Pantone 1665 C.

by Ben Johnson
The Poets' Graves
Second Place, July 2010
Judged by Ruth Ellen Kocher

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