BEST OF 2003

BEST OF 2002

BEST OF 2001

BEST OF 2000





Winning Poems from 2000

May June July August
September October
November December

May 2000
Judge Peter Murphy

First Place
The Deity Expresses Remorse
by Peter Desmond
Cafe Utne

I apologize
for the Korean women
forced to fuck
fifty Japanese soldiers
every night

for the Irish potato famine
the Tuskegee syphilis study
the Puerto Ricans sterilized
by the Public Health Service

for the torture in every country
from Argentina to Zaire
for the Holocaust the gulag
the great cultural revolution

I apologize
for the thirty years' war
the hundred years' war
the Punic and Peloponnesian wars
the world wars
the wars unnumbered and unnamed

for the sacking of cities
the population transfers
the ethnic cleansings
the gassings the smallpox blankets
the atomic bombs the mass rapes
in Bangladesh Berlin Bosnia

I apologize for slavery
for the naked miners
worked to death at Athens
for Spartacus crucified

for the middle passage
to plantations
of sugar cotton coffee
the masters siring and selling flesh
the whip the chains the rack
the ropes the gasoline

none of this was in My plan
somewhere I went wrong
was it the carnivores?
was it reproduction?

you worry about dragonflies
sea turtles Siberian tigers
just think about the extinction
of all the dinosaurs
I'm sorry the comet killed them
I even regret gravitation

try to understand
I was alone
I needed to create

at least you die
I have to live with this

Second Place
The First Night Without Her
by Bret Addison
Callahan's Saloon

Although the leaves are turning,
and departing the trees,
he barely notes their absence,
a lack of core, a mere glance.
Once, when trees were ten feet thick,
he walked and felt their pulse,
the sap that oozed, was his sap,
the froth of spray, was his spray.

Sometimes she loved him
and the sky would stretch out
like the vee of geese
between her thighs.
A dark purple,
and he understood,
grass and dew and ragged cliffs.

Now, he itches his beard
and wine reminds him
of old Chinese Poets.

Third Place
The Man with the Snake
by Michael Hedden
The Writer's Block

The man with the snake around his neck
has few friends.  At church he sits
in a pew empty except for himself.
His prayers are unheard, but the snake's voice
is sibilant, whispering to the snake god,
and we hear his body slide over the pew's grain.

The man with the snake on his shoulders
is invisible.  But the scales shine
in sunlight, overlapping in forest green and gold,
glinting in shimmering waves while he floats
above the sidewalk, sailing the currents down the street.

The man with the snake for a headband
has no face.  But the serpent's eyes can hypnotize,
freeze passersby with its lidless gaze,
bring attention to the beauty of its jawline
and the delicacy of a tongue that tastes pleasure and fear.

Everyone has questions for the snake.  What does he eat,
where is he from, what is his name, race, phone number?
If only he would speak their language, he would give meaning
to the life of the man who bears his weight.

Honorable Mention
Picasso's Femme de Fermier
by Carolyn Smale

Born ugly as a sack,
and concrete- planted
in this loamy scow
that chugs beneath me,

that chugs its clockwork
march past cock crow,
rows ploughed, seeds
flown, gloaming's dock.

If only I could be
Salome -one night-
and surge and spin,
roots trailing veils,

next day the digging would be fair,
toes weaving in my lover's hair.

Honorable Mention
Geek Love
by Gary Hardaway

for William Gibson



baby, jack us

in and toggle on-- I

wanna be full-time, real-time and



We've clicked

and tapped 'til dawn

and our exhaustion meet,

EtherNets become ether-mates.




tonight, when Category 5

and Fiber cables melt

and servers crash,

too hot.



our electrons

kiss what bliss is there in

lips, mere flesh, compared to mingled



Hard drive

overload! Down-

load now! A file to fill

every byte and lock you up

for good.


Hack me.

Break my code. Know

my algorithms. Use

my data nodes. Leave your lethal



No bytes

tonight. Except

triple X come-ons

and suspicious attachments from




nymity's best,

the flickers disclosing

nothing, flesh's failure staying




me bit by byte

with circuits and switches.

Make me one with the glimmering




me part by port--

I'll flow through solid states,

transcend materiality

and Be.


I have

become the hum

of hubs, wink of servers,

data flow at the speed of light.

I am


at last,

a String immune

to time and common colds,

messenger on the way to eyes


Honorable Mention
The Smooshing of The Caterpillars
by Magnetsky

purple grape kool-aid lips
these children in laughing and
the light of the sun different for them
that playground, red rock gravel-like
pressed into my shoes, jeans, clothes
and we laughed all day and ran up that hill
village seven where I left my dreams and fears
child-like in fancy, bottle rockets of blue
springing out over the horizon

my reality, burst fire of pikes peak across the window
too close to touch
bump city bike rides and grass in my mouth
sweet, rolling in crabtrees dust
I remember the feel of the clay in my hands when we
dug the backyard out
and the caterpillars I collected,
keeping them in, cardboard castle beneath
my bed, and the light was so different then
than it is now
and my hopes and fears, I never
could concieve my existence then

I just remember the lamp light, late night
swooning shadow-like across the street
I didn't stop dreaming of that
for 8 years at best
dad moved my family 15 times
maybe 23 homes they abandoned
I always envisioned them missing us,
my sister and brother and
little pee-wee's soul, maybe floating
around the fireplace where he was kept

here, at solid computer terminal musing time
I wish to get back to the reality of
for in the concrete city my soul
divides, in half-like, where-ing
it lies next, what becomes the answer to
the questions of half-existence
I half exist in my mind
the remainder outside and I can speak
and you can hear me
and see my words
and my little movie
I wonder when and how it ends

backgrounds of sounds
my childhood lost
in village seven, box-kited nightmares
and forgiveness of the ripping of
my heart strings plucked along
on the smurf guitar

wishing and muddied faces
laughing it echoes as it does still
in the greenways

the light of the sun
different for them 

June 2000
Judge Peter Murphy

First Place
An Imperfect Second-Hand Pantoum
by Jennifer Poteet
The Writer's Block

On Saturdays, we pick over what's unwanted and
consider adoption.
Objects have lives and stories to tell.
I am willing to listen to the wooden jewelry box, the
Victorian doorstop.
Do things get homesick once they change hands?

We objectify our lives and tell our stories.
I've said that my rocking chair came from a
socialite's estate.
Have you ever been sick over something that has left
your hands?
There was an etching I loved of guitars that no longer
orchestrates this room.

Pewter frames were for the taking and I removed a
stranger's wedding pictures.
Objects have lives and stories to tell.
I once ruthlessly pawed through a dead woman's drawer
of gloves.
Do things get homesick once they change hands?

Second Place
by Glenn Ingersoll
The Writer's Block

Everything's perfect. The crown of the hill, the bee
that perturbed you, the wallow the dog slumps
sideways into, daintily drinks from. I sat in

Now I'm sleepy.
Whatever I've eaten is sleepy
inside  me. Colored lights strung like a spine.
History erected as a barrier between children,

hills, cattle. Ursa major, ursa minor. The last
streetlamp's yellow pool and the hare disappearing
then disappearing again
and again.

You don't have to be hard at work
in order to work. It is easy as pi, that numerary,
or the zero let out
of the millennium. That simple to point to

when the going gets sordid and there's a chip
putting its period in the black. You can say
to yourself, Mine. Return it to the holder cleaned

and ready for use. Work accumulates beside the kitchen
sink, the road, the streambed. Leaf and cracked antler.
It is windy, or, as he puts down the feather, winding up.

Third Place
Spring Break Blues
by Gary Hardaway

Do nouns and verbs vacation? Words I thought
dependably mine are missing. Have they flown
to lie on white beaches and be lulled
asleep by jade waves and cold Coronas?

I hadn't thought they'd worked so hard for me
that sun and surf should be prescribed against
the rigorous demands of simile,
pentameter and trope. Does trochee strain

the hearts and backs of syllables? Does rhyme
inflame the glutes and abs of pronouns,
personal or im-? Is stress stanzaic, rest
caesura's antidote? Is syntax taxed

this cruel April? If you see, relaxed
among the palms and beach umbrellas, parts
of speech impersonating idle rich,
please tell them I concede: we'll try a prose

that's unassuming, workmanlike and plain
that tells a story, unambiguous
and sane, of ordinary intrigue, lust
and power. All we'll strain will be the gag

reflex of high-toned literati
and the twisted plot line's plausibility.

Honorable Mention
by Carol Yocom
The Writer's Block

Pa's breaking plow slices hard skin open.
Everyone smiles, putting large hopes in little seeds.
The sky is high and wide. Voices are lost in the distance.
Buffalo bones and arrowheads ride the plow's wake.

We kneel in dust praying for rain while
hot winds shrivel our wheat.
Standing on the rise above the potato patch,
Pa watches the red horizon all night long.
Our soddy's another wave on a buffalo grass sea.

Angry rattlers twist away from empty feed bins.
Mice whisper endlessly of brick houses, rock candy, lace.
Pa teases Ma that corn husks are poor shoes for an Irish mule,
but she just leans into the traces and pulls hard.
A prairie grave cradles the new baby's head.

When we rode down to town in spring,
Ma wrapped her arms around a scrawny cottonwood and cried.
Pa looked away.

July 2000
Judge Peter Murphy

First Place
The Bee-Bearded Man's Only Son
by Jim Zola

This is the day the bee-bearded man's only son is to wed
a girl from a town that knows nothing of bees.
The son himself feels no affection towards the bees,
but out of a sense of decency and heritage
has taken his father's trick one step further,
wearing a suit of bees and a tophat that sets the wedding crowd
to murmur. One fat aunt from Paducah faints,
and the men who know her gather round and bicker
about what should be done, until the question becomes moot
as she opens her eyes and mouths the word "yellow."
The only clothing he wears not made of bees
are his Italian leather shoes because he's afraid
of what he might step on. The day is hot
and locusts hanging in trees make it difficult to hear
what the preacher is saying, something about hard work,
love and honey. No one listens. They are looking
at the bee suit, the way it moves constantly,
yet stays whole. The bride thinks about the coming night,
perfume between the breasts. She wonders if bees
get tangled in his hair. The son counts the moments
until he can shed his winged tuxedo. The bees
think nothing, drone, worker, all dying for the hive.
The father sips whiskey through a straw and considers
his toast - drinks held high to the first sting.

Second Place
by Chad Shear
Callahan's Saloon

The past returns, puts things beyond my reach
An injury from long ago holds sway
These limits form a wall I seek to breach

Unwilling to accept fate, I beseech
The failed parts of me to work my way
The past returns, puts things beyond my reach

I catalog frustrations, knowing each
New movement is a victory today
These limits form a wall I seek to breach

Each setback saps my will, attempts to leech
The strength to keep returning to the fray
The past returns, puts things beyond my reach

The best of medications slur my speech
And leave my mind a formless lump of clay
These limits form a wall I seek to breach

Mere exercise the tool I use to teach
The nerves and muscles that will not obey
The past returns, puts things beyond my reach
These limits form a wall I seek to breach

Third Place
When Crazy Horse Tends Bar
by Priscilla Barton

Jesus wore moccasins and braided
his hair. I met him at Wounded Knee
where he sat in the dirt crying blood.

Coyote hides behind billboards
on highways built over graves of
warriors who have never died.

The children of Geronimo race
across the moon on the backs of
wild horses while eagle feathers
hang from a cowboy's hat.

Buffalo nickels fall from heavy
skies as the Crown Dancer shuffles
neon feet on mountains that form
words with smoke.

I meet you in a bar where Indians
drink for free. You recite poetry
to beer bottles while crows sit on
the arms of Custer's statue.

You think yourself invisible and
become what you believe. I watch
you fade against the jukebox while
it plays your favorite song.

Honorable Mention
I sneezed when you kissed me
by Silvia Antonia
Callahan's Saloon

and lost the middle line
of a poem I was busily
composing while I gazed
with lyrical intent at your
eyebrows, two busy worms
joined in coition and there were
iambs and enjambments and a wayward
trochee but the moustache you were
growing tickled my fancy and I sneezed
and blew my chance at love true love.

Honorable Mention
by Laurel K. Dodge

My teeth, rooted in my gums
like oak trees, permanent,
immovable, have begun to drift
in my mouth, a slow imperceptible
shift, so subtle my dumb tongue
cannot sense the ineffable,
glacial movement.

In five years, the impenetrable
wall of my incisors has divided,
each tooth separated from the other.
Like the wife of Bath, I am an amorous
woman: my gap-toothed grin is proof
enough for Chaucer. My experience
lisps through the naked spaces
between each vulnerable tooth.

What then is the measurement
in millimeters or grief for the gaps
between teeth drifted, wandered from
the root, or the distance between
your silent back and my uncertain
hand, a cool expanse of mattress
gapped between us.

Honorable Mention
by Katherine Fusco

Because I do not know you
I dream about your scar
I would like to hold you
and lick that angry mark
ask it why it mars your face
an imperfection

I want to devour it
salty and intoxicating
not knowing you,
I am in love with your scar
it smacks of sex or wine or violence
strawberries or heat or babies.

The scar lies in my bed nights
reflects up at me from sidewalk puddles
sits beside me at dinner
disrupting the meal
and horrifying my companions

When I dress it
if you let me
I will give it huge galumphing boots
and swishy trousers
so I can always hear it coming

Give me an iron in its shape
and I will brand it on my thigh
a secret of my own
to touch and ponder

Honorable Mention
Wood Work
by Judith Greer
Rabbit Hole

I am a sapling in your hands, bent and peeled,
Curved and carved beneath your finger-knife,
Which splits my naked pith down to its core.

I am stripped and plundered, harvested,
The clenched hard buds of breasts and sex,
The open throat and petals of my flowers,
The soft red flesh and juicy swollen heat
Of that sweet fruit which ripened at your touch.

This, my branching body, is sundered to the heart
As you strike your axe into the notch
By which I'm felled.

August 2000
Judge Peter Murphy

First Place
Undressing Anne Frank
by Jessica Rowles
The Writer's Block

When I stand naked before
showering, I scrutinize
the freckle on my left
middle finger, the curve
of my toe, the way
skin stretches over
my pelvic bone, the slope
of my breasts.
But she, after a month of mornings
dressing in cramped spaces,
knew herself best by
extending fingers or stretching
arms behind her back, or
cupping hands over a chest
that was taking a new shape,
escaped to a cracked window
and stripped. Imagine her,
held captive, when light landed
like thrown paint on her bare skin.

Second Place
Water Gossip
by D. Ouellet

The creek crept out of its bed this morning,
swallowed a wooden bridge for breakfast,
spread itself like butter over green fields,
drowning daisies, uprooting cattails.
Waters gossiped with the neighbours,
come to get a better look.
Ripples giggled at the sight they made
standing on the hill,
bathrobe chatting with Sunday best,
like they'd never seen water dance.

Third Place
Tower of Pisa....(or Oxygen Pimpstack)
by Tripp Howell

"When you walk the streets of Pisa, and the tower pops into view for the
first time, it is shocking -- the visual equivalent of a prolonged screech
of brakes. For a split second you wait for the crash."
                       -- Robert Kunzig, "Antigravity in Pisa"
                          Discover Magazine, August 2000

Sometimes I want
to stare into your eyes
beneath silk-spotted night
and hesitate to say something,
act as if the words won't come,
and when your curiosity and desire
finally squeeze me too tight,
open my mouth and solemnly whisper
something like
"coleslaw boxer shorts"
"oxygen pimpstack"
just to taste the odd angle of a moment
when no rules apply,
for which no poems have been written,
just to hear brakes screeching in shocked silence,
just to see the stutter in your eyes
as something you never thought you'd hear
threatens to topple you like Pisa's tower,
just so well be immersed
for a few seconds
in a scene
all our own,
which no two lovers
will ever share.

Honorable Mention
The Lost Generation
by Vickie Bowman
Callahan's Saloon

She broke a tribal tradition yesterday.
She spoke her dead mother's name
on national Television no less.
It was a plea for an apology
from white Australians.
Ordinary people.

Ordinary people,
with little idea of why.
Why should they apologise?
It didn't happen, not in their time.
They didn't settle here way back when
the land was roamed by the Aboriginals.

The land was roamed by the Aboriginals.
Seduced and robbed by the white man,
they lost their own, one true heritage
Condemned to live in segregation
then force fed missionary zeal.
Far worse was yet to come!

Far worse was yet to come,
The came in big black shiny cars.
They came and took the children away.
A generation, stolen from black families.
Their intentions were good, educate the kids
turn them into pseudo whites, train them well.

Turn them into pseudo whites, train them well.
Forget the grieving mother the angry fathers
who had lost their loving happy children.
Ripped from their parents with no say,
they lost their families and identity.
They lost their Aboriginality.

They lost their Aboriginality,
until education, a new generation
began to wonder about their tribal past.
Where is my family mother? Who are we?
The stories were told, anger ignited hot blood.
Where is my land, what is my name, my tribal name?

Where is my land, what is my name, my tribal name?
A call from the children of a stolen generation.
The courts are filled with Land Rights claims,
no easy answers, few settlements are made.
An apology would be an admission,
with deep regret it is not given.

She broke a tribal tradition yesterday.
She spoke her dead mother's name,
Looking for her sisters, her family.

Honorable Mention
by Hugh Anderson
Cafe Utne and

Here in the salt wind
the cedar lifts
spires of leaf and branch

I lean against its vital shell
The vanished heart
is dark

Wind off the sea
weaves my hair
into branches

Drill with this
woodpecker poem
a miracle grows
green life within the core

My clansman stands hollow
against the wind
while you have become
my living heart

Honorable Mention
Pantoum with Garbanzos and Parrot
by Howard Miller

Shimmering faint gold,
emptied skins of garbanzos
flung into a heap
litter the white linoleum floor.

Emptied skins of garbanzos
litter the white linoleum floor,
rich thin surfaces tossed aside.

as she searches for deeper truth,
rich thin surfaces tossed aside,
slippery beauty unregarded.

As she searches for deeper truth,
I walk in to learn how,
slippery beauty unregarded;
foot-flailing, I fall.

I walk in to learn how;
I'm a sort of truthseeker, too;
foot-flailing, I fall,
victim of truth's deceitful surfaces.

I'm a sort of truthseeker, too,
flung into a heap,
victim of truth's deceitful surfaces,
shimmering faint gold.

September 2000
Judge John Simon

First Place
A Psalm To Touch
by Judy Lewis
Cafe Utne

Instructive hand, gently write, tenderly erase.
With chalk's soft powder trace my outline in the dark.

Voiceless mouth, speak unworded language to my ear.
Scent my hair with sensate breath like  healing herbs.

Passionate belief, make worshipful my freefall will.
Guide my hands' abrasive heresies to prayer.

Favored fruit, ripen slowly in my palm.
Reduce the world to this: peach around a stone.

Merciful music, draw out my frantic chords.
Then sooth my ragged melody into silence.

Second Place
Six Doors Down
by Joy Yourcenar

We start our day with buttered toast and jam,
brush our teeth three minutes, up and down,
pack a snack and walk to school, hand in hand.

Six doors down, the yellow police line trembles;
we step across the crackled track of blood and glass,
choke on the descending creosote, haze and ash,
offer up guilty prayers for the untested grace
the smoke detected deliverance.

Lisa McNeil, lacking miracles, dies before the fire,
her court order no protection
against his kerosene soaked rage.
Melted paint coagulates; flames rumor
through the row-house intimacy,
an obscenity of white molded lawn chair legs
violates the top story window space.

On the corner of Creighton and Gerrish,
the sidewalks strewn with tv sets
flung from upstairs windows,
piles of boxes, kitchen chairs,
the bric-a-brac debris surviving tenants saved.

Police and paramedics wait while
firemen orchestrate their hydrant hose choreography,
push out cracked panes with plastic pails,
sit on the sidewalk sucking oxygen,
return to float through billows
of roof obscuring fog and smoke,
ministering angels passing over,
marking doors and splintering lintels.

Third Place
Saga Love
by Bee Rawlinson
Callahan's Saloon

Love me when I'm old and shocking
Peel off my elastic stockings
Swing me from the chandeliers
Let's be randy bad old dears

Push around my chromed Bath Chair
Let me tease your white chest hair
Scaring children, swapping dentures
Let us have some great adventures

Take me to the Dogs and Bingo
Teach me how to speak the lingo
Bone my eels and bring me tea
Show me how it's meant to be

Take me to your special places
Watching all the puzzled faces
You in shorts and socks and sandals
Me with warts and huge love-handles

As the need for love enthrals
Wrestle with my dampproof smalls
Make me laugh without constraint
Buy me chocolate body paint

Hold me safe throughout the night
When my hair has turned to white
Believe me when I say it's true
I've waited all my lives for you

Honorable Mention
Melange Guapo
by Gary Keenan
The Writer's Block

For Joan Houlihan

If the beginning comes first, interrupt
The jelly with another form of contraception
So the panjandrum might be enthroned

In theory but imprisoned by practicalities-
The jump-rope knotted in a noose, the tantrum
On the Isle of Langerhans, a split Chevrolet:

Merely foaming sodas of nuance, impertinent
Bubbles in the nostrum; but where is my mackinaw?
Please, I'm at loose and raving marshmallow.

Go figure, no one will notice, the spleen
Of even seven heavenly assassins no more
Irrigates the tendrils of my tongue

Than do the carparks of Westphalia, ham and all.
Sadly, not too many grains are left to share,
And you look like my granny did the month after she died.

At least the napkin lies.  I'm elsewhere.

Honorable Mention
Rule Of The Plowman
by H.G. Brown

In a place where nothing was permitted,
Everything mattered.
A sudden quarter note on the E-flat clarinet
Could grate upon ungrateful ears.
The Plowman
Might decide to publish his displeasure.
Then a man would disappear;
His compositions,
Reference to his life and work,
His name
And all that was of him would vanish.
His wife,
Removed to Khabarovsk, in time remarried;
His children forgot his face.

After twenty years the man returned,
But not to Moscow.
Internal exile dumped him in a village
Between the Volga and the Don, and there
A position would be found
As band director.
Of course, everyone understood
He knew a lot about the E-flat clarinet.

I am not surprised to learn that,
During the rehearsal
Of his father's Eleventh Symphony,
Maxim Shostakovich whispered,

"Papa, what if they hang you for this?"

Honorable Mention
by Sharron Egan Belson
Rabbit Hole

Come into the center of me
with that voice of pure molten male
oh, Frankie...long gone
such as you are
I listen to you here
in this small space and my heart
blooms like a heated rose
in paradise

Honorable Mention
Red Shoes
by Phil Stinson
Rabbit Hole

What do piano players do?
We leave trails of barrooms
empty glasses, full ashtrays,
sweaty clothes, spent energy, scattered ex-wives,
fistfights, hard blues, latent violence,
drugs, glassy stares of hookers,
small paydays, late-night television, bad motels,
trinkets from famous gigs, worn suitcases,
become strangers to morning,
field requests with expressionless eyes,
slip good songs between commercial tripe,
examine new gray hair in distorted backstage mirrors,
confide in no one, change clothes,
and pour powder into red pimp shoes.

October 2000
Judge John Simon

First Place
Coming Out
by Mary Hazen-Stearns

Flakes of crab meat impersonate
peony petals chopped among
vinegar and beaten eggs.

Flashes of pink meat snuggle
among smooth white mayonnaise.
Freckles of pepper corns

aromatically crushed. A willow leaf
escapes its branch, comes to rest
as a centerpiece to elbow

macaroni and tri-color twist
pasta. It shall be removed
immediately. Guests have begun

to float in, bob and weave among
white islands of triangulated
meat spread sandwiches,

lacy salad greens, vinaigrettes
and oils. Pick and nibble,
nibble and pick. I watch through

curtains, my hair in a wild quarrel,
my blouse not yet pressed.

Second Place
Last Dance
by Padraig O'Morain
Callahan's Saloon

A knot loosening in his brain
has closed the book of expectation.

He shuffles for miles in purple tracksuit bottoms,
mumbles the thing again and again.

What comes out of his mouth defies meaning
what matter now are words already spoken.

The suits have gone to the charity shop
but for one that will do later.

The job was good, they let her keep his car
it sits in the driveway looking big.

He dines on scrambled eggs and meat cut up small,
the same for her, she can't be bothered.

The bedroom-slipper shimmy the nightly dance
she catches him on the street trotting home to mother

and partners him back to the room
the smell of cigarettes and disinfectant.

While she sleeps he shuttles between lock and lock
muttering the thing is, some step to be taken, but what?

Third Place
by andervillier

Football game on TV --
in realtime, long
pauses, then
-- done. . . dust rises . . .

In slow-mo replay
the players, giant,
placid goldfish,
bright orange fabric

In this slowed-down heaven
the way the lord must see things:
that pass, after all,
from the start.

Honorable Mention
by Hamish MacBeth

Red eye of sunrise yet a hidden menace,
Full white the moon and bright the frost as day;
Earth's chest pants slowly, ground-mist exhalations;
Predators are prowling,
Silent high-pitched howling;
They shatter mental crystal
And shiver dreams away.

I'm wakened, drawn towards the ice-thin window,
To witness scenes as spare and still as death.
How bare the hills; how bare the trees and meadows,
Sky's pale-roofed maw, star fangs,
Horizon-hinged it hangs;
Night's curled lip sneers on shadows
Of mountains bared like teeth.

Two bow-waves shear the median of the valley,
Iced hayfield moves as feral muscles glide;
Hoar-frost disturbed by wakes of live torpedoes,
Grey shoulders breach and lope,
Implode and telescope;
They salivate their credos
Of chilled and ruthless pride.

The wolves tear savage furrows down the dreamland,
Their eyes are shined with blood, their mission clear;
Grass swings back shocked to green behind their passage:
Swift train-less tracks impale
The smoky pallid vale,
Paired scars in frost their message,
The wolves, the wolves passed here.

Honorable Mention
Poetry Submission: A Love Poem Not to a Lover
by Barbara St. Clair
The Writer's Block

How can you ask
what trick trot trail
I came swaggering down
or what blue black TV show
I inhaled as a child?
And then
say you know me as a brother?

Because brother is not
a sex thing
even though unclothed
you showed your dreamy self to me

and asked
if what I saw was all right
and by that I think you meant
the size of your Schwing
Shish Kabob
John Thomas
Old one eye
Hot tamale
Hot potato
Hot dog
Bow and Arrow
Mr. McGilicudy
Top Banana
Hoopla and Hosanna
and I said
"Yes of course. It's just fine."
Because what else would
I say
to a poet brother?
And besides
the size
of your manhood
looked about right to me.

And so I was thinking
about how we are
all so much skin
and touch
and breath
and voice
and five fingers on each hand
with smooth carapace fingernails
and blood that rushes
and trickles
and pools
at so many times
and in so many places.

I told you
you were beautiful.
And you answered me
with your feet spread square
shoulder length apart
and the tips of your
black alpaca
handmade boots
facing straight ahead
and your arms hanging
but at the ready by your sides
your chin tipped

up just a bit to the right-
set for a fight
or an assignation

with the green
hearted trees
and the blue
knuckled sky
and the
tar stinking California cedar
beating out their universal
despite all of our
attempts to tame it.
And you looked right
at me
pretending to be
blinded by my
and you said
"You know
you're talking to ugly,"
and I said,
"I don't think so."

We exchanged gifts
your words
for mine

your words for pine
because that is what
I must be doing
pining for my long lost
poet brother
my liter mate
or close
born miles and days
and years apart
and who cares about dates
or states
when you're talking family.

And then
in my dream I
kissed you
on your shoulder

touched my lips to your skin
soft as a boy's
just before he steps
up to the plate
and starts swinging
those base hits
and homers
and batting in those runners

and maybe that is why
you were there lying naked
your flag
at half mast
or less
at best.

And when you asked me
did I approve?
I guess you
were really begging me to say
"You are my magician."

The little black curls
of hair
around your groin
the soft pink nipples
on your chest
your legs
with their tan
that went up to here
and stopped at
the boundary of your
now invisible
but still so present
the white shawl
of pale skin
around your shoulders
the fragrant brown of your arms
and the rosy redness
of your neck
the ark of your
Adam's apple,

So definitive
an instrument

for such
a powerful

And I said
I love you.

And then I kissed
in my dream.

Honorable Mention
Note To Occupant in The Hall of the Mountain King
by Natalka
The Writer's Block

Accompanied by the chorus from Greig's
Peer Gynt "The Hall of the Mountain King"

I want my mother back, the mother I never had
and the child I never was, wants one minute facing you.
Enough time for momentous ending.
To see your eyes, relief in your eyes,
and suck what makes me moan
out of your irises.

Or are you all gland?
Between pineal and thyroid is there anything
besides seafoam packing delicate alphabet?
Do you have eyes at all?
And you may ditto me the same.
Is she a cask of precious hazelnuts or Montelado?
You may ask. Permission to answer withheld.

Time won't grant me this request, nor will you,
fabled unicorn,tripping in your mask of whale bone,
through the Halls of the Mountain King,
give me comfort of looking into and closing
your porcelain and pinioned eyes.

I would pawn the hope of love, with no chance of redemption,
I would leave the garden and enter desert in an instant,
if you would stand face to face with me
and give me the solace of taking it personally.
Close, in my presence, this swinging excuse for a door,
window on the soul, spray of syrofoam, china cup, etc.

All else is small pense.
Little thoughts and chewing gum
stuck to desks in childhood
in my old school Immaculate Heart
on Flora Avenue.

Honorable Mention
by andervillier
Gandy Creek

From then on I glimpsed her
in temporary nests,

through the faux-Irish
barroom darkness,
her and her friends'
faces out of Caravaggio;

at the corner of a long
street in Carolina dusk
catching a light,
small orange glimmer;

scooting through the
Y pool like a guppy,
distorted underwater,

once, chasing a speck
of dandelion drift
down 9th Street
quite slowly --

its sunglistened tips --

cupping her hands around
what can't be touched
or else the game's over.

Honorable Mention
by JAS Carter

For GG

I played hide and seek
in the dip of his grave, the shade
of his marker; and shoved aside hollyhocks
to splay, hot and still,
with my face in the grass shroud
of William.

He died on my birthday
and was buried by May,
beneath the chill thistles
where I lay with green fingertips
dug in, knees drawn up,
ready to quail-burst from cover
if my brother should find me.

Still William's grave sank with no furor
into a subtler foxhole,
hiding my green t-shirt
and too-bony ribcage
from the stutter stop, laughter,
my brother's breaths gasping

but the flies only found me,
crept sideways on Bill's angels,
to hide in the crevices
or tickle the curve of my back
where my shirt rode up, showing
a freckle like a thumbtack
in my spine.

November 2000
Judge John Simon

First Place
by Marilyn Injeyan

When her mother throws
a metal sugar jar at her dad,
leaving a dent in the wall,
the child appears calm.

She has studied Buddha,
has chosen to follow his path
accepts the dharma, his teachings
of peace and moderation.

Wearing a yellow robe,
she sits in the shade
of a fig tree and vows
to remain till answers come.

Her hair swept up
in a wisdom bump. Curls
combed to the right.
She's drawn a mark between

her brows, wheels on her small
palms and the soles of her feet.
She's in the lotus position.
No one in the house

notices her absence.
A hand fills her rice bowl.
She gathers filtered light
to bathe her mind, to drown

the screams and silences
and sweep away spilled sugar.

Second Place
A Letter From Your Sisters
by JP Reese
The Writer's Block

Dear Sylvia and Anne,
We are stuck in your confessional.
We can't get out. The marriage 
of outhouse noise with barnyard 
pig-grunts stuffs our ears with ugliness. 
You sculpted your pain onto each page, 
gaining speed and direction 
like the terminal thrusts of a rejected lover. 
You sensed time was short, the long night 
creeping inside your heads. Yet you sought 
no creaking door, no key, no light 
to seep through cracks and direct your retreat 
from the edge. The air crackles, 
alive with electroshock. We turn 
and we turn our feet, retrace each step 
believed to have led us here 
but everything known vanishes. 
We smell carbon monoxide and cooking gas. 
Somewhere, a bloody sun slips slowly 
into a mulberry sea.

Third Place
by Tara A. Elliott
Callahan's Saloon

For Sara Bisel-the Bone Lady
You hold the past in wizened fingers,
repair crushed fragments with ardent glue,
fill in interruptions with dedicated wire,
chronicle lives with compassionate centimeters, and
uncover stories with sympathetic measured inches.

The roughness, bumps, and indentations speak to you,
not with words, or flesh, or the language of eyes,
but with bone;
the core of chalk calling out to be heard.

As this woman-girl child keens
from her wooden shelf, label bearing a number--
another yellow-plastic sarcophagus thick with the dust of the put-away.

You slowly uncase her like a disintegrating cork
from an aged port bottle, pieces spilling upon your table.
You pause,
your ritual of letting bones breathe themselves into life.

She lies on the table in a jumble,
a heap of complications for you to divulge.
You pick up each piece,
bathe it carefully in acrylic solution, and replace it.

One hundred thousand times you have done this.

You revere the repetition of the process.
There is method to this,
the picking up, the dipping, the drying --
the laying out of bone on bone.
Just as there was method to this woman,
her hands pressed against the dent of abdomen,
to protect the growth within.

Like this woman,
you know what it is to carry hope inside,
like an unborn eggshell child.

As you unfold her ancient fingers slowly, gently,
she comes alive.

It is your passion, this history of bone,
this brittle whiteness, the delicate lives...
and you,
the translator of death.

Honorable Mention
Compost Heap
by Phil Stinson
Rabbit Hole

Throw on alcoholic fathers, grandfathers,
lesbian ex-wives,
battles with Crown Royal,
shaky morning coffee cups,
hard blues sweating on the keys,
the hooker's unbuttoned blouse,
sidewalk nights howling in the rain. 

I'll learn Scarlatti on the violin,
become pure
study meditation
change the cast of eye
till these self-destructive impulses under
use this garbage to grow.

Honorable Mention
Words to Say
by D.G. Anthony

The priest knew all the proper words to say.
He'd never met her, but he had a note
and mentioned everything my uncle wrote.
He said she'd had a good life anyway.

The old piano that she used to play
still holds remembered cadences of those
Welsh melodies she loved; but I suppose
we'll sell it now that Betty's passed away.

I saw her schedules written on a chart
pinned to the study wall: she'd meant to speak
to Mum, and booked the dentist for next week.
It's strange, the little things that break your heart.

I'd watched her growing weaker day by day,
but never found the proper words to say.

Honorable Mention
The County Coroner
by Teri Browning

coaches little league,
has five kids of his own
with hyphenated names, still-
I want him.
No matter the memories
he'd bring to my flesh:
tiny hands, or death,
slick-flat on a cold slab or
rough and tumble in green grass,
dark-suited solemn sex or
abandoned, sweaty sin-
I want him.
He zipped my mother up
with gentle hands,
smoothed back a stray hair-
I want her.
I want him.

Honorable Mention
5:51 AM
by H. Novack

Houses huddling close out of the wind
Worn sidewalks
Like a Dorchester spared the Exterminating Angels

Wheeze of bus brakes like a last deflation of dreams
The funny feeling the Vietnamese store signs are laughing at me
Open the paper sick with dread

Scuse mutters the elephant on my foot

Honorable Mention
To Grow Fur
by Jael Williams
Cafe Utne

shrill music,
a blue jay calls;
echoing the remembered
keening of orcas
under water.
I long for hairy limbs.
Want to grow fur all over
to warm myself, try to
stay whole
in the painful memory
of rabbit stew
eaten down at the beach
beside a little fire,
with you.

December 2000
Judge John Simon

First Place
Last Rites
by Karen Corcoran Dabkowski
Wild Poetry

Bundy paced his cell,
his heart kept constant

The vigil keepers curbside
begged Jehovah and the state
to spare his life for even monsters
can be saved -- (Jehovah crowed).

He stopped to look just barely
at the stars that would be gone,
but the world he knew was made
of doe-like eyes and dark brown hair.

In worlds he'd known he'd hunted
long and heavy chestnut hair.
On nights like this, on nights
just calm and close enough like this.

The virgins he had slain
had lain in pools of hair congealing;
even now his groin would speak
but not repent.

A chair, a cot, a spare commode --
a clock. The clock was all.
Echoes of the blood beat in the clock
upon the stand. His hand was dry.
His brain was full.

Horrible, the scenes he saw
that clawed their way to heaven
but in thinking this, he caught
his own obscenity of smile.

The curbside lambs sang hymns,
entrusting God to watch their daughters.
while parents of the slaughtered
shone like righteous seraphim.
At dawn, the warden came --
a priest in tow.

Bundy wept his coldest tears,
then wondered, if in heaven
there be maidens
there be maidens
lovely maidens
with long hair.

Second Place
Duck Duck Goose
by Julie Carter
Gandy Creek

Gene speaks of geese, of ducks, with quick sign fists
and I must beg him slow his silent speech
to match my rusty intellect. He flips
his left hand at his waist, a hinged hand beak

made of his right, his fingers wild and mute
in words like moth-heads beating on hot bulbs.
I cannot understand. A door leads out
to backyard pastures where the golden bulk

of corn that made ducks squabble lies in lines
uneaten, framed by feathers. All Gene's birds
lie, too, like shredded pillows on the lawn
in crimson cases, laundry left undone.

Third Place
To a Worried Friend
by S. Brogan
Cafe Utne

You say I am no longer myself.
Who have I become?

I stumble on fallen leaves.

My soul follows yellow
into autumn.

Who is still here
watching this quiet river?

Honorable Mention
Night Moves
by Sharron Belson
Rabbit Hole

So serious
you are
during the day

a giraffe
an archangel of the brooding
hands and the thoughtful glance

But let the moon
appear. Let the lamps dim one
by one

And you are transformed
into the long
eager legs

The deep probing kiss
the childlike

As though it were our first
time under
this quilt.

Honorable Mention
The Old Witch
by Rose Wilcox


old witch cackles, like most old witches
she is happy the day is warm
she is sitting on the lawn chair in my side patio
sippin on a cuppa

humans, sez she, are a mythical beast
they say the pentagram is their symbol
they move through the four directions
masters of time, sez she
they stride through the worlds
as if it were their nature
they ride the tides of time
as if they were dragons
and rise from the ashes
like a phoenix
may I have some more coffee?

I rise from my chair
like a phoenix
blue heron
is in me


the old witch has rose lotion
she is rubbing it on her hands and limbs
she has roses on her nightgown
she says roses are the lotus of the west

humans, sez she, are the five corners
everywhere you look are the four directions
if you cast them, you think you cast the circle
but they are the watchtowers
without the spirit they are square
you are the secret, you are the mystery
but you line your days with dreariness
and you stifle your soul with trifles
you are the circle, you are the dance
you spiral through the air like a wisp of smoke
you swirl through the earth like a beautiful stream
you dance on the waves like a plume, like a sprite
you cast through the fire like the gleam in a mirror
you are the mystery, you are the dance
within you is the curse
within you is the blessing
humans, sez she, are the dragons of time
could you get me a glass of water?

I rise from my seat
like a blessing


everyday I rise like a human
I water my plants
I feed my pets
I put gas in the truck
the old witch rides with me to work
I don't know what it is she has to do
there is a fountain in the square
there are humans everywhere
sometimes their feelings are like magick
I can draw them into figures
under the hood


I work a working, the work works me
I am working a working on loving
I am working a working on art
I am working a working on money
I am working a working on time
I am moving through the dimensions
I am moving towards something I do not understand
I am moving towards the secret
I am moving towards the secret
I am moving towards the secret
I am moving towards myself


The old witch takes my snake out of her habitat
The snake, sez she, is a mythical beast
It represents transformation
It lives with you, eats, and shits
and sheds its skin
Destiny, my snake, twirls around her arms and neck
I tell you now, sez she, feed this snake well


She disappears. No puff of smoke.
I am holding my snake, contented.

Honorable Mention
Bongo, He Risen
by Joseph Carcel

Bongo, he shed 
he skin 
liken fish 
today become pure

like x-ray. Remember 
he say he would! Oh 
he be risen. 
Oh! he be on high.

Soon many martyr now arise, 
been flailed to dead 
from rat-tail wip 
in the longgone.

I count them fast 
on my many four finger 
muching time 
ago. Remember?

Someshout joy, pop 
liken soap bubble 
beneath the green moss. 
jus' a clothing

Bongo say green 
emerald of the far sea. 
Peter and Paul! 
And be Luther

damnin' good works 
done slow and weeping 
See Him Now! Dare one 
be say fraud, 
waxeater, shoutout 
fish not shed skin, no!

He shout it out smug. 
he raise tight fist 
clench he a red tide 
arise in he face.

I fell called, 
a calling to comfort him 
with blows 
for just that is

what miracle 
becoming, happen, is. 
But Bongo say NO 

and we both 
nethersayer too 
watch he shedded skincoat, 
up so high

looken small as 
wingtissue rising he 
rise up a blue wind 
until be speckandgone

Honorable Mention
Sound and Meaning
by Dave Benson
The Writer's Block

The mythos of how the rain

and I don't know- there's just
the car and the mirror's black

thread, or maybe I stay home
and think. It falls,

falls like fingers tracing their own
momentum, with suddenness-

runs its random down windowglass,
down the path of least naming-

Where is the body in relation 
to this?

Now every gesture is louder,
past all hearing, past even the chaos

of rhythm, sitcom shout-
a falling, a darkening,
a slammed door of laughter

mute as grace, silent as cat-
paced deep-pile carpet-

and somehow, amidst all this

all I can hear

is the kicked stitch of space 

that is your heart.

Honorable Mention
William and Catherine (October, 1831)
by Brian Long

"Blake had told her that he would
never leave her, and indeed she
saw him continually when 'he used
to come and sit with her for two
or three hours every day...' "
--The Blake Records, concerning
Catherine Blake's quality of life
after her husband's death.

Will you dream with me again, William?
Yes, Catherine.
I will.

About the Fall? And Dusk?
Yes: late Autumn and evening
and the light failing.

Tell me then, of the dark.
It rises and it scatters
among vines and brambles.
It pools in the low places,
it is still and deepening.

Tell me of the wind.
It is a prophet,
and it trails long robes
of cloud about the chimneys,
it betrays the coming rains
with kisses in our palms.

Where are we this time? At the cottage?
Yes. At the yardgate,
and your hem is tangled
in the spades. Our shadows
drape the hedgerows, they reach
to the walls, they-

What do you see?
Angels behind the windows, I-

-Yes! There!-
The curtains billow, fold
into wings, there are arcs
of light about their shoulders!
They press fingers to their mouths.

Why are you quiet?
William, are we inside now?
Yes, in the dim. And the rushlight
whispers, and the storm has begun
a psalm to the thatch.

Are you reading to me?
Yes, a poem by the candle.

Because I cannot.
Because the words are winter orchards
to you, because they are barren and black
about the boughs. And the page is meadow,
it is whited with new snow, and my voice
thaws blossom from the sleep of the boles.

They are falling about the tassels
of your shawl. You are radiant
among them. You are petal,
and where you touch the limbs,
prisms shimmer against the dark.

I spend the evening speaking worlds
to you. You quilt them into throws
to gather at my feet.

And what after?

And what of you?
I wander. I prepare
a kettle and a fire.

For morning?
Yes, for when you wake and the sky
is bluing to the sea, and the day
is warming and sparrowsung.

I will be waiting then, past the garden
gate; you must walk to me softly,
your steps will chime bells kept secret
in the stones. I will know by your music
that you near me.

Are these dreams we visit much like Heaven, William?

Oh yes, Catherine.
Hurry. Close your eyes.
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