2018 Fall Contest, Theme – Harvest, 2nd Place Winner

by Joshua Boettiger

I figured I was
a forever henchmen,
slinging clay one
handful at a time
from an endless
bank of red earth.

But now, look—
it’s late Fall and
I got pockets
lined with loot.
I’m thick in the
right places.
The trimmers
are back in town
with their sticky
fingers and dull eyes.
Stand back, boys.
There’s enough
to go round.

The katsura tree
smells like burnt
sugar. Its heart-shaped
leaves rain gold
upon the patient.
I said,
I am blessed.
You said, No.
You are lucky.

Judge’s comments
“Payday” mixed common language (“Stand back, boys.”) in short lines. It created for me a mix of the weary laborer and the joyful Sisyphus that Camus describes walking back down the hill. It’s September and October. Its language: lined with loot, sticky.
—Michael Hanner

Joshua Boettiger’s poems and essays have appeared in Parabola, San Pedro River Review, and Zeek. He is a contributing author to the forthcoming anthology, Neither Here Nor There: The Many Voices of Liminality. He teaches poetry at Southern Oregon University’s Young Artists Institute, and at workshops through the Oregon Poetry Association. He is also a rabbi, a teacher of Mussar (Jewish Ethics) and Meditation, and a timber-framer. He lives in Ashland, Oregon.

2018 Fall Contest, Theme – Harvest, 3rd Place Winner

Living Room, Circa 1965
by Colette Jonopulos

Gold drapes laced with nicotine. Mother
says smoking keeps her hands busy. Father
knocks the burning end of his cigarette
into the ashtray I made in school. Clay
animal head and tail, hollowed-out
body filled with spent ashes.

Doorbell rings, all our sins are gathered
and stored in the kitchen. Two men enter
our world in matching uniforms of white
shirts and black ties, one holds the Book of
Mormon in his perfectly manicured hands.
This is the eleventh hour he tells us, we
are harvesting God’s elect.

Our family is woven into a history of
ancestors named Young and Smith,
guilt and gratitude indecipherable. We
are temporarily whitewashed. Mother is
church librarian. I am her obedient
shadow. Brother stops psychoanalyzing.
Father is quiet among the gods.

The men leave us with our stitched-on
smiles. Mother closes the drapes. Scent
of tobacco crawls through the room.
Ashtrays and coffee cups return to
their places of honor. We return to our
separate solitudes, our everyday sins.

Judge’s comments
Comparing prose writers to poems was not my intent, but once begun: Each reading of “Living Room, Circa 1965” left me with the same feeling I get from reading Raymond Carver, “Scent of tobacco crawls through the room.” Icy and precise language. And there is Edward Hopper in the corner painting this scene.
—Michael Hanner

Colette Jonopulos writes and edits in Denver, Colorado. She hikes in the Rocky Mountains and enjoys wandering through the Western United States. She has previously published two nonfiction books, as well as three chapbooks. Her poetry has appeared in Contemporary Haibun Online, Alimentum, PMS, Clackamas Literary Review, Crab Orchard Review, The Bellingham Review, North Coast Squid, and Ekphrasis. She is co-owner of Tiger’s Eye Press, and edits and publishes the eight-poem Infinities chapbook series.

2018 Fall Contest, Theme – Harvest, Honorable Mentions and Judge’s Comments

Honorable mentions:
1st Honorable Mention: “The Sugar Cane at Harvest Bears Witness” by Nancy Flynn, Portland, OR
2nd Honorable Mention: “A Little Thanksgiving” by Leah Stenson, Portland, OR
3rd Honorable Mention: “Fruit Preserves in Glass Jars” by Nancy Christopherson, Baker City, OR

Judge’s comments
Sixty-odd poems. Some I surmise were written specifically for the contest. There were epics—as epic as one can be in 40 lines—of harvest scenes, as detailed nineteenth-century landscape paintings. First honorable mention “The Sugar Cane at Harvest Bears Witness” is a sestina retelling an event that began the Haitian Revolution. Vivid descriptions and language. “A Little Thanksgiving” cleverly follows the path of an apple through many hands on its travels. “Fruit Preserves in Glass Jars” combines a cook’s reminiscences of seasonal cooking with a conversational tone. It also has my favorite line of all the poems in this category, “The oranges flew all the way from Florida on their own wings.”
—Michael Hanner