Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Results Are In!!!!



The Winner is . . . 

Scavenger Hunt by Donna Barkman . . .

Scavenger Hunt

The boy was devising a game for his father
who might soon wake from a nap, his third that day.

He called his son the boy since the surgeon’s
knife had sliced most names from his memory. The boy
called his father Mr. Gus when they were playing pirates.
 
In his best first-grade printing, he wrote instructions on
small squares of paper for Mr. Gus to find the treasure chest:
“Number 1: Go to the Bathroom.”  He smiled at his joke
and placed a second note on the toilet tank: “Go to the Bedroom.” 
a third: “Living Room.” Yes.  “Go to the Living Room.”

He knew his mother would help Mr. Gus read the clues.  
Number 4: “Kitchen.” 
Number 5: “Tree House Ladder.” 
Number 6: “Ship,” -- the derelict porch at the back of the house,
loaded with all that a seagoing scalawag could hope for. 

In time, Mr. Gus found the boy’s cherished booty: bits of sea glass,
polished stones, foreign coins, and his great-aunt Jane’s
discarded pearls and brooches. 

They’re yours, Mr. Gus.  All for you!

Mr. Gus loved the boy with all his heart and soul.  He knew
where his heart was and could even find his pulse points,
but wondered obsessively about his soul:  Was it there

behind his eyes, floating in the reservoir of tears? 
Perhaps in his throat that clutched when the boy piped
sea chanteys they’d sung together.  Maybe in his gut,
where he would shit it out as a last angry act.  Or his lungs
where it could leave in the death rattle he knew was approaching. 
He tried to picture it hovering somewhere in a never-never-land
until it was joined by the boy’s, decades hence. 

He heard the boy calling and found him standing on the toilet lid,
rummaging through the medicine cabinet above, pulling out
bottles and tubes and vials. 

This is what the doctor will do, the boy shouted. 
She’ll go through all the pills in her closet and way at the back,
she’ll find the ones that will fix your sickness, his voice
bounding from the walls.

Their blue eyes met in a gaze of longing and possibility.  The boy
touched his father’s grizzled face, then he jumped to the floor.
 
Wanna play swordfight, Mr. Gus? he asked.  I’ll find the cutlass,
and he ran from the room. 




Second Place is . . . 

Visitation Tuesday by Denise Weuve . . .

Visitation Tuesday

Women in tattered sweat pants,
swallowed by thread-bare t-shirts nest
outside the  visitor entrance
waiting  to  see their papis,
         babies,
         better halves,
         soul-inmates. 
The chica beside me tosses her brass blonde 
feathered hair, grabs the spaghetti
strap of my cerulean dress,  This ain’t a ball sister
         Don’t look at our men.
Her doorknocker earrings swing,
a caged bird’s empty

perch.  There are no windows inside. 
No way for them to see airplanes
soar, with vultures and families
escaping this dried up town. 

To the left a mother, her son
no longer legally a child, confined
behind 2 inches of Plexiglas,
cries, picks up the phone, toys
with the cord that links them. 
He is the only detainee
unable to hold his visitor. 
Her hand flutters, grazing the cage
that took 20 years

to build.  In Colorado, guards shoot
crows during target practice
then serve them for dinner to inmates.
Visitors are ruffled, frisked,
then released to an open room of their men—
the well-behaved, in white jumpsuits.
He is in orange
Baby I have missed you so much. 
You drop off some cash at intake?
When I’m sprung, we’re taking off for Cali. 
We got 30 minutes baby, talk.
Black wings rip through my shoulder
blades the color of desire
that cannot be contained in a state
issue plastic chair. 
I glide above the prisoners
beak first against Plexiglas. 
I snap, chirp a misunderstood subsong,
the guards ignore my caws
take aim.



Third Place is . . . 

Mathematics by Christopher Hivner . . . 

Mathematics

The distance traveled
on the plane
had value
for the crew
as far as
fuel consumption,
wear on the aircraft,
and the mood
of the passengers.

            In row E, window seats,
            two fingers to the lips
            meant shh,
            surrender
            to the captured time,
            absorb the turbulence
            and remember
            it will end some day.

The hotel
was ten miles
from the airport
on a road built
with ruts,
and held together by
dust and stones.

            Midnight crowed
            like a rooster
            insane from the heat,
            row E, window seats,
            shed their skin
            reborn as room 235,
            two fingers to the lips
            meant shh,
            this is all we have.

Time travels
at a fixed speed
and cannot be altered,
you can pray
to the father, son,
or holy variable
of the long lost
algorithms,
time will not
respond.

            Sun-heated
            blue-green water
            carrying bodies
            on dappled waves,
            buoyant layers
            of indirection,
            two fingers to the lips
            meant shh,
            we’re almost done

Air speed is something
you don’t feel
when you’re in the air,
during flight
no one thinks about
flight altitude
or the precise combustion
of the modern
jet engine.

            Real world math
            feels leaden,
            time reversing
            through fluid
            thick with
            sleepless thoughts
            and fissures in
            the new blood,
            two fingers to the lips
            meant shh,
            we have to start over.




The Honorable Mentions . . . 

The Traffic in Old Ladies by Mary Newell . . .

The Traffic in Old Ladies

I’m crossing traffic on 8th and 34th
Looking for the cross-town bus, 
confused by the numerous vectors.

Leaning against a rail
casual, one leg bent,
a bright-eyed cocoa-toned young man
croons solicitous: 
"What's bothering you?
 Hey, cum'ere …" 
 I don't remember what he called me
 but he called, again.
 Suspecting him a player in
 the traffic in old ladies, 
I didn’t answer. But his solicitation
propelled me to the mirror back at home.

Twilight softens the contours,
not the intensity.

Face  

Not the woman who twice rebuilt a crumbling life
courageous and persistent
(some would say stubborn)
Nor the adventurer friends tap for vicarious trips
(some would say reckless)
Not the bitterness that sometimes thins my optimist smile,
the worry that tightens my jaw
(some would say tense),
Nor the laugh old friends can recognize
across a teeming room

no…

the shocked look of the curly-locked girl in amber silk
staring confused 
through undulating water 
wondering why
her lover
is holding her
under 


this small rain by Alexis Rhone Fancher . . .

this small rain 

this small rain sambas on San Vicente
wanders through Whittier
mambos past Montebello
and East LA

this small rain moves like a Latina
over-plucks her eyebrows
drinks Tequila shooters
fronts a girl-band

this small rain works two jobs
dawdles in down pours
this small rain seeds clouds

this small rain drives to Vegas in a tormenta
has a friend in Jesus
needs boots and a winter coat

in this drought-wracked city,
this small rain dreams of flash floods, 
depósitos, indigo lakes,
cisterns, high water,
Big Gulps, endless refills

in this drought-wracked city,
this small rain settles on the hierba seca
sleeps under freeways
plays the lotto
is unlucky in love

this small rain longs to hose down the highways
this small rain chases storms

this small rain has a tsunami in her heart

this small rain kamikaze's
in the gutter
suicides on summer sidewalks
dreams of a deluge 
that overflows the river banks
washes L.A. clean

in this drought-wracked city,
this small rain scans the heavens,
looking for a monsoon,
searching for su salvador in the
reclaimed desert sky.


yerba seca: dry grass
tormenta: rainstorm
su salvador: her savior
deposito: reservoir


and . . .

Signs of the Apocalypse by Terri Simon . . .  

Signs of the Apocalypse

Last night, everyone on the planet
had a good night’s sleep.
This morning, everyone used their turn signals
and were gleefully allowed to merge.
No one used racial slurs,
sex was not warfare,
and warfare, finally,
was declared illegal.
The ridiculously rich
fed the poor, voluntarily,
and even fast-food chains
decided to pay a living wage.
Zeus and the Pope
sat down to tea.
And I opened up my hands
and let go.




The List of Other Semi-Finalists . . . 


The Total Treatment                                        by William Doreski
Starving                                                           by Barbara Bald
Portrait                                                                        by Terri Simon
Learning Spanish                                            by Denise Weuve
Sentinels                                                          by Sharon Webster
Magic                                                              by Jay Sizemore
Safe Haven                                                     by Barbara Bald
When the Clock Strikes Midnight                  by Barbara Bald
Speed Dating in Plato’s Cave                         by Bobby Steve Baker
I Sit Here                                                        by Sharon Webster
Breaker Bar                                                     by David Hardin
In Shadow                                                      by Barbara Bald
Rain, Steam, and Speed – 
The GreatWestern Railway                                             by David Hardin

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