THE IBPC BOARDS
Winning Poems for November 2008
Judges Hélène Cardona and John Fitzgerald
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
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
is half indian,
in a double braid
down her back.
she serves me
rings the ticket.
she was slow
or bad with numbers,
maybe had a
in her past.
on my way out
she was sitting
hood of her car
come here a sec
what this says,
she motioned over
and handed me
a white piece of paper
creased in thirds.
she found it
taped to her
i told her
it was a note
from her landlord
saying she had
five business days
to get rid of
she stood up
and snuffed out
with her heel.
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