The Writers Place
February 2007 - January 2008
First Place Winner
When I was eight years old, my family moved from a major city in the
Pacific Northwest to a farmhouse 23 miles from the nearest town. We
had no television or radio, so I became an avid reader of anything I
could get my hands on.
I found a treasure of musty books in the old farmhouse attic. One of
them was from Anchorage, Alaska. I wondered where the heck that
was. The other one was a literature book full of poetry. I was impressed by some of them so much I memorized many of them.
I became older. I was a dancer and found the place I read about when
I was only eight years old. I lived in Alaska the rest of my life.
I was a nurses aide, dancer, animal shelter, a bookkeeper, bankbook
worker, accounting, manager, assistant, sanitation business,
president, truck driver, and a 10-wheel dump truck driver, for
hauling rock, dirt, sand or scrap metal.
I had six kids, and I was an excellent student for two years at the University of Alaska -- that’s just a bit.
When something was not right or other people were not nice to me, and
I could not understand it, I became the little girl I used to be.
Sometimes I would cry. Then I would think about it for a long time.
But then, it helped me write my poetry.
Nights in late summer
When breezes smelt of sea and fishes
We’d dress little
Athena in her white chemise
Take a ride on your Vespa
Along the promenade to stroll the jetty
Where we met one day in the rain.
Darkened masts of resting boats
Punctuated warm village lights
That winked across the safe harbor
And lit up your eyes.
We’d traverse the jetty to its inevitable end,
Your flip-flops tapping patterns onto Greek heels
Mixing time with sea-swish on rip-rap below.
We’d return to our comfortable house in the cove
For salads and squid and ices Make love on our balcony
Under a thick canopy of stars
Drink our sweet coffees in the perfumed night
And talk about the next day.
Now, far away
These nights in late summer I rummage through remnants,
Adding each rich scene
To my unique creation but
Could it be the cold winter nights
That keep lingering
Or the midnight sun
Colored by yearning
That cause the tapestry to twist,
Changing the fabric
Of what really happened?
For there was never any child
Nor house in the cove
Those nights in late summer;
The truth is,
We walked the jetty only once
And you asked me not to cry
Second Place Winner
On a small farm in the 1950’s, I used to walk the moon-washed fields alone and rhyme to the land and sky before the word poetry was in my vocabulary. Speaking beauty to beauty.
Poetry is like the weather, there are droughts, and joy when it returns. Most poems spring full blown in my mind. I can write them down or let them disappear forever.
Since the ‘70’s, I have begun two novels and have written 5 scripts for screen/stage. One of my film scripts made it to the quarter finals, there were over 2500 others in competition.
I am in the process of publishing my first book of poems on the web at onesinging.com.d and will have another website: midnightrides.net, which will have spoken word, music, and sound effects to take the listener on a “midnight ride” on that highway to hell.
Thank you for picking The Radio. I was surprised. It is far from my favorite, but a sweet poem.
The depressing room drove me out.
Tiny spaces between the sparkling stars,
Cold, dewy fender of the car,
Little brown radio.
The road ran away down the hill
And hid itself under the elm.
The bulk of the house behind me,
Tasting the coolness of the night on my tongue.
Familiar smells of home,
Insects’ nightly noises, the breeze against the trees.
All, hub around the tiny radio
That links me to another world.
Third Place Winner
Lisa H. Leary
I am primarily a painter, receiving my MFA in Painting in 1989 from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. I also have BFA degrees in Painting and Art Education. I have taught art in the Northampton Public Schools since 1985 and have been teaching art at Northampton High School since 1989. Currently, I am the Department Chair for Fine and Performing Arts at NHS and teach the Drawing and Painting and Honors Art classes there.
I started writing poetry seriously after the sudden and unexpected death of my husband and life partner of 25 years from pancreatic cancer in September of 2006.
This grief would’ve killed you---
I know it.
Six months later, lying in bed with the dog,
In the shower, I’m doubled over.
Or after grocery shopping, sitting in the car,
The engine still running…
The neighbors wondering,
“How’s she doing?”
In a dream I ask you,
“are we together now?”
“are you still dead?”
and you say,
Kelsey A. Barksdale
Kelsey Barksdale was born in Landstuhl, Germany, while her parents were stationed overseas in the U.S. Air Force. Now living near one of the most creative cities in America, St. Louis, she was inspired after reading Anne Frank’s diary of the Holocaust. Kelsey began writing poetry in 2006, and 9/11 reflects the impact made by that day on her generation. She enjoys studying modern art and history and will enter high school this fall.
I hear people screaming when the towers fall.
I hear ambulances and fire trucks screeching on the bumpy road.
I smell fire and smoke as the airplanes crash through.
I smell blood on the streets as huge chunks of building topple.
I smell newspapers.
I touch rubble on the ground.
I touch a person’s arm to stop bleeding.
I touch myself to make sure I’m still alive.
I see people running from the crumbling buildings to survive.
I see dying people put on stretchers.
I see firefighters and police men risking their lives.
I taste sorrow as I feel people losing loved ones.
I taste tears as they run down my cheeks.
I eat my dinner, rice and beans, eyes glued to the T. V. screen.
Cornelius Jones Jr.
A native of Richmond, VA, he now resides in NYC where he is busy with his acting, writing, and social activist career. His NYC acting credits include the Broadway and Touring companies of The Lion King, Thou Shalt Not, Smokey Joes Café, and a guest appearance on Law & Order: SVU. He recently made his debut as a solo-show performer/writer at NYC’s 1st annual Left Out Festival, in which his autobiographical solo-show Flag Boy performed to sold out audiences. This fall, Cornelius begins his Graduate studies at New York University, pursuing an M.A. in Individualized Studies, focusing on Performance Activism for Social Change. The Writers Place was the first writing competition he submitted to as a poet. Receiving an honorable mention title in The Writer’s Place poetry division has been a major accomplishment for him as a writer. “Momma Said…” is a part of a poetic memoir that Cornelius is currently working on entitled, “Die a little, Live a lot.”
Visit Cornelius online at www.corneliusjonesjr.com for more info.
“Momma Said… (A Hard Life)”
A hard life
I’m an artist
“That’s a hard life,” she would say.
“Baby, that’s a hard life.”
A hard life
Momma couldn’t foresee that
I’d get HIV. I did.
Momma never ran away.
She supported her baby all the way
A hard life
I’m still here today
A hard life
But I can’t imagine my life any other way.
Yeah…it is a hard life…Challenging more so.
Still, I can’t say that I chose to be this way.
These are the card that have been dealt to me
And I choose to accept them
I choose to accept the gifts, that some may say are pretty heavy.
“It’s a hard life,” momma would say,
“but baby, you are very brave and don’t let anyone take that away.”