Group 5 2015 Poetry Winners
Girl in the Hallway
Nancy Avery Dafoe
For a moment, we were walking in a straight line,
as if in cadence: girlhood to maturity.
I deliberately slow my gait, not in pursuit;
I see pretty girls every day and scarcely notice,
trying instead to coax them into learning,
caught up in complexities, sometimes pitying
teen angst and spectacles enacted, entirely unaware
of epiphany that awaits not student but teacher.
Like Keats’ Cold Pastoral, a scene across
intervals of time and generations, the woman
clever enough for allusions and pretensions,
self-reflexively, self-consciously indulgent:
romance out of academia and “Ode on a Grecian Urn.”
Then without warning, this shock: the self
metaphorically and literally heavier with age,
a curse not fine wine, softened in a sallowing.
But on this last day of school, I see her: this impossibility
of elusive beauty and truth just beyond reach.
Government Worker, 1966
I forget his name—the man in my office
at NSA. A quiet, colorless man who
shyly admired the green of my dress.
The next day he brought a book.
It needed two hands to hold and was
full of pages of Wyeth paintings—
Grasses, old wood… How I loved
the dryness! All juices removed by sun,
wind, and time. Green gone peaceful.
Quiet. No longer longing.
That day, the colorless man saw my longing
and with one quick move, tore a page
from his costly book, placed it in my hand.
Weatherside. I rolled it loosely, took it home
to my little flat where red bricks held the wet
DC heat, where windows looked out on concrete.
Some of Our Parts
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
I believe in Frida Kahlo’s moustache
Eleanor Roosevelt’s buck teeth
Maya Angelou’s creased forehead
Angelina Jolie’s severed breasts.
I believe in the small round wart
nested in the crease between my mother’s
nose and left cheek,
I believe in my sister’s thinning hair,
my best friend’s gapped teeth,
my stretch marks and thick waist.
I believe that some of our parts
are no match for the sum of our parts
and I believe
the sum of our parts is holy indeed.
I painted you Dad, on my senses
and remembered your love for this place
in water lapping against the shore
in the flag slapping the wind, in whirring Hummingbird wings
I gazed at towering green branches
as if your eyes dwelled behind mine
I took it all in
through this manufactured connection borne of longing and memory
as if you too were loving it
But when I went into the poll-barn
nothing had prepared me for the smell of burnt tobacco still left in your pipe
the aroma of sweet sawdust pure in your wood shop
As if you really had defied death and kept living
here among your tools
I had not known it in my body, not in this way
But it was clear in the half- turned wooden chalice still standing on your lathe
in jelly jars of screws and nail-filled parmesan cheese containers
that your ideas, still ripe, are mid-conversation
and dismantling it all, readying it for new people
feels like grief, take 2
She is fragile now, slipping into coma
letting go of toothpaste and soap
bargain sales and flat tires
lust and revenge
speech and sight
the petty and the pretty
the sacred and the profane.
She is fragile now, adrift in coma
breathing in, breathing out
systems shutting down, one by one
releasing the ribbons that moored her
to this plane, this false realm of being,
this hospital bed, this husk of a body.
BLACK ON GREY
five black ravens
in a bare-branched tree
a gunmetal sky
unsettling both mood
haunting the mind
while pleasing the eye
By Lindsey Bellosa
When my son asked me about death, I said: we are all afraid
and: we don’t know and, finally: perhaps there is an angel
inside of us that flies out, shiny with wings. And hands?
Yes, hands. Everything we have, and also wings.
And they fly in the sky? And then they go home?
No. They can’t go home again…
And then his eyes wobbled, and lips braced—
but I don’t want to die and suddenly the world was not eternal
anymore. How my heart clenched around itself—
a meaningless sea, offering vague angels. Time, the only
gift, lay between us: unwrapped and unsure.
But there was something sweeter about the room
after that: how he stacked up his Lincoln logs with more care,
and kissed my face and drew a picture of his now-dead
great grandfather, smiling, with his own mama who was also
very, very old.
With dread, I look toward the day I can
no longer drive. Oh, I know someone
can take me to the store. And Gadabout
will come to my door and deliver me
to my doctor or dentist. But no more
nosing my car into a worn track in the woods
where, safe from rain, I can study brambles
and branches, tease words from the tangle
and scratch them onto a pad of paper
resting on the steering wheel.
No longer will I park near hydrangea bushes
at the cemetery and read Flannery O’Connor’s
Prayer Journal, lift my eyes from time to time
and gaze at gravestones, stealing their silence
as the backdrop for my own prayer.
Never again will I sit alone at the harbor
where gulls carry light on their backs.
And boats resting at anchor sway their masts
like metronomes, ticking away the moments
of solitude into which God speaks.
Not because we are weak,
But because we have been strong for too long.
Not because we are musicians,
But because we want to be free.
Not because we are ballerinas,
But because we cannot fly.
Not because we are happy,
But because it hurts us too badly to cry.
Not because we are old,
But because we feel it is impossible to stay alive.
ME WITHOUT YOU
A Plane that doesn’t Fly, A Year without July, A Stream
which became Dry. A Match without Fire, A Circuit
without the Wire, A Car without a Tire. Shoes without
Laces, A Sentence without Spaces, A Nerd without
Braces. A Phone without a Dial, A Face without a Smile, A
Clock without a While. Socks without feet, Fire without
Heat, A Heart missing its Beat………
I often think, of things that trouble me.
I often think, of why this could be.
Of bullies, the words that they say,
The jokes that they play.
I often ask, why me?
What have I done? Why am I the one?
I often think, of those who are like me.
Those who cry the tears of the rejected,
The tears of the lost.
I often think, what is the point?
Why am I here? Why must I live in fear?
But now, I often realize,
Of how I can stand tall, just like a brick wall.
I am better. I am stronger.
Stronger than they will ever be.
And now I see, that I am me.
And I am great. I am good.
I have proved more than they ever could.
Before, I wanted to escape, to run away and pout.
Now I often think, I am proud to be me, inside and out.
Her words like a volcano.
Keep pouring out,
Big or small.
Weak or strong.
Burns them all.
Then it stopped.
No lava left
to hurt anyone.
No lava left in this mouth of a volcano.
End of Counterpoint
Autumn’s cold is like a scythe,
It rat-a-tats on your window,
For fear of the wind’s blow,
Brings sickness and pain as sharp as a knife,
With the taste of blood, treats, and malice,
On the blade,
As cold as ice.
Winters cold is warmer still,
Carrying man’s good will,
Warmer than the seasons past,
Making all the memories last,
Of the silent joy and laughter,
Finally it’s almost here
Time for all the love and cheer
No, not Santa on his sleigh
No celebrating New Year’s Day
It’s not about a ghost or mask
Trick or treat you do not ask
No presents, no candles on a cake
No bunnies or eggs for goodness sake!
It’s not about turkey, stuffing or pie
You’ll see no fireworks in the sky
It’s not about your mom or dad
But there’s no reason to be sadThere will be
candy and a card
So by now it should not be hard
To figure out by this line
Will you be my Valentine!
Light filters through the canopy.
Soon the air is filled with the gentle hum of life,
that will turn into a roar of existence.
Every meal symbolizes the tight twine of life,
binding predator and prey.
The steady swing of life here is the earth’s pulse,
radiating the vibrations of the love God shows.
A day in the jungle is a chance to stand truly in
the circle of life.
What I Like to Do in Summer
The winter is such a bummer
I can’t wait until it’s summer
No more books, school is out
Hotter weather is what it’s all about
In summer we can play outside
Even go for a bike ride
To a camp and on a lake
A nice boat ride we can take
It’s so hot we can swim in a pool
Now we feel nice and cool
At night marshmallows we will roast
Tubing behind the boat is what I like to do the most
Those are things I love to do in summer
This winter has been such a bummer