by Dave Rowley
Inside the Writer's Studio
Second Place, March 2007
Judged by Pascale Petit

This morning an omen: the blue jay’s stiffening
legs receive an open sky. Sad, like a blue flame
cradling a teaspoon, or the tap-tap-tapping
on a tenuous vein in a break-down motel.
Even the wallpaper peels away
from the cloying stories that stink this room
like rats who’ve crawled between the walls
and died. Now it’s summer and their ghosts
thicken and swell in your throat. The sting of steel
is mirror-flashed and plunging, close your eyes
to hear its sinuous song. Close your humming eyes
and wait, it’s close and warm, like morning singing
and the walls become blue-feather filled
quilts as your legs fall away and up into the sky.

Second place goes to another fine "bird" poem, also tautly constructed and packed with organic, chiming imagery. A blue jay's legs embracing the sky metamorphose into blue flames around a teaspoon, then into a room with blue-feather quilted walls. The images vibrate against each other; the language is trance-like, allowing the blue images to burgeon and transmute in semi-abstract motion. Synaesthetic phrases such as "their ghosts / thicken and swell in your throat," "close your humming eyes" and "it's close and warm, like morning singing" have a hypnotic effect, lulling the reader over the transitions and merging the triple image of blue jay/ blue flame/ quilt walls seamlessly. --Pascale Petit