Author Topic: Winnin' IBPC Poems  (Read 1792 times)

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Offline cafeRg

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Winnin' IBPC Poems
« on: October 12, 2003, 11:08 AM »
Here come da judge and the winning poems for October..  thank you all for your participation ..and lets doit for November --

Click Here To Your November Submissions

--and the winners for October are...
(along with Judges comments)

1st Place:

"Study of Absences"
by Letitia Trent
The Critical Poet

1.

The burglars slit open Christmas gifts,
impatient as children. Appliances were ripped
from the walls so hastily cords trailed
from sockets with their wiry guts
frayed out, plastic skins burst.

I inspect the squares of grime where things once stood,
the bugs and dust are collected like shadows
cut loose from their substance.

2.

I hear my feet slapping solo
on the cold linoleum. Coffee settles in the press. I can't drink
it without you, the effort echoes old paths of movement; coffee
to table to kitchen, hands from cutlery to your forehead,
to your slick hairline, to your sticky eyelids. My body
must learn new directions, break the old
deference your absence renders unnecessary.
I set a glass of milk down, and though alone,
cross my ankles at the knee.


I admit, you bent my bones into new angles,
and I cannot stand to break
the bad knits
and take the itch
of the body stitching
them straight again.

3.

As you walk away I watch you receding,
watch the dark nestle deep in your ribs and the dips
in your shoulders, watch it clamber over your back
and swathe your flesh like a sweater. Now
you are lost in the dark of distance.

All little movements echo the big ones.
time is the sAll little movements echo the big ones.
time is the shadow clawing up your ribcage,
it is static that blooms between us.


What I admire most in “Study of Absences” is the poem’s control of image and metaphor.  I'm especially drawn to the description of bugs and dust exposed from under now-stolen
objects as “shadows/ cut loose from their substance.”  We then move into a relatively straight forward lyrical meditation on loss, before, in the third section, the voice becomes more cerebral, imagistic and removed—as if the acuteness of loss itself is being lost.  In this final section, I love how the shadows overtake the addressee (beloved?) even before he/she is out of sight.  And then, the real discovery of
the poem's argument is in the last two lines: the “visual static” that occurs between two distant people is not merely to be understood as distance, but as a visual reification of time. Whether or not I read a sort of fractured personal narrative into the progression of these three sections, that closing leap is surprising and haunting.
- Wayne Miller


2nd Place:

"The Camp"
by Marty
Wild Poetry Forum

I

An old man speaks

Let them feel the pang of hunger.
Lead them here
those who now sleep in the softness
of pillows and mistresses,
those who day by day wear
comfortable clothes,
and shiny shoes,
those with Rolexes, and cars
and mansions.

Let them take the path the children walked
just this morning, bellies full
of ceaseless hunger.
Let them feel the grass blade cutting
the skin from their legs as they run
in rice paddies, forest, city streets.
Let them scream
under a hail of bullets.

II

In Manila, a child asks

Grandpa, what are those?

"Ah, fireworks, child.
Just fireworks
over at Mindanao."

They are pretty.
Look, is that a house burning?

"Not a house, child, just straw
made into a hut fit for burning.
See, it burns bright
and crackles!"

Aren't those children, grandpa,
there by the fringes?

"Yes, child, and their parents too,
watchers, admirers of the view."

But they have tears, grandpa.

"Child, it’s the smoke."

They look sad, grandpa, are they sad?

"Can one be sad at fireworks, my child?
It’s best that you sleep now,
the show will be over soon."

The senator yawns,
scratches his ass,
and turns off the TV.


III

Malaria Quarantine, Refugee Camp

Leaning toward the earth,
a child settles down to rest

under a vast sky
of red dreams

waiting for the flight of wings.


I don't usually find myself drawn to political poems. I tend to agree with Kenneth Burke, that the goals of political language and poetic language are relatively antipodal.  According to the poet Martha Collins, who has written several fantastic political poems, what makes a good political poem work is that it remains driven by language, not by a desire to relate a political argument or ideology.  In other words, it's
poetic, not overtly rhetorical.  And “the poetic” is what I find throughout much of “The Camp,” despite its political themes.  The incantatory curses cast upon the rich in the first section, create a rhythmic pulse, and the voice here claims a real poetic authority.  Then the poem takes an entirely different tack—a call and response between grandfather and grandson as they witness violence occurring just off the poems’ stage.  
Though I'm not fully persuaded by the final tercet of this section, I find the grandfather's evasions haunting and real.  And finally, the poem lands us in that spare, ambiguous image of wings—an airplanes’ or perhaps a death angels’, we don't know—hopefully coming to take a boy away from a refugee camp.  This ambiguity deftly drives home the poem's
argument.
-Wayne Miller

3rd Place:

"The Last Sexual Extinction"
by Sean Farragher
Café Utne

[after] Gould, S.J., 1989. Wonderful Life:
The Burgess Shale and the nature of history. W.W.Norton and Company:
New York, p.1-347. ISBN 0-393-02705-8

Blood dries on my eye lids
closing off the entry and exit.
No one may find me. Perfection
rattles underneath the shed
and we call it a muskrat
and say there is extinction soon.
One can hear the slice of meat
and the undulations of the tunnel
where the tubes connect to Spring.

What does extinction mean the children ask?
No answers. Nothing.

The storm was petulant and wound through
silent cobalt tide grass caught by men and women
fucking; they slosh air to sleep in their own abode.
They kept breathing long after all the other phyla died.

This is the gift of faith
Ghosts survive in the corner of the coffin
left out to dry to be used again next war.

And as a litany we sing, almost without object, meaning
or that denied lie instinctive by birth,

"This mollusk is my brachiopod.
This trilobite is a lamb.

"This mollusk is my brachiopod.
This trilobite is a lamb."

Person #1: There is no order to life, you know.

Person #2: Do you really think every chance has been taken?



The Last Sexual Extinction” moves through issues of science, evolution, violence, and sexuality, yet does so in a disjunctive, dreamlike way.  Though I find myself a little confused by the stanza’s first progression, the oddness of the lines keeps me engaged.  And then the poem becomes more disjunctive from stanza to stanza.  We see glimpses
of sex—a virtual constant evolutionarily speaking—even as other species are dying all around.  And then there’s human violence, as evoked by the wonderful image of ghosts surviving “in the corner of the coffin/ left out to dry to be used again next war.”  Finally, we land in this strange claiming—and joining—of the present and the ancient, through
the lines “This mollusk is my brachiopod./ This trilobite is a lamb.” These lines seem to get at a desire to personalize mystery, and perhaps subtly hint at Christian myth.  And then the end seems strange and right to me—two fully anonymous people pontificating on the unanswerable.
 -Wayne Miller


Honorable Mention:

"Perseids"
by William Neumire
The Writer's Block

Wake when the moon is low enough
to show the fall, a golden shower
overcoming the black rafters of space.

Know the astronomical history:
annual tail of bolides and earthgrazers,
dark heart of the comet carapaced in flame.

Know, also, whatís been applied:
one who escaped
the warm confines of the womb
only to be sealed in a box
and thrown into the sea,
who floated to an island
and knew darkness
as his first view of the world
and who, when he died,
was cast into the ether
and anchored by stars.

Drive to the country
where the universe is clear.
You wonít need a telescope
to see the string of lights
come from Perseus,
or to watch hundreds of them
drop into oblivion.

There is something of a wish
in the storm, to hold still
as stone bodies, to arrest
the fires that consume
themselves so quickly
we hardly see them
except in their disappearing.
To moor the light into place,
to keep a picture of our dying
that returns to us each year
when the sky is just this dark.



I feel I should recognize “Perseids” here as well. While the poem's strategy and movement are perhaps not as unique as the above poems, its attention to language and descriptive detail is first rate.  Checkout both the rhythm and elegance of the second stanza:“. . . annual tail of bolides and earthgrazers,/ dark heart of the comet carapaced in flame.”
And while the idea of a shooting star as metaphor for a lived life is somewhat familiar, the description, “[mooring] the light into place,/ to keep a picture of our dying,” is commendable for both its music and clarity.
-Wayne Miller



 ':bnik'




Disclaimer: cafeRg could be wrong.