January 30, 2007

Literary LEO: Poetry

Poetry — First PlaceHOLYBY AMY TUDORPreakness Stakes, 2006The ankle of a horse is holy.        —Larry LevisA blue-eyed boy in a field rides barebackon a horse made entirely of hay. They ridein circles, and where the horse steps,its hooves leave prints that sprout black tulips. The field wears them like a crown.The horse was once a sturdy bay. The horseonce won a race, its four strong legs thunderingthe Downs, its neck stretched against the reinsIts jockey wore blue and white silks and smiled.A long time ago, I loved the boyso fiercely that it made me afraid.He was once warm and real as hopebeneath the hand I rested(as he did) below my waist.I see them from the top of a riseas the boy turns the horse and they walk away.I would like to believe the boy knows me,sees me, as I watch the bay’s straw legs vanishin bluegrass deep as waves. I would like to believethat because I was once his mother,the boy is like me in even my most secret ways.My son, this is what hope rests on: frail bones,frail as yours the day of your still birth,frail as a horse’s ankle as it pounds and breaks —too brave, too fast, and too certain —on a hard, hard way.Poetry — Second PlaceI hear in the great rain BY DANA FADELI sat coy in my pew next to you,sat underneath god and ignored his words.I looked straight into your ear, (it is as perfectly clean as an eye)and wondered if my voice reaches your ear before my breath does.Listening, I heard, is as easy as breathingand just as foolishbut only if you listen to foolish thingsand I’ve been foolish all day long.We come to church and talk to God and pray that He listenswith his Great Giant Ears, (they are as perfectly pure as I)When I ask of love does he hear meor ignore me then ask, “What about it?”“Nevermind,” I say, and walk away.In the rain, I hear the sound of someone listening.Poetry — Third Place she put me in a winter-holeBY JOE WESTONi walk down edgeland underbales of quiet     recyclingbins look off and i knowthe day will darken here     ibounce between cars     duck away from the foshee’s glassdoor     a closing tent of murkfolds the light over incloth triangles at the parkentrance     alors i pump legsagainst her pavement backlosing sight in a dive forthe last edge of shineseparated in two by thestop-sign-pole     haze setsover the tennis courtsi will lie     sprawl splithere in the meantimePoetry — Honorable Mention 1Just FineBY REBECCA BLOCKI find myself wishing I wassomeone from one of your stories,the ones who grab the bottlesup-end the whiskey, pouringuntil they are unrecognizable,until they look full. I am notsomeone you would write a story aboutand somehow this disappoints me.I got up today before my alarm, I put onthe clothes I laid out last night,I fed the cats, myself, the birdand drove to work. I sit, today, with studentsexplaining commas, explaining “However,”and I only cried, once, when I made the mistakeof talking with someone about this.Apparently, I don’t need whiskey.Pouring words does me injust as fast and fine. Punctuatingeach breath with clauses and colonsI dot my students’ paperswith my common phrases, my “don’t worry,it’s tough for everyone” and “yes, Englishreally is a stupid language.” We nod, they grin,I return to their page, drink it in.Poetry — Honorable Mention 2 BY SARAH JARBOEFive Years Later*Still when someone callsand asks for youI say you are not home right now.*A balloon string woundthrough childhands, one forgetfulsecond it bounds for the sky.*My heart is a temperthat hangs on a hook besideyour purse fixed upon the coatrack.*This body letting go,dark bird,     fleshand coal-colored wings.*Hearts transported on iceand woven through the wiresof an open bird cage.Poetry — Honorable Mention 3JACOB RIGBY BUILDS THE CITY OF GODBY AMY TUDORWednesday evening serviceat the Church of Grace, and two pews in frontof me, Jacob Rigby (age eight) is drawinga city on a sheet of paper the color of bones.The sermon is I John: 3; outside the window,wearing its mask of gauzy drape, it’s snowing,the whole world disappearing in a veil of white.Jacob’s city is a single street lined with tall buildings,their spires reaching toward a sky without clouds.An airplane with one wing drawn is barely holdingwithin the page’s field. Jacob draws windowafter window in the building, stacked on each otherlike bodies or wood, each one a square drawnslightly akimbo and centered with a crossdelineating crooked panes. The windows risefrom the street, growing smaller as they climb,and from them, no one looks out. Almostas an afterthought (verse 13 now, Marvel not,my brethren, if the world hate you ...), Jacobdraws the sun or the moon, a circle perchedabove the city like a great sovereign eye.I have never spoken to this boywho always sits before me, never spokento his mother who reaches over from timeto time to smooth the back of his head.I only know his name because he writes iteach time at the top of the blank pagein letters large and clear as an epitaph.Jacob’s glasses are too large for his small face.He worries the nosepiece upthe bridge of his nose like a professor,or like me, or like an old old man.I have watched him, though, with the attentiongiven to prayer, watched the cities risefrom the tiny point of his pen, watchedhis mother’s hand on him, watched the lightfade from the window panes. To me,they are as unreachable as the figurestrapped in an Arbus photograph, as starkand as real, as beautiful and alone.My little children, let us not lovein word, neither in tongue,but in deed and in truth ...I want to tell him I once dreamedof his city, me at the highest window,the single tiny square inside the spire,how the street was so white it bledlight, how though I could not see themI knew this place he’d made was filledwith faces like mine, each one safebehind their window. I want to tell himhow in this dream, I rose each morningin his city and rode an elevator made of glassdown to the street and stepped out,and how real his city was, how beautifulit looked washed in all that light.We rise, the snow coming down, to sing (Nearthe Cross) and the service is over. Jacob followshis mother and we return to this world beyondthe window’s pane, our winter coats thickas days, Jacob’s drawing left on his seat,his city abandoned so as to be built and built again.Poetry — Honorable Mention 4Red River GorgeBY RICHARD BOADATeenage boys with buckknives chip initialsinto land bridgesandstone. Panicked bigleafmagnolias and yellow buckeyes spitseeds against the lichencovered rock arch. Kentuckyaugite gouged. The boys callbird dogs backto the hollow. Mouthsfull of quail, muddiedfeathers stuck to snoutsand ears. Shotgun shellsin the nettles. The boys walkchucking acorns into Red River.Pouches stuffedwith northern bobwhites.The covey roostednear the ground.