Manufactured to Perform

by C. Albert
criticalpoet.org
First Place, December 2009
Judged by Majid Naficy


I love how my organs are shaped
the same as anyone’s, manufactured
to perform: a heart that drums,
filtering twirl of kidneys, liver,
lungs that bellow on.

I hate how weak my machinery is
that a noise of germs, single-coated parasites,
scatter harmony. My tortured body
has become parts upon my bed. Nowhere
that doesn’t hurt, except my funeral.

What is it that comes back, silent as air,
to lift an invalid? Not heart, liver, kidney, lungs,
but a tenacity within the drum,
the twirl, the bellows.


I chose these four poems randomly as I was reading all poems alphabetically. To my surprise, not only do all four selected poems speak about the issue of death and dying, but, somehow, they also make up a whole and complement each other respectively. The first poem sees human body as a piece of machinery with a drumming heart, filtering kidneys, and bellowing lungs which only the tenacity of its parts can protect it against disabling germs. --Majid Naficy

  • December 2020 Winners

    • First Place

      Avaricious
      by Judy Kaber
      The Waters

      Second Place

      To James Bulger, aged 2, murdered February 1993
      by two boys aged 10 in Liverpool, England
      by Christopher T. George
      Babilu

      Third Place

      Dr. Pachango’s Mango
      by Jim Fowler
      Babliu

  • November 2020 Winners

    • First Place

      Notorious RBG
      by Laurie Byro
      Babilu

      Second Place

      To My Old Age
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Waters

      Third Place

      Beggar’s Lice
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Writer's Block