by Carla Martin-Wood
Second Place, March 2008
Judged by Fleda Brown

Whatever poison runs through the veins of wolves
that draws them to some solitary place,
there to howl in altercation
with the moon,
runs burning through my veins tonight,
and restless,
I rise and pace
this carpeted wilderness,
these rooms grown strange.

How many times have we mated
on nights like this,
rain beating
like the frantic hands of a jealous wife
against the windows?
How many nights have you fed my craving,
a mad thing
wild and tangled
with tears and earth
come crying in from the woods?
How many years have I let you hide
your anger and your grief inside me?
I have learned so well how easily
one passion is spent in another.
And is this love
that gorges itself,
then slips to some cave apart
to gnaw the bones of memory,
till it grows lean and hungry
once more?

I write this under a hunter’s moon,
the years baying behind me
like a pack of hounds.

his poem lives up to its fierce title. It moves flawlessly into the craving, the mad passion that "gorges itself,/ and then slips to some cave apart/ to gnaw the bones of memory." I am in the presence here of pure energy, no blunder of language in the way between us. I love "rain beating/ like the frantic hands of a jealous wife," which may inform the poem, leaves us to guess that it does. Then the last stanza, which pulls us out of the immediate, tells us this passion is long past, but not at all, really. It's after the speaker "like a pack of hounds." What apt metaphors! --Fleda Brown