Poetry Centre

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  • First Place: 'Coronary' by Eleni Philippou

    An incision,
    delicate as a paper cut,
    in your groin.

    The komboskini I gifted you,
    around your wrist. Baba, keep it, I said.

    We open your heart
    like a human mouth,
    and feed in a plastic tube
    for the movement of blood,
    and the sake of two selfish daughters.

    When finished, the blood flows
    quickly, like the years that we
    spent, still spend,
    in a country far away from you.

    Eleni Philippou

  • Second Place: 'Bugs' by Katie Hale

    In that morning before her husband
    woke and hitched the horse, she discovered bugs
    had crawled under the blanket in the night.
    They clung like a second skin to her bare legs.
    They were a tattoo crawling on her back.
    They sheathed her arms like gauntlets.
    She pinched one between her thumbnails
    and it burst the red of river rock—
    and though the dawn was sharp with dew
    and the fire had all but died, and though
    the baby still snuffled and burred in sleep,
    she left the wagon and stood,
    shifted in insects, against the red rising sun.
    Against the red sun she was a city
    working at her own making; her skin
    commuted and flowed like water. She stood
    against the rising sun and plunged
    her hand into the covering of bugs.
    They parted like lips to let her pass.
    Plucking at her own skin – thin,
    translucent – she peeled it away
    like shucking the husks from corn, till her skin
    gave way to her flesh and her flesh
    stepped aside for her bones.
    Her bones she buried in the unmappable
    prairie, cryptic, unmarked,
    and the prairie gave her back
    a body of bugs.
    She wore it the rest of her life.
    On nights her husband lay beside her,
    they tingled and swarmed to his touch,
    became a nest of desire. When he hit her,
    tiny mouths bit and scratched at his fists.
    Later, her children were born with insect
    hearts; they dispersed and gathered like a colony.
    The day she died, her body
    scattered. The bed, rippling in the lamplight,
    smelled of her life: of leaf mould and of hunger. 

    Katie Hale

  • Special Commendation: 'Ionian' by Isabella Sharp

    I come back to Greece
    burn of bright beach flayed open
    that essential sea
    not wine dark but grape blue
    the ocean an open blue mouth
    gulping at my feet on the beach
    flickering light and susurrus of olive leaves overhead

    the cliffs around are bare, stripped of plant
    from the rough waves smashing
    cicadas crying in the heat
    my mother told me fingerprints are created by the waves
    of amniotic fluid
    I think I was formed here
    bobbing around
    As her bare feet attempted the shores

    I pluck a grape from a vine
    Throw it into the sea, unburst.

    Isabella Sharp