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Dear Frida                                                                         Runner-Up

after Self-Portrait with Monkey

Conor O'Connor

 

Rain falls today in Mexico City,

on your sea-dark house: blue as the Pacific,

shores littered with Jalisco remnants,

stone Olmec noses, gilt banana leaves,

 

bitter fragrance of clove, waxen skin—

nothing to chafe your countenance hung

on every wall, eyes shadowy, fixed.

Frida, how does one become so ornamented,

 

rooted to time and nature? The monkey

at your shoulder shares your gaze, your raven hair,

though radiant pink suffuses your cheeks.

On your neck, a broken ring of wood,

 

etched with lines as one might see

after ancient bloodletting. Or is it a snake,

or bone? Your knowledge of such things is deep—

one needs only consider the eleven fractures

 

in your right leg, your shattered pelvis

and spinal column after a bus accident

one September morning. The iron handrail

pierced your uterus, but years later,

 

you still wouldn’t rescind hope for young muralists

and portraitists: broad-shouldered sons

like Diego, long-necked daughters to collect shards

of turquoise glass and fossils for earrings.

 

Frida, I stand in your kitchen thinking of tortillas,

tomatoes, onion, stone, hearty gatherings graced with music

and tequila. I am swept into your portrait:

pain unmasked, close to fear and love, sated with history.

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L i t e r a r y . J u i c e

An Online Literary Magazine

Poet

Tree

I Am Too Big                                                                                1st

Philip LaMaster

 

I am too big to step on my own shadow

When I turn,

          Little suns dart between my feet

My shadow dances away

 

I want to catch those suns

But they always slip between my fingers

 

My mother always forgot to tell me to brush my teeth

These days I forget to tell myself

She always forgot to brush my hair.

But now I forget that I'm not who I once thought I was

I'm not who I'm going to be

I'm just a little too big to touch my toes

          My arms haven't been stretched by gravity yet

 

I am a troll beneath a bridge

I am a hummingbird between feeders

I am a flute with a bent mouthpiece

I am an octopus hiding in a reef

 

These days, I can only catch my shadow in the corner of my eye

Where my eyelashes form a net

I sometimes think, if I could only turn fast enough

I'd have it in my hands

 

These days the world turns faster than I do

The sun casts my shadow farther than I can run

I am too big to step on my own shadow

The world spins it faster than my feet.

Poetry Contest Winners - Pushcart Prize Nominees

                    December '13/January '14

-1st Place Winner-

I Am Too Big -  Philip LaMaster

 

-2nd Place Winner-

A Summer Day in Together - Wes Sexton

 

-Runners-Up-

Here - Gary Singh

Dear Frida - Conor O'Connor

Second Episcopal Church - Melissa Martin Sells

Wes Sexton is an Indianapolis resident and a student at Butler University, where he is currently in his second year of study toward bachelor’s degrees in trumpet performance and creative writing. He is 19 years old and “A Summer Day in Together” is his first published work.

Conor O'Connor was born in New York. In 2013, he won the Pocataligo Poetry Prize. He has published writing in Slant, The Pinch, Bayou, The Tulane Review, Visions International, The Bakery, Anderbo, The Quotable, and Wild Violet. Currently, he is finishing his final year in the MFA program at Old Dominion University.

Gary Singh has published hundreds of articles as either a staff journalist or freelancer, including newspaper columns, features, travel essays, art criticism, short fiction and poetry. Operating between established realms, Gary is a sucker for anything that fogs the opposites of native and exotic, luxury and the gutter, academe and the street. He can be found on Facebook: fb.me/gary.singh

 

Philip LaMaster is a student and writer based in Tempe, Arizona. He is currently studying economics and English literature. Philip has worked at an accounting firm, multiple restaurants, and as a life coach. He has also taught in Mongolia as a volunteer.

A Summer Day in Together                                                       2nd

Wes Sexton

 

All at once

a girl (pretty as a laugh)

came

rolling

down

the

hill

in

a

car

tire.

Just like that

she b r o k e through the wall between

her life

and

mine.

(The wall filled with pleases and thank yous,

with invisible expectations and iron words.)

 

 

She o p e n e d the drowsy sky

and threw a sunrise to the east.

 

She sang and

made the world as still as a deep breath.

 

She drew an elephant in the clouds.

 

She blew a   b a l l o o n,

filled it with

stars and

caterpillars and

warm rain;

and together we sailed

over the horizon.

Here                                                                                   Runner-Up

Gary Singh

 

Here, on a beat-up, hand-me-down laptop, with a busted Ethernet port, I will write my column.

 

Here, at home, on my crumpled black futon, I can write my column.

 

Here, in the coffee shop, fueled with black tea, mint leaves and the esoteric tang of cardamom, I will write my column.

 

Here, at her flat, just before sunrise, when the seagulls and garbage trucks convert the Outer Richmond fog into creativity, I could easily write my column.

 

Here, on a train from Lugano to Zürich, in the business cabin, where the tone signaling the next station is the same pitch as the first note of The Ship Song by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, I am going to write my column.

 

Here, pointing with my index finger to my right temple, in here, is where I really write my column.

 

Here, in the Fairmont Lobby Lounge, to the din of luggage wheels, an espresso machine, two Russian housewives and the California Society of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Annual Conference, I will bang out my column.

 

Here, in a cramped American Airlines seat, amid pretzel wrappers, thrice-completed Sudoku puzzles, and wrinkled inflight mags, I try to write my column.

 

Here, at home, despite writer’s block, and by the grace of Loki, Isis, Durga, Leonard Cohen and the Great God Pan, I shall grind out my column.

 

Here, in my business suite at the Pan Pacific, at my desk, staring across the bed to the Kaldewei bathtub with custom Hansgrohe fittings, and then to the rain shower, imagining where the hotel’s media relations hottie could theoretically be showering right now, I will file my column.

 

Here, in the crumbling press box of some ersatz stadium at a Jesuit college, even though no one else in the whole stinking wasteland cares about this game, I will file my column.

 

Here, at a public market with horrible WiFi, even though I am on deadline, I will finish this poem instead of writing my column.

Second Episcopal Church                                             Runner-Up                                            

Melissa Martin Sells

 

Bird sits

On other side of stained glass.

His song distorted by the colorful banner,

An image of flora and fauna frozen

In icy panes.

 

Wings beat the shadows,

Strobing the sanctuary,

Pounding life into the images,

Light onto the people.

Melissa Martin Sells is a liturgist and a learner at heart. Living in a one bedroom apartment in Grand Rapids, working retail, and celebrating life with her husband has taught her that -- if you watch and listen closely – society teaches both grace and humility.

**Each poem listed above has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.  Abigail Wyatt's poem, Still Life, which was published in the June/July 2013 edition of Literary Juice, has also been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

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