Sunday, February 28, 2016
AND THE WINNER IS . . .
WE DRAW A BATH BY JONATHAN GREENHAUSE:
We Draw a Bath
then erase it, paint stars upon the sky then watch
as they raze the canvas.
We keep to ourselves
& are consumed by our loneliness, each step we take
getting us to where we were going one step too late.
Each song we compose
is impossible to sing.
Each war we wage spawns a future conflict in its belly.
Each word we choose reminds us of diction's limits.
We finally secure our freedom
but keep our chains in the closet,
& being certain of our mistakes, we set to repeat them.
We discard our old friends assuming we'll make new ones
but slip on our tongues
& fall victim to our sentences.
Burying ourselves in metaphors, we reveal ourselves further,
how we're mountains holding little sway over valleys
yet are still connected,
following the direction of our souls
without detecting them. Each new accomplishment
take us farther from our beginnings. Each god we invent
soon shows its restrictions,
& each calamity we survive
is a fleeting cause for celebration: We close our eyes
but only see our eyelids; & as hard as we swallow,
we hardly taste our pride.
-- Jonathan Greenhause
SECOND PLACE GOES TO . . .
PROUST IN THE PARK BY MICHAEL MAGEE:
Proust in the Park
Making my rounds, I saw him today
puffing on his pipe, tie pin
secure and talking to the squirrels
as if he owned the place.
His shoes were brightly polished
and if I looked there I could see
his face, intelligent, aristocratic
his hands delicate, his moustache
neatly brushed, top-buttoned overcoat
stiff collar, wearing a bowler hat.
He seemed to be memorizing
the names of the trees: Red Oak,
Cypress, Norway Maple, Caucasian
Ash and his favorite, the Paper
Birch. He stripped off the bark
began to write, noting the sky.
Light askance, he cataloged
every bird: The purple thrush,
chickadee and lark, what a figure
he cut--so debonair--his patent
leather hair in place--I thought:
this must be his day off away
from the gossip of women and men
with their tiresome self-importance.
Observing the corrugated pond:
Lord and Lady Mallard the Shovellers
turning in tight circles like society
divas and debutantes.
How each Cedar Waxwing passes
along a berry to the next until they're fed,
like a cocktail party where everyone
demurely leaves their olive to the last.
How much to find in nature, what it
says about the man--how he must
return to dip his Madeleine in tea
and watch it melt away like pretense.
He passed the time looking at
his watch as though every minute
counted: past, present, and future.
All time rolled into one tense.
-- Michael Magee
THIRD PLACE GOES TO . . .
STRIKING THE WHALE BY ELAINA ANNA FRULLA
Striking the Whale
"Ahab does not imitate the whale, he becomes Moby-
Dick, he enters into the zone of proximity where he
can no longer be distinguished from Moby-Dick, and
strikes himself in striking the whale."
-- Gilles Deleuze, Essays Clinical and Critical
"but if I know not even the tail of this whale, how
understand his head? much more, how comprehend
his face when face he has none?"
-- Herman Melville, Moby Dick
The monster rises and sinks in waves.
Smooth, round, bulbous mound
Ambiguous form rolls,
Protrudes from linen waves.
I stare from the darkness of the doorway.
I see only ambiguous form in the darkness.
I struggle to tear my gaze away from the heaving monster.
I step closer.
I am heaving.
Embedded in the gut of a familiar body.
It struggles to tear away from my mother's
I stab solid fists into the heaving monster
In ambiguous darkness.
My mother screams.
I am heaving.
The monster thrusts my away,
The corner of the solid nightstand stabs.
I feel fluid movement spread over my face.
I face the alien form lacking a face.
I envision ambiguous movement of blood spread over fabric.
Fluid movement from my mother's
We are heaving,
-- Elaina Anna Frulla
OUR TWO HONORABLE MENTIONS ARE . . .
[BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL] BY KRISTEN ORLANDO
WHAT'S IN THE CARDS BY PEG DUTHIE:
You would have put those words together
as though the words were brush strokes.
I see you every time I see the blank white space.
You twist the screw of the easel top.
You step back.
You see something that is not there
and you reckon with the canvas
the way a sculptor reckons marble,
leaning in as though you could hear voices
from the ordinary surface
telling your palette knife to pile the paint on.
I have a painting in my living room
with your signature,
a still life, a tablescape really,
that I found by accident
years after you had gone.
It is a mistake, I think,
because it is unfinished
and you slashed it with cerulean paint--
as if you had changed your mind before you were done with it,
crossed it out, turned it over,
painted the scene outside your window instead.
For years I hung the landscape, framed.
Then, one day, as if I heard the voices from the paper
I took the landscape, whose washed out watercolor shades
hesitated to declare themselves against the pale sky, from its frame
and turned it over,
found the bolder vase, the bowl, the drape--
and I whispered beautiful beautiful.
-- Kristen Orlando
What's in the Cards
During my shifts at the children's hospital
I wash decks of Uno, Apples to Apples,
Old Maids, Go Fishes--whisking bleach wipes
across the edges, faces, and backs.
Sometimes the ink bleeds onto the towels,
its smears resembling the ghosts of fugitive crayons.
So many colors escape their boxes here.
They roll beneath the floors of plastic buses.
They nestle among the eyes of Potato Heads.
They sneak into the fading trousseaux
of similarly sanitized worse-for-the-wear Barbies.
Sometimes the cards land on my counter
glued to one another. Things one could blame:
a dribble of juice, a splash of Coke,
even the cleaning solution. The sullenest striper
who so much wants to be elsewhere
doesn't wait until the jokers are dry
to shove them back into the cartons.
The cards on the cart are sometimes past repair.
Sometimes within a deck
too many cards go missing.
Once I found a Card Against Humanity
marking "Lazy Laurence" inside Little Women
and later a Hello Kitty's Crazy 8
snuggled against a lime-green stub of wax
snoozing behind Potato-Head shades. Sometimes
before I cast such strays into the trash,
if no one else is in the playroom,
I stand them against the picture window--
disfigured queens, blurred-out numbers,
eyeless fish--and tell them about
the magic tricks I used to attempt:
the scratching, waxing, shaving, pricking,
and putting the cards into special sequences
to yield the happy endings I'd promised to provide.
-- Peg Duthie
AND THE REST OF THE FINALISTS ARE . . .
Jill and the Beanstalk by Peg Duthie
Arranged by Shawn Aveningo
The Search by Jo Simons
Return to Seville from Fields South of Camas by Jeffrey Alfier
Now You See It . . . by Carol Alena Aronoff
What We Take Home from McCormick Hotel Cafe by Jeffrey Alfier
Lover's Year-End Fiscal Report by Jo Simons
Wild Berry by Jude Neale
Zen Diagram VI by Gloria Keeley
Hidden Seasons by Peg Duthie
Softly by Carol Alena Aronoff
The Boy Who Cried Wolf Marries Red Riding Hood by Joseph Dorazio
Fugitive by Jeffrey Alfier
Palm Ocean Sailing by Travis Naught
I Am Not Sharing by Rick Ratliff
The Dead Man's Watch by Mharlyn Merritt