2015 Laureates’ Choice
Rickard Lane, Natchitoches
In the ditch roadside, ibises raise to daylight
And spent tulips the sharp arc of their wings’
White. In the garden fire-ants pick vermiculite
Between rosemary and scrubby mint dozing
Through midmorning. Around noon a collarless
Fice arrives to nose through daffodil stalks
Taller than she is. Past crimson Japanese
Camellias, sunlight leans against the back
Fence with fidgety, finger-thin lizards.
Towards sunset turtledoves call in the redbuds;
From the crape myrtle the cats slip from the yard.
Then moonrise: beneath unopened magnolia buds
Raccoons root, then trundle off; in the field
A shadowy mare dreams a gift of Jonagolds.
James S. McCormick
You are not the shape or scale of longing,
your iceberg tip cutting the clouds and sky,
snow thorn even in the heat of late July.
The steely brow of your crags, threatening,
is made for those who crave dangerous love,
thrill that your lake below is emerald,
a jewel that never loses its chill.
I am paddling to an opposite cove
where landscape cradles me as a tree’s bow
might a bird. I will curl up on green hills,
neither arrogant nor diminished, home
the place of balance, the soft curve below
the crown. Let someone else storm the castle,
I’ve found the spot where I want to lie down.
Tahoma Park, MD
Vanitas – Artist Unknown
Two branches, once-pleached, reach past the brow
of an oaken table, its planked face worm-
bored and scabbed with use. Upon this worn
and unclothed board lies a single glowing
apple next to a half-torn crust of bread.
A goblet, tipped onto its rim, drips lees
onto the floor below three frost-crimped leaves
that flaunt old-lady veins, matte-dull and dead
to summer’s sap. A candle, guttered, forms
a drizzled shawl to shroud itself. But where,
I ask you, is the hairy haunch of hare,
the spotted moth, the ladybird, the worm?
Where once a harvest spilt forth its seed
Is this all that’s left, this residue of greed?
New York, NY
Dear Mr. JoS. A. Bank, Esquire, I
am writing to complain about the way
my son and I were treated yesterday
when we had special merchandise to buy.
In short, accessories were needed for
a new tuxedo—so, a shirt with studs,
a bowtie, and a cummerbund: mere duds
were what we found inside your double door.
A manager did greet us, but he sent
the latest hire to make the sale, or not;
the fellow measured sizes, then forgot
that finding them should be his next intent.
Both seemed to want us gone, yet all was fine,
since we went home and ordered—done!—online.
Birding in Fog
A cataract of fog enshrouds the lake,
a putty-gray that birds must love—they’re out
in force, in flight. I can’t believe my luck:
a heron like a quiet satellite;
an egret, white as paper; cormorants
with racing on their minds; not one, but two
tough red-tailed hawks, their eyes intent and dense;
among the ducks and geese, the pigeon crew,
the real find—a dozen gulls appear.
I don’t believe I’ve seen them here before,
but as I doubt, the flock takes wing and veers
into the filmy mist, away from shore,
where they become a grainy negative,
and then a fade, a memory to save.