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Winning Poems for February 2008
Judge Fleda Brown

Unmarked Grave
by Lois P. Jones Pen Shells All I want is a single hand, A wounded hand if that is possible. --Federico Garcia Lorca Beautiful man, with your brows of broken ashes and eyes that migrate in winter, a hollow in your hand where the moon fell through. I could have kissed your mouth, passed an olive with my tongue, the aftertaste of canaries on our breath. But the shriek of the little hour is spent, and there is no road back. The day it happened there were no good boys or dovecots filled with virgins, just a sun imploding like a sack of rotten oranges, the scent of basil from the grove near your home and the piano that still waits for you. No one will remember the coward who shot you, but the sheets, the white sheets you sail on, coming home. 1980 by Mitchell Geller Desert Moon Review Before the South End had been gentrified and not a single latte had been brewed on Tremont Street's still raffish, dodgy side there was, on Union Park, an interlude of wanton joy we later saw collapse; a brief, Edenic interval of grace before the second-hottest guy at "Chaps" bore lurid lesions on his handsome face, and soon, in weeks too sickeningly swift, required -- at thirty -- that bony white cane. Six short months and his mind began to drift, in gaunt, enfeebled, piteous waves of pain. We soon, alas, grew used to sights like this, the idyll having changed to an abyss. Séance by Adam Elgar The Writer's Bock I Is anyone there? Yes In the scent that purrs along the folds of these old clothes and in the sting of happiness remembered Gather round Interrogate the tender fossils heaped in this casket splinters from a translucent slipper feathers from a drowned lover’s wing teeth and fingernails hinted against the skin a trace of distant birdsong missing missing an inheritance of knives and so many kinds of hunger over everything lies a patina of stifled rage We are this also II Is anyone there? Of course Commemorated reverently framed too intimate with God Look how he shoulders faith like a loaded rifle certainty at odds with memory’s sepia smudge Here they all line up these dry and bone-hard joys fit for hate-darkened lovers It all begins at dead of night a whimpering boy sure only of sleep and danger We are that also Black Man Carrying Alligator Suitcase by Bernard Henrie The Writer's Block Only I know how my heart feels, to lose from the beginning and gain slowly, to give away with both hands. To enter rooms that fall silent. The withering looks and absentminded curiosity. I listen, but fail to speak. The cascading loneliness, the deluge of expectations, the grades and judgments which leave me empty. The feeling is not new, but expressing the feeling is new; I write more often in my diary book, scribble to myself, gawk at myself, fix a permanent record of what I know. I smile like a man from the country wearing the wrong clothes in the city. Or when you leave work early but miss your train and rest on a bench in the idle station. Hawaiian Chicken (not a recipe) by Alice Folkart Blueline A fine flock of feral chickens flutter and budget beside Pali highway. Feathers ruffle, rusted by the rain downy breasts blackened by mildew. Rooster-king alert, proprietary, bright-eyed, herds wind-up chicks toward the hen-harem. Tiny brains in weensy heads search out tasty tidbits, wriggling worms, juicy grubs. Scratching, slicing with skeletal yellow feet in the rotted leaves at the very edge of tangled forest. Raging traffic roars a foot away, as unreal to them as distant galaxies are to us. Stoma by Laurie Byro About Poetry Forum The bag my mother carries coos like a muffled baby owl. She hides it on her side like a purse with gold and silver coins left to spend. When she moves it gurgles like a sooty faced bird, more raven than eagle. She is self conscious, afraid it will fly away without her. She fears her life will be set loose like a snake in its hungry beak. What is left, after the surgeons cut part of her away, is this graceless winged woman, a white gown instead of plumes, a thatch of broken weeds. The doctor has no magic tricks up his sleeves. She sits on her nest incubating regret, hums while morning streaks the sky red. She waits on her little clay throne.

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