City Paper 2013 Poetry Contest: First Place

The building's foundation respected the corpses.

It lay above the graves, he noticed


but lofted, not right on top

so the dead bodies could breathe.

He always refused to wrinkle.

He's furrowed his brow but

once the curiosity settled

His face became lineless again.

That's how he charmed her:

Teases, pokes, winks and risks.

"You take years off of me," she said.

"Be careful, don't take them off of yourself."

He smelled the must,

touched the dust

Fingered the numbers,

the years of her life and death.


He sighed, relieved,

his beloved still breathes. No.

The grave's epitaph breathes her out.

Her whole story exposed

But one word he traced again and again


He cringed at the flowers laid.

He would have preferred the tradition of rocks.

Rocks don't die, don't wilt, are never frail

Rocks hold down dead trees.

He walked out.

And for the first time in his life

He hunched.