Past Winners

Spring 2021

1st: Robert de la Chevotiere, “Prayer” | Runners-up: Christina McRae, “Barren Beach”; Matt Robinson; “Median’s up-bunched, glut-hunchy tumult”; David A. Wimsett, “Undeniable” | Finalists: Jill Martin, Lisa McCabe, donalee Moulton, Sandra Phinney, Anthony Purdy, Catherine Walker

  • Citation from judge Michelle Elrick: “I was impressed by how [Robert de la Chevotiere] combined the complex yearning of a cultural moment with playful syntax and musical rhythms. I loved the taste and touch senses they brought in, and the reduction of the original yearning to ‘patience / And matches’ in the final phrase. This poem does much in a few words.”

Prayer

Robert de la Chevotiere

My spirit is wanting
To light candles for you
So we can pray
For love
For health
For Earth days
For more songs
More recipes
More laughs
More saltine crackers
Melting on our tongues
For more soul quenching conversations
But for now
Just a prayer
For patience
And matches

Barren Beach

Christina McRae

I want to lie under a sun of forgetting.
Close my eyes to face the sky
and keep turning til every bone
is bleached and hollow and I am light
and thoughtless of all but the smell
of summer on my skin.

Median’s up-bunched, glut-hunchy tumult

Matt Robinson

             of just-ruined sod—in dusk’s dun sleight of bland, fading light—
is a drive-by mistake eyes make on behalf of mind’s baffled racing.
Kentucky Blue’s corkscrewed ruse-rumple? Porcupine’s quill-hackles
wheelwell-centrifugaled—tread-catapulted—to frizz-stolid huddling
embossed across late day’s fall-ruddy hellstrip, its haywired circadians
and fading endviews.

Undeniable

David A. Wimsett

Looking through old folders in forgotten drawers;
A note from you,
Not long ago;

“Don’t work tonight”,
“Come play”;

Signed with a silly name as we often gave each other;

A lingering weight fell from my eyes to my chest,
As something known became realized.

Fall 2020

1st: donalee Moulton, “The woman sitting beside me” | 2nd: Leanne Schneider, “Roots and Ropes” | 3rd: Charles “Gus” Doiron, “The Wolfman” | Finalists: Rhian Irene Calcott, Fiona Chin-Yee, Barbara Darby, Joanne Gallant, Rose Poirier, Jennifer Reichow, Syr Ruus | Judges:  Alison DeLory and Jessica Scott Kerrin

The woman sitting beside me

donalee Moulton

The woman sitting beside me in the theatre — seventh row, sixth seat — leans in, smiles conspiratorially as if we have shared a singular connection. “Is it almost over?” she asks, her body frail, sered, slightly antiseptic. She is bored or making polite intermission conversation. She glimpses my husband, nods mannerly, one stranger to another. “It’s only act one,” I whisper.

Her shoulders fall — gratitude, acceptance, resolve perhaps. In profile she reminds me of my mother, grateful for a night out but wanting to be home with her tea and her dog, content to know family is only a phone call away.

The curtain is about to rise. Act two will take us in unexpected directions. I glance at the stranger next to me in G6 eyes intent on the stage, upright, a slight fidget. She feels my gaze, rests her hand on mine, fleeting. I spy hearing aids, wonder if they’re working or if this quiet restlessness is simply boredom borne of a desire to be elsewhere or merely acceptance of more of the same. I offer her a mint, unwrinkle it for her. She looks at me, at the mint. “Do you like the play?” she asks. Memories of my mother return. This would be her way of saying the theatre sucks, when can we go home.

The delicate woman beside me returns to her program. I wonder if this woman would have liked my mother. Would have liked the woman she once was.

Roots and Ropes

Leanne Schneider

My roots in this town go as deep as the roots of the tree she hung herself from. The tree in the cemetery, that the full moon shines on and the locals use as a landmark. The tree that is so old it casts the longest shadow at dusk. If we cut it down, I wonder how many rings would be inside.

My roots in this town are as long and strong as the ropes they used to rip his body apart. After they tied his limbs to the chrome bumpers of two trucks and drove in opposite directions. Late at night, at the end of a dirt road the locals use as a point of direction. Found his head in another County.

My roots in this town go as deep as the ocean where the lobster pots are cut from their ropes and left to sink to the bottom. My roots, as taut as the ropes securing fishing boats to the wharves and set on fire because they belong to the wrong nation. The First Nation, whose roots in this land, go deeper than mine. Whose Mi’kmaq words the locals use as names for villages.

My roots and ropes are intertwined, securing me to the ground, keeping me from floating away. They are strangling me, choking me, tangling me, burning me, tying me to a place I love. A place that it hurts to love because of the roots and ropes.

The Wolfman

Charles “Gus” Doiron

The bulbs on his mirror are so bright they are almost audible. He powders and primps, pastes and glues. Proper accents are key for the needed effect. The lighting in here is unforgiving, but it will be easier when he’s performing.
     First one ear, then the other. He can already hear better. The claws hurt more coming off than going on. As his teeth set he notices a drooped eyebrow. It will have to do.
     He can hear people outside. Murmurs or screams, it all sounds the same.
     On the surface he is in chaos, writhing and contorting as the transformation takes place. On the inside he is calm. This room joins the conscious and subconscious. Neither knows it exists.
     A smell, not entirely unpleasant, wafts in. He has soiled himself again.
     All part of the act.

There is a knock on the door and it opens. Mayhem.
     “Showtime,” she whispers before gently closing it back.
     He looks in the mirror one last time and grins. His skin is stretched and peeling but will look fine covered in blood and away from these lights.
     A small part of him is afraid and he has to remind himself he is the reason everyone came. Lon Chaney would be proud.
     He gets up, walks to the door, and takes a deep breath. He looks up in the direction of the moon if he were outside and howls. He fixes his eyebrow before leaving.
     He is The Wolfman.

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