Poetry Chapbook Contest
by Ran Webber
American Folk 8-4-73, Ran Webber © 2005
Neurosis 7-30-73, Ran Webber © 2005
Full Moon 7-15-73, Ran Webber © 2005
By Tony Gloeggler
The kids bicker in the back seat.
They’re sick of each other,
these weekends in the Berkshires.
They want to stay home, play
with their friends. Maybe
next week, I lie. My wife
sits in the death seat, rolls
down her window, smokes
her cigarette and wonders
if I will ever fix the damn
air conditioner. Construction
narrows the highway to two
slow lanes. The radio
spits the six o’clock news
through static. Sweat slides
down my spine. I grip the stick
in a fist, punch the car closer
to the toll booth, drop quarters
in the basket, and the gate
lifts. We hit open road. Wind
whips my hair, the DJ spins
Rosalita. I sing every word:
1979, Erica, her gypsy dresses,
the silver crucifix hanging between
her freckled breasts. The song
ends. I look at my watch, picture
myself unpacking bags, putting
Kate and Jesse to bed. By ten,
I should be sitting on the porch,
my wife’s head nesting in my lap,
trying to remember the names of stars.
Later, she’ll drape her faded jeans
over Grandma Melton’s rocking
chair, lie back in bed and shut
her eyes the first time I enter her.
She’ll wrap her legs around my back,
move to meet me, and I’ll think
only of her until I fall asleep.
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By David Chorlton
Secrets run cold among the scrub oak at night
beneath a wash of galaxies
whose landscapes we shall never know.
with brown and ochre wings
has attached itself to the screen at a window
facing the sky, just as we are talking
about ghosts. Each of us has a story
we find hard to believe but like to tell
the way we have theories
about conspiracy; the gunman
on the grassy knoll, why the 9-11 planes
weren’t intercepted, drugs and the CIA.
What would we do
if we knew, if the moth
were our friend
come from the other side
listening to what we say about him?
We get into our cars
and ride home along the desert roads in darkness,
guided by headlights
through a universe of stars.
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The Mother of the Lunatics
By Sarah Ruhlen
There is a ladder in the middle
of the Great Plains.
The lunatics, after they have finished
hoarding their bits of tin foil
bathing in raw rice
palming their meds
they find their way to the ladder.
It is not an easy journey.
There are lunatic-eating tumbleweeds
that ghost up out of the night
There are ranchers with devil-red eyes
There are objects
hail, frogs, toasters
that the gods throw down upon lunatic heads.
The way to the ladder is not clearly marked
because only lunatics go there.
Only lunatics know for certain
whether it is in Oklahoma, Eastern Colorado,
just off I-70 in a blizzard.
They do not return to tell.
The Moon reaches her arms down
and they clamber crazy up this ladder
pilgrims with their eyes on moonmilk and honey.
They strain to rest their addled heads
upon the Moon’s fat bosom.
When they reach the top of the ladder,
I do not know if they fall to their deaths.
I do not know if there is a buffalo wallow
filled with the lunatic dead
or if the Moon pulls them up,
a tide of sad mouths and startled eyes,
of troubled limbs and mismatched overcoats
that wash up through space
and fold down at last
into the soft pale dust
of her heart.
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By Martin Vest
The first time it happened
my mother and I hid out
in motels and with relatives.
I watched television,
made a church of my fingers,
and stared at the faceless congregation,
wondering why we would
ever hide from my father.
Then one afternoon
while we were at home
gathering fresh clothes
he surprised us,
came crashing through the door,
more real than movies
or any bump in the night;
a corpse from a dropped coffin,
a naked nightmare burst from a cake;
eyes yellow through bruises
the size of fists,
and on his cheekbone
a gash, sticky and swollen black,
like a tiny womb crowning
Startled birds of urine and liquor
flew from his clothing
as he swung his arms
through the air like broken dolls,
You motherfuckers don’t love me!
You don’t love me!
and my mother screamed
like a sparkler in a bottle,
and the floors crashed,
and I ran into the other room
to hide beneath a table
as if the end of the world
wouldn’t look there.
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