Latest World Poetry Movement Winners

Fall 2012 Grand Prize Winner

Astoria Aviles / Prescott, AR - Flight

Like a storm you blanket my horizon,
and I can only breathe in old photographs
of Austin and Sacramento.

You speak in thunderous strikes
that burrow through lean muscle and
live like leeches on my brain stem.

I no longer leave the apartment.

My mother sends me a candle for New Years,
a thin, fair-skinned wick enclosed by murky wax
whose emancipation I leave on our coffee table next to
the latest Time magazine.

Trees unfold richly in late April streets,
but the oak outside our building holds fast to
bare branches.

I am exposed to my cage through
Maya Angelou and gin.

The bruises begin to bear new weight
until my skin is nauseated
and my blood no longer comes.

I wait until you leave on business,
until September breezes draw the curtains into midnight air.

I take back the stones from my mother,
and like a fugitive cross into the north.


First Prize Winners for Fall 2012

Ali Abubaker / Calgary AB
Dalton / Allen Bigfoot TX
Ashanti Anderson / Green Bay WI
Ashlee Anderson / Pineville LA
Kushagra Aniket / Ithaca NY
Alisha / Antonio Laguna NM
Zoe Antoniou / Chicago IL
Kristen Augusta / Cortland NY
Sergio Avalle / Killeen TX
Diego Balin / Weston FL
Frank Balistreri / Hartland WI
Meredith Beamer / Brighton MI
Brittany Bjorndal / Coquitlam BC
Samantha Boyd / Marlborough NH
Ellen Boyette / Hendersonville NC
Sabryna Brooks / Sarnia ON
Barbara Cadogan / Savannah GA
Modesto Canales / San Benito TX
Sherry Champion / Landrum SC
Amber Cooper / Madison MS
Tom Corlett / Georgetown ON
Sandra Crose / Anaheim CA
Joe Davis / Orange CA
Stephanie De Luna / Northlake IL
Kyle De Valk / Kimberly WI
Patrick Doherty / Dublin CA
Leonid Dolayev / Ottawa ON
Alessandra Donovan / Marblehead MA
Liam Engle / Silverton OR
Nely Fernando / La Verne CA
Stuart Fishman / Brooklyn NY
Angela Garcia / Key West FL
Zq Garon / Belmont NH
Josephine Geluso / Oyster Bay NY
Wendy Gomez / Boca Raton FL
William Grigg / Dartmouth MA
Kristina Grisham / Peralta NM
Mike Groome / Wheeling WV
Poet Haggerty / Stamford CT
Rebecca Harlow / Oklahoma City OK
Kay Harrington / Wayland MA
Jessica Hauser / Virginia Beach VA
Kyler Hearon / Wayne WV
Allan Heller / Hatboro PA
Brennan Hickson / Birmingham AL
Bryan Holz / Hustisford WI
Michelle Huggins / Park City UT
Mary Jackson / Casper WY
Marcy Jellison / New York NY
Debbie Johnson / Nevada IA
Russell Kenyon / Miramar Beach FL
Dina Khalil / South Lyon MI
Lucas Kolthof / Hamilton ON
Elena Kras / Saint Paul MN
Brandon Kruger / Charleston SC
Prem Kumar / Edmonton,alta AB
Anne Kuster / Clinton NJ
Kim Kuzak / Prince Albert SK
Eric Labelle / L'orignal ON
Miki Landseadel / San Miguel CA
Linda Lemburg / Redding CA
Roz Lewis / Philadelphia PA
Alexandria Lipe / Arden NC
Rose Mae / Pembroke Pines FL
Melissa Mangiapanella / Nesconset NY
Camarin Martins / Tiverton RI
William Mccorkle / Portland OR
Claire McDonald / Worcester MA
David Meneses / Munsonville NH
Kelsey Michel / Hutchinson MN
Gary Mono / Raleigh NC
Haylee Montoya / Corrales NM
Kim Moore / Savannah GA
Logan Morrow / The Colony TX
Christie Moses
Jacob Nantz / Oswego IL
Courtney Nay / Shinnston WV
April Nerison / Viroqua WI
Chris Nichols / Chicago IL
Desiree Pagulayan / Richmond BC
Kristen Parker / Simsbury CT
Sam Parson / Commack NY
Jamie Pelfrey / Troy NY
Emily Penna / Buffalo NY
Sirena Perry / Bigfoot TX
Hilary Quinlan / New York NY
Alexis Santiago / Pickering ON
Taylor Saydak / Winnipeg MB
Samantha Schwalm / Midland SD
Miona Short / Chicago IL
Amanda Singh / San Diego CA
Steven Slater / Chicago IL
Jason Sloan / New York NY
Joe Slotnick / Philadelphia PA
Sandra Spengler / Janesville WI
Richard Stephan / Sacramento CA
Jack Stewart / Peoria AZ
Eliza Swieczkowski / Kings Park NY
Nicholas Tamagna / Manhattan NY
Patricia Taska / Portland ME
Sam Titus / Penfield NY
Natasha Trottier / Sault Ste. Marie ON
Josie Vargas / Mason MI
Christopher Verrecchia / Hamilton ON
Leonid Vinogradski / Pleasant Hill CA
Krystal Volney / Silver Spring MD
Larry Warner / Gray Court SC
Steven Waters / Tampa FL
Karen Wernecke / Hoffman Estates IL
Michael Whitlow / Long Beach CA
Michael Williams / Silver Spring MD
Christopher Winter / Citrus Heights CA
Sandra Wojciak / New Britain CT
Rich Wooten / Saint Louis MO
Charles Yates / Avondale AZ


Sping 2012 Grand Prize Winner

Paul Gouda / Nanaimo, BC - Fragments of an Attempted Love

The diary paper is staring at me with perplexity.
No pen seemed to have pressed scars in this sheet.
No eraser made blurs.
The little thoughts that often fretted me were not there,
and my battle against lust,
the nights I attempted to chasten and subdue,
to elevate thoughts beyond a feeling
for more deeply interfused, were not there.
The flower of cardamom in my coffee
when I wrote what I wrote was never there.
Desultory alleys of the town I walked at night in confusion
were no longer on the town map.
All the things I wanted to forget,
hissing embers,
passion dwindles,
joy declines.
What happened? I wondered.
The explanation of this conundrum must be heard.
The punishment of a dream
awakened to retire into the tent of a wounded pride.
Her love, her face, her emotions,
were as inscrutable as my diary paper.
And past midnight, hoping against hope,
I mourned no more the lonesome tears
that left no echo of their fall.
What happened, you ask.
Too many guards in the hallway outside your bedroom door.
Your people planted mines between our fences.
The evil dove, my dear, hated the olive tree.
We were a soul with no inception,
no Egyptian horses,
no Lebanese mountains,
no Russian winters,
and no vacant land.
Did I love you?
        I wanted to.
        I tried.
My friend, don’t blame me,
the wire fences were too high.


First Prize Winners for Spring 2012

Max Abbruzzetti / Alexandria, VA - Ariel Finds Serenity in Miranda's Unchasted Firefly

Speed me on to Annwyn
there the superior vena cava attacks
the myriad of bellows and braying
is the leviathan of 18 bourbons
falls upon cloth ears

Sibling scissors groping in the dark
in alabaster stain
the chalk precipice is unforgiving of us
as we forgive those that precipice against us
like the smog from a dragon's breath

I have no fear, and I will take on
any man, mitten-fisted, here
leads into knots of temptation, us
catches you if in Autumn
swoops down by transmission
majestically strident & overexposed
from the skies

Went absent in the mist and foam
by a host of Seraphim
sparkle horse latitudes dances
beneath the water
for the 7th time in the Sea of Rye

Yet you can wrap your arms about her
garrotted to professing to the
baptized bale of soggy hay
thus a pale shelter withers
to a gray anatomy
Yet the ocean still never refuses
the refuge or debris of no river
while the gauntlet of chaos and expiation
make you fleece and welch on a deal

Brandi Aldrich / Cecil, OH - Wrath

It is the red-orange of decaying leaves
That periodically toss a greedy flame
Onto the vulnerable forest floor
To spread and engulf everything within its power.

It is the jalapeno and habanero peppers
That cover the simple tortilla chip,
Burning the mouth that dares to swallow it,
And creating acid to later eat away at the stomach.

It is a centuries-old mythical dragon
Whose power surges through its veins
As it searches the interminable skies
To kill and torment the perpetrator that aroused it.

It is the bubbling waters of Niagara Falls,
Where the water cascades down into the depths below
And punches every single water droplet
Into the stomach of the rocks awaiting them.

Quick to come, but with a progressive burn
That eats away at the inner depths of our souls,
It's hard to quench, for it can only be suppressed;
It is the thing that controls us all.

Matthew Anderson / Evans, CO - Fire in the Gristle

Cranked up my tweed and let the harp bleed
all the heifers galloped in to feed
on my stacks of wax through the ages
my turbine was feelin' fine
and I had a gal named Daisy

Fuelin' my dream was a burnin' kerosene
and when it lit, the crowd all ran home
Me an Daze was alone
like a soul without bones
and we drove off into the ether

Now, when we arrived the Count said: "no jive"
and we had to move to the parlor

Out on our raft we was havin' a laugh
and Daisy took wind like a sail
She had been out on bail
and her heart was real frail
So she was never to return again

Feel my algorithm!

Kendra Baldwin / Houston, TX - Alone

She was a small girl says the size of her clothes
on a pile of broken glass in the corner;
a short girl too says the height of the mirror
in a much used room, and a sane, non-fearing girl,

say the words with a lazy stride
on the pages below the bed, worn with age,
but not a girl for trusting say the eyes
dancing in photos and appearing to know all.
Someone lived with her, says the furniture
matching its neighbors and the used planner
filled with meetings, and they had a dog
says the dog bed made in a blood red.

Money was rife, say the boxes of gold trinkets
and clothes and things still in long-forgotten bags,
and the tensions were high say the cracks in the doorframes.
It was lonely here say the many empty rooms.

Something went wrong says the cramped up words
on the tear-soaked pages. Bullets in the closet
say she was not so sane; the lack of prints
in the carpet say she left in a nervous haste.
And the mirror? Its shards are strewn in the room
like raindrops on metal—a broken book,
a ripped-up picture with unfamiliar looks,
a small dagger. Something went wrong, they say.

Kate Bartel / Newtown, CT - Nothing

You were nothing but a child,
raw youth, dark hands stained a permanent red,
shuffling past strangers with heavy guns under their belts,
waiting for an escape that you knew would not come.

You were nothing but the contents of a crate from Northern Uganda
splintering your tongue on the rough insides of rice barrels,
praying to a God you weren't sure existed,
cradling hope in your dusty arms like a mother you never had.

You have been forced to carve your name into your own coffin.
You are less than nothing,
bathing in murky waters and letting a dark belly grow with starvation.
You are an invisible child locked in the jungle for eternity.

And we can help.
We can get you out.
We can save your life.

But we are also selfish.
We like to call each other selfless.
We like to compliment the mirror and throw nickels at homeless men.
There's nothing else that can be done for Africa, we say.
We like to send little black children friendship bracelets
and cans of Spam, colorful cards and used toys,
fifty-cent items that will make our pitiful disgust look pretty.
We like to think we are changing the world.

But there you sit in the concrete hallway beneath a crowded hospital,
trying to outlive the other children,
trying to outrun Death in his dark cloak.
Death hidden behind a million bloody faces,
Death who has loomed over your shoulder your entire life.

There you sit, in a hole darker than the heart of Hate,
as we scrape the remains of our filet mignon into the trash can,
saying there's nothing else that can be done for Africa.

Nicole Bartu / Medford, OR - Shadow Spreads Through

The shadow spreads through- I want to be free
This seems like the only way but I'm scared
And the razor bites down too deep for me.

There is no bright future for me
I'm alone, my feelings cannot be shared
The shadow spreads through- I want to be free

I'm under pressure- sinking in the sea
To leave everything was not before dared
And the razor bites down too deep for me.

I'm a freak- a social anomaly
The kids laughed and pointed, taunted and stared
The shadow spreads through- I want to be free

I am alone, without a family
My heart aches, it's more than what can be bared
And the razor bits down too deep for me.

There is a dark monster inside of me
I am not strong, I am weak, I am scared
The shadow spreads through- I want to be free
And the razor bites down too deep for me.

Martin Bemberg / Austin, TX - Brushing Teeth

Right after I googled your name and found the poem,
Which you wrote, it turns out, in elementary school,
I brushed my teeth on the toilet and wished I could say it was cathartic.

It is only every day that I think of ours,
Which, split by two seas at the very least,
Grew by exponents with every looming disadvantage,
Skipped decline, went straight to dying,
And recur in me while waking,
Having not been purged in sleep.

Because of you, and only you,
I knew the mere Bosporus between two continents,
Between my West, your East,
But only now do I see the Atlantic, the Europe,
A slight Maghreb and a faint Mediterranean
Between our fixed feet.

Donald Boyles / Decatur, GA - Almost an Animal

Is a dripping, blue web
Clinging to a wet, yellow rose:
The trapped ladybug there during seven days
Becomes hard and shrunken.
Almost an animal
Is killing in a neutral fashion just for something to eat.

The fourteen-year-old girl the next evening:
Her father had fallen, drunk and unclothed,
Into her bed yet once again.
The pale green sheets
Would later bloom with both light and dark red stains.
Almost an animal is a squirming question of doubt.

Is the death row prisoner’s fate, and the teenage redhead’s behavior,
Who would now never learn to kill
In a neutral fashion.
Is the rectangular oil and blood stain in the concrete
Where the mechanic died underneath his car.
(The jack was old and riddled with rust:
it not only slipped but also gave way.)
Is the voice of the smiling black hole
In the dirt that all of surface life will one day fall into.

Gabrielle Bryant-Gainer / Shenandoah Junction, WV - Floating Dreams

Webbed in straddled and sorely beaten
caught in militia death gripped and ripe for retaliation
looking for a room without a view as the tower falls
applause applause deal was sealed without a pause!

Whacked on crack we are all expected pawns
from the air left we have been choking all along
explosions that the Sainted have puffed out
because the man did not know

about his 2 cents of a mind going down
Bibles we once treasured now sold for a price
manufactured to blow into our dream pipes
criminals filing our fade into this unjustified paradise

Filling those sapless veins with lies forgotten
this sacred clitoris dream is sleeping
screaming redeem redeem and dream
He has been chained to your machine!

The madness is obscene.
Behold the time had been so unkind
sweet dreams to the unlucky swine.
Pretty soon there will be no sunshine.

Lena Bugriyev / Roseville, CA - In Time Alone

Fingers iron bars enclose
My impure face
Unspoken
Unclose my eyes
Hollow cavity cage ribs
Shaking breaking waking

Stained feet trample bruise
Writhing wavy paths unknown
Cold bone fingers press cushion soft lips
Rigid stiff gaze stolen, undress
The waves closing upon me as a blanket
Waking shaking breaking

Bruised spirit sweeps the floor wither
Long hair downcast gem eyes
Leave undiscovered longing disposed
Grow weak scarlet cheek until lifted
Dirt dust picked clean of wings her dreams
Breaking waking shaking

Caroline Burt / North York, ON - Chronological

Aperture;
I was speeding with time as if ubiquity was not
only in the stars of the skyline.

The stones were blended into ashes.
Invocation; calling to be reminded the fear of passion was the wells,
which blitz ambition in its chaos of habit.

Torched every fragile heart
and the icicles just melted with a flame in its spot.

Rushed like a beamer, that lasted seconds
in Its orbit of wonders, no choice of the surroundings,
it lasted early in the morning.

Rings off and another heart rate beats like an alarm clock.
Sudden spur of words with a given sign. Rigged its ties,
blamed all its regrets later on that night,
we won’t get any sleep tonight.

Watching the moon until the sun sets in to rise.
To breathe, hear all these sirens sound out of line.
Shutting it all out with this electric feeling,
nervous reaction that pulses lungs of oxygen.
Free of time, horizon of chanted taste,
enough to crave.

Shoved every spaceship rocket
with a flare of magic,Sand of every atom was living on this planet
called “Earth”All the movements of desire were astonishing in the music

tones, melody of chords.Swiveled; that seeped in the core,
had the minds of thoughts
Always a memory or a vision of a dream.

Dusted off its ancient history, to reread

everything antiquated of the vulnerable That made us who we are today.

Cecilia Bush / Chilliwack, BC - Rorschach (or Is It Kerner?)

You have plied your platinum razor wire
through my heart for the very last time.
When you embark upon your melodic mire
think of me hemorrhaging line upon line.

Oh, but you don't see through these bloody eyes of war:
no, yours is a misty view that romantics easily endure.
Ah to be so sated, so warmly embraced as to be idealized
while this anemic seeping rotting corpse is cryptically immortalized.

Ouch, that's hardly lyrical-where is the graphic content warning?
Go ahead sweetly lament your loss, then capitalize on your mourning.
Don't think for one minute that I mind, for I mind not, no not at all.
What's left to mind anyway but a shadow from behind a wall?

Now take a look at these ink blots and tell me what you find.
See the red bleeding receding and black images yet defined
Or is that a clot forming, a deworming of idiosyncratic signs?

Call it art or deception or even psychosis,
but don't claim it love, this splintered thing
on which to sharpen then dull our gnosis
for Truth lies apparently in the interpreting.

Alyx Chandler / Madison, AL - Bound

There are freeze dried hours upon hours
where I have no words to convey
this feeling.
I have no spirit to beg—
only the hot body of salt drenched Earth
pinning me down,
heavy and splintered.
It pushes gas into my cotton lungs
and pulls my tendons like ship anchors.
It nets my hips deep in pressure
and tenderizes my flimsy bones.
I’m thrown like a fish
into a sun gasped morning
and I’m born.

I’m born.

Trapped in outstretched limbs
and this one blood pumping heart.

I age and use my hands to peel my vision in half
like a ripped piece of grass.
I watch the universe invert and atoms explode.
Star clouds crack and I kiss the veins of Nebula black holes.
I lung against existence,
for only a nanosecond.

Now this is what it feels like to be aching and human,
gravity roped tight on raw skin.
My body keeps me
so
still.

Jessie Chen / San Mateo, CA - Ad Nauseum<

I am scared
I am scared that there is not such a thing as fulfillment
That all I am looking to are mere illusions
Like lines on a page
That seem to say something
Something moving
That stirs up emotions
But fails to touch the heart of the matter

I am scared
That ultimately, this is no race
But a chase after something illusive
More beautiful because of its
Fleeting lights, and flashing meters
That beats out the sound of a drum
That takes you deeper
Into a dream
Ad nauseum

I am scared of that dream
Because it is so big
So divisive
So definite
Concrete enough that it is the only thing that I stand on
That is worth standing on
That I cannot fight
And yet it fights me
Because it is alive
And in it
I find fulfillment

Carmen Cleveland / Kalamazoo, MI - Toxic

Ugh.
I am so sick.
Of you.

Head hung low
Like bruised, aged fruit.
Sniveling snot droplets
Like tears from
the eyes carrying the baggage
of your troubled youth.
I am dizzy
With your virus.
Head aches.
You are the rebel flu
Among the mingling normal flora.
You infect me
With the degradation
Of yourself
Projection
Insults spew
Hot chucks of self-loathing, regret.
Toxic fire in my throat
Where my words
Smolder.

Sarah Cole / Gilmer, TX - Onslaught of Rain

Bruised clouds form
The temperature plummets
And down cascades an onslaught of rain…

Thunder bellows
Lightning clashes
Flora ignites
And is reduced to ashes.

Winds bowl
Earth decreases
Mecha breaks
Into irreparable pieces.

Populace shelter
Fauna disperse
Torrents excess
While cities immerse.

And down cascades an onslaught of rain…

Metal and concrete
No bout to the squall
It bows and it crumbles
No refuge at all

Fauna continually accurate
Populace everlastingly dim
While creatures escape
Masses ensnared within

Souls futilely cry
Acknowledged by escaper
No pulses remain
Except fauna and nature

Then ceased is the onslaught of rain…

Shannon Connor / Buffalo, NY - Aphrodite's Canvas

His name's carved in your bones.
The first sighting you felt a scratch,
Unnoticed but present, like a ghost.

Eventually, with every single crossed path
You cringed as a notch was etched inside.
You came to expect it every time you saw him, heard his name
Couldn't help but wonder if one day,
You could compare wounds.

An invisible force graced you against your wills.
Not yourself anymore, these cuts made you weak.
Induced a wanting.
Intruded your thoughts, your dreams, as you slept at night,
Chiseled away your sanity.
Watched as your hand scribed his name in your book.
The scalpel cut deeper than you thought.
The pilot light finally lit.

You forced yourself from coming too close.
How long could you go before your bones snapped,
before you fell in his arms?
What if he didn't catch you, then again—what if he did?

Maddie Cross / Washington, DC - The Beholder

I like the dusty ideas

Plans we saw in a shop window with extra cash in our pockets so we snapped and swallowed whole, only to have our prey collect years on a shelf

Because everyone’s dreamed of climbing mountains and sifting across the ocean floor but the place where the peak meets the sea dances alone, spinning caves full of lost ideas

We all want to be doctors but no proud relative will tell his business friends that his niece drives the ambulance because our tiny empty caves of minds don’t register that all has value, plain and simple

Models stand in starlight cast by the eyes of the young women but those who make them beautiful are frozen in darkness but no one

No one makes the darkness beautiful

Stan Davis / Warner Robins, GA - Bane of the Viking

They flew across the placid fjord
Sails billowing and unfurled
While arrows rained them all around
And epithets were hurled

Rudely dressed, they, in their furs
Their blond and red hair flowing
And all within sight or sound
Knew it death they came a sowing

They worshipped strange and pagan gods
In their far north hideaway
And all who faced that northern horde
Prayed to God for one more day

Sweat poured from them in torrents
Though they stood in deepest shade
Red Fergus bravely spoke his piece
Then turning gripped his blade

The corsairs were coming fast
They passed thru the shower of steel
These reavers of the nether world
Thinking they viewed an easy meal

Red Fergus then cast his gimlet eye
Upon yon ships of gloom
And said me lads give them no land
Or they shall surely spell our doom

Stranger, when you walk this shore
That is not rust you see
It’s where Red Fergus and the Irish
Brought the Viking to his knee

Stephanie Dawson / St. Johnsbury, VT - The Beast

Darkness awaits you here
In the sweet abyss
It feeds upon your every fear

Things are not as they appear
Ignorance is bliss
Darkness awaits you here

It clutches all that you hold dear
Everything you're sure to miss
It feeds upon your every fear

The Beast dissolves the bright veneer
It deals a deadly kiss
Darkness awaits you here

And soon you'll start to disappear
Because you know the Beast exists
It feeds upon your every fear

No time to shed a tear
No time to reminisce
Darkness awaits you here
It feeds upon your every fear

Amanda Del Sontro / Forked River, NJ - The East Side of Lake Manahawkin

I asked him to drive me to Lake Manahawkin,
where my footprints had appeared and faded,
appeared and faded, appearedùMuddy March.

Pitched, charcoaled pines with their
flickering stares and webbing branches;
the bare sassafras; the lichened and mossed kingdom.

That half-hallowed cypress I identified,
it's hanging knotted heart unsplintered;
the scent of once-green graves in drizzle.

A clouded Lake of undusted sapphire,
just beyond the littered slippery aisles,
dragged feet find soily sandy beaches.

Decaying lilies drown from the weight of their heads,
tangled twigs, half buried, snap and bend;
loitering along the Lake, what a strange date.

"This is so beautiful."

I asked him to drive me to Lake Manahawkin,
A black car penduling water, fogged windows,
damp passengers warming, shuddering, bluest eyes.

"This is so beautiful."

Christina Dilodovico / Avondale, AZ - Slipping into Gray

The ocean washed her face away,
but she still sleeps with her make up on;
slipping remains of a mask in decay.

A visage of absolute perfection on display,
without happiness that has long since gone,
for the ocean washed her face away.

Oh, she's a lovely mannequin of beauty,
eyes lined in a gray abstract.
These are the slipping remains of a mask in decay.

Her castle's windows have become frosted over;
numbness the only true feeling intact,
as the ocean washed her face away.

Her soul now only a blurred reality,
and from herself she begins to retract,
into slipping remains of a mask in decay.

The plastic features are here to stay,
blocking out another day's dawn.
The ocean washed her face away,
slipping remains of a mask in decay.

Amber Donofrio / Ithaca, NY - A Glass Abyss

Sitting in the china cabinet near the kitchen,
the snow globe resides,
a present for me given at my birth
when I was too young to remember
what it meant to exist.
The bear, so brown and hard,
placed in the center of a sea
of falling glitter snow
trapped inside the ocean.
The waves rock the bear
and silver specks erupt.
The sky is so far away.

I look out at the world and watch
the falling snow that covers the Earth in a slush
that shines under my feet.
But still I see the screen before my vision,
the sheet of glass that presses against my hand
as I reach out to touch.

And in my mind,
the forgotten song flows out with the turning
of eternal gears that click and circle
in memory.

I wonder if falling would crack the shell
and allow shocking chill to penetrate my skin.
Or if only the bear would be broken,
its rough, ceramic fur splintered across the carpet.

Cecilia Drummond / Vaughan, ON - Transparent

A dove poised on a bed of marble
Incandescent and blinding
Swathed in white satin robes
Pure and cool and opaque

So silent in your hollow eyes
So still your frame in light
Trust the feathers that grace their way to earth
Trust your hold is tight upon the ribbons round my wrist

A vulture on the steps drinks blood
Savage as the image on his lips
Soaking in the guilty yellow of a flashlight
Alone and ugly and transparent

So silent in your hollow eyes
So black the bruise around my guts
Trust the acid ripping my naivety to shreds
Trust the ribbon's cut , really I'd rather fall.

Lila Dunlap /

New Orleans, LA - Matches

Your pearlescent fingers stretch like white heat
waves, rub in the foothills of your face, pull
some static ringlets from your eyes. They meet
in mine. Flatten on my skin. Break. And null.

"These drinks taste like grass," I focus my sound
attention on the glittering floor tiles.
Your smoke's still sexy and floats through sundown,
seducing like a lizard's lucid smiles.

It's dark at last, and you're striking matches.
They fizzle to your fingertips, you say
you're sick of me, my eyes' amber catches
hard light, each one burns, like your full-up ashtray.

Like night drizzling makes the cheap roof sing;
as I walk to the door, you blow smoke rings.

Michelle Ernst / Franklin, NJ - Keep Right

I pulled up to the intersection and there it was—
the sign said "No Left Turn".

Then suddenly—

"Left" put me back at that kitchen table,
looking into my sister's pleading eyes,
struggling to write with her right hand,
to write their way, the right way.

They shattered her artistic left hand
in favor of misfit puzzle pieces of gray.

They—

they, they, they, the ones who set upon rows
scores of young fellows not allowed to bellow
or fly out the windows like Pan.

They, they, we, the ones who drill the thoughts
of how to buy things that must be bought
and have draught every bit of glitter
from the sea foam, stirring naught.

They, we, we, the ones who Ritalin-ize the fountains
and homogenize the mountains and propagandize
the thoughts of the valleys that were fought.

We, we, we, the ones who smash the painted vases
and burn the parchment letters and hoard the vines
and guard the mines and draw these lines.

I have decided to turn left here.

Erin Farrell / Doylestown, PA - Fathom the Dream

The night sky is nebulous
But my dreams are not
I lay my cheek on the sill, edged by brisk white rime
Feeling my freckles turn to icy flakes
And I shiver through the pills of my pajamas
I wish I may
I wish I might
And a flash, auriferous and glimmering
I lasso the wisp
The fragile dream
To the celestial scarlet flame that lies in wake
My heart surging to the heavens in arduous pursuit
I can see it, pink and flying, a crimson bird in the dusk
It was just a satellite, scoffs my brother
I still clench my hands in prayer, eyebrows pressed on the bitten cuticles
And think, He's wrong
It's worked before
The nine candles glint before me
casting stalks of shadow upon my face
As I feel the yearning bubble within me
Culmination of giddy prayer and fervent hoping
With my whole self, I clench my eyes tight
Hope it hard as I may
And blow them out
What'd you wish? What is it, they pester me
As the light switches back on, I can only smile
A knowing smile, shaking my head
Uhn-uh, I say, or else it won't come true
She's right, you know, says Mom-mom
You've gotta wish while you're young, she says
So your dreams still got time to come true
And she winks, a gleam in her eyes

Ryan Favata / Winter Park, FL - Quiet Questions

I knew my life would sting with a sense of obligation,
That it would hum and rattle with all that is greater than I,
I knew that every time I chose to ignore the wind’s direction,
That I was asking of the ground-
That which can only be given by the sky.

I sensed that this daily reconnaissance was necessary,
That being watchful, yet blind, was commonplace,
I sensed that these minds, how they flounder and vary,
Still came from the same heart-
That is cradled with grace.

I found when I stopped running from nothing,
When I stood proudly behind every breath I took,
Everything in this world was worth answering,
Because the quiet questions it asks-
Are the blank pages of your book.

Sarah Foote / Fairfax, VA - The Bow's Eternal Dance

We focus on the instrument,
its lustrous cedar gleam,
but somehow all our sentiments
exclude this narrow beam.

The fingerboard is made of sleek,
dark wood, so resonant
and polished, but it cannot speak
without the stick’s movements.

Violas get a voice onstage,
they whisper, thrum, and trill,
but it’s the markings on the page
that give the people chills,

directing where to weave one’s wrists,
these hieroglyphs command;
marcato, skitter, one long gliss,
and tighten your right hand.

Without it, nobody would care,
dynamics would be nil,
the music would be plain and bare--
inaudible, worse still!

This partner, overlooked so long,
lies subtly on our thighs
in rest position. When the song
begins, it whips and flies,

but only then, the glossy oak
and coarse horsehair so white
cause us to smile and sigh and choke
up as they dim the lights.

Victoria Gendron / Shirley, MA - Painting You with Words

Deep pools from beneath
Dark waterfalls of silk ribbons,
Spilling across gentle slopes, beneath a sharp drop,

Above a deep ridge.

A flower of sound, singing ecstasy
From above two

Pale mountains.

Twin suns, soft pink on the horizons.
Atop an undulating plain, glimmering
With dew through the moaning wind.

A crested valley between two rivers
From the lips of

A splitting delta.

A raging ocean bursting warm
With a tropical passion.
The eye of the storm, a temple

Of old secrets and new time.

And the artist who sits
Idly by

Painting the captured Heavens.

Of the blossoming beauty, fingers paint
A pleasured masterpiece of a broken gate, breeched.
It's raining

A scene of wondrous love.

Joshua Giles / Louisville, KY - The Tone of Catatonia

Find yourself
In the depth of humanity.
In many shades that shine
The ruins of life
For these eager transgressions
They wane the evasive sun
This catatonic grief
Defaces the notions to reach the stars.

Sheltered ruins
Can't wait for havens to grow
But seeds of bigotry
Refusing to be sown
The reluctant hiss of a deviant.
The unwanted fusion of serpents blood
Revelations bleak and dyer
Seem to menace progressions I see.
Can't seem to rid myself of intolerance
Amidst the relenting façade of reverence.

Impenetrable psyche deviates
To exalt itself from us.
We are the mantle and the substance
That binds the chasm of this earth.
Fire travels through deepened mist
To align our path with soothing light
And runes strike down, one by one.
They only reveal the darkened sun
Can never unveil when we are done?

Far gone is the haven
Too far away to see…
Deprivation lingers here.
You will confront the terror.
No point to gather or grasp
As your sanctum seems to wither down.

Frank Goodman / Toronto, ON - London Bobbies

When the bobbies were blowing their whistles
The fog of London descended upon the streets
Only glassy eyes reflected back
Ne'er do wells hear the tap of the blind man coming
Down the lane, beware the rumblings of the poor
Most are insane, sewage flows from the windows
Upon unsuspecting heads below
Unwashed and unkempt, cursing all the while
No lords or ladies here, only the poor and the dead
They flourish here as they have nowhere else to go
They all will end up inside Traitors Gate
Where all accept their fate
Except the ones that scream into the waters
As the tide comes in to cover their bodies
When the bobbies blow their whistles into the night
Absolutely no one is around to hear them
Jack slipped into the darkness and it is always 1880

Sara Green / Storrs, CT - Late Morning in Lincoln Center

The day drags loose hinged carriage wheels through this place

Through the womb of the of-age

Silence caking around her naked body in the ill lit vanity
The smell of her lovemaking paints the air like wax
And the peeling wallpaper withholds the secrets from her slush dreams

Basking like a Spadefish, tulip breasts turned up
Wordlessly letting the late morning Lincoln squat in her window

Only the working end of the New York Theater, gushing out of the Metropolitan
Opera House like a nearly sealed faucet

The smoke—and it’s Tuesday AM stale
Dry from street performing avidity
Making sandboxes on slabs of doorstep

Smoke washes her body
Like it’s never been anywhere without her

Her nutmeg shoulder blades, as soft as bedposts—
Hold her like a playing card to the charcoal window

In lovers (the many olive-popped critic men)—she has counted
Their fingers
Harp accord
Up her spine

She has counted her names
The “Mary” and “Lynnette”
And something French she was called over a quarter scone near Julliard
She had heard a trumpet man there

“Jacqueline-Estee”
Stamped, hyphenated sex
The trumpet man all in brass

She has counted for tomorrow; the night paste between her lips
For tomorrow in pastel
Tomorrow
With coffee-stained shower baths
She waits with those

Half-baked eyes
Beneath the surface of the
Shadow undertow
And her hair; the horse mane she counts in brushes

Morgan Gruver / Athens, GA - Chromatic Laughter

I memorized your laughter
Plugged it into my piano
And developed a chromatic melody
Forever climbing towards a
Higher joy.

And I play it only in my
Saddest moments.
For it can only raise you up.

To play it during happiness
Would be dangerous indeed
Rivaling the effects
Of Methamphetamines.

But to play it during utter sadness,
Would be more like an
Euphoric ascension.

Almost as if God had
Called you home.

Zoë Gulliver / Vancouver, BC - Film Noir

We watch old detective flicks
that decapitate our notions of humanity.
We watch d*ck Tracy
and commiserate with the idea of justice
in a world where you’re the kitten’s night clothes
or the feline’s sleepwear
or some such idea.

"Baby, you are the noir in my film,
the sulfur in my match, the pouf on my couch;
so see here, my dearest—you oughtta
get a speeding ticket for how fast you’re racing my heart."

You are a plume of smoke twisting
from the end of a puzzled cigar, twitching
in the frustrated mouth of this double indemnity.
You are my fruit in a black-and-white orange grove.
where we have just witnessed
the murder of this last true romance,
where chocolate sauce blood
must congeal like the assembly of dreams
slick with grease and forsaken ideals.

You help me find my way through the light
to the safety of this back-alley gratitude
and you exacerbate the crisis
that is my falling for you
when you speed up death’s descent
by lighting me another cigarette.
Lipstick, so red its black—
No one dies of a heart attack.
So we watch avant-garde cinema
That brutalizes our vision of reality.

Marco Harnam K / West Windsor, NJ - October Slash Me Slash None (a Triptych)

October's dead.
Buried in a field of blazing neon and thrashing gust.
Lethe-spoke grey burns from cavities of concubines long lost,
Alone in the darkened plain,
From which springs the loss of nothing.

I wish I felt something when I heard the news
A quake
A shiver
A loss
But naught.
I just shook.
Alone, on my burial stone.

I watch her invade us alone.
Against the shards of me
And I
And us
For we
Have never been me
And I'm alone again.

Tom Hart / New York, NY - Crumbling to Yellow Sand

Everywhere I go I hear a name
Scrawled on the wind
Whispered on a thread
I feel it on the backs of my scorched eyelids,
Its cinnamon scent coloring my fingertips
This is not about you.
I believe it may have started that way
When I followed your errant tracks over the dunes and into a new country
Thinking it marvelous,
While just as easily you wandered back out
Those times are crumbling to yellow sand now
But still your name stifles the dust around me
Sometimes I think back to how it began
I see myself bright and young, much wiser than now
Striding through the desert sea
While all around the monoliths stared down
It was as the clock struck twilight that I saw you
And I marked you by your pentagram as I am marked by mine,
Though you did not see it
I fear in that journey I left my water behind
In the between-times I thought your name a wondrous concoction,
And I grew drunk on it til the stars blistered the earth
Now, though
It fills my lungs with the shattered bones of ancient cities
I have become short of breath
The desert remembers me too well
You couldn't find me now even if you so desired
Still I wonder how your name came to be written
Within each and every coconut husk
I think perhaps I wrote it there

Camille Hartley / Truckee, CA - School Days

Imagine a life where rain falls sideways
Fly through the keyholes of our childhood
Their thoughts reminisce back to the school days

A young boy waiting for teacher's praise
Even when that small child could
Imagine a life where rain falls sideways

Scold after scold can darken the sun's rays
The administer's thoughts will darken should
Their thoughts reminisce back to the school days

When walking the halls was a maze, dark maze
Our thoughts in a place where purely we would
Imagine a life where rain falls sideways

And because, as humans, change would our phase
Through our teens, we all felt misunderstood
Their thoughts reminisce back to the school days

And though memories of childhood will haze
If old minds picked up their courage and stood
Imagine a life where rain falls sideways
Our thoughts reminisce back to the school days

Madi Haukland / Coon Rapids, MN - Forgotten Bliss

Strawberry chunks melting
oozing
falling off the edge
lost in the grass

Trailing down the sides
wet and sticky
turning napkins into mush

Small cone thawing
caving in
crumbling into nothing

A pastel mess
soaked into the earth
forgotten
and soon replaced

Darlene Hayman / Montrose, CO - Like a River

Like the river that ran through our place,
my first-born tumbled and bubbled,
clutching my heart at the same time
she artfully beguiled.

Swirling around, singing silly babble,
teasing, whirling and provoking.
She set a determined course.

She was stubborn and messy,
innocently deceiving,
her cherub mode wearing thin,
wearing into my soft banks,

always playing mother,
hugging dolls, pink-dressing the dog,
asking questions and echoing words.
I had to pebble-hop my answers.

Snow suits and tutus and
mud-spattered dresses,
A nerve-wracking nuisance, loving and gentle

A precious nugget
before she bumped up against anything hard.

Lee Hedstrom / Robbinsdale, MN - Repositories

The inner sanctum of the earth
Reaches out to grab the seed
Thrown out with the flick of the wrist
The thirsty soil becomes its catacomb
The keep that surrounds that embryo
Soon cannot constrain it
Its walls, so stalwart and intransigent
Surrender to the clamor of life
The broken soil heaves and churns
As the embryo unfolds its wings
Giving its last full measure
So that germ of life might live
The repository of life
Passes into death
And becomes power
Pushing life out of darkness
Into light

Thomas Heenan / San Rafael, CA - The Verge of Something Grand

On the verge of something grand
I gaze far down the alleyway
To where the weary beggar beds
While kids at play kick soccer cans
Between the rotting cabbage heads.
The verge of something grand, I say
And in her periwinkle dress
A swaddling evening sky descends
To still the hungry infant's cry
While walls around it effloresce.
Imagination stirs a tear
Then runs far past a clothesline, where
Beyond the grit and broken glass,
Old memories of days declined
Billow the bleached and tattered sheets
And dance amid green-splendored grass.
And on the verge of something grand
The white-capped muezzin call prayer
Across the Red Sea Holy Land
From syncopated minarets
To balm the night's electric air.
And on the urge of One thing grand
The reverent converge in waves
Upon the mosques to shed their shoes
And wash feet, hands and face to pray
Each knowing how, reflexively,
Just how to find the Mecca Way.
O! Allah all-abiding One
Whose whispered wish is our command
From alabaster banisters you gaze upon this stage of sand
Give us this day your daily breath
Send winds of grace to bind the bands
That we may dance our brief dance here
Not strut and fret through something grand.

Christie Heimbach / Grantham, PA - Chantpleure

She was caustic in her ways
Callous, unfeeling, slightly cynical
Unknowing if the good in people
Came and went with pangs of pain.
She met a daily avalanche
of vituperation, volcanic eyes
whose tone would soften when he saw her
A foreboding of some destined change.
She said please don't ever love me,
A dead leaf might as reasonably
Ask to return to its home in the tree...
So he drew her, bare and breathing
A cognac-colored sea stroked here and there
with tints of deepest orange, masking
none the wildness of her hair.
A carefully appraising eye
drew strokes of charcoal, shades of grey
That color bled through, as she slept
and dreampt of things she'd never dare.
She prayed, please don't ever leave me
A sparrow might as reasonably
Take chance to live without its wings...
A broad, complacent, and admiring
wonder breathed from nose and lips
And intimately sketched her features
An ethereal blend of hope and rage
Hips, and clouds, the love that'd last in their old age
He fit it all onto the page
Chantpleure, weeping through their melodies
Hope gets bent in twisting seas
To hold on, just as reasonable
As the leaf returning to his tree...
They'll sing and weep. They'll sing and weep.
Loves so very hard to keep...

Selenna Ho / Vancouver, BC - The Illustration of a True Jack

You asked to borrow my hands
And our pulsating palms
Of Sweetly salty sweat
Met.

You asked to borrow my ears
And our voicing instruments
Sang melodies
Of painfully exhausting noise
Until the exhaust needed fuel.
But there was always a gas station
Around the corner.

You asked to borrow my hair
And my garden's tree would
Tangle its branches and twigs
Entwining delicate knots
That evolved into saliva-laden nests.
My house never had
Vegetation before.

You stopped borrowing.

You never asked for my lips
That cracked from the dry storm.

You never asked for my eyes
That illusioned rainbow deluges
But found public school fountains.

You never asked for my soul
Who grew octo-legs to make a shield
Too delicate to resist holes, so a web it spun.

You stole it all Jack, you stole it all.

If a thief you are so, why not rob the entire bank
Empty all crevices
Twist every valve
Hold me at gun point.
Alas.

I am no diamond.

Alyssa Holste / Fresno, CA - Tungsten

The tungsten light fades our hope
 In the way of the famished dog,
And shadowed eyes crawl upon the slope

With spider web fingers did they grope
For foot-holes in the darkened fog
 The tungsten light fades our hope

Weary trudges through fields of taupe
 As we peruse across the murky bog,
 And shadowed eyes crawl upon the slope

Shadowy demons behind us lope,
 Choking and coughing up their smog
 The tungsten light fades our hope

Not sure how much longer we can cope,
 Lids are starting to feel the grog,
 And shadowed eyes crawl upon the slope

We are at ends meet, the end of our rope,
 We have finally had a gurgling fit; a clog
 The tungsten light fades our hope,
 And shadowed eyes crawl upon the slope

Rachel Hoyt / Santa Barbara, CA - Be More Gay

Every day, I'm reminded in some way
that we, including me, should try to be
more gay (not in the sexual way).

The Amish know simple pleasures are so
soothing for the soul. Casserole and a stroll?
Who wants to go? Eenie meeny miny mo.

Brief brain breaks are so important to take
because it just may be during the stray
your brain will make a fabulous non-mistake.

This mantra is the raison d'etre
I can smile for a while as is my style -
try extra on the tense end of the spectra.

Its hardest to not try your gosh darn best
when you're confused or your ego is bruised.
The real test is can you take a smile rest?

When you're at work frustrated by some jerk
who's slow and must show you stuff that you know,
zone out the twerp. Find a comedic perk.

If your keys are lost, rather than accost
those near with fear to make sure they appear
'cuz memories get crossed when stressfully sloshed...

Calm yourself down and wipe off that sad frown.
Briefly, discretely, forget completely.
Laugh at a clown or walk around town.

Smiles are everywhere. Choose them if you dare.
You just may find your mind likes to unwind
and to be fair helps your nerves not to ware.

Days are easier when life's cheesier.
Brains smoothly sail through hail without fail
when you're giddier than when snippier.

So spread happiness today like it's child's play.
Give a double hand wave to your friend Dave.
Just be more gay (no, not the sexual way).

Nikki Huelle / Yucca Valley, CA - Estrogen Memories

Fill us with rosaries, praying to ceiling lights
Estrogen memories and glycerin teleflight
Running out backwards and going on energy
And this song is boring and let's find some imagery

Chemical traffic lights, polyphone screaming bells
Clanging like dying suns, ten twisted memories
And man-founded symmetry, and poor Archimedes
Wouldn't know if the circles please

Do what he wants to
Playing with us or you
No more pretending, this good thing is ending

And I'll force you to dream
Of somebody's secret place
The secrets show in your face
'Cause I drew them on that place

So let's coat some nightmares
In gold-plated memories
They rip out our throats at night
And monsters take up in flight

And you know I love you well
And you broke this pallid spell
And please stay along with me
And please bang a gong with me

I understand just why you pretend
To be what you are
With a mask on
They won't see the scars

Tuesday Hughes / Novato, CA - Hamilton Radio Tower

A religious old Stand-By
The red brick buffoon
Who once turned a corner
And left too soon
A cautionary vice
Who will never have to pay any sort of price
Because he lives with his tattooed crags
On the skyline's advice
His Kimoto grows fatter
And the backyard grows handsome
New mold, those purples and greens
Are sponged on by queens
And he envies - emerald eyes
He crosses himself
with black buttered stars in the morning
Lays down at the sallow nose of the moon at night
Flat footed he bars himself against
The wind
And his red-skinned arms
Never beg for change
Healthfully he pulled apart
The vein of a cloud
Examined it closely
Squinty-eyed
Hoping to find a woman inside
The ripples of his defect written in ink
Parchment that flows to the ground
Not scattered, but crumpled
In half-hearted creases of newborn
Laugh-less frowns
And his crown belonged
To the lips, bee stung like hips
That he once mistook
For my selflessness
Because what
 I lack he surely must gain
As he adorns the sea
With a see-through mane
And starts to blur as the two just merge
Perfectly
Almost too sweet
And then it has to end
As I crouch again
At the same windowpane

Eric Huse / Anderson, IN - An Overture to a Three Day Hello

I am a product of my generation, of wants and blame,
caustic, emotion vampires; lusting for an inevitable destruction,
Feeding on Dachau and blaming the Nazis,
Rushing to the side of the wounded
And lawyering up for hate.

An ode to Shireman,
victim of my cautious vampire tongue.
Your deference zombifies you in stasis
But your eyes, an egg with no embryo,
Longing to rip out my demonic claws,
An egg with no embryo,
for love to grow.

A vagabond,
Walking through blurry florescence,
cold, but only as to be fitting.
I am with you Ketchum,
who's mom held a holographic image of her son,
wide eyed from the
three times, three times, three times;
laughing, checking the doors of radio opportunity.

Drinking endlessly to confuse the feelings,
Numb to myself
and beating myself
to a service.
Myself, a generation, a zeitgeist, myself
and myself, walking slushy myself thoughts
and longing for Zen.

I reference
I reference your smile,
your frame, who Mich'l Angelo could wish,
your laugh, that salts my cheeks
and melts the callous of my mind.
I reference
I reference your smile,
it holds me at high tide,
downing in salt,
and erodes my nerves like shingles.
Oil will not fix this rust
and morning will come
and I'll wash out to sea.

Ryan Jafar / Riverside, CA - In a Second

Your emotions have shades
like the sunset reflecting fractal patterns
off waves that cascade in the shallow end of life,
You are a demon,
You are an angel,
Your fingers tell stories of sleepless nights
where your teeth leave bookmarks
to remind you that the pain goes on,
Buried deep by your shovel like pencil
as nicotine smoke dances to the night sky of emptiness,

I guess writing bleeds the pain out
and surgically stitches scars into the words,
But language appears rudimentary
to the light of my inner workings,
What I feel is unexplainable,
What I imagine is unreachable,
And suddenly the world feels hollow
as if mankind
could never comprehend me in all my whole-rounded complexity,
So I sit and paint portraits with pen strokes,
Too vivid for life itself to even conceive,
I remind myself that time is infinite
and to dream beyond the confines of the universe,
Because if I fall asleep on my dreams
or even blink my eyes,
I could miss it all
in a second

Anna Jane / Keaau, HI - A Falling Man

Shut your mouth for out of honeyed lips
Come angry crows in a whirlwind of deathly hollows
From the cup of sorrows
You take deathly swallows

As the crows fly from your mouth
They turn into a flash of heated smoke
As you fall flames lick your skin
Collar bones snap as the parasites nip

Now in the underbelly of the beast
You carve your name with the other folk
Tell me how is it down south?
Let's hope you can escape though his mouth

As you crawl you are mauled
There is hope for you yet
Leave the souls that you have met
And I will forget that you left…

Halcyone Johnson / Stillwater, OK - Forced Decision

The sea lies before me, motionless and narcoleptic
  under the buttery heat of noon,
  pressed by its own great heaviness
  into this giant Earth-hollow.
Only the tiniest of waves roll up without conviction
  to munch in faint hunger at the smooth sand.

I must decide now whether to go up onto the rocky
  shore, though my feet are bare and bleeding,
  or out into the water, though I cannot swim.
Before the night comes, the uncaring tide will rush in
  to erase my little beach, leaving me either
  the stones or the depths,
either the remembered pain of the known,
  or the pre-remembered fear of the unknown.

Bill Kamen / Naples, FL - 2011

A commoner from Berkshire
found her Prince,
and the earth shook
from Japan to Oklahoma.

Hawkeye laid next to a seal,
wings spread one more time,
many welcomed home,
some not.

From Libya to Pakistan,
the highway of death
well traveled.

An Arab spring
updates a
new edition
to Animal Farm.

The silhouette
of a world
approaching,

and the
last words
uttered
by the
dying
Jobs.

"Oh wow.

Oh wow.

Oh Wow!"

Adam Katz / Ithaca, NY - Vestigial Reins

Littered with new breeds
Runts in wicker sacks
From knotted light and clatter
Hoisted tall above our backs

Dotting altogether
Pitting fruits in patient waiting
Dressed in native rags
One of many carbon dating

Caught in stride with platitudes
we covet clenching teeth
grinning from the palm fronds
as we cherish disbelief

Kristi Kaye / Poughquag, NY - Spirit

the ghost of the past
jabbed my spine
crooked

the doctor's fingers
found
bones and pink lines

shrouded
in sea-green tapestries
stripped for all to see

the ghost of the present
has lip-stained scars
remember

forty minutes
smile
at spontaneous acts

the ghost of the future
drags it's claws in
peace

reminding of relentless
spirits
whispering, haunting

cursing
at the smiles
of a wild-haired girl

Kelly Kelly Mainini / Scottsdale, AZ - Bling Sun Will Rise Again

Blinding sun will rise again at dawn’s break
Mosaic clouds that put their fears aside
Shielding the world from eternal heartache

The breeze that blows and makes yellow leaves shake
The autumnal skies that dusk has allied
Blinding sun will rise again at dawn’s break

The blossoms and birds that sing for spring’s sake
The lilacs that hope dismal winds subside
Shielding the world from eternal heartache

The thoughts and feelings of men are opaque
Gloomy, impervious weather defies
Blinding sun will rise again at dawn’s break

The yearning and wishing for spring time makes
The patterns and seasons nature abides
Shielding the world from eternal heartache

When fall has neared and when winter foresakes
Children’s laughter is heard since Spring’s arrived
Blinding sun will rise again at dawn’s break
Shielding the world from eternal heartache

Nina Kentwortz / Windsor, CO - The Feinish Merchant

The Feinish merchant with his sliver horse and windy cape
Goes his way from house to house
I watch the rounds he makes.
With his sack and the back of the horse
and his long white hair
He delivers babies at all the doors
When they are refused his smile blooms
Seems like stuffing a baby back in the sack is the best
His fair face has seen-
Thus all but flying he wound down the street
With his fair hand a flick of the rein
Ive seen him in sunshine I've seen him in sleet
But never a drop of water or dust dares on himself to fall
Nor on that sack or the silvery mane
Nor a sound from the babies I heard not at all.
Twas twice he came and then no more
My wife says I imagined it all
Every one promptly forgets he has come
But I remember him still
Perhaps he intended just that, you see for I remember him still.

Katie Kibler / Atlanta, GA - Moon Shadows

Oh how her sun streams played your hair
as the strings of a forgotten fiddle
and while you held her bright beams fair
that smile shone like a riddle.

Then she began to fade away
under the shade of night.
And a wisp of her with you did stay
as you shut your eyes with fright

Within her spirit growing dim,
something else takes flight.
It softly steps along the rim
of realms of pure delight.

"The cradle of the crescent moon,"
a whispered voice sighs light
A private oracle saying "soon
again I'll hold you tight."

Terra Kincaid / Hillsboro, OH - Upstairs Spider

I was aware
Of a spider scuttling by,
Scratching the cardboard ceiling
In the dark.
It was audible only.

Every careful step,
like a pellet ricochet,
I knew it was there.
So did he,
I wonder of me,
He is aware,

Keeping me from sleep,
Making a heated chill
Without recover,
Deep despair
Of cardboard acoustics.

Home had quiet above my bed.
Stingy light
Without dawning perception
Is better perhaps that way.

Shuffling, tipping,
Scratching,
Slipping closer,
 With hairy rattles,
Creeping marauder,
Nightmare spy.

Carlos Kinosian / Phillipston, MA - Shadows on the Cobblestones

Irregular shaped and fable-worn
Dark secrets protrude like broken bones
Shadows on the cobblestones

The billy slaps a rhythm on his palm as he walks the bobbies' beat
While the reflections of the gas lanterns flicker
Fogged shapes in the pale light dark upon the cobblestones

Hooves and wooden carriage wheels chase the crag
Burdened by the wayfarer
Clip, clop, creek, wear the cobblestones

Top hats of beaver, fine cloth, and feathers
Silver-tipped canes clack in time with an aloof gait
From spent pipes, the dottle drops upon the cobblestones

Tormented fingertips protrude from shabby gloves
Wet wool stench from ragged blankets
These, now long bereft of greater sires
Tin-cupped figures huddle on the cold wet of the cobblestones

Good evening, sir, mutters a shameful voice, can you spare a pence, sir?
The down-turned mouth of contempt panders by
Oh, tight are the purse strings of noses high
Rarely heard, ever a pittance falls upon the cobblestones

Dark circled eyes like soot-stained memories upon aged brick
Her cloth is poor, hollow cheeks voice a cockney murmur
Are you in need of some company, love?

A rotten-toothed grin, he is loathsome and degrading
What can I get for a shilling?
Her tattered plaid indignity pulled above her bruised knees
She opens the door, reluctant—
Her eyes cast down among the shadows on the cobblestones.

Hannah Kitts / Knoxville, TN - Losing It to You

Innocence is fear's sanest friend,
Rampant disease swallowing truth,
And we protect what has not "sinned."

Repel the hard honest end,
Destroy the doubt, coldness grows,
Innocence is fear's sanest friend.

Confess only that we bend
Lies through pointed teeth could sound sweet;
And we protect what has not "sinned."

Slip between silken walls we could never mend
Pixellation forming the closest bond
Innocence is fear's sanest friend.

Accept all the stories they vend
You and I see through these lies
And we protect what has not "sinned."

Rampant disease swallowing truth,
Hiding from the shyest sleuth
Innocence is fear's sanest friend
And we protect what has not "sinned."

Mariela Lemus / Greencastle, IN - Nostalgia

Alcohol stained his breath,
Spirals twisted and choked his words.

Heavy eyelashes
Pressed to my skin,
Wet.

I could close my eyes,
and like a feature film
Memories danced red across my lids.

I used to believe in him,
Like Santa.
When his cinnam on breath
Could tickle the skin on my neck:
Uncorrupted.

But that was then.

Patrick Lockaby / Ledyard, CT - Canvas

Augmented conceptions trickling out the
cosmic keyhole

Soon outreach abroad chain-linked reaction,
parts, sections interconnected
sequence

The successive machinery of the intricately fine chiseled
universal puzzle

Salvation in the cyclical void
emerges once again from the self-contentious ooze

Permeates into the souls

Evolve, the stationary prefix
can be modified

Aimed the introscope out at
the unaware

Blaring nonsensical intellectual banality,
over-condensed rhetorical whine

But the convex of time and mind
conjugate at the intersection
of feeling
and vibration

Ecstatic opportunity, a new day today
now in this second, vexed and be gone

Did you behold it?
Not too controlling, not too lackadaisical

Loosen grooved palm clasp
Hold the moment and allow
it to flourish in chemistry
and physical spiritualism that
is this

These
all of them ours, one at a time
times to times, timed out in the
unseemly untimeliness

Strain to be oneself in the whole

James Loverless / Mapleton, UT - Non-slip

A drop of water falls on the shower floor.
It just stays there, unmoving.
It was only a lie, a deceptive lure,
Its not ever going to sting.

Another drop, bigger than the last,
Lands on the high grip slope.
Everybody cheats, everybody lusts.
I'll be able to cope.

A few more drops, without much mass:
A few pushes, a bruised lip.
They all glisten, like sparkling glass.
As they are kept in place by the non slip grip.

The smallest drop of them all
Landed at the top and joined another.
The combined weight made it roll like a ball,
Crashing into all the others.

They fell, I fell, down the now slippery lane.
Every drop taking part.
They massed and swirled at the drain,
And took me with them, my poor grievous heart.

I crashed, broke my back,
The agonizing pain.
What ever brought me this attack,
This never ending rain?

I opened my eyes, the water was gone.
And the pain was gone, too.
I felt clean, my worries done,
I'm sorry I ever hurt you.

Nina Lukow / Culpeper, VA - An Atheist's Lament in the Notre Dame

To walk among the columns made of stone,
To stare into blank eyes of blessed saints
In lasting stillness, but far gone and gone
To be enveloped by Rose, drenched in her stains.
I am insignificant, nothing to
This white monolith, where whispered prayers echo.
Not even revolutions could touch you;
How could they, with your sun-lit, mystic glow?
It is revelation of the divine,
With spires scraping the celestial.
It is what frightens, raptures, redefines,
And yet I expect more, something more real:
  I look up and see spiny, curved ceilings;
  Shouldn't holiness be more revealing?

Laila Madni / Los Angeles, CA - Fallaciloquent

A moment ago, he decided his fate;
no more hesitation, it’s far too late.

He closed his eyes and prayed for an ace
as he pointed his pistol straight at his face.

Reached into his pocket and pulled out a note,
loosened his grip and down it did float.

He took his last breath, and started to fall;
no flash of his life, he saw nothing at all.

He became just another name in a file
as he dropped to his knees and his chest hit the tile.

Maya Madrigal / West Hills, CA - Villanelle for My Sons

Through the expanding dark of eternal night
Spiraling together, drifting close and apart
Brilliant sons, you are raised to shine so bright

Essential truth is mostly hidden from our sight
When everything is ending, it can be difficult to start
Through the expanding dark of eternal night

In the beginning, the desire for experience was a light
And from my body came forth your beating heart
Brilliant sons, you are raised to shine so bright

Ever has the shadow been thrown down from great spite
Mistaken others in deception is forced to seemingly depart
Through the expanding dark of eternal night

Come again upon my lap and resting, let these words incite
Daydreaming that mother's imagination may impart
Brilliant sons, you are raised to shine so bright

Sincere devotion is meant illusion to ignite
In order that you may choose to take this to heart
Through the expanding dark of eternal night
Brilliant sons, you are raised to shine so bright.

Darrel Manalo / Pensacola, FL - Thrown into Existence

Refute the question with a question
and a myriad of questions surface;
then undistinguishable mouths mutter notions
of the silence and the speaking: the empty harvest.
I sit here brooding over my actions:
played pool and shot solids in luck;

detested your dying body, grandpa,
helpless and hopeless and your soul in chains
in your newspaper-shriveled cadaver;
and I breathed the cold morning
no different than the dead evening.

Eating microwavable pizza;
moments after moments
become a marathon
to cradle me to postponement
till I decay and decompose,
atoms divorcing each other.

But then, I shall trust a higher power,
that my softened heart shall subjugate
my flesh, my mind, and my soul
till they dissolve into a soluble whole;
and the ticking of the clock dawns on me

no longer. Its wreckage
Time wraps upon me.
Yet, I glimpse upon a jeweled city
with a little girl who combs
her perfumed brown hair
crooning a supernal song,
with no Death, and Chance, and you O Time.

Kimberley Mangiacotti / Fitchburg, MA - Banshee

At dusk a white mist moves above the hillock.
Banshee inhales deeply as she wakes.
A vortex, slow, prepares to prance about her.
Leaves of painted frost begin to shake.

With thrilling skill she casts a howling windsong.
She trips the light with long and silvery hair.
Humming hymns the leaves dance with her madness
as her breath, an icy quiver, fills the air.

Banshee warns with wails of death that beckon.
Her mournful music lullabies lament.
Horror stricken victims are her pleasure,
as screams of anguish accent their torment.

Telling tales she utters untold secrets.
In magnitude, the dancing leaves commune.
Hypnotic shreaks reveal her surreal sadness
beneath an eerie, late December Moon.

Amber Martin / Pasadena, MD - Bag Lady

It never gets any easier
Biding time bearing
Internal burdens
That swell in my heart
And loom through my eyes

Detachment led me astray
To drift among compliant
Lives that whirl around me
Inept to entwine, I recede
Rejected from the current

I was a beautiful child
Relying on dreams
To make me fly
When the cocoon unraveled
I was wingless and riven

Resentment turned to madness
Each attempt a vicious defeat
Emptiness filled my spirit
Meaning leaves me stranded
Hope abuses my mind

Wishes of time over
Consume my every thought
As if I could ever win
Alone I wander, like a ghost
In a world where I don’t belong

Mike Masterton / Arlington Heights, IL - Freewheelin' After You on a Highway

Freewheelin' after you on a highway
Sixty-one revisited once or twice
all along its tracks we'll all be one day.

Though the blood and twists of fate might delay
yes we will thaw with you from Duluth ice
freewheelin' after you on a highway.

Strong voice, the rasp in which, screams out the way.
Bones may cease to play, yet always suffice.
All along its tracks we'll all be one day.

Wise men who choose to listen always say,
you don't need a receipt to know the price.
Free wheelin' after you on a highway.

Blonde rainy day women can't see the grey,
of which I want you, not sugar or spice.
All along its tracks we'll all be one day.

And you, Zimmerman, ahead of the day,
warn, welcome me now with songs, words so nice
Freewheelin' after you on a highway,
all along its track we'll all be one day.

Paul Matsumoto / Boise, ID - I See You in Colors

I am pretending you did not exist.
Ink nightly washes black
over my consciousness
and abandons me as morning seaweed
upon a foreign beach.

I am pretending we were simply
the sparkling imagination of some higher being,
our life together set below a singular epic sky
unrepeated
in future histories.

I am pretending I cannot taste you
each day as I do the sea air in my breath
when I am running,
my heart tied upon one foot,
ancient melancholy tied upon the other,
anxiously racing,
madly racing through lifetimes
to find our brightened souls.

I see you in colors that don't exist.

It is all that I see clearly
and why I run.

Makayla Maynard / Paintsville, KY - A Smile

Awakening to a dawn of grey
With every rise and fall of the sun
A monotonous melody
A simplicity so bittersweet

Walking as the sun rises higher
Slowly, carefully, gracefully
As if body was lost in a trance
And soul lacked direction

Squinting as the light reaches its highest
Illuminating the surrounding, fast-moving blurs
Figures headed this way and that way
A symphony of silent murmurs

Fluttering eyelids, the light starts to diminish
Misty orbs lacking saturation, focus
The downpour begins as a storm rages, hidden
Masked beneath a brilliant facade

Opening eyes cautiously, glancing at a sudden change
And then there was color, gloriously enlightening
Radiating from the focal point of all the still frames
Ablaze and beautiful, a reason to pray

It was your smile.

Anna McCallister / Kennesaw, GA - Toaster

You are my toaster.

Burnt organic
red lined veins
metallic-ally attached
to black smoke
steel walls.

Trembling white
foamed words
spineless inside
of spongy meal and flour
contained within the brown edges,
a rim around the mass.

You suck me in
with a welcome thud,
all hot and bothered
as if I was an English muffin.

Sarah Merrill / Clearwater, FL - Flightless Bird

Huckleberry child, no roots or wings,
Face-up in a pink porcelain bathtub.
He counts the furtive winks of the dangling lightbulb
Soaking in a precise mixture of bubble-bath and sixties pop.

An orchestra of arguments plays outside the door.
The boy thinks his mother sounds
like a soprano saxophone, his father a bassoon.
A sigh floats from the boy's lips, sticking somewhere on the ceiling.

As he sinks underwater, he forces open his eyes.
Soap burns and tastes bitter, but it erases all guilt.
Those heavenly choirs of “all your fault's” that crescendo,
Suddenly muted.

There is something peaceful in being fully surrounded,
Sound blocked out, light blocked out.
Senses exterminated.
It's how humans are formed, and how they decay.
And as the boy sits up in his bubblegum coffin,
He catches a glimpse of the birthmark on his knee.

It is the size of a pocket watch, burgundy,
and it slightly resembles Abraham Lincoln.
Whenever he feels particularly alone,
Times like these,
He traces its outline and dreams of his future family.

Plunging back into the murk, fingertip on his kneecap,
The child holds his breath just a little bit longer.
As bubbles escape his lungs,
He is overcome with longing for a child of his own.
Some concrete, human example that

He
Is
Nothing
Like
His
Father.

Alberto Meza / Miami, FL - Goat-Like

Whenever I stop
to see the remnants
of tiny pieces of dirt and grass,
where there is crag and scrubs
the remnants of my life
not yet completed or fulfilled
there I wish I see myself
in them

The white ones
like clouds
leaping girlishly
skipping
sharp-edged rocks
with the abandon
of a child savoring
a rocky road ice cream cone

Ah, the verve and the nerve
and the friskiness
of the goats jumping
mindlessly joyful in their secret
act of defying
gravity and all

Oh, I wish I was
one with the goats . . .
and defy my dog-like life!

Fisa Mihy-Mihyndu / Reno, NV - Never-Ending Goodbye

I remember the very August when
We assembled for the first time
Resistivity to zero, you gave me your
Best solid look, fasted and waiting
And love: in the never-ending goodbye of
The last moment and yet and yet your eyes
Yodele A. Tiny. Little. Image. Was. Left. Of. You.

I held both hands and tried to hold
The other one: I was crying, too, inwardly.
In Kingston, Girls shatter into a thousand
Words, imagining what pieces men might need
To plug in a soul mate romance

To fix it into your heart, you stood there weeping
Waxing your cheeks, my mind as path

I exhausted all dictionaries to try to
Understand those weekend nights why
They didn't teach me your foreign language

Then you stood there, rigid, unable
To touch me anymore:
A. Tiny. Little. Image. Was. Left. Of. You.

Leslie Miller / Upland, CA - Caged

The agony of clouded thoughts
leads her to look yet not see
what is so close at hand.
Each battle lost takes what
fragments remain of hope
and leaves another layer of
isolation upon a tired spirit.

In her weakened state
the bars of her cage
negate the spaces between.
Though colored breezes
and sweet trinkets squeeze by,
the blanket of pain that causes her
to curl up like a babe
cannot be turned down.

Sharpened stakes plunge through
the hearts of those beset with loss
then move on to pierce her soul-
daggers that are both uniform and random
in their grotesque formations.
Thus the cage moves with her...
leading, following, forming
a barrier to light and life and healing touch.

Cleansing tears and cries for help
are swallowed by the vacuum
where dreamy promises
once roamed unassaulted.

Who or what possesses freedom's key,
the companion to surrender and peace?

Sue Miller / Brookville, OH - Original Ideas

Twixt the disties and the daisies
Lives a fleckling yellow.
It wanders over crannynooks
And skips across pink pillows.

To capture it is quite a trick;
A fleckling net it takes,
Comprised of wispy nothingmuch
Found only in deep sleeps.

A fleckling once I bagged, I think.
Twas' in a daytime dream.
I spun it round in gossamer and
Snarled it with strings.

Unfortunately, the thing escaped,
It wasn't really caught.
It slipped through all my wishfulness
And vanished in a blink.

Perhaps I'll find another one.
There's flecklings here and there.
They tend to pop up unannounced
When I am least aware.

Marlyre Morrison / Kalamazoo, MI - Orange Dream at Coney Island

You held my hand while the rain
tested the spaces between us,
punctuating our sprinkling conversation...
The sun was hidden
in the slender roadside shop
we stopped in to fulfill
shy experimental promises
we made to each other
after several hours of
marathon handholding and smalltalk
that spoke volumes of feelings
I didnt know we had.
With snapshots of scavenger hunts
we checked off untangible things
on a list of high expectations...
the matrices of your fingerprints
happily hopelessly lost themselves in
my digited labyrinths
and mine in yours
so, laced by our sides
swaying in stride
and we walked on.
Now I'm left with
a bottle cap
of a drink you said tasted like summer
and moments that I want to repeat with
you holding my hand...

Kerry Muldoon / Woodstock, NY - Unspoken

I have come to some muted place with you.
Stunned by the lights that shine from you
like hot rays through the broken slats of an
abandoned house,
alone and dry in the August heat.
At once there, bright with dust,
then pushed by the roaming sun
to another spot,
waiting to break through.

I have come to some muted,
needlessly explained place;
listening to golden sparks
strike arid beds,
igniting the journey with a trickle.

Joyously mute.
Restless feet shifting,
making circles in the sand,
leaning in to hear
when the next thing you have to say
requires no response.

Ian Murray / Oxford, CT - Ms. Guiding

The first thing you notice is the hair.

It's not always called "her" hair, but it's
almost like that kind of
fire doesn't like to be owned
or smothered in arms,
but just likes to stand out as a shade
brighter than everyone else

before it's lost in
smoke.

Winter's baby, she grew out of
control, with her head in
flames,
nodding to the echos of
ghosts in the audience waiting to hear
her sing, snow
dropping like an afterthought in the back rows.

Winter's baby, she knows how to work
the wiring of microphones like the
stitches that hold the soul in place before
it slides loose from too much movement,
too much music,
too many ghosts solidifying,
too many ghosts smiling.

This girl, she has
hair
and vocal cords that like to share colors.

Her all time favorite song is the sound
of home screaming her words
back at her.

Andrew Myles / Lebanon, PA - To the Counselor of the Night

I look into this needle-lanced sky
As your pale beauty radiates tonight
This paucity of life, a face, cold, white
A shudder to cause, on this lonely night
To gaze upon such splendor, as to be
Possessed by you, I now feel, suddenly
Less alone, on this star-filled night
Bewitched by countless points of light

The king of the night sky, you are
Though from here, you appear far
Where I stand, an extrasolar mass
Though in reality, a span more vast
Than one could hope to comprehend
From the light side, to where you bend
Into the dark, where a chill resides
But in your light face, I will confide

As I converse with you about the things of life
Contemplating as to what's wrong, what's right
This sense of tranquility washes over me
Listening, calming, opening my eyes to see
A wise counselor, you appear as to be
Envisioned, with wide-spread following
Yet solitary, altruistic, truly placid, to see
Profound, your mark, eternally lingers in me

Ruby Nightingale / Duluth, MN - The Amaranthine River

Nestled into
The belly of the moon flow as water like rapids through the Amaranthine
River of energy.The ebb and
flow of hearts reaching out
into the silence in the still points
of each day. Oh, pensive heart
don’t pain me, for the love
that swims deep down
the ocean depths
of my eyes. Oh, sing to me
Mother Moon
a lullaby of healing
laughter
and a love that knows
no rain.

Ashley Nolting / Omaha, NE - Crimson Brush

Battlefields make your favorite canvas.
A deep crimson paint adorns your brushes.
Soul husks appear under every brush pass
Until stacked and burn’d under the rushes.
More than image does your canvas contain.
Cloying, sweet smell of decaying flies feast.
The cries and the screams of those still in pain,
Ones your crimson brush has not yet released.
Your art is so great, it calls angels down.
Demons from hellfire rise to admire.
Wolves, crows and vultures come prancing around,
Scavenging bodies not yet on the pyre.
   Your art resides in history’s pages.
   New masters wield the brush through the ages.

Konye Obaji / Indianapolis, IN - Welcome to Goma

The sun imperiously stares down at the dusty streets.
The wind whistles.
The pages of KinshasaDaily litter from quiet shacks to abandoned kiosks.
A transmission radio on a crippled stool loses signal.
The transmission radio gains signal.
The anxious voice of the news reporter
frightens the robin birds on the electric cables
Woof! Woof! a dog barks in the distance.
A shirt on the line-dryer, with the inscription
'I love New York' waves in the wind.
The women? No one sees or hears them anymore
there are the ghosts of the Great Lakes.
The old men are dead. The young men
have joined the rebellion- and the children too.
A vulture, as healthy as a fertilized cockerel, looks on
as the signpost, 'Welcome to Goma' lay helplessly on the ground.

John O'Gradney / St Petersburg, FL - Dry Fish with No Gills

It's a vast ocean of earth we walk upon
We are merely dry fish with no gills
Swimming through seas of rock, metal, and wood
Simply evolved dolphins and sharks
Who decided the water was too wet
So they set out for the sun
The tadpoles and microorganisms we once were
Still lurk deep inside of us flowing through our blood
They've made us who we are today
The back seat drivers of life
If you want to know where we are heading
Try asking the waves

Karen O'Neal / Covington, IN - To Catch a Sunset

In the moment of twilight
I rode steady on
For I sought a treasure
That would soon be gone

Halfway through the field
I picked up my speed
and there it rested nestled in the trees
a red sphere of fire shown bright and fearless

reds,purples,yellows,and blues
danced around the fading sun
in an entrancing motion that mesmerized its
onlooker

it was tempting and beautiful
like the half of a freshly picked orange

I rounded the bend
but I'd come to late

darkness had replaced the boastful sun
with a tranquil white moon that radiated a modest
yet equally beautiful neon light

Kate Orth / Somerset, WI - Surrey in Violet

They said it was the Hour
as they rode the dark highway to
summers edge.

Giving over to lighthearted—
redemption cusping on sonnets;
buckled silver and coupled in coal ink,
written by starlight.

These violets heavy with spring,
opening at dawns virgin yawn;
they speak of years.

Our wanderers of non-such places;
old loves still burning candles on
window sill.

And you,
separated by a mere illusion

while I
rewrote time.

No such destinations hold,
just this, the word,

and what a word, indeed.

Milind Padki / Tenafly, NJ - The Cold Marble Floor

Early morning that day, as I lie supine
On the cold marble floor before Ganesha,
I heard her stumble,
Fall on the stony hospital stairs, sobbing into the cell.
"His heart has stopped. His heart has stopped,"
Her fair, spongy cheeks dripping with tears.
She struggled up the temple stairs, collapsed
On the top rung, wailing,
"What did you do, Bappa,
What did you do!"

His black marble face staying stony, Ganesha
Stared on into eternity,
Oblivious to us both
Shafted through by the morning sun.

Frostbitten by the cosmic cold,
I slunk away quietly,
Taking care
Not to step on
The trickle of tears
On the cold marble floor.

Cynyhia Pahdocony / Medicine Park, OK - Mother Earth

those good old boys in Washington
and other holy places
manage to run mother earth
to win them all the races
and if you want be ahead
you can't give into scruples
what counts is that you pay enough
in dollars, yen or rupees

here is to the Amazon
for metal oils and timber
and won't the nuclear arsenal
be a killing to remember
the ozone hole is no big deal
we got to sell more cars
and if we are running short on jobs
we'll just start a war

one hundred billion animals killed
to keep us fat and safe
a smorgasbord of pesticides
oil slicks on every wave
a drug to fix our every ill
I know it won't be long
before they have us running right
they'll have us conquered soon

oh yes we are blessed with leadership
they are looking far and deep
financier, industrialists
will sell us progress cheap
and if you want to be ahead
you can't give into scruples
what counts is that you pay enough
in dollars, yen or rupees....

Anjali Pattanayak / Galesburg, IL - Rape of Gaia

He knew how to handle her
every mood: to weather the ice
of her cold shoulder, the fury of her temper.
storming. He threw a cloak

over her gentle curves, soft skin.
Black, thick, harsh wool pressing
over the peach fuzz covering her.

He decided to mold her.
throwing her against the wall where
bruises spread discolored
bumps rising on her back,

shoulders. Scratch marks scoring her.
scabs form cracked,
hot, a network over her,
until not an inch of her
skin is unpaved,
connecting to one another
at first he had seemed so in love.

Alex Pena / Cascade, VA - Orphans—God's Creation

Jars of grief stacked to the heavens
Jars filled half way with denial
I 've done too much damage to the scenery
Extremely Defeated; I reconcile.

Rain drips off the stems of rotting plants,
The mist attacks my senses like familiar scents.
Each plant wrapped around the grieving jars
In piles they all lay immense.

Beyond the darkest shadows orphans peak,
Only there to wipe the tears away,
my tears shatter to the muddy grounds.
Pulling me in, orphans hoping ill stay.

One by one all the orphans march,
To rid the jars of grief, jars of sorrow
Wedging them between rusted tracks,
leaving them to dry tomorrow.

My grief now faded to gold crystals.
Beauty hides it all
The sky soon broken open,
I watch golden drops fall.

As my golden grief colors the tracks,
The orphans hum a lullaby
Trying to calm my nerves,
An easier, simpler, way to lie.

Fading in the opaque fog,
All the orphans turn their backs.
Watching their images fade,
As they walk along the tracks.

All of you have impacted my life,
Now its your turn to smile,
My turn to wipe the orphans tears
So we all can reconcile.

Connie Phung / New York, NY - Asleep

I remember being asked
about the kind of reader I was supposed to be
as if a reader were a phylum of species
to be analyzed in the English teacher's exposition.

But she asked with sincerity;
So I remembered
We all shook our heads, sorry to have fallen
in with the long-dormant readers before us.

All it took was the unchaining of the gates,
a promotion they called it,
strong, iron bars of academia that
had held in the grasping, thirsty minds,

Pages, thrown by my own hand, carefully, carelessly;
Each word was absorbed with a sort of desperation,
paralleled to despairing artists and lovers,
And heroes who met an untimely end.

It didn't matter that it was time to disembark,
how much better it was to sit
bewitched and enthralled by none other
than a lone storyteller.

Andrea Plascencia / Stevens Point, WI - One by One

It was a cinematic dream where
he was mad with regret,
and patients rested in his care,
whose bodies didn't work so well as their eyes.

He was mad with regret
for he had hurt his patients dearly,
whose bodies didn't work so well as their eyes,
mutilating them with the scope of his ambition.

For he had hurt his patients dearly,
slicing away pieces with a dispassionate scalpel,
mutilating them with the scope of his ambition
to learn what was hidden within.

He sliced away pieces of them with a dispassionate scalpel,
those special patients whose bodies were a mystery,
to learn what was hidden within,
taking from them what was not freely given.

And these special patients, whose bodies were a mystery,
died slowly one by one,
having lost what had never been freely given,
and yet never giving what he had sought.

They died slowly one by one,
those patients that rested in his care,
who never gave him what he sought,
in that cinematic dream.

Joseph Pope / Hemingway, SC - Black Marker One

Writing pink Aloud!
inside a rapid café
with a lovely, lonely brew
perched to surrender.
It is a craft labyrinth
fleshed in a full bottle
peep hole urinal.
The tulip mausoleums
are loud red,
hips warfare (native hieroglyphic poetry),
awkward on the first day it was born.

Triangles, circles, ovals
wobble pantheons with blue irises,
thick opaque fire.

Sweat, salt, and industry—a familiar style
smearing booms across the ship of democracy.
It has an acute smell of sound
in the common conversation of booty talk

We are Freuds!
Living off the drums—desperate for the drums
but rabbits are meant to burrow away.

Splendid strokes of me on the black couch
charging by the collage species of lumination—
a lap-dog of inner wires.

Brianna Prazen / Gillette, WY - The Timekeeper

Cogs and gears,
A pendulum,
Scheduled and expected—
A clock that never breaks down

Always winding,
Always turning,
Twisting, cranking
A relentless circuit of pins and pulleys

Methodically powered,
Conditioned,
Unruffled.
Perfectly, unbecomingly, systematic.

Yet, like clockwork,
he winds it up with hope
and lines it in velvet reverie

Like sand to the sprocket,
he leaves trails of havoc
As he pries his way inside with manual error.

Sarah Richardson / University, MS - Zombie

chemo-thinned hair, strung across an oxygen deprived skull,
shone silver against the splotched,
dark dermis

blue veins clouded once-brown eyes,
hidden behind half-closed lids
matted with salty dross

lips crusted in a sticky residue of spittle,
velcroed to a gaping mandible
hung on weak joints

gasping breaths, ceding
into barely audible inhales
signal the end

decrepit body pressed into the mattress
a final attempt at being undead,
not dead

Heather Roark / Willow Street, PA - My Own Skin

I slip into a stream of comfort,
even though it's out of comfort,
for everyone else.

Excuse the skin,
from which I struggle to exit
as it moves like a worm
and appears as rabid as a dog in a sack, trapped in
bones that shake from the bare cost of
being me.

Scatter my ashes.
the ashes from which
skin turns into once it's not needed.
soul has left,
skin has to crumble,
bones have to disperse into other people's
cavities.

This shell that has me captive,
is unbearable
it crushes me daily, hands like harsh cinderblocks.
it crushes and I maneuver myself out,
greeted by walls, enclosing me again.

I lather up, and slip out of skin.
every day the same, every minute the same,
and the skin rise from ashes in order to attack the runaway soul.
the game of live racing compliments the torture
that this dog slumber of skin and soul endure.

I Sit still, Statue-like,
rampant as a bat with sight.
comfort never sits still, crescent moons are moving too.
the inside of what has become my inside,
never matches the insides of others.
it bleeds, but never matches,
it tears itself open, bleeding on the carpet,
following the trail of skin, of shell, of the crumbled uncomfortable.

Lee Rorman / Fargo, ND - Same Place, Different Day

I was nestled down
looking at the television
when it happened.

A horse walked through
me & I smelled
his furry scent

& his sweat
recently acquired
by hard running:

I sensed—no
felt—the leather
boot of Custer

blood-covered
Indian blood
still wet & warm.

My history juxtaposed
a future he would
never know.

Distance in time
divided—related
only by geography

I blinked twice
as a commercial
appeared on tv.

Christopher Rudolph / Torrance, CA - Blue Sue

Blue Sue knew
a discursive tongue
that musically drew
perplexing enigmas
of a bizarre hue.

She was true
to a heuristic imagination,
and she would do
amazing imitations, incantations, recitations
downright taboo voodoo
She wasn't an ingenue.

She was magically whimsical,
ostensibly mystical,
and lyrically paradoxical.

And when she flew
we all knew
it wasn't mere hallucination.

Ivy Rummler / Cumming, GA - The Oldest Fisherman

The oldest fisherman, his weathered hands clenched
around his worn fisherman's pole,
and the fish—silver scaled, iridescent in their shine,
continued to swim about him
as they had always done,
their tails as flecks of movement,
their gills reflecting opals in the light,
spinning the years of the fisherman's memories
around and around the planks of the flaking,
wooden dock that was never cleaned
except when the tide would rush forward, eager
with boundless energy—always young
and fresh with whitened, bitter salt.
He is the oldest, and he has watched the fish
tirelessly, endlessly, as they created themselves
and continued to swim
through the effervescent tendrils of cooling sea,
their eyes clouded with a violet fog
of their own making.
His shelter is thatched; his hands created it,
on a day when the sun wasn't watching,
and the grayness of the clouds
chased the fish away
as if they could sense the nothing-ness
as a time of numb and sleep that would easily
erase the blueness from their still waters,
the oldest fisherman's roughened coat, and
their quietly swirling thoughts.

Coyofox Schizm / Connersville, IN - Rekindle

I suppose the words we speak could drain
Cesspools of continuity, ambiguity and regrets
The syllables puddled here within the black and white
Yet will the words we write entertain?

A will and way to brush off the mold
Perforate and proliferate ideas into conscious thought
Strung those strings of progression and preparation
Paws are blanketed with the dust of old

I could tell you I'm right or wrong
Honestly, I've lost the perspicacity of perspicuity
I'm sorry I'm laughing, oh wait no, I'm writing
Perhaps I've consorted too much with my bong

Malaise and morose, the neurons feel within my fingers
Petrified, garrote the provocation of my creativity
Was it really all a mental issue?
Or just premonitions of the future which lingers?

Somewhere I'm sure they converge
Trickeries and diseased blocks lie in their midst
The coagulation makes for undesired procrastination
For once more now the creative stream can surge

Jennifer Smith / Medford Lakes, NJ - L'âme

A wavering phantom casts shadow on the fog, it blends
to the motion of whirling, low cloud.
Each blade of grass, a ghost of the living greenery
Enveloped in the forgiveness of grey.

This strange twilight holds the dirt close.
It twins the sky in elegant half-sorrow.
Reflections of purgatory sing in the mist.

The echo of an open door tears through the house.
Solitude grimes the walls with dark, ugly odor;
This is the home where my soul sets up shop
The cavern of the heart, where you are not with me.

Alison Stitzel / Marietta, GA - White Silver

spoon people
with their indelible grins
and white bloated cheeks
cloaked in tablecloth at sunday dinner
like corpses eight days buried
eyes peeled open and skin pearly

if when we die we're smiling
and if the children tunnel around us
with such small white plastic shovels
all freckled in dirt
like little moles blind in soil and sun

if when we die we're blinking
hiding from the flash before our eyes
and if the insects find our bodies too soft
too warm and killed too quickly
we'll rest in space made for lovers
beneath a slab of granite and our family's feet
black heels poking into our sides

if when we die we're together
in cemeteries like silverware drawers
let us be two spoon people
cloaked in sunday best
grins indelible
hands cupped to catch the rain

Nancy Suber / Fripp Island, SC - Clarity

In movement I find the form of a hill.
a whale diving slowly in the opaque world below,
a snail hiding.

In this form, I express love, fear awe
with only a simple intake of breath as I curl

But, I wonder if you would hear me fully
if I curved each letter with precise clarity,
the tip of my tongue tickling the backside of my teeth
with each "t",

my lips circled sharply into each "y"
my eyes focused instead of blurred in opaqueness.

I wonder if clarity can move slowly
or if it only exists within a scream, within sharpness, within energy.

My emotions have clarity that sing only when you listen carefully.

They are the white noise behind my smile, the static in my brow.
And, each line, each crease curving around my cheekbones
whispers my story, the story of my dive.

You must listen closely.

Kate Thomas / Chester Springs, PA - Town That Broke My Heart

I walked the paved pathway
past your homes

  of charcoal covered windows

piled on top of eachother like corpses, smuthered
under the black smoke that crushed lungs.

I saw my lush willow tree, now grey,
left

  with bald branches of anguish

as they fell down to the dirt
that was once pregnant with rich minerals.

Silence swept through the lifeless park,
while the trash

  of childhood remains buried

in the dusted sandbox,
we once called home.

Rachel Trignano / Atlanta, GA - Paraphrased

The fault was mine:
I was sucker-punched
by the road-side sign
promising piglets
(paraphrased)
in dull red letters
on a plank tacked up
by the farmer who
found us by the barn
and invited us to gape
at his hatter-mad sows
bucking their enormous heft
against the brittle gates
to drive us away from
their sweet-stink sties
and pink darling squeakers,
which they would dumbly
crush anyway, the farmer said,
so we might as well
buy them and eat them
or at the very least keep them,
but without the means
to set them free
or the want
to suck their bones
we politely declined and
fed the horses instead.

Violet Uram / Pittsburgh, PA - A Legend for Sure

The waves
of the neon
went out,
and so did Elvis.
Like the end of day,
the black velvet paintings
faded away.
All the lamps
were fizzled,
and no more
Elvis pancakes sizzled
because he was
allowed to die.
And then I woke up.

Vincent Van Horn / Montreal, QC - Of Paper Wings and Cocaine Eyes

Relativity of my perception?
Inevitable end and deception gone fry
blackened exceptions stirred reflected
To a mantle of delusions, encrusted diamond confusion
knowledge drug that embalms us
lifts us or deceives us

To try is to fly on crumpled paper wings
lift up and sing!, more of a drowned clown high on aspirin
To sit still is to watch the waters rise
sip on a stale beer signing rhymes while engulfed by the tide

Time blowing by and feet are wet
contemplating the uselessness of a safety vest
connecting gurgles, minds and hurtles
ears pressed hard listening to knowledge farts
no answers only remnant scars of times blown by and the rotation of stars

Travel, find a Pl to dump the murk
see the patterns of puppets rehearsed
diffuse the curse
screaming meaningless absurd whispers
repetition caused surge of codes deciphered

Day passes, water rises
Grab at paper enlightened and blow off the ashes
or sit back and pour cocaine in eyelids
The only truth be told on empty stages

and as the water rises I put on my vest
paper wings safety-pined to my chest

Jessica Willis / Monson, MA - Clasped in the Claws of a Murder

Majestic and proud, shouting through the air,
A black cackling murder on the front lawn.
Greedy talons ready to pick and tear;
Dark eyes glare defiantly at the dawn.

Their ominous presence, a mockery
Of the golden autumn sun; their laughter—
Taunting the springtime robin shamelessly;
She stands alone, expecting disaster.

Through dead leaves and grass they haughtily strut,
Sleek sails of power pinned at glossy sides;
Through dead, rotted flesh groveling beaks cut
A beggar's wound to a narcissist's pride.

When midnight's wings beckon at morning's door,
Will dignity fade on a lonely shore?

Winnie Wu / Las Vegas, NV - No Longer a Child

Like hot chocolate froth or the sinews of a virgin day,
those delightful pearls sat on their string and played.

On my mother's porcelain collarbone they intertwined,
mixing with her hair like and ebony and ivory vine.

Tempting and bright they were Icarus's sun,
I was warned to never touch even just one.

But on day, while nestled on their usual hook,
I, being much older, contented to have just a look.

They were cocktail parties and dinner-dates,
paying with plastic and staying up late.

A drop of anticipation diffused through my body,
so I lifted them up with rapture and quite suddenly...

Like a violin string in the midst of expression,
it snapped and the beads flew with no hesitation.

They were drops of rain from an unabashed cloud,
they jumped, ran, dodged, and I knew they were proud.

As I watched them scurry, scuttle, and spread,
there was the distinct feeling of smoldering dread.

This apprehension has never completely gone away,
but I know those pearls will all be recaptured one day.

Rick Yoder / Milton, GA - Tango

The empty rooms testify
to what once was,
the throb of life and its
involutions etched
upon the floorboards.

And your face,
the dusty smell of new rain
hanging in your locks,
a memory in the wallpaper.

The lights that churned out
dancers on the eyes
of water and of wine
still stand, still hover
near my head,
ensconced in their virginity.

And the scent of you,
only you,
trailing through my fingers as I grasp,
I grasp,
I grasp at you
to spin
and shake
and somnambulate
as we once did
in a room that now lies empty.

Kinza Zafar / Skokie, IL - Pomegranate Seeds

A heart full of secrets like pomegranate seeds
A trail of red petals let’s see where it leads
Oh it’s a garden of flowers and weeds
Of pretty red roses that nobody needs

And I see a girl lying there on the ground
Among flowers and weeds not making a sound
She’s smiling slightly, she lies comfortably
But those emerald eyes impart agony

She’s staring intently at something above
And humming a song about being in love
I approach her and ask why she lies on the ground
Among flowers and weeds not making a sound

She laughs quietly and shows me her hand
I gasp as I finally understand
Her wrists and ankles are entangled in weeds
She lies there like something that nobody needs

I cry and wish that I hadn’t seen
That I’d never fallen upon this scene
She tells me a secret that eases the pain
She tells me that she has something to gain

And I see the determined gleam in her eye
For she’s watching the boy who belongs in the sky
He doesn’t understand but she won’t clarify
That he’s the reason she dares to defy

She tells me she loves him, that boy in the sky
I ask her why but she doesn’t reply
I smile and tell her she’ll grow up one day
She suddenly grins and has something to say

She speaks; I scream and run blindly away
For she has put pomegranate seeds on display
I cry, run faster, and wish it weren’t true
For what she had told me was this: “I am you.”

Stephanie Zgouridi / Fullerton, CA - The Last Station

Trains (of thought) crawl across my mind, parasitic, predatory
The tracks are tangled, tossed, too long to be sound (or silent)
If I were to pick a train and board it,
I would find myself in the middle of the path towards a
Single Idea.
An Invention.

What about a flying car?
Or an automatic, crash avoidance system?
What about an un-crushable business suit, and helmet-hair?
Or an impenetrable bubble, protecting the driver?
He could have been safe.

I'm on a different train, still inventing, still unthinking
I invent because if I were to stop—
Just as the train stops when reaches it's last station—
I would really do something very bad.
When the locomotives of invention in my brain don't move as they should
I find myself held back and choked by Time

But one of these days, I hope (too high?)
That I will be able to dream
And in my dream, I'll be sitting
Still anxious, still nervous, still too lost
At the last station.
But suddenly a train will pull up, whistling, howling, shrieking, and—
Stop.
It will open its doors.

And my father: whole, alive, grinning,
Will appear, tugging a shiny suitcase behind him, and calling out my name.
My face will split into a radiant, burning smile
And when I ask him where he'd been or to where he'd traveled,
He will say:
I was never gone.

If the crush of his dream-arms around me were real,
I could have been safe.

Winter 2011 $1000 Grand Prize Winner

Samantha Sargent / Vineland, ON - Virtue

She tasted like lemon Halls and death.
There was a burning smoke smell—
and they were drowning even in sunlight.

It was cold.

Somewhere behind their guffawing chicanery
there were wrong things
like narcotics,
or too many dead years.

They look under their eyelashes like mechanic beings.
She twirls her hair around bones
and he shifts his eyes to something just past—
her legs and words curve towards him
and he smiles to scrunch up his features and make her laugh.

Envy and magnetism pull through the inches and miles,
until they are almost electrocuting one another

but still gurgling the saltwater in two entirely different oceans.

They could be dancing

sliding around paths of free speech and idealism
with the universe pressing in,
mirror shards raining down
everything, and yet still nothing.

And she pounds on Time's doors trying to spite its cruel designs,

fearing it still for so many reasons other than skeletons or
death. Because their lifelines don't intersect,
even with his leather all over her blue eyes.

And yet they are not lost.
Today, they just are not.


First Prize Winners for Winter 2011

AJ Cerami / Saint James, NY - To E.b.

You’ve walked through a world of pinks purples and grays,
consumed by the sunrise of each idle day; the mourning of blood
that was vanquished by flame; and the rising of smoke that
drifts gently away. And to bear the burden of two other hearts,
“Violet,” he says, “You’d better put your hair up.”

In another time filled with white lakes and dark pearls,
you sought sanctuary in dreams and in the bond between girls;
to purify a house benighted by blonde moans, you wielded that
same flame as your own; that eternal sign of the departed;
"I did exactly what you said. I finished what I started."

With your mind torn apart by loss and despair, you danced
through to another world, crafted layer upon layer. Fiction
and reality merged into one, and the shadow of abuse became a
blade and a gun. Four things to escape, and the fifth, a mystery;
"It will be a deep sacrifice," he says, "and a perfect victory."

You left that fantasy to dwell in a darker; to dance in an erotic ball;
a fragile, petite, corporal porcelain doll. Maleficent's curse manifested
in sexuality, the experience of death in perpetual clarity; you sought
to be loved and for those around you to be close; but as you say,
“Death is the number one hoax.”

You've portrayed a struggle on screen, an ineffable suffering;
a journey that began and has ended with nothing. The portrait of
a girl who yearns for identity; a labyrinth of loss and despair and
despondency. But through each challenge you've come out the stronger;
continue on your path and you'll be lost no longer.


Angela Cichosz / Carol Stream, IL - Soda

Grip, pry, snap the stubborn metal tab from its enclosure,
Hissing and spitting as it collapses into darkness,
sucked into a chasm, a vacuum, a black hole
through which the gases of Jupiter escape,
minuscule bubbles dispersing into the oxygenated atmosphere,
fizzling, sparkling, popping,
like fluttering maracas, chattering chimes, spastic snares.
Creamy suds, white tidal waves rapidly rise,
engulfing the succulent substance in its rage,
wildly foaming at the mouth,
a rabid beast with sweet saliva,
nectarous drool spilling from its gaping orifice,
aggravated by the subtle shaking of the hand.
Slowly the turbulent tide recedes, ceases to be,
disintegrating into the body of the ocean,
the pressure subsiding, crackling spasms hushing.
Calm, stale air hovering over stagnant water
in a flat sea, a lifeless planet, a mute symphony.


Cole Comstock / Bethel Park, PA - Whiskeymen

My father used to talk with me here. Your sulfur creek
rotted the oak bridge once used to carry the men across.
I remember their headlamps burning against the hollow
like stars in the sky—how beautiful their blackened faces

telling how they became the mine.
Their feet, heavy and shackled, echoed as they crossed the bridge.
Soon the mine called the hoot-owl, my grandfather to return to night shift.
Three days later we're burying a hollow casket, shoveling

dirt over pictures of him as our father poured whiskey
as if it were water for flowers. My father toasted your glory,
"The mine is the mouth to Hades, jagged and torn from the earth."
A week later he's licking whiskey off the barrel

of a revolver, and we're crying as we watch him leave.
Now I stand at your gate, with a fifth reflecting gold
in the moonlight. I have been told no man is immortal.


Daniel Conley / Sapulpa, OK - From Sunset to Sunrise and Forever In Between

From sunset, to sunrise, and forever in between
Your hope in your heart, max the stars
The hope from the light as a fading sheen

I am a wall for you to lean
Cause I am never too far
From sunset, to sunrise, and forever in between

The space between the stars, I mean
As if I went from the edge to mars
The hope from light as a fading sheen

The ocean as fierce as a fiend
But more calming then a ride in a car
From sunset, to sunrise, and forever in between

Your heart is pure and clean
Your love will forever trap me like prison bars
From sunset, to sunrise, and forever in between
The hope of light as a fading sheen


Christina Couch / Gilbert, AZ - Apology Poem

Dear ebay
I'm sorry
That I abused your site
Along with your users
I was so oblivious
I didn't know....
It's just all those rare vinyls
And all those vintage movie posters
I couldn't control myself!
They were all so rad!
And I didn't know it would be bad
To bid
So I did
Eventually I won almost all
Making my inbox not at all small

Dear efunk55
With the Pretty in Pink soundtrack on vinyl
Sorry I did not respond back to your threatening emails
Reading them made me feel hostile
Sorry I did not purchase this album
Or any of the other items

Dear self
I am so sorry
That user PeppermintCouch
Is forever banned
Along with your gmail
What you did was such a fail
But you moved
Thank God you moved
And there are other emails
Other odd usernames
But next time
Bid if you are willing to pay in purchase


Emily Doll / Cincinnati, OH - I Am a Cannibal of the Lamb

The air is chilled and thin
I am a Cannibal of the lamb
There are light whispers surrounding me
Questions and announcements echoing through the room

Pain stings through the skin
Itching to crawl out of the dark green plaid
There is giggling
The end of a six hour day is near to come

Generations run through the time line
Jumping and skipping their way into legacies
Heavy hearts weigh down focus
Things made of metal

People have engraved skin
Scars of every color
Natural is almost nonexistent
Indecisiveness at it's peak


Erin Farrell / Doylestown, PA - Plight of the Flightless

I watch as my books hit the floor
Pages falling like ivory-winged butterflies to the tiles
Wings—so diaphanous, fragile—trampled by the feet of the bystanders
Eyes and lips smirk at me, watching as I struggle to pick up the pieces
Pieces of myself that have been ridiculed
Pieces and wings that have been clipped, that I know will not
Cannot
Fly again
I can only sit, immobile
Knowing I have no one to help me in picking them up again
Who would help me? Who would dare take that risk, infamy of association
Can I blame them? I'm sure they want to
I can see it in some pairs of eyes, the sympathy
But then I see, too, the inaction
The passivity
Feel the watching and staring of agog eyes
The brains churning beneath those irises and thinking,
Thank you, Lord, that that isn't me
Well, it is me
And I matter, too
My wings once were extended like yours
And I was unafraid to soar
Feel the blistering sunshine penetrate my skin
Making stencil shadows upon the ground surrounding my opaque veins
But the skies darkened and the murky miasma ensconced me
And the condescending laughter tore the transparent film
Denigrating remarks slashed the brittle membrane
Into unrecognizable shards
The clear skin scarred and cavernous
Shimmering once, now battered
Tattered
And unable to fly


Matt Frati / Cumberland, RI - One for the Road (for Jack Kerouac)

Thinking of you as you are now,
safe in Heaven, dead, as you once said,
on the gloriously sunny August day
streaked with crisp tinges of autumn,
when I found myself in old, red brick Lowell, MA,
strolling casually down Main Street, my eyes
sampling the humble array of sleepy shops,
the drowsy local diners, and those liquor stores
you supported so vigorously, dotting the street.
Finding Edson Cemetery sprawled out before me,
I make my way through the maze of graves
on hushed feet, trying to compete with the silence
of Lowell's deepest slumbering residents,
all the while searching for your current address,
that flat grey plaque shared with wife Stella,
surrounded by a bare naked patch of dirt
as if it were the long lost home plate
for all the world's weary runners to come.
It lies barren except for some meager
sprinkles of confetti from a long abandoned party:
four cents worth of scattered pennies,
the gnarled stub of a pencil retired from writing,
cigarette butts that have claimed the ground,
all this a far cry from the bottles of French wine
generously offered by fellow hip flask enthusiasts
and the hubcaps left by passing highway wanderers
eternally hungry for the promise of the open road
that unrolled like a red carpet before your feet.
I leave my humble offering, a slim pocket notebook
beneath the pencil, in hopes that someone else
will pick up the journey where you left off.


Dawn Haveman / Cadillac, MI - An Early Morning

Down rightly rude, induced, interrupt ending dream.
Down quite late, half past midnight, up again by five.
Old meandrous clock cries eye-reaming sputtering scream.
Already, dawn is early to take a dive.

Down rightly rude, the induced, the wakening seems.
Down on might, tired muscles, stumbling out of bed.
Oh, the start of the day unsatisfactory deems.
Already, I carry the weight of day, a heavy head.

Up now I am feeling somewhat cranky and rude.
Up quite late, half past midnight, once I laid me down.
I induced that what I am feeling now, for I,
set the alarm, laid down late, placing the heavy crown.


Roger Kudeba / Waterloo, ON - A Table Of Two Spirits

A man of power and learned in scope,
sipped a glass of spirit.
The wine was bitter and the weather cold,
the chatter failing attrit.
The hour was dire and the season coarse,
leaves were ugly browning,
while beyond the window a peevish child,
stood forever frowning.

A man of heart and of humble home
drank of that same spirit.
The drink was strong and the weather lively,
the room calm and quiescent.
The hour was great and the season fining,
leaves a belle marooning;
when lo outside there stood a pensive child
basking his surrounding.

A glass half empty and a glass half full
opposite the table,
A life of sorrow and a life of hope
underneath the gable.


Benjamin Kutner / Rockville Centre, NY - Pillow

Byzantine sun, accomplice to the sky,
held court above the steepled top of St. Agnes church,
playing paddleball with a a tall man
whose shadow tugged the cement
like bare feet on carpet.
The winner earns a bouquet with leaves
drawn blue with colored pencils,
and orange juice squeezed that morning
with hands that rested earlier
under the cold side of the pillow.


Alfred Preciado / San Jose, CA - Rising

Impeccable clouds peeled pale clean
Parading like aircraft-carriers filling charcoal sky
into the cracked eggshell, sink-hole of my heart,
healing, even as it wants what it wants, it beats on
Mists color faraway mountains ultramarine
These Utah mountains are the mountains of the summer
of my long trek east to Colorado
Wheeling alone across gold and camouflage hills, valleys
Plains, salt lands, up the thundering, massive Rockies
Carved brutally like an old dog's teeth
Century-hammered islands of stone mirroring
my own solitude, my recent exile from regret and despair
This is my long voyage into the looming, beautiful emptiness
of the frustrated terrain of my pining soul
I am the perennial passenger, bearing the cargo of
excruciating solitude and exquisite salvation
Long journey filled with sudden, bright rainfalls
Falling quick, heavy, hard, fat raindrops
ricocheting back like ping-pong balls, into the
endless abyss of pewter sky
The heart wants what the heart wants
Even if it is a sickness
A helpless surrender to the virus
of improbable love, impossible love
This self-inflicted flu of desire is infinite incurable
The disease of choice without hesitation
The ache wants what the ache wants
Here is what I want
Her gaze flaming torch gaze blazing back at me
Adoring, Unflinching, unyielding
The sweat of my fingertips smearing a wet path
on her upturned, flushed face
Her legs, slender, fragile spreading, splaying
Butterfly wings slow-motion beaconing


Geony Provido / Upper Marlboro, MD - October Snow

It should have been the dead leaves
Dry inside and out, convulsing and
Hopelessly defying gravity. Instead
It’s the snow coming down on trees and
Hedges stained by turmeric and saffron
Swirling, levitating like a possessed
Being, long enough to paint a Seurat
In every window of the city.

An unwelcomed guest, it harries kids
Coming out of a Halloween party—
The cold piercing satin and spandex
Jumpsuits under the faux-silk capes.
Inside the hall the nuns scrub and
Scrub the floor and sink to remove
The memory of the event as the
Weather channel reports it’s
Serious up north with upstate
New York getting at least a foot
And more than twice that
In New England.

It is an afternoon of the sad clowns
Might as well, as we remember the dead.
The squirrel too, scurrying up a
Branch, remembers its heap.
Regurgitating blended ice and dirt
The street still memorizes every
Fleeting touch of tread. An alarmed
Buck scampers nearby, wisely off it.
It’s a day to wonder especially for
The snowman, with its carved
Pumpkin head.


Tim Mattingly / Batesville, IN - A Wealthy Businessman Reflects on His Poor Upbringing

Which came first
The phoenix or its ashes?
While sweeping up my past,
This bird of upper class has
filled dustpans with milk jugs
filled halfway with water
from the sink by our Mother
Here, have mine, little brother.
The car she saved up
For five years to afford
And the tires she had sold
For money instead to go towards
our education and our jerseys
for our little league teams,
our busted blue jean seams,
and our childish dreams

These Birds of Paradise
unlike us, Birds of Prey,
like to romanticize
our prior poverty
but when little brothers die
at the ripe old age of five
and mere medical expense
could have kept them alive

please do not ask us
to kindly show you our lashes
just work and be glad
you weren't born into ashes


Sarah Seguin / Kamloops, BC - Gasoline Rainbows

He skips rocks down the broken pavement
Cracked and dented and grey
Once-upon-a-time canvases for hop scotch contestants.
Purple ninjas, yellow sharks
A tye-dyed parade of creations only seen in the imagination—
The chalk brings them to life on the driveways as he passes by.
Once seeing the world as an infant does: as beautiful, unharmed
The image of perfection
Now he sees his reflection in broken windows,
Cracked from the rocks thrown carelessly in its direction.
Stops to take a sip from a water fountain
There's blood drizzled on the porcelain white -
Proof of a scuffle between the children who grew up together,
Now divided by age into enemies without reason.
A neighbourhood that used to resemble a Polaroid of values
Now a blank negative with nothing to prove.
He sighs; he knows in his soul
That someday, the purple ninjas and yellow sharks
Will be washed away with the rain, as if they never even existed.
The pavement will just resemble another stretch of asphalt.
Cracked and dented and grey
Once-upon-a-time canvases for little van Goghs and Monets.
With carbon dioxide sunsets, and gasoline rainbows,
Swallowing up the essence of what was
Without even a courteous goodbye.
Treading through a path of trash
(The empty garbage can pleads for company),
He breathes in the air
Still trying to hold on to that essence of what was
It is sweet…Clean…Fresh. For now.
He leaves, knowing his heart will not follow


Hannah Slinger / Kent, OH - The Walking Hopeless

My life has been depleted to a machine,
fits in my pocket, trying to null my pain.
But I joined the walking hopeless, no grieves redeemed.

Doctors lined up ready to resurrect and clean,
replaced filing cabinets for innards of my brain.
My life has been depleted to a machine.

Weak outside hospital doors, dignity demeaned.
All my wasted life I have waiting rooms to blame. So I joined the walking hopeless, no grieves redeemed.

No locks on bedrooms, here nothing goes unseen.
Single-serving nurses, zombied all the same,
still, my life has been depleted to a machine.

Tuning out their voice with the IV's beeps so serene.
How sick am I of this man telling me I'm insane.
So I joined the walking hopeless, no grieves redeemed.

We watch through barred windows drenched in green.
Days are like minutes confined behind doors, so mundane.
Yet, my life has been depleted to a machine,
and so I joined the walking hopeless, no grieves redeemed.


Stephiane Stovall / Durant, OK - Jennifer

Juncos return with their dark eyes,
Effusion unrestrained in blue skies.
Ningal, you nurture the reeds
Ningal, my bride to be.
Incandescent reflection
Fornax desperate for selection,
Exigency lasts infinity...
Recusant as the waters of the sea.





Sarah Anderson / Whistler, BC - Floating

I am curious, as to whether or not I am hollow.
Beneath translucent skin, faint teal runs towards my palms,
I can feel the strength of muscle and the burden of fat.

Inside me lies a thick pink layer of moist velvet, and eventually,
a white cement of marrow.
If you were to cut me, crimson blood would pour wildly from every crevasse.
Why is it, then, that I am so convinced of my emptiness?


Catherine Aur / Austin, TX - One Night

Stopped at a traffic light one night,
I turned my head at a faint glow,
Reflecting back something most bright.

I honked my horn, a very sight.
She didn't seem to hear, although,
We were stopped at a light one night.

It was with good intentions, right?
For her to put it down, let go,
As I saw the reflection, bright.

I honked my horn with all my might,
Now thinking back to years ago
Stopped at a traffic light one night

She finally turned to face her right.
I noticed two gleaming trails flow,
Reflecting back something most bright

I couldn't help her out that night.
There was more for her to let go,
Stopped at a traffic light one night,
Reflecting back something most bright.


Richard Beach / Lupton City, TN -Oscar Wilde

words built up to form a play
imagination runs wild on the scene of today
an ideal question for the masses of illusions
between the marrige of men and beasts
causes confusion in the up most form
what harm can be done by questioning gods morals
for we were made in his undying image
and the images can run like paint in the hands of an artistic child
drawning lines between the old and the new
casting relections into the void of unanwered questions
a little bit of light can shine in the darkest reaches of my mind
and will someday end with a furious end to my life
goodbye my lover and my wife, for there is no time to cry


Sarah Beam / Platteville, WI - Higher Education

September creeps up and nabs leisure from our sides.
Caffeine slurps, over the counter bursts, can only do so much
To cast light down a road of obstacles
Deadlines and late nights unveil.

Kiss the birds goodnight as they sing,
"Rise and shine little fools"
We blame those harpies for our lack of sleep
Yet continuously exercise our retinas to pink exhaustion.

Housemates will serenade us morning lullabies
With their dynamic alarm clocks,
Tickling our ears with jazzy ring tones
And sketchy soap-box raps.

Harmonious microwaves will
Steam sunrise javas
For lucky neighbors fresh off their beauty hours
Or recovering from the night's events.

In six hours our sergeants will buzz.
We've already planned our wakes
before sleep even calls,
mentally acting out each minuscule task.


Dustin Benson / Windsor, ON - Paper Priest

It has given us strength
And fleeting me now
Leaving a shell of what was

Can I sum up the strength to shine?
Will I turn to dust and flow into time?
Maybe the fortunate path would be to melt to sea foam

The black pianist dress in dignity,
On the broken keys he inspires,
The honor of lifeless lanterns,
Is the adoring vengeance of
A timeless cripple;
An ensnared fate

Is this what we speak of in books,
The time of gold and silver?
Perhaps it will fade away when we open it

I soak up the blood in the mindless things I occupy.
Licking all the droplets left is misery,
Waiting for my company,
It has left my seat warm for me.


Ronald Bergquist / Campbell River, BC - Spring Melt

Egg cartons
glued with pop bottle lids and straws
made our ships—

works of art
from the hearts
of three little boys

dressed in rubber boots
and spring coats.
The sun sets on the horizon.
We sailed our ships
down the raging rapids
of melting snow
along the country roads
where culverts guzzled run-off.

Cold water
soaked hands and feet
but still we smiled
and laughed
as we ran after
our mighty little ships.

Icebergs tore them up
and smashed them to bits.
Casualties
of the great spring melt.


Betty Betty - North York, ON - The Lullaby of the Sea

Heavy eyelids peel open to a flash of blue.
In the abysmal trenches, the calm ripples wrap me
In a blanket of heavy satin.

Gilded scales caress my palms,
As I step through corals that shift in rhythm with the sea,
A ritualistic dance that moves my body in time.

With a jolt, I see it;
A single ray that blinds and seduces.
It beckons and flits like a flutter of lashes.

I fly, I glide, I climb the arduous waters.
Warmth batters and beats against stone skin,
And for that lone moment, euphoria intoxicates me.

Clawing desperately towards an unfamiliar surface,
I crave to feel whole, to take ahold of the yearning
That laces dainty forms throughout my body.

Suddenly, a break in the waves,
And I emerge, bathing in glowing gleams of gold.
My lungs fill as my head pounds
To the steady drumming of my heart.

Above, the heavens revere in daydreams;
Below, the ocean bed laments in the murky shadows.
And I know this is where I must lie.
Here, where the sea meets the sky.


Jackson Beutler / Arlington, MA - The Day I Made My Sister Cry

Don't look at me with those
two chocolate pools
tattooed with heartbreak
and brimming with water
like the drops that escape
from the bottom of a glass.

I didn't know it was your cupcake—
your own little treasure
buried at the bottom of a pastry bag,
the highest of hopes for
any three-year-old.

This is too much—
I'd rather inspect
the palms of my hands
up close...
Do I dare look up now?
I do,
and I'm saved from your gaze
because you've hidden it from me
under cover of Mama's shirt.
My face must've been a worse sight.

And I don't blame you.
And I'll handle your
three-year-old dreams with care
from now on,
and repay you with
a bakery of cupcakes if I have to.
I'm sorry, Ansley.


Kat Bormann / Rancho Cucamonga, CA - Helpless Feelings

The light fades
And with it the noise drops
To an almost unintelligible whisper
Voices stop
Their last words an echo resounding in your mind
Faces blur in front of your eyes
In your mind they are clear
And you reach out to touch them
Simply to feel
But there's nothing there
And your fingers close around empty air
In that moment, the darkness presses close
A deep velvet against your eyes
And fear grips your throat
A viscous vise
You try and try to scream out
But your voice is as lost as the light in your eyes
A thought explodes in the back of your mind
Pushing itself front and center
Suddenly, you have a terrible clarity
The light won't shine again
The voices that you heard
And the faces that went with them
Are forever gone
Suddenly you know you're not going to make it
Suddenly you know you'll never make it out alive


Maggie Brown / Upper Moutere, R D 2, Nelson - Requiem for a Donkey

With delicate hooves she picked
a careful way
  up through the rocks
    to purple pastures,
and with the scent of flowers
    tumbling down
  she lay to rest.

she, who had been so sure of foot,
 entrusted with unborn,
now, no longer pained
by bristling crowns
or mankind's heavy burdens.

Nor heeding creak of bones
against the parchment of her hide,
but soft muzzled felt the blooms, and
tasted milk of thistles,
 growing through
the spaces of her frame.


Brian Buchanan Nashville, TN
Hawthorns Cold skies like scraped stone
Granite glaciered to furrows
Freezing my blood as the hawthorns
Shake in their winter berries
Red on dark twigs edged
With snowflakes floating by
I feel the dark limbs

A sudden deep terror and happiness

That no
Snow branch berry or sky
Can explain.


Lena Bugriyev / Roseville, CA - In Time Alone

Fingers ironbars enclose
My impure face
Unspoken
Unclose my eyes
Hollowcavity cageribs
Shaking Breaking Waking

Stained feet tramplebruise
Writhingwavy paths unknown
Coldbone fingers press cushionsoftlips
Rigidstiff gaze stolen, undress
The waves closing upon me as a blanket
Waking Shaking Breaking

Bruised spiritsweeps the floor wither
Long hair downcast gem eyes
Leave undiscovered longing disposed
Groweak scarlet cheek untilifted
Dirtdust picked clean of wings her dreams
Breaking Waking Shaking


Sara Bursch / Buffalo, MN - Pharaoh's 4T1

An ancient monarch gifted in mind
searched beyond his kingdom to find
unspoken secrets of the grateful dead
documents once written now left unread.
Mirrored with perfection, tooling powerful projection,
refracting skillfully the moon's pure light,
his eye angle, triangle, drew past sight.
Diamond the edge of deadly strength
micro beam of focus immeasurable in length,
black velvet visions silhouettes at first sight,
a kaleidoscope of colors erupting before light.
Twisting, turning, spinning, yet free, invisible arms of gravity
held picture after picture without a frame,
face after face without a name.
Voltaic velocity stemmed and unstoppable,
desolate the destruction beyond his human conception,
manipulation repeating itself, defeating itself.
It struck him down like a warrior's mallet,
brushed him with passion as a painter would his palette.
Within this atom so broken, he saw the unspoken.
Then blinding and burning the unseen flame,
cast its lasting reflection through teardrops of rain.
Lightly touching the crest of the deep blue sea,
silently drifting into space, disappearing without a trace.
He rushed to his throne, and let it be known
truth if told, by far outweighed all riches and gold.
Justice is indeed for those freed of torture, suffering, and pain.
He left his reign, never to be seen again.
This one ancient secret of the grateful dead,
document once written he had read
in a world not long ago,
in a world very few know.


Brian Cioni / West Dundee, IL - Ink & Stone

Flesh in Ink, stone to speak;
A master craftsman shows the link
Between the vain and immortality.

Stone lives, never forgetting;
Ink aligns internal settings—
Wedding tradition to ancestral blessings.

Fresh Ink: fresh life—uninhibited minds
The cracking of stone, uncontrollable as time
Is the process that brings out the gems we refine.

Ink may burn and stone may crack;
To bring about times where provision lacks
But this is what brings new ages to task.

With stones to design—life is defined.
While each mind has a voice— with ink to bind
And combined, immortality we may find.

Ink of thought, voice of the stone;
Fluid harmony of flesh and bone
Seamlessly united in density and tone.

Amidst perils and dangers that threaten the being
Of Angelic deception beyond what is seen.


Ryan Coyle - Hull, MA / Icarus, to a Son

Bruegel is Icarus to me, son.
William Carlos Williams
And I
Are one
On the matter.
And yet, on the other side,
A great clatter
(Art deco and Ayn Rand covers)
An overblown imagination hovers

On the other side of cerebral pain.
A vast emyprean of wonder, to speak plain.

Your father is an educated sort
But lacks the conviction to utter a retort.
He works his day in warehouse labor
He works away for you to savor
The great works, the great things—
I hasten to remind you that living stings.


Jane Davidson / Cincinnati, OH - Graceful Fox

With a slight breeze in the air,
Your elegantly long auburn locks brush your beautifully freckled alabaster skin,
And your long set of eyelashes reach out to the crying snowflakes.
A swirl of mesmerizing warm breath
Escaping dangerously from your poised lips
Encircles us tauntingly—
Winter has finally crept up from the cooling ground beneath our feet.
Sea green eyes flicker towards the oncoming traffic,
Following a red car, a yellow car, a black one.
Ready to dig your heels into the icy road,
You set yourself,
Waiting for the final tan van to pass,
And you dash off,
Like a graceful fox from an approaching hunter.
It's funny sometimes,
How you,
My best friend,
Can make such gloomy settings,
Crossing a simple, busy road,
A very magical and welcoming place to be.


Taylor Davis / Glendale, AZ - Hera

A deep sigh escapes my slightly parted lips,
I gaze through the clouds down upon a new mother,
She cradles her infant in her arms,
cooing and rocking it glently;
a yawn overtakes the small child,
a smile streches across her face.
I turn away, overwhelmed with evny.
I step back into the nursery from the balcony
and stroll over to the far left corner of the room.
As I set my hand upon the soft ivory bassinet,
it cools my sweaty palms,
and I follow the swirling etched patterns with my fingertips.
Another sigh leaves my body,
my shoulders slack with a deepening sadness.
I take a backwards step and slink into the cushioned rocking chair,
my gazed still fixed upon the empty, hand-spun, silk blankets.
After a few moments,
I let my eyes wander around the dim room,
taking in every miniscule detail:
The Alencon lace drapes that fall graceully
framing the oak framed windows,
the egg shell ivory walls,
the white diamond and gold trimmed hood
resting above the basonet to shade the baby,
and the dangling lightning bolt mobile.
My hands still firmly grip the arms of my seat,
I shut my eyes,
take a deep inhale,
and Isuppressthe undying want for a newborn child.
But, instead of sitting here to sulk,
I draw myself up,
find a sense of composure,
and I exit through the marble archway.


Jon Deline / San Mateo, CA - Saturday Soul

Full blown soul drives through my sedentary mind.
Stale situations and boring conversations I leave behind.
Toe tapping rhythms grove,
as I engage the curvature of my spine.
To dance the night away,
Lead my cares astray,
and turn tomorrow
into yesterday.
James Brown ain't got nothing on my good foot.
Care to look at my vivacious undulations
that have more slither than a snake.
Waiting to take,
the mandrake
for posterity sake.
And let mystical magicians make
potions to imbibe and set aside
for tonight's wild ride
through the undying beat
of true soul music.


Cecilia Drummond / Vaughan, ON - Transparent

A dove poised on a bed of marble
Incandescent and blinding
Swathed in white satin robes
Pure and cool and opaque

So silent in your hollow eyes
So still your frame in light
Trust the feathers that grace their way to earth
Trust your hold is tight upon the ribbons round my wrist

A vulture on the steps drinks blood
Savage as the image on his lips
Soaking in the guilty yellow of a flashlight
Alone and ugly and transparent

So silent in your hollow eyes
So black the bruise around my guts
Trust the acid ripping my naivety to shreds
Trust the ribbon's cut , really I'd rather fall.


Sylvester Eaves / Aurora, CO - I Still Wanna Move

I wanna move—
ligaments in my brown flesh
to extend arms
in the air that speaks.

I wanna move—
beyond the thunder that moves
to strike me
like rain that covers my eyes,
like darkness in tunnels,
covering the brown of my skin
like Vietnam in my heart.

I still wanna move
when passion crushes my pump
in every decibel,
when the London Bridge comes,
balanced on my cranium
and my feet fall to pray.

I still wanna move
when joy is bleak
like the white narrow lines
down a curved highway road,
through the days of darkness
when the fight is a shadow,
breathing heavily, afraid to sleep.

I still wanna move
until God—judges me.


Alisha Ellis / Sierra Vista, AZ - Overcome

Fear keeps you from the destinations
Love makes you want to be better
Fight between the two emotions

Love makes the foundations
It's as fragile as paper
Fear keeps you from the destinations

Pass it to the generations
Spread it on with butter
Fight between the two emotions

What a congratulations
For the love of a baker
Fear keeps you from the destinations

Love can give genus impatiens
Just writing a letter
Fight between the two emotions

Love and fear are the only two classifications
You can rape it in a sweeter
Fear keeps you from the destinations
Fight between the two emotions


Elisa Emley / Portland, OR - Sputtering

In a full nature of disbelief,
You are the one who is crashing through seams.
Untied at the ends, suspected to fray
A planet abided by this crucial delay.
Selfish reasons for a selfish gesture
Courted by seasons of Earth's new pleasure.
Hormones cast themselves into light
No telling who's safe and whose heart may delight
In a cannibalistic crawl to the finish
A mundane race for all who win it.
Held back by truth, love, commitment
Will be the death of this crude, sinned commencement.
Fire the guns, we'll be there by nightfall
Hammer the winds, you can't see in a mind cell.
And they rise, and they rise, and RISE!
Fallen, one million soldiers we are.
Fallen from scaffolds of Godly attire.
Peasants, we look from barred up doors
To the Kings among us, who've brought on the war.
Knights of all ages know not what they do.
When barters from angels are shown up askew.
Take what you need from us, take what you will.
The treasures are in us, among strength and good will.
Bravery sounds blank in a sky filled with smoke.
The cans of gasoline are now brought on as a joke.
Flames twitch wildly at calm rosy cheeks.
But the ones of most wise, now called out as meek.
Say do you now, sir say what you please.
Your men all filthy bastards with blood on both knees.
And smiles on their faces, obnoxious and clear
Take everything we own, but we've got all we need here.


Melanie Eulberg / Lakewood, CO - Tyeramembrance

A flaxen-haired girl
In an over-sized sweatshirt
Slim legs made skinnier still
By black stretch pants
And sporting the red boots
That have become
Her signature
Caped with a towel
And flourishing
A cardboard sword
King, not Queen,
Of the Realm
She jousts with her brother
Amid the rubble
Of couch cushions
Defending the stapled crown
She created
From a simple sheet
Of notebook paper
And her delightfully
Inventive mind


Nick Flynn / Richmond Hill, ON - More Beer

He holds a sign
Demanding, nay
Decreeing
More
Beer
Highly intoxicated transient sits
Against a chainlike fence
Professing his desire for
More
Beer
With a delightful smile
His eyes teem with excitement
At his chance to be viewed
For the shame and degradation
That has become his life
Hiding his failure
Within
A damaged smile
Underneath a scruffy beard
And still behind these pearly whites
And uplifting eyes
Lies a true desire for
More
Beer
Sunglasses perched
On a hollow cranium
As if
Staring at the sky
For redemption
His eyes have been permanently
Thrust upwards
From the toxic excess of
More
Beer


Alanna George / Alberta, Calgary - The Gateway of Memories (Haiku)

Bloodied and broken
You slowly walk down the aisle
Alone, so it seems.

Your hands are just bone
A veil hides your mangled face
Skin stretched taut on arms.

Spidery wings stretch
From your back, so thin and worn
And twitch back and forth.

Sunken eyes gaze at
Your brittle hair, cascading
Across thin shoulders.

You walk, faster now
The aisle seems so much longer
Than when you began.

Memories of life
Play on the stagnant church walls
You're getting closer.

You are running now
The dirty stained glass opens
And you lope on through.

Your dead friends greet you
With sympathetic glances
Though they've missed you dear.

And one last look at
The gateway of memories
Lets you say goodbye.


John Giberson / Nashville, TN - Cracks

Cracks in the asphalt driveway,
Cracks in the open road
Fill with dust, like wanderlust
Between event and episode.

Strange that one should remember
Anecdotes to revive
Youth misspent, when truth is bent
Where those memories first derive.

History's seamless sequence
Carries, in man, one curse:
Details flow, then off they go
Through a crack in the universe.

Grandchildren oft come listen
When I've a yarn to spin.
I, their bard, Lord of the yard,
Never know where to begin.

Cracks in the bedroom ceiling,
Cracks in the old porch tile
Need repair; but this rocking chair
Has invited me stay awhile.


Suzannah Godwin / Rio Rancho, NM - Nightmare

The blindfold comes off
And I see your secret,
The dark force of your eyes
Seem to pull me in
Something about your smile
Makes my breath catch
And my soul chain itself tighter

The sights all around
Combined with the sensation,
Of your arms around me
Have my head spinning

Dead vines hanging from stone walls,
Forgotten by history
Burnt, ashen rose bushes
Ancient, knotted trees
Their branches torn in all directions
Tell of a love story gone dark
And yet, it’s still beautiful

This secret garden,
Time’s own testament
History’s forgotten
War torn love story
Of undying love
That destroyed everything


Suzanne Goudreau / St-lambert, Quebec - Inland! Sonnet!

Chaste of charm, our born contented spirit
Stands, grasping pondered, physical limits
Where we cast long memories of childhood
In modest places near the firewood

Bonded, our souls linger, recollecting
Warm woodsides and treasured lessons chanting
And our soft corner, near our gleaming stream
Where we sought a trout, a clover, a dream

We recollect the wild field as our own
The proper spirit, near home, where we roamed
And the perfume of the sweet garden rose
Every spring, glimpsing color bestowed

Are we not the loyal Inland People
Proud and noble, soaring like the eagle?


Jayde Graber - Johnstown, CO - Ice Blue

You are
Ice blue
I step to the water's chill edge
Admiring its frozen beauty
Afraid to disturb the stillness
Needing to be completely drawn
Into its serenity
To know its silent depths
To ache with the cold it promises
Breathtaking
Consuming
Inspiring
Deadly
Ice blue…
Blue
The color suits you
Blue again
It's a lasting chill to leave you
As cold as an icy winter's night


Bryan Graff / Kannapolis, NC - Portsmouth Island

Today we walk Portsmouth Island.
My head and feet meander through the salt marsh paths
framed by spears of sharp grass.
We haunt the island, and it haunts us.
And the grey, time-worn houses look on with their
dusty, glass gaze as I pass.
The white, weather-peeled church seems still to issue
a thready breath of sermon, a caught echo,
the faint pulse of a hymn,
if only I pause and listen.
Its steeple stabs proud, skyward.
The stern one-room school, Miss Mary's school,
with its hard floors, hard inkwell desks,
its black barrel-chested stove,
iron, like Miss Mary, perhaps.
I can scarcely hear the scratch of chalk,
the crack of the maple switch, the rote
exchanges.
I find a loafing spot, good as any, on George Dixon's porch.
I hope he doesn't mind that I'm here.
The wiry marsh grass stirs with the wind.
The post office and general store await the next transaction,
with the patience of the dead,
while behind it, a graveyard sprouts its markers,
white and tooth-like, and beneath me
sleep the island's only residents.


Art Griswold / Gaines, MI - Scallop

A lonely grey frog sits facing west in the morning sunshine
The dew still glistening on his feet and face
He holds in his embrace a clay pot filled with dirt
The dewdrops run down his cheeks, resembling teardrops
No flowers grow in his dirt
No weeds dare approach
He sits very still
Awaiting perhaps a grasshopper or fly to light on the edge
Deep in the recesses of his mind
He may be thinking of the rays baking him into finger food
All we know for sure is that he sits very still
He faces west
Cracks are showing on his face
If only the birds hadn't eaten his seeds
A flower might have brought color
Always he sits, ignoring each new day
Saying goodbye to each old one
Ironic is the grin eternally frozen on his face
A lonely grey frog sits
Loving the mermaid birdbath across the street
Sadly, she also sits facing west
Perhaps someday, she'll turn around so eyes can lock
Love, not spring, is in the air
Unrequited, he endlessly stares at the horizon
His heart breaks over and over again
She will never know of her admirer
Still, they both face west
Lost in their own thoughts and worlds
Never ending


Debbie Gross / West Pittston, PA - Sabianism with a Scorpio

Extend an awkwardly bent wrist;
One digit lit and prominent
Sheds moonbeams on an einkorn eye
Where chaos liquefies
Fingers weave the constellation
A supernova for the pallid faces
Comets for minds
Craters for voids
Gasping blackness for those earth eyes
Where star-ways and sidewalks collide

A galaxy caged by these fingertips
Five pressed to corresponding five
Still can't recall who owns this sheet,
Those eyes, this field of wheat
Where we lie dissecting reveries
Tendon by tendon


Codi Gugliuzza / Hyattsville, MD - White Cars

One left muted with a blonde-haired broom,
the other stayed stand-still in the Macy's,
looking for garter belts with a virginal smile.
One stopped in January, no more fuel, white
outside like the cold he layered up for.
The other liked cold, liked peace, liked me.

He left tire mark answers growing like his
black hair. She kept talking, shorter hair for
longer love, keys on the friendship counter.

Two-and-a-half hours is a car ride to good
laughs and a future dance of Burlesque
proportions. She stands center-stage proud.

June is now the month one steering wheel
won't be turning right street downward to a
turquoise door for a magic show.

There were two white cars I used to sit in,
carrying best, and the better low student,
the other language. He sleeps on the same
turtle campus and stays hidden, hating.
She, bumper-stickered here and always,
visits for full-speed weekends when the
hawk closes its less-populated wings.


Jenna Gunn / Mason, OH - Reminiscent Past

The ice-cold air sneaks into the
crevices of my parted mouth;
it feels like diamonds atop of my lungs,
wringing out my sins.
A billowing wind whittles
with its marker, rosy cheeks,
while the setting sun ignites
the evanescent trees.
Children jump into multi-colored leaves,
the many facets crunching with the falling of a foot.
It smells of my Grandma's house.
"Where's the apple pie?" I think to myself.
"And turkey, and mashed potatoes,
and gravy, and corn-on-the-cob?"
A shiver of pleasure runs
down my spine as the nostalgia
of last year's Holidays travel from
my head to my heart.
And it's that time of year,
once again.
No longer must I rest in my
reminiscent thoughts.


Kelley Hagen / Bensalem, PA - Grateful

The single mother's throat tightens,
three more bills.
She slips into the bathroom for two more pills.
Her head is pounding,
the kids are hungry, and there's little to fix.
"Mooooooom?" a voice calls out.
Two faces are filled with anxious looks.
She plays it off as she finds something to cook.
"It'll be ready in a few . . . you two have any homework to do?"
She is so grateful that pasta is cheap,
and that she hadn't used up all the frozen hamburger meat.
She sneaks off to the bathroom, to pee and to cry,
and as she sits for a minute, lets out one long sigh . . .
another month, another day, and expectations still high.
Tomorrow it's Friday, short day at work.
She'll stop by the college, pick up some stuff, won't hurt.
"Can we make cookies tonight?" says the voice outside the door.
She smiles.
There's some change for cookie mix at the dollar store,
and she is grateful.


Taylor Hagerdorn / Tremont, IL - Rainy Day Rose

The petals shiver and hide,
creeping down below their knees.
The fog descends upon them
like a warning in liquid disguise.
The drops nurse the garden of despair.
Drip, drop
onto the faded blossoms.
Beauty is vague memory,
joy the faintest whisper,
laughter the silent fragments
of a dream.

The fence is worn and rugged,
sentries of sorrow.
Light doth not shine unto them—
light doth not shine unto you.

The whistles offer a medley of
cries of pain.
The tears float to the very bottom.
Hurt goes so far,
down with the deepest roots
it burrows and grows,
burrows and grows,
burrows
and
grows.

No gardener could weed out the pesky aches.
The nonchalant pessimists agree,
they do add some bland spice
to the monotonous field.
Nothing sparkles or glimmers
with the faintest of hope.
Crawling, I go towards Your voice
but I am so weak
I cannot make it alone.


Grace Hamm / Edmonton, AB - And The Rain Still Falls

She enters a cafe, holding her mail
She sits down at a table,
As people aimlessly pass by
While the rain falls on the windowpanes

Riffling through the junk mail
Carefully sifting out,
Sorting out the scraps
From the long waited letters

The pile has been made
The scraps thrown away
Slowly, she gently tears at the covers
Taking out each inked sheet of paper

Each one reads,
"Thank you for applying, but I'm sorry to say..."
"Thank you for applying, but I'm sorry to say..."
"Thank you for applying, but I'm sorry..."

Her heart
Stops beating;
Her world
Stops
Spinning.

She lifts her head and looks around
And the people keep passing by
And the rain still falls on the windowpanes.


Helen Hawaz / Brooklyn, NY - Lost Veins of the World

We will live in the same world
full of purple leaves and toxic grass,
brown air and even browner water,
enclosed spaces filled with just a little love
and the eyes of the fallen looking up to us
with hearts just as weak as their veinless arms.
We will house our perfect souls
with our imperfect bodies,
we will betray the limelight with our bizarre personas,
and we will dance to the vivid beat in our heads
with an intention far beyond our comprehension.
So eventually, once the sun sets
and the moon encompasses our universe,
while the only source of light is in one another's eyes,
and when belief in something deeper than the earth's core strikes us,
we will be accustomed to what is,
pay our respects to what couldn't be,
because in the end that is the beginning that is the end to another's beginning.
We deem freely,
our souls intertwined.
We are happy,
no longer is the zephyr
demeaning our flight.


Tara Hayen / Poway, CA - Neverland

Fire trucks with little zebras
Rocket ships that swim through air
Ladybugs who crawl in circles
A child and her teddy bear
Spinning shapes around laughing flowers
Butterflies with gumdrop hair
Swirling figures on the ceiling
Blur together as I stare
For hours dreaming never moving
Never speaking, for I dare
Not say a word to disrupt teacher
The ferocious Ms. Dellatere
Blackened bruises from her fingers
Dark blood spattered down the stair
Muffled screams of horrid pleasure
Bound upon her wooden chair
Leather straps and chain-linked fencing
Little girls so young and fair
Broken bodies rest in corners
Drowning in my own nightmare
Dolphins swim across the treetops
Where they go I do not care
My only wish for them to hear me
Whispering"Please take me there?"


Bing Jie Fu He / New York, NY - Royal Psycho

I came from the earth, mother said.
Three realms of royal blood run through my body
Like an electric pulse. It came from my father.
One Manchu, an emperor's late-afternoon dream;
One Tibetan, an old man's wine sack on the cold plateau;
The last Romanov, a refugee.
But I need none of these, for the three combined
And mix poison in my veins.
I reject such ancestral heresy.
I came from the earth, my mother said.

I would rather have three types of earth mixed
In my brain: one grassy, one volcanic, the other
Sky-high. I would rather come from the water
Of Sicily, and roll in the hot crest of its sand.
I would rather be Roman, singing nursery rhymes of
How Caesar crossed the Rubicon, and play with
My gold coins like dice: one face Augustus, the other
A cold imprint of Roman numeral. I would rather hide
In the dusty pages of Cicero and Tacitus, than
To face my royal blood again.
But father is waiting for me across the ocean of
Actium.

Father kidnapped me and put my sanity in hospital gowns
In my own psych ward. Mass produced pictures of
Dorian Gray stare at me on the white-washed walls.
Father forced me to wear birthday hats, then
Greek comedy masks; father, this is no way
To treat a royal prince, the blood of
Genghis Khan cries and shouts in my already emptied
Heart. Father, exile me please, I beg of you,
Then I would hide myself as a winter stone, and wrap
My poisoned body in my own purity of thought.
In 49BC Caesar crossed the Rubicon,
Yet it is snowing in Gaul.


Rae Anne Henwood / Victoria, BC - That's Pretty Far Out

The way you conduct our lives
with your funky voodoo
in the way that only you can.

We wait, on edge
breathless
for your Starman
failing to realize he is already
here
walking among us

Such confidence should be
outlawed:
that dashing swagger,
that incandescent grin

You charm us all, and we're
splendidly swallowed up
in the spell of your
imperfect gaze

Redolent of class
and unflinching conviction
you are the very Prince
of Pulchritude

And we bow to you
gladly


Jozelyn Herrick / Catonsville, MD - House

The cane creaked under him,
mahogany isn't sturdy,
yet he dragged the unstable leg
with muscles that withered
under the surface of his skin.
For he bathed in the glory
of being, and drenched his
face in the acrid swig of challenge.
He wore the battle armor
of the sickly, and shrugged
off the raised eyebrows that
accused his thriving intellect.
No one ever thought he would
spend a night with silent tears
running down his concave cheeks,
black and sticky with regret.


Jessica Hesse / Derry, NH - November Poem

i see scarlet
smeared across gods bedroom walls
and the devils cheeks rosy like
a slice of cherry pie
on the table of fire that we call passionate love
flames bright from a malicious sun
shooting daggers like a
pissed off porcupine cornered
dying, a last attempt at
poking out an eyeball

i see scarlet
until I am blind on the floor
of my friend's basement
5 AM the light of the television
slaps me in the face
choose your weapon the box screams
needle, cyanide, pistol, baby
suicide
how will you ruin the world today?
stand closer to the well tie
a brick to your leg jump off
jump in jump up jump down
feel the wind on your teeth as you smile fall
like an albatross swooping across the tearful sea
so beautiful, so disgusting
so hoary, so bold
see scarlet, tie that ribbon around
your eyes take a swing at that pinata, boy
bust its candy brains and claim your treasures cause I won't
stop you who would dare try?
you deserve to live you idiots
you deserve the world on your
fingernail to flick like a crumb onto
the floor to be stepped on, slurped up
by the dog, rest
inside his intestines until your
beautiful birth into the bright lights
and dark downfalls
of a scarlet, scarlet, scarlet tomorrow.


Andrew Horaceglenn / Maplewood, MN - Somewhere There Is a River

Somewhere there is a river death cannot cross,
Mounted there on his horse called time,
Riding hell-bent through a landscape divine.

Somewhere there is a river
A blazing ribbon winding through a green plain,
Dividing creation in two parts:
The love of man and the arts;
Second, a dark place where all is thirst,
Where loss is shell that has burst
And desire turns to dross.

Somewhere there is a river death cannot cross,
Where he drops his reins letting his horse drink.
Time shall whinny and toss its mane
In an arc of spray, each moment supreme and gay.
I would pray the sun let go its hand
To let lovers gallop free in this new land.

Noelle Horton / Georgetown, GA - Red

I have a bleeding heart: red on a worn out notebook,
and little dribbles of pain on a Microsoft Word document.
I say to myself,
"Enough is enough,"
and pretend to stop hurting,
to stop caring.
I pretend to giggle, to laugh
a defensive morsel of a
lie,
pretending that laughter comes easy for
a person like me.
No one ever stays,
and I always cry
with words still pleading,
always screaming,
internally bleeding:
why would you torture someone
who doesn't know anything
about not hurting?


Laura Jacka / Calgary, AB - The Offering

I followed the breadcrumbs to your door
As many had before;
Deliberately placed with concentric magic and, device, that
would put the Sun to sham€¦.
Yet I follow in reckless pain.
Gossamer spun around the house, the door ajar; a glow apparent and bright;
I now see your form
Exquisite, chaotic but, too tame; it bends and, twists against the light;
Still I stoop.
I step
I put before you an offering- of gentle honesty, a feather soft-of a dove;
This I offer as my love.
You stand.
You step
upon the feather with boots solid and, stride away.
I turn to face another day


Kym Jenkins / Columbus, MS - Hush Now

His hair, dark chocolate truffle, fell into her mouth
just as it opened in a tiny o,
the most dangerous of all letters.
His brown eyes infected her own,
leaving her intuition helpless to scream:
INFECTIOUS!

Without her intuition she could not manage
as the Siamese cat she always had been.
Her whiskers cut she became a monstrosity
of an alley cat,
no more refined than raw sugar.

She landed on her back
rather than her feet for you see
she would fall each time the two would meet.
His heartbeat hypnotized her into
the sheets.

Five weeks later...

at the clinic
legs wide open
her toe flips the vacuum switch,

disposable bio-toxic material.


Cathryn Jordan / Lampasas, TX - Amulet

I tuck a amulet of fear inside and wait, barely breathing
for light to come inside.
Hollow echoes of quiet desolation
and deliberate sorrow cry silent in the night.
Lovely voices, winged intruders sing a capella in the light.

I watch through spread eagle fingers as
Miniature Buddas dance beneath a banana moon,
nodding and breathing, they light the night and
give the darkness a sweet glow in their flight.
Fever conjures sweet melody, rumpled dreams cast their vessel out to sea.

The wind cries out, awakens the past,
doors open and erase shadows that doubts had cast.
Lovely, lilting lilies floating by. I lift my veil;
regret, remorse no longer imprison me.
My arms, once held strong in front of me,
now lifeless limbs fail and fall to my side.
allowing light and love to come inside.

Free will escapes. I wonder whose face will be the first I see,
John Lennon or John Kennedy?
I glance back, only once, and see a woman, a child;
ten perfect fingers and ten perfect toes,
Mysterious, patient, soothing light walks with and guides me as I leave.


Art Judd / Santa Fe, NM - Pucci

From three shelters
in Houston, then
finally a home.
Pucci, the night walker
unique animality
growing dependency;
a source of pleasure
and pain as well
went missing one evening
while looking for me
picked up by a driver,
the worry was hell
not mine officially
though he held a view
I cannot disclodge
he was my master
and I, his dog.


Hee Kang / La Crescenta, CA - Mortal Bride

Soft footsteps through the amalgam gate
Trace the stony path of stygian streams
As raven tresses flutter and wave
Above shadows cast by leaves of yew.

Driven on by winds of autumn late,
Frail legs clasped on the loosening seams
Of cobweb veils plucked from Somnus' cave,
The dayflies crown her head two by two.

Acidic green eyes meet obsidian
And she halts before Him, burning Death-
A black maelstr├╢m. He slips a ring crafted
Of holly on her thin, pallid finger.

Strewn in the day's meridian,
Ashen petals on a bed of teeth.
A brush of lips, the last breath wafted.
Silent whispers in the breeze, to linger.


Terra Kincaid / Hillsboro, OH - Upstairs Spider

I was aware
Of a spider scuttling by,
Scratching the cardboard ceiling
In the dark.
It was audible only.

Every careful step,
like a pellet ricochet,
I knew it was there.
So did he,
I wonder of me,
He is aware,

Keeping me from sleep,
Making a heated chill
Without recover,
Deep despair
Of cardboard acoustics.

Home had quiet above my bed.
Stingy light
Without dawning perception
Is better perhaps that way.

Shuffling, tipping,
Scratching,
Slipping closer,
With hairy rattles,
Creeping marauder,
Nightmare spy.


Charles Lamadine / Surrey, BC - Walking to School

Walking to school,
The days were many
And so were their toils.
Life was normal as it appeared
While its happening surreal as the seasons.
We were the school kids,
Some of us tough.
Others were the neighborhood wanderers;
Yet some more were destitute hostages.
Walking to school was tiring and endless,
Yet the garments didn't fit every kid.
For the most, the walk was a docile path.
Our needs were less and suffering was more.
Yet some parents eyed the distant future
Others didn't for reasons too big to pull.
But walking to school
Was never priceless nor prizeless.
With the sun on our back,
Our feet ate their dust.
With the rain,
Our heads drenched in its pouring.
The cold penetrated our coatless bodies.
Despite all odds,
Our zeal embraced walking to school.
Breakfast and lunch were never a must.
One meal a day saw our stomachs famished,
So we scrambled and fetched
And eluded the injustices of hunger.
Walking to school—
Our covering-headline a non-fiction;
And the cure met battered faces.
Harshness embraced us on countless fronts,
Dried tears marked our faces with constancy.
Walking to school, yesterday's battle must win
And bring today's manifestation.
In retrospect, a realization pops.
Walking to school,
With feet of perseverance and commitment,
Yields no regrets in today's world.


Aurilla Lawrence / Jackson, MO - The Force Newton Couldn't See

All unsaid words weigh upon hopeless souls
While the restless lie, grievously awake.
The force leaves our hearts as nothing but holes.

When you are alone, you just play the role
Of savior. The truth puts too much at stake.
All unsaid words weigh upon hopeless souls.

Falling in love was not one of my goals,
But dwelling in hate was too much to take.
The force leaves our hearts as nothing but holes.

I slowly shatter, while my heartbeat lulls
Me to slumber just as night to dawn breaks.
All unsaid words weigh upon hopeless souls.

You say you live free: the pain is the toll
Of liberation. Bliss you cannot fake.
The force leaves our hearts as nothing but holes.

Walked so far in life, you've worn down your soles.
Barrell to skull your one final mistake.
All unsaid words weigh upon hopeless souls.
The force leaves our hearts as nothing but holes.


Kathleen Linger / Katy, TX - My Gentle Sky Of Morn

Where is my gentle sky of morn
That cloaked o'erhead when first I woke?
My plan through crags and hills was torn
When lightning flashed and thunder spoke.

To walk along the water's edge,
My heart's desire since first I saw.
And maybe tarry on the ledge
To be amazed and filled with awe.

The peace I sought when on the hill
Above the water and the trees,
Destroyed by Nature's charge, yet still
She might turn back and gift me breeze.

Please not the tumult bursting black
Nor gust that bends the trees to break.
The threat of deluge and attack
Saddens my heart with angst and ache.

Play out your dance upon the land!
Shout loud your voice and be well spent!
Pelt down your rain and make your stand!
Then be gone! Depart with assent.

Return my gentle sky of morn
With air so calm and trees upright.
For if the dusk be cloudless born,
While sought at dawn would find at night.


Jessica Livermore / San Luis Obispo, CA - Heartbreak Is a Yellow Rug

He reclines, in that black swivel chair,
As she grounds her knees into the rug.
She would fire scorn into his eyes,
But she is distracted,
Looking for strips of bleeding heart upon the floor
To put into a napkin
(Just for now, till she finds a better place).

He starts to roll, wheels flecking scarlet,
On that black-swivel-chair-like darkness.
A boulder propelled forward by relentless anxiety,
He is liberated,
Trapping her in the sanguine revolutions
Of that speckled carpet
(Just for now, things will get better).

She rebels, fingers clutching at the inky leather,
As the wheels drown her deep into yellow floor.
She would reveal the potency of her madness,
But he has made up his mind
To deny air to the slivers of heart choking in the napkin.
It's just for now--and now is forever and forever.


Maegon Mayes / Jonesboro, AR - Love and Work

Her husband is loading split wood,
the furnace choking it down on the back porch.

The whole lot smells like his work.
They will say one day
how everything smells like his work.
Pages in the stacks of books.
Babies clothes.
His love's red hair,
Her fresh-knit scarf.

Now, the air is warm enough on its own.
"My boys are outback broadcasting buckwheat for the bees,"
she says, smiling for their work.


John McIntyre / FPO, AE - Pray

Unveiled we sit alone
Indignantly encompassed,
Embodied by misguided perceptions of peace;
Anger becomes our refuge
Making us numb.

Complacency deafens our ears,
Our souls, lost in prevarication;
The truth translates to fiction
Excreting through our pores as waste.

Our eyes are deceived white with Oleander
Subtle and sensuous as the setting sun.
As we exhale our last bit of breath—
Demise is immanent.

Timidity becomes our casket.
Entombed in a shell of ignorance
We are embalmed ambiguously,

And all we had to do is pray.


Anna Meulemans / Black Creek, WI - Maple Tree

Dwindling leaves wither in the fall
Without a sound to be heard the last leaf falls to the ground
The gaggle of geese overhead with their unending call

Leaves hang in the air with a stall
Landing on the forest floor without a sound
Dwindling leaves wither in the fall

The naked maple stands tall
As the leaves cling on for dear life and create a crown
The gaggle of geese overhead with their unending call

Weeds and branches stand as if a hall
As the dark clouds float around
Dwindling leaves wither in the fall

Big and orange in the sky, the sun hangs like a bouncing ball
Its brilliant colors do astound
The gaggle of geese overhead with their unending call

Such beautiful nature is so far from it all
Nature's grace is so profound
Dwindling leaves wither in the fall
The gaggle of geese overhead with their unending call


Destiny Miller / Pittsfield, IL - Dehydration

Miles of rough terrain keeping me captive
Direct sun rays torturing my olive-toned skin
Degrees Farenheit rising past three digits

Skin boiling, burning red with blisters
My dried, chapped lips cracking open
The rustic taste of blood conquering my swelling tongue

Suffocating on my own breath
Each inhale grinding down the walls of my throat
As if I were swallowing a piece of sandpaper

No longer keeping my eyelips separate
I do not want to see the bird flying in circles above me
Zeroing in on my body like my seconds of life

Limbs stiffening, becoming immoblized
My heartbeat weakening, my life ending
No feeling of the bird's beak tearing into his supper


Hannah Mitchell / Garner, NC - Hiding in Silence

Hiding oh so quiet
Scared of making one noise
In fear someone might hear
We do not talk we do not walk
I sit in silence as I watch my mother knit
Dad is making an emergency kit
Peter is trying to be a mime
Margo is reading and turning pages one day at a time
I look out the window and I can barely see
A big oak tree staring back at me
Like the man who ruined us
He made us hide in such a fuss
Its limb is an arm
Pointing to the air
Just like the horrible man
Who did us all this harm
Four lines like a knife
Stick out and try to take all life
It has its own glory
But we have our little star
With six points that stretch out far
A triangle and one more
I think that is better than four
Like those German swastikas
We are hiding and are quiet
Quiet once more


Arnold Morton / Bremerton, WA - His Skin Was Black but His Blood Ran Red

"I'm fighting for freedom", He proudly said,
At Valley Forge in the snow and the cold.
His Skin was black, but his blood ran red.

My father by the lash is dead,
So I'll march against Dixie, a soldier bold.
"I'm fighting for freedom", He proudly said,

At Gettysburg, he took some lead,
From a rebel who had his brother sold.
His skin was black, but his blood ran red.

"The Great War" they called it as graves filled with dead
He was there with the dirt and the mold.
"I'm fighting for freedom", He proudly said.

In '42, failure was his only dread
As his Jeep into the battle rolled.
His skin was black, but his blood ran red.

In a march that Reverend King had lead,
In Alabama, it did unfold.
"I'm fighting for freedom", He proudly said,
His skin was black, but his blood ran red.


Xye Nelson / Omaha, NE - Our Drug

Our drug was poison,
You said,
And we rolled recklessly.
Purged of our sins,
We were lilies,
Breathing in the heat of July
Swaying in the fragrant breeze of delusion

Our song was tragedy,
You said,
And we played tragically.
Stripped of our marbles,
We danced like imps
Around the head of authority.
Naked and Raw.

Our drink was fear,
I said,
And ran away from you.
My frenzied footsteps leaving a trackable trail,
my hurried heartbeat a solid sonar.

Our sport was apology,
You said,
And wove a fable I fell through,
Rich in color and detail,
As good as any Illustrated Man.

Our season was summer,
I said,
And the thick red leaves of fall
Interupted our green haven
Piercing our hayfever faze
And consumed us separately.


Chris Niday / Dubuque, IA - If Winter Could Have Stayed

When you climbed upon the chair
And looked out through the window
To see that trees had become bare
And the grass replaced with snow
Did you feel as cold
As the lonely winter air
Or when you saw the frozen ice
Was there no time to spare
Did you stay inside and wait
For the crystals to melt out there
Did you rush outside and thank nature
With a gentle prayer

Did you find enjoyment
Skating on the ice
A freedom like no other
When television wouldn't suffice
When the days were short
I would not have thought twice
Winter's duration
Was too precise
And ignoring the chance
Held too great a price

There was an angel on the ground
Where your body had once lay
Surrounded by the shoeprints
Where other kids had played
Count up all the snowmen
And igloos you had made
How great the days would've been
If winter could have stayed


William O'Keeffe / Santa Rosa, CA - Theory

Dark blood stained
the transit freeway and
from the sulphur desert
a small liquid galaxy
eclipsed the battleground
in shades of yellow

Towards nightfall blue
en route to the perimeter
an electrical storm
of unknown origins
would congeal and illuminate
the captured fluid

Within the phials


Karlynn O'Neil / Lakeville, MN - Generational Things

Three orphans waved beach towels from the shore as the pilot flew overhead.
"Dad won't be back 'till tomorrow,
he has important things to attend," Grandma said.
You hid in the hem of her house-dress, hands tangled in her apron strings.
Your little brother paddle-boated his way upstream,
took what was given, put his name first on the billing.
Is that why the corned beef is dry?
Are you still looking up ladies skirts? Trying to find her eyes?
Same as mine, the woman who left without explanation.
See her on the cover of glossy biker magazines,
under the life jackets of the lake girls,
in my genes—the color of my hair—the way I walk.
Did they sparkle? Did they gleam?
Were they shiny, Dad,
Like stones passed from mother to daughter to daughter-in-law?
My grandma's diamond becomes my brother's branch.
She put a pie in the windowsill for her three gold investments.
It's been decades. You and your sister should really take your slice.
Perhaps, she rang the dinner bell too softly.
Round and blue like my iris, like my last name.
Generational things so light gray,
makes it hard to see when you dock the boat at night;
makes it easy to shield out the sun.
I feel like I was undersold, Dad.
Undervalued inheritance.
It's an authentic suit, been in space and everything!
Underpriced on the garage floor,
quite the find for a naïve bargain hunter.
I think you know what that's like.
The Abandonment issues of Hustler.
Did you find it between those pages?
Squinting, appalled, I tried to find it too.
I looked on Santa's lap.
No luck.
Took the canoe out to Woods Bay,
dove deep, met the wreckage of the Boston Wailer.
No luck.
Swam to the surface gasping exhausted.
Climbed to the top of our family tree,
No luck.
We're not actually Irish, are we?
Now I can see that I should have been digging at the roots.


Sophia Paffenroth / Cornwall On Hudson, NY - Lingering August

Our tongues taste of the lingering August
When we'd lay in empty rooms.
Dusty tranquilities, still unfamiliar.
And the rocking chairs would rock out
on the old wrap around porch.
Shadows cast about, shifting in the sepia light.
Voices flickered faintly, out from the forgotten, cobweb sheltered radio.
He watched, as she pulled her ponytail out,
Letting her hair fall softly on her shoulders.
Cascading down, like weightless feathers, it gently fluttered in the wind.
Messy, untamed, windblown, wild.
Our tongues taste of the lingering August.
When we'd dust off the old picture frames and smile.
Our lips would whisper silently of desires longed for endlessly.
The curtains would dance in the gaping windows
As the twilight sky streamed in.
The space composed of a bare silhouette.
The vacant rooms, the nameless house,
And still, our tongues taste of the lingering August.


Patrick Patton / San Antonio, TX - Love's Endless Journey

Standing underneath a flowering chinaberry tree
we talked as centurys of dust collapsed.
Something dramatic was happening downstream.
I can see shadows of people in a courtyard.
The feeling of the springtime of our land burns
our heals as a sudden slight smile talks silently.
Floods of untrammeled joy pass through our speech.

As the conversation mingled, flashes of light strike the ground.
You fell into my arms beside a banana and orange plantation.
Sounds of weeping, wailing and shouting pierce our ears.
A tree over a tractor fills the vision ahead.
We became overcome with tenderness and admiration
as life lays on daisies in a field of grass.
Sitting comfortable on the sand near the praising family,
I glanced into eyes of tenderness and light.
Giggling, laughing and speculating creates cries in the night.
A crazy longing persist to travel to the people
in the courtyard.

She spoke to me about sometimes balancing on rocks.
He thought of a thousand things as he listened.
She talked about times of bitterness and beauty
which spread like memories of laid groundwork.
We stood astonished by some modern buildings;
while deep in discussion, a tearing earthquake brews.
They stood hand in hand meditating on ecclesiastes
with just a poetic fancy and patience
of their dream to reach the courtyard.


Dougal Pentleton / Sydney, Nsw - Cohesion

Caved in
Strewn I lay
Rubble
The fragments of megalomania
An incohesive whole
Time abated
Boredom sated
A seed in silence
A blind hope
Waiting, for the cool waters of fruition
To seed and sprout and grow
To push through that top soil
To feel that light,
Stuck between the twilight
A choice, to be made
A hard path or to head back.
Where I came
To swallow the hardship or to retract
To believe every new start
Has a seeded potential
Or maybe the whole time
The growth was there
Not as a tree or flower magnificent
But a weed
Small and insignificant.


Chivaun Perez / Valdosta, GA - Sour Towels

She uses two towels when she showers—
one for her body and one for her hair;
she always explains like it should be obvious,
and I'm not sure why that matters
except that each morning when I see one towel hung carefully on the hook
and one left carelessly on the floor to sour
it reminds me of her presence in my life,
in every facet of me,
in all the ways every day that I see our two lives becoming one.
In the combination of her shirts and my socks on the floor by the hamper
and color-coded toothbrushes by the sink,
in a grocery list on the fridge we've both added to
and the two-hour negotiation on coordinating the upholstery and curtains,
it's the things that tell me she's mine
and I'm hers
and whatever we're becoming
we're doing it together,
soured towels and all.


L. I. Pierce / Bend, OR - Sad Earth

Crawling through a dark forest,
a tattered creature, grim reflection
emerald limbs covered in November
frost, selfish snow bunnies.

The sun peaks around the corner
with warm regard, smiling like
a fresh little girl with pigtails
who comes up quietly behind.

Angry winds, rushing in and out
of the illuminated creases, pushing
its coldness into the gorgeous yellow
rays of sun. Painful penetration.

The moon's sleepless nights, churning
stomach, glowing blue silk coveting
its limbs like milky rain in a
summertime brawl, shivering.

Hours of tears, as big as the earth,
streaming over beautiful things
dead and alive. Droopy leaves of
orange and yellow, sullen moonbeams.


Angelique Poragratti / Northumberland, PA - Hypothermia

High mountains in winter
Watching it snow on the ground gently
The snow slightly smudging the sea green grass
The cold winter winds howling
Making my lips go numb
My legs are frozen
I cannot move my arms
I open my eyes one last time
My breathing is shallow
And my heart will soon be hallow
I know that soon my heart will stop to thump
And my eyes will close
Then I say goodbye earth
I wish one last thing
Dear readers of mine
That you know
Nothing is more and more is nothing
I bid you farewell
My eyes are shuttering
My breathing is slowing
I close my eyes
One last time
For the world I once knew
Has faded into darkness
And now I am gone


Melba Remedios / Toronto, ON - Imperfect Cadences

Fragments of recurring dreams
Nebulous, unformed, broken.
Hazy ideas creep slowly through
Veils of semi-consciousness
Trying hard to break through to
That remembered state.

Bewilderment!
Incomplete thoughts
Float through the mind
Like flotsam on a grey sea

What gems of creativity lie hidden
  beneath those depths of brain fog?
Fragmented images tantalize and torment
  as the inner turmoil continually struggles
to piece together these
scattered nuances
Imperfect Cadences.


Chris Rhinebolt / E. Lansing, MI - Shooting Star

Hear the frogs calling out
While the crickets answer back
Their haunting melodies
Echo all around

A pink satin dress flutters in the breeze
The jar waiting to catch the tiny lights
Goosebumps blister across cold bare feet
Clever fireballs gently floating past

The trees drink from the river
Breathing as she does
Growing to see the sun
Slumber as they must

Make a wish on this firefly night
As the wind blows the soft meadow grass
A crisp breath carries the dream
To rest upon the star-studded sky

Time for rest
She knows it is
But she wishes
For one more moment


Gil Rivera / Inglewood, CA - Release

Bent over a stove.
I stare into the radiating heat,waiting for an answer.
Voltelas guey se queman!
I flip them making sure I don’t scorch the edges.
My fingertips brush up against the griddle.
I don’t use tongs; they are too slow and leave creases.
My digits would never approve.
My fingertips caress the griddle.
Tall,beautiful and brunette wearing over sized sunglasses,she orders.
"Burrito de asadi,pro favor" dance out her cherry lips.
Everyone admires her,but my fingers stay faithful.
I turn my head to admire her properly.
My fingertips rub the griddle.
She pulls her glasses down exposing her green eyes.
I steal a smile.
My fingers push up against the griddle.
I get commendations and encouragement to talk to her.
She removes her sunglasses and curls her hair around her finger."Hi"
My Fingers grasp on the griddle.
My fingers have been making love to stainless steel for far too long.
My fingers pulse with every heartbeat,
toasted yellow skin that do not allow blisters to mature.
They limit me.
My hand needs a new lover


Emily Robbins / Paris, TN - Not Bow Knots

Whip me up buttery blue
Lash lesions welping fluff
Concupiscent foaming between
Uninhibited restraint
Thin twigged switch rakishly grey
Bound around bubbly round dull
Quackless stagnate hovering duck tape
Scabrous inmate unchasted Lais
Debauched thoughts looping tightly hung death
Freshly cut-off vulgar, lewd from freedom's
Life sentenced scatologic quest
Tied knot, not bow tied busting neck split
Whip me through buttery blue
Lashing lesions welped mess.


Jo Robbins / Phoenix, AZ - Squaw Peak Is Renamed in Memory of Lori Piestewa

Native Americans have a higher risk
for reasons I don't understand
of imbedding spore inhalants
in our own lung lining. Like fungus,
for instance, grows
in my tissue not different
than a petri dish
shaped to make things easier
to arrange in varied configurations
while culturing to a thrive for only
then can it be researched.
But what do we make
of those that don't culture on?
Coccidioidomycosis, you say,
but for you, Disseminating Valley Fever.
You laugh, and without hesitation
you tell me I'll die
if ever I stop the medication
that already I've stopped.
There's a lesion in my lung,
I've lost my hair, Doctor,
and I'm tired. I want to have babies,
name them for myself, the way
scientists name what they create
after people, like, Julius Richard Petri,
or sometimes, what's found
already existing, after
ideas of people.


Sydney Robbins / Avilla, IN - Leona

Her house smelled of cinnamon and
Musk.
Old records sat
Alone
In a desolate corner.
Clutter lined the
Walls
And counters.
Her bibles written in German hide in
Shelves.
She was so fragile,
So frayed.
Wrinkles dressed and adorned her face.
She spoke sternly,
Utter conviction.
The name God blessed upon her
Rang out with
Truth.
Courage.
Brave as a lioness.
But
Years of loneliness carved into her
Bitterness.

I should have walked into that house
That smelled of cinnamon and
Musk.
I could have picked up her favorite
Lawrence Welk record
From that desolate corner.
She would have spoken in
Immaculate German
From those bibles.
I might have
Learned
How to be
Just as strong
As she
Was.


Jasmine Romero / Miramar, FL - I Told Him the Truth

One day you're pouring from your seams,
almost unimaginable, almost unstoppable.
One night, you're wincing from the pain,
questioning the severity, trying to find the stains.
It's like
internal waterfalls, scratching at the moss of boulders;
everything you've ever been told,
their meanings, they fade away.
It's like
a cold front creeping, sweeping through;
the smell, the thick of air,
the heat, changes,
quietly.
Everything you've ever told yourself,
their meanings, they're gone astray.


Lee Rorman / Fargo, ND - Same Place, Different Day

I was nestled down
looking at the television
when it happened.

A horse walked through
me & I smelled
his furry scent

& his sweat
recently acquired
by hard running:

I sensed—no
felt—the leather
boot of Custer

blood-covered
Indian blood
still wet & warm.

My history juxtaposed
a future he would
never know.

Distance in time
divided – related
only by geography

I blinked twice
as a commercial
appeared on tv.


Kimberly Roy / Rochester, NH - Love for Him

Mustard sun chiseled cheek and chin
So sturdy were you now and then.
Flat-bottomed shoes soled with sharp tongue
lead me up a path murked by some
kinda nat'ral inclination.
Needed seize of situation
From clenched clasps of detonation!
But sometimes, in suffocation,
I resort to hesitation.
Mirrored smile-restoration.

Though ill-mannered thank you kindly
Glass clacks like porcelain—finally.
Not the reason but a shiver
Lead me in to nestle thither.
Lips more separated than sill
And it's just breath but it could kill—
In me those veined limbs come heavy,
A shovel scooping paths of slush.
Powdered shades drenched in cocktail sweat,
Orange peel smile—infinite.

Zip-tied, no hush but rhythmic breath
Tangled and drowsy, kiss to death.
Undecidedly patient, sweet
Drizzling honey from unsewn leaks.
Upright on that bench, a splinter
Scratched my pinky (stay for winter).
While dreaming, we are together
Float with the breeze, like one feather.
Know me, hear this, see you I say;
Thunderstruck forever—Love, K


Jen Scott / Courtice, On - Gate One Hundred

Sunsets bleed, and your eyes reflect gold
for a moment, little treasures. Melting coins
in the cups of your hands, spilling over your
palms holding out to me. But I can't.
The air exhales out of the sails and I'm
trying to set down the ropes that are binding you,
lay them down quickly before the wind picks up again
and you're carried away.

I won't be a thief for you.
The wood is too slick and I'm
sliding still farther behind,
splinters under my skin make me
heavy and I can't lift my hands,
can't get a grip; you're anchored but
I move with the waves.

It's no good. This semi-sweet permanence
that is snapping between us like a physical
thing.
Can't you see I'm sugar laced with gasoline?
Vanilla scented kerosene with nitro in my veins.

(I was built to consume)

I so badly want the candle you offer, with its glow like the sun and moon,
but if I reach from the water to grasp it,
I'll drown—caught—while watching you burn.


Shannon Scott / Bathurst, New Brunswick - Only at Night

My favorite time
The most beautiful destruction
My branches hugged tightly by leaves
only at night.

Swaying fluidly leaves in a puddle
Drunk from hilarity.
Affectionate doves fly inebriated.
Subwoofers booming, shaking my leaves

Dance, be exultant leaves
Fear not tomorrow
Fear not autumn's deadly chill,
Savor now

Ignorance!
Brittle are leaves
nocturnal chills, stolen water.
gathered into piles,
deeds of the stiff arm.

Sprawled on top cold surface
Third eye wrestle open
Doves separated in flight
menacing dark sky.
wrenched by the stiff arm,
Trees grasp for leaves
Gray, black, and white
Only at night

Red, yellow, orange
radiate leaves no longer unaccompanied
Your tree is calling
Only at night


Anna Shive / Myerstown, PA - Orb Weaver

The eager saplings reaching for the sunlight to catch
in their knitting's net, swallowing acknowledgements
to befriend and water the roots.
Oh, the moisture!
'Tis an extension by the gulp; come dance as golden strands
woven around my being, fair heaven! They nod with the wind.
The better of me, wrap me as a babe in thy cloth.
Thy cloth that doth blow my frail to a frosted feather.
Into the soil, a leaning sapling.
Spat out, the golden tree.
Luminous leaves, a fingerprint in process. Lay under me
and stare into it through the shimmering ovals, you earthen shade.
Transparency for how the blind men see.
A blind man once I was, but how my fingers do dance,
dance upon the texture on that face.
If sunlight was a solid's embrace,
then I have found; I swallow down.
My considerate Father golden, now it's my turn, lovely.
Ha! This throbbing heart.


John Simonds / Honolulu, HI - Roadside Tribute

The light stops us all
at the crossing of life and death.
The door of the van in front of us opens.
A driver in camouflage gear springs out
placing a basket bouquet on the medial strip,
then slides back in behind the wheel.
Rush-hour blossoms with wreath and ribbon
sparkle in saying good bye at the scene
to the woman who just a few days ago
backed out of her driveway
into an oncoming end,
another Kalani moment on a highway
named for leaders and blessed by the heavens.
Same intersection, different light,
another day, a signal missed.
The guardsman has done the job
maybe his family or unit requested,
while traffic has paused for the red,
fatality flowers to show we remember.
Our thoughts stand attention as well,
though after the fact, keeping us safe
when the blood dries and crusts
of flare ashes remain.
The signal greens, and we're moving
ahead with our lives in drive gear.
Another surge of the homebound
flutters the ribbons and petals
in the sun of a late afternoon.


Kathryn Smith / Pasadena, CA - Persephone Reincarnate

In Hades' solitary palace,
A legend through me has been reborn,
Now I am forever bound to a life of malice.

A poisonous pomegranate stings my hand like a thorn,
Bloody tears pool at my swollen feet,
Frightened by my captor's scorn.

Demeter's cries to the heavens no longer discreet,
My mortal lover lost to his own grief,
My rescue a priority to the Olympian fleet.

Happiness to me now is like a crushed leaf,
My heart longs for his with an ache,
Hope no more a belief.

My sacrifice to save him my heart does break,
Suffering a consequence of a decision,
A mother's ignored warning a wrong path I do take.

Suffer I do now as dreams are an illusion,
The forbidden field I mistakenly frolicked about,
Not heeding advice as freedom is my delusion.

My soul's mirror forever devout,
Not knowing of my retched flaw,
For I am reincarnated as princess of death and doubt.


Caitlin Spillane / Vernon, NJ - Living a Lie

The man on the corner, that nameless creature.
Prowling the streets that he's come to call home.
A menacing shadow, yet harmless enough;
Pallid, starving, and chilled to the bone.

The clouds in his mind darken and roar.
A storm soon ensues, a torrential downpour.

His hood drawn up tight;
Cold eyes stare from an empty shell.
Praying one person
Can save him from Hell.

His family despairing this fiend of the night;
Turning their backs after one final fight.

His only relief, concealed on the streets.
Prying eyes are not fooled as they pass quickly by.
A torn paper bag, clutched in his fist.
And yet he denies; keeps living the lie.

Fallen from grace,
This soul shambles on.
The bottle, the trigger
For this ticking time bomb.


Jeff Summers / Fletcher, NC - Night Walk

moonlight sifts through the dark branches
filtered silvered shadows haunt
remembrances of walks past
long ago eves spent not in velvet silence
without the missing puzzle piece
but in blissful synchronicity

life as a full chapter
to be followed by yet another
promise of a grand novel
we wait as critics
reread all the words
seek for hidden meaning
knowing what will be found
a tale of loneliness
dark days spent
along the gothic seashore
the music swells to a tumultuous pitch
but the love we hope to find
running fevered from the lighted towers
is never there

Solitary midnight
keeper of dreams
dare we place a wish
on the ancient oak
now but a faint gray shadow
we look up at the vaulted heaven
somber stars depend crystalline
shimmer in the cold of space
waiting ever patient
for our wish


Yichen Sun / Union City, CA - Unbeautiful

You, with the broken smile
Dress in the same old clothes
And move through life with fractured ribs.
Your hands, cut up from sorting your worries,
Dyes mine red when I try to keep you from falling.

You, with a million masks
Hide behind your graceful
port de bras.
Which one of you is you?
A ship lost at sea,
And you won’t let me guide you home.

You, standing on a house of cards
Look at the world with eyes of jade.
Your heart beats a phantom rhythm
That no one but I can hear.
Your body decays in the absence of your mind
Which wanders somewhere above your head
Trying to fly to a better place.

You, the
Little butterfly stuck in my glass box
On a foamy cushion made of regret.
Pinned down, unmoving,
Unbeautiful.


Andrew Usjak / Guelph, ON - To the Raven

We had supper together.
You look dreary in black
As appearance of an undertaker
Who bodes a near death
And sees one who follows,
And to whom he is a cause
Of a fate road
From morgue to the graveyard
And back to a new death.

After supper we disappeared
In the night and flapped away
Each following his way.

In my dream you visited me, I know.
On my forehead I felt flowing,
As when someone waves with wings.
It is good that I wasn't alone.
It is good to know you have someone
Who is a good hunter but doesn't hunt you.

In the morning you will be at the rooftop
Breaking leaden sky veil as a granite obelisk.
You will fly to hunt those who slither,
For whom is nice to be in twilight
In mire and muddy water.

Maybe we will have a supper,
But maybe you will in darkness,
Fed with your daily catch,
Dream about the world of slithering ones,
About those who are your food.


Milton Wallis / Corinth, MS - Darkness

Darkness drapes a raven embrace
Over weathered pine thick woods
Where nocturnal creatures serenade
An ancient ballad to the moon
Crickets chirp with tom-tom rhythm
A bullfrog croaks like a bassoon
Amphibian piccolos
Treefrogs sound a frenzied chorus
Below the universal glow
From a sequined scattered cosmic tide
As barn owls and possums pause to listen
To this primal performance of night.

While midnight cuddles with the stoic pines
Critters canary the hours away
'Neath stagelight shadow of moonshine
Luna moths boogie to tempo of song
And fireflies flash dancing through the air
Brings this haven a feeling of calm
With twilight moving on towards sunrise
Another native ritual begins
A choir of birds warble "rise and shine"
With a joyous glee club buzz
As this show of Mississippi wonder
Sings sacred homage to the sun.


Tse Shuen Wan / Mississauga, ON - Nephilim's Flight

Chonos' inquiry hollow and vain.
A doctrine, judged but yet distinctly stoic.
Our memorandum remains vividly and explicitly wrought,
A stigma, tainting the austere arras of events past.

But the morrow is also to be contempted with,
A mesa, its apotheosis and vitality blunted.
The nugatory toil for naught spurns and burlesques ascenders;
Termination but arid and devoid of its antecedent promise.

Debilitated and crippled by the verisimilitude,
She comes to us, lilting, flitting through the air.
A messenger skirting from the realm yon,
Arms convivially welcoming and receiving us into her embrace.

Divine wrath crowning, immolating and exhilarating;
She comes to cleave us asunder of the shell we are shackled within.
Her erudition vitiating the sanguine bond that tethers our mortal coil,
Assuaging, placating the affliction that blights our souls.

Lips adumbrated cerise, florid and luscious,
Locks tinged hazel and onyx eyes stolid.
Her charming ballad reverberates subtly.
Elegance and grace unrivalled and unequivocal.

An alluring smile,
She shrives us of our culling desires,
Ameliorating us with her munificent charity.
She will be our escort, the sculler that conducts us.

Take me in the night,
For I am still waiting...


Alex Weinstein / Lockport, NY - House of Lab

For call'd things of sullied mind,
The House of Lab I do find.
In truest throw of sole means mine,
The House of Lab I come to know.

Majors go, as minors grow.
A season's fall sees no victor.
Eddied flow, if you may show,
Is best seen at winter.

Moirae the Spinner, the greatest hinter,
Spells the line of rest.
Is hallowed the sinner, of ultimate inter,
Who seeks infinite jest?

A cast springs of newest tide,
The House of Lab I do fide.
Avastly so, I will not bide!
The House of Lab hums a row.


Karen Wernecke / Hoffman Estates, IL - Early Spring

Savoring solitude,
Turning the leaves of the brooding chronicles of March
These last sullen days wedged obscurely between
The final chapter of winter
And the poetic prelude of his successor.

Conspirators stacked upon a dusty shelf
Uncertainties in fallen particles of dust.

And where, where do we fit in?
We interlopers of a still life afternoon?
Our voices filtering from room to room?
Imprisoned in a hazy somnolence
Of mellowed wine and faded manuscripts

These walls reek of stale silences
And musty memories, more bitter than sweet.

Beyond the window glass, April
Chants her vernal incantations
Trumpeting new revelations,
Prophesies and births.

March, stay with us!
We are quite content to draw the shades
And sip our wine
And stoke the dying embers in our hearths.


Stephen Wilson / Stockton, CA - Strangers in This Place

We stalk you through fallow cornfields
whose cylindrical paths of maize,
now refracting reserved dooms,
were once our greatest gift to you.

Your spirits are broken like the stalks
souls the stigmas of rotting silk; hearts
scattered anemophilously. You question
ever-y-thing. You no longer dance.

What little time you have, you clutch
to withered breasts in hopes of
retaining your once fluid movements
through time and space and existence.

We gave you gold and hope and the stars,
the mathematics of the universe. You returned blood
and bombs and pestilence, cutting out the hearts
of your children to soothe the loneliness.

We have watched you through millennia
as you've lost your smiles and your compassion
Now your story approaches its final chapter,
and we return with one small comfort:

You were never alone.


Ashton Wisken / Sydney, New South Wales - Hope Found

Whispering winds and harrowing heights
Light that's dim beneath the cloud;
Keep a firm grip on the fight
There's an opening in the crowd.

Don't look back and steel your nerves
Remember all the half-healed scars;
Commit to the climax they deserve
Perchance for peace amidst the stars.

Parting clouds, blithesome song
Search and think and strain to listen.
One small cardinal come along --
And your heartbeat seems to quicken.

Dance it out in ballroom waltz
Greet it as a long-lost friend.
Keep its flaws, keep its faults,
Keep it €˜till the bitter end.


Robert Wood / McHenry, IL - In Country

Water cane is my architect of purest necessity. In country,
The wicker bathes only at night, dividing cicada counsel
With their careful bedside neighbors to the West

In country, coyotes carve their emerald baths with the finest milk
Honey—honey profit found only in rainbow seen at dusk;
On Sunday evenings under the eaves of summer peach

In country, Miss Quill's plum cherry shirt splits its time with
Shock silk nylon pickled in the finest oils of quantum twilight,
Cloaked in a brown cotton skirt as she carries out the Tango

And in good conscious, a murder of crows pick at the remains—
Chancing the Disco Fox with their bloodied bloodhound cousins.
In country, the coiled clock is always set just so


Alena Woods / Ramsey, NJ - Identity

Porcelain and gleaming
Staring with cold eyes and an indifferent smirk
Gold specks reflect the sun as it pours itself onto the misshapen creation
She reaches forward, snatching it and raising its glassy face to her own
The ruined mask covers a ruined face
With wet tears and an irreversible frown
Furrowed, frustrated brows are concealed by the icy glass
An incognito being, wanting to hide from the cruelty of everyday life
Heading for the door, she defiantly steps out
As the person she wants to be
Violently thrusting the mask to the ground
A cascading sea of sharp pieces strewn across the floor

September 2011 $1000 Grand Prize Winner

Emma LaSaine / Oak Park, IL, United StatesTurn


“Mommy, you’re so pretty.” The smile, simmering,
Pulls back her lips to show ivory dancers, dipping
And swaying, glinting with a dusting of joy. Trembling,
Embarrassment walks those honey cheeks, stung
With the shame of self-worth. But I don’t see it then;
Four is the age of simplicity.

To four, her butterfly curls and the rich aroma
Of my satisfaction wash out any hint of suffering’s
Stifling caress. The slanting haze of hostility only comes
With the thunder of stairs and the swinging of shouts.
For now, we’re safe, holed up in sapphire waffles,
Amber blood the only kind spilled.

We hail the sun, eradicating the whispers that scream
In corners. Raise the broken shards of winter’s water
To gregarious eye, as they melt away with the coming
Quake. We seize hold of our end of the day and tug,
Stretching between us and him the authority. But
Soon, we’re sliding in on melted pastel pleasures.

And when I turn to her for the strength I need,
She turns and lets me stumble into his imperious, belittling hands.

First Prize Winners for September 2011


Kristina Rate, Doylestown, PA

Lisa Birkeland, Kalispell, MT
Carrie Shogan, Fort McMurray, AB
Shelby Lassere, Vacherie, LA
Catherine Gauthier, South Burlington, VT
Asma Alqudah, Lodi, NJ
Cory Ogilvie, Mims, FL
Michaela Parker, Jones, OK
Bailey Fletcher, Eureka, CA
Dianne Staley, Tucson, AZ
Clara Torres, Chicago, IL

Nicholas Trandahl, Upton, WY
Jordyn Bailey, Chicago, IL
Greg Rolewicz, Las Vegas, NV
Gary Edwards, Gardnerville, NV
Ryan Fosbenner, Ithaca, NY
Kirsti Isokungas, Fitchburg, MA
Judith Kaufman, Laporte, CO
Ellyn Stroud, Dallas, TX
J.D. Scrimgeour, Salem, MA
James Corbett, Fort Myers, FL
Keith Baker, Las Vegas, NV

Moriah Prior, Elsah, IL
Timothy Cross, Charlevoix, MI
Leslie Root, Syracuse, NY
Kilian Kidrick, Prescott, AZ
Patrick Rowlee, Sacramento, CA

Kelly Yeo, Culver City, CA
Carlos Kinosian, Phillipston, MA
Ryan Lackey, Wallingford, CT
Skylar Bryant, Loveland, CO
Steve Eggleston, Lakewood, CO
Kierra Mclellan, Jefferson City, MO

Bryan Atneosen, Park Rapids, MN
Carmel Hines, Cedar Falls, IA
Timothy Dyson, Exton, PA
Andrew Arianna, San Diego, CA
Victoria Vega, Glendale, CA
Trevor Schaefer, Boise, ID
Audrey F., Great Neck, NY
Heidi Washburn, Lincoln, NE
Ehud Sela, Margate, FL
Fernando Valdivia, High Falls, NY
Sophie Barnes, Westport, CT
Catherine Lockner, Mountain View, CA
Joe Slotnick, Philadelphia PA
Neha Verma, Greensboro, NC
Shaun Myers, Rio Rancho, NM
Emma Poveromo, Allison Park, PA
Gudrun Dreher, Vancouver, BC
Gregory Gunn, London, ON
Hanna Junnila, Victoria, BC
Makedonia Koutsoumpeli, Fredericton, NB
Anouk Ferland, Toronto, ON
Marsha Malcolm, Toronto, ON
Sioned Curoe, Cedar Rapids, IA


Dustin Hardy, Springfield, OR

Kerry Michaels, Tampa, FL
Evelyn Kaltenbach, Marsh Lake, YT
Lexie Bennett, Mead WA
Mandi Burkholder, Narberth, PA
Amber Peckham, Chicago, IL
Kaylee Ciesielski, South Bend, IN
Roxanne Garcia, Orange Cove, CA
Victoria Bufalieri, Davie FL


Cathy Bateman, Boulevard, CA

Carrie Turner, New Concord, OH
Cheyenne Warner, Slippery Rock, PA
Janine Naquin, Albuquerque, NM
Rose Lawton, Purcellville, VA
Rachel Hatch, East Bridgewater, MA
Sydney Robinson, Cumming, GA
Emily Mercurio, West Hartford, CT
Christopher Bradley, Southampton, NY
Blake Dollive, Fort Wayne, IN
Brady Mertens, East Liverpool, OH
Molly Grosskreutz, La Crosse, WI
Tammara Sutton, Hampton, VA

Sierra Schedin, Lake Stevens, WA

Emily Walters, Secane, PA
Aaron Elliot, Baltimore, MD
Tomi Hollerbach, Redmond, OR
Catrina Meyer, Southbury, CT
Jordan Moore, Lake Arrowhead, CA

Nicole Laudie, American Fork, UT
Jessica Dennis, Lawton, OK
Kendra Lohr, Southampton, MA
Erica Klein, Trybe, Copperas Cove, TX
Camilla Fuller, Jackson, MI
Julia Horniacek, Edison, NJ
Morgan Pierce, Oklahoma City, OK
Lyndsie Conklin, Ronan, MT
Spencer Hopewell, Sioux Falls, SD
Ashley Granillo, Stevenson Ranch, CA
Jeanette Woods, Nashville, AR
Camille Hartley, Truckee, CA
Caitlin Diamond, Cedar Park, TX


Brayden Deskins, San Jose, CA

Steph Bangs, Arden Hills, MN
Tiffany Creed, Portland, OR
Molly Bennett, Hingham, MA


Joel Geders, St. Louis, MO

Elise Haas, Mohnton, PA
Maia Putt, Wayne, PA
Mike Grenier, North Kingstown, RI
Elijah Giguere, East Hartford, CT
Josh Collins, Radnor, PA
Kendra Baldwin, Houston, TX
Kamala Silvey, Brooklyn, NY
Timmothy Kolliker, Livonia, MI
Marissa Burdette, Fairview NC
Emily Pancoast, Fort Collins, CO
Thomas Lyman, Seattle, WA
Emma Mcintyre, Buffalo NY


August 2011 $1000 Grand Prize Winner

Ina Cudnok / Chicago, IL, United StatesJohn Wayne, Goodbye


There is snow in the river
uneven pieces of red stained ice

On your mustache hangs December
the year is 1901

Go on, into the homestead house
where the old yolk wallpaper
matches your face
creaking cracking grinding
like a rusted rifle

I will steal your suit
smelling like the country-side
and wear it
to remember the birthing mountains
you and your horse once decorated with outlaws

I will lay next to you
with old skin and deserted lips -
- but don’t mistake this for a love poem
not even a lust bulletin
it’s a nostalgia

Goodbye to you
- you – leaving the mountains forever
the babbling brooks
the wooden handles and metal straws
the scorching sun
the winds soaked with gunpowder

I cannot bury your jacket
- it is unsuitable, disrespectful, foul -
I will let the emblem fly from the top of a mountain you created
the wind will lift it up like a Shooter lifts his saddle onto a horse

and your jacket
will be forever
swallowed
by the sky.

115 First Prize Winners for August 2011


Victoria Lara / Norwich, CT, United States Street Rats
Thvia Shetley / Palmdale, CA, United States Gorbals
Michael Hamm / Edmonton, AB, Canada Plate

Nicole Socala / Northridge, CA, United States The Sword Swallower
Edward Weiss / Rockville, MD, United States Combat Boots
Sarrai Smith / San Antonio, TX, United States I Cannot Eat My Soup

Gabriel Ambros / Miami, FL, United States My Love Story
Phil Cote / Prince George, BC, Canada The Shaman

Katrina DeLallo / Tahoe, CA, United States Only One Sacrifice
Alex Valin / Marietta, GA, United States Last Lament
Dylan Holmes / Albuquerque, NM, United States Banished

Aleta Okada / Tahoe City, CA, United States Koi
Rhonda Gaines / Cypress, CA, United States That Is Why These Things Are Thus So!
Valerie Huerta / Dallas, TX, United States Georgia O’Keefe

Cory Childs / Oviedo, FL, United States Amaranthus Caudatus
Dalton Kraus / Blanchard, OK, United States An End to Pride
Eric Perkins / Memphis, TN, United States Introspection
Jason Kaufman / Columbus, GA, United States Logis to In-existence

Yujin Chun / Diamond Bar, CA, United States Smear

Moriah Bray / Bushnell, FL, United States Transparency

Nick Kalvin / Naples, FL, United States Our Lady Cardinal’s Obsession
Gin Conn / Tucson, AZ, United States Getting Started
Dezaray Putnam / Spokane, WA, United States White and Red

Morgan Nakroshis / Laurel, MD, United States Tongues
Kayla Martin / Palm Coast, FL, United States Peeping Pirates

Amy Cavanaugh / Garnet Valley, PA, United States A February Night
Sam Williamson / Great Falls, MT, United States Cracking of the Can
Annie Phan / Albuquerque, NM, United States Hourglass
Mike Naundorff / Paterson, NJ, United States Perpetual Daydream
Jared Cauliffe / Rego Park, NY, United States You Are Destined to Collide with Winter
Ari Sen / Avondale, PA, United States The Garden
Katherine Payne / Ontario, CA, United States The Respiration of Homes
Emilee Wirshing / Harrisonburg, VA, United States On Modern Art
Sarah Wallis / Fort Drum, NY, United States Would You Like to Dine
Julia Juban / Austin, TX, United States In the House of Death
Jillian Schwalbe / Port Orange, FL, United States Love Bugs
Charlie Garvey / Cincinatti, OH, United States Crimson Sonnet
Demorge Brown / Los Angeles, CA, United States Friday June 4

Cona Adams / De Soto, MO, United States Five Cents a Dance
Tyrone Benson / Florissant, MO, United States Hugs & Smiles
Brittany Bryan / St. Louis, MO, United States China Dish
Sydney Bradley / San Francisco, CA, United States Resolution
Mary Hartong / Nashville, TN, United States Cups

Alex Paczek / St. Paul, MN, United States Aspiration
Peter Kelly / Greenwich, CT, United States Sara
Anna Donovan / Dallas, TX, United States Hands

Jaclyn Mijat / Dearborn Heights, MI, United States Striking Matches

R.H. Peat / Auburn, CA, United States Hidden Darkness

Mary Moffitt / Granbury, TX, United States Desert Sands
Jim Miller / Clearlake, IA, United States Ode to the Timber Wolves
Debbie Kerr / Redding, CA, United States Travel Channel
Sean Zimmerman / York, PA, United States Grease Bucket
Barbara Tierney / Emeryville, CA, United States Bounty

Jason Kallas / Livonia, MI, United States Back Alley Kings
Courtney Johnson / Columbia, SC, United States Rough Hands Sow Seeds
Jeff Perkins / Kansas City, MO, United States Living Scripture
Dalton Kraus / Blanchard, OK, United States Artificial Sky

Lynette Ortiz / Shreveport, LA, United States Fade to Black
Tori Shepard / Moraga, CA, United States On Webs and Waiting

Shaila Huq / Howell, NJ, United States The Orchid Blooms
Mary Stowd Stowe / Bentonville, AR, United States My Secret
Olga Ziminska / Wheeling, IL, United States Car Ride with Bruce Willis and Steve Buscemi
Emily Gillespie / Bowling Green, KY, United States Grandmother Poem
Alex Goulart / Roanoke, VA, United States Bereavement
Teghvir Sethi / Old Westbury, NY, United States A Day in the Life
Timothy Tusing / Troy, NY, United States Lepidoptera
Elizabeth Morales / San Fernando, CA, United States A Tinge of Love
William Harned / Cortland, OH, United States Baker’s Bread
William Courson / Miamisburg, OH, United States Cheerful Man
Gabbi Korrow / Langley, WA, United States Revolution
Acacia Woodbury / San Antonio, TX, United States Interpret the Stones

Amanda Berg / Tucson, AZ, United States For the Lack of a Bottle Opener on June 15
Yehoshuah Young / Los Angeles, CA, United States Villian L
Cheyenne Carbaugh / Marysville, PA, United States Marionette
Niki Afsar / Vienna, VA, United States Uncharted Territory
Rex Ybanez / Bolivar, MO, United States Tumbling
Kim McAdam / Grand Bay-Westfield, NB, Canada The Bearskin Rug
Sebastien Wen / Calgary, AB, Canada Benko Blues

Devan Pride / Roseville, OH, United States Remembrance
Sabrina Myers / Gouverneur, NY, United States The Unburied Soul
Steve Ruth / Elkhorn City, KY, United States Rose in a Bottle

Natalie James / Hazlet, NJ, United States The Apple

Stanley Kusunoki / St. Paul, MN, United States Culloden
Corie Ann / Middle Island, NY, United States Left Unfinished Eleven

Art Griswold / Gaines, MI, United States Scallop

Micaela Cain / South Windsor, CT, United States South Windsor High School Graduation Poem
Babel Carlota / Lake Elsinore, CA, United States Plastico
Ashley Bigda / Cambridge, MD, United States In the Catacombs

Michael Saccone / Gilroy, CA, United States In the Rain
Ian Griffin / Sneads, FL, United States Bloom

Mickayla Staten / Spring, TX, United States Unraveled
Alicia Sala / Racine, WI, United States A Hot Cup of Cold Blood
Emily Smith / Manasquan, NJ, United States Love, Dost Thou Follow?
Aaron Feuchtwanger / Flower Mound, TX, United States The White Spring
Alan Clark / Charlestown, NH, United States Dream
Cyndi Koster / Dayton, MD, United States At Stake
Cory Gray / Bethel Heights, AR, United States This Is Goodbye
Rhianna Major / Wedgefield, SC, United States Chess
Crazie Pallaza / Bronx, NY, United States A Calling Voice

McKenna Horsley / Raceland, KY, United States The Cat
Alexa Ashley / Canon City, CO, United States The End of the End
Jessica Santala / Mankato, MN, United States Boxcar for the Unrequited
Lisa Fox / Waterford, MI, United States Bring a Gun
Albert Tung / Irvine, CA, United States Lemonade
Jessica Jackson / London, ON, Canada As My World Turns

Katelyn Boulton / Monroe, MI, United States Empty Moon
McKenzie Hightower / Fort Worth, TX, United States Convergence

Courtney Atkinson / Cuttingsville, VT, United States Nobody Knows

Michael Lambert / Platteville, WI, United States Dive
Alice Golter / Cambridge, MN, United States Ode to a Letter
Sarah Kilili / San Jose, CA, United States Two Holes

Beatrice Martin / Virginia Beach, VA, United States Panoply

Jackson Wright / Arlington, VA, United States Only in Dreams
Colin Freeman / Lake Orion, MI, United States 2 A.M.
Emily Walter / London, ON, Canada Inside the Forest: a Villanelle


Spring 2011 $1000 Grand Prize Winner

  • Carly Miller / Portland, MI, United States – A Most Futile Chase


    Carly Miller, Portland, MI

    Climbing the stars with a thrum beneath my footsteps,

    Clouds of my secrets – subconscious as they are conscious,

    Quiet as they are screaming – bloom in the bleeding sky.

    Groves of shadows laced in thickets of gnarled branches,

    Stargazing at the comet-ridden sky.

    Constellations stretched across me; inked in – so crimson deep.

    We are all beautiful liars and cunning mask bearers,

    Fragile tear wearers.

    Strung out – the lot of us – mirroring one another,

    Connected at paper chain hands.

    Welcome back to the living – welcome back to the ranks of the walking dead.

    I search pools of murky water, caves of crumbling stone.

    I venture in houses reek with the whispers trapped in their haunted limbs.

    Where is it, that thing I so desire?

    Darling, come out, come out – wherever you are.

    You fleeting wretched child they call the truth.

    I want to save you.

First Place

  • Jenniffer Carbaugh / Chambersburg, PA, United States – Relapse


    Jenniffer Carbaugh, Chambersburg, PA

    It is hard to call it by its name.

    Because, to me,

    I am still the one to blame.

    The sound is still sharp.

    Bulimia,

    Is what thrust that gash into my heart.

    Thinking back to that night.

    It is by far my worst memory,

    And by far my weakest fight.

    My relapse was quick.

    Hugging that cold porcelain,

    I couldn’t even hear the echo of making myself sick.

    Throwing up is usually brutal and violent,

    But in all my practice

    It has become smooth and silent.

  • Rebecca Jones / Phenix City, AL, United States – Crimson Snow


    Rebecca Jones, Phenix City, AL

    I never knew nothing and everything could be felt all at once.

    The emptiness and bloodstained snow proved that the deed was done.

    Noises from the trees were around me, yet there were no sounds.

    I lied in the snow, never wanting to be found.

    Warm arms pulled me in a sudden embrace.

    My eyes gradually widened when I saw his solemn face.

    It took a moment for reality to punch me in the gut.

    As tears poured and a scream escaped, my eyes squeezed shut.

    My arms flailed to my sides, entangling my hands in his hair.

    His harsh look became a gentle and intense stare.

    ‘I thought you died,’ I yelled at the top of my lungs. “”I thought you left me here.”"

    He smiled that simple grin,’ I told you I’d always be near.”"

    He pressed his lips to the top of my head.

    Blood covered his hands, turning them crimson red.

    Our fingers intertwined as I ignored it.

    Suddenly a throbbing pain in my chest hit.

    ‘I love you,”" he whispered as the warmth that protected me began to fade.

    The pain felt as if it was a sharpened blade.

    The body once before me turned immediately to dust.

    A strong wind carried him away in a gigantic gust.

    Thousands of pins and needles felt as if they twisted in my heart,

    Tearing me slowly and slowly apart.

    My eyes bulged when I realized I plunged the knife to escaped this world.

    Months ago, I would’ve never been such a love-stricken girl.

    The knife fell to the ground as I had the knowledge I would die.

    Let’s bloom the sweet flowers of suicide.

  • Ashton Newman / Trinity, AL, United States – Moonlight Melodies


    Ashton Newman, Trinity, AL

    Melancholy notes drift through the breeze

    Suspending every breath they seize

    Stealing every broken wish and hidden sorrow

    Embracing the gaze of one who will never see tomorrow

    Holding captive every sob and tear

    Unrequited love and heartbreak it holds near

    The emotion of a funeral in every chord

    Each a final prayer to their lord

    Memories of times past

    Thoughts of how the good times never last

    Unrealized hopes and dreams

    A fake smile and everything that isn’t as it seems

    Pure life entwined with every line

    Grief and loss, a distant “”I’ll be fine”"

    The harmony enveloping every dull ache

    Deep regret that’s hard to shake

    The symphony is of these emotions and lost chances

    Alongside the midnight moonlight, this broken melody dances

  • Mary-Anne Ramirez / Newburgh, NY, United States – Where the Road Parts


    Mary-Anne Ramirez, Newburgh, NY

    Part from me you crescent moon
    Tell the sky he is wasting his time

    Tell him that the night is forever young
    And the truth has slipped off her tongue

    In areas where no men abide
    And her innocence has died

    Petty is the one who bears no name
    Seeking splendor that’s never quite the same

    Cursed her to suffer the act of desire
    Destined to breathe to be admired

    And reach the common fate
    When another takes her place

    The fabric of time that they shared
    Such a wondrous and star-crossed pair

  • Dylan McDougall / Salisbury, MA, United States – Overdosed on Thought


    Dylan McDougall, Salisbury, MA

    I use writing as an anti-depressant.

    I despise what I do, but I don’t resent it.

    I slit my wrists with paper and ink

    I smoke my thoughts and inject what I think.

    I crush my misery,

    Then snort my pride

    I’m a manic addict

    With nothing to hide

    I scream, I’ll yell

    But I won’t open my mouth.

    Headaches from silence

    Yet, that’s what life’s about.

    Poetic knife

    And a metaphoric noose

    I’m condemned in this cage

    With no intention of break loose.

  • Elizabeth Wesley / Beamsville, ON, Canada – Pilgrims Without Progess


    Elizabeth Wesley, Beamsville, Ontario

    Clouds

    Clouds of lace fly high in the sky,

    They ride the wind and rest in the blue.

    Their billowing white should not deny,

    The right of passage going through.

    The darkened clouds are bringing rain,

    They whisper secrets left unsaid.

    The drink they bring is sweet champagne,

    To kiss the flowers that bloom in their bed.

    Clouds catch the winds of the restless bird,

    They ply the wind and sing their song.

    They carry it to all where it’s not been heard,

    With the breath of neither right nor wrong.

    The wind that comes blows the puff of white,

    It takes the clouds and leaves them alone.

    Then all that is left is the scattered light,

    For the clouds that were, have now gone home.

  • Justin Forrest / Baltimore, MD, United States – L. S. Dillusional


    Justin Forrest, Baltimore, MD

    One way out 3 ways in,

    Trapped I feel scared again.

    Within within within this room must be a sea,

    Octpi 3 eyes derranged to be.

    Two divide three a numerical code,

    Numbers errupt to cave me old,

    Slave me sold so wombats can fly,

    Why does that bus driver have a 6th nose and a 4th eye?

    Running, I run to run I do,

    So the ninja in blue is coming for Lou?

    Darkest powers in the secrete home,

    But beyond a world a world I zone.

    I see I see I see, but do eyes see,

    Mystery among the clear view,

    Why does a sea of beasts scare you?

    To see look see I do,

    The tearful tree coming into.

  • Abigayle Maxwell-Morris / Jacksonville, IL, United States – Black Star
  • Adam McCray / Cassopolis, MI, United States – The Garden of Adam
  • Alleigh Tooker / Zeeland, MI, United States – Pride
  • Amanda Bulger / Omaha, NE, United States – Glint
  • Ashley Hyshka / Saskatoon, SK, Canada – Black Rain
  • Brittany Castellon / San Bernardino, CA, United States – The Abuse
  • Caitlin David / Torrance, CA, United States – Sight
  • Chris Bevans / Leesport, PA, United States – Disease
  • Chris Eubank / Greenacres, FL, United States – Desiderium
  • Christopher Beasley / St Albert, AB, Canada – Horizons
  • Courtney Stone / Loveland, OH, United States – Afraid of Heights
  • David Obrzut / Colorado Springs, CO, United States – A Faint Stir
  • Emily Harris / Conway, AR, United States – My Hundredth Plunge from Grace
  • Hailey Haindel / Mandeville, LA, United States – The Tall Tale of Liberty
  • John Hufnagel / Jackson, MI, United States – Lost
  • Jonathan Friedman / Thornhill, ON, Canada – The Rose
  • Julia Carey / East Amherst, NY, United States – The Expostulating Death
  • Kathryn Busch / Minden, NV, United States – Tragic Love
  • Kaylee Sullivan / North Augusta, SC, United States – Where I’m From
  • Kimberly Rose / Hermitage, TN, United States – My Heart
  • Matthew Bernard / Tucson, AZ, United States – How to Talk to Yourself
  • Mike Mason / New Castle, CO, United States – Misery
  • Nicole Lauber / Belleville, KS, United States – Breaking Chains
  • Rachel Teague / Batesville, AR, United States – The Silence
  • Raina Wilcox / Allen, TX, United States – As I Rise
  • Sabrina Shaw / Toronto, ON, Canada – Milk on the Floor
  • Shaylee Dumoulin / Thunder Bay, ON, Canada – My Words
  • Stephen Owens / Jacksonville, FL, United States – Prisoner of a Gray Island
  • Steven Munsie / Laval, QC, Canada – Fate Comes Calling
  • Taylor Humm / Crystal Lake, IL, United States – Hopeless Void
  • Tori Letarte / Errol, NH, United States – Wounded Rainbow
  • Victoria Tilghman / Flemington, NJ, United States – The Monster
  • Wesley Russell / Palo Alto, CA, United States – My Smile Has Faded

Second Place

  • Kristen Hudson / Meridian, MS, United States – High School Hourglass


    Kristen Hudson, Meridan, MS

    Day one we were engulfed by the size of this school
    We were the little guys tryin’ to act cool

    Truth be told we were all scared to death

    From butterflies in our tummies to shortness of breath
    But some way, somehow we managed to survive

    This was the beginning of the next 4 years of our lives

    Bonds were made, and young hearts were broken

    Regrets sometimes surfaced from words left unspoken
    We sat in our desks longing for the bell

    The ticking of the clock was torturous hell

    9 times out of 10, we dreaded this place

    But as we say goodbye, we’re over that phase
    From dread to acceptance, our feelings suddenly switch lanes

    Desperately tryin’ to hang on to what little time that remains

    Graduation glances around the corner ready for the prowl

    We soak up as many memories that time will allow
    Sand slips through the hourglass

    Four years of grain has fallen fast

    From the bottom to the top, we’ve come a long way

    From fish to top dogs, this is our day

  • Joyce Wright / Purvis, MS, United States – Dew Drop Rose


    Joyce Wright, Purvis, MS

    Melancholy notes drift through the breeze

    Suspending every breath they seize

    Stealing every broken wish and hidden sorrow

    Embracing the gaze of one who will never see tomorrow

    Holding captive every sob and tear

    Unrequited love and heartbreak it holds near

    The emotion of a funeral in every chord

    Each a final prayer to their lord

    Memories of times past

    Thoughts of how the good times never last

    Unrealized hopes and dreams

    A fake smile and everything that isn’t as it seems

    Pure life entwined with every line

    Grief and loss, a distant “”I’ll be fine”"

    The harmony enveloping every dull ache

    Deep regret that’s hard to shake

    The symphony is of these emotions and lost chances

    Alongside the midnight moonlight, this broken melody dances

  • William Harkins / Safety Harbor, FL, United States – Noah Riley


    William Harkins, Safety Harbor, FL

    My heart was racing,

    my mind bracing.

    Praying for a miracle, and

    hoping the doctors weren’t right.

    That my little boy that kicked me from his momma’s belly,

    would cry when delivered, and be alright.

    Silence…Quiet as can be…

    My perfect little boy, HAD been taken from me.

    How I long for some meaning,

    my heart aches deep inside,

    Questions unanswered, no reasons why.

    No comfort to be had, only more tears to cry,

    As I hold you for the first, and last time.

    In my heart you will stay,

    but forever you’ll be,

    An Angel above watching,

    your twin sister Natalie.

    My first born son,

    Noah Riley.

  • Rachel Faure / Fontanna, CA, United States – My Dear Love


    Rachel Faure, Fontanna, CA

    My Dear Love, I ask you with great sorrow,I ask you with great plea.I ask you for your hand,won’t you please marry me.I ask you today,I ask you tomorrow.I ask you right now with so much great sorrow.Hoping some day we might just wed,so come with me we’ll paint the town red.I’ll love you now,I’ll love you later,I’ll love you forever and never be a hater.I love that sent,that lavender aroma.You smell alot better than Yukki Soma.Our love is deep,deep in with. I love you more than great uncle Smith. I ask you tonight to come to the great ball,we’ll have a great time with you and all.Won’t you tell me now my valentine, won’t you right now be all mine.I love how you always have great grammar,I promise I will never hit you with a hammer.I tell you right now hot or cold, do you even like bright and bold.Roses are red and violets are blue, let me just tell you how much I love you.Violets are blue and roses are red, just say good night and lets go bed.

  • Autumn Rose Phillips / Moline, IL, United States – The Real Me


    Autumn Rose Phillips, Moline, IL

    What you see when you see me isn’t really the real me.

    The real me hides, in my shadow it collides, with all the fears from all the years.

    The mask I wear, eventually will rip and tear, and there will be the real me.

    The real me has so many secrets, they overflow my brain.

    The real me has so many hurts, there’s always a little pain.

    The real me will never show herself to the world.

    She lives in her own fairyland, that was her original plan.

    She frolics with pople who shall never criticize,

    People who will never bring tears to her eyes.

    They keep her happy, and make her float through life without noticing the pain and the strife.

    But the real world has cut its way in, with all the sorrow and all the sin.

    The laughter and teasing, the loving and pleasing, the hating and killing, the bloodbath spilling.

    The giggles and whispers down the hall.

    The way your mind seems to stall, to flip channels like a T.V. set, not sure what to watch yet.

    But still life moves on forward and fast, and all is forgotten in the past.

    What you see when you see me, isn’t really the real me.

    The real me hides, in my shadow it collides with all the fears from all the years.

    The mask I wear eventually will rip and tear, and there will be.. the Real Me

  • Lisa Brice / Memphis, TN, United States – My Serenity


    Lisa Brice, Memphis, TN

    I raised my head up towards the sky and my thoughts disppeared. I know from now on there’s nothing to fear. The calm of the earth, When everything is still. My life, my troubles are enough to kill. I am a child of god and I Know he won’t give me more than I can handle, for my lord to guild me he keep a lit candle.

  • Tiffany Molock / Pacifica, CA, United States – From the Storm . . .


    Tiffany Molock, Pacifica, CA

    I stream through vast open space.

    I bring joy and happiness to all who gaze upon me.

    I am a premonition of a bright future.

    I weild hope when such is thought extinct.

    My circumference cut in half…my ends are lined with gold.

    My smile titanic in nature of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet and indigo.

    I never forewarn.

    I appear and disappear upon gloomy circumstance.

    I can vanish within seconds or procrastinate minutes longer.

    Once light is shed, in combination with H2O, I will formulate through partitions of the horizon.

    Miles of distance between my prominent stance.

    I do not threaten.

    I come in peace.

    I come with the presence of love so tender in monumental display.

    I will never hurt nor frown upon the angels beneath me.

    What am I?

  • Megan Wilson / Nanaimo, BC, Canada – The Mask


    Megan Wilson, Nanaimo, British Columbia

    As the morning sun doth rise

    So do the people in disguise

    One attempt apparently not enough

    In the end looking rough

    Hiding behind a shield

    Finding no need to yield

    Another day, another fear

    Found it there, found it here

    Becoming the person you never thought

    Fighting the fight, that needs to be fought

    Living your life staring from behind

    Just trying to keep piece of mind

    Days go by, and then another

    Just hiding and hiding undercover

    Waiting only for the day to be exposed

    Just for the day I don’t oppose

    People look but they don’t care

    Listen, but it’s too much to bear

    Tomorrow is a new day, I think to myself

    Maybe then I can hide my stealth

    As the sun doth set beautifully in night skies

    So dearly rest; those in disguise

    This day now gone, next soon to be

    Perhaps then, the people will see

  • Jody Gudbranson / Alexander, MB, Canada – A Cowboy’s Life


    Jody Gudbranson, Alexander, Manitoba

    Spurs and Saddles, Ropes and Boots,

    Are the beginning of a Cowboy’s Roots.

    Horses and Cattle, Trucks and Trailers,

    Always winners, Never failures.

    Rodeos and Ropings, People having fun,

    Up and down many roads, Always on the run.

    Buckles, Trophies, Braggin’ Rights, and Pride,

    Gets them all pumped up for their next big Ride!!

  • Rachael Rucker / Marietta, GA, United States – An Invisible


    Rachael Rucker, Marietta, GA

    “It’s so easy to be an invisible,

    To be the one who stands in a corner,

    While others laugh and talk around you,

    To know that whether you’re here or not,

    Makes no difference to them,

    It’s so easy to be an invisible,

    To laugh and be happy for others,

    But to have no one to laugh and be happy for you,

    To be the one who waits on others,

    Rather than the one who is waited on,

    It’s easy to be an invisible,

    When on the outside you are smiling,

    And the inside you are crying,

    When everyone else is partying,

    And you are home reading,

    Yeah,

    It’s pretty easy to be an invisible.

  • Erin Alexanders / Fort McMurray, AB, Canada – Because of You


    Erin Alexanders, Fort McMurray, Alberta

    “You never gave up

    You always knew

    How to make a change

    A change in your life, a change in you

    You gave me the strength

    To walk my own way

    To clear my mind of what was

    Then and gone by

    You never knew me

    Never even heard of me

    But it feels like you’re a part of me.

    Because of you

    Now I know what I want,

    Who I really want to be

    It’s always you

    You’re the one, always listen to

    I can feel it inside, you’re the one

    If I could, I would live

    Like an ordinary young girl

    From a small town, Ontario

    Because of you I’m not just any ordinary girl

    I’m young, strong and free,

    You gave it all to me.

    You never really knew me

    Never even heard of me

    But it feels like you’re a part of me

    Because of you

    I know what I want,

    Who I really want to be

    You gave me

    What I needed,

    Inspiration.

    The motivation.

    Times got tough

    But you, you showed me the way.

    Your melody is my remedy.

    Feels like you’re

    A part of me

    Feels like you knew me,

    Saw me

    A million time before.

    You speak to me.

    Because of you

    I know who I want to be

    It’s all I needed of you

  • Katja Hobson / El Paso, TX, United States – A Partner of War


    Katja Hobson, El Paso, TX

    We were getting ready to be deployed. To go fight for our country that is trying to be destroyed. Because of the soldiers like my partner and I, Our country still stands up with pride. The day that we were getting ready to leave, My partner’s wife came up to me. She asked me to take care of her man, So I took that request in hand. I did do my best to honor her request, To stick to her request at my best. We stuck together day and night, Being brave soldiers that were ready to fight. One day we were driving down the road. And then in a wishful moment as we were going for a ride, He diapered right before my eye. I turned around, and he I did not see. Then I looked again, to see what lied before me. A bullet had hit him in seconds to be. It was my partner that was lying before me. He was chosen to be the soldier to prove to the rest, That we will die for our country at no request. Yes it was my partner, who died fighting for our country, But he will always be remembered as a hero from now and ever after to be, As part of the family tree. So I shall always remember, day by day, That I did do my best, as I did say. So our prayers go out for his family, And they shall always remember that he is a hero that has proven to others, That we will never give up fighting for our brothers.
    God Bless Our Soldiers!

  • Aleesha Henry / Toronto, ON, Canada – The Fear I Face Is the Gear I Own
  • Angela Brown / Allison, NB, Canada – A Grain of Sand in Heaven
  • Ashley Dixon / Manitou Beach, MI, United States – I Wonder
  • Audrey Paramor / Arden, MB, Canada – Mother’s Love
  • Aviel Ratson / Monsey, NY, United States – A Weird Day
  • Brandon Wittman / Independence, MO, United States – How Do You Tell Her?
  • Breanna Wiggin / Brookville, PA, United States – Lingering, Unanswered Questions
  • Brittany Lowe-Chin / West Palm Beach, FL, United States – Violence
  • Caleigh Daniels / Castle Rock, CO, United States – I Am
  • Carrmen Mansfield / Brooklyn, NY, United States – There’s a Lot Going on in Life, but No One Ever Told Me This
  • Christina Colley / Henderson, TX, United States – Unattached
  • Cortny Waugh / Ashville, OH, United States – Misfortune
  • Danielle Probst / Massapequa Park, NY, United States – Battle Scar
  • Deekota Polk / Matthews, MO, United States – I Love You!
  • Derick Brown, Jr. / Urbana, IL, United States – The Gift of New Love
  • Donte Walker / Missouri citty, TX, United States – Life’s Path
  • Donya Javeshghani / Pierrefonds, QC, Canada – Suffocation
  • Eileen Le Gras / La Salle, MB, Canada – Seasons
  • Elizabeth Roblero / Haleyville, AL, United States – Into the Moon
  • Erwin Yarbrough, Jr. / Charlotte, NC, United States – Storm
  • Esther Thornburg / Cantril, IA, United States – Music for Life
  • Jasmine Moore / Cuyahoga Falls, OH, United States – Happier Dayz
  • Jeanne Laurin-Crawford / Anchorage, AK, United States – Bride
  • Jessica Thompson / Fort Nelson, BC, Canada – Howling Creatures
  • Jodi Padilla / Rancho Cucamonga, CA, United States – Dream Beyond
  • Jume Van den Berg / Calgary, AB, Canada – An Ode to My Dad
  • Katherine Fox / Puyallup, WA, United States – Truth
  • Kelli McDonough / Pittsburgh, PA, United States – Life Cycles
  • Kevin Wilkins / Baltimore, MD, United States – Merry Belle
  • Kimberly Kallies / Santa Maria, CA, United States – The Oak Tree
  • Kloey Jacobs / Houston, MN, United States – Under Sea Water Way
  • Lorraine Hartik / San Bernardino, CA, United States – Gratitude
  • Luis Flores / Oakville, ON, Canada – Inside Me
  • Mack Collins / Monee, IL, United States – Morgan
  • Marella Troyer / Murfreesboro, TN, United States – I’m Gone
  • Marie Israel / Parkers Prairie, MN, United States – Little Red Squirrel
  • Mason Stewart / Shelley, ID, United States – The Lego Tower
  • Matthew Yodhes / Warren, Mi, United States – Torrential
  • Maurice Deneault / Laval, QC, Canada – (Part of) An Ode to Life
  • Melissa Sunderhaus / Brookville, IN, United States – I Look Down
  • Michelle Wickham / Diamond Bar, CA, United States – Salvation
  • Naajiya Jacobs / Port Arthur, TX, United States – Lost, Hoping to Be Found
  • Nakia Graham / Austin, TX, United States – This Is Me
  • R. E. Smith / Redmond, WA, United States – Tsunami
  • Richard Choi / Haworth, NJ, United States – Incredible
  • Rilay Dann / fruitport, MI, United States – Another Misunderstood Angel
  • Sam Breshears / Las Vegas, NV, United States – Suicide
  • Samantha Lehman / Ottawa, ON, Canada – Excalibur
  • Sarah Saylor / Waxhaw, NC, United States – Reflections
  • Shelby Pogue / Belleair, FL, United States – Mother Earth
  • Silvia Ortiz / Brooklyn, NY, United States – Doubt
  • Sorrell Flick / Elizabethtown, PA, United States – The Moon in the Woods
  • Stephanie Gutierrez / Covina, CA, United States – Our Planet
  • Summer Johnston / Battleford, SK, Canada – Peace Widow
  • Tarina Fontenot / Ponchatoula, LA, United States – Angels Eyes
  • Taylor Rigsby / Merryville, LA, United States – The Warning
  • Tessa Shalai / Chilliwack, BC, Canada – Lucid Energy
  • Tyra White / Chicago, IL, United States – Valentine’s Day
  • Victoria Severson / Papillion, NE, United States – A Rise to Fame
  • Violetta Hillman / San Antonio, TX, United States – Fly Into the Sky
  • William Pittman / Holyoke, CO, United States – Things
  • Yannie Yu / Kelowna, BC, Canada – I’m Not Afraid