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Winning Poems for April 2003
Judge Mark Yakich

love and thick metaphors
by Kathryn Koromilas

with a nod to Gerard Manley Hopkins


if i pull a thick
out of a thin
hat, will you bring your ruler?


measure this:

i slide down the curve of your spine and whisper Silk Smooth Paper
(thickness of metaphor, 385 gsm)
i tap the skin there, press keyboard-button bones
(size of metaphor, Lucida Sans 14 pt, Bold)
and make the word dapple
--i'm about to express how your skin is the sun peeking through the trees as
seen fragmented on bare geography--


someone said it's all about contraction; making a smaller simile. For

the long version:
Wait, wait for me, will you? Adventure tells me I have to go. I'll be back.
Stay. Like An Obedient Pet. Stay. And if you close your heart to all the
others, I'll come back Like A Treat, Like A Fat Chicken Biscuit.

the short version:
Be my Penelope.


Aristotle didn't speak of thick or thin, just metafora--
giving you a name
taken from someone else--

You are my Ted
(as in Hughes, Poet-Man-God; height of metaphor, over 6ft tall),
my Sweet
thing (as in John or chocolate, weight of metaphor, 90 kilos or 250 grams,

Diomedes didn't speak of size, either; but of shifting
meaning from proper to improper, for the sake of:

a. beauty (your dappled sunlight smile warms my brow)
b. necessity (i frame you, my dappled-red Picasso, in the tortured gallery
of my mind)
c. polish (your whisper, dappled promise of early afternoon in the park)
and d. emphasis (the dapple-drawn puzzle of your heart)


sometimes i'll speak metaphors you won't notice, so familiar
by now (you're my Araki bud; my red
my red my red my red my red
rose; will love ever
bloom in the desert of your heart?),
they must have been vivid
once but they've shriveled;
melted fat into thin common bones.
Death does that.


watch me pull a thick metaphor
out of a thin hat, call me poet
and love me for it.

Guernica by Picasso
by Christopher T. George

Even after all these years, the women are still screaming,
fingers transmuted into sausages or sardines
that won't stop the babies from falling.
Body parts mix with those of bull and stallion:
eyes flared, hooves, horns, teeth, faces ripped in two.
The bellows of animals become human.

The Emperor of China
by Paul Madden 

There was little more in the world she wanted
at that moment, than for her body to turn

into the twelve white pigeons flying above,
whilst he, the bedded chrysanthemum, would watch her.

St. Sebastian
by Emily Brink
When I was a little girl,
undressing, I always turned
the face of Jesus to the wall.
Hanging backwards, he was spared,
saved the sight of a girl's
naked frame. It was like turning
off the lights in my body.
Today, on a date in the Renaissance
wing of the museum, under the gaze
of St. Sebastian's marble statue,
I turn my face to the wall.
The arrows in his bloodless chest
are lead-tipped lady fingers.
I'm wearing a gold-lace bra
from Victoria's Secret.
I regale Syed with many tales
from the secret lives of saints.
They say that St. Sebastian was the Emperor's lover,
I tell him; that he brought more than
just bread and wine
to hungry Christians, men imprisoned
behind Roman walls.
I remember when Uncle Lee left
to have a sex change operation.
Auntie Kyla took all of his pictures down,
nailed up pictures of the saints
instead, but the walls mumbled
in shadows during the daytime
saying you can weep and play the blues
till' the cock crows, but he ain't
comin' back here to roost, honey.
Truth told I am more than flight
to find myself facing
Syed as he looks into my eyes
whispering, zohar. Like a dream
by Al Hazen, I face the tender
tug in my pelvis, the blood
as it rushes
down, down
into my shining copper cup
of wine.

A Somewhat Inexact History of Flowers
by Jim Zola
I could write how I’m amazed
at the yellow of spring’s first
daffodil. But that would be
too exact, untrue. In fact,
it’s just the first I notice,
looking up. It catches my eye,
the bud not yet fully open,
poking through a layer of dead
leaves. And I’m not amazed by it,
but more by the consistency
of things, the plodding renewals
of crabgrass, cockroach, dog droppings.
Of a yellow flower.
Younger, I might have stomped it,
angry at everything then.
But it would take sixteen steps
to reach the garden’s edge,
and sixteen back again.
My anger’s burrowed
deeper than a seed. Besides,
a neighbor now is out walking
his overweight dog
as he does every day,
and will continue to do
until one of them gives up.
We wave without speaking.
Muscles and brain, as if saying
– I see you, I don’t see you.

by Selig

She tells me the name
of every bird in paradise
She thinks the more I know of birds
the closer I will get to flying
The days have turned to ochre
washed with light, faded with truth
And we are learning by braille
of the things we cannot see

It is hard for me not to pause by your side
and reach for the comfort of your body
Is there any other comfort you can give me?
You are bleaching your dreams in buckets of time
and I am trying not to notice how blue
makes your hands go white

The Calligrapher
by Kathryn Black

I recline on pillows
in my small wooden boat;
a sharp tang of pipe smoke
wafts over dark water.
My wife stands in the bow,
watches fireworks
falling like flowers onto the bridge.

I will remember this night.
My brush will dredge thick ink;
in energetic strokes the words
will be painted on silk-threaded paper.


My apprentice shall set my tribute
into a scroll which will hang
as a lone ornament.

There will be preparations for tea,
boiling of water, silence,
measurement of green powder,
whisk and raku cups.
One will hand the offering
to another, take small sips,
find peace in ritual.


Under blankets my wife whispers, Yugiri.
I wind my arms around her delicate
form and put my cheek to hers.
You're my beloved, I say,
you have given me my voice.

Previous Winners

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