Notorious RBG

by Laurie Byro
First Place, November 2020
Judged by Jim McGarrah

Insects don’t have politics. Insects are brutal. The Fly–David Cronenberg
(with a line from Wallace Stevens).

From where I am, you still have to play a clever game of Bridge, letting them
know what they suspect already, but not so obvious they kill the messenger.

Should I perpetuate the myth, that it’s all harps and angels here?
That the worst danger is, by dodging a cloud you land on a lightning bolt?
I didn’t go out in peace, my last breath was fighting for a better future.

I have finally swallowed that lesson: life is not always fair. Sure we win
a few but we do lose the rest; I have learned to play with the Big Boys.

Sometimes in order to acquiesce, I have been known to become the cloud.
Some would tell you, I have also been known to become the lightning bolt.
Which is why, during that spectacularly brutal display of arrogance

and chauvinism, interrupted by privilege, I gathered up my ugliest self.
You ever read Kafka? Well here, I am not destined to remain stagnant

and stuck, so for fleeting moments I took center stage. Enduring a whiff
of cloying cologne, manly sweat: I became a heavenly labial in a world
of gutturals. This time, without even opening my mouth: I created a buzz.

Persona in Latin means mask. In poetry it is a form the poem takes when the writer becomes or speaks as someone else. The writer in this voice speaks directly to the reader and because of this can often create an interpersonal relationship with said reader. This poem does just that and you can see the inherent value. A sense of immediate intimacy is created by. Speaking to us from heaven we are reminded in a conversational and yet reflective way by Ruth Bader Ginsburg that she was human, not a mythical creature, with the same hopes and fears and desires. The playful imagery between being human and being a spirit works well and reminds us of Ginsburg’s contributions metaphorically while alive. In some decisions in order to get along in her role she was “a cloud” while in others “a lightning bolt.” --Jim McGarrah