Thanks to all those who entered pieces into the contest – we received numerous entries from talented poets. We have chosen three winners, with seven close behind earning honorable mention.
First Date – Interior Monologue
By Ainsley Elder
Words squeeze out from between my lips
and flutter into the air
beyond my control they linger there
and say less than the position of my hips
could ever say
to signal my intent.
My eyes still study you
through thick liquids and leaden lids
moving faster than they ever did
knowing the night is near through
fearing they’ll close any second
and this will meet an end.
Soft bangs frame your face
screaming “I’m right here!”
I am well aware, my dear
You’re all there is in this place
as far as I’m concerned
and you’re all there will ever be.
You laugh, and my new mark
is to have some more of that
intoxicated, I am an addict, at
the moment you are like nothing I’ve ever had and
I am ravenous with the idea of ‘us.’
Hands in my pockets,
they are safe from their ambition
because if I let them roam of their own volition
they’d pull free from their sockets
and touch you in places
you didn’t know you had.
Floating down the darkened sidewalk
your silhouette back-lit by garish streetlights
I decide I will make you mine, tonight
let it be known at two o’clock
I took you in
and you aren’t going anywhere.
The Problem with People
By Terrence Joseph Ladd
The trouble with people
is that people are troubled.
The problem with the world
is that the world has problems.
The difficulty of maintaining Society
is that Society is difficult to maintain.
The strife within political change
is that no one strives for it.
But the beauty of Nature
is that Nature is beautiful,
and the capability of the human race
is that humans are capable.
And no insurmountable obstacle can afford to deny it.
The Fates have written
that destiny is dead;
killed by decision and action.
Morality was there, too,
but merely watching, of course.
The only arms I bear are at my sides.
Not my hips.
Truth and Understanding have never
been sought with a bullet.
The real war is within ourselves.
We have sanctioned our values
to appeal to authority.
Daily, we are drafted unconsciously
into political ideologies.
Paper or plastic?
Debit or credit?
Our foes know us too well.
They created us, after all.
How else could a pamphlet convince a citizen
to go to war?
We do have a secret weapon, though.
There are more of us than them,
and while Freedom and Responsibility
are still vague conceptions within the hearts of us all,
their potential for emergence grows greater
as their necessity grows higher.
I guess the point is,
it’s okay to be a realist and an optimist at the same time.
On Your Green Mattress
By Julia B. Smith
On your green mattress
Staring at the floor
Looking for clues about how you live
Your dirty socks
And change strewn about
And decorated spoons.
And staring at your walls
Trying to remember what you always see
Mosaics you made
Albums of the sixties
The most gorgeous Van Goghs
And a letter from me.
Opening your window
And memorizing your world
So that I can watch you
Whenever I can’t.
And folding up your blankets
Hoping your shirt that I wore
Doesn’t smell too much like me.
Looking at your bed
The spot for your head on the pillow.
And wondering whose head belongs in that crease next to yours.
By Brittany Baker
When I open a book
The letters go out to recess,
Cavorting like children on the blacktop in late summer,
Relishing their freedom from rigid lines
With games of:
Hurling themselves across the page,
Sending periods and commas flying,
A home run for run-ons;
Hopping over each others’ backs,
Creating new words and nonsense;
Scattering themselves and their meaning
Until I call
In a desperate attempt
To find order in this chaos.
It’s not child’s play.
By Kayla Burns
You and I baked the most
Symmetrical looking cake I’d ever seen
The edges were methodically rounded
And the frosting was as smooth
As the first words you spoke to me
Upon our first taste
We screamed at one another and then
We puked the lumpy dough
“How did this happen?”
I knew we had botched the recipe
I didn’t add enough sugar
Because I called you fat, lazy and stupid
You forgot the timer on the oven
And it was undercooked inside
Uneven, lacking consistency
With a bitter taste lingering on your teeth
You sprinkled the cake with sugar
And I shoved it back onto the rack
Noticing the way the sugar
Coalesced into the melting frosting
And this time the cake was not
Appealing, crusts of black around the edges
But we both took our slice
And we didn’t fight because
This time we silently threw the cake away
By Lincoln R. Eddy
The sign was posted, early this morning
I think. I sleep in so late, so hard
and they must have knocked first.
But since I didn’t answer,
they just taped it to the door and walked downstairs.
“Free kittens to a good home”
That was all the flyer said. No contact
or photograph. Just the offer of
a feline companion.
Things to do with a free kitten filled my mind
for the rest of the day.
On the bus, my kitten wandered, drawing
the attention of the nubile, or ran past
on the streets
ridding them of rats and climbing drainpipes
to bring down statue-shitting pigeons.
We walked in the park, where it
yowled along with the out of tune Dylan sung
by the corner-rooted bum, and fought and lost
to an invisible foe, climbing my leg at the last to escape.
At the deli in the afternoon
I picked out some tuna for it, and we walked home
where tabby stripes and window blinds
bled into each other
as I balled the flyer up
and dropped it in the trash.
By Stephanie Glazier
It is six o’clock in the morning,
I am eight years old
sleeping next to my girlfriend
on the living room floor.
I hear your bones crack
coming down the stairs.
I hear your fingers unwind
the wire on the brown paper
that keeps the coffee.
I hear you fill and start the grinder.
I am awake and I am irritated.
I hear you fill and start the coffee maker.
the sound of your bones
is the same as the creak in the linoleum
when you put your weight upon it.
I hear you fill and start
water against flour,
the small rain of salt,
I am embarrassed.
The warmth from the oven
fills the first floor
I fall back to sleep.
The seal of the front door
is breaking, is broken.
A rush of cold air
precedes a familiar face.
Marcia. She asks for olive bread.
You hand her two loaves
wrapped in brown paper,
one end open,
to let the heat out, you say.
My girlfriend is still sleeping.
I try to sleep like her,
but I am awake and I go
to the kitchen table
where you run your fingers through my hair
brushing it behind my ears and shoulders
You say- Good Mornin’ Sweet Pea
I hope the still sleeping girl did not hear that.
I am given jam laden bread
and eat, swinging my socked feet
watching my nightgown catch the air
and fall back against my legs.
My teeth have to wrestle
for their bite in this bread
even warm and new.
This is what people
love about your bread – the crust.
I do not understand.
what this morning would be
if we were across town,
she and I, at her house.
Across town, I would be served
soft white toast
requiring little of my mouth.
Her mother removes
fluffy pieces from a bright, plastic sack.
If we were across town,
I would be watching cartoons.
I am ashamed.
but I eat the bread
because the sleeping girl is sleeping still
and you are smiling at me.
I would give most things
to sit again at that table
to tell you that I dreamt
of the Calamata olives
I stayed up late into the
night, helping you to pit.
To say thank you for the bread
to ask you for something
though I don’t know what
to say good morning
Pebbles and diamonds
By Maweza Razzaq
Pebbles and diamonds.
Pebbles and diamonds.
Remember the game
We used to play,
From supper time
Till the end of day?
Out of breath, you would come
Knocking on my rickety door.
You would smile that smile of yours
And I’d blend right into the floor.
Pebbles and diamonds.
You’d take my hand
And ask me if I wanted to play,
As if you really cared
About what I had to say.
Nodding my head, I never said no,
With you always standing so close.
I was aware of your polished shoes
Right next to my dust covered toes.
Pebbles and diamonds.
Pebbles and diamonds.
The sun would set,
Nurturing our shadows,
And we would still be found
Playing in the meadows.
You would dub me a diamond,
In all my tattered glory.
Laughing, you chose to be the pebble,
Just like my real life story.
You spin me right round baby right round like a record baby right round round round
By Ben Rubinstein
I’ve seen that with insatiable thirst
soldiers drink war; the after is worst.
chugga drunk glub
gulpa smug club
They’d never, ‘if hangovers came first.’
By Donald Wu
Summer’s warmth slowly drains away,
As dusk gains darkness and dawn loses day.
These summer leaves grow old and ripe,
An abundance of color painted by light.
Love and passion die down a bit,
Their flames begin to wither, they’re barely lit.
Branches holding onto their leaves so tight,
Twigs grasping their buds with all their might.
Green turns to orange and amber too,
Finally to crimson where hue is askew.
Leaves begin to drop one by one,
Like day’s end and the descending sun.
Bitter chill creeps between the trees,
A new path is formed through these Autumn leaves.