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Home / Articles / News / Features /  SFR Writing Contest 2009 Part 1
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SFR Writing Contest 2009 Part 1

This week: Read the winning poetry and fiction entries

December 2, 2009, 12:00 am
By

Michael Jackson, David Foster Wallace and Allen Ginsberg ended up as the three fallen heroes in the winning poems for SFR’s 2009 Annual Writing Contest, but they certainly weren’t the only people memorialized for this year’s “dead celebrities” topic (although, strangely, no one took on Farrah Fawcett…). As for the “wild card” fiction category, this year’s winning authors found many innovative ways to work in the required terms “twitter,” “birthers” and “death panel”—who knew Death Panel could work so well as the name of a cat?

This week, SFR announces all the winners and publishes the first-, second- and third-place entries from the fiction and poetry categories. Stay tuned next week for the winning nonfiction writers, who tackled the concept of “money changes everything” from a variety of perspectives. Thanks to our judges and to the many, many writers who entered this year’s contest—keep writing; next year’s deadlines will be here before you know it.

—Julia Goldberg

THE JUDGES:

Kathleen Lee is the author of Travel Among Men, a collection of stories. She is the recipient of a 1999 Rona Jaffe writing award. Sometimes she writes for Condé Nast Traveler magazine, and her travel essays appear in The Best American Travel Writing for 2001 and 2002.

In addition to his monthly column for the Santa Fe Reporter, Daddy Needs A Drink, Robert Wilder is the author of the books Daddy Needs a Drink and Tales from the Teachers' Lounge, both of which have been optioned for sitcom adaptation. His essays have appeared in numerous publications, including Newsweek, Details and Salon. Wilder was the only individual to receive the prestigious 2009 Innovations in Reading Prize by the National Book Foundation for his work as an English and creative writing teacher at Santa Fe Preparatory School.

Poet Miriam Sagan directs the creative program and literary magazine at Santa Fe Community College. She is the author of more than 20 books, including the award-winning memoir Searching for a Mustard Seed : A Young Widow’s Unconventional Story and the 2007 essay collection Gossip, from Tres Chicas Books. Her poetry collections include Rag Trade, The Widow’s Coat, The Art of Love and the 2008 release Map of the Lost from UNM Press.

THE WINNERS:

1st Place Fiction Meredith Mason grew up in a medium-sized town in Wisconsin and went on to graduate from St. John’s College here in Santa Fe. She spent years traveling around the country, living in different states and working at different times as a wilderness guide, a waitress, a personal care attendant, a marketing assistant and a potato harvester. She is very grateful for all of the stories she has encountered along the way, and for the sense of home she has found in New Mexico. Most recently she spent two years as a resident of the Lama Foundation, an intentional community outside of Taos. This is her first published writing.

2nd Place Fiction Chuck Cover is a veterinarian. He and his wife, Susan, retired to Santa Fe in 2005. He is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys hiking and bicycling. His other hobbies are painting, photography and model railroading. You can view some of his artwork, photographs and photos of his home model railroad layout at his website, chuckcover.net.

3rd Place Fiction Carol Jackson is an aspiring writer from Los Lunas, NM. She loves fantasy, science fiction and political thrillers. Her favorite authors are JRR Tolkien, Orson Scott Card, JK Rowling and Eric Van Lustbader. She hopes to have a novel published someday but harbors no illusions about being the next JK Rowling or Stephanie Meyer. (Though that would be nice.)

1st Place Poetry Michael Lehrer graduated from Bennington College in Vermont where he studied creative writing. His passions are poetry, music, songwriting, education and politics. He lives in Santa Fe with his wife Sandra and their cats Zoe and Weston.

2nd Place Poetry Kathryne Lim is a dreamer, a social worker and an aspiring writer. She is glad she was able to contribute this piece as a humble homage to the incomparable David Foster Wallace.

3rd Place Poetry Poet and author Rex Maurice Oppenheimer has written and photo-edited many books and articles, as well as lyrics for songs recorded by Juice Newton and Jennifer Warnes, among others. He recently moved to Santa Fe with his wife, Michele. 
 

FICTION

1st Place The Gift
By Meredith Mason

Sometimes when my daughter Lisa comes to visit she brings my grandson with her. The kid doesn’t like to come, and I don’t blame him. They call this place I’m in a “home,” and that’s how they described it to Lisa after I had the stroke a year ago. “Your father will need to go into a home,” they said, like that word will somehow conceal the fact that home is exactly what you’re leaving. What’s that phrase you hear sometimes? The lady protests too much. That’s it. Well, that’s what I thought of when I heard all those doctors saying that word “home” over and over again. The lady protests too damn much. This ain’t no home and no amount of saying it is going to change that. The place smells like canned vegetables and human shit. Maybe Lisa bribes the kid to come with her sometimes. I don’t know. Anyway, he came about a month ago, and he spent the whole time sitting outside at one of the picnic tables with headphones plugged into his ears and a laptop computer open in front of him. Lisa said he was doing something called Twitter, whatever the hell that means. Of course I’m in no position to ask her for clarification, and I mean that in the literal sense. Speech is like a country I visited a long time ago, an island in the fog surrounded by the Bermuda Triangle. I don’t remember it very well, and there doesn’t seem to be a way back there. Not for me, anyway.

I can see that my grandson is what a lot of people might call a troubled kid, although it would be a choice on those people’s parts to call him that. From where I’m sitting it gets harder instead of easier to tell who’s in trouble and who isn’t. He’s just a kid, and it’s not easy to be a kid, on the ragged end of 14 years old. I know enough to know that the way he dresses isn’t what most people think of as normal, but none of that looks like such a big deal anymore. His fingernails are usually painted black, and I think he’s wearing some kind of makeup on his eyes. I also know he and his bunch of friends were smoking dope in the garage when they brought me back to the house for Christmas. My sense of smell is just fine, and that combination of coughing and hysterical laughter from a bunch of teenagers isn’t too hard to figure out. Lisa would have to be a fool not to know, unless she doesn’t want to know. For me there are no distractions, and no reason to deceive myself, so I see more than most people. The kid’s jaw is always clenched real tight so that his lips turn white with the strain. I wish I could tell him to relax. He moves like maybe he can keep you from noticing that he’s there, sort of sliding along the edges of the walls.

When he left after his last visit he took one last look at the array of old farts slouching in the dayroom, in varying states of decrepitude, and I heard him whisper to Lisa, “Hey Mom. I’m starting to believe in those death panels.”

I could hear her yelling at him all the way down the hallway and out the front door “How could you say that…respect…elders…what’s wrong with you…” all of that. I’ve watched enough bullshit news about tea baggers and birthers droning on between game shows in the dayroom to know what he’s talking about, and of course I wanted to kick the little punk’s ass, but I’ve had to start taking myself a lot less seriously, so it was also a little bit funny. The kid thinks he’s so bad.
When you’re young you think you invented rage the same way you think you invented sex and dirty jokes. The same way all those talking heads on the TV get so upset, like nothing big has ever happened before. A lot of years have to go by before you realize that there’s nothing new. It may be hard to believe when you look at them now, but the crusty guy in the suspenders with hair coming out his nose, and the babbling lady in the pink bathrobe both felt exactly like you do right now.

After the whole death panel episode it would be an understatement to say that I’m surprised when one day I’m sitting in the dayroom in front of the window and I see my grandson come riding up on his bike. I can barely believe it’s him, but there he is in his baggy pants and those puffy shoes. He’s got a bulky backpack on that looks like it weighs more than he does. He rolls to a stop and glances around like he’s afraid someone will see him. He chains his bike to one of the wheelchair parking signs and skulks to the sliding glass doors. I can feel my heart start beating faster when I see him, and there’s a thin trickle of sweat running down my spine. There’s nothing I can do about it, but I’m nervous. If I could I would sit up straighter. What can I offer this kid, anyway? In the state I’m in. I’m sitting in my chair as still as a stone, but inside I’m going a million miles an hour with the questions. In a few minutes one of the nurses in the shirt with teddy-bears on it comes over to my chair and crouches down in front of me, and then the kid is there next to her, fidgeting, with his hair hanging in his face. The nurse looks from him to me and then back. She can’t figure out what he’s doing here either, but she’s one of the nice ones. “Why don’t I wheel you into your room so you can have some time together?” she says. He nods and we all troupe down the hall together like this is a normal situation.

When we get to my room the kid sits on the bed and the nurse leaves me there in front of him. He squirms around for a minute and pulls a notebook out of his backpack. He looks down at it and then up at me. “Oh man, I don’t even know why I came here,” he says, laughing like he’s as nervous as I am. “You can’t even talk.”

Well, that’s the truth, I think. Tell me something I don’t know.

“Here’s the thing,” he says, “I got a school assignment to learn about my grandparents, and everybody else is dead, so I had to come here and talk to you. I wouldn’t have come, but I’m gonna flunk the class.” He gets up from the bed and starts walking around the room, looking at the pictures on the walls. “That’s you and grandma getting married,” he says, and he reaches out a finger to touch the little hat that Irma was wearing. He comes to one of me in uniform when I was 18 or so. “That’s you in the army.” He pauses for a long moment. “I wonder what that was like,” he says. “Did you kill people? Did you almost die?” He comes and sits down on the bed again. My old watch is laying on the bedside table and he reaches over and picks it up, fiddles with the knob a little.

Suddenly I can see him when he was 2 years old. I remember that innocent kid full of wonder, how he wanted to play in the snow for hours and didn’t even notice that his hands were half-frozen, he was having so much fun. I remember the feel of his little arms around my neck. For some reason I try to hold that thought in my head, like if I can remember hard enough who he is then he will remember, too. On the wall above his head is that picture of me when I was young, and all the years between then and now are here in the room with the 2 of us, all of the good times and all of the bad, the mistakes I made and the couple things I might have gotten right. I wonder if he can feel it too, here in the stillness that I live in; all the answers to the questions he could have asked for a report about his grandparents. He sits there winding the screw on that old watch, his own life thrown down in front of him like a gauntlet and like a gift. I want to tell him that everything will be alright. That we’ve all been where he is now. I know that would be the truth, and it would also be a damned lie.

The kid looks up, the watch in his hand. “Can I take this?” he asks. Both of us believe that I will be able to answer, and maybe we are right. He waits a second and then nods, fastening the watch around his skinny wrist.

When the kid leaves I feel tired, the way you do sometimes after a thunderstorm. I also feel lighter, like I’ve given something away that needed to be given for a long time. Something that was weighing me down, and also keeping me here. Without it I might just drift away. Tonight I find myself wondering what’s waiting down the road for me, and what might happen if I let myself go. I’m getting curious, and I think I’m about ready for something new. ?

2nd Place Watching the Birds
By Chuck Cover

It’s a sunny Tuesday afternoon and I am sitting by the window watching the birds visit the numerous feeders and bird baths. Mary is in the chair next to me reading one of her romance novels. She loves them. She is always walking around the house talking to herself about them. She doesn’t have anyone else to talk to and I don’t really understand her, but I have heard enough words that I think I know how she is feeling. She has that certain look on her face when she talks to herself. In fact, that is about the only time she talks at all. She will sometimes talk to me. She will ask me if I am hungry. Sometimes she will ask me if I can see all the birds outside the window. I don’t know why she asks because about the only thing I do is watch the birds. I could sit by the window all day and just watch them come and go. Most of the time Mary is laid back and calm, but one thing seems to really get to her. That is when Death Panel comes around, stalking the birds. Now, I don’t know what Death Panel’s real name is, but that is what she calls him. She says that he is a self-appointed judge, jury, and executioner of the birds. He is a large gray tabby cat. His owners let him out everyday and he comes to our house because we are the only ones in our neighborhood who feed the birds. Mary calls herself and the other good people who feed and water the wild birds, birthers. She means birders but with her lisp, it comes out different. I know what she means.

When Death Panel shows up and stalks the birds, Mary gets mad. When she sees him, if she is not involved in her books, she gets up and yells at him, and bangs on the window. That scares the birds away and scares me, but doesn’t seem to bother Death Panel. I don’t understand why she is yelling and I fear that I have done something wrong. Most of the time, Death Panel sneaks up through the high grass. He moves very slowly, moving a few inches at a time. When he gets close to a feeder he jumps at the feeding birds. He sometimes misses, but about once a week he catches one. I can see it in his mouth. Then he always looks around. I wonder if he is checking to see if anyone has noticed what he has done. Now, Mary sees him and bangs on the window. She starts jabbering a mile a minute. She is asking me why that cat always comes around here. Why does his owner let him out? Don’t pet owners know that when they don’t take proper care of their pets, there are consequences? Those “wild” cats kill thousands of song birds every year. Mary tells me that cats and dogs that irresponsible owners let run loose are not only a nuisance to neighbors, but are also susceptible to being hit by cars. Sometimes they just disappear. I wanted to answer her but she was just talking, on and on. I had heard this speech before. And a few days ago I heard her on the phone telling one of her friends that a bunch of the neighbor’s dogs that were let out in the evening by their owners got together for some “fun.” That night the leader of the pack decided to chase a miniature burro. It was fun, at first, but then the others in the pack also started chasing the little burro. All the dogs got excited, thought what a great game. Well those dogs ended up mauling the little burro. “How could that happen? These were pet dogs. What are the owners thinking?” Mary exclaimed. “Weren’t those dogs trained? Don’t their owners know what they were doing? The Burro never hurt any one of them.”

Mary’s banging on the window chased the birds away. Death Panel looked around, then left the high grass and sniffed around all the feeders and bird bath. He acted like, “no big deal,” like cats often do. I guess nothing bothers him. I’m sure that he’ll be back. With the birds gone, there was no sense staying by the window. I got up, got a snack and took a nap. Nothing like a nap.

It is now dusk. I’m back at the window. The birds are back. There are more than usual. There is a light wind, the tall grass is waving in the breeze. “Look there is a unique bird out there,” says Mary. “It’s a Rufus Sided Towhee.”

I look and see him. What a beautiful bird. He is medium size, has a black head, black and white dotted wings and a beautiful red-orange, Rufus, breast. I haven’t ever seen Rufus before. What a beautiful creature.
 
Out of the corner of my eye, I catch a glimpse of Death Panel. He is deep in the tall grass. I see him snuggle down so the birds wouldn’t see him. Mary is back engrossed in her book and has not seen him yet. Death Panel moves a few inches, and then crouches, perfectly still. None of the birds see him. Many of the birds had grown used to the hunter cat, but they were usually wary of him and looked for him. Would Rufus suspect that the cat had him in his sights? Death Panel slowly raises up his head. His eyes just clear the tall grass. Rufus is on the feeder closest to him. The cat slowly slinks back down in the grass. The birds continue to feast. Death Panel inches forward slowly. The slight breeze masks his movements. The birds don’t seem to notice him. He moves closer to Rufus, inching closer. I see the cat tense, his eyes now large saucers of anticipation. He shoots out of his crouch, flying toward Rufus. The birds scatter. Rufus sees the birds scatter and catches the cat’s movement. He starts to move, too late. Death Panel extends his paws as he shoots through the air. Rufus has just started his jump for freedom. A large streak intersects with Death Panel and knocks him to the ground just as he was about to squeeze Rufus between his paws. A huge form of a bird envelopes the cat with its wings. Rufus flies off to safety. The Great Horned Owl carries the cat up in the air. It vanishes as quickly as it had appeared. The entire episode takes only a few seconds. Mary had startled at the sight of the large owl. She jumped to her feet. She was quick to comment to me, “Did you see that! Well, that’s Karma for you. Nature taking care of its own. See, you are lucky. I love you and would never let you out and expose you to all the dangers in the outside world.” Then she started moving toward the kitchen and said, “OK, come on Twitter, here kitty-kitty, are you hungry?” ?

3rd Place The Car That Talked
By Carol Jackson

The car looked no different from any of the cars coming off the assembly line. It was just a 2009 Mitsubishi Galant, nothing special about it. No one noticed the headlights shining this way and that as if it was looking around as it moved slowly off the assembly line. No one knew it was listening to them and noting everything going on around it. The people that worked the assembly line saw hundreds of cars roll by every day. It was just another silver Galant, they thought, bound for California to become part of a rental car fleet in Los Angeles. No one knew a virus had gotten into the car’s onboard computer, and instead of making it crash or turning into something evil like Stephen King’s “Christine,” it had simply become self aware. It even gave itself a name: Hideo. Hideo Takakura had been one of the people installing and wiring in the onboard computer. The car had heard someone call Hideo by name, liked the name, and began calling itself that.

Hideo arrived in Los Angeles in June 2009. He was most curious about this new place he found himself in. He was near an airport, he knew, because he kept hearing planes landing and taking off. He was also very glad to be off the transport truck. It had been very boring just sitting there with no one to listen to, and nothing to see. He’d experimented with talking out loud on the way across country, but had decided against speaking to any humans at his destination. He was sure they would never believe a car would talk, and in any case, he didn’t want to be taken apart and studied. He was too curious about the world to let that happen.

Hideo got driven to the Avis/Budget service lot near LAX. He was parked in a long row with other Galants. He sat there for two days listening to the planes roar overhead and the occasional person walking by. On the third day, a woman came around and installed license plates on him, noted his VIN number, and pasted stickers on his windows. Then on the fourth morning a young man hopped into his driver’s seat and moved him to what looked somewhat like a gas station, only most gas stations do not have large industrial vacuums near the pumps. Then another young man drove him up next to one of the pumps and began removing all the protective plastic from his seats and the floorboards. Next the young man pumped him full of gas and checked his vital fluids. Lastly he added floormats, then moved him away from the pumps. An older woman took him next. She drove him through a drive through car wash and then took him to a huge lot with many other cars. He was backed into a space, and his hazard lights were turned on. People of all sorts walked by him. He watched them with silent curiosity, realizing some of them were speaking different languages. The young man who had cleaned him up had spoken a language to his co workers that Hideo had never heard before. A search of his database had shown the language to be Spanish. Hideo was multilingual; he could speak Japanese, English, and Spanish. Because of this, he could understand most of the conversations going on around him. Yet another young man came up to him, and scanned his sticker into a handheld computer. Next, he climbed in and noted Hideo’s mileage. “Oh, a brand new one,” the young man murmured aloud as he entered six miles into his computer. He also turned off Hideo’s hazard lights.

Later that day, a couple of men walked up to Hideo. “Yeah, dude this is the one,” said the younger man. The older man popped Hideo’s trunk open and they both shoved suitcases inside. They also tossed their jackets into the back seat and then both hopped into the front seats. “You know where you’re going?” asked the younger man. “Yeah,” said the older man. “The office is in Santa Monica and so is our hotel. I’ve been there a dozen times already this year.” “Dude,” the younger man laughed. “Maybe they should just move you here.” “Oh I know,” the older man grunted. “The wife doesn’t want to live in LA. She says it’s too crowded and too polluted.” “She’s crazy,” said the younger man. “I’d live here in a heartbeat.” He pulled out his Blackberry and began checking his messages. “What’s new on Twitter?” said the older man. “Oh, the usual crap,” said the younger man. “Although Jessica Simpson did lose her dog to a coyote yesterday. Bummer.”

They rode in silence for a few minutes, as the older man concentrated on navigating the crazy LA traffic. The young man put away his Blackberry and sighed. “They’re still going on about those alleged ‘Death Panels.’ Who came up with that crap, anyway?” “Conservatives afraid of health care reform,” said the older man. “Just like those ‘birthers’ who think Obama really isn’t an American. They’re just afraid of change, that’s all, even if it is change for the better. Personally, I welcome it. Stuff needs to change in this country if you ask me.” “For sure,” the younger man agreed. Hideo’s electronic brain was spinning with questions. Death Panels? Birthers? Twitter? What was all that about?

They parked Hideo in a large parking lot next to a Comfort Inn & Suites. Hideo was happy; they’d parked him facing the street so he could watch the cars go by. As his engine cooled, he tapped into a wi-fi frequency and began looking up the answers to his questions.

An hour or two later, he settled into simply watching the traffic going by. He’d found definitions for all the strange words he’d heard, but it still raised more questions than he cared to think about. Later, Russell and Gary came out and got into him and then drove to a restaurant. After an hour or so, they emerged and drove down to the Santa Monica pier. Hideo was amazed at the lights coming on in the emerging dusk, and even more amazed at his first sight of the Pacific Ocean. He had never imagined there was so much water in the world. The two men finally returned to him and got in. Gary was going on and on about how the beach was so cool, and how it was the first time he’d ever seen the ocean. “Me, too,” said Hideo out loud without thinking. Both men stared at each other and then at the dashboard of the car. “Did you hear that?” Gary said finally, his eyes wide. “Yeah,” grunted Russell. “Kid, I think both of us have had too long of a day. Let’s go back to the hotel and crash.” Hideo chuckled to himself all the way back to their hotel. On the one hand, he was somewhat embarrassed for speaking up like that, but on the other, he was amused by their reaction.

Hideo got returned after two days. He got cleaned up and then the process of going through the car wash was repeated. This time he sat for a day and a half before a family came out and began loading their stuff into him. The family was a mom, a dad, and two boys, one was five and the other three. The boys were in the car waiting for their parents to finish consulting a map when Hideo couldn’t resist speaking to them. He said “Hi” to them. “Hi, I’m Tony, and this is Kai,” said the older boy. “You can talk??!!?” gasped Kai. “Yes,” Hideo replied. “I’m the only talking car I know of, though.” “Cool,” said both boys together. “Hey Dad, our car can talk,” said Kai when their parents got in. “Sure it can,” said Bill wearily. Both him and Allison were tired from running herd on two active boys on a long flight from Philadelphia, and besides, this wasn’t a vacation, not really. Allison’s grandmother in Malibu had died, and they were there for the funeral. Allison began soberly talking about when the funeral would be and where, and how she would miss her grandmother. Hideo listened, and found himself feeling sorry for Allison. “I’m sorry about your grandmother,” he said finally. Both Bill and Allison jumped, while Kai chirped from the back seat “I told ya it could talk!” Again, both adults wrote it off as being overly tired and maybe just something they’d heard on the radio. Neither of them would believe that a car could talk and was intelligent. Nor could they believe that a car was capable of expressing sympathy. As far as they were concerned, it was just an inanimate object that you drove from Point A to Point B. The kids knew better, though, they knew what they’d heard.

Hideo tried to be good and stay quiet for the rest of the time the Martins had rented him. The boys tried to get him to talk and as long as both their parents were not nearby, he did talk to them. Kai in particular wanted to talk to Hideo. For once, no one was telling him to be quiet and/or ignoring him. Hideo proved to be a good listener, too. He let Kai tell him all about life in Philadelphia and their dog Jack and his friends at home.

Finally the Martins returned him. Hideo was sorry to see them go, but he was beginning to realize that life as a rental car could prove very interesting. Already he’d heard many conversations, and been some interesting places. So who would rent him next? He had no idea, but he had a feeling it would be someone interesting with their own story to tell. ?

POETRY

1st Place Vanishing Point
By Michael Lehrer

                1
I am driving to Minnesota.
Clouds loom up, ochre and brown, a yellow sulfur escaping—conflagration or
circle of hell? Closer in, I see a church dropped
like a toy piece onto a sad green in Gary, Indiana,
a city telling itself its heart won’t break.

                2
I read about this once, and then the scene kept drifting in, repeating
a young Michael Jackson sits beside Jackie Wilson who is
lying in a coma. Outside, snow is blowing—
the only light that filters through the cold metallic blinds while
Michael, shoulders hunched, unhurried, holds the grayness back.

                3
From the balcony, I see Junior Walker step forward, his sax ripping
the darkness into even waves; then Marvin Gaye alone and majestic
one last time before his father’s bullet explodes in the stairwell
and chokes off the breath, the rising falling lyric of the street.
And now Michael, the prince, moonwalks
the pros cheering in the pit like a homecoming band.
I turn and look back up the rows and
see a man in a faded green sweater vest—
his knowing look turns sheepish as he walks,
not into the jasmined Pasadena night, but onto an
icy bridge—twenty-five years will pass
before I understand this. Michael is smiling, waving sideways as he leaves, lifting
us past grief, past dusty warehouse windows and
homely streets that never tell us who we are.

2nd Place On David Foster Wallace’s Last Day
                                                   (the universe replies)

By Kathryne Lim

He would not go to work that day because
he had to unravel his bones, joint by joint,
and climb them to the sky because the moon
would be waiting for him there, the moon
fattening and glowing in all its light;
because of the spring tides, he would pet
his dog that day and kiss his wife on the mouth;
because the oceans were swelling he would
work his fingers with electricity and nerve
into the night, casting the perfect slipknot
like a question mark in the sky; because Jupiter
had never been so bright, he would feel the rope
tighten in his grasp and his heart jump like
so many ships at sea; because the sunflowers
were not enough; he would stand on a platform
breathing deep and watch the world hang before
him for the last time.

3rd Place Allen Ginsberg
By Rex Maurice Oppenheimer

Bearded bemused
Creature pushing
A shopping cart
Through an all-night
Supermarket
Mumbling mantra
Stream of consciousness
Opium dreams
Om
And sex
As he gazes
At the pyramid piled fruits
Of Eden
Thinking about the promise of
America
Abundance
Squandered
On our fancy shelves
The naked vegetables
Reminding him of paradise
He conspires with
Walt Whitman
In the public
Restroom
To self-promote their genius
Amid all the politics, power
And pussy
In the advertisements

Brain full of poems
Like cosmic explosions

In Buddhist sandals he squats
Beside the railroad tracks
The train’s vibration
Great sexual engine
Buzzing mindlessly
Like a flower in the sun he’s being beautiful

Dancing beer-filled naked
At a Hell’s Angel party
Jailhouse sex
Zen
Ray of reality
Spouting like a Michelangelo
Cupid on a subway train
Looking for the stop
Where intelligence
Gets laid

Our millions of identities
And the world
Of ten-thousand things
Tapping out a tune
That vibrates through
The great consciousness
Like irony in the Tao-Te-Ching

Personalities and seashells
Tossed by the tides
The history of the moment
And the creatures inside
The poem unspoken
Now the poet
Has died
 

 

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