2010 Poetry Contest: The Winner
Henry Hart, who was also a finalist in our 2009 poetry contest, is an English professor at the College of William & Mary and the published author of two poetry books. Heidi Johannesen Poon lives in Charlottesville and is a 2010 winner of the Poetry Society of America's National Chapbook Fellowship.
By Henry Hart
Are you nothing
but mist uncoiling from the field
beyond the cul-de-sac
or the scrim of a nightgown
waving by the river you left
for another home?
Today a snowy owl plunges
toward a pool clogged
with tires and shopping carts
to pluck suckers and unstring them
in the sycamore's iron leaves.
A blank eye stares
at faces vanishing
from windows into hidden rooms.
When the wasp hums
in the light bulb,
when the icicle drips
in the clock,
when saints jabber about death
and breath in desert caves
on the bookshelf,
you hover on the ceiling
dressed in nothing
but the moon's radiance.
What rubbish I scribble
at my desk because of you!
Using a code
only I can decipher,
you instruct me
in silence to give up
my tongue and favorite son, to fly
from the horizon of steeples
to a desert that's never been mapped.
You tell me to break the moon's wafer
floating on the oasis pool
until I taste the rust
of nails, the elixir
beneath scabbed blood, the original
radiance that blinds like snow.
"The Problem of the Forest"
By Heidi Johannesen Poon
The brain's problem: the forest hurts,
The whole forest, the shy dirt.
The brain's looking up itself in Harrison's
Principles of Medicine and finding aneurysm
Grows confused if it should get off
Work and grow ever sicker in order to relax.
The winter came early, it couldn't stay.
Even rain put its head in the sand,
Rain running down its back. But it's not
Brought down, tugged under or re-established!
What God meant by disaster, by the towers,
Is that they happened. The public stood by them.
Public homes dragged
As substitution through this earth
Where there was already a womb
And endless inoperable work.
Honorable mentions: "He Stays," by Sallie Lupton Jennings of Richmond; "The Green Place" and "Memory: Virginia," by Wendy Miles of Lynchburg; "Remains," by Mil Norman-Risch of Richmond; "From Miller's Lane," by Virginia Rider of Manakin-Sabot