POETRY

2021

The Fall of Icarus

Editor's Choice

Allison Clark

If I had wax wings

and learned to fly,

I’d put my face to the sun

and touch the sky.

If you had wax wings

you’d be falling down,

blinded by the sun

into the water to drown.

And if I did fall,

all would stare in awe

at the boy in the sky

who everyone saw.

When you fall,

I am the only one who does see

I know all people die

for wanting to be free.

Is this what I get

for reaching for the stars:

A glorious death

for trying to be free of bars?

Do you have any regrets,

little boy with wax wings:

Do you wish for death

amidst all these bad things?

Maybe it was a mistake.

I shouldn’t have flown so high.

Now I’m left with the fishes,

afraid of the sky.

I think I’ve made a mistake.

I should be more like you.

Make more wishes,

and touch the sun too.

And all I can hear

Can anybody save us?

My father's voice in my ear

Icarus!

Don’t

Touch the sun!

2020

Let Us

Editor's Choice

Madeline Peck

Let UsMadeline Peck
00:00 / 01:58

Let us shed our skins and dance

     with our jittery bones and pumping organs

     beneath the light of God’s false eye.

 

Let us braid each other’s hair

     and kiss our thin lips together in prayer,

     for I pray only to you, to you

     and the water in your eyes.

 

Our skin is too thin; let us be 

     snakes. Let us wrap our bodies 

     like tide pools ‘round each other and

     twist until there’s nothing left of us 

     but seashells and wet sand. Let us

     be snakes and uncoil. Let us

     be snakes and tempt each other

     from heaven with the promise of 

     apple-flavored lips.

 

Your hands are no bigger than mine.

Our lips are the same painted red.

And I can see your heart caged behind your white   

     cracked bones holding out its hands for me.

Dance with me through this languid air. Let us 

     dance as the wind carries away our skin like

     two ethereal projections searching for a 

     single fine word. Let us kiss and fold and 

     tumble. Let us unstitch and re-sew, let us 

     write each other with poetry. And let us 

     become, my love, let us become.

 

Taste my apple lips and I’ll kiss your snake-like skin. 

Braid your long brown hair with mine. 

Let us kiss like lovers and let us combine like lovers 

     beneath the light of God’s false eye. 

2019

My Mother and Our Everyday Extremes

Editor's Choice

Megan Wilson

There was a kind of mint

that freezer-burned my nose.

Anything that freezer-burns a person's nose

might be avoided,

but much as I'd choke on cinnamon-y candy,

I'd freezer-burn my nose

to the ninth circle of Hell and back

and yet my heart would be in Heaven,

and my mom, rooted in the Earth,

would shake her head and smile.

I didn't know how to wrestle with my paranoia,

the way a backpacker

doesn't know how to wrestle a brown bear,

only to avoid one.

When ghost stories pitched fear at my heart,

I'd hide till the marigold sun came

and hit it soaring past the horizon.

My silence kept quiet her suspicion.

 

 

My mom would dread my shoe choice,

always tell me "you shouldn't wear those,"

not because I'd cover my feet with dirt-splattered black leather,

and the Old Gods know I'd never wear gaudy, bedazzled, blinding things,

but I'd tread a rocky drive in four-inch wedges

or a walk a snowy one in loose flip-flops,

toes pink and barely swollen,

and say "This feels nice," and laugh

without a lie.

 

 

 

My hair liked to play like spaniel dog ears,

especially in middle school when it reached down my back,

and it liked to be blonde,

back when I enjoyed the company of the sun.

Oh how it's changed,

pixie cuts

and almost-browns dyed blue,

and every time my mom gushes over it.

There was a kind of mint that freezer-burned my nose,

but my nose is stronger now,

and my mom across too many state borders

to shake her head.

 

Our walls were made of cheese dotted with red tomato paintings

and our couches were jalapenos,

and maybe that would have tasted better

than it sounds like it looks,

but I promise my mom

did not belong in an asylum.

Just a studio.

 

The stereo and the vacuum

contested for noisiest

every cleaning day

when my mother would ensure the stereo won

and its victory would sing

to my room,

out the open doors,

and down the drive.

We never did get a noise complaint.

 

All my patterned dresses,

come high school, were striped.

She'd coax me into wearing something else,

but polka dots were little stab wounds

and cheetah prints had diseased growths

and plaid was like someone had grilled me well,

and if I were to die by my patterns,

I'd die by the badass

slash of a sword.

I never told her this,

but I still put on stripes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winter had cast the world

in steels and sulfurs.

When we emerged from our county's only Walmart

our windshield had been replaced

by a sheet of ice,

and we were bold and cold

and drove home

with a lighter-melted patch

and a near swerve-into-ditch.