Once again, the entries for Literary LEO were top-notch, revealing the depth of talent among our readers.
As we said last year — if only we could give more awards.
But we cannot, alas. So, see who won and plan for next year!
FYI, we had to reschedule our awards party Thursday at Copper & Kings Distillery because of, you know, current events. No new date has been set, so stay tuned. But, in the meantime, please read and see below who won!
Short story judges: Amy Miller, executive director of Louisville Literary Arts; Tom Beshear, longtime night news editor at The Courier Journal (who read 93 books last year!); and Keith Stone, LEO managing editor.
Poetry judges: Heidi Taylor, an MFA candidate of poetry at Spalding University who is working on a collection of work about growing up in Western Kentucky; and Laura Snyder, publisher of LEO.
Photography judges: Mary Carothers, UofL professor of photography; and Michael Brohm, a Louisville photographer working on a photo book of his experiences in Russia.
Cartoon judges: Talon Hampton, LEO art director; Hannah Boswell, LEO graphic artist; and Aaron Yarmuth, LEO executive editor.
Scroll through all of the winners, starting with the short stories below, or jump to the section you’re looking for via these links: Color Photography, Poetry, Black & White Photography, Multi-Panel Cartoon, Single-Panel Cartoon.
Short Story — First Place
Through the Blooming
By Eric Walling
After shuffling through many a fair and true reason to give my wife for why I’ll be late and moreover why I am bleeding, I’ve retired to the simplest truth I can come to: that of being, well, a bloody fool. Had I not been rushing home, where her worried face surely by now is framed by a black-shuttered window, I wouldn’t have cut myself trying to free the ram.
His poor bleats only just pierced the moan on the highland wind. Nonetheless, they carried light as memories to me. The flock was billowing down the second to last hillside before home, following the dry stone wall, when I heard it a little way off. Crying. Ensnared with a silent welcome by the dewberry brambles the woolly lad had already given up wrestling and, blinking like a dolt, awaited rescue along the western hedgerow.
He continued his beggarly cries as I approached, caught during his greedy nibblings of the deepest, darkest, and, I imagine, sweetest berries within the thorns. The prickly stems crisscrossed along his back and were sure in their grip.
“Oy, deep in there, ain’t ya?”
I scratched his rump, it was soft. Wagging tail. He snorted and moved his wet, coal-coloured nose about. He baaed.
I removed the pruning shears from my hessian lambing bag (carrying also iodine, twine, binoculars, my by-then-empty coffee flask) and dove into clipping his cottony locks, lifting the thorn stems bit by bit. Snip. Snip. So I went, not knowing I’d forgotten something, his glassy eyes wide watching me. If you keep the whites of your eyes hidden, sheep will calm.
The bush shook a little at our disturbance, swaying its many cream, papery five-petaled flowers.
It’s said that rose, berry, and suchlike bushes are, much to our nature adoring children’s surprise, carnivorous. Their thorns grow inwards, like some Darwinian architecture or a primordial wooden fish trap, allowing something to enter but not leave. I’d seen more bushes than I’d like looming over darkling piles, piles of what was by the time I’d wandered upon them mostly bone, wool, soil — nourishment. My papa said that sheep were made to die.
I’d removed two or three stems, and had the last one in my grip, but sensing, no, tasting freedom, the ram lurched out from the brush, taking my hand towards the shear blade where it sliced my thumb!
A few red beads dripped to the ground. Dirt made mud by my blood. And I thought to the gloves sticking floppily out of my back pocket and shook my bobble-hatted head. As I said, a bloody fool.
I retrieved my handkerchief and wrapped my thumb, squeezing, like I’m a child once again grasping a gifted nickel threepence from papa, which encircled a silver hare, fit and ready like me, to sprint that coin down to the sweet shop.
The ram had rejoined the flock; as had I. I picked the tiny thorn branch he’d taken with him. He’d caught a few flecks of my blood on the hind end of his snow coat which, as my wife well knows, had passed shearing length. If I hadn’t delayed the shearing, he may not have gotten caught. Their hooves need pairing as well. Regardless, they bounced off those hooves into one another, bumping their chests into the fluffy rumps of the ones in front, migrating across the field mimicking the clouds walking overhead.
Then I heard a baaing behind me.
A ewe stood lonesome on the emerald pasture over a limp lamb, pale and still. The harsh wind moved her coat. The lamb was not sleeping.
To get the ewe to follow me, I took twine from my bag and wrapped the lamb’s legs and dragged it about ten meters behind me. Dragged it through the grass and through the infant dandelions and other wildings with the twine over my shoulder pressing down my waxed jacket as I trudged up the hill. The ewe baaed, but followed.
A wife who loses her husband is dubbed a widow. A man: a widower. A child who has lost her parents is thereafter called an orphan. There is no word in English for a parent who’s lost a child.
Another ewe of ours whelped twins. She is young and she is small and will not have enough milk to feed both. I will skin this lamb and I’ll place the hide onto one of the twins like a dressing gown, and for a day put the cloaked imposter with the mother who lost hers. Hopefully, she’ll adopt it. A good-hearted trick for a tatter-hearted… what’s the word?
The flock crested the horizon and the hill’s sunset silhouette rippled at the top with commotion. I put in my shepherd’s whistle, a half-circle like a tangerine slice minted in chrome, with a hole in the center for air to pass.
Otis barked and took a line on the flank of the herd and pushed some draggers up and over. I peaked the hill and looked down the dale, thumb beating and legs weary, to see our home, my paradise, a white cottage of simple majesty, and out of its head smoke wafting up and up to join some early stars. Not the promised land, but the land I promised her.
Our children played in the garden (one, two, three, yes, all there) and through the window she set the table, my wife. A stolid rose She wiped her hands and her forehead with a dishcloth and then touched the bump (four) beneath her muslin apron. Then she looked out, saw me, smiled. Our children giggled as they ran circles, swimming wooden toy planes up and down through the air. Play, young ones. Play, play, play. A thousand happy thoughts hung about my head like golden laurels. Our eldest noticed me and he waved wildly. Little boy full of joy.
Then the others noticed me. My blood, my charge, my life entire. •
Short Story — Second Place
Change In Seasons
By Jinn Bug
The frost is coming and my late afternoon walk begins as necessary medicine; I know it’s good for me to get into the sunshine but I’m sure not feeling sunshiny. I’ve got Several Unpleasant Things on My Mind and they are all Things Where One Must Wait and See and I do not like Wait and See. Sitting perfectly still, I’m treading the borders of the dangerous land of Irritable, a country which — in my atlas — borders Fearful and Discontent. There’s a river there that can sweep me right into Gloom, Despair and Agony if I let it, so I stand up from my work and walk toward my medicine: movement and light and getting out of my own head.
Here I go, down the street, forcing photos of leaves (how is late October and how have I not taken leaf pictures yet this year? how is it possible that I’m near half-one-hundred?). My mood is wistful at best, trending toward outright melancholy, and I’m counting lasts.
— the last flush of roses
— the last run of violets
— the last leaves falling from that maple whose top always turns orange three weeks before the other trees show a hint of change
The creamsicle cat is curled in a nest of shaded leaves at the side of the blue house near the flood wall and he doesn’t move when I call his name. My heart has been hurting, quite literally, for two weeks now and the angina kicks up a notch. “Kitty! Hey! Kitty kitty kitty. Mr. Creamsicle? Kitty?” He doesn’t move. Not a whisker. Today, I can’t stand to find my long-haired friend of a decade dead. I decide not to trespass. Not yet. I’ll wait. I’ll walk along the top of the flood wall to Pam’s Amazing Chickens and then I’ll walk back the way I came. If he’s still not moving…
— the last night walk my sweetheart when I petted the creamsicle cat and said, “If I didn’t think someone was taking care of him, I’d have brought him home a long time ago”
I should have brought him home with me. I should’ve. I should’ve done it years ago, when he was still young and would walk with me for a half mile along the flood wall. Too late. Too late now. And so I walk on. I walk down to where Pam’s house is and I call “Hello, Pam’s Amazing Chickens!” and the chickens move near the garden fence to see me and I hope that maybe Pam will come out and chat. I don’t get lonely often, but I’m suddenly lonely.
— the last ripe tomato bright red and rotting among the withered brown cucumber vines
No Pam. I turn back. How can such a short stretch last so long? The old man who grooms his Sheltie with the dog standing on a card table as he untangles the long hairs at her stifles looks at me. No wave from me today, no hello; I don’t have it in me. I look at him and I shift my eyes down; there’s my rough calloused big toe.
— the last day I’ll wear sandals to work this year
— the last barefoot evening walk
The creamsicle cat is still there and hasn’t shifted a whisker. “Kitty!” I call, not caring what the neighbor thinks. “Kitty kitty!!!! Kittttttteeeee!” The old cat lifts his muzzy, grizzled head. O. Kitty. Thank goodness. “Hey, you good boy, you dreaming creamsicle cat. I’m glad to see you! I’m sure glad to see you. You stay right there. I just wanted to say hello.”
And my steps are lighter now, my eyes shift up. Suddenly all those little cares that were driving me batty when I started this walk are put in their place with the Resurrection of the Creamsicle Cat. I wave to the old fellow across the street. He waves back or I think he does; it’s hard to see through his forest of Republican campaign signs. I stop at the rickety remains of the fence by the mailbox; there’s a wild tangle of purple hyacinth bean reach for the dogwood’s fiery red leaves. Now I’m at the back door of the house and the dogs are bounding up, happy to see me. I hadn’t felt like eating today, but now I’m a wee bit hungry. I reach for the door handle and
— the last minute run of the 8 foot tall orange cosmos bows a morning glory stranded stalk under the porch roof
There are bees everywhere in the lowering light, delighting in fresh-blooming bounty so late in the season. Dizzy, whirling, determined. I take the lens cover off and focus on the nearest flowers. What perfect orange; what blue sky.
— the last perfectly blue sky
It may be the last, but it’s a glorious last, dammit and if I’ve learned nothing else in half-a-hundred years, I’ve learned how to trudge on till I’m out of the Lands of Irritable, away from Fearful and Discontent, and back to the borders of Good with It All and Grateful to be Alive. And that’s when a bee leaps up and into the frame.
— the last light caressing its whole body spinning in a pollen-rich arc, a tiny ode to joy •
Short Story — Third Place
The Problem with Patrick
By Thomas Pack
He’s off in his own world all the time, and his parents just let him go. That’s the problem with Patrick.
Imagine — a child who has never talked in school. Other kids even call him The Boy Who Won’t Talk. I’ve never heard of such a thing. It’s like something you’d see in the newspaper, and it’s my own grandson.
He talks all the time at my house. If he’s excited about something, he goes on and on. You can’t make him be quiet. Why won’t he talk in class? And that thing with the caterpillar book — Patrick coming home in tears and all that big to do with the teacher and then the principal and the counselor — what a mess.
If that father of his would take more of an interest in the boy instead of just yelling at him all the time — take him out and throw a baseball around once in a while for Christ’s sake, then Patrick wouldn’t spend so much time drawing pictures of race cars and playing games on the computer. The kid’s pale — white as a ghost.
And my own daughter needs to get him out of the house more, too, but she’s got her hands full with the new baby, and you know her husband is no help there either.
That school — those teachers — they don’t know how to teach him. That’s Patrick’s problem. If he had good teachers, he’d be fine. Especially last year. Mrs. Cundiff was a nightmare. Imagine, humiliating a little boy in front of the whole class: What color is the caterpillar? Just say the color, Patrick. Say the color and we’ll go to recess. Just say it. Nobody’s going outside until Patrick tells us what color this caterpillar is.
And her talking like Patrick’s not smart — oooohhh! I should’ve smacked her. I bet he was the smartest kid in her the class. Didn’t she see his drawings? Could a child who’s not smart draw like that — with all those details and shading?
I was a quiet kid myself. I did talk in school, of course. I talked when I had to — never refused to talk, and I don’t understand why Patrick doesn’t talk at least sometimes. I didn’t like reading in front of the class or doing reports, but I’d do them when I had to.
Patrick’s teacher this year, Ms. Sanders, says he doesn’t even laugh. He smiles. He grins wide when he thinks something’s funny, but he won’t open his mouth and laugh. I really don’t understand what’s going on with him. Patrick talks all the time around here.
He says he wants to talk at school. He says he whispers to his friend DeAndre. He just can’t talk in front of lots of people. He just can’t. He says his throat freezes. He doesn’t know why.
His feelings get hurt too easily — that’s the problem with Patrick. He’s a bright boy but too artsy, too sensitive, too many tears anytime I want him to do something he doesn’t want to do.
And he’s costing us a fortune. All the doctors. All the tests — speech, hearing, autism, Asperger’s, even a vision test.
A vision test because he won’t talk?
Every test says Patrick’s fine. Nothing wrong with him at all. We can’t pay the bills we’ve got, and he’s seeing another new doctor this week. He’s just too sensitive, too shy, too stubborn. Gets it from his mother. Patrick says he talks with his drawings. What the hell does that mean?
I’ll tell you what my father would’ve done if I’d pulled a stunt like that with that caterpillar book. My father would’ve taken me to school the next day and marched me up in front of the class himself and made me read the whole damn book out loud — every word.
I need to toughen Patrick up.
Dr. Jonathan Taylor:
It’s called selective mutism. The problem is not just shyness. It’s a fairly rare anxiety disorder. We don’t know exactly what causes it, but there’s probably a genetic component.
The term selective mutism is something of a misnomer. Some people think it implies that the child selects when and where to speak, but that’s not true. The opposite is true. The child is literally unable to speak in some situations because of extreme anxiety.
It’s not a phase. The child won’t grow out of it, but selective mutism usually responds to therapy, especially when teachers and parents get involved.
Dr. Taylor read a book about dogs in his office. He let me bark and growl to make sounds for all the different dogs. He said we’re going to read it some more, and then he’s going to give it to me so I can make the sounds at school.
I don’t know about that.
At least Dad doesn’t yell at me so much anymore. He doesn’t yell at Mom so much either. Mom doesn’t cry so much.
Ms. Sanders put me at a table with DeAndre. Then she put Kevin at the table. I whisper to both of them. She said she might put some other students at the table too, one at a time.
I don’t know if I’ll ever talk in front of everybody, but today I laughed. We were watching a video about addition and subtraction, and there was a funny penguin in it who kept falling in the water and turning into a big block of ice. The other penguins had to keep thawing him out. I laughed, and then I heard myself laughing and put my hand over my mouth. I looked around, but nobody was looking at me. They were all laughing, too.
I told Mom when I got home. She said, “You laughed out loud? You laughed in front of everybody?”
“Sure did,” I said. “No problem.” •
Short Story — Honorable Mention
By Rebecca Sturgeon
“You are the beautifulest mama that ever mama’d,” he said as he bent his tall frame onto one knee next to her reclining chair. She grinned, shook her head and reached one arm up towards him. Her skin hung in delicate folds that make you think of butterfly wings every time you massage her arms.
It is the end of your weekend with her, this woman who is so precious that even you call her “Mama.” Her son spent the weekend away, and you cared for her. The agency told you she requested you, and your heart filled. Just an hour before he arrived back home, you wrapped Mama’s fragrant, clean hair in a towel and gently massaged her scalp while she sighed and said, “Thank you, baby.”
The son wrapped Mama up in his arms and for a moment she disappeared, all but her small hand stroking his broad back. When he stepped away, her green eyes glowed with incandescent life.
“You see what a party we’ve been having?” she said, gesturing at the room, the half-full glass of water, the dog snoring in the corner. He smiled and shook one long finger at her. “I told you I didn’t want any trouble in here while I was gone.”
“Now look,” she leaned forward in her chair. From where you stood by her chair, you saw the hard edges of her spine through her sweater. “I’m still the Mama.” She turned to you. “Right?” You smiled and nodded, warmed by the light in her eyes.
She raised her eyebrows and glanced to the side where he knelt, his hands folded on one knee. “Well,” she said as a smile spread over her face, “I guess I’ll keep him.”
He laughed. The sound filled the room, made your eardrums ring with the joy of it. “Guess so,” he said. He covered her small hand with his, moved his index finger over the skin of her forearm.
Underneath her heavy blankets, her body was shrinking slowly into itself. If she turned her head a certain way, or her hand caught the filtered light from the window, you could see the shadows of the inevitable. A life closing the door on itself, gently.
His hand on her hand held the door open. His voice brought fresh air into the room and allowed her to breathe. The door is heavy, though, and you can see that his grip is starting to fail.
They stayed there, gazing at each other, as you gathered your things and walked silently out the back door. At the side of the house, the light from her room touched the driveway, drawing fireflies. •
Short Story — Honorable Mention
The Tale Of The Photo Finish
By Frogg Corpse
Snow draped the ground, translucent sludge dressed the floor. Bricks pushed themselves outward from slumbering walls. The house’s wreaths guarded the doors in a scented trace of pine. Tiny fingers extended outward brushing the hair of an old codger rested in his chair. A wispen orb transpired from the mantle of the fireplace. Embers cracked, and the popping of hollowed husks smelted in dying flames surrendering itself to the plumes of perplexion. Ornaments move; clinking with clatter, bulbs burst, silted slime edges its way from the wooden grain along the window seal to the glass which kissed the winter’s eve. Windows frost out all witnesses, what slept in the walls within… Bore the face from a family photo.
The old man’s child, swings from his neck in the bedroom above. The father’s eyes awaken to the sounds of busted glass at the mere moment gaunt hands reach outward for his eyelids. Gurgling murmurs echo in the den escaping the chamber door rushing through the house, tree lights flicker, his panting breaths washed down by aging liquor as he grabs the glass of cognac from the table stand in a feverish sweat. Equestrian snarls hooved along the hallway. The eve of the christened king was a night one would soon suffer the sights of no savior. No bells would chime, no choir would sing his name, only cries would echo along the ribbons of gifting, nestled under the Christmas tree.
Ten shadows hovered; vomited forth from a black cloud which escaped the cloister of books resting near the fireplace, the man grasped his glass trembling at the sight as he gazed into the reflection of the portrait on the wall watching shadows rustle in the glass against the picture of old English fox hunters sending their dogs out for the hunt. He saw it move behind him, the group of shades slithering out the doorway into a fog flipping tufts of his hair as he closed his eyes, clutched his breast dropping his cognac in utter disarray.
One of the entities pointed towards the upstairs as his eyes drew to the doorway with the last in line evaporated from the huddle back into a stream of fog as he went to investigate. The black smoke bellowed up the stairs hugging the carpeted floor as a flowing gown of horror. Nine black masses ascended upward leaving the bannister to drip in plasmid secretion before grouping together and stopping at the door of the bedroom.
Sounds of sleigh bells jingled as the weary man raced the steps pushing through the voided mist as outstretched hands tugged at his vest and waistcoat, wearing the faces of familiar relatives in photographs from long ago. Barging open the door to the dim room he fell aghast, two shoes dangled from the ceiling; swaying side to side attached to his son which hung from the pine garland creaking with each movement. An old camera stood in the corner on a wooden tripod, below the corpse; laid about on the bed, were a collection of photos from centuries ago erratically adorned in havoc, littered across the room in an antithetical madness. Dredged in the same milky slime that which draped the stairs and seals. Each photo sullenly held the image of old ancestors. Great uncles and aunts, cousins and grandparents, children all laid about in coffins; erected, displayed for all who view it in a final photo finish.
He wept with agony, trying to pry his son from the ceiling tugging amidst the howls of his cries. The body crashed onto the floor pushing him face-first into the portraits. Pulling the pictures away from his eyes, the old man recognized them. They were the same faces still leering at him in the hallway, piercing through the mist. The sound of hooves and bells clambered as he gazed upon the picture laying on the bed. Coming into view wiping away his blurred vision, the haunting image of him and his son stared back at him seated on a sofa dead. Petrified to his core, a popping noise of flash powder erupted from the corner, blinding the old codger in a white light as the camera zoomed out in its last shudder. With an empty room in an empty house with only the camera remaining, it’s always nice to have a family photo. •
Color Photography— First Place
By Bud Dorsey
Color Photography— Second Place
When the Spell is Broken
By Dan Rubin
Color Photography— Third Place
By Jessie Quinn
Color Photography— Honorable Mention
By Mickey Osthimer
Color Photography— Honorable Mention
By Kelly Davenport
Poetry — First Place
Worship the Pig
By Gaylord Brewer
Holy loin, blesséd shoulder,
belly, fatback, cutlet. Sacrament
of rib, ham, jowl, and hock.
Snout to tail, border to border,
sing loud of headcheese,
pickled foot, crispy ear,
of pancetta, lardo, prosciutto.
Of sausage and casing.
Holy phrases. Denomination
of Bacon, Order of the Rump,
Sect of the Crown Rib,
Deep Cult of the Crackling.
All praise be thy earthly flesh,
thy sweet white fat, well salted,
prepared for our good
and greasy consumption.
Turned on spit for the faithful;
buried in a hot, covered grave;
tended by priestly ritual
in a pit of smoking embers.
Pig oink. Split belly with blade,
pig squeal. Sever head, pig die.
We love the blood, bone,
blackened skin. Love the pig.
We dance, we pray, we dig in.
Bowed at table, we raise
the wondrous flesh to lips.
Eat in thanks, pig hallelujah.
Poetry — Second Place
Learning to Speak Grief
By Isiah Fish
The canine Heimlich failed. Banshee,
your Tibetan Mastiff, died after choking
on a panda-emoji stress ball.
When it happened, I said Gosh
but meant I’m sorry
but meant I used to stomp on bees
in my Nike’s because death, like our future,
was incomprehensibly aloof, & therefore, unreal.
I was a child & summer’s movie score
was a decrescendo on her grave,
where every day we spat a little Dr. Pepper
in remembrance. At school, you made a replica
of her body from clay, an effigy you kept
as tombstone. I learned to say I’m sorry,
& when I did, I meant this has made us older.
November heard us wail. The bee-stomping
stopped. We undressed the cold months
& found ourselves huddled against the burgundy
tree bark, deciphering a map we made to grief.
We couldn’t go back to spitting Applejacks
at passersby as we Mongoosed no-hands
down the curbless hill on Capricorn Street.
I wanted the dream of pre-adolescence
to return to the hearth of my tongue
& start over, with you standing, arms
outstretched in a field of cigarette ashes
falling like snow, & humming doe
in the late month’s early-dark,
the far-off lightning suddenly close,
like a memory of animate bees.
Poetry — Third Place
The Water Journey
By Douglas Meadors
Louisville, then Port of commerce
Center for business, center for selling
Home to people, businesses, enslaved people, and free people
People living in Louisville, in Kentucky
Across the Ohio, free African-Americans living
A community that could help a person fleeing
It was not far, 36th Street on the Louisville side, built to the clearing by the river
By the river, the Ohio, help with the crossing, the flowing river.
The railroad, African-Americans, help, aware
African-Americans, in Louisville, courage to,
African-Americans, in New Albany, the railroad,
crossing from the end of 36th Street to southern Indiana.
If the water allows, wade through to freedom by the Ohio
If the river is frozen go across on the icy way, or if someone can, go across on a ferry
Under the shadow of danger,
With help, with care, help, African-Americans go on to live, free.
Somehow to cross, manage to cross without getting caught,
Kentucky where the inhabitants were split, some abolitionists, some not, in the state
The legal system set to detain fugitives from enslaved households
The spot where many journeys to freedom began there, there at the edge, west, Louisville
The waters dark and brooding, reflecting the joys and sorrows of neighbors, care, people
The waters, difficult waters, the waters of escape, if, help, if, someone, if
The sound of the falls of the Ohio, beckoning, the path, the way by the falls of the Ohio
Carts, wagons, boats, ferries, steamboats, carrying goods, and bringing people to the way.
Oh tell. The carts by the water, transfer, restricting, hemming, holding,
The boats, the current, the rocks, dangerous, boats, hide, hide from view
Enslaved but taking the step, enslaved but
Moving, praying, trying for, that step North.
People, the railroad, tracks, conductors, stations,
People, agents, station masters, stockholders, passengers
People, underground, out of sight, underground, hidden
The waters, hidden, beautiful, seductive waters, places of danger.
The stone there, the river side, hold firm
Don’t go back, let the stone of the banks hide
Hold firm, this could be the evening of success,
Don’t, no, not back, let the river side speak, if.
Just quell doubt, breathe, the river is flowing
The journey, North, step, the boat just enough, step, and to the station
Step to the shore and on up, turn right, the way and go.
New Albany, freedom, freedom, new freedom!
Poetry — Honorable Mention
Targeted Individual Blues In A 21st Century Thought
By rAmu Aki
targeted individual blues in a 21st century thought
policed super tech security state …
when people are reading
your mind …
it’s always as if u just
something u shouldn’t
only u didn’t since there
ain’t no shouldn’t think
this or that in fact
it’s just thought yours or
out-of-u or passin’
thru from where knows
who & CAUGHT! Just
like that & maybe just
back unto universal
mind’s conscious flow to
dance & promenade
gyrate, silhouette, plié, boogaloo &
blooooooooow on wings of change nto another
inspiring still more
perception, reflection, conception,
directions to paths
Poetry — Honorable Mention
By Kristen Cherry
a desert wind whispers to us:
“the land is greedy. the land will not repent.”
at night, once-hopeful mothers weep for children lost
winding through dunes of sand,
tumbling down hills of stone,
toward some unknown –
at dawn you can begin to see the edge of the desert
but there is no sight or sound of life.
we feel ourselves enveloped by something
dangerous, something painful.
suffocating our entire bodies.
we do not know yet that this is because
the truth is more powerful than our fear.
the wind taps my shoulder and says,
“do you understand now? the feeling?
like something is dying inside of you?”
i stare toward the void and the rays of sun pierce my eyes.
sweat beads around my hairline, slowly coats my face
i feel my head pulsating
thoughts wandering with the children,
wondering with the mothers –
w h e r e
a r e
y o u ?
they say this place used to be an oasis.
harsh sun is softened by encroaching darkness
and passing time,
replaced by ethereal crescent moon
a reminder of what-we-gave-up
a reminder of what-we-have-still
knowledge that you can look toward the same moon
and that one day soon
it will be full.