukowski girl, pre-damaged, pre- broken. 
And he was dying of leukemia, not liver failure 
not lung cancer. 

I was 21 
In an old and dignified cabaret hall, near the ocean, not the skid row 
where streets are lined with donut /Chinese food eateries. 
Me on stage, Buk in a hospital bed 
...like Dylan visiting Guthrie. 
The spot light shone on my back 

and i heard the crowd flooding the stage, 
ambient and excited chatter. The air only pools smoke, 
mold spores from legendary curtains. 
Glasses, stars twinkling in the center of it. 
I'm drunk too. Forgotten all the expensive choreography. 
I belonged to something like surviving a crash. 
I was procured, plucked, exploited, juiced. 
My pale figure, ribs showing. 
The end of a relationship was near. 
Buk was almost gone 
and ill only ever know him by shelving him, 
singing him, recognizing him 
from that dangerous place of human suffering, 
that mirror, that red glowing exit in the corner. 

The music played. I was paid to play 
a genuine woman of debauchery. 
A genuine lost soul. 
But you're never lost 
in art. 
Your'e never lost in youth. 
You've yet to decend in the midst of either. 

Just light, and drunk, and spinning. 
I moved into whatever needed to come next. 
I was a 20th. century term, LIVE. 
Just expression, 
surrounded by people taking it in for themselves. 
Putting their faces on mine, vice versa. 
Art becoming the world and 
I was moving it around, 
just for a moment. 
Never analyzing it, 
not in this poem. 

The wake of our century's Whitman 
rocks us. Ripped poetry 
from the grasps of academics. 
Me and Buk and all my friends, 
saved by poems. 
Spoken for.

Second Place
Of the Next Door Confectioners
by Sachi Nag
The Writer's Block

Then we moved to Picnic Garden Road 
where sweetness in the confectioner's 
blood rose so sharp his sons 
wouldn't have him home; hospitals neither. 

It's not uncommon for ants to nibble 
on the diabetic; just look 
under the bandaged eyes. At first 
when he spoke of pain we raised 
our hands to clasp our mouths. 

Then there was a gaping hole 
swarming ants; then he was gone. 
Now the kids are safe again. 
And there is one more room 
with a foot's impression on the wall.

Third Place
Care of the Weeping Cherry
by Allen Weber
Frugal Poet

It bows now only when it needs:
Brother, I've come to remove the ties

from your memorial tree. Its blooms
are early, pale pink under last night's dust

of snow; this morning smells of fertile earth;
a starling cocks his head, eyes me from the fence,

near and unafraid. 

Honorable Mention
At the Art Gallery, A Woman
by Judy Goodwin
South Carolina Writer's Workshop

Dark things come out of me, she said
and opened her mouth
right there, next to the lemon poppyseed
muffins and chai teas,
parted her thin ribbed lips
and showed me her throat.
It was full of something
coiled. Leaning close to my face,
she rolled her eyes. Her laughter
rose between us on small black wings,
left a dampness on my cheek.
Later across the gallery,
I saw her passing pamphlets
and brochures to visitors. Nothing dark
apparently, but high above in the rafters
there might have been movement.
She saw me watching
and winked. 


May 2006
Judge David Biespiel

First Place
details under erasure
(after reading Hicok)

by Ryan Laks
The Versifier

When first I noticed the ridges in my hands
abraded by my appetite for motion, I was reading a book
I won't read again. There's a surprise in all flesh
which makes me feel lonely, which brings to mind
it will be impossible to hold a conversation
with a psychic. There is not enough faith
she'd explain, when skin's smooth as glass
when the glass alone seems less symbolic
than our belief that proximity's never
the measure of mystery. She'd whisper not
to worry as the rivers
of my palm do. I awoke with a sense
of what The Gulf of Mexico
might taste like. The City of Salt.
When I am afraid of the pattern
of green fields and brown fields
it's my way of imagining my hands
merely want to be loved.
To be loved without blemish
of some vestigial map. My life
line protects me from knives. Of
the possibility my body
that night as it arched
over a bridge might be
smeared across crag, rather the dare
of gravity. Sharp blades of
crabgrass. I woke to the hum
of my wife's scripted breath.
Between the spaces usually bad things
happen. I think prayer is how hands mourn.
To veil the boredom of living my left hand lay
open. Open like an eyen not yet closed of the dead. 

Second Place
The Palace
by Millard Howington
South Carolina Writer's Workshop

It may well have been one in times past,
but for now it was a still livable hotel
in Fort Lauderdale with its roof being
worked on from one of the hurricanes.
I noted the progress of a red plastic cup 
drifting ever so slowly over the bottom
of a swimming pool situated only feet 
from the non-stop traffic of Ocean Drive.
Across the street was a small outdoor
restaurant that catered to the condo
folks, and the waitresses played up to
them, calling them by name and such.
I leaned on the balcony railing and wondered
if that black strip of roofing draped over
a palm frond, just out of reach, would fall 
off in the gentle breeze, noticed the two
women in thongs tanning by the pool
though they had nice tans already, and 
that one lady so very white I hoped
she knew what the Florida sun could do.
I ventured to the hotel bar one night
and the old regulars were jacked up about
politics, being their loudest, so I boxed 
the rest of a roast beef sandwich, grabbed
my Bud Light, and retreated back to the 
room for the local news. Anchor Dwight 
Lauderdale had aged quite gracefully.

Third Place
Recollections of Childhood
by Gary Charles Wilkens
poets.org

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream, 
the earth, and every common sight, to me did seem 
apparelled in celestial light. 

--William Wordsworth

Paper plates and plastic forks 
can eat the pork and beans for you. 
You won't be needed. 
If you get a hotdog give it 
to the Kool-Aid. 

The girl's bike is ok alone. 
There are other kids 
in the trailer park to ride it. 
You don't have to worry 
about the stray cats. 

When the kids play in twilight 
they won't miss you. 
The gnats will give them 
the usual race as the sun 
melts into the black trees. 

If you go missing 
it will be no great loss. 
Your mother may even 
stay home one more night.

Honorable Mention
The Hands at Forty
by G. Lupino
The Critical Poet

Men often rediscover at forty, 
deep in mirrors while shaving, 
the faces of their fathers. 
But I see in the warm amnion 
of sinks, soap and running water 
my father's hands. 

God gave him the deft, uncalloused 
hands of a pianist, but not the ear; 
long, sinewy fingers, 
the hills and valleys of his knuckles 
abraded and bleeding, 
desiccated by endless days 
of latex gloves donned 
for deliveries, pap smears and hysterectomies 
and by all that soap and scrubbing-- 
thirty times a day at least. 

How reptilian they looked! 
with their polygonal scales 
and linear cracks, 
like twin lizards crawling 
on my mother's shoulders 
when he used to caress the nape of her neck, 
fingers slithering through her hair. 

But for a week or so, 
every month and a half, 
he would carefully file his nails 
into unscratching, semi-lunar curves 
to begin a process of nightly ablutions, 
slathering on lotions and emollients, 
sleeping with sweat socks over his hands, 
until by Saturday 
they were smooth and ready. 

And then he would drive to spend 
the weekend out of state 
with his mistress.


June 2006
Judge David Biespiel

First Place
Dissecting the Stroke
by AnnMarie Eldon
The Writer's Block

1
The unsurrogateable sand. The running-through fingers
without ripples but knuckles. The name Clothilde not
invented yet nor naming by fancies. Everyone a genealogy
reputation. Suillussing demons as common as medieval
leeching or almost as feed. Fish, bread, prickly pear.

2
But carveable sunsets into desert desist or ghee-coloured
gristscapes. Each dusk an anthroposcopic pruning of
possibilities. Possible the gate after a door or at any rate a
corner. The corner corroded by terse strips arguing cold then heat.
This world where knocking commits and other meres politables.

3
A shesis. A bloody turn. These burden on accounts--how
many to be fed, how many drank their fill, how many days
already dead, one cloak, one hem, hundreds pressing. No
easy sleeping at the end. All deeds surpassable within a dark
olive grove. Why don't they wait and watch?

4
Neither is there a wolf dawn. Prairie to the north, Alaskan cold,
scritch of bear, potassium tastes and fear tang and having
predatory closing-in as killers would in a clime where killers
dare. Killers. They wrote in the dirt saviour killers.

5

Rain came and paste in the palm those words. Unproud broke the
antecedeneous deer dawn. Sudden jumped atop its ill-informed
false cocked dark. Which parts and thus imparts none more
labile than hessian morn.

6

Rain came. Bend. Keep this dried. Thus on the scarious creeping,
keeping corner this is how separation hides, disguised and more
disguised and signisifers in soil elements, tense enough to flame
at colours' scant filamentation. But skin. Rain came and rubbed.

7

Eonsed-over and saints to be made. But rubbing rain came.
Bought the prickly pear up. Ran anyway. The baptismal
pre-flood calm so small in the rubbed. Same water which
rubybrown sinstain swayshes.

8

Only once and all the curdle torrent seeped. Barely
perceptible. Love in a current. Innard screams scravle the peace.
But not before diamond micro-whorl and fingerprints of bloods
stroped a tiny tear hope.

Second Place
Early in Arizona
by Steve
SplashHall Poetry

It was late, maybe 2 a.m.,
as we neared Flagstaff,
crawling 20 mph
in the snow, a blizzard really.
Life wavered mirage-like
at the reaches of the light
along the sides of the road.
Hocus pocus. Animals,
even trees it seemed,
lunged at the car,
only to be killed by
hard crunching blinks.
Focus. Focus
on the white path ahead,
but I wanted to see those trees.
Aspens I think. Brighter than the snow,
standing like tall, thick toothpicks.

I believe I could run through them,
fly through them, arms swinging
and grabbing from tree to tree
like a monkey.
I have never forgotten
those trees; I see them in my sleep,
and want to slide back through that white haven.

Third Place
The Green Man
by by Arthur Durkee
The Critical Poet

Finally the evening wore down to nothing. The day's heat faded into blue, and I began the postponed yardwork. I found my old lungs in the tall grasses, where I'd thrown them that bitter morning last winter. They still had a few coughs in them. I left my lemonade nearby, to dessicate and water vivid lemon thoughts. I electrified the grass in that part of the lawn with the new twirly-bladed whacker; it stood to attention before fainting dead away. I covered myself with flung tailings from that green mind, lacing seed-fronds into my long hair, a dandelion pair for earrings, and coal-black eyes made from fallen walnuts. Gradually I left myself behind; gradually I felt the greening rise, bursting through my feet as the shoe-soles wore away, climbing vine-like shins and calves and under loose jean-shorts, up under shirt, clothes gone, vine skin, green skin green muscle turn to follow sun, sex sprung vine dry nut shrivel copse, twist, turn, morning-glory rising through breast, turn, tendrils awhirl, cup behind corn-ear, shoots, wheat-teeth, grass-stem eyelash, peat-eye, green brow, vegetable gaze, all, mind knoll tree slow thought growing slow stone-slow sun turn sun follow mind gone all green white husk.

druids cursed to stone
burst forth spring life-force issue--
bloom of summer skin


July 2006
Judge Tree Riesener

First Place
In the Garden
by Dave Rowley
poets.org

My wants are a white box full of bees. 

Shadows lean across the table, connecting us 
as we sip iced tea beneath the jacaranda's 
mauve arch. Peonies fall in their beds 
like fat drunks. 

We swirl our copper drinks, 
watch sliced lemons glide 
through diminishing ice. We are a pool 
of silence in the thrum of the garden. 
Beneath its plastic cover 
compost smoulders. I burn 
beneath my hat. 

Finally, you mention her name. 
A stab of sunlight 
glances off the row of hives against the fence. 

Heading back to the house, 
my feet sense the roll 
of fattened worms beneath black soil. 

At night, I leave our bed 
and step through the bruised light 
that fills our room. Viewed from above, 
with my fingers pressed against the window, 
the lines of the garden are etched 
across an old man's face.

Second Place
Moratorium
by J.S. Lange
About Poetry

Cesar Pasquel stopped
using words one day.
He removed them from his vocabulary,
aardvark to zygote, one by one
until there were none.

Gestures went next.
No waves goodbye,
no shrugs, no handshakes.
Slumped shoulders and downcast eyes
became status quo.

Cesar cut off his left foot
one idle Tuesday, and then the right.
He cooked them over a spit,
ate them with a side
of regret and solitude.

The legs went Wednesday, then his torso,
then the arms. Soon he was
a severed head with two perfect
hands hovering nearby,
marred only by neglect.

The last time I saw Cesar
he picked up his head and set it
in the middle of his kitchen table,
a centerpiece of sunken eyes
and hanging jowels.

He closed his eyes,
a sigh barely audible from
his dry, cracked lips.
We passed the wine and bread
without looking.

Third Place
A World Without Dogs
by Rich Stewart
The Writer's Circle in The Town

The children suffered most, as always. 
Suddenly no one understood 
what it was with such wide-open heart 
to love the world-- 
to roll in rotting leaves, smile up at the rain 
and lunge to savor any crumb that fell. 
None but the saints, and of those 
there were so few. 

Rain fell twelve nights and days. When the sky 
cleared, only the astronomers 
knew at first what it meant, that great hole in the southern sky. 
Alnilam, Alnitak, Nair al Saif, Muliphen, Adara, 
Procyon, Sirius ... all gone, all gone forever: 
the weeping Hunter gone 
to seek his companions. 

God, with no anagram, 
turned his face to the wall. 

Even the cats were stunned: 
We did not want this, we didn't want this 
at all.

Honorable Mention
In the Flames
by Julie Mazza
About Poetry

Lightning started a fire one day.
It protruded orange lilies in the blackest
gulf of the sky. Out there where
no one knew where I was. Running along
the side of the potholes on our unnamed street, trying
to make it home before my mother.
Eventually the sparks ignited an old boat and it
burned and shuddered against the wind.
The sledgehammers flew past me then. 
The beauty of horror becoming miscellaneous.
Brown haired and stone-souled I stood
in the background nursing my own flames.
My mother going up and down the stairs that
so carefully calculated a path towards a beaten white door.
Sledgehammers were there. They flew with the wind.
My father stood in amazement, untouched. His hand
on his beer; blue cynical eyes on the flame.
My sister so tall then fiercely her
face lit up in reverie of some past
haunting.

For days they told the story. Each one different from the other,
each one never knowing
I was there.

Honorable Mention
Husband and Woman
by Laurel K. Dodge
The Writer's Block

The strange bruises, the night sweats, 
the pulse galloping at the neck, 
the swelling, the flesh peeling off 
like lemon rind are all just side effects. 
Miltown, mistaken at first for a place; 
and so it is; as are all altered states 
of the heart and mind. So they lie 
in a dead woman's bed ignoring 
the color of the morning sky, 
taking no heed of its warning. 
They are already lost at sea. 
This voyage is long; their voyage, 
longing. The ball finials gleam 
like doorknobs. The magnolia's 
bittersweet scent gives a hint 
of where they are or should be. 
Nothing ever grows beneath 
that giant tree outside the window. 
He claims to have held her all night 
long but how would she know? 
Lost in rambling dreams, anything 
is possible. And as impossible 
as a woman's spine. She faces 
the wall clinging to a pillow 
as if it were her unborn child 
or a man she once loved too much. 
If he holds his breath, he can almost hear 
the collapse as the old leaves decompose. 
He can almost hear the far-off waves lap.

Honorable Mention
The Poet Interned
by Charles Freifield
poets.org

for Miklos Radnoti 1909-1944

Darkness smoothes the barbed 
wire of the camp 
on a night without 
sleep without 
word of the world 

he writes 
wakeful in the electrical 
pause charged with knowing 

For surely he knows 

as he writes the words "dearest" 
and "beautiful liberator" 

the page is 
pallid in the 
shifting light 

"Do you see?" he writes 
his body into being his 

salvaged book 

as the march is forced 
to its faceless conclusion.

Honorable Mention
Swans
by Sara Kearns
The Writer's Block

There's a devil song coming in from the west, 
on a plane, on a wind, like a hitch hiker, 
like a hornet on your sleeve. 

All the skies tell the same story. 
All the flags fly half-mast. 
You're playing your flute 

but softly. And yesterday I counted in threes. 
I signed over the copper and glass 
lantern and our favorite gold rings. 

Something awful travels, 
and something finds lips 
for its string. 

Dust collects under my once crimson 
nails, and blood settles south. Air 
from the north like little apocalypses 

sneak in from under the doors, and soothsayers 
tisk-tisk to me in my dreams. All of it, 
I dream it. So I carve your name 

two dozen times onto two dozen apples, 
and I stretch out long like their long 
necks, and I feed them, the swans, 

I feed them. And in their elegant 
whiteness, they sing. The birds, 
too beautiful to be birds, sing.


August 2006
Judges Tree Riesener and Peter Krok

First Place
Dirt
by Catherine Rogers
poets.org

After the test, I waited and thought 
of its cold hug under the shoulders, 
its weight on the chest, blackness 
packing the mouth, the nose, the eyes. 

When the call came, I went out 
and knelt in the dirt, watching 
the worms and pillbugs work 
leaf-decay to loam. I lifted 

a handful, smelled green 
earth and thought how hard 
seed-coats crack in rain, 
how root-hairs uncurl, blind 

and sure of finding. Dirt clung 
to my hands as I rose and let go 
a shower of clods that hit 
my boots with soft thuds 
and broke into pieces all 
I have yet to become. 

Second Place
Rain
by Rich Stewart
The Writer's Circle in The Town

You are the drum that beats inside my chest;
you are the harvest taken in too soon,
the boat that sank before it came to rest.
You are the harvest taken in too soon
and I the farmer grieving for his fields
whirled in the brassy hurricane of noon.
Now grieving like a farmer for his fields
I pace the empty storerooms yet again
and weigh in handfuls what the ruin yields.
The empty storerooms echo yet again
to heavy steps that beat like thunder on
the shipwrecked harvest, crushed in hail and rain.
Thunder with sodden steps beats dully on,
but you are the drum that pounds inside my chest,
the sailor sunk and drowned, the harvest gone.

Third Place
Losing Kisses
by Sally Arango Renata
South Carolina Writer's Workshop

She called to say 
she was wiping the jam 
off the handle of the fridge this morning 
when she realized that hundreds 
of kisses lay like confetti on the floor, 
dying. 

She realized she had inadvertently stepped 
on one or two, maybe more. 

I could see her pulling her hair back, 
carefully kneeling so not to injure more. 
picking them up, one by one, 
not even the pressure of a fingerprint, 
then realizing they had been 
purposely thrown there, 
and that none were missing.

Honorable Mention
Alphabetical
by Rae Pater
The Versifier

The extent to which the book extends 
is bound within its cover and stretches 
through the vaunted halls of mind cathedrals 
in signs and codes. 

The book whose spine 
follows the circle of library walls 
is God - according to Borges - 
and spins circles through space. 

The space between books on shelves 
in the library, 
any library at any time, 
remains a universal constant 
over which a librarian has no control. 

This page, a leaf that turns through cycles. 
These letters, catalogue of scrawl on the toilet wall 
by those who seek light 
as they travel down rows of shelves, 
neatly filed volumes dissolving into atoms 
of information 
transmogrified, 
transmittable via brainwaves 
anatomical cables bridge 
print to thought. 

A conversation with God, 
with gods of words in ceremonial procession 
covering page after page, 
alphabetically, 
systematically 
coordinated page and word. 

Titles by authors long dead, 
the scarecrow straw and stuff of their heads. 
'Oh time thy pyramids, 
thy labyrinth of letters'
how we scramble and climb 
through their thorns and dust 
for meaning 
and find only the beauty of symbols, 
a simulacrum of beauty. 
We search now for alternatives 
through spaces, silences, the narratives unwritten. 

How long have we stumbled uncomprehending, 
and who writes the findings of the search, 
the narratives of the searchers? 

Is there, somewhere, a writer penning 
in slanted gold calligraphy ... 
'In the beginning the word was ...'

Honorable Mention
Salt
by Laurie Byro
Desert Moon Review

My mother would play Hank Williams sometimes
and beg the men at the bar to dance the Two Step
or some old-fashioned reel I barely knew.
I was six. I would think of my father coming
home with his empty thermos and us not there again.
I had a stomach full of fear, glasses shattering
as his hand would clear the table from the night
before. I'd plead with the bartender through eyes
like globed fruit. My mother would say
I was shy and they'd poke bony fingers at me.
If one pulled me on his lap while my mother
danced, I'd smell the stale sweat and beer. I thought
of my father hanging damp laundry on the line, stirring
up a black cast iron skillet of potatoes. On the slick
wood there was a small bowl of salt. I'd play with it,
write Daddy, or a draw a heart and our initials. I promised
when I was older I'd steal away with him to Mexico.

Honorable Mention
Voices
by Guy Kettelheck
About Poetry

The messages come thick and fast--like 
Joan of Arc with her Saints Margaret and
Catherine and Michael, his spirit-guides
provide him clear instruction: their disciple,
he turns left or right--away from dark (he says)
towards light. Perhaps it is projection but it gives
him some assurance of protection--for a moment
he is safe. I can't assess this as pathology:
it seems to me an absolutely viable response
to feeling spiritually chafed--ripped raw. Dumped
into the depths of the abyss you will do anything
to promulgate at least the fleeting sense of
some experience of bliss: that is the law.
I sit here knowing nothing but that it is human
to resist the sucking maw that wants to swallow
him. I only wonder that I haven't followed him.

Honorable Mention
The Smoking Room
by Yolanda Calderon-Horn
The Writer's Block

There comes a time to let go, 
though there is nothing tangible 
like a surge of sunflowers 

to be found. It is an unexpected 
feeling hidden in a tidy space: 
a sunspot perched on your 

collarbone. Yeah--you circled 
the lip of brilliant flames, but you 
must release what you won't call 

love. It might alert and harm 
the ones you look after. Dumb 
smiles and elegant conversations 

were the closest you came 
to colliding. You mourn 
during rush-hour; when 

the market's breadfruit 
can't handle your finger's 
crush. While there's no body 

of physical work with a start, 
middle or end, you bury 
what you have.


September 2006
Judges Tree Riesener and Peter Krok

First Place
Silver Apples
by Laurie Byro
About Poetry

Der Apfel fallt nicht weit vom Stamm.
                          German Proverb

I have worn you, a white chemise against
my numbness, when I lie down at night.
I am so bright in these dark hours, moths

hover over me, little ghosts attracted
to my shine. Daddy, you were mine.

I leave you. I leave the country, arrogant
in its stupidity, to rub pages of poems--
I inflame, a spark against a vein, I stumble

on cobblestones, long before I lose feeling
in my feet. In vineyards, I set fire to your picture,
watch your ears curl, your mouth, too full of noise.

I have chanted Dante Alighieri and watched us
become soot. There are Polish towns where peasants

wring out nappies. When I ask you where you came
from you don't know, but I think you were
born on the barn, like the Luna moth that hatched.

How green you glow against the red wood.
You enter my ears at night. Luminous engine,
 
you work and work and work. Arbeit
Macht Frei, you and I are a country
of farmers and serfs. I sop up your blood
 
with the brown bread my husband has baked
in his oven. You will fly back to me, sooty spirit
 
with green wings, eyes of a man of Arles.
Another circumstance, another year of wintering,
as I am summering now. Daddy, soon you will be
 
in a place I cannot touch. In Donegal, it is already night,
and I let the loose soil of us sift through my fingers.
 
All fathers tell lies, all writers are liars.
And at Yeats' grave, in the mossy town of Sligo,
cats stalk moths under a host of silver apples.

Second Place
The Western Ghats, 1959
by Bernard Henrie
SplashHall Poetry

Indolent dust drifts over the roofs and drains of my city.
Barber shops and a lip of rose water, soiled boxes
stacked with rendered fruit, faraway, the chug-chug
of a bus leaning forward like an animal hunting water.
Mumbai half shut down, alcoves falling into darkness.

One electric bulb coming on in a rooming house,
heat resting in hallways and squalid yellow rooms.
Your suitcase carried away beyond the dry hydrant.
A forgotten lipstick tube opened and never closed.
Our bed against the window, draped mosquito netting,
your discarded slippers gold as aquarium fish.

The language of your underpants cater-cornered
in a drawer, your forgotten bra hanging on a hook.
Your eyes looking over the androgynous city for rain,
monsoon held in abeyance beyond the Western Ghats.  
Your red lips flung like coins into the face of a beggar.

Third Place
Listening to Silence: Downtown East Side
by Mike LaForge
Pen Shells

A baby cries like a tail-pulled cat  
across the alley, louder than the hip-  
hop pumping from the parking lot  
where a car rattles with its pulse.  
 
In the kitchen, a tea-pot boils a whistle  
over the television's monologue: airport  
check-points, gridlock on the turnpike.  
 
At the dining room table, checkers clack,  
two girls argue over kings, ask rhetorically  
Why can't they shut that goddamn baby up?  
 
Half-lotused in the bedroom, I listen:  
blood drums in the ears, air whispers  
through the fine hairs of the nose --
 
I try to rise into the same silence  
that hangs between stars, inviolate  
over the dark song of the city.

Honorable Mention
Weeding His Patch
by Marge Merrill
SplashHall Poetry

He had a pauper's funeral
county-paid space
near the mass grave
of floral tributes.

Natty and well-liked
back in the day,
he was knifed in his driveway.
Steel-toed boots
shattered orbits
spit teeth

a bullet pierced lung--

He should have struck his tent
wandered with the exodus--
(California, Carolina)

people who loved
his pacific kitchen table
where dense minds might
grasp tall words and imaginings

beyond grain elevators,
coke ovens,
Chevrolet.

Change, he resisted
still weeding his patch
preaching sunrise
amid decay

and wolves
who marked their territory.

Honorable Mention
Newspaper Mulch
by Stephen Bunch
poets.org

One summer I kept the watergrass down
with nerve gas in Afghanistan,
CIA assassins in Nicaragua,
Hooker Chemicals in Love Canal.

I spread climbing interest rates
in the onion rows.
The pope's trip to Africa
protected the eggplants.

Large, well-placed rocks held
old election results against the wind,
blocking the bindweed
before it could entwine the melons.

I spread hostages on the ground,
the Klan's murders and Kissinger's lies.
The spew of St. Helen's and riots in Miami
kept the chokegrass out of the squash.

As things got worse, my garden prospered.

Now, years later, I have stopped planting,
and newspapers accumulate in every room.
Stacks that started in corners and against blank walls
soon will climb over the windows, crowd the doors,

and I'll wait in the dark till my hair stops growing
and my eyesight dims and I no longer hear
the thud of the morning's news
as it lands on the porch of another day.

Honorable Mention
Sprial
by Paul Boone
The Maelstrom

Stretched out upon warm silver sands, I trace
the outlines of an ammonite: long dead
these dreams of when my fingers touched your face,

an image that my mind cannot erase.
I constantly re-run the things we said,
stretched out upon warm silver sands. I trace

each moment back, and try to find the place
where smiles grew faint, and tears began to shred
these dreams of when my fingers touched... Your face

distraught, you spurned my offer of embrace,
and left. I've been alone now since you fled,
stretched out upon warm silver sands. I trace

your footsteps as you ran away, a race
to try and clear such pictures from your head:
these dreams of when my fingers touched your face.

I must accept my fate with all due grace,
forget the past, and just move on. Instead,
stretched out upon warm silver sands, I trace
these dreams of when my fingers touched your face.

Honorable Mention
Nothing That Can Protect
by Julie L. Mazza
About Poetry

I have to do this.
I have to remember to smile through sweat
and caffeine; to
keep my legs crossed
on the days I wear a skirt.

This is what I've never told.
The story of undocumented virginity;
edited emotion; checked boxes along
the right side of the page.

Being bare,
I can sleep inside that rich smell.
Sea foam and red tide emerge to conceive clay mounds.
Every pull I spray myself with
the ocean's salted perfume.
Tendencies of wanting to be with you always
in the hours and swells to come.

You came to me.
my apartment 9 am.
You must have smelled me through the door
I guess
I should not have worn that skirt.

There is nothing that can protect.
Nothing.


October 2006
Judge David Kirby

First Place
The Song of Bob
by Margaret Ruth Porter
Salty Dreams

(for Fred Tarr and the Radio Room)

The love affair with stangers began
with morning glories between us, Bob
went to work at the prison at 6:30
as the birds performed their last songs.
He quieted Sarge, Berry and Coco with biscuits
before he left with his radio
on, yet they started barking before
he reached the first stop sign.
I want to be his wife forever they thought,
I thought and we kept barking,
as we chased his car for all time in our minds.
Bob talks to his ex 1500 minutes a month,
he doesn't seem to mind the cost of his past tense.
Why didn't you just stay married? I am
pretty too behind this fence made of chain-mail.
Twenty-one years is all he says
from the screened-in back porch where he keeps
his old partners, ex-police dogs, his detritus.
It is as if 21 years is the official
Americana. There must be one
hundred morning glories from me
to Bob, outflanking the trees
choking them slowly. Bob wants me
to be his wife forever, waiting in my war
torn house next door so he can get home
from prison to say goodnight and wake up
again to say good morning all over.
I am the last sweetheart in town.

Second Place
Sarah in Gaza, 1956
by Stve Meador
poets.org

The figs. I had to see
if the figs were safe. Without them
we would have nothing to sell or trade,
only some dried tomatoes
and hard raisins. The smoke
from the trucks and tanks was no different
than the dust and sand that filled our mouths
every day. The sound of the planes
like the scream of hot wind.
The bombs could have been thunder.
I was eight and knew I could
save the trees from the madness.
Thank God, oh thank God
the French and British
did not want figs. I held my arms out,
protected the grove as they drove by
looking for men and boys to catch.
Maybe to shoot. When I ran down the hill
my grandfather, father and uncle
were squatting in the chicken pen.
The French wanted to kill them.
Lana, our Christian neighbor,
whispered a breeze of soft words
through their thick forest of guns.
A captain flicked his cigarette at our brave men,
then the soldiers left. My uncle smoked the rest of it.
I saved the figs.
Lana saved our men.

Third Place
Joseph Kony
by Christopher T. George
The Writer's Block

The Lord told me, "Raise a children's army."
So I formed the Lord's Resistance to fight
the oppressors in Kampala. My boys burned
village huts, killed, cut off people's ears and lips,
-- now their mouths stay open, the better to pray
and their ears strain to hear the Lord's words.
Some ask why we did all these things. Why does
a leaf fall? Is it not because God wills it?
When my children pounded babies in wooden mortars,
dare you question it was the Lord's request to me?
Now some name Joseph Kony a war criminal. Yet,
the way of my people, the Acholi, is to forgive, to invite
all to the mataput, to share a roasted
sheep. I will quit the jungle with my sixty wives
for nothing less than full amnesty, the shared meal.
I will emerge from the jungle shadows,
an old lion bringing the wisdom of my Lord God
to the young lions to tell them to let the holy oils annoint them,
a stone sewn into their garments
so a mountain projects to shield
them and all bullets bounce off.
And I will sing in praise
of the Lord of the limping and the lost,
Lord of the empty basket,
of the water turned to blood,
of the severed lips and ears -
the butchered lamb at the feast.

Honorable Mention
The Thing About This Theory
by Yolanda Calderon-Horn
Desert Moon Review

Under the remains of honey daylight,
cut to stripes by white plantation
blinds, I sit at your desk, wrapped
in my it voice, scribbling my best

guess of why pumpkins
are gobbled mostly in the fall.
I plan to leave the theory
in your notebook: but it's absurd,

and we've had enough of that. I
throw my head back so that my
chin points straight ahead--
swallow hard, shoving unfettered

thoughts down my throat.
I want to roll my corners out
like this colorful Persian rug
you love, but I'm being pulled

from under you while words
hash to dust. And you need
protocols for the future
like a tin full of leftover screws.

Honorable Mention
One Winter in Whidbey Island
by Brett Addison
The Critical Poet

The Bering Straits were especially cruel that year.
The Anacortes fleet lost two crab boats. In Friday
Harbor it never quit raining. The paper always
had suicides. That was the year Scoop Jackson
quietly died.

She kept the nightstand full of prescription bottles.
Her hands never touched the Earth. No plants grown,
no digging in a garden. Occasionally, a glass needed
washing.

The mill's Black Liquor ate up the soles of my boots.
Lummi Indians unloaded the green chain of the sawmill.
Ten hours lifting 4 by 6's and 2 by 4's makes you strong
or breaks you down. No in betweens. Nothing grey,
but the fog.

The sound of Navy jets doing touch and go's. A hotdog
pilot flew under Deception Pass Bridge and took out
the phones. The steer jumps the fence even with the tire
around the neck.

Back then the island was covered with Sitka Spruce.
You could drive to the top of Mt. Erie and it seemed
the whole Sound was in front of you, except Seattle.
Northern Lights kept the path to the barn.

I hear she's back in Tucson and went into treatment
after her last boyfriend died on her kitchen floor
from a hot shot. Her son's in a rock and roll band.
I'm here, still wet and shivering.


November 2006
Judge David Kirby

First Place
Learning Your ABC's
by Laura Polley
Desert Moon Review

Art is the taste of wild buttercup petals. 
Before too long you'll be forbidden to eat them. 

Christ is a god wrapped in gauze, 
draped in flaws. Sometimes religion seeps through. 

Elephants wrinkle with the flow of the hunt: 
Faith is a great ear flapping, unflappable. 

Gender will press you to pick from a tree. 
Hew to the orchard, and carry no axe. 

Illusion finds depth in a shallow pool; 
Justice is a lung exploding at the surface. 

Kinetic fingers learn best in a cage: 
Locks can't resist an energetic tickle. 

Maybe you'll think I am crazy today--
No matter. Tomorrow is what I address 

--or what I expect, guard against, will back. 
Politeness is listening, unwilling, to me. 

Quality hides in a prospector's pan. 
Removed from the gold, it relaxes to earth. 

Savannahs exhale, continental and dusty, 
tarantulas sigh as one with the tigers. 

Uniqueness is all I will ask of you. 
Validity answers its own pale questions. 

While preachers and prophets would never admit it, 
X marks the spot where their sins become yours. 

Youth is too new for a language of nuance, 
Zero too old for the logic of grownups.

Second Place
The Murderer Next Door
by Steve Williams
Wild Poetry Forum

1.

In my dark infancy are rooms of infra-red,
blankets of sound-proofing that hide
an infant's cry.

Inside asbestos skin, I hear blood
pulse through my temples like heated air
through stainless ductwork,
the whir of advancing film inside
my camera skull.

I dig blood-rusted nails into my ear canal,
scrape the grit of scabs, try to free myself
from the deep noise--like ants in their burrows.

2.

I followed him to Idaho, found another job cutting hair.
He drove me out into the wilderness, one of the places
at the ends of gravel, lays me on the hood of the car.

Afterwards, all I remembered was the river hiss,
the rush of blood between wooded banks.
It was a long walk back.

3.

It doesn't take this one long
before a lean of the shoulder into my breast,
the shift of an elbow grazes my crotch.
They all think they can hide under the cape
as I snip away at their hair.

Close below his very clean ear (some ears are like old snot rags),
I concentrate on the slight movement of the artery,
a tube of spit,
sausage of sewage,
exhaust fumes trapped in a wine bottle,
tornado of voices screaming to get out.

I want to take these scissors,
and dig out the sound, the ear wax,
break it free of the darkroom,
expose the negative,
become the photograph.

He leaves me
a twenty dollar tip.

Third Place
Not saying it
by Linda Cash
poets.org

A. Of, at, relating to, or forming a limit, boundary, extremity, or end. 
Botany: Growing or appearing at the end of a stem, branch, stalk, or similar part. 

Coffee in plastic cups has an air of despair about it. Tea even worse. 
The walk back from the machine down the corridor 
was endless. The doctor seems efficient, if a little weary. 
Maybe he's got it completely wrong. 
Maybe he's got the wrong file. It happens. 

B. Electricity. A position in a circuit or device 
at which a connection is normally established or broken. 

The fridge still makes the same sound. Its existence seems pointless. 
What's the use of food now? Why would anyone want the rough pate 
and the soft cheese, all the way from Lille, hidden in the fridge's belly? 
It won't do any good. What's the future of that bottle of Moet? 

C. An ornamental figure or object placed at the end of a larger structure; 
a finial. 

The ring symbolising eternity was a good concept, but unworkable, 
on this planet, anyway. "Please can we have a ring 
symbolizing 6 to 8 months?" 

D. A passive conductor at such a position 
used to facilitate the connection. 

We'll have to make an appointment about Pain Management, 
it's a different department. There's no need to talk to the surgeon, 
there's nothing he can do. 

E. A town at the end of a transportation line. 

I pass someone in the street, a neighbour, 
we say good morning. And I'm thinking he doesn't know. 
He doesn't know. 
But I know everything has changed. Even the way 
I put on my socks tomorrow, will be different. 

F. A device, often equipped with a keyboard and a video display, 
through which data or information can be entered or displayed. 

Hey, you're one in 10,000, girl. I always knew you were special. 
Apparently the 'median' is 6 months. 
So the doctor was being on the generous side. 
He could still be wrong. (Please.) 

G. Of, relating to, occurring at, 
or being the end of a section or series; final. 
Causing, ending in, or approaching death; fatal. 

Christmas is new landmark for us. 
It will either be our last together, or my first alone. 
Pain management, either way. 
We have to make ourselves think about these things. 
Does one send cards? Shall we do it ahead, just in case?

Honorable Mention
Passions of a Plain Woman
by Cherryl E. Garner
South Carolina Writers Workshop

At three, he was my boy by the runoff creek. 
Knee to cheek, toe-digging mud deep, 
dipping fish bowls full, bare feet in shreds 
aside the plow-sharp turn of good dirt, 
the near, round trees. 

Mid-youth, stories, fake new men, 
blue, dark, blonde, flimsy cons, dealers, 
painters, sorry dreams of slow 
dancing, thin air. None, close, 
knew, right, me. 

Men, then of real build, chin, cheated, 
smacked, dragged, bruised, blacked 
my eye, sat while I called cops, ran. I 
pulled my cool stuff to curb, broke 
pots, my savings, my tries, to chips. 

Now I summon gestures, silky dark candlelit 
conjunction. It's like they dream me, slight, 
or fine, tall, full, flash red, slash sweet 
and move through me, through me, 
fine kiss, through me.

Honorable Mention
Last Night at Algiers Point
by Brett Addison
The Writer's Circle in The Town

There is that singular moment 
only whispered to one's self- 
when evening has carved 
a notch in this small corner 
where one secretly breathes. 

A flash of light on grass 
grown up to the hips; 
gnarled cedar, swimming 
with fire ants: Something 
acidic gathers in the back 
of the throat. 

Hidden forms only the night 
and one other creature 
might know begin to bleed 
that black putrid sauce. The 
smell is familiar: Someone's 

Father had the same aroma 
when his eyes finally settled 
on the ceiling. Now it's time 

to crawl through the grass 
and wait for the sun. The 
trackers will see the steam 
from the body long before 
the dogs begin to howl.

Honorable Mention
Tecumseh (aka "Shooting Star" or "Panther That Crouches In Wait")
by Colin Ward
Lit With Kick

You, Canadian? The greatest 
American? You fought to be neither, 
but nor were you panther 
that crouches in wait. You were egret, 
your feet in the mud as you stood 
above weeds. Both 

your fathers would leave you 
to war. Meeting you, 
Isaac Brock would say: "Here is a man!" 
Sure as apple trees bud, the pleas 
of a peacemaker can't be imparted 
while even your traplines have 
got to be guarded. Time 

was gravity 
as shooting stars descended. Time 
was charity 
and at the Thames 
it ended. 

The cities were the bellows of the wind 
that blew at Prophetstown, 
across the rivers, 
over you. Gray wolves surround 
the egret. Foxes slink 
away, their coats the colour of your blood. 

You'd say: "Sing your death song and then die 
like a hero returning home." Yours was the song 
of that egret, your life 
like a burning poem. 


December 2006
Judge David Kirby

First Place
A Poem That Thinks It Has Joined a Circus
by Liz Gallagher
Inside the Writer's Studio

A handkerchief is not an emotional hold-all. 
A cup of tea does not eradicate all-smothering sensations. 
A hands-on approach is not the same as a hand-on-a-shoulder 
willing a chin to lift and an upper lip to stiffen. 
A forehead resting on fingers does not imply that the grains 
of sand in an hourglass have filtered through. 
A set of eyes staring into space is not an indictment that the sun 
came crashing down in the middle of the night. 
A sigh that causes trembling and wobbly knees should be 
henceforth and without warning trapped in a bell jar and retrained 
to come out tinkling ivories with every gasp. 
A poem trying to turn a sad feeling on its head does not constitute 
a real poem, it is a can-can poem dancing on a pin-head 
and walking a tight-rope with arms pressed tightly by its sides.  

Second Place
There Once Was a Daughter Who Lived in His Shoe
by Laurel K. Dodge
The Writer's Block

In the unmade bed, she had no legs.
The fruit that her mouth coveted

was bruised, the milk in the dark
refrigerator, watery and blue,

the bowl in the barren cupboard, cracked
and empty. Her legs were watery

and blue, her mouth unmade and bruised.
She was dark and cracked and empty.

She was covetous and blue.
She was barren. She had no fruit.

She was a cupboard, a bowl,
a refrigerator that could not be filled.

She was a bed no body slept in.
The leash waited, coiled in the dim hall.

The dog was dead, the birches, bark peeling,
bent; the hill she once scaled, slippery.

She was the dimness, the coil, the wait.
She was the peeling and the impossible

ascent. The dog was dad; she had no legs.
The dad was dead. She was unmade.

Third Place
Escorting a Child Offender to a Wake
by Derek Spanfelner
The Critical Poet

Her body is crumpled plastic laid flat,
complexion waxy.  Crow's feet mark
the tendencies of her nature.  Her grandson,
my ward, tells me of milk and cookies,
the simple tenets she upheld, unquestioned kindnesses.
He wrote a poem about it Mom will read in eulogy.

We meet the rest outside, who greet each other
(hard-shelled and sentimental alike)
in the camaraderie of grief. This child,
who has shown younger cousins who is boss
by stripping their underwear and ignoring their pleas,
is a puffy-eyed prize in the open arms of his mother.
"My oldest (of eight)," she beams to obscure relatives.

The uncle auctions salvaged cars.  Knuckles having
earned their gold, he asks questions as one acquainted
with the ease of plain answers. He offers money because
"he's a good kid at heart, always the first to help out."

I can't tell him how the boy put his hands around
their necks and threatened to kill them if they told.
Instead, I note more auspicious behavior, for the man
expects to run the value of therapy
through his calloused fingers and know
the knot will hold. I cannot tell him

that no boy is a convertible.  That if a dent
could be smoothed, another is bound to surface;
that where I work, no one is ever fixed.

Honorable Mention
Beans (Curgina)
by Denise P. Kristalo
Lit with Kick

September came like winter's
ailing child but
left us
viewing Valparaiso's pride. Your face was
always saddest when you smiled. You smiled as every
doctored moment lied. You lie with
orphans' parents, long
reviled.

As close as coppers, yellow beans still
line Mapocho's banks. It
leads them to the sea;
entwined on rocks and saplings, each
new vine recalls that
dawn in 1973 when
every choking, bastard weed grew wild.

Honorable Mention
Solitude
by Cherryl E. Garner
South Carolina Writers Workshop

There is small art in solitude.
It shakes sometimes like random shock,

as though one spot explains the arc
or one fine point defines the line.

There is no talk when none's received,
when simple converse meets no mark,

as though the circle rolls the ball,
as though the line supports the box.

There is no black like night assigned
to pounding chest and clenched, cold heart,

as though the sphere explains the sky,
as though void space can break the fall,

when locking shut in one timeframe,
some voodoo shimmies out one name.

Honorable Mention
Beach
by Millard R. Howington
South Carolina Writers Workshop

I liked to jog to
the pier my one day off and have 
breakfast, gazing at an ocean 
through salt stained windows.
There was a bar nearby, mainly
deserted in the off season and
I'd stop in, enjoy a brewski, flirt
a little with the waitress there;
she loved to draw my attention 
to the rare big busted patron and 
ask me if I knew how they got 
that way. On the slow walk back 
to my summer rate motel, I skirted 
water's edge and wondered just
how long that little sandpiper 
with the one leg was going to last. 



 
 
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