During the month of April, we're celebrating the winners and runners-up of our last three annual poetry contests. Over the last two weeks, we've posted work by Arah Ko and Christine Swint from Issue 61: Beginnings and Endings and Laura Budofsky Wisniewski's by Yvette Siegert from Issue 57: Mend.
Up this week: John Sibley Williams' "Encroachment" and "Everbearing" by Amy Trotter, winner and runner-up of our 2019 contest. Both poems appeared alongside select finalists in Issue 53: Shelter, which released in December 2019.
If reading inspires you to submit your own work, head over to Submittable, where you can check out the full guidelines for this year's contest.
JOHN SIBLEY WILLIAMS
Yes, any evening field, where deer thank the wolves
for diverting a hunter’s love; whatever it means to be
lesser prey—we’ll take it. Yes,
to keep the wild in its place
or have something to hand a son
harder than a woman’s
the dug-under barbed-wire fencing
meant to shelter gentler animals wholly
inadequate, now, the way things are now; yes
—but it’s more than hunger;
that light that never leaves even after the eating
arouses or—a kind of progress—desensitizes, less
out of moral weakness than the more more please
more of living this long, which demands a degree
of distance: physical & emotional. Orison
is an archaic word for prayer. Prayer is an archaic word
for loving at least one thing more than myself. I refuse
to love equally
the bullet & its target. That we are all targets; some,
thankfully, lord, not today.
Remember the year we overwintered
the strawberries in the greenhouse,
came out in the morning to find a bat
trapped, thumping its body against the roof’s
wooden gables. How strange it sounded.
And when we opened the door,
how sudden and absolute the silence
fell around us. I thought at first that this
is how our love is—how we sat in bed
for days after the baby came. After
he died. How the light swept across
your face, reflecting from the snow.
Want to read more finalists from the 2019 contest? You can buy a print or digital copy of Issue 53 in our store.
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