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Winning Poems for December 2007
Judge E. Ethelbert Miller

Ruth in Ward 3A Imagines Herself as a Tree
by Brenda Levy Tate Pen Shells Before first light, I slip into a spruce -- its roots (and mine) old ropes that tie the clay to bind me gently, while the stars infuse me with a balm of resin, salt and spray. My blood is balsam now, and moves as slow as sunrise. With a prickling in my chest, the alto sap upwells and spreads; its low ring-singing stirs the shorebirds from their rest. Below me wheel the herring gulls and hawks that drift toward my cliff. A willet cries above the pearling tide, and on the rocks a stranger's cat holds morning in her eyes. I shed my bark as dawn releases me. Tomorrow, I shall dream myself the sea. Northland Solstice by Eric Linden Mosaic Musings Snow lay deep that cold December on my Dawson City home, shrouding mountains, lakes and rivers far and wide, including Nome. Not much moved; our world was frozen from Old Crow to Watson Lake. Even ravens had forsaken this harsh land, for pity's sake. Darkness dwelled; it stopped and dallied, swallowed up the midnight sun. How I cursed this devil northland and its grip I couldn't shun. Came the day I went out walking; all was quiet, skies pale blue; in the woods, those white-clad pine trees sparkled like old Manitou. Could it be that I heard carols coming from those soundless hills? Solstice in this frigid northland spells more, brighter winter chills. Crossing at Night by Maryann Corbett The Waters The rain-slick road that multiplied the rush of light. The striding void, man-shaped, vague as something sighed, suggestive, rogue. So nearly nothing. Does even he believe his own solidity, ghosting across the dark ahead? Closer. Close. The grip, the gasping cry brake skid the pounding chest aware, aware in an emptiness of something there. My Mother's Bones by Laurie Byro Desert Moon Review When I crawled through my mother's bones I'd like to say, they were bent over me like birches, that the tips of her pelvis-march scraped against me in that narrow place. But babies aren't made this way. Beauty is messy; the dark box I return to just before I wake is a field with a thatched cupboard, every kind of leaf as if she collected me among these pressed wax paper plates. I'd seen tall, holy trees in Muir Forest and me on my swaying stem, a Lady's orchid, her newest treasure, swaddled and given up to her in a room with open windows. Crushed yellow and scarlet autumn hands reached in and settled on our laboring bed. Rust ripped the sheets, they'd call me an autumn flower. Candles sputtered and grew down, white and pure and healing. Each relative and ghost was there. She cradles me. She holds my soul over a flame. This life is messy, Mother. I carry your bones in a paper sack like a picnic lunch. When I release us to the air we tumble like acrobats, blister the hardened earth with our fall. Mersey Mersey Me by Christopher T. George Desert Moon Review Mum, you have asked that I cast your ashes in the River Mersey, the muddy Mersey I see broil behind as you stand windblown on the Pier Head landing stage, Seacombe ferry surging to nudge giant tires with a rubbery kiss as sailors tie the ferry up, the muddy Mersey that flowed down the bottom of our road, at Otterspool prom: expanse of sun-glinting gooey flats at low tide decorated with ditched pram, kiddie's bike: scene I painted in the Sixties, that hung in your living room, til I gave it to grass-high friends. Mersey Mersey me, I think of you as I attend a Ripper event in a big white marquee beside the Liverpool Cricket Club: rain clouds sweeping in from the distant Welsh hills, over the Mersey's whitecapped waves, past the benign cream stucco walls of Battlecrease House, where lived James Maybrick, who may have been the Ripper, Mersey Mersey me, I think of you as I scatter your ashes. Time Gone Cold by Linda Balboni Mosaic Musings The time has gone, my heart's grown cold, I miss your love and stories told, your smiling face, like golden dawn, my heart's grown cold, the time has gone. Our talks at night, your gentle voice to spill my soul, your ears, my choice, dear dad, your laughter made things right, your gentle voice, our talks at night. How deep the ache through tearful eyes, to know you've left, can't share our ties, a plan from God, your soul to take, through tearful eyes, how deep the ache.. For all my life, I will believe your presence guides me, yet I grieve for you to be here; end my strife, I will believe, for all my life.

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