Poets in search of contests might enjoy this news. I learned of The West Coast Eisteddfod Online Poetry Competition from the blog, Publishing…and Other Forms of Insanity. This contest is sponsored by a Welsh journal, The Seventh Quarry, edited by Peter Thabit Jones. This particular poetry contest is is very community minded. Not only does it not charge an entry or reading fee, but it encourages links to applying poets’ blogs, rather than viewing such blogs with the usual disdain.

This blog post is in fact my own entry.

1. Make Soup, You Said, first published in Baltimore Review

2. April in Myth, first published in Antiphon Poetry Magazine

3. Cornbread, first published in The Cafe Review

4. Addah Belle’s Pocket Watch, first published in Bangalore Review

5. Tupelo Coyote, first published in Canary, A Literary Journal of the Environmental Crisis

Make Soup, You Said

I’m making a soup
to fill my bowl.
I’m after that carrot of consolation
you dangle.
I would remember
a recipe
in that season of my childhood
without language.
The three sisters–
corn, beans and squash…
When they hold hands
they can give weight
while they dance and stir,
balanced in a circle chain,
resolved, complete.

If I know the right herbs,
if my flame is humble,
if I stir with the tide,
if I ladle with steadiness,
if I eat with grace,
if I digest with stillness,
I will understand
why you have gone.
I wrote you a letter.
I burnt it,
buried it,
scattered it,
sent it sailing,
nailed it to my bed.
Make soup, you said, nothing is simple.

April in Myth

April is old like water, prehistoric, recycled. Womb
and bladder. To my Third World parched skin,
she’s America, running the tap.And now, in a foreign
hot tub, she mothers me, as if she has it to spare.
Water and muscles, air and my salty grief.

April has bloomed before, on schedule, sometimes
an early surprise. She has chased and she’s been cupped
to the lips, been drunk in, and done someone’s share
of drinking. Me, too, always in August.

On April’s flesh, tears and kisses evaporate,
leaving shine. On mine, brine, crusty, leaving in cakes
like the ice shelf. I watch it go, with foreboding
that natural disasters will result.

But water and her children won’t be possessed.
In time, she does the possessing, pooling foolish souls
like shrimp, pulling us through hurricanes and extinction
and silence from space.

Mammoths, raccoons, wrens and Americans.

Like water, April is old, knows how to crest and trough,
be a beating organ of the beast, a good germ on the living
planet. Some herons are like pterodactyls pulled by hunger
too far from shore. There are fools and there are fish.
Drink, says April. Extinction breeds myth.
And oh, what a magnetic myth we make.


Cotton takes care of me.
I mend and wonder where
a word went as Cotton hops
out of bed, feeds the herd,
showers. I’m late with his
coffee. I have one job as he
capers around, clipboards
and clients’ keys, leash
and a dog to walk.

My hours pass in turns of
whiplash and molasses.
I’m glad he’s at work,
not watching. We both recall
when I was brilliant.
He soldiers and I try.
Who takes care of Cotton?

He’s aged out of his market.
Once six figures, now Cotton
cleans houses. Five today,
done at six. Home at seven
with rags to wash and stories.
Spreadsheets and payroll.
Menu ideas and shopping lists.
Leash and a dog to walk.
Cotton cares into the void.
Tonight he’ll make cornbread.

Addah Belle’s Pocket Watch

Addah Belle’s pocket watch stands open
on my desk like a sandwich board

I want to shrink down and crawl under it,
camping in my ticking tent. Constellations
and bug spray.

Addah Belle knew me. She could
look at me and tell my future. In her time,
women married.

Addah Belle chose door number two
and taught at a girls’ finishing school,
finishing them off for the altar.

Retirement came abruptly. Bourbon and
ceremonies. The stillness of her room
in the farmhouse. And no Marian.

Two twin beds, like a dormitory, and her
married sister downstairs with grandkids on
long weekends.

I, her grand niece, tracked in
with pocket frogs, too-close best
friends and notebooks. She noticed.

Mom cut my unattended hair short.
Strangers took me for a boy. A boy
with notebooks. Listening to Auntie.

And the pocket watch tent would ticka tick,
flashlights and ghost stories on her desk while
she advised I could be a writer, plan a career.

In her time pocket watches were for men.
That might be how it came to her. Tom,
the last at bat who walked home

lost, wondering why she wouldn’t
marry him, why remaining at school with
Marian was preferable. The watch

forgotten on a wash stand, a library shelf,
a parlor bridge table. Tempus abire tibi est.        [It’s time for you to go away.]
The watch she kept and wound, for the sound.

I was a writer when she died. I was a lesbian
when I found her love letters. Her watch,
a flashlight and a tape measure in my drawer.
Tempus vitam regit.                                                 [Time rules life.]

Tupelo Coyote

We were tracing Jack’s Creek
where the woods abducts it from the rolling
hills of dairy cows and tobacco.
I on the asphalt, you behind the tupelos.
You stalked me like a fan
afraid to ask for my autograph.
Those alien eyes,
measuring my marrow
bend after turn, always
thirty paces aside.

Now you trot out in the farmlands,
legs like tobacco sticks, mapping the median line.
I am roadside, reading.
You are storybook real.
I speak to you, familiar,
as if you are the family dog.
Your answer is a glare-beam
that rips me, rights me.

You put me in the landscape,
that’s all.

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