2016 Laureates’ Choice - Group Two
On meeting her, he saw at once his days
were fading from the splendor of his youth—
a muted palette, drab with browns and grays
that she illuminated like the truth
of sun through stained glass windows. In her eyes
an ancient knowledge flickered like a spark.
He yearned for her, the way a baby cries
for someone to hold onto in the dark.
He let her go, (or did she let him go?)
because he needed walls to feel secure,
but decades later he recalled her glow
like something too unearthly to be pure—
not just a different kind of pretty girl,
an open doorway to another world.
Though summer's barely warmed up, late July
ls hurrying to elongate the night—
Such is the unbending will of that wheelwright
Who flung the stars to circle in the sky.
June's lightning-bugs, who in their numbers ply
The dusky underbrush with spots of light
No longer flicker anywhere in sight.
They've given up the trees to the jar-fly.
He's claimed the crown, a treetop suzerain.
His grating song rings out amidst the leaves.
Which soon will turn their colors and dispense
With clinging to their limbs; and for refrain
The jar-fly's courtier echoes in the eaves
With katy-did, already in past tense.
RE: A Sonnet in Search of an Author (For William)
The odor of excess beckons me,
my lover's legs hold sway;
a full forest chorus suddenly free
from the cotton layers of the day.
And this I can only convey
as slightly salt and intimate;
labdanum, resin, honey, and clay.
Such primal sweetness in the scent…
I agree, a sonnet might be made of it.
Though I'd say cypress, more than pine,
and not woodbine, but rockrose thicket
for as experience goes, this is mine.
But oh! The primal sweetness of the scent!
'Tis true - a sonnet might be made of it.
In response to:
Sonnet in Search of an Author
By William Carlos Williams
Nude bodies like peeled logs
sometimes give off a sweetest
odor, man and woman
under the trees in full excess
matching the cushion of
aromatic pine-drift fallen
threaded with trailing woodbine
a sonnet might be made of it
Might be made of it! odor of excess
odor of pine needles, odor of
peeled logs, odor of no odor
other than trailing woodbine that
has no odor, odor of a nude woman
sometimes, odor of a man.
American Legion Post 573
Rising smoke commingles with dried manure
and diesel fuel and lingers. Flannelled backs
rest heavy and still along the bar, their luck
piling up in pull tabs at the feet of their stools.
In the corner, teenage boys attempt to prove
themselves to one another: well-aimed crack
of colliding billiard balls; callow smack-talk’s
studied nonchalance; the perfect curve
of ball cap brims. Meanwhile, in back, the mothers
prepare the dancehall/meeting/banquet room
for end of year awards. Young sons in blue
neckerchiefs are sent to wait with fathers.
They feel their innocence, are rapt with embarrassment.
They set themselves to learning how to be men.
My Father’s Dante
You were gone twenty years before I read
The book that draws me faster on to you.
The world you left got worse, and crowded too,
Charon capsized by cargoes of new dead.
I’m midway gone, in a grim winter mood,
Pinned by all I did instead of what I could.
Among the lessons I failed till now to learn
Is that, however handsome or witty,
We should expect to receive no pity.
We hurt as much from what we half forget
As from the things we carefully conserve.
You say: There is so much more to observe.
We will descend, and see, and not regret
That we fall, we shiver—we shine and burn.