Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Winners of the Ibbetson Street Poetry Award

* This article will appear in the Nov.21, 2007 Lyrical Somerville. The selections were made by Richard Wilhelm


Edited by Doug Holder

Well, the Somerville News Writers Festival has come and gone and I am going to present the poetry of the winner of the Ibbetson Street Poetry Award, and the runner-up: Michael Todd Steffen, and Dale Patterson. The award was presented at the festival. To have your work considered for the Lyrical send it to: Doug Holder 25 School St. Somerville, Mass. 02143


The bubbled look of fish, the look of a carp
Panicked little sympathy in my fluid world
Young and less prone to think than to react,
Lurch at motion, flinch. I called on the flight.

I refused to be composed by common sense
Other than excitement for the lake’s obscure
Guessing labyrinth, those shadows chased and fled.

Mine was a life of mirrored circumstances
Where some seeding of “it” or “they” were consonant
With my fear, o heartbeat for another’s size
Surfaced for a breath upon the water.

High in the disobliged lake of the sky
The condors were an anxious fact of life.
In profile, symbols of their habitat,
Steep hooked-beak lopsided perspective like
A hot moon on the tree line, screwed their eyes
Deep into the peepers of sharp heads.

I lost my gaze on them assuming
As cold a magnificence to turn the same
Scan down from altitude for prey
On grids of contour with rigid difference.
The scope was sweeping. My cartography.

Out on that vast prairie of the universe
The eyes of the stars like grass sparkle and stare
As from one mind that has been everywhere,
Seen everything and found no one thing to
Turn its look from. Seeded in this valley of time
Where the moon is a pebble in a shallow stream

Those furthest peers into our own depth burn on
And say, Oh no you don’t, you don’t disappear.
Trace your mother in a bear’s shape if you must.
Sting. Draw arrows. Weigh this and that. But find
Your reflections. Somewhere. See? Way out here.

--Michael Todd Steffen


Announcements commanding vigilance
spit from gritty loudspeakers hanging over
today’s news-stained subway platform.

Report suspicious activity do NOT leave packages unattended
and thank you for riding the green line.

A roar of white light
bright windows decelerate
passed me
and stop
green doors folding open
with a rush.

Tracking indistinctly within the tunnel
beneath the breathing city I am
with a hundred others reading

about the war the game the crash the rain celebrities
the big deal prophecies posted on the moving car’s wall.

An electric guitar swirls
around amber earbuds
nicely next to me.
She sees
I can hear.
That’s big treble.

Now’s our chance to start singing something together but no
we won’t while we
stall out in this gonging long long tunnel.

You and me, baby, baby! Squeezed against each other
in the tunnel of love love love get this goddam car moving!

Can’t call it crazy—
crowded, trapped
but cursed at
the train moves out
like a maniac
lurching toward a girl.

Opposite where I sat once
a young woman squatted on the subway car floor.
Black beetles crawled in her greasy hair.

You dirty loser staring at me want me to flash my tits?
Stop looking stop like you’re after what’s up with my mind—

She yanked up her tee shirt
and I saw.
My idea of perfect.
Now I am charged
with all
of her mad

I am the refocused light approaching
the platform. I am the suspicious activity
now I must report.

See that hair see that nose see that chin that is me
my glassy reflection collapsing as the green door folds open.

I denounce myself perversely
while stepping down
as yesterday’s bad news.
In transit
lies truth.

-- Dale Patterson

No comments:

Post a Comment