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Winning Poems for November 2008
Judges Hélène Cardona and John Fitzgerald

Russian Crucifixes
by Emily Violet Swithins The Writer's Block Mama kept the Russian crucifixes in the same drawer as her panties. It gave her pleasure to think of the rough wood rubbing up against silk. She'd bury swan eggs to make flowers more beautiful, and broken glass to protect the garden from thieving foxes. Dirt was magic; only city people called it filth. She beat me with a cedar switch; afterwards my wounds smelled holy. When the black dust storms descended, we hid in the underground shelter, while papa read from the Old Testament. I blamed myself for sneaking a peek at the crucifixes and trying on mama's underwear, for kissing the Jewish boy with my wicked tongue, and hiding from papa at the bottom of the well. The next morning we walked through the ruins, and papa found the crucifixes, still neatly wrapped in silk. He beat mama with his calloused fists. Afterwards she filled the house with new crucifixes, the cheap pine ones you buy in the dollar store. The old ones she buried with the corpses of sunflowers. I like to think of them that way, tangled in golden hair, little priests in the arms of harlots. My Father's Family Tree by Anna Yin Pen Shells It all started from an ink spot, my father took it as a sprouting bud. Sucking on his smoking pipe, he drew his long narrative on a piece of paper. I can sense his smile, as leaves spread their dense fragrance: always his favorite, now highlighted by a brush - son: a high-ranking officer, daughter: a respectable scholar, (my father decorated each with details like my mother's Christmas tree) then me, the would-be poet. My father has never known poets, and, to him, "would-be" worse than the rough bark. (I can feel his pause) then, a tinted soft orb beside me: "engineer abroad" perfectly mirrored. My father ensured his final touch to free me from starving. I roll up this glowing paper, and place its warmth on my chest - Someday at harvest, out from the chrysalis of my heart, I shall start a new scroll. only waitress at the truck stop who never uses the cash register by Justin Hyde Salty Dreams pamela is half indian, grey-black hair in a double braid down her back. every time she serves me another waitress rings the ticket. i figured she was slow or bad with numbers, maybe had a theft charge in her past. but yesterday on my way out she was sitting on the hood of her car smoking a cigarette. come here a sec tell me what this says, she motioned over and handed me a white piece of paper creased in thirds. told me she found it taped to her apartment door that morning. i told her it was a note from her landlord saying she had five business days to get rid of her dog. she stood up and snuffed out the cigarette with her heel. bear's been with me since idaho, she said and walked back in leaving the note in my hand. An Endangered Species by Melissa Resch About Poetry Forum Across the flats in Provincetown, Cape Cod walking at sunrise in autumn breathing in coolness of morning low tide like a bathtub draining empty bubbles and crabs slinking airborne gulls crying loud and terse This promising hour before coffee prospectors laden with rakes and buckets proceed over rocks and beach ready to stake claim a bit of sandbar as their own Clammers are an endangered species exteriors of calcified armor too soft in the middle just like the clams they cherish and gather Gashing at sand with tines of hard metal eager for each clank of promise fooled by broken shells robbed of their innards by one who came before Buckets are filled inch by inch heavy and ripe, lifted and lugged the retreat begins Briny ripples trickle in, cover and flood this stretch of toiled, torn sand chasing the diggers back to town this wedge of land we call home to study and share and shuck bivalve bounty from an ocean garden

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