Dear Frida Runner-Up
after Self-Portrait with Monkey
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.
I Am Too Big 1st
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.
-1st Place Winner-
I Am Too Big - Philip LaMaster
-2nd Place Winner-
A Summer Day in Together - Wes Sexton
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
All at once
a girl (pretty as a laugh)
Just like that
she b r o k e through the wall between
(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
and together we sailed
over the horizon.
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
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.