City Paper's 13th Annual Poetry Contest

I remember the red plastic elephant plates, smells of malted basement, and grapes in my tuna fish

sandwiches. Taped sheets, nailed eyelids your bed was a construction site for sleep.


The bags I packed to leave each night, the closet I fermented in

talking to imaginary mice. My impatient hand-fed brother

teetering in the mile-high snow of '96.

The locks and bolts unhinged in vacant stares.

The neon beads on the metal spokes of my bike

legs growing like corn stalks learning how to pedal up,

my kernels radiating to pop away from you and home.

The great mobility, a manifest destiny; with my own strength, I found

I could carry my skin away from bone.

I remember old torn sheets and plastic houses. But the memories around the yard

are dead. Thought I erased my roach heart in the streets.

Getting high behind the garages of people I would never meet.

The moon's loud white echo off my skin

the sun at night scorching my organs from within.


This sky held over my mouth, cellophane air, muffled inscriptions

and the seedy silence of black robbed bodies.

And now we are here: both hands in the pockets of fear,

all fingers to the dropper we sell to the bottle-fed babies sticking warm needles to

their veins. Clutching the confusion. I ask with deafening vibrations:

Pull the sinew from the numb vibe in my tongue.

Impale this mind with the raw rub of time. Tear this body into a bobbin of thread

weave my cuts into sewn scars, label my life as the one loose twine on the coat tails of some lofty mister.

Ripen my inertia with deft precision and singe my retention with a blistering symphony.

Fiction and Poetry Contest Winners

Fiction First Place: "CHAOS" by C.C. Vail
Fiction Second Place: "The Plagiarist" by F.P. Gamber
Fiction Third Place: "So Much Closer and Far More Brilliant" by Jody Costa

Poetry First Place: "Marie's Dance" by Angie Cochrun
Poetry Second Place: "So Far Child"by Lydia Rich
Poetry Third Place: "Sunday" by Kyle Eichmann