A Point on a Map: Honorable Mention, Sandy Crimmins Poetry Prize

Valerie Fox

Pull yourself together, sky.  Listen up!

It’s not like you’ve been buried alive.

Everything is new to a new baby.

Red mourning happens in Acts 1 and 2.

 

More and more tree curtains and grasses bar entry. The tundra smells of new cars.

Try to tell the truth, for once.

Keep your eyes glued to the road.

They say, you can’t watch the same movie twice.

 

Yesterday clouds spread across the ceilings of a series of movie sets.

The impulse is still there: Leave this country. Everything is not your fault.

That old shadow shows up like a new song cycle or the history of tango.

There are green, gem-like islands dotting our wide river.

No one gets a paycheck. A sixth sense: I’ll never see him again.

 


Valerie Fox’s books of poems include The Glass Book (Texture Press, 2011), The Rorschach Factory (Straw Gate Books, 2006) and Bundles of Letters Including A, V and Epsilon (a compilation with Arlene Ang, Texture Press, 2008). Recently she published Poems for the Writing: Prompts for Poets (Texture Press, 2013), co-written with Lynn Levin. Her poems have appeared in Juked, Hanging Loose, Painted Bride Quarterly,Apiary, Ping Pong, and other journals. 

Big Mama’s: Runner Up, Sandy Crimmins Poetry Prize

Patrick Swaney

The day is made up of language the way

everything is made up of something else.

The way from the street the woman

in the window of Big Mama’s wearing

a Spiritual Gangster t-shirt, waiting for her

burrito, writing in a notebook is writing

I love you all, I imagine, because,

spiritually speaking, I love you all

is gangster, even if it can only be true

in a limited way.  In a limited way, I can

imagine believing in this slogan as metaphor,

and if so, I imagine I might feel moved to stop

and to say to the woman that on certain days

I too feel like a scribbler waiting for my

spiritual burrito to be ready, and we might

commune, without irony, over the cosmic

rightness of this comparison.  It’s hard

to love everybody, we might say knowingly.

Yeah, but don’t you also sometimes feel,

she might ask, like a gangster waiting

for your spiritual burrito to be ready and ready

or not you’re going to get up and fucking

take what’s yours, spiritually speaking?

You know, sometimes I do, I can imagine

myself saying, while feeling concerned

that our meaning-making has gone too far.

How do you make a slogan yours?

I would want to ask her. Is this language

permanently you?  How do you choose?

She would be clearly concerned

at my flimsy commitment to our motto.

I imagine I shouldn’t have stopped.

It is hard to love everybody, I might say again,

before I left her to her burrito and notebook.

The stream of language that makes up the day

hurries on, sweeping the woman and her t-shirt

away, sweeping away me. I don’t resist.

 


Patrick Swaney lives in Athens, OH, where is completing a PhD in poetry. He is the editor of Quarter After Eight. His work has appeared in Conduit, Indiana Review, The Southeast Review, and elsewhere.

Ascension Day Planting, North Philly: Runner Up, Sandy Crimmins Poetry Prize

Patrick Cabello

           “God does what she wants.

            She has very large tractors.”

            – Robert Bly

It is the first time Jesús has planted, and

his haircut is on backwards.  His eyes are

little birds, hinged at the wings.  His hands

spend their days combating eagerness.

Give him a shovel.  Give a boy with poking eyes

an extra hand to carve his name in dirt.

Some boy’s house fell into its own pit here

and made hole-homes for rat-friends,

for pawned treasures and secrets that never

got redeemed.  Jesús can make time with a shovel.

Make it march backward.  Stand on its head.

Do tricks.  Blink back nobodies.  Earth is a bag

to hold heaven, and Jesús is a hole’s best friend.

Big sister Milly (one leg over the fence into babies,

the other still in diapers), hands him a tomato

with its web roots of tiny feathers.  It is a small

bird fallen out of heaven.  It is a troubling

miracle, that rests a moment in Jesús’ palm,

cupped between the thumb and the dirty nails,

until his knee bends, his hands

swoop down, and his fingers

release it to freshly drug earth.

 


Patrick Cabello Hansel has published poems, stories and essays in over 30 anthologies and journals, including Hawai’i Pacific Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, subprimal, The Ilanot Review, Ash and Bones, Switchbackand Lunch Ticket. His poem “Quitting Time” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His novella Searching was serialized in 33 issues of The Alley News.

The Rules: Runner Up, Sandy Crimmins Poetry Prize

Courtney Kampa

I don’t believe in girlhood. I don’t believe

we are ever small, or ever don’t know what it is

we shouldn’t know. I don’t believe thick minutes in July

crept any closer to the ground than on the tennis court

at Hidden Creek Country Club, where sky-browned Tony

with eyebrows bleached bright from the sun, strapped me

at the end of our lesson into an elastic harness

anchored by the chain link fence, net running across the court

like a hard spine, my sisters on the other side, and

Eyebrows on his knees, adult arms around me, taking as long as he wanted

to snap the clasps in place. He’d back up, yell

Serve! to Meggie or Neena and I ran to them,

slapped backward by its quick yank

at my waist and home later, Meggie, four years younger

so I guess she was seven, says Courtney, Tony has a cwush on you—said it

in that lisp of hers we laughed about

two days ago watching home footage, our mother behind the camera

laughing too, our mother like a shapely soda bottle

with lipstick at the rim, our mother who played Patsy Cline so often

that there Meggie was, singing Cway-thee, eyes nuclear

and luminous, never breaking contact with the camera. We do nothing now

but sing it like she did then. Play it in the morning

on our way to summer jobs at the Club, where she flips burgers

by the pool and I bring beer around to golfers

wearing left-handed gloves that hide their wedding rings.

Every time I pass the cabana, Meggie’s bent over the counter texting

her boyfriend in a boxy uniform she calls unsexy

as hell, thank God, and every time I leave her it’s to bend into

the cart to find a Modelo for Mr. Richards who likes

my little shorts, he says, who likes sunflower seeds, spitting

them diagonally between sentences, who calls me best

in the business, says, we were all talkin ‘bout you today, ‘bout how

you know the rules so well, meaning I’m quiet, unlike

Barbara, who wears khaki pants and drives her cart

like a demon banshee in heat, plowin’ right up there when we’re teein’ off,

and between the 12th and 13th hole I drive the path

along that tennis court where even at eleven I was barely

there, my ribcage the circumference of a Folgers coffee tin

and Tony was lifting my shirt to put his hand

on the harness’ angry red marks, asking if it hurt, and no,

I’d say, it feels like nothing, it felt like nothing at all.

 


pa is from Virginia and holds an MFA from Columbia University. Her poetry has received awards and distinctions from Best New Poets, Poets & Writers Magazine, Rattle, The Atlantic, North American Review, and elsewhere.

Towels at Sunset: Winner, Sandy Crimmins Poetry Prize

Robin Kozak

They must bear no stain,
they must come perfect

 

from the dryer–cotton
fresh from Turkey, bright

 

olive stripes, or amber
ones, or blue.  They must bear

 

no crease, must take the folds
from my hands obediently,

 

tags tucked underneath them
like the legs of calves,

 

as meek as sheep.  They
must limn the linen chest like poppies,

 

coral and gold, or else the pale green I like
in bowls of roses on the table, or

 

the blue of hydrangeas, a bit
mysterious, shadowing the wood

 

when I open the doors.  They must
conform, conform now to my vision

 

of perfection, because my father
would wipe himself with one

 

when he was done with me,
and I remember.  Love,

 

when I see you again,
will you forgive my trespasses?

 

I am hell to live with for a reason.

 


Robin Kozak was born in Chicago, Illinois and grew up in Wyomissing, a bedroom community outside Reading, Pennsylvania.  She received degrees from Ohio University and the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston, and her poems have appeared in Antioch Review, Black Warrior Review, Crazyhorse, Field, The Gettysburg Review, Hotel Amerika, Indiana Review, North American Review, Poetry Northwest, Witness, and other publications.  An authority on antique and estate jewelry, she has also recently completed a novel, The Kingdom It Would Be. 

Tenth of No Wonder

Nancy Scott

Tenth of No Wonder, month

of plucked birds, caverns

stuffed with stale bread,

the hearts fed

to cats who lick

their lips. More

hot chocolate, more bourbon,

more to lose in fewer

words of shivered

shorter lines. Earlier

dark and earlier still

till after Dissemble

when we will celebrate

future perfect Spring.


Nancy Scott’s over 650 essays and poems have appeared in magazines, literary journals, anthologies, newspapers, and as audio commentaries. She has published three chapbooks, and won First Prize in the 2009 International Onkyo Braille Essay Contest. Recent work appears in Breath and Shadow, Braille Forum, Disabilities Studies Quarterly, Philadelphia Stories, and Wordgathering.

 

Stone (at a lover’s grave)

George Bishop

Her husband turned to the afterlife when

something incurable found a way to him,

prepared for things that soon might go on

somewhere beyond his body, even bought

two plots hoping his wife would one day

join him. And after he passed she arrived

 

at the cemetery each day, ready to seed

the loose, dark earth in prayer, engaging

in her own funerals over the vacancy at

his side—until the soil where they’d sleep

forever was washed in every empty answer.

There’s a churchyard in us all we keep alive,

 

wicks we light, angels we purchase to polish

the grounds of our past, other days digging

to a smooth surface—Until we meet again,

their stone says. It’s a date, the unsigned end

signing some new romance she can’t refuse.

There are things that won’t wash away even

 

if they wash away, and it’s hard to turn down

a heaven the love of your life has left you,

to give away the gift of a grave. Sometimes

it’s pure hell waiting for a name, wondering

who you’ll meet again when you meet again,

what was cured, if it matters. Sometimes.


George Bishop’s work has appeared in Carolina Quarterly & Lindenwood Review. Forthcoming work will be featured in Pirene’s Fountain. He is the author of seven chapbooks. Bishop won the 2013 Peter Meinke Prize at YellowJacket Press for his chapbook Following Myself Home and was a 2014 Pushcart Prize nominee. He attended Rutgers University and now lives in Saint Cloud, Florida.

Milky

CJ Cioc

I smell stars, loudly –

singing rings of chorus, orbits. Towards us, comets—

named them after us. Named them Halley,

Hale-bopp— tear drops

on fire.

 

I can lay

on my back on the hillside

by the road,

sniffing out Cadillacs and autoshow

Edsels, winesap taillights, tasting

speed, and cinnamon

 

blood, hot blood shining

in pale moonlight—

tar black engine oil blood.

 

A Jake brake pulses, echoes, and rolls

over hills. It fills the still air, the stale night

and bare trees with shuddering leaves.

 

In rings of purple my retinas lattice

tear detach. Afterimage burns which streak

in green neon

 

through my galaxy

of void I see all.


CJ Cioc is a Rosemont College graduate with his MFA in Creative Writing. His poetry collection “Capitulum” recently earned him Thesis of the Year and thesis with distinction. As an undergrad he served as a contributing editor for the campus magazine, Calliope, before graduating with his BA in English. He was awarded the Martha E. Martin Writing award for both Fiction and Poetry. CJ lives in the Pocono Mountains where he enjoys backpacking on the Appalachian Trail, sleeping in, and mending stone walls.

Girolamo Zini

Michelle Castleberry

Age: 20

Nationality/Place of Origin: Istria, Trieste

Description: rope-walker

Cause of Death: Died of atlanto-axial disclocation (broken neck)

 

The secret to balance

is to always fall up—

Even in training, I rarely

felt the net on my back.

I pointed my nose

away from the hills,

seeing what I needed to see

through the soles

of my bare feet.

The secret to my trade

is to only desire

the path the rope stretches

in front of you.

So I followed it every day,

the crowd’s roar

making tidal noise.

I never cared until I heard

Elena’s voice

in the throng below.

For one second,

my feet forgot their work.

My eyes found her face,

and took the rest of me falling


Although a resident of northeast Georgia, Michelle Castleberry enjoys visiting Philadelphia whenever possible. She is working on a series of poems based on the Hyrtl Skull Collection from the M?tter Museum. Her first book is Dissecting the Angel and Other Poems.

Adalbert Czaptieonesz

Michelle Castleberry

ge: 51

Nationality/Place of Origin: Poland

Description: Catholic

Cause of Death: Cut his throat because of extreme poverty

 

Sew me into the dirt in pieces

beside the potatoes and beets.

Pay the debtors with the next harvest.

 

Do not trouble my wife.

 

Do not trouble my sons.

 

They are blameless.

 

Strew me in the furrows at night

after the crows go to sleep.

 

This labor cannot be witnessed

by sun or any friend.

 

Tamp the dirt over my flesh

using my last pair of boots.

 

My people once owned the mountains.

Then we ran down with the thaw,

my forefathers drinking

more potatoes than they grew.

Now the few of us left

are folded under the valley’s skin.

The shadow of the mountain

always over us.

 

Feed me back to this valley.

 

I left my wife and sons,

pale as tubers in the cottage,

warmed by fire from branches

stolen from the orchard.

Their bones wash up under their skin

like saplings in a flood plain.

 

Their names are the last

words I speak

before I open my throat

a different way, offer

a poor man’s wine

to the rich man’s soil.

 


Although a resident of northeast Georgia, Michelle Castleberry enjoys visiting Philadelphia whenever possible. She is working on a series of poems based on the Hyrtl Skull Collection from the M?tter Museum. Her first book is Dissecting the Angel and Other Poems